Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Free John Demjanjuk

Deported by the United States, retired autoworker John Demjanjuk was carried in a wheelchair onto a jet that departed Monday evening for Germany, which wants to try him as an accessory to the murders of Jews and others at a Nazi death camp in World War II.

Demjanjuk, 89, arrived in an ambulance at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport after spending several hours with U.S. immigration officials at a downtown federal building. Airport commissioner Khalid Bahhur confirmed Demjanjuk was on the plane and that its destination is Germany.

The deportation came four days after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Demjanjuk's request to block deportation and about 3 1/2 years after he was last ordered deported.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk (pronounced dem-YAHN'-yuk) is wanted on a Munich arrest warrant that accuses him of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. The legal case spans three decades.

I really don't see how we can allow Demjanjuk's prosecution to go forward.

Would it not be unfair to "prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect (their country) for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by (their government)"?

Surely we can agree that Demjanjuk was "pressured by (his) fear, by (his) sense of duty to a fearful nation, led by a (government) awash in fear—all of this swimming in (his) head and clouding that moral compass—acted in good faith, from (his) perceptions." Under such circumstances, “no one who took actions based on legal guidance from the (Ministry) of Justice at the time should be investigated, let alone punished.”

WWII was, of course, a "dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."

Indeed, "the current spectacle of self-righteous condemnation not just cowardly but hollow. It is one thing to have disagreed at the time and said so. It is utterly contemptible, however, to have been silent then and to rise now ... to excoriate those who kept (their country) safe ..."


Blogger Chris Dashiell said...

Another brilliant piece.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true! I agree!

1:50 PM  

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