The Healing Wound

The Healing Wound

Experiences and Reflections on Germany, 1938-2001

Book - 2001
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In "The Healing Wound" Sereny presents a vital historical account of Germany in the 20th century, exploring the guilt which is in many ways the legacy of Nazism. She argues that despite the achievements of Germany since 1945, the awareness of the horrors committed in their name remains in the minds of Germans to this day. 32 photos.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 2001
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780393044287
Characteristics: xxi, 386 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Sereny, Gitta German trauma


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Apr 26, 2013

Slow, too much of her own intuition about her subjects' motives, but it does contain substantial firsthand material on Holocaust perpetrators, deniers, and fabricators. Includes the notorious Soviet/US/Israeli campaign against John Demjanjuk as "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka using false testimony and forged documents.

Demjanjuk was born in Ukraine. In the War he was captured and held by the Germans. Later he came to America, and was made a naturalized citizen in 1958. The accusation against him, with spurious documentation, originated in Soviet intelligence, a known source of forgeries. Soviet leaders sought to discredit Ukrainian separatism and portray the US as a haven for war criminals.

Zealous US government Nazi-hunters readily took up the charge. They were urged on by Wiesenthal and the World Jewish Congress, and they had to justify their funding by catching someone.

They knew their main document, Soviet-furnished, was probably forged, and they deliberately withheld exonerating evidence.

In a long series of procedural battles, Demjanjuk's citizenship was canceled, he was deported to Israel, tried and convicted on very suspect evidence, including perjured or delusional survivor testimony, of being the infamous "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka. But during his appeal, the corrupt evidentiary case began to unravel.

A tireless traveler and investigator, Sereny observed the affair firsthand for several years and helped uncover the true facts. After holding Demjanjuk under a sentence of death for five years, Israel was finally forced to release him. His Israeli lawyer wrote a book denouncing the witch-hunt. Sereny concluded that a fair trial on Holocaust charges was impossible in Israel. That ends her story here. Ironically, the same US government Nazi-hunting office subsequently laid a new, contradictory charge: against all their prior contentions and proffered evidence, they now said Demjanjuk had been a guard at Sobibor -- not Ivan the Terrible, but someone completely different. They deported him to Germany (Israel had had enough). There he was convicted on even weaker evidence: a forged ID card and a hearsay KGB memo. He was not accused or convicted of doing anything specific, just being at Sobibor. This had no precedent.

Germans convicted a Ukrainian, captured by Germans in the Ukraine, which Germans had wantonly invaded, and held prisoner for years by Germans, of being made a guard at a German camp.

The conviction was vacated when Demjanjuk died during the appeal; thus he died an innocent man, in law as well as in fact. The persecution had spanned 35 years, from 1977 to 2012. Holocaust pressure groups still called him a war criminal, and tried to prevent his burial in the US. Reporting this news, the media routinely referred to Demjanjuk, the "war criminal". Once accused, he had to be guilty, no matter what.

mjemmert Jul 25, 2012

This was a fascinating read. If you have that strange curiosity about why people do unspeakable things, then this book and probably this author is for you. I found myself at certain points, completely entranced and unable to put this book down. Although, in some chapters, some details/story lines/names are hard to keep track of, so there is defniitely some challenge in the reading but this was a new subject matter for me as well. I can't wait to read more of Gitta Sereny's books. There are some amazing lines and I feel that ultimately she is pointing towards compassion/understanding for all while not negating the horrible/unspeakable things that have been done. I leanrned so much about the Nazi time period and also about more recent events that have all spurng from such an intense and devastating history. A small warning... there are some pretty intense details that I've found to be haunting/very scary, but again, that I think was part of her intention... horrible, shameful things occured that we as the human family in many cases simply observed/particpated in/or ignored and it's wise to know about them and even wiser to try and understand and move forward in a new way from them.


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