John Demjanjuk Convicted, but Free Pending Appeal

Jail time uncertain in conviction of Nazi death camp guard.

Published: May 13th 2011
in News » World

John Demjanjuk

While the news spread quickly this week that John Demjanjuk had finally been convicted of thousands of counts of accessory to murder at the Sobibor Death Camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, for some, his full sentence was a bitter pill to swallow.


The 91-year-old Ukraine native and retired Ohio autoworker was charged with 28,060 counts of being an accessory to murder, representative of each person who was killed during the time he was reported to be a guard at the Camp.


He was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday, May 12.


“When we first heard the news that Demjanjuk had been convicted of his crimes, we were very pleased that justice had finally caught up with John Demjanjuk,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “But upon hearing the comments of the presiding judge, Ralph Alt, that Demjanjuk was free pending appeal and that -‘Keeping him confined would be disproportionate. The sentence can only begin once any appeal in the case is rejected. It doesn’t seem likely that Demjanjuk will actually serve any more time in the end. … The appeal will take at least a year and at that time his health may not allow putting him in prison’ - we feel that this is an insult to his victims and to the survivors, that after all of this they may see John Demjanjuk strolling in the park in Germany for having been complicit in the mass murder over 28,000. At the very least they should have done, pending his appeal, is placed him under house arrest,” Hier concluded.


"The Sobibor death camp was built with one purpose in mind - to murder its victims," said Canadian Jewish Congress Chief Executive Officer Bernie M. Farber. "More than 250,000 Jews died there. They were sent directly from the trains to the gas chambers without mercy. Guards like Demjanjuk, who worked at the camp, were essential cogs in the machinery of mass murder. This can never be forgotten."

Related articles: (John Demjanjuk, Holocaust, Nazi War Crime, )

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