30 November 2009
(November 30, 2009 - Jerusalem) The trial of John Demjanjuk opens today in Munich, Germany. Demjanjuk is accused of being a guard at the Sobibor death camp, and thus an accessory to the murder of some 27,900 Jews. Following is a statement by Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem on the opening of the trial.
Unquestionably trials centered on crimes committed during the Holocaust serve as significant forums for raising awareness about the Holocaust. They provide an opportunity to highlight not only events but to explore society-wide and individual responsibility for the atrocities that were committed during that time. There can be no statute of limitations on crimes committed as part of the Holocaust. Although this trial is being discussed as possibly the last Nazi war crimes trial, other trials are taking place, and may take place in the future. During the trial held in Israel in the 1980s - despite the doubt about him being Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka - evidence came to light that Demjanjuk served as a guard recruited by the SS. He is now being tried as an accessory to murder of some 28,000 people in Sobibor. Survivors are interested, even at this late stage, in a modicum of justice. While no trial can bring back those that were murdered, holding those responsible to justice has an important moral and educational role in society.
Information about Sobibor is available here.