JERUSALEM — An investigator testified today that John Demjanjuk insisted he wouldn't be at fault even if he had been "Ivan the Terrible" because the Nazi death camp guard was just a POW following instructions.
Survivors of the Treblinka camp in Nazi-occupied Poland have testified that Ivan beat and stabbed inmates, sliced off pieces of their flesh and gouged out eyes before shoving them into the death chambers and turning on the gas.
Demjanjuk, a 66-year-old retired Ohio auto worker, claims he was never at Treblinka and is a victim of mistaken identity.
Alex Ish-Shalom, head of the Israeli team that interrogated Demjanjuk, said the defendant often referred to himself as "Ivan" but then said he was not the feared Ukrainian guard at Treblinka, where 850,000 Jews were killed in 1942-43.
"He told us repeatedly: 'We couldn't act any differently from the way we did, we (Ukrainians) were prisoners of war,' " Ish-Shalom told the court.