In a dramatic courtroom confrontation today, John Demjanjuk tried to shake hands with a survivor of the Treblinka death camp who identified the former U.S. auto worker as the brutal Nazi guard “Ivan the Terrible.”
The witness, Eliyahu Rosenberg, lurched back in revulsion and shouted, “ Grozny !” which means “terrible” in Russian and was the name given to the guard know to Treblinka prisoners as Ivan the Terrible.
“Ivan, I say it unhesitatingly, without the slightest doubt, it is Ivan of the gas chambers,” said Rosenberg, a 66-year-old Israeli testifying for the prosecution in the second week of Demjanjuk’s war crimes trial. “I saw his eyes, I saw those murderous eyes. How dare you put out your hand, murderer that you are!”
Could Be Executed
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, 66, is accused of being one of the operators of the gas chambers where 850,000 Jews were killed. If convicted, he could be executed.
Demjanjuk says he was in the Soviet army during World War II and was himself captured by the Nazis. After the war he settled in a Cleveland suburb.
During testimony today, Rosenberg, saying he needed to see Demjanjuk’s eyes to make a positive identification, crossed from the witness stand to the bench where Demjanjuk sat flanked by policemen and a translator.
Demjanjuk stood, took off his glasses and smiled as Rosenberg approached. He then stuck out his hand, prompting the outburst by Rosenberg, who staggered back to the witness stand and collapsed in tears.
Demjanjuk sat down and looked on without apparent emotion.