Demjanjuk’s Trial May Not Be the Last
Might Germany prosecute other non-Germans?
Germany’s prosecution of John Demjanjuk for allegedly aiding in the slaughter of 27,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Poland is notable for more than just the sensational drama involved in attempting to bring an accused génocidaire to justice (especially one whom Israel tried, sentenced to death, and then acquitted on appeal more than a decade ago). According to Haaretz, the case of Demjanjuk—who is Ukrainian-born and a one-time U.S. citizen—represents a break with Germany’s policy of not trying suspected war criminals who are not themselves Germans. The precedent, in other words, could open the door to more trials of non-Germans.
Haaretz points to Bronislaw Hajda as one such non-German. An 85-year-old Polish-American who resides in Chicago, Hajda allegedly served at Treblinka in 1944. Though he “without doubt” committed war crimes, a U.S. court found, he cannot be tried under U.S. jurisdiction. Instead, he awaits deportation to Poland or Germany—a prospect that the prosecution of John Demjanjuk has made, for him and for any others in his position, suddenly much more threatening.
Update: While Haaretz says Hadja is still alive, a reader pointed us to the Chicago Tribune, which reported he died in 2005, and the Social Security Death Index, which reports him as deceased.