John Demjanjuk was living in Cleveland’s suburbs as a retired auto worker when his past caught him. Some Holocaust survivors identified him as the guard of the Treblinka concentration camp who earned the nickname ‘Ivan the Terrible’ for his fame of enjoying torturing and killing prisoners during WW2.
What happened afterward is what Netflix will show us in ‘The Devil Next Door’, a five-part documentary to air in the streamer on November 4.
Why a five-episode documentary instead of a docufilm? Because the story is quite complicated and the producers didn’t want to focus on Demjanjuk case alone but also discussed mistaken identity and the flaws of the Israeli justice system.
After his true identity was revealed, the US began proceedings to strip him from his identity in the late 70s; in 1983 Israel requested his extradition to trial him, which effectively occurred in 1985 when his last appeal against deportation was denied. His trial created a public opinion frenzy only comparable with the one of the Eichmann trial.
Here is when it gets complicated. Part of his defense was that he never was at Treblinka, but at another camp, which is factually correct. The court believed it and released him. They couldn’t re-try him in Israel because it would violate double jeopardy rules.
He returned to the US, had his citizenship restored… And lost it again. He was extradited to Germany where he was convicted for his part in the murder of 28,000 Jews. He died in 2012 while appealing to his sentences.
Enjoy the trailer below: