The United States Court of Appeals
Sixth Circuit

(Part 4 of 9)


After working on the Demjanjuk case for several years, OSI attorney George Parker became convinced that OSI lacked sufficient evidence that Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. On February 28, 1980, Parker wrote a memorandum entitled "Demjanjuk--A Reappraisal," addressed to Walter Rockler, Director, and Allan Ryan, Deputy Director of OSI, setting forth his doubts. He urged the addressees to read the memorandum and be prepared to make a decision about how to proceed with Demjanjuk (the denaturalization case had been pending for more than two years and was nearing trial) in the near future. This memorandum is annexed hereto as Appendix 7.


Parker's memorandum discussed the background of the Demjanjuk investigation, which began when attorneys in the SLU became aware of a brief reference to Demjanjuk at Sobibor in a book called Lest We Forget. The book also referred to a document later denominated the "Trawniki Card," containing a photograph identified as being that of Ivan Demjanjuk.

It was only after Treblinka survivors who were interrogated by Israeli police identified the person pictured on the card as a guard at Treblinka rather than at Sobibor that the SLU shifted its focus and began preparing a case against Demjanjuk as Ivan the Terrible. All other evidence, including the statements of Danilchenko and two other Ukrainian guards questioned by Soviet authorities, identified Demjanjuk as a guard at Sobibor and Flossenburg, but not at Treblinka.

Furthermore, Parker's memo pointed out, both the Polish and Soviet governments had compiled lists of guards at Treblinka, and Demjanjuk's name appeared on neither one, though "the two Ukrainians who incessantly worked at the gas chambers were well known." This portion of the memorandum concludes: "Given these circumstances it is disturbing, as Norman Moscowitz has pointed out repeatedly, that Demjanjuk's name does not appear on either list."

After reviewing the available admissible evidence and the "flaws" with the Treblinka evidence, the memorandum sets forth Parker's views of "Strategic Options; Ethical Responsibilities" of OSI as he sees them. This section of the memorandum begins with these words:

We have little admissible evidence that defendant was at Sobibor yet serious doubts as to whether he was at Treblinka. Even if we may be comforted that we may have the right man for the wrong act, the ethical cannons [sic] probably require us to alter our present position.

The memorandum then sets forth four options and Parker's recommendation as to each.

Option 1 would be to maintain the status quo, that is, to "proceed with the Treblinka case as presently plead." (The denaturalization complaint did not mention Sobibor or Trawniki, only Treblinka.) Assuming canons of ethics that caution against prosecutors going forward in a criminal case in which they have serious doubts apply to the denaturalization case, Parker "strongly recommended" against this option. Parker recognized that a denaturalization proceeding is technically a civil rather than a criminal action, but expressed the view that the consequence to a defendant who loses such a case-- deprivation of citizenship--is so severe that this stricture of the canons should be followed.

Option 2 would be to strike claims that Demjanjuk was at Treblinka and substitute claims that he was at Trawniki and Sobibor. Parker described this course of action as "tactically suicidal" and "a strategic blunder," primarily because it placed too much reliance on the Trawniki Card.

Option 3 would be to dismiss the case--at least temporarily--and attempt to beef up the Sobibor evidence. The memorandum recommended against this option because of "largely political" negative factors, and the possibility that the court might not permit refiling.

Option 4 would be to amend the pleadings to add allegations that Demjanjuk served at Sobibor and Trawniki in addition to the allegation that he was Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. This would shift the focus from testimony of Treblinka survivors describing the heinous crimes of Ivan the Terrible to a mere showing that Demjanjuk was a Russian POW trained by the Germans as a guard, who served as a guard at an extermination camp. Parker did not make a recommendation with respect to Option 4, but repeated his opinion that a change in course was absolutely required by ethical considerations.

Parker's superiors eventually decided to amend the pleadings to add allegations about Sobibor and Trawniki, but to proceed with the case on the basis of proving that Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible and to rely principally on photo identifications by Treblinka survivors. Parker resigned from the Department of Justice before the denaturalization trial and Norman Moscowitz took over as lead attorney for OSI.


The Special Master found that the Parker memorandum is "authentic." S.M. Report at 100-01. This was an issue, because no one in OSI could locate it; Parker produced a copy of the memorandum and cover letter on October 8, 1992, in proceedings before the master.

Rockler testified that he could not remember receiving the memorandum. Ryan testified that he could not have received it, or he would have done something about it. The master stated that Ryan's testimony should be taken "with a grain of salt," and we agree with this assessment. Moscowitz testified that he did not receive the memorandum, but was aware of Parker's doubts about the identifications of Demjanjuk by survivors of Treblinka.

The master found that there was a meeting shortly after the memorandum was written at which the question of amending the pleadings in the Demjanjuk case was discussed. Although there was considerable inconsistency in the testimony of the attorneys who attended the meeting, the master found that all were telling the truth to the extent they remembered the meeting at all. The master further concluded that Rockler found no irreconcilable discrepancies in the Demjanjuk evidence and that the evidence in hand was sufficient to go forward. On that basis, Parker's views were rejected by Parker's colleagues within OSI. S.M. Report at 103-09.

The master absolved Moscowitz of blame for not sharing Parker's ethical concerns and proceeding to prosecute the denaturalization case with the Ivan the Terrible allegations as its centerpiece. Moscowitz testified that he had concluded that while Demjanjuk's primary duties were at Treblinka, the Trawniki training camp was also a transfer point for guards. Thus, it was not impossible for Demjanjuk to have been at Treblinka at times the survivors claimed they saw him operating the gas chambers and committing other atrocities there, and to have served at Sobibor at other times. S.M. Report at 113-18.

The "most striking aspect" of the Parker memorandum, according to the master, "is its complete silence regarding the references [in the Fedorenko documents] to a man named Marchenko at the gas chambers." S.M. Report at 112. Parker's doubts were based on the apparent impossibility of Demjanjuk's having been a guard at both Sobibor and Treblinka during the relatively brief time both were in operation, and his uneasiness about the survivor identifications so long after the events. Parker did not make the Marchenko connection.

Moscowitz testified that when he became aware of the evidence identifying Marchenko as Ivan the Terrible, he assumed that Demjanjuk had adopted Marchenko (a common Ukrainian name, and Demjanjuk's mother's maiden name) as an alias. The problem with this explanation is that Moscowitz also relied on the Trawniki card containing Demjanjuk's name and photograph as significant evidence that he was Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. It is hard to understand how he could have been sent from Trawniki to Treblinka as Demjanjuk and then assumed the name Marchenko while working there. Surely the meticulous Germans in charge at Treblinka would have noticed the discrepancy.

In his memorandum, Parker wrote that adopting Option 4, amending the pleadings to add Sobibor and Trawniki allegations, would be "simply a ruse to avoid the ethical problems" identified in Option 1. The master found that amending in this way was not a ruse because Moscowitz and others believed in good faith that transfers did take place through Trawniki between camps and that Demjanjuk had served at both Treblinka and Sobibor. S.M. Report at 123.

While recognizing the significance of the Parker memorandum as a document which raised important questions about the handling of the Demjanjuk case, the Special Master concluded that it was not a "smoking gun" insofar as his inquiry was concerned. The master held that because OSI attorneys acted on the basis of good faith belief in Demjanjuk's guilt as Ivan the Terrible their disagreements with Parker's conclusions were irrelevant with respect to the issue of fraud on the court. S.M. Report at 117. While we agree that the Parker memo alone would not be a sufficient basis for a finding of fraud on the court, it raised a clear warning that there were ethical perils in continuing to prosecute Demjanjuk as Ivan the Terrible. When his superiors and colleagues at OSI refused to heed his warning, Parker resigned.

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