Historian and Survivors Say Guard Not Killed in Treblinka
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ The work of a Holocaust historian and recollections of survivors of the Treblinka death camp do not support a survivor’s claim that the guard who operated the camp’s gas chambers died in 1943, an Israeli newspaper said today.
Spanish survivor Joaquin Garcia Ribes said in an interview published Thursday in Spain’s Diario de Sabadell he doubts strongly that 65-year-old John Demjanjuk is the infamous Ukrainian camp guard nicknamed ″Ivan the Terrible.″
Garcia Ribes, 85, said ″Ivan the Terrible″ was killed by a prisoner during an uprising by concentration camp inmates at the Polish camp on Aug. 2, 1943.
The newspaper Maariv said today that Yitzhak Arad, director of the Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial, wrote in his book on Treblinka that the only member of the camp’s staff who was stabbed by a prisoner was Max Biale, a Nazi S.S. officer.
According to Arad’s book, Demjanjuk had been transferred from Treblinka to the Sobibor concentration camp before the uprising took place, the newspaper said.
Survivors of Treblinka also were quoted by Maariv as saying they doubted Garcia Ribes’ claims that Demjanjuk had been one of his guards because Garcia Ribes’ is not Jewish.
Demjanjuk worked in an area of the camp which was restricted to Jews, Maariv quoted survivors as saying. The newspaper did not identify the survivors by name.
Garcia Ribes, who served in the Spanish Republican army and fled into France when Francisco Franco took power, said he was not in the camp when Ivan the Terrible was killed because he had escaped with several others in March 1943, but he said he was familar with the Nazi guard.
The veteran said Ivan the Terrible guarded him during the months he was in Treblinka but that he did not know his surname, only that he was Ukrainian and that his given name was Ivan or John.
Demjanjuk, a retired autoworker, was extradited from the United States to Israel last week after losing a 10-year legal battle that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was deported for lying about his past when he first arrived in the United States after World War II.
He denies that he is the infamous death camp guard, and says he never has been to Treblinka.
The Spanish newspaper said Garcia Ribes is the only living Spanish survivor of Treblinka. Thousands of Spanish Civil War veterans who fought on the side of the Republic and fled to France in 1939 were sent to concentration camps in Germany and Poland after 1941 by Nazi officials in France.