FACTUAL AND LEGAL DETAILS
JULY 28, 1993
The following pages present a review, outlining in broad strokes
the chain of events of what eventually became the legal case of the
State of Israel versus Ivan Demjanjuk.
The review presents the broader view of the history of the case
and has no pretensions to giving an exhaustive account of or even
encompassing the sea of factual and legal issues dealt with in the
past 15 years in various courts of law in the United States and
CHAPTER ONE - THE DEMJANJUK CASE - U.S.A.
(1975 - 1986)
1. In October 1975, there came into the possession of certain
members of the U.S. Senate a list of Nazi war criminals living so
the document alleged in the U.S. The list gave the suspects' names
and personal particulars, in most cases also stating what they had
done during World War II.
The information listed evidently emanated from material collated
in the Soviet Union, consisting of authentic German documents
captured by the Red Army when occupying territories under Nazi
control in the summer of 1944.
One of the names appearing on the list was that of John Ivan
Demjanjuk a U.S. resident since 1951 and a citizen of Cleveland,
Ohio since 1958.
2. As listed, Demjanjuk (born April 3, 1920 in the Ukraine) was a
soldier in the Red Army who, falling into German captivity,
volunteered for service in the S.S, underwent training and
preparation at the S.S. training camp in the township of Trawn iki,
Poland, where he served from March 1943 as an S.S. Wachman at the
Sobibor death camp, and later at the Floenbuerg concentration camp.
('S.S. Wachman' was the Nazi code name for the non-German S.S.
hobnail-booted soldiers who aided the Germans in exterminating the
Jews throughout the war years. The Wachmans actually fulfilled many
functions in the process of realization of the 'final solution':
commencing with the physical expulsion of Jews from their ghetto
homes during 'actions', through packing them into cattle-trucks at
the 'umschlagplatz', escorting and guarding them on the trains while
shooting escapees, to mass executions, in which victims were forced
into gas chambers at the death camps).
3. Nothing in U.S. statute provided for preferment of criminal
charges for war crimes against suspects of Demjanjuk's kind. The
only way the State could take any legal action against him at all
was by conducting a trial, starting with the filing of a complaint
on grounds of obtaining citizenship on false pretenses, and ending
with stripping the defendant of his citizenship. The fraud consisted
of having concealed past actions that, had the authorities known of
in real time, would not have granted him an entry visa to the United
States, much less American citizenship.
Once he was denaturalized, the authorities had the option of
initiating deportation proceedings against the defendant (if he did
not preempt them by emigrating from the United States of his own
volition) and/or proceedings for extraditing him to another country.
4. Once in possession of the list, some of the aforesaid senators
hastened to forward it to the legal instance in charge at that time
of filing lawsuits for the negation of citizenship (I.N.S.) a
section in the U.S. Justice Department affiliated to the Department
of Immigration and Naturalization. After a while, an analysis of the
list was begun along with an initial research on the data it
5. The preliminary I.N.S study of the Demjanjuk case focused on
his immigration and naturalization dossier dating from the fifties.
Among the papers in this file were forms he had filled out,
applications he had submitted, and summations of interviews
conducted with him by U.S immigration officers in Germany, during
the years 1947-1951 when, as a displaced persons camp inmate, he
expressed the wish to immigrate to the United States.
The said examination revealed that in one of the more important
of these forms, dated March 4, 1948, where he was required to give
particulars of members of his family and describe his own doings
during the war, Demjanjuk himself warranted in writing that during
and before the war he was a 'farmer in Poland in a settlement called
Sobibor'. (Demjanjuk signed his name to this form).
6. Cross-referencing between the information shown on the list
(deriving, it will be recalled, from the U.S.S.R.), whereby
Demjanjuk served with the S.S. as a Wachman at the Sobibor death
camp and Demjanjuk's own entries on the form he had himself signed
in Germany, stating that he was in fact at a place called 'Sobibor'
eventually assumed great significance.
7. A. The investigative activities of the I.N.S. at that time
(1976), insofar as they related to nazi criminals, went on to target
other suspects named by the same list in connection with
incriminating information or indications of it. Thus for example,
they researched the past of another criminal, Fyodor Federenko who,
the list alleged, had been an S.S. Wachman at the Treblinka death
camp in Poland, and later at the Stutthof concentration camp
B. As regards both Demjanjuk and Federenko, the I.N.S. decided
that apart from interrogating them and their families, an attempt
would be made to locate witnesses in various parts of the world who
might remember them and what they did during the war, in addition to
any possible documentary evidence yielding proof of their crimes.
C. The I.N.S. investigative effort was directed, inter alia,
towards Israel. Operating in Israel at that time was a police unit
for the investigation of nazi crimes (INC), successor to the '06
Bureau' founded as part of the preparations for the trial of Adolf
D. Since the Eichmann trial, INC had undertaken numerous
investigations most of them pursuant to official applications by
investigatory authorities in various parts of the world. Evidence
collected by the unit in Israel served as proof of nazi crimes in
court cases conducted in various countries from time to time.
E. On February 20, 1976, I.N.S. sent INC a memorandum naming
certain Ukrainians who were suspected of involvement in persecution
and acts of cruelty towards people during the war, in the service of
Nazi Germany. Ivan Demjanjuk and Fiodor Federenko were named in the
memorandum as having operated in the Sobibor death camp (Demjanjuk)
and Treblinka (Federenko). (This after undergoing training at the
S.S. training camp in Trawniki).
INC was asked to make an effort to ascertain whether available
witnes ses such as eye witnesses, able to supply information on any
one of the suspects could be found in Israel.
F. Annexed to the memoranda were snapshots (of the passport
photograph variety) of the suspects. These were to be shown to
potential witnesses while being debriefed, and statements were to be
taken from them on the subject. The photographs were mostly taken
from immigration dossiers in the United States, proximity to real
time being two years to eight years after the event.
8. A. In 1976 the INC called in for questioning a number of
Israeli citizens listed as having been rescued from the inferno of
Treblinka or Sobibor.
B. Most of these citizens, survivors of Treblinka, summoned for
questioning due to the possibility of their having been acquainted
with and able to recognize the nazi criminal Federenko - pointed in
the course of their interrogation, when shown all of the photographs
or part of them, to the photograph of Demjanjuk as of that of a
Wachman they knew from Treblinka and remembered as 'Ivan' who
operated the gas chambers there. (Some recalled that this individual
was known as 'Ivan the Terrible' because of his notorious cruelty).
Some on this occasion also identified the photograph of Federenko
whom they knew as a ranking Wachman in Treblinka and of whom they
also reported remembered details of his crimes there.
C. A female INC interrogator (a lawyer by profession) who was
coordinating investigations concerning both Federenko and Demjanjuk,
responded with surprise to the identification of Demjanjuk as a
criminal from Treblinka. She did all she could to suggest to the
interrogees the possibility that they might be mistaken, if only by
reason of the fact that according to the information in the I.N.S.
memorandum, Demjanjuk was an S.S. Wachman at the Sobibor camp; but
to no avail. The interrogees stuck to their spontaneous
identification, insistently repeating that this was a snapshot of
'Ivan the Terrible' of Treblinka.
D. All depositions taken from these interrogees, concerning both
Federenko and Demjanjuk, were forwarded that same year (1976) to the
I.N.S. for its consideration.
9. A. Denaturalization proceedings in the United States are
inherently civil proceedings and accordingly subject to civil
procedure laws and their derivative rules. In the course of these
proceedings an exchange of correspondence took place in the
Demjanjuk file, between them and the Court. Pleadings were written,
interrogatories were exchanged, discovery of documents was
instituted, depositions were taken in preliminary interrogations,
and thus thousands more pages accumulated in the file before court
B. In the summer of 1977, the I.N.S. instituted denaturalization
proceedings against Federenko and Demjanjuk in respect of crimes
committed during by them during World War II, as S.S. Wachmans. The
action against Federenko was brought in Miami, Florida, and that
against Demjanjuk in Cleveland, Ohio.
C. Demjanjuk was cited as having concealed acts of murder and
abuse of thousands of persons at the Treblinka death camp (as
operator of th chambers) and at Sobibor (after having trained for
the job at the S.S. training camp at Trawniki); and consequently of
having fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship.
10. A. Federenko's trial commenced as early as 1978, ended in
1979 with his denaturalization (Federenko admitted to having been a
Wachman at Treblinka, thereby confirming the camp survivors'
identification of him. In his defense, however, he pleaded that he
had not brought to the ground a single hair of the heads of the Jews
at that camp, and that evidence against him was accordingly untrue.
The District Court upheld the defense pleadings, dismissing the
action against him; but on appeal, his defense was set aside and he
was stripped of his U.S. citizenship.
The commencement of Demjanjuk's trial, by contrast, was long
delayed, and it was not until February 10, 1981 that the parties and
the court were satisfied that the case was ripe for evidence to
begin to be heard.
B. One of the reasons for the delay was that in 1979, after a
series of congressional debates, (initiated by congresswoman
Elizabeth Holtzman, a jurist) there was formed in the criminal
division of the U.S. Department of Justice, a body given the title
of 'Office of Special Investigations' (O.S.I.). The O.S.I. was
mandated to do just one job to identify nazi criminals living in the
United States, to investigate them, collect evidence against them,
bring them to trial, strip them of their U.S. citizenship and deport
or extradite them. To do this job, the O.S.I. assembled a team of
jurists, attorneys-at-law, historians, researchers and service
personnel; and was allocated an initial budget of U.S.$ 1.3 million.
C. With the creation of the O.S.I. (over the course of 1979) and
upon completion of its initial formation stages, the I.N.S.
transferred handling of the entire 'nazi issue' to the O.S.I.
D. The Demjanjuk investigation was then in full swing, and his
file was examined by the newly created O.S.I. Thus it was not until
February 1981 that the case crystallized and the Demjanjuk trial
commenced in Cleveland, Ohio.
13. Demjanjuk was stripped of his U.S. citizenship by Federal
Court Judge Frank Batisti of the northern district of Ohio,
Cleveland, on June 25, 1981. In a lengthy, reasoned decision, the
judge reviewed the historical background of relevant events, the
evidence advanced by the prosecution and the defense's counter
pleadings, the evidence of the counsel for the defense and its
pleadings and the weight they carried, and reached the conclusion
that Demjanjuk had deceived the Court, that the version of the
witnesses for the prosecution was the truth, and that Demjanjuk had
obtained his citizenship under false pretenses, in as much as he had
concealed the fact of his service with the S.S. in Treblinka and
Trawniki. (The Court notes that since it had established findings
regarding Treblinka and Trawniki, which sufficed for the defendant's
denaturalization, it had not gone into the details of Demjanjuk's
service with the S.S. at the Sobibor death camp).
14. A. Following Judge Batisti's decision between the years
1981-1986 (when Demjanjuk was physically extradited to Israel),
various legal proceedings took place in the United States concerning
B. Altogether, the various aspects of the subject were studied in
the United States before ten legal instances which heard pleadings,
reexamined evidence and studied factual and legal aspects of the
case. Time and again the Courts reached the conclusion that
Demjanjuk was a nazi war criminal against whom there existed
evidence founded on crimes committed by him in the service of the
S.S. in general and in the Treblinka camp in particular. It was
accordingly decided that his denaturalization was just and his
deportation and extradition to Israel based on solid evidence.
15. A. On February 26, 1986, Demjanjuk was brought to Israel
accompanied by two U.S. government Marshals. This concluded a
five-year chapter that had commenced with contacts between the U.S.
government and Israel on the issue of the extradition of nazi
criminals living in the United States and ended with Demjanjuk's
CHAPTER TWO - THE TRIAL
(1986 - 1988)
1. Demjanjuk's trial before the special tribunal (Supreme Court
Judge Dov Levin, and Jerusalem District Court Judges Zvi Tal and
Dahlia Dorner) was opened with the reading out session on November
26, 1986. For practical purposes, the hearings commenced only on
February 16, 1987 and this primarily in response by the Court to
applications for postponement filed by the defense, to enable it to
prepare properly for the trial.
2. Demjanjuk was represented by Advocates Mark O'Connor and John
Gil (U.S.A.) who were authorized by the Minister of Justice to
represent him in Israel, and by the Israeli lawyer, Yoram Sheftel.
At a later stage of the trial, the defense was joined by Adv. Paul
Chumak (Canada). (Adv. O'Connor was dismissed toward the end of the
hearing of the evidence for the prosecution and before the hearing
of the evidence for the defense began).
3. A. The entire trial took place in the Binyanei Ha'uma,
Jerusalem, where an appropriate infrastructure was set up, which
would meet the complex needs of the conduct of this trial. In fact,
everything involved in the conduct of the trial was assembled in one
building: the courtroom, the judges' chambers, Demjanjuk's detention
room where he also met with his attorneys, the offices of the
prosecution and the defense, the interpreters' offices and
translation rooms. Offices in which the recorded minutes could be
taken down and typed simultaneously in Hebrew and in English.
Offices for the security and guard services, telephone and facsimile
services, and communication services for the general public and the
press and more.
B. One of the considerations that tipped the balance in favor of
exposing the entire course of the trial to the public in Israel and
the rest of the world was the loudly voiced complaints as to the
inability of the judiciary system in Israel to conduct a trial
properly against one suspected of nazi crimes, since this was the
'victims' state'. The accessibility of the judiciary hearings as
stated enabled anyone who wished to follow the course of the trial.
C. Another important reason adduced as to why the trial should be
held in the Binyanei Ha'uma, was the unprecedented interest of the
media and the general public at home and abroad in this trial. This
interest led the parties concerned to conclude that the 'open court'
principle would be duly put into practice at this trial, only if
everyone who so wished could be part of the public in attendance in
the courtroom or could watch the proceedings through the media.
4. A. The general framework of the conduct of the case in Israel
was dictated in practice long before Demjanjuk was brought to trial.
This by the very fact that the State of Israel's application for
extradition was based on the testimony of the identification
witnesses from Treblinka as given to INC as early as 1976 and 1979
and as confirmed either in evidence (in the United States) or in
depositions (in Israel) in the years that followed. It thus appeared
that the fulcrum of this case would stabilize around Demjanjuk's
crimes at Treblinka and the evidence proving those deeds of his
would rest on the testimony of the identification witnesses, as
described. In practise, the case proceeded along three channels of
evidence, whose accumulation was intended to prove (the acts)
imputed to Demjanjuk in the indictment: membership in the S.S.,
training at the camp at Trawniki, crimes at the Treblinka death camp
as operator of the gas chambers there and at the Sobibor death camp.
B. The defense claimed all along that Demjanjuk had fallen into
German captivity where he remained throughout the war, that he never
volunteered to serve with the S.S. and that he was therefore not a
member of the killing team at the camps of Treblinka and Sobibor or
an operator of the gas chambers as alleged in the indictment.
5. A. The court sittings were held continuously morning and
afternoon on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
B. The inaugural session, on February 16, 1987, was dedicated to
the hearing of all questions relating to the competence of the State
of Israel to judge Demjanjuk (general competence and specific
competence in light of the laws of Israel and the United States and
the inter- state treaty), written summations were presented
(including pleadings, appendices and judgments) and oral pleadings
were heard. After the Court had given its decision whereby the
indictment and the offenses imputed to Demjanjuk were consistent
with the wording of the extradition treaty and the intention of the
U.S. authorities and that the Court was competent to judge him, the
opening arguments of the prosecution were heard and the recital of
the evidence for the prosecution began.
6. Its first twenty-one sessions (February 1 through March 20,
1987) were dedicated to the issue of Demjanjuk's crimes at the
Treblinka death camp. The prosecution also put on the witness stand
those survivors of Treblinka who had pointed to the photograph of
Demjanjuk as the man they remembered as operating the gas chambers
at the camp. Likewise, written evidence was submitted and the
testimony was heard of the police interrogators who had conducted
the investigation in which the aforesaid identification was made
back in 1976.
7. The months April to July 1987 were devoted to the hearing of
testimony and the submission of evidence on the other two central
A. Proof of Demjanjuk's being an S.S. man who had volunteered to
serve at Trawniki and Sobibor.
B. Refutation of the alibi alleged by Demjanjuk.
8. As to Demjanjuk's enlisting in the S.S., his preparation and
training at Trawninki and his service as a member of the killing
team at the Sobibor camp the 'Trawniki certificate' constituted a
central axis of evidence. The 'Trawniki certificate' is an original
nazi certificate of Demjanjuk's containing his portrait photograph,
his personal particulars, his S.S. service number (1393) and a
record of his being posted to two places where he served during the
war period Okshov and the Sobibor death camp.
The certificate was sent to Israel from the U.S.S.R., having been
located there in an archives in which were kept nazi documents
captured by the Red Army in the summer of 1944 and thereafter.
Contrary to the approach which governed the proceedings in the
United States, the certificate was perceived by the Prosecution in
Israel as a most important piece of evidence in proving Demjanjuk's
guilt from both the factual and the legal point of view.
First, the prosecution was of the opinion that this was
preponderant unambiguous evidence of Demjanjuk's being an S.S.
soldier, who underwent training and preparation at the S.S. camp at
Trawninki, which is to say that it determines his general status.
Not an innocent man as he pleaded but a nazi criminal of the worst
Second, the certificate enables the determination to be made that
Demjanjuk was one of a limited number of Wachmans chosen to serve as
murderers at the death camps particularly Sobibor on March 27, 1943.
Out of several million Russian prisoners of war, held at the POW
camps of nazi Germany, only about 5,000 volunteered to serve the
S.S. in various capacities. Of these, serving at camps whose sole
purpose was nothing but killing (as distinct from concentration
camps or forced labor camps) about 500 Wachmans only. This
determination has a direct bearing on Demjanjuk's crimes. And
indirectly the Prosecution alleged, it also placed him nearer
Treblinka. A not less important incidental result was the absolute
refutation of the alibi plea based on the certificate, since it was
not possible to be a POW in detention, and an S.S. man holding such
a certificate at one and the same time.
This view of matters prompted the prosecution to invest great
efforts, so that the proof of the veracity of the certificate, with
all that that implied, would be completely unbreachable. What made
the point even sharper was the fact that since the case began to be
conducted in the United states and all along the way the main plea
of the defense was that the certificate was a KGB forgery, that no
such certificates were ever issued to Wachmans, and that this one
had been created from scratch and sent to the United States in order
to incriminate Demjanjuk in the eyes of the U.S. authorities.
Accordingly the need to prove the bona fides of the document from
every possible aspect led the prosecution to present in court three
sets of evidence on the subject.
- An historical set: which was analysed with the aid of experts
from Germany having a perspective and historical expertise on the
one hand and German witnesses having served with the S.S. at
Trawniki in the relevant years on the other hand everything written
on the certificate, including stamps, signtures, ranks etc., so as
to prove that they were consistent with the facts as they had
actually been in real time.
- A forensic set: proved with the aid of local and foreign
experts the authenticity of each element found on the certificate
and which was verifiable: either by analyzing the document and the
signatures and examining them by way of document comparison, or by
chemical and other analyses of the paper on which the certificate
was written, fountain pen ink, typewriter ribbon ink, the ink of the
stamps on the certificate, the printed lettering, the typed
lettering, the photographic paper of Demjanjuk's photograph on the
certificate, glue and other stains on it, marks of attrition,
grooves, creases, perforations etc.
- Attributing the certificate to Demjanjuk: an application to
prove that writing and entries on the certificate correspond to his
personal particulars, including a comparative anthropological
analysis of his facial features, as appearing on the passport
photograph thereon with other known passport photographs of
Also testifying was a Prison Service physician Dr. Zigelbaum, as
regards two important medical details: the location of a scar on
Demjanjuk's back a detail appearing in the German entries on the
Trawniki certificate as a special identifying mark of the bearer of
the certificate and thereby imparting to the certificate yet another
touch of authenticity. A scar was likewise found under Demjanjuk's
left armpit remaining from the S.S. tattoo that existed there in the
past, and which was removed by Demjanjuk after the war, by reason of
being so incriminating.
9. To the matter of the alibi: Apart from the need to prove that
Demjanjuk lied in his contradictory versions regarding his alibi,
expert witnesses were called to prove the implausibility of his
version under the conditions and circumstances he described, in view
of the knowhow existing from an historic point of view. Here
numerous documents submitted in evidence were combined with the
testimony of expert witnesses being military historians and
researchers specializing in the matters under review.
10. During this period, two enquiries were held in Germany on
behalf of the prosecution:
(A) On June 9, and June 11, 1987 the testimony was heard in
Berlin of Otto Horn German S.S. man at Treblinka who in a
photographs identification session identified, even during the
O.S.I. investigations (1979), the photographs of Demjanjuk as Ivan,
operator of the gas chambers at Treblinka. This enquiry took place
before an examining magistrate in the presence of the Israeli court
which travelled to Berlin for the purpose. The hearing was conducted
in a manner similar to the Israeli hearing, i.e. Horn was subjected
to a main examination and to reexamination, and the Israeli court
judges were also enabled to ask a number of questions.
(B) On May 18, 1987 an enquiry was conducted in Cologne, Germany,
of Helmut Leonardt, an 'administration officer' at Trawniki. Here
too, the enquiry was held before an examining magistrate; the
parties were enabled to question the witness in examination in
chief, cross examination and reexamination. This witness cast
additional light on the question of the authenticity of the
Trawninki certificate in recognizing also the type of document and
the signatures and particulars set forth therein.
11. On July 20, 1987, the case for the prosecution was concluded
and the case for the defense began.
After the opening argument of the counsel for the defense,
Demjanjuk was called to the witness stand as No. 1 witness for the
defense. His interrogation lasted five days (between the end of July
and the beginning of August) covering everything he had done during
the pre-war period, during the war, after the war (when he spent
several years in Europe) and during his life in the United States
until his being extradited to Israel.
At the other sittings up to August 19, 1987 (7 sittings), the
defense put on the witness stand two female expert witnesses from
the United States who were to prove that the Trawniki certificate
was a forgery.
Due to the illness of one of the panel judges, hearings in the
trial were suspended until after September 19, 1987, and resumed
only on October 26, 1987.
Between October 26, 1987 and January 11, 1988, (30 sessions) the
defense called to the witness stand:
(A) Additional expert witnesses to prove its allegation regarding
the forgery of the Trawniki certificate. These witnesses were
primarily from the United States and Europe while two were from
(B) Expert witnesses historians to prove the plausibility of the
Accused's alibi plea and to contradict the testimony of the
(C) An expert witness on issues of memory and identification
parades: a Professor of psychology from the Netherlands.
(D) In January 1988 there took place in Germany an enquiry of the
German S.S. officer, Rudolf Rais 'administration officer from
Trawniki'. This enquiry, this time on behalf of the defense, took
place in a format identical to that of the prosecution's enquiries.
(The Court was not present at this enquiry). This enquiry too,
related to the allegations of the certificate's being a forgery.
12. The summings-up in the case were heard at two stages:
(A) First stage summings-up by the prosecution end of January
beginning of February 1988 (8 sessions).
(B) In March 1988 the defense submitted additional written
(C) Second stage completion of the summings-up of the prosecution
and the defense after the aforesaid additional evidence March 1988
13. A. The protocols of the Demjanjuk trial (not including the
verdict) hold 10,684 pages (in Hebrew) and some 15,000 pages (in
B. To date of the verdict, there were submitted on behalf of the
prosecution 290 exhibits; and on behalf of the defense 177 exhibits.
The exhibits hold some 5,000 additional pages (usually in both the
original language and translation).
14. On April 18, 1988 the verdict was given, occupying 144 pages.
Demjanjuk was convicted on all counts imputed to him in the
The greater part of the judgment naturally relates to the
question of the quality of the identification and its veracity,
based on the entire body of evidence adduced. A not inconsiderable
part of the judgment of course discusses all the other questions and
aspects reviewed above, including the authenticity of the Trawniki
certificate, Demjanjuk's service at the Sobibor death camp and the
refutation of his alibi.
The verdict ends with the conclusion that there was no doubt left
in the mind of the Court as to Demjanjuk's having been a Wachman in
the service of the S.S., who was trained for the work of murder at
Trawniki, operated the gas chambers at Treblinka and there earned
the nickname of 'Ivan the Terrible', and also as having served later
as a Wachman at the Sobibor death camp.
15. On April 25, 1988, after the pleadings of both sides
regarding the penalty were heard, Demjanjuk was sentenced to death.
CHAPTER THREE - THE APPEAL - STAGE I
(1988 - 1990)
1. The notice of appeal filed by the defense occupied 101 pages
and reopened the hearing on all matters and all bones of contention
that had come up between it and the prosecution in the district
court. A plea that constantly recurred in the entire notice of
appeal, was that the court that had sat in judgment was biased
against the defense counsel and against the appellant, and this fact
had clouded its judgment and made it blind to the reality of the
evidence. Accordingly, the defense counsel said, inasmuch as this
defect touched on the root of the matter, the Court had issued a
judgment that was entirely erroneous, and the Appellant ought
rightfully be acquitted of all charges.
2. In the period from April 25, 1988 (date of sentence) to May
14, 1990 (date of commencement of the hearing of the appeal) there
took place numerous sessions of the Supreme Court, in which various
issues of the case were discussed, additional evidence was admitted
in appeal, and an additional enquiry was conducted in Germany of a
female defense witness, whose testimony was alleged vital to
establishing the plausibility of Demjanjuk's alibi plea.
3. A. On May 14, 1990, the Supreme Court convened in a panel of
five judges to hear the appeal itself. Heading the panel was Justice
Meir Shamgar, along with Deputy President Menahem Eilon and Justices
Aharon Barak, Eliezer Goldberg and Yaakov Meltz, and the hearing of
the appeal commenced.
B. The defense pleaded its case May 14-29, 1990 (ten sessions).
The prosecution responded by pleading its case May 31-June 20, 1990
(twelve sessions). The defense counsel responded last June 26-28,
1990 (three sessions).
4. As stated, the appeal itself related to all the subjects
reviewed before the lower court most of them factual matters, even
though legal issues also featured prominently.
A. The defense again attacked the identification issue in detail,
and again produced its version as to the Trawninki certificate being
a forgery analyzing the testimony of the experts and attacking the
findings of the lower court, even in matters of decision based on
the confidence placed by the court in a certain expert, preferring
him over an expert of conflicting opinion. The defense again
advanced the Appellant's sweeping alibi plea, n amely that
throughout the period relevant to the indictment the Appellant was
being held in a prison camp and never enlisted in the service of the
S.S. and above all, the following plea was repeatedly advanced: 'The
Court had a deep-seated bias against the Accused and against the
defense counsel from which it did not free itself throughout the
trial period. This bias nourished itself from the press and found
expression in overt hostility toward the defense counsel, in
erroneous interim decisions and in a judgment which is fundamentally
B. The prosecution, in its reply, answered the pleas put forward
by the counsel for the defense, relying on the evidence before the
court, including that which had been added, and with reference to
the determination of the lower court on the subject.
5. Upon conclusion of the hearing of the parties' pleas in the
appeal, the court adjourned to study the material in evidence, in
voluminous protocols and pleadings in order to give its decision on
6. A. In the period from the passing of judgment in April 1988 to
the end of the hearing of the parties' pleadings in the appeal there
occurred number of developments obliging the prosecution, in line
with its concept of its role in the case in general and in this
trial in particular, to endeavor to thoroughly investigate various
aspects of the issues reviewed in the trial.
B. The prosecution assessed that evidence material found in the
U.S.S.R. might shed light on these issues and that the thaw in
international relations between the two states should be utilized
for initiating measures that would perhaps afford it access to the
aforesaid potential material.
C. The account of the prosecution's contacts with the U.S.S.R.,
including the discovery of the evidence material there described in
the next chapter.
CHAPTER FOUR - RELATIONS WITH THE SOVIET UNION TO THE SECOND
STAGE OF THE APPEAL AND THE PLEADINGS THEMSELVES
1. 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
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).
2. 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
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
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
3. 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
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
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
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.
4. 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
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.
5. 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
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
6. 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,
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
2. Wachmans postings list - List of 117 Wachmans from
Fluessenberg with Demjanjuk's name appearing with personal number
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,
7. 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
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.
8. 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.