Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.
 

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz too. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.
 

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz.  (See you.)
 

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.
 

Stratton is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

WHAT YOU CALL HIM: DEMJANJUK

(Ivan Demjanjuk died today, 3/17/12.  This post is a rerun — a slightly altered version of a 3/31/10 post  titled “War Luck.”  The Ralph Solonitz cartoon at the bottom is new.)

I was interested in seeing a Nazi.  I had thought and dreamed about Nazis, but had never been in the same room with one.  (I dreamed about being in the same room.)

At the 1981 Ivan Demjanjuk trial in Cleveland, lawyers argued about forensics, among other things, at the federal courthouse.  I looked on, as the prosecution presented a handwriting expert who had studied over 4,000 signatures.  He said Demjanjuk’s signature on the prison guard ID card was the real thing, not a Soviet forgery.

The judge agreed on that and a few other things — after months of testimony — and revoked Demjanjuk’s citizenship.

Demjanjuk then spent some time in various American prisons for technical violations, such as missing his first deportation hearing.

In 1986 Demjanjuk was sent to Israel for a second trial.

A cop at the Sixth District police station watched a small TV hidden under his desk. The TV was always on. (I was covering the police news.)  The cop said, “Hey, there’s that guy — What You Call Him — getting off the plane in Israel.”

“I’m surprised he didn’t take a pill,” I said.

“For what? He didn’t do it.”

“There are five witnesses,” I said.

“So what. It’s the past. Let it die.  But the fucking Jews keep bringing it up.  He didn’t do it. He was told to, or else.”

A lieutenant interrupted, “What would you do if somebody put a gun to your head and said, ‘Do it or else’?”

“He didn’t have to do it,” I shrugged.  I was down for the count with F-ing Jews.

Israel convicted Demjanjuk, and he was in an Israeli prison for years.  Then Israel’s high court overturned its verdict on various technicalities and sent him back to America.

When Demjanjuk returned to the States, he went on trial again in Cleveland and was ordered deported.  Nobody wanted him until last year, when Germany said yes.

Damned John’s junket: Kiev Oblast, Flossenberg, Trawniki, Treblinka, Sobibor, Cleveland, Jerusalem, Munich . . .

Vat?  Dis not Pearly Gates!

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3 comments

1 Mark Schilling { 03.17.12 at 10:59 pm }

My brain is only firing on two cylinders this morning so it took me a few beats to get the pun: Demjanjuk = Damn John’s junket. But shouldn’t it be “Damned”? Better fit with the illustration. BTW, how did it feel to be in the same room with the guy?

2 Bert Stratton { 03.18.12 at 9:07 am }

To Mark Schilling:

I’ll change it to “Damned John’s junket” from “Damn John’s junket.” You’re my editor.

How did I feel being in the same room with Demjanjuk?

I was awed by the witness, a handwriting expert. I was awed by the ornate old federal court room. Demjanjuk just sat there.

Some Demjanjuk’s backers, mostly from Parma and the West Side, got into heated discussions with Jews outside the courtroom. Nothing crazy. Just heated. That was the “action,” so to speak.

3 Garry Kanter { 03.18.12 at 5:56 pm }

I kind of got a chill thinking about the one or two ‘degrees of separation’ in that court room.

Different place, different, time, you wouldn’t have wanted to see him.

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