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Tag: John Demjanjuk

Hungarian Nazi Dies of Natural Causes

According to sources, one Sandor Kepiro, former Hungarian war crimes suspect, wanted for his connection to the massacre of as many as 2,000 Serbs and Jews during World War two has died of natural causes. He died in Budapest on Saturday at the age of 97.

Kepiro was once the numeral uno most wanted man on the most wanted list at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles-based organization of Nazi hunters.

The center and Hungarian prosecutors said that Kepiro was a member of Hungary’s pro-Nazi police during World War Two; he was what is known as a gendarmerie. He was accused of participating in the January 1942 massacre and allegedly assisted in the dumping of the bodies into the icy Danube River. Kepiro was specifically accused of the murder of thirty people.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s top Nazi hunter found Sandor Kepiro living in Budapest in 2006 and he alerted the Hungarian authorities. He had returned to Hungary in 1996 after spending the post-war years in Argentina. However, Hungarian court dismissed Kepiro in July of this year, on grounds of a lack of evidence. Many of those in attendance at the court session cheered and clapped when Judge Bela Varga read out the verdict of the three-member tribunal.

However, the ruling by the Hungarian court ignited demonstrations in Budapest and Novi Sad, the town where the massacre took place. In January 1944, Kepiro and several other officers were convicted of disloyalty by a military court for their role in the Novi Sad raids. The 10-year prison sentence, originally applied to the deceased Hungarian, of which he served a few weeks in January 1944, was later annulled and his rank reinstated.

Prior to reading out the verdict, Mr. Varga said that Kepiro was brought to the tribunal by ambulance and had spent the past week in a hospital after being given the wrong medication.

In a statement read out by Kepiro’s psychologist, the accused said:

“I am innocent. I never killed, never stole. I served my country…because for him without Hungary there is no life.”

Prior to the Kepiro’s trial, the last man to be accused of Nazi-era war crimes was John Demjanjuk, a retired autoworker from Ohio. He was convicted in May of 2011 of 28,060 counts of accessory to murder by a court in Munich.

This week Demjanjuk became the subject of a new investigation, accusing him of guarding not only the Sobibor death camp, for which he has already been convicted, but also the Flossenbuerg concentration camp. This case was the first ever instance of someone being convicted on evidence of being a guard alone, sans evidence of any specific killing. Attorney Cornelius Nestler said that his goal in filing the new complaint was to expand the precedent to apply to concentration camp guards and death camp guards alike.

Yom Hashoa and John Demjanjuk’s Extraction to Germany

DemjanjukIn a way, it seems almost fitting that former concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk is on the verge of being extradited to Germany as this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day begins. Demjanjuk is being extradited from the USA to stand trial in Germany for his part in one of Mankind’s most horrendous acts of cruelty in modern times. Demjanjuk, now nearly 90, had originally been extradited to Israel where he had been convicted and sentenced to death for his role as the notorious “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka concentration Camp where nearly a million Jews and others were killed during WWII. Demjanjuk had been living quietly in Cleveland Ohio for years since coming to the USA in 1953 from his native Ukraine.

He was freed from Israel after new evidence shed a reasonable doubt that he was indeed the notorious Treblinka camp guard who was personally said to have killed many inmates himself in various cruel ways. His arrival back in the US was centered in controversy, and many people sought ways to have him deported to some other country, such as Poland or the Ukraine. But no one wanted him; even the country of his birth.

New evidence secured in (of all places) Germany implicates Demjanjuk as being a guard at a much smaller camp, Sobibor, in southeastern Poland, where more than 200,000 people are said to have been killed, at least 29,000 during Demjanjuk’s duty tenure. Demjanjuk’s son, John Jr., was quoted as saying that he and his family “will do everything possible” to prevent “this cruel and inhumane punishment” from happening to his father, who is now in a very bad state of health.

Cruel and inhumane punishment, eh? Many people, especially those surviving Holocaust victims who still remember this man, may be remembering how he expressed his “humanity” to camp inmates he was in charge of – especially those as old and as feeble as he is now. Would he have been as concerned for their welfare as Demjanjuk’s family are concerned about him now? Concentration camp survivors, many of whom are well into their 80’s (as Demjanjuk is) still have nightmares concerning the horrors they experienced during their incarceration in a number of death or forced labor camps, including those as notorious as Auschwitz –Birkenau, Buchenwald, Treblinka, and others. Perhaps any “compassion” Demjanjuk may have shown to his charges was to kill them quickly, and not torture and humiliate them as he has been accused of doing.

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2009 is being commemorated as usual with ceremonies and events to remember the more than 6,000,000 Jews who were slaughtered between 1938 and 1945. But few will shed a tear for this man, Ivan John Demjanjuk; especially the few remaining camp survivors who had the “distinction” of knowing him personally.

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