German prosecutors on Tuesday said John Demjanjuk, 90, should serve a six-year jail term for helping to murder 27,900 Jews during his alleged time as a Nazi death camp guard during World War II.
Delivering closing remarks in the high-profile war crimes trial, expected to be one of the last of its kind, prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz said Demjanjuk had participated willingly in the Holocaust during a six-month stint as a guard.
“Armed with a weapon, he transported the victims from the wagons, undressed them and led them into the gas chambers,” Lutz told the court in Munich, southern Germany. “He participated willingly in the murder of 27,900 Jews.”
There is “no reasonable doubt” of Demjanjuk’s involvement in the crimes committed at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during March and September 1943 when he was alleged to have been there, added the prosecutor.
The accused appeared relaxed, joking with one of the medics and taking a small sip from a plastic cup. He listened to proceedings sitting up on a stretcher, covered in a white sheet.
He said one of the main reasons for a shorter sentence was that Demjanjuk had already spent time in jail in Israel, accused of being “Ivan the Terrible”, a particularly sadistic Nazi guard at another camp, Treblinka. Demjanjuk was released after the Israeli Supreme Court established they had the wrong man.
Also counting in his favour was “definitely the fact that he did not report voluntarily for duty in a death camp”, Lutz added. A member of the Red Army, Demjanjuk fell into German hands as a prisoner of war in 1942.
“He was aware that the victims suffered physical and mental torture … in addition he adopted the Nazi ideology of genocide,” he said. “At the same time, he did not flee the camp, although he had the opportunity to do so.”