May 20, 2008, - 12:11 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Yesterday, the Supreme Court rejected the last appeal (I hope) of Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk to avoid deportation.
I’ve been following the story of Demjanjuk . . . since I began elementary school. He’s now 88 and still here, even though he was found out in the mid-’70s. He falsified applications (and lied about his Nazi past) to enter the U.S. in 1952, more than a decade ago, and to obtain American citizenship in 1958.
Demjanjuk–the wicked Ukrainian who prevented innocent Jews from escaping their deaths in the ovens and via the firing squads–has lived the good life in America for decades. He worked as an autoworker in Ohio, had a home in the suburbs, health benefits, a pension, a wife, a family, children, grandchildren–all the things his victims never had because they were sent to their untimely early deaths . . . murdered by his colleagues while he stood guard.
But, to give you an indication on how difficult it is to deport someone–even a known war criminal–Demjanjuk fought and appealed and tolled the end of his good American life for decades.
Demjanjuk has lived a full life. Even if he’s deported tomorrow, he will have lived a longer, fuller, and better life than he deserved.
And he will have proved how America’s courts–specifically, it’s complicated web of immigration and regular courts–failed to give the 11 million victims of the Holocaust whom John Demjanjuk and his Third Reich buddies murdered, any form of justice.
Question: Since the Supreme Court has issued a final “no dice” to Demjanjuk, how long before the man is deported?
Sad Answer: Don’t hold your breath. The other prob with the immigration system is that without “travel documents” issued by another country, we can’t send him away to anywhere, anytime soon. And no country wants to take him. Can you blame them?
Yes, this hardened Nazi murderer, John Demjanjuk, will probably die a free man in America and never suffer a day (but for the 6 months he spent in Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Detention and Removal facility–where he was still treated far better than his victims).
Throughout his legal odyssey, he’s fought with the U.S. and Israeli governments, Soviet intelligence, and his victims about whether he was “Ivan the Terrible” (the legendary evil Nazi guard and mass murderer) or “Ivan the Almost as Terrible”.
But one thing is for sure: throughout all this, John Demjanjuk was “Ivan Who Lived More than a Half Century of the Not so Terrible American Life With Impunity for His Crimes.”
And “Ivan the Nazi Who Gamed the U.S. System.”
Read my previous column on John Demjanuk:
* The John Demjanjuk Story: How “Deporting” a Nazi Takes Decades; Lesson on Greater Immigration Probs