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article imageConvicted Nazi criminal, John Demjanjuk, dead at 91

By Layne Weiss     Mar 18, 2012 in World
John Demjanjuk, a native Ukrainian who was convicted last year for serving as a Nazi death camp guard, died Saturday in southern Germany. He was 91.
The Washington Post reports that Martin Winkler, a spokesman for the Bavarian police, confirmed that Demjanjuk was found dead in his nursing home room Saturday morning.
Demjanjuk, a retired Ohio auto-worker had been living in Germany since 2009 after being stripped of his US citizenship, CBS News reports.
In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr. revealed that his father had been suffering from terminal bone marrow disease and chronic kidney disease.
CBS News reports that at this time it is unclear whether Demjanjuk's body will be flown back to the United States for burial.
In 1988, Demjanjuk was tried and convicted by the Israeli Supreme Court, and sentenced to die by hanging. Demjanjuk had a very strong resemblance to "Ivan The Terrible," an extremely evil man who murdered thousands of Jews at Treblinka. The Israeli Supreme Court overturned the conviction when evidence surfaced that another Ukrainian was most likely the real "Ivan The Terrible."
Demjanjuk was convicted in 2011 by a court in Munich of 28,060 counts of being an accessory to murder at the Sobibor death camp in Poland, the Washington Post reports.
According to CBS News, there was never any evidence linking Demjanjuk to any specific crimes. It was basically just theorized that since he was at the camp, he was a participant in the murders.
Demjanjuk maintained that he wasn't a death camp guard, but a prisoner of war. He vehemently denied any involvement in the crimes he was accused of committing or overseeing.
In 1987, Demjanjuk told a panel of Israeli judges that he never killed anyone.
"I couldn't even kill a chicken," he said. "My wife had to do it," he said.
After being forced to return to Germany in 2009, Demjanjuk said, "Germany is responsible for the fact that I have lost for good my whole reason to live, my family, my happiness, any future, any hope."
"I am again and again an innocent victim of the Germans," Demjanjuk told a panel of judges in Munich.
German prosecutors argued that while Demjanjuk was indeed captured by Germans, he had actually volunteered to serve with the SS, and trained as a death camp guard.
He was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but released on appeal and transferred to a nursing home. The New York Times reports that the court felt that his age and failing health made it highly unlikely that he would try to flee Germany.
John Demjanjuk Jr said his father died "a victim and a survivor of Soviet and German brutality," The New York Times reports. "History will show Germany used him as a scapegoat to blame helpless Ukrainian P.O.Ws for the deeds of Nazi Germans," he added.
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