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Demjanjuk Is Ivan, Death Camp Survivor Testifies

March 04, 1987|Associated Press

JERUSALEM — A Nazi death camp survivor identified John Demjanjuk as "Ivan the Terrible" from a 36-year-old photograph Tuesday and described how the brutal guard killed a girl as she tried to escape.

Asked by the prosecution to flip through a photo album and identify the guard, Joseph Czarny pointed to a 1951 photo of Demjanjuk, a retired auto worker from Ohio. "Here he is, Ivan the Terrible," Czarny said.

Demjanjuk, 66, a native of the Soviet Ukraine, is accused of being the guard known as Ivan the Terrible, who beat and mutilated prisoners at the Treblinka camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, then pushed them into the death chambers.

Demjanjuk claims he was never at Treblinka, where 850,000 Jews were killed in 1942-43, and says he is a victim of mistaken identity.

Czarny, 60, spent 10 months at Treblinka when he was 16. He told the court he first identified the picture for Israeli investigators in 1976: "I said, 'My God, he's alive! He's alive!' Until then I didn't know."

"I see him now as though it were yesterday," Czarny continued. "Tall, broad, large eyes, somewhat elongated face, very tall. He had a black peaked cap with the skull that was the insignia of the SS."

He said Ivan would stand with Nazi SS officers as boxcars full of Jews arrived at Treblinka.

"During one of these transports, I saw Ivan the Terrible shooting in the direction of the outer fence," he said. "Then I saw his target: a young girl who apparently had succeeded in climbing onto the fence. He pulled out his pistol and fired and I just had a chance to catch a glimpse of this girl as she lurched back lifeless."

Testimony Challenged

During cross-examination, defense lawyer Yoram Sheftel cited contradictions between Czarny's testimony and what he told Israeli investigators in 1976.

On Tuesday, Czarny said Demjanjuk's name was not mentioned to him in 1976, but Sheftel read from his testimony then: "Now that I'm told the name of Ivan Demjanjuk, yes I remember well a Ukrainian that was called 'Ivan the Terrible.' "

Sheftel said Czarny did not identify the picture of Demjanjuk immediately in 1976 but turned to a photo of Fedor Fedorenko, a guard at Treblinka who was sentenced to death in the Soviet Union last year.

"You did not even mention Ivan. You pointed at a picture of a man we now know to be Fedorenko," Sheftel said.

"It may not be in the (1976) record, but I always stressed Ivan," Czarny said. "Always I said it to myself. To the record, I don't know."

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