Monday, November 30, 2009

John Demjanjuk Trial Begins in Munich, Germany - 30 November, 2009

John Demjanjuk
Demjanjuk hearing his death sentence on April 25, 1988 in Jerusalem, Israel.

John Demjanjuk (born Ivan Mykolayovych Demyanyuk, 1920, Ukraine) is a retired auto worker and former United States citizen, who gained notoriety after being accused of war crimes.

Demjanjuk migrated to the United States in 1951. He was deported to Israel in 1986 and later sentenced to death there in 1988 for war crimes, based on his identification by Israeli Holocaust survivors as "Ivan the Terrible," a notorious SS guard at the Treblinka and Sobibor extermination camps during the period 1942–1943 who committed murder and acts of extraordinarily savage violence against camp prisoners. His conviction for crimes against humanity was later overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1993 due to a finding of reasonable doubt based on evidence suggesting that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible" and had, in fact, been a guard at camps besides the one at Treblinka. After the trial he returned to Cleveland, Ohio.

Demjanjuk was put on trial again in 2001 (Cleveland ) on charges that he had served as a guard at the Sobibór and Majdanek camps in occupied Poland and at the Flossenbürg camp in Germany. His deportation was again ordered in 2005, but he remained in the United States as no country would agree to accept him. On April 2, 2009, it was announced that Demjanjuk would be deported to Germany and would face trial there on charges of accessory to 29,000 counts of murder. On April 3, 2009, a judge ordered that Demjanjuk, 89 years old, be given a temporary stay, pending a judicial decision on his newly filed (April 2) motion to reopen his deportation order, on the ground that deporting him would amount to torture under the applicable international convention. The stay was overturned on April 6.

On April 14, 2009, immigration agents began Demjanjuk's deportation, removing him from his home in a wheelchair. He was scheduled to fly to Munich from Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, but the legal order was again reversed and another stay granted by the court. On May 7, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Demjanjuk's appeal and on May 8, 2009, he was ordered to surrender to U.S. Immigration agents for deportation to Germany. On May 11, Demjanjuk left his Cleveland home by ambulance, and was taken to the airport, where he was deported by plane to Germany. He arrived there the next morning on May 12. On July 13, 2009, Demjanjuk was formally charged with 27,900 counts of acting as an accessory to murder, one for each person who died at Sobibor during the time he is accused of serving as a guard at the Nazi death camp. On 30 November 2009 Demjanjuk's trial, expected to last for several months, began in Munich.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nuremberg Trials Begin - 20 November, 1946.

Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials. Defendants in their dock. The main target of the prosecution was Hermann Göring (at the left edge on the first row of benches), considered to be the most important surviving official in the Third Reich after Hitler's death.

The Nuremberg trials were a series of military trials, or military tribunals, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany after its defeat in World War II. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, from 1945 to 1946, at the Palace of Justice. The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which tried 22 of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany. It was held from November 21, 1945 to October 1, 1946. The second set of trials of lesser war criminals was conducted under Control Council Law No. 10 at the US Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT); among them included the Doctors' Trial and the Judges' Trial.

The indictments were for:

- Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of crime against peace.
- Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace.
- War crimes.
- Crimes against humanity.

Most of the defendants were found guilty and the death sentences were carried out on 16 October 1946 by hanging. Others were sentenced to long jail periods and a few were acquitted.

The Nuremberg trials had a great influence on the development of international criminal law. The Conclusions of the Nuremberg trials served as models for:

- The Genocide Convention, 1948.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
- The Nuremberg Principles, 1950.
-The Convention on the Abolition of the Statute of Limitations on War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, 1968.
- The Geneva Convention on the Laws and Customs of War, 1949; its supplementary protocols, 1977.

The Nuremberg trials initiated a movement for the prompt establishment of a permanent international criminal court, eventually leading over fifty years later to the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Armenian Genocide: The Hamidian Massacres of 1894–1896

    Hamidian Massacres - Sultan Abdul Hamid II
    Contemporary political cartoon portraying Hamid as a butcher of the Armenians

    The Hamidian massacres, also referred to as the Armenian Massacres of 1894–1896, refers to the massacring of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, with estimates of the dead ranging from 80,000 to 300,000, and at least 50,000 orphans as a result. The massacres are named for Abdul Hamid II, whose efforts to reinforce the territorial integrity of the embattled Ottoman Empire reasserted Pan-Islamism as a state ideology.

    Abdul Hamid believed that the woes of the Ottoman Empire stemmed from the endless persecutions and hostilities of the Christian world. He perceived the Ottoman Armenians to be an extension of foreign hostility in the hands of the European powers.

    One of the most serious incidents occurred in Armenian-populated parts of Anatolia. Although the Ottomans had prevented other revolts in the past, the harshest measures were directed against the Armenian community. They observed no distinction between the nationalist dissidents and the Armenian population at large, and massacred them with brutal force. However, this occurred in the 1890s, at a time when the telegraph could spread news around the world and when the European powers were vastly more powerful than the weakening Ottoman state.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    Kristallnacht - November 9-10, 1938

    Kristallnacht broken shop windows
    Kristallnacht, example of physical damage

    Kristallnacht was an anti-Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany and Austria on 9 to 10 November 1938.

    In German, Kristallnacht means crystal night or the night of broken glass, alluding to the enormous number of shop windows of Jewish-owned stores that were broken that night.

    Kristallnacht was triggered by the assassination (November 7, 1938) of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath, in Paris, by Herschel Grynszpan (17), a German-born Polish Jew, as revenge for the expulsion of 12,000 Polish-born Jews back to Poland, among them was Grynszpan's family.

    As a result, in a coordinated attack on Jewish people and their property, 99 Jews were murdered and 25,000 to 30,000 were arrested and placed in concentration camps. 267 synagogues were destroyed and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked. This was done by the Hitler Youth, Gestapo, SS and SA. Kristallnacht also served as a pretext and a means for the wholesale confiscation of firearms from German Jews.

    Herschel Grynszpan was transferred from Paris to Berlin, in 1940, by the Nazis and probably was murdered by the Gestapo by the end of the war.

    While the assassination of Rath served as a pretext for the attacks, Kristallnacht was part of a broader Nazi policy of antisemitism and persecution of the Jews. Kristallnacht was followed by further economic and political persecutions and is viewed by many historians as the beginning of the Final Solution, leading towards the genocide of the Holocaust.

    Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)