MK Bielski on Demjanjuk: Israel Won't Forgive and Won't Forget

MK Ze’ev Bielski of the Lobby for Holocaust Survivors in the Knesset: Demjanjuk managed to escape punishment. Israel will never forget.

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Elad Benari,

MK Ze'ev Bielski
MK Ze'ev Bielski
Israel news photo: Flash 90

MK Ze’ev Bielski (Kadima), Chairman of the Lobby for Holocaust Survivors in the Knesset, responded on Saturday evening to the death of Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk.

“Today one of the greatest enemies of Israel, a man who was tied to the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews, died,” Bielski said. “The wheels of justice did not catch up to him and he managed to escape punishment. The people of Israel will never forget nor forgive.”

Demjanjuk, who died Saturday at the age of 91, was convicted in May 2011 of assisting in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp during the Holocaust.

In the 1980s he stood trial in Israel on charges that he was “Ivan the Terrible,” a particularly brutal guard at the Treblinka death camp. He was convicted and sentenced to death, but the Supreme Court later overturned the charges on the grounds that there was evidence that a different man was Ivan the Terrible, and returned Demjanjuk to the states. The justices said they believed he had served as a Nazi guard, but could not be sure he was at Treblinka.

In 2002 his U.S. citizenship was revoked, allowing him to be brought to trial in Germany, where he was convicted of having volunteered for the Nazi SS after falling captive and of working at the death camp. Demjanjuk was sentenced to five years in prison, but was released pending appeal. He died in a nursing home in southern Bavaria.

His son, John Demjanjuk Jr., told The Associated Press on Saturday his father died of natural causes and added, “My father fell asleep with the Lord as a victim and survivor of Soviet and German brutality since childhood. He loved life, family and humanity. History will show Germany used him as a scapegoat to blame helpless Ukrainian PoWs for the deeds of Nazi Germans.”