The Parting Shot of Nazi War Criminal John Demjanjuk

In photo taken some eight months before his death, Demjanjuk appears to be relaxed and healthy here.

Haaretz has obtained the last photograph taken of Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk, who died two weeks ago. The photo was taken some eight months before his death, and unlike other pictures taken beforehand in the courtroom − where he is seen lying on a stretcher and looking seriously ill − he appears to be relaxed and healthy here.

His son, John Demjanjuk, Jr., and German attorney, Ulrich Busch, still refuse to reveal if, where and when Demjanjuk was buried.

John Demjanjuk, right, with his lawyer Ulrich Busch at an old-age home
Silvia Mischi

This photo was taken in June 2011 and shows Demjanjuk posing with Busch at a home for the elderly in Bad Feilnbach, in southern Germany, where he died.

Several months before he moved to the home, a Munich court convicted Demjanjuk of being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews at the Sobibor concentration camp, and sentenced him to five years in prison. However, until his appeal was heard, he was allowed to reside at the old-age home.

Silvia Mischi, a journalist for the local newspaper Oberbayerisches Volksblatt, was probably the last reporter to meet Demjanjuk, and took this photo. Demjanjuk refused to talk to Mischi, who described the difficulty he had getting up and walking about. The picture is markedly different from photos taken even a short time beforehand, in the courtroom.

While no exact information has been publicized concerning the burial, it is assumed that the body of Demjanjuk was flown from Munich to Cleveland, Ohio, where he had previously lived, and secretly buried outside the city.

The funeral raised several technical issues: whether Demajanjuk could even be interred in the United States, which had revoked his citizenship; whether a funeral home would be found that would be willing to bury him, despite his violent wartime past; and whether his final resting place would become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis.

It seems that his family ultimately managed to arrange a private ceremony, without the knowledge of the press. In any case, formally, Demjanjuk was still “presumed innocent” under German law, since his conviction was pending appeal at the time of his death.