Source: [London] Sunday Times Magazine, 20 March 1988
(“Is this Ivan of Treblinka,” by Gitta Sereny)
One of Demjanjuk’s earlies supporters was Jerome Brentar, a travel
agent of Croation extraction who after the war had worked in Germany
as an IRO screening officer. He is still proud today, he told us with
engaging frankness, of the help he gave to “suitable” immigrants. “We
managed to get thousands of Waffen SS over here and helped them get
established. And we got advice on just what people had to say to get
His agency specializes in “visits home” for the area’s huge immigrant
population. He also heads the Cleveland chapter of the St. Raphael
Society (Motto: “To aid the traveller in need”). In Rome after the war
the society, true to its motto, was instrumental in getting Adolf
Eichmann, among others, out of Europe.
Brentar, at his own expense, travelled widely on Demjanjuk’s behalf,
getting statements from three Polish villagers near Treblinka that
Demjanjuk’s photograph in no way resembled the “Ivan” they had known:
a “giant” approaching his forties, with graying hair. He then visited
Kurt Franz, Treblinka’s deputy commandant, in his German prison where
this most awful of the SS men still alive is serving a life sentence,
and got an affidavit with an identical description.
The Polish War Crimes Commission announced that the Polish witnesses
had been “unduly influenced”. (Later, two of Demjanjuk’s present
defense lawyers travelled to Poland to interview them – “unaccompanied
and not interfered with in any way”, they told us – and, although
Israeli visas and Polish travel permits had been provided, decided not
to call them. And the same lawyers would decide, too, to despense with
Brentar and other lobbyists for Demjanjuk see no reason for
embarrassment at their methods; to them the end justifies the means.
Their aim is to use men such as Demjanjuk in their holy war against
communism, to make them into symbols for their battle against the
In this battle the fanatical right was soon joined by respectable
conservatives and liberals, who also warned against putting any trust
in Soviet-supplied evidence.