The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Demjanjuk Case
Relations with the Soviet Union
To the Second Stage of the Appeal
And the Pleadings Themselves


A. Even before Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel by the U.S., the State of Israel made attempts to apply to the prosecution authorities in the Soviet Union, in any possible way. The prosecution sent the Prosecutor General of the U.S.S.R. lengthy and detailed applications, both written and oral, explaining its intention of bringing Demjanjuk to criminal trial, giving details of the offenses imputed to him, in the spirit of the indictment about to be brought against him, and in accordance with the facts already established in various courts in the United States.

B. In these applications an attempt was made to secure the assistance of the U.S.S.R. in all relevant evidence material found in its possession and which might adduce further information on Demjanjuk's crimes in the era of nazi rule, about Treblinka in general, and specific additional aspects connected with the evidence material in the file, including an effort to resolve the problems therein.

C. Despite the aforesaid effort (which lasted also throughout the hearing of the case before the special tribunal in Jerusalem), no relevant evidence material was received from the U.S.S.R., except for the Trawniki certificate which arrived even before the trial commenced, and three other certificates of the same kind which arrived in Israel in the summer of 1987, and were likewise submitted in evidence in the trial (at the stage of the defense's evidence).


A. Immediately after judgement was pronounced in the spring of 1988, the prosecution embarked on a new series of contacts, with the aim of arriving at direct dialogue with members of the Soviet Prosecution General.

B. In the then situation of absence of diplomatic or other relations between the two states, the prosection had perforce to act indirectly, through brokers, both in the west and in the East Bloc. Thus there were operating at the same time persons close to the ruling junta in the U.S.S.R. and office holders having regular working relations with the Prosecution General and other sources.

C. After several months, various sources contrived to mediate between the offices, and representatives of the Israeli Prosecution me representatives of the Chief Prosecutor's Office of the Soviet Union.

D. Even if the meeting, by nature, could not yield immediate fruit, these qualified relations, once having been created, were cultivated by the Israeli prosecution for a period of two years, while awaiting an opportune moment in which it would be possible to widen the tiny aperture and even take some practical steps in the U.S.S.R.


The opportune moment arrived with the change in the political situation within the Soviet Union in 1990. Then too, relations between the two Prosecution offices thawed to the point where after a series of applications and mutual discussions, the General Prosecutors's Office of the U.S.S.R consented to allow representatives of the Israeli prosecution to come to Moscow, as official visitors, to study there any protocol of the trial conducted against the criminal Fiodor Federenko in the summer of 1986, in the town of Semapropol in the Crimean Peninsula [Federenko, it will be recalled, was a Wachman at Treblinka, who was deported from the United States to the Soviet Union after being denaturalized]. The prosecution believed it ought to study these Soviet files if only by reason of the fact that they consisted of twenty two thick volumes of investigation and trial material and might yield evidence relevant to the present trial too. Thus, in December 1990, (about six months after the end of the pleadings in Demjanjuk's appeal before the Supreme Court as stated), two representatives of the prosecution went to Moscow and there studied the Federenko file and all the material of the investigation and trial contained in it (all of it being in Russian) for several days.

From an examination of the material in the file and from talks with representatives of the Soviet prosecution who had conducted the trial in 1986 and with members of Office of the Prosecutor General in Moscow, it became apparent that as early as 1944 and thenceforth, the investigative and judiciary authorities in the Soviet Union had been spotting Wachmans, being citizens of the Soviet Union, who had operated at the death camps and concentration camps to all intents and purposes as S.S. officers. These criminals had been arrested, interrogated and tried, some had been executed and others had been sentenced to long prison terms. The investigations and trials were held in various states throughout the Soviet Union, but primarily in the Ukraine. Inter alia, it transpired that investigations and trials had been conducted against S.S. Wachmans who had committed crimes at the death camps of Treblinka and Sobibor.

Passages from these investigations as expressed in statements, testimony and documents were submitted in evidence at the trial of Federenko in 1986 insofar as they pertained to his crimes or to crimes of Wachmans in general, at the camps where Federenko had operated.

As to matters relating to the trial of Demjanjuk in Israel, the representatives of the prosecution found in Federenko's file an abundance of relevant material, except that the trouble was that most of it, as presented there, was split up and copied in various parts from the originals -- meaning from the files of the investigations and trials of other Wachmans that had been conducted throughout the U.S.S.R. during 1944 and 1962.

From December 1990 to June 1992 the two representatives of the Israeli prosecution engaged, in the course of several visits to Moscow, and later also Kiev, in reading a great deal of evidence material collected for them, at their request and in accordance with their directives, from various K.G.B. archives throughout the U.S.S.R.

The subject material concerned crimes of Wachmans who had engaged in the killing of Jews at Treblinka, Sobibor and other camps. It emanated from the investigation and trial dossiers of those criminals.

Out of this whole sea of material, the prosecution brought to Israel the essentials of the evidence, directly impacting on key issues, under review in the Israeli court during the years the case was being conducted here. (This due to constraints of language, quantity and, of course, the Russians' preparedness to cooperate).

It should be noted that the prosecution actually managed to persuade the Muscovite judiciary authorities to enable the defense itself to study all the evidence material in Moscow. Dates were set for this and the defense counsel was informed of them, but the defense did not appear to study the material throughout the entire week allotted to it.


Essentially, the evidence material found by the prosecution contained the following:

A. Statements and evidence by Wachmans from Treblinka (including photographic identification parades), which in addition to describing the horrors perpetrated by them there -- related to other Wachmans who took part together with them in these crimes. Inter alia, it emerged from their depositions, that the name of the operator of the gas chambers at Treblinka was Ivan Marchenko (some actually pointed to various photographs as bearing the picture of this same Marchenko) -- for example, the 'passport' photograph found on the official certificate from Trawniki -- Personalbogen No. 476 -- belonging to a Wachman named Ivan Marchenko, or a photograph of two Wachmans, of which one it was said that he was the aforesaid Marchenko).

Note: In view of the defense allegations based on this evidence, that it emerged unequivocally from the statements that the operator of the gas chambers at Treblinka was Ivan Marchenko and not Ivan Demjanjuk -- the prosecution analyzed the evidence in great detail and pointed to the significant difference existing between a superficial reading of it on the one hand and its true contents on the other. This of course has implications for the issue of the identity of the operator of the gas chambers at Treblinka.

B. Statements and testimony by Wachmans from Sobibor some of whom had previously served at Treblinka and who describe the horrors of their deeds there, emphasize the absolute identity between the two 'death factories' as they put it -- Treblinka and Sobibor.

C. In statements of the Wachman Ignat Danielczinko, the file of whose 1949 trial was located and brought in its entirety to be studied in Moscow, it it emerges that even in 1949 he attested in the course of his interrogations to the fact that together with him, in the spring of 1943, there served at the Sobibor death camp a Wachman named Ivan Demjanjuk. Danielczinko gives identifying details as to Demjanjuk and especially adds that after their acts at Sobibor, he and Demjanjuk transferred together to the Fluessenberg concentration camp, where they were tattooed with the S.S. inscription under their left armpits. (Demjanjuk had such a tattoo which he had removed after the war). In the file is also a certificate of service of Danielczinko, which is identical to the Trawniki certificate of Demjanjuk and many other important details).

D. Original German posting lists, from the era of the nazi rule, in which S.S. Wachmans are posted for service at various death camps and concentration camps.

One of the items found was a list of postings of Wachmans to the Sobibor death camp dated March 26, 1943, containing Demjanjuk's name together with all his true personal particulars (date of birth, where born etc.). Also found was a list of Wachman postings from October 1943 to the Fluessenberg concentration camp, where Demjanjuk's name also appears as one of the Wachmans sent to serve there, with all his personal particulars alongside his exact name.

E. In addition to the above mentioned lists, there was discovered in another archives in the (former) Soviet Union a disciplinary complaint sheet against Demjanjuk and three other Wachmans, for a breach of orders prohibiting them from leaving the area of the Maidanek concentration camp in January 1943.

F. The representatives of the prosecution also sorted out from these files authentic German documents, statements and depositions, directly impacting a wide diversity of topics that came up during the years of hearing the case.


This evidentiary material was naturally collected in stages, and between one stage and the next the prosecution in Israel would analyze it and form a view on where to look for additional material so as to complete the picture (the material, most of which is written in Russian handwriting, was of course translated into Hebrew, to enable both the defense and the Court to study it in depth).

From the first time the representatives of the prosecution returned from the Soviet Union and met for a hearing in court together with the defense, the prosecution kept the Supreme Court informed of each and every stage of the discovery of this material. The prosecution informed the court of the content of the material and eventually the material -- original and translation -- was submitted in evidence to the court. The defense counsel for his part, would apply to the court whenever the prosecution delivered to it material from the U.S.S.R. with vigorous applications to conclude Demjanjuk's trial 'at once and with a complete acquittal' of all the offenses with which he was charged. His argument was that the material brought by the prosecution probably indicated that the operator of the gas chambers was another man named Ivan Marchenko, and not Ivan Demjanjuk -- the Appellant.

All these applications were reviewed at length by the Court. In the hearings the parties set forth their pleadings in great detail, citing quotations from the evidence already given, and the Supreme Court decided once more not to release Demjanjuk at once, and to enable the prosecution to go on investigating and to continue to bring all relevant evidence material that it could find from the K.G.B. archives.


Following the discovery and deciphering of the evidence material relating directly to the Appellant -- in various documents in the U.S.S.R. -- an effort was made to trace additional material in his case in the west (this time in the context of his service in the Fluessenberg concentration camp -- a concentration and death camp located on the border between west Germany and Czechoslovakia). This attempt resulted in the discovery of the end of a thread found in the National Archives of West Germany in the town of Koblenz, Germany.

Two representatives of the prosecution established contact with the directors of the archives and after ascertaining that a body of evidence did in fact exist, that concerned the Fluessenberg concentration camp, they made the trip, sought among tens of thousands of documents, and found three authentic German documents relating directly to Demjanjuk.

1. 'Ascent of Guard' Form - A list, dated October 1944, of Wachmans accompanying prisoners to forced labor at the Fluessenberg concentration camp, with Demjanjuk's name appearing in the list together with his personal number from Trawniki -- 1393 (the same number appearing in the certificate!) (also the name of Danielczinko appears along with his personal number -- 1016 -- identical to what was already found in the U.S.S.R. in his trial dossier there dating from 1949).

2. Wachmans postings list - List of 117 Wachmans from Fluessenberg with Demjanjuk's name appearing with personal number -- 1393.

3. Armory ledger - A ledger containing exact entries of all weapons distributed to Wachmans on their arrival to serve at the Fluessenberg camp -- with inter alia the names of Demjanjuk and Danielczinko as having received a rifle and a bayonet on October 8, 1943.


In June 1992, 'supplementary pleadings' were heard in the appeal in the course of which the parties summed up all the evidence in the case, with everything existing in it, especially in view of the great amount of material added to the file by the prosecution from the end of the pleadings in the appeal in the summer of 1990 to June 1992.

Altogether the prosecution adduced an additonal 100 exhibits on its behalf, all of them from the Soviet Union. These documents occupy about 1,800 pages in Russian handwriting and along with their Hebrew language translation. The defense added about 30 exhibits.


With the conclusion of the summing up of the parties as aforesaid, the Supreme Court turned to an examination of the case which had doubled its volume.

The decision of the Israeli Supreme Court will be presented on Thursday, July 29, 1993.

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