Conflict & Justice

John Demjanjuk: Nazi guard dies in Germany (VIDEO)


John Demjanjuk, who was found guilty of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder in May 2011, is shown here arriving in a wheelchair for another day of his trial in the courtroom in Munich on March 17, 2011.


Sebastian Widmann

Former Nazi death camp guard and onetime Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk has died in Germany at 91, according to CNN. He died in a home for the elderly where he was awaiting a decision on his pending appeal of a five year sentence he received last year for being an accessory to more than 28,000 deaths while he served as a guard at Poland's Sobibor death camp between 1942 and 1943.

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His conviction set a new legal precedent in Germany, being the first time someone was convicted solely for serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of being involved in a specific killing, reported the Associated Press. Demjanjuk vehemently denied his involvement with the Nazis over three decades of legal battles, saying he had been mistaken for somebody else.

Demjanjuk went to live in the United States after the war, but in 1986 he stood trial in Jerusalem, where he was accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," an infamous guard in his native Ukraine at Treblinka death camp, according to The Washington Post. He was found guilty of all charges in 1988 and sentenced to death, but was freed five years later when evidence surfaced proving another man was "Ivan the Terrible."

More evidence then emerged that he served as a guard at other Nazi death camps, and he was stripped of his US citizenship in 2002 for lying about his involvement in World War II on immigration documents, reported Agence France-Presse. He was then deported to Germany in 2009 to face trial again.

His son, John Demjanjuk Jr., told the AP, "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."

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