federal appeals court said that Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk’s
U.S. citizenship cannot be posthumously restored.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Thursday that his death
made the case moot. Demjanjuk died in southern Germany on March 17
at the age of 91.
Restoration of his citizenship would have enabled
his widow to seek Social Security benefits.
Demjanjuk’s defense attorneys had asked the appeals
court to restore the former suburban Cleveland resident’s citizenship,
saying the American government withheld potentially helpful material.
A Munich court convicted the Ohio autoworker last
year on 28,060 counts of being an accessory to murder at the Sobibor
death camp in occupied Poland. Demjanjuk, who maintained that he
had been mistaken for someone else, died while his conviction was
His defense claimed that U.S. District Judge Dan Polster
in Cleveland violated basic fairness by ruling against Demjanjuk’s
citizenship appeal without holding a hearing on a 1985 secret FBI
report uncovered recently by The Associated Press. The document indicates
that the FBI believed a Nazi ID card purportedly showing that Demjanjuk
served as a death camp guard was a Soviet-made fake.
The government argued that the defense filing contained
no new information in the matter and the court rejected the arguments
on Demjanjuk’s behalf.
“Over three decades, we have repeatedly rejected Demjanjuk’s
challenges to the authenticity of the Trawniki card and fraud on
the court,” the court said, as reported in Haaretz.
But the Supreme Court judges also said that they still
believed Demjanjuk had served the Nazis, probably at the Trawniki
SS training camp and Sobibor, and declined to order a new trial.
Carole S. Rendon, first assistant U.S. attorney for
northern Ohio, said she hopes Thursday’s decision puts the case to
“The 6th Circuit confirmed once and for all that the
real victims were the tens of thousands of innocent men, women and
children who suffered and died at the camps where Demjanjuk was a
Nazi guard,’’ she said in an email, reported by The Associated Press.