Was convicted, cleared of being Treblinka's Ivan the Terrible

US presents Israel with original documents from trial of John Demjanjuk

Papers, which include Nazi wartime camp guard’s SS membership card, were used in proceedings against him in Israel, the US, and Germany

  • Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
    Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
  • Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
    Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
  • Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
    Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
  • Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
    Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
  • Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
    Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
  • Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
    Identity paper of John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard. (Justice Ministry)
  • Eli Rosenbaum, center, former director of the US Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations presents officials at Israel's Justice Ministry with documents used in the trial of Nazi wartime camp guard John Demjanjuk, June 2023. (Justice Ministry)
    Eli Rosenbaum, center, former director of the US Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations presents officials at Israel's Justice Ministry with documents used in the trial of Nazi wartime camp guard John Demjanjuk, June 2023. (Justice Ministry)

The US Department of Justice has presented Israel with some of the original documents used in three countries during trials against John Demjanjuk, the wartime Nazi camp guard convicted and then acquitted by Israel of being the notoriously cruel Treblinka warden “Ivan the Terrible.”

The documents, which included Demjanjuk’s SS membership card, were handed over during a ceremony last week by Eli Rosenbaum, former director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which focused on identifying and deporting Nazi war criminals. While at the OSI, Rosenbaum was involved in US legal action against Demjanjuk that led to the former Nazi eventually losing his citizenship and being deported.

Rosenbaum, who is currently director of human rights enforcement strategy and policy at the Justice Department, said that returning the documents brought  “closure,” the Ynet news site reported.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel from the United States for trial over his alleged role at the Treblinka death camp in 1986, and two years later was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging.

At the time, Israel’s prosecution used documents it received from the US.

But in 1993, Israel’s top court unanimously ruled Demjanjuk was not “Ivan the Terrible,” overturning the 1988 verdict and returning him to the US after it received evidence that another Ukrainian, not Demjanjuk, was the notorious Nazi guard.

The documents were then sent to the US, where prosecutors sought to revoke his citizenship. He was eventually deported to Germany in 2009.

Retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk greets his Israeli lawyer Yoram Sheftel at the start of the court session in Jerusalem on February 17, 1987. (AP Photo/Anat Givon)

Demjanjuk was convicted in Germany of being a low-ranking guard at the Sobibor death camp, in a legal precedent that made him one of the best-known faces of Nazi prosecutions. As part of the trial, the documents were sent to Germany.

He was convicted in May 2011 of being an accessory to murder of 28,000 Jewish people at Sobibor death camp and sentenced to five years in prison.

Demjanjuk was released from jail pending an appeal and died in 2012 before it was heard.

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