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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

The trial of John Demjanjuk

November 30th, 2009
01:05 PM ET

The trial of a Ukrainian man suspected of complicity in the murder of more than 27,000 Jews during World War II began today in Munich, Germany. [cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/30/demjanjuk.art.jpg caption="John Demjanjuk is accused of being complicit in the murder of over 27,000 Jews during World War II."]

John Demjanjuk is accused of being a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943.

The trial could well be the last of its kind due not only to the age of suspected of World War II atrocities, but also the age of witnesses.

None of the witnesses to Demjanjuk's alleged crimes are still alive and prosecutors are relying on documentary evidence including an SS identity card featuring a young Demjanjuk which prosecutors say will help implicate him.

We would like to hear your views on the trial of John Demjanjuk. 

Will the trial of an 89-year-old man, who is in poor health, bring a sense of peace or any closure to the hundreds of the living relatives of his alleged victims? If convicted, Demjanjuk faces 15 years in jail – a term he is unlikely to complete. Could the millions of dollars being spent on trying him be spent in a more effective way compensating the relatives of war crime victims?

Filed under:  General
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Kerry Du Bois

    We have a man here in Australia facing extradition to Hungry for a trial much like this one – no witnesses left alive. He has led an exemplary life since the War.
    I agree the money which has been spent hounding these people could be better spent on those who still suffer.
    It was war, and killings etc. are part of that scenario.

    November 30, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  2. Josh

    The crimes carried out by the Nazis during WW2 are some of the most atrocious in history. Every living person guilty of Holocaust related crimes should not just be put on trial and sentenced, they should be executed. The sands of time through the hour glass do not heal all wounds, and it certainly does not wash away guilt. We would have no qualms about putting a man on trial in the United States for a crime committed many decades ago. Why should war crimes be any different?

    November 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  3. rachel fromer

    The world should know that no-one can get away with atrocities even if it is at the end of his lifetime.

    November 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  4. alan

    It is never too late. Crimes – particularly those as odious as this can not be excused by the mere passage of time. If convicted, he should fry. Alan

    November 30, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Reply
  5. Eli

    As a lesson to any criminal of any crime, it must be demonstrated that crimes have to be paid for, irrespective of the age of the criminal or the time elapsed since it was commited.

    November 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  6. Trent

    I think that its a great thing that they are putting him on trial. John Demjanjuk could be on this death bed with less then a day left to live and I would still support throwing him in jail for that one day. What the Nazi's did during world war 2 can never be forgotten. The further we become from the events the more we forget how many people got away with horrible crimes, any Nazi that is still walking this world free should be rounded up and thrown in jail.

    November 30, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  7. Mario Van Essche (Belgium)

    No! They should all ready be in prison for 65 years. As long as they live and even if they act as if they are sick and even if they are actually sick : put them on trial!

    November 30, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  8. Shadysider

    The government has to figure out ways to try people that don't cost millions of dollars. Is our government ballooning the costs of trials? That's what it looks like.

    November 30, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Reply
  9. Alex Shnitman


    Some people seem to think that everything in the world can be measured in dollars. How narrow-minded, and sad... Justice doesn't have a price, certainly not when we're talking about killings of tens of thousands of people.

    And the fact that the witnesses have all died does not mean that the (alleged) perpetrator should now be free of blame. Neither does the likelihood (or unlikelihood) of his ability to complete his sentence. Crime must be punished, if we have any moral values left in us at all.

    November 30, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  10. ruth

    That man did what he did, whether he´s now 40 or 89, and must answer the consequences of it. No one would doubt that he deserved trial if he was a serial killer who had killed 13 people, and this man was involved in the death of 27000, I repeat 27000, inocent people.
    But apart from him as an individual, these trials serve to help these attrcities not to be forgoten. Whether closure is possible for the families of those killed I do not know, but it serves to bring a meassure of justice to some of the most unjust deaths of our recent history.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  11. Keith

    I have mixed feelings about this case. Yes those who were directly involved in such crimes should be punished, but at the same time to have a trial where most witness had since passed on sounds like it could be hearsay.
    Next the money of the trial for something that happened in WW2 is not logical. I have family that was killed in the Netherlands at the hand of the Nazis, but my view is I don't think they had any choice in the matter and to go after someone for following orders makes no sence. Go after those who gave the orders.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  12. MWF

    Isn't John Demjanuk in court since the 80's in the US ?
    Why is he at age 89 still in court and not sentenced ?

    November 30, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  13. Chris

    I think he should be tried and convicted, but as far as jail time; He's too old to serve any real time. It would be cruel and unusual punishment. Put him in a Jail/ Retirement home if it exists. Does this man even remember what he did?

    November 30, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  14. Carla Galloway

    He should stand trial. No amount of money would compensate for the terrible crimes that happened when he was in Hitler's Army.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  15. novita

    Yes. Criminals shall be punished otherwise they will know that they can hide and spend their entire life – even until late 90s – life, which thousands of their victims never could live.
    Pseudo humanity is not appropriate. In addition, he shall be convicted to look at documental movies from death camps untill the end of his life.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  16. Lani Gerson

    I am Jewish and quite honestly there will never be peace for any of our relatives for the dreadful atrocities that were performed on the Jews during the war. Having said this I think this man or is he an actual human needs to spend his last years behind bars. He is lucky for this consideration because I would like to see him get the death sentence. He has already been given more than what our world owes and he should pay his dues.As for what it cost think of the millions of Jews that were robbed of their homes and possessions.. and the right to live.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  17. Xa

    we should start to judge present day criminals,like the israeli government..the rwandan government et al...

    November 30, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  18. Greg Bergh

    There are no statutes of limitations on genocide. Period.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  19. Tom

    I agree, it's never too late to try war criminals. But let's try not only former Nazis but former Soviet war criminals and others as well. Nazis were not the only ones who committed crimes against humanity.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  20. Werner Ciupke

    I have mixed feelings about this case and any case that has been going on for 60 years. While I cannot condone the injustice that was done. I also cannot condone the present injustice being done in Palestine and elsewhere – that is just conveniently "swept under the carpet" – while we pursue our "vengeance".

    We cannot change the past with continued "hatred" – but we can improve the future for our children – and ourselves – by reflecting on our present inhumanity.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  21. Larry Agboh, Abuja, Nigeria

    No amount is too much for the cost of justice. Let him be tried and punished accordingly.

    November 30, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Reply
  22. lindsay brydon

    These criminals should be hunted down and if found guilty suitably punished.If we deny the past we will never have any future.What sort of signals does letting him go free give to Neo Nazi groups

    November 30, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  23. Craig

    If I was him and accussed, I would want to stand trial and prove my innocence(or not)

    November 30, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  24. Leslie

    Mass murder, mass extermination, genocide, torture, enslavement, crimes against humanity, must be accounted for. He and any others should go to trial.

    November 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  25. Amy

    This is a complete JOKE! The poor man should be pardoned and sent back home to be with his family. What a FARCE! The Israeli supreme court already found him innocent, what more do the blood-thirsty freaks still hounding him need? For god's sake, Give it UP and move on with your lives!!!

    November 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  26. Jock

    Must we wait 65 years for those who killed and dispossessed Palestinians to be charged ?

    November 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  27. Amy N

    Go after the people who gave the orders, not those who feared their families would die if they didn't follow them.

    Check out the Milgram experiment if you think that the soldiers had to really 'believe' in what they were doing in order to follow the orders...authority has a strong power over people.

    If you want to prosecute this man, prosecute as well all the Israeli soldiers who used white phosphorus (a war crime). Oh wait, the Israeli PM made a new law that they can't be tried for war crimes. I think that says a lot, don't you?...and most of my ancestors were Jewish so you know I'm not being anti-Semitic.

    November 30, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  28. emile

    It is ridiculous to have a trial of this nature at this day and age. The money being spent on it could save lives all over the world. Think of the environment, homeless, the hungry, the orphans and the victims of modern wars- to name a few. The world has bigger and more recent problems.

    November 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  29. John Chisman

    Of course he should stand trial.

    So should all of 'Hitlers willing foreign helpers' from Nazi occupied Europe. Yes it was difficult in Soviet occupied Europe. But now?

    So should all the Gestapo agents who were "needed" to help the Western intelligence services in the late 40s and 50s to help in the emerging Cold War.
    So should the Nazi rocket scientists and engineers who were "essential" to the US and UK to help counter the perceived emerging threat from Russia. Their rocket manufacturing infrastructure was built with significant amounts of slave labour.

    And of course other war criminals should also be put on trial.
    How about those who gave the orders for the illegal carpet bombing of Cambodia?
    Or maybe those who gave the orders for the use of Agent Orange etc?
    Or maybe those who start illegal wars? Or utilise mercenaries who are not officially liable?

    Bad things happen in all wars. By all sides. But the targeting of innocent civilians, slave labour, torture, genocide etc must be seen to be totally beyond the pale and both the perpetrators and those who gave the orders hunted down no matter how long it takes.

    Maybe the US should sign up to the ICC?

    November 30, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  30. Casey

    Why are we relentlessly beaten over the head with reminders of the Jewish holocaust, and NEVER is the far greater (in human lives) Ukrainian Holocaust never even mentioned? Not even once! Take a look and expand your mind: http://www.faminegenocide.com/resources/unknown.html
    The perpetrators reponsible for this holocaust in the early 1930s were primarily Jewish. Don't hold your breath for a movie about these events any time soon...

    November 30, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  31. David

    So someone can kill (even one innocent person) and if he just waits it out – he's back in your love club. I had relatives that perished and lost everything in Nazi-torn Poland and Bialystock Russia. Have you no shame?


    November 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  32. Peter

    Continuing to bring up something that happened over 5o years ago on a daily bases is the reason there is no closure.
    There has been many other war crimes since than that we don't speak about, war is war, its ugly and innocent people die.
    But at some point we need to put it behind us and move on, putting this guy or any other will not change anything at this point, he's already moved on and close to dying himself.

    November 30, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  33. mt

    Leave him alone! He was forced into that position to save himself. Hes already been tried and released by the Israeli government. He should have the freedom of double jeopardy which is a right in several countries including our own. He is innocent while the real villains are living out their lives in South America .

    November 30, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  34. Peter

    If this man murdered my daughter in a modern-day scenario, I would feel that there is no statute of limitation on the punishment, and I would not be able to rest until punishment was meted out. I feel the same "rules" apply here regardless of it being a war or not. Had Germany won the war, all of these atrocities would have been swept under the carpet and lost to history.
    As I understand, the Israeli courts could not previously confirm his identity, so there is the possiblity that he is not who he is charged to be. If the court cannot provide absolute proof on his identity beyond reasonable doubt, then how can they proceed?

    November 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  35. Fred

    There are many recent war criminals (Americans, Russians, Germans, British, Israelis, Chinese, etc) on the loose. Why not prosecute them? The designation of who is a war criminal seems to be very selective. I believe the courts would be full for decades to come if you would simply follow the Geneva Convention and the lofty ideals of the Nὔrnberg war trials. The principle of right and wrong just does not apply. What matters is who has the biggest gun at the moment. That’s real politic.

    November 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  36. Mike Levine

    It is amazing that this should be a question on CNN. If someone is guilty age does not matter. The bigger question is why CNN is even asking this.

    November 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  37. Jason

    Double standard BS. Who is chasing communists from Russia and the adjoining Republics where tens of millions where killed, cca 5 million alone in Ukraine in 2 years in the early 30's. It is as if the only people murdered where of one religion/ethnic group and in one war. Where are all the organizations to hunt communists whom order this? I work in Ukraine and most tell me their lives were far better under Nazi occupation then during Stalin's days. Imagine that!

    November 30, 2009 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  38. Liz

    In response to Keith who said " I don't think they had any choice in the matter and to go after someone for following orders makes no sence. Go after those who gave the orders" I would like to respond that people are defined by the choices we make. Even in impossible situations, we all have choices, and the fact remains that Demjanjuk chose to carry out his orders. We cannot be complacent or obedient in the presence of such atrocities, and allowing Demjanjuk to live as a free man when he denied that right to thousands of people is an invitation to let history repeat itself indefinitely.

    November 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  39. Tom

    We can not deny that what happened was humanity at its lowest, but we need to move forward and make sure we do not cary our hurt and hate to the next generation.

    As a result of the Nazi regime the Palestinians are currently paying the price, we as a humanity should not let one mistake create another, or it will be a never ending cycle.
    We as a humanity should learn from our mistakes, and not let anger and pain fester. Let him go, lets put this behind us for the sake of the next generations.

    November 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  40. Harris

    Yes, put him on trial. In the meantime, drag Benjamin Netanyahu and senior Israeli officials and put them on trial for their crimes against the Palestinians.

    November 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  41. Other Dave


    "The crimes carried out by the Nazis during WW2 are some of the most atrocious in history"

    Are you named after a person who lead an army into Canaan and systematically murdered everyone there?

    November 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  42. Clive

    Yes war criminals should be prosecuted and tried.
    So when are we going to see Tony Blair and George W. Bush hauled up for THIER war crimes, or will money and influence protect them from Justice ?

    November 30, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Reply
  43. Simon Fajgenbaum

    All the readers, who are equating, what the nazis did to the jews in world war 2 Israel vs. Palestine have the same mentality of the nazis. Under what umbrella, should we put the 2 atom bombs we dropped on Japan ? War crimes?? Why are you putting Israel on the spot? Simply because you are anti semitic. What is being done all over the world, Iraq, Afganistan, Ruanda, Cuba etc, is OK, but heaven forbid, should Israel try to defend itself. SHAME ON YOU

    November 30, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  44. Louis

    I agree that the cost of this trial may be inordinately expensive although most probably justified....however, for those who have a problem with the magnitude of the cost in this case, I do have a solution. Dispense with the trial and just hang him....high!

    November 30, 2009 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  45. MikeT

    War crimes and crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations. we can hope too that one day George BVush and Dick Cheney, and DOnal Rumsfeld will face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Torturers dont get off because a few years have passed. And the tortured never forget. Take a look at Chile, and many other killing fields, it may be many many years later, but sooner or later justice will catch up to them.

    November 30, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  46. Abigail Attard

    I agree with him being in Munich and what so on...he helped to kill allot of people some of them even children...it dont matter if it happend now or one hundered years ago..no man can take another man's life just couse....and couse he is ill? big deal, allot of people that he helped to kill where killed anyways...theire death was horrible i wouldnt even want to kill an animal like that let along a human being

    November 30, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Reply
  47. Mia

    Even if he is tried, proved guilty, and executed, that still doesn't compensate for the cruelty he caused in the past. Executing someone does not teach them what is right or what is wrong. It is within himself to realize the crimes he committed. If he can't, noone can do nothing about it.

    November 30, 2009 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  48. doug

    This man was tried and convicted of being Ivan the Terrible, SS guard at Treblinka. Later evidence proved that this was impossible and he was released. Now he will be tried again, this time the "proof "is that he was at Sobibor, never at Treblinka at all!
    This is not justice.

    November 30, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  49. biggie

    free Demkanjuk, now. Jail, Polanski, now. Dump Obama, now.

    November 30, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  50. Jonny

    All war is criminal. Why not just try everyone that's ever been remotely related to any sort of war.

    Should all Vietnam war vets be tried?

    November 30, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  51. Jon

    Good thing this trial is not in Scotland, they let murderers go free if they are ill.

    November 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  52. anotheralternative

    I see genocide happening everyday in the news. In Iraq, Pakistan, Africa, eastern Europe to name a few. All in the name of ancient injustices.
    I'd like to suggest we all just give it a rest and move on. More killings and that's all this would be if he is convicted will not help. Maybe it will for some but the world would be a better place if we could just move on. The ancient injustices just breed new ones. Its not an easy thing to do because I too have a long memory but I'm willing, why not you?

    November 30, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Reply
  53. Helen

    what about putting on trial communists, those who executed my grandparents and lots an lots of decent, innocent people? Communists were the same criminals but they have never been prosecuted unlike Nazis

    November 30, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  54. Franky Den Hollander

    If this guy is such a horrible war criminal why wasn't he tried and executed 60 ago?
    Not a single witness alive, in that way the whole trial becomes one big farce.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  55. Ark

    Whom OSI will run after Demjanuk? A. M.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  56. GJ

    This is the most backwards comment ever. "It was war, and killings etc. are part of that scenario." -Kerry Du Bois. This is not a trial for actions done in battle, but the murdering of innocent people. Are you of the impression that only those who can be tried in an economic manner with slam-dunk prosecutions should be tried. Every individual who commits a crime against humanity and genocide, must know that they have never escaped prosecution until they are 6 feet under.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  57. Darian

    Amy, the Israelis didn't find him innocent of war crimes. They found him innocent of a specific of crimes in Treblinka. In their final judgment, they said he was probably guilty of something, but they couldn't find him guilty of those crimes without more evidence and a trial. Now they have the evidence and a trial.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  58. Christina

    I respect Demjanjuk's right to a trial, I do not think that it is really worth it. Don't you think that he's lived the greater part of his life tormented by his actions over 60 years ago? And what about the modern day atrocities that have been mentioned? What about the Rwandan genocide? Why aren't more those perpetrators (more of whom are alive than Nazi soldiers), being tried? Darfur? Haiti? We invest in this particular trial because it is of a man in a developed country, yet we turn our heads whenever we see modern day genocide in a 2/3rds world country (aka, developing country).

    My vote: let him live out the rest of his days, if he has any ounce of humanity in him, they will not be pleasant because he knows the truth of what he has (or has not) done. The world can utilize the money to save the lives that are being lost now.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  59. William

    This matter has been in courts for a quarter century. Originally, he was convicted of being a guard called Ivan the Terrible, who had committed atrocities, but just before he was hanged a court reviewed the evidence and concluded that another guard had been Ivan the Terrible. So his conviction was overturned. So now they have shipped him to Germany, of all places, for trial; I don't recall Germany actively pursuing its own elderly people who were involved, but I guess they can appear to have become civilized. Its hard to believe they would have the courage to deliver anything but a guilty verdict, as it would be bad for their image.

    What has been reported from the many trials is that this was a Ukranian who was conscripted into the Soviet Army. and the Soviets made a practice of executing anyone who was captured and repatriated. He was captured by the Germans and made a guard at a camp. So his choice was apparently to work as a guard, or risk being turned over to the Soviets to be executed. Who in such circumstances would have made a different choice? The evidence of atrocities points to another guard; I've read of no evidence (other than misinformed and emotional speculation) associating this person with anything more than being a guard. Many prisoners made much the same choice, working in the camps or playing in the camp orchestra, but none of the Jewish prisoners who made such a choice is prosecuted.

    I agree that those who planned and led this horrible event, and even those who enthusiastically participated in the actual crimes, should be prosecuted. But to hound an old man who did nothing but save his own life is a high price to pay to keep the Holocaust industry profitable.

    November 30, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  60. Nick

    I am pretty confused, we as a general mass of society can "forgive" Roman Polanski for drugging and raping a 13 year old girl, but we put men like this on trial????? what the hell is wrong with us?

    November 30, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  61. Jennifer


    Well said.

    November 30, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  62. Phil Hamburg Germany

    "Nazi ain't got no humanity. They're the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin', mass murderin' maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed. That's why any and every every SOB we find wearin' a Nazi uniform, they're gonna die." Aldo Raine..

    Have you taken a look at what they did in Sobibor? 250 000 Jews let alone all the others that died.... Imagine if they were 250 000 American.... I am sure you would kill him yourself. This wasn't war it was genocide. These people need to be hanged not inprisoned.

    November 30, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  63. Phil Hamburg Germany

    You decide if it is worth it.......

    November 30, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  64. archie

    there is a time when people just need to forgive and look for the correct thing to do. they also need to remove the beams from their own eyes before trying to remove the speck from someone else's.

    i am sure Germany and America have committed worse attrocities that this person has and yet they stand in judgment of a man's actions, who has already been declared a victim of mistaken identity, committed over 60 years ago.

    sorry, but i cannot support this trial or subsequent ones, there is a far better way to go.

    November 30, 2009 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  65. Lacy

    Nothing could and never will change the horrible events of the Holocaust. If this man has any respect for himself and the Jewish community, he'll serve his term, no questions asked. Age shouldn't determine if your still a criminal or not. Put him behind bars.

    November 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Reply
  66. Guido

    It is indeed a difficult task to judge this person. From what I understand, JD was a Russian soldier and POW in Germany forced to either remain captured as a POW in Germany or serve in Sobibor. He didn't freely choose to do the job. Once in Sobibor, he probably had a choice between being killed or kill others.

    What would we have done?

    November 30, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  67. arma

    in response to
    Kerry Du Bois:It was war, and killings etc. are part of that scenario.
    the difference between any "normal" war and ww2, which you obviosly didnt cover in history lessons, is that people like demjanjuk pushed children and women and teens and disabled into gas chambers on the daily bases. their whole job was to kill civillians. thats not what normal soldiers do.
    many survivors of this camp said that those helpers like demjanjuk were even worse than those guys of the SS, so you cant imagine what they did.

    its not about revenge, its about justice. and those men and woman who lost family members there deserve justice, even if its very small.

    November 30, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  68. Ben

    It should never be forgotten and they should never be forgiven!

    November 30, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  69. Tony

    I have mixed feeling about this.

    As a soldier, or guard, he was doing what his country told him to do. In Nazi Germany you were either with them or against them. If you did not do as you were told you were pretty much ending your own life. The cost of desertion (AWOL) was death.

    If a Soldier today was ordered to shoot down someone who could be innocent in the name of their country for the betterment of their country, and refused, they would at the very least be in jail for that.

    Put the leaders who issued the orders on trial, not the rank and file who followed them blindly.

    November 30, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  70. Doug

    "It was war, and killings etc. are part of that scenario."

    Kerry Du Bois, that is a ridiculous statement. Genocide is not an expected part of the "scenario" of war. The Nazis murdered innocent civilian men, women, and children. That type of murder should not be thought of as a natural outcome of war.

    November 30, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Reply
  71. ha de

    If it is a kind of Criminal Conspiracy, it requires a strong Law to root-out those Conspirators. After all, the charge will be staged, from minor to Major. I believe, more than half-of European populations will be tried for TRIAL. However, the question will be, DO WE HAVE ENOUGH JUDGES AND COURT ROOMS?

    November 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  72. rmartin

    Here we go....more and more of the Jewish Guilt thing. It never stops. If the state of Israel or anyone else could figure out a way to prosecute the grandchildren of Nazis, they would do that too. What the Hell....let's put Julius Caesar on trial in absentia.

    I would like to know why George W. Bush and his "dictatorship" are not on trial in The Hague for Crimes Against Humanity. That seems much more relevant to me.

    November 30, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  73. A.Moscovitz

    John Demjanjuk is a murderer Mr Du Bois. Not a soldier. So your final argument is incorrect "It was war, and killings etc. are part of that scenario."
    He , along with many others, planned and organized the murder of so many innocent people, mostly jews, women, children, mean and elderlies. They enjoyed it, no remorse. And probably, most of them , after the war had a family and children. They became "respectable"
    Yes! you are right to be concerned by the cost of such trial. Yes! but there is an alternative, quick and unexpensive. The one those criminals used so often against my people...a bullet!

    November 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  74. Northman

    Kerry Du Bois Get serious. Part of the scenario. Since when is genocide part of a scenario. Where you sick or absent during History class?

    November 30, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Reply
  75. Artur

    Why the man is free? I can't believe...
    This man killed a lot of people: men, women, children.
    I think I should kill this man...

    November 30, 2009 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  76. Jorge

    Having visited one concentration camp years ago I still recall the effect it had on me when imagining the horrors that were faced by the unfortunate and helpless victims of the nazis, adults or children, young or old, man or woman alike. Suffices a visit to one of these places to understand why one cannot forget and do nothing but maintain the willingness to persecute at all costs and means possible any criminals that are still left without punishment. For the benefit of future generations.

    November 30, 2009 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  77. Johnny G

    The cost of these trials should not even enter into the calculation. The fact is, when you commit crimes against humanity or war crimes that are prohibited by the world community, you should not be able to take solice in the fact that if you stay hidden for X amount of years, you won't have to stand trial. The availability of witnesses is likewise a weak argument. That merely encourages perpetrators of war crimes to kill all witnesses rather than risk being lenient to some who could convict them later. While the court may take into account the fact that you've led an exemplary life after committing atrocities, that should only factor into your sentencing, not into whether you are guilty or not, and not whether you should be prosecuted for your crimes after the passing of many years.

    November 30, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  78. Justin Lee Curtis

    To put a man on trial for such atrocities that happened 60+ years ago is ludicrous in that a trial really isn't necessary. As I cannot with good, non-biased judgement say that this man should be executed, it has to be layed to rest that some justice must be done. However, there are several things that must be considered: this was a military force that would have served as a nationalist hollum, the man is in bad health and likely to pass away eventually, and nothing will ever pay back the families of the afflicted. However, I do agree that some justice should be done, but what that justice is is so uncertain to me.

    November 30, 2009 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  79. wolfmeister

    I notice that many, if not most of the above postings assume that this man is guilty. If he is, then he does deserve punishment, but his guilt cannot be assumed until proven. Those saying "he should die" and so on are trying to be judge and jury...his defence is apparently that he is not the man who was a guard at the camp. Until it is proven he is that man, beyond doubt, he should be treated as innocent of the charges. Or do all you prejudgers ("predudiced") think, as some of the nastier characters in our history did; "it is better for a million innocent to die than for one guilty to escape punishment"? If he is guilty, whatever the results of the trial, his punishment will come from a Higher Power than our judiciary...or don't you believe in divine justice?

    December 1, 2009 at 12:02 am | Reply
  80. Frank

    War is a horrible thing, my Dad was there in WWII. Yet any of these people committing these atrocities were generally following orders. What would happen to them if they refused? Shot on the spot I imagine. So you can execute all you want, does it really solve anything? Especially someone elderly and in poor health, what the hell is the matter with people that seek blood thirsty revenge? Are we to become no less human ourselves? As Christ once said while being crucified; "Forgive them father for they know not what they do?" Let's put this in perspective and put the folks who participated to work in some controlled environment, prison if you want to call it that. To spend millions for a "blood revenge" is absurd.

    December 1, 2009 at 12:13 am | Reply
  81. Mike

    I have a great idea to save a bunch of money to take care of this guy. Take him out back and give him the same treatment millions of Jews got. Lead in the back of the head.

    December 1, 2009 at 1:21 am | Reply
  82. chuck klein

    Worth every single penny, and eventhough he'll never serve out a term in prison, his name will go on record as one of the great villians of the 20th century, as deserved. His victim's were never their chance to live, why should his name live untarnished. We as a society ,should pay to bring atrocities like this out in the open. Shame on you for bringing cost as an issue in a case like this!!!

    December 1, 2009 at 1:32 am | Reply
  83. A. Smith, Oregon

    I have photos of the Pope greeting and honoring Hitler in Berlin. I have photos of Bishops and Cardinals giving the Nazi Salute to the inner cast of Hitlers SS officers. That was no mere polite greeting, it is a implied partnership.

    Did the Vatican ever return the billion dollars of Gold it obtained from the Nazi plunder of the Jews and Romanian people?

    Why hasn't the Vatican returned all of that Gold?

    Has the Catholic Church ever been put on trial for its duplicity in Hitlers plans?

    December 1, 2009 at 3:27 am | Reply
  84. Andrew

    It's important that the world see justice prevail time and time again over all the attrocities the nazis committed. I understand the money can be put to other things but I think it's important to send a clear message that puts fear into the hearts of anyone else who considers committing a crime during war time.

    December 1, 2009 at 3:38 am | Reply
  85. James

    The world has hunted down the people who have planned the Holocaust.
    Is the world suppose to chase every soldier that has took orders aswell ?
    If we need to chase every soldier with blood on his/her hands for killing innocent people, than we should be looking for "war criminals" in every country in this world including the US, England and Israel, since there soldiers have killed innocent people. Get over it, there are true war criminals out there that have done worst acts than this guy has (just not to the jewesh people), and no one seems to care.

    Justice is not only for one race and/or religeon

    December 1, 2009 at 4:54 am | Reply
  86. bob

    it is a waste of time to hunt down these old people, people change the man they are charging now may very well be a completely different man then the man who committed the crime. just think about how different you were just 10 years ago. however kerry "It was war, and killings etc. are part of that scenario." not it was not, it was holocaust and genocide things that should not just things that are part of a war scenerio, do you see gaschambres in Afghanistan? thank god we don't.

    December 1, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Reply
  87. John

    I am sure most of the people here that are for chasing every person who was a Nazi is from Jewish faith.
    Not agreeing with someone Jewish is not anti-semetic, stop using that word freely for evey argument you have.

    December 1, 2009 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  88. Mark S

    I see someone considers it "cruel" to punish such an elderly and sick man (it should be noted by the way that many reports claim that the illness is an act and that he was seen at the close of proceedings one day joking around with his lawyers).

    It's a shame that the witnesses aren't around any more (as noted in the blog description). Most of them were slaughtered over 60 years ago by this "man" (if you can call him that) and the wicked people that he worked with.

    But some did make it through, and it's a shame they're not at the case either. My late grandmother passed away just last year at the age of 93 – outliving by 63 years every single other member of her close and extended family, all of whom she never got a chance to say goodbye to as they were taken off to be slaughtered.

    ‘William’ feels sorry for him because "to hound an old man who did nothing but save his own life" doesn't seem like a nice thing to do. William, I feel sorry for YOU – that you can consider the decision to save oneself at the cost of millions of others as a reasonable one is a real shame, and in my eyes displays a true, and unfortunate, lack of good judgement and/or morals.

    The blog description questions if the money could be better spent. Do you genuinely believe that any amount of money can in anyway whatsoever be an “effective way (of) compensating the relatives of war crime victims”? As I said, you note that no witnesses remain – and it’s a shame that they aren’t here to explain to you just how wrong you are on this point.

    December 2, 2009 at 3:11 am | Reply
  89. Paula

    I have no mixed feelings, no hesitation, no doubts. That this man escaped justice for a quarter of a century does not mean he is innocent. He is old and he is frail...well, his victims never got the chance to be either.

    I want to see him stand trial...and if he can't stand...let him sit there.

    I want to see the trial continue – even if the man drops dead in the middle.

    I want to see the evidence spoken out loud; his crimes detailed.

    I want him to be sentenced to spend the rest of his cursed life in prison – in bed, in a chair, I don't care.

    No mercy...no forgiveness? It's a question – and my answer is – as much as he showed his victims.

    I want to thank those who offered intelligent comments above...and shame on those who used this forum to spout yet more anti-Semitic drivel (rmartin, for example).

    You do the crime...you do the time...whether it was last week or last century. May John Demjanyuk never have a sleep-filled night in this world or in the next. May he be haunted by his crimes and know that long after he is dust...the children of those who survived will curse his memory and dedicate their lives to preventing others from committing similar crimes.

    If to save his own life, he had to help murder 27,000 people (and I believe, actually, the number is 29,000, not 27,000...than his life should have been forfeited. He had no right to life by choosing to kill others.

    Old...frail...pathetic? Would you feel the same if it was your mother he'd murdered, your father he starved?

    December 3, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Reply

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