My Neighbor the Nazi

Killer lives free, 15 miles from Shoah survivors

Fred Taub, Boycott Watch

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For the past thirty or so years, I have been tracking the story of Nazi John “Ivan the Terrible” Demjanjuk, as he went from court to court, denying partaking in the murder of Jews in the Holocaust, claiming mistaken identity. No court, however, believed that claim. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal to his final deportation order, which has been in a final 30 days status for several years.

While the U.S. is seeking to deport Nazi Demjanjuk to France, Germany or his native Ukraine, Nazi Demjanjuk will no doubt seek new methods to avoid deportation, as he has somehow managed to live free on appeals longer than death row prison inmates, free at home unlike lesser murders, and living about 15 miles from the homes of Holocaust survivors and the families of many of his victims.

All the while, the Demjanjuk PR machine has been in full swing, supported by neo-Nazis, Klansmen and their supporters. Among them was Jerome Brentar, who stood in protest across from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum the day it opened.

I testified in court opposite a Ku Klux Klan official in a battle for the right to protest in front of the Nazis home while the City of Seven Hills, Ohio made it abundantly clear that they did not want Jews there, as evidenced by a police officer who deliberately tried to run me over in his patrol car. Later, the long-time mayor of Seven Hills lost his re-election bid after a photo of him accepting a hello hug from Rabbi Avi Weiss was published in a newspaper.

My involvement started years before that, when Nazi Demjanjuk first appeared in the Federal District Court in Cleveland, Ohio, where I protested with Betar ( Years later, Nazi Demjanjuk was convicted of lying on his immigration papers in the U.S., the only charge available at the time. In order to achieve that conviction, U.S. prosecutors had to prove Nazi Demjanjuk was not who he claimed to be. The evidence presented included both eyewitness testimony and his actual Nazi ID card. Nazi Demjanjuk was proven in U.S. courts to be the Ukrainian volunteer guard known as Ivan the Terrible, a man who took pleasure in gassing Jews to death, thus proving he lied on his immigration papers.

When Nazi Demjanjuk stood trial in Israel, the first country he was deported to, Israel made the mistake of trying him just for the crimes of “Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka” when Israel should have just prosecuted him for murder. Nazi Demjanjuk was found guilty of war crimes in Israel and was sentenced to death by hanging, which Israel established as the only sentence for Nazis because it did not want to be seen as jailing Nazis.

In an automatic appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, Nazi Demjanjuk’s sentence, not his conviction, was overturned after the defense took a long shot gamble by submitting a document from another Nazi guard who stated he served as an SS guard with Nazi Demjanjuk at Sobibor. As such, Nazi Demjanjuk’s defense admitted his guilt as a Nazi death camp guard for the first time, while gambling on two technicalities.

First, the document in question would not have normally been admissible in US or Israeli courts because the author had passed away and the information therefore could not be verified via cross examination. Second, the document did not say one way or another if the author knew if Demjanjuk went to Treblinka after Sobibor, for which the trial was about – the crimes of Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. Since that document did not state Treblinka, and despite that all other timeline documents proved Nazi Demjanjuk did in fact serve in Treblinka after Sobibor, the defense argued that it was unclear if Nazi Demjanjuk actually served at Treblinka.

In a controversial move that was most probably politically influenced, the ISC overturned Nazi Demjanjuk’s sentence, but not the conviction. Since Israel was unable to carry out the only legal sentence available, Israel had no choice but to return Nazi Demjanjuk back to the U.S. The Demjanjuk PR machine immediately claimed Nazi Demjanjuk was acquitted in Israel, but nothing could be further from the truth.

After his return to the U.S., Nazi Demjanjuk again went through the same court procedures, proving his Nazi identity a third time in court, and is now again facing deportation from the U.S. Considering how slow the wheels of justice have turned in this case thus far, Nazi Demjanjuk’s final deportation from the U.S. may not come any time soon. Still, the U.S. deportation sentence for one of the worlds worst mass murderers is merely having to move to a new neighborhood, this one perhaps even less than 15 miles from other Holocaust survivors and the families of his victims. In the words of William Gladstone, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Fred Taub is a boycott consultant and is the President of Boycott Watch ( which monitors and reports about consumer boycotts.