Previously unseen photos of convicted war criminal John Demjanjuk at a Nazi extermination camp are set to be released next week, eight years after he died while denying allegations that he was a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp.
Berlin's Topography of Terror museum said Monday that the photos were found among items that belonged to Johann Niemann, deputy commandant of Sobibor, who was killed in a 1943 prisoner uprising. They will be publicly released next week, when International Holocaust Memorial Day will be marked on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Hijacking the Holocaust for Putin, politics and power
A trove of photos found in Niemann's estate include 350 whose existence was unknown and that documented Nazi crimes in Poland during "Operation Reinhard," a period in 1942 that saw as many as two million Jews sent to death camps, the museum said. Among these photos are two showing Demjanjuk, according to the museum.
The significance of the photos goes well beyond his appearance, as there is almost no visual documentation of the Sobibor death camp, which was razed by the Nazis in an attempt to cover up their crimes.
Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian who served in the SS, immigrated to the United States after World War II. He was extradited to Israel and tried there after Holocaust survivors identified him as a notorious guard from the Treblinka death camp who was dubbed "Ivan the Terrible." He was sentenced to death, but was released to house arrest after an appeal. He was later extradited to Germany, where he was tried for his role as a guard in Sobibor. He was convicted in 2011 as an accessory to the murder of 28,000 Jews and sentenced to five years in prison. He died while awaiting a decision on his appeal, and according to German law he is thus considered innocent.
During his trial, Demjanjuk refused to admit he worked at an extermination camp, despite documents indicating that he had. The newly discovered photos may provide final, definitive proof that he lied.