Observers at the trial of John Demjanjuk expressed relief at the verdict, but many were stunned when the court ordered Demjanjuk’s release on the grounds of his age shortly afterwards.
Many said the time he had to serve did not matter as much as the guilty verdict. Now he will serve no time at all.
“The fact that he doesn’t talk for me only makes him weaker, because he is afraid to talk and he doesn’t want to talk. He can’t look at us in the eyes. We can, but he won’t look at us,” said Vera Dejong, who had family members in Sobibor.
Many expressed a belief he had pretended to be ill to gain sympathy. For one prominent nazi-hunter, Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the trial served a purpose.
“This sends home a very important message about European responsability for the Holocaust and the events of the Holocaust. Lastly it is very important educationally for people to see that still today the facts of the Holocaust come to surface, especially at a time when people question these facts very much,” he said.