John Demjanjuk, on trial for aiding in the murder of 27,900 Jews during World War II, said he will go on hunger strike unless the judges in a Munich court hear more evidence in his defense.
In his third personal statement to the court during the 14-month trial, Demjanjuk, 90, today said the court is acting illegally by refusing to retrieve documents from Russia as requested by his lawyers. Ulrich Busch, his attorney, read the statement before filing dozens of motions.
The request came as prosecutors prepared to start their closing arguments in what may be the last major Holocaust trial in Germany. Demjanjuk, a Ukraine native and retired autoworker, is accused of serving as a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp from March to September 1943, when the Jews, mostly deported from the Netherlands, were killed. Demjanjuk, who arrived in court in a wheelchair, held a card showing 1627, the docket number of a Russian file with 1,400 pages his lawyers are seeking to obtain.
“I survived the brutality of Stalin and the Nazis and the wrongful death sentence in Israel,” said Demjanjuk. “Now, at the end of my life, the nation that so merciless and cruelly murdered millions seeks to destroy my life and dignity and to extinguish my mind in this politically motivated show trial.”
Germany “is trying to convict me, a Ukrainian peasant, for crimes the Nazis committed, instead of convicting one of the really guilty perpetrators,” he said.
Demjanjuk lived near Cleveland until he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and extradited to Israel in 1986. He was tried there on charges he was “Ivan the Terrible,” the guard who tortured Jews while herding them into the Treblinka concentration camp gas chambers.
His death sentence and conviction in the case were overturned in 1993 by Israel’s Supreme Court, which said there was reasonable doubt that he served at Treblinka. Demjanjuk returned to the U.S., regaining his citizenship. In 2002, a U.S. court revoked it again over his alleged role at Sobibor. He was extradited to Germany to stand trial in Munich in 2009.