Historians have presented a collection of photos kept by the deputy commander of the Nazis' Sobibor death camp that they say appears to include images of John Demjanjuk, the retired Ohio auto worker who was tried in Germany for his alleged time as a Sobibor guard.
The collection unveiled Tuesday at Berlin's Topography of Terror museum comprises 361 photos as well as written documents illustrating Johann Niemann's career. Niemann was the deputy commander of Sobibor from September 1942 until he was killed on Oct. 14, 1943, in an uprising by Jewish inmates.
Unlike in many other cases, the photos were not destroyed after World War II in fear of legal proceedings, and they remained in the possession of Niemann's family. The collection is being handed over to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Experts say the collection enhances historians' knowledge of what Sobibor looked like. So far, they knew of only two photos taken of the camp while it existed. The Niemann collection adds another 49.
Anne Lepper, whose grandparents were murdered on arrival at Sobibor from the Netherlands in 1943, said it was "very courageous" of Niemann's descendants to release the photos. She said it was "a breathtaking experience" to see the images after frequently having seen the site.
The collection may also shed more light on Demjanjuk, who was convicted in 2011 as an accessory to murder on allegations he served as a Sobibor guard. Demjanjuk always denied the accusations and died in 2012 before his appeal against the ruling by a Munich court could be heard, making the verdict not legally binding.
Two photos in the collection may depict a young Iwan Demjanjuk, as he was known before anglicizing his name to John, among other former prisoners of war who were trained at an SS camp and were deployed at Sobibor, according to historians. If they do, they would be the first to prove that he was at the camp.
Martin Cueppers, a Holocaust historian at the University of Stuttgart, said researchers concluded that Demjanjuk is "probably" depicted in at least one case in conjunction with the criminal police office in Germany's Baden-Wuerttemberg state, whose biometric department agreed to examine the historical photos.
But Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said of the newly unveiled photos that "it's a baseless theory to claim they prove anything at all regarding my father."
The collection as a whole is "of significant historical value" regarding the Holocaust and Sobibor, he said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. But "the photos are not proof of my father being in Sobibor and may even exculpate him once forensically examined."
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was a Soviet Red Army soldier captured by the Germans in Crimea in 1942. He was accused of agreeing to serve as a "Wachmann," or guard, the lowest rank of the "Hilfswillige," former POWs who were subordinate to German SS men, and training in a camp known as Trawniki.
The Munich court said the evidence showed he was a part of the Nazis' "machinery of destruction" and served in Sobibor from March 27, 1943, until mid-September that year.
Integral to the prosecution's case was an SS identity card that allegedly shows a picture of a young Demjanjuk and indicates he trained at the SS Trawniki camp and was posted to Sobibor.
Though court experts said the card appears genuine, Demjanjuk's defense attorneys argued it was a fake produced by the Soviet KGB.
The prosecution also produced evidence including transfer lists indicating a guard named Demjanjuk with the same Trawniki number was sent to serve in Sobibor and elsewhere, but there was never photographic proof he was there.
Between March 1942 and October 1943, about 167,000 people were killed at Sobibor, almost all Jews, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Following the 1943 uprising, the Nazi guards shot the remaining prisoners and razed the camp in occupied Poland.
Demjanjuk always maintained he was a victim of the Nazis, first wounded as a Soviet soldier and then captured and held as a prisoner of war under brutal conditions before joining the Vlasov Army, a force of anti-communist Soviet POWs and others formed to fight with the Germans against the Soviets in the war's final months.
If the newly surfaced photographs turn out not to picture Demjanjuk, it wouldn't be the first time his identity has been mistaken.
In the 1980s, Demjanjuk stood trial in Israel after he was accused of being the notoriously brutal guard "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka extermination camp. After Treblinka survivors identified him as their tormentor, he was convicted and sentenced to death — but then freed when an Israeli court overturned the ruling, saying the evidence showed he was the victim of mistaken identity.
Moving on several fronts toward shoring up support for his reelection bid, President Donald Trump capped off a busy Tuesday by heaping praise on the newest Republican member of Congress and savaging Democrats he said are engaged in "demented hoaxes" like his impeachment trial.
On the day his legal team wrapped up its opening arguments on the Senate floor, Trump spoke to an enthusiastic audience in New Jersey in support of Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who recently switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP after breaking ranks over impeachment.
"While we are creating jobs and killing terrorists, the congressional Democrats are obsessed with demented hoaxes, crazy witch hunts and deranged partisan crusades. That's all they know how to do," Trump said.
Trump's visit to Democratic-leaning New Jersey generated a boisterous audience that lined the streets to greet him during a critical moment in his presidency. He called Van Drew on stage, saying, "Jeff had the guts to defy the left-wing fanatics in his own party."
Trump highlighted the economy during much of his speech, noting that 7 million jobs have been created since his election. He also continued to boast of the U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iran's most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani, on Jan. 3. He cited the strike while attacking his political rivals with language that was incendiary even for a Trump rally.
"We stopped him cold, yet Washington Democrats like crazy Bernie Sanders and nervous Nancy Pelosi, they opposed our actions to save American lives. They opposed it," Trump asserted to a roar of boos.
Pelosi and other Democrats have questioned the strategy behind Trump's order to kill Iran's general, which was made without prior approval from Congress. They pointed to potential consequences of heightened tensions that could endanger U.S. troops and lead to war with Iran.
On Tuesday, Trump sought to push past the ongoing impeachment trial that has cast a shadow over the White House. Earlier in the day, he released a Middle East peace plan that was immediately met with skepticism that it would go anywhere without Palestinian buy-in. But Trump's proposal was about more than how the plan would play out in the troubled region. It was also an effort to keep his promises to some of his most ardent supporters at home.
Trump's strong pro-Israel position has brought him support from Zionist Jews and evangelical Christians. Trump enjoys robust support from evangelicals, and his first campaign event of 2020 was a speech to conservative Christians in Miami.
Minutes after Trump finished unveiling his plan, the president's impeachment trial resumed at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where his legal team was wrapping up its defense presentation. Trump had demanded that his legal team use its three days to offer a robust televised defense of his actions and play not just to the 100 senators in the chamber but also to the millions watching at home.
Although Trump's acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate is all but assured, his team has tried to minimize the political damage. And the president is hoping to use impeachment to motivate his political base and independents disenchanted with impeachment to turn out in greater numbers this fall.
Jay Sekulow, one of his lawyers, used his time before the Senate to offer a greatest-hits list of attacks against Trump's perceived foes — from ousted FBI agents to secret federal courts — and to highlight what he saw as politically driven maneuvering by the Democrats to oust the president.
"Danger, danger, danger," he told senators. "That's politics. You're being called upon to remove the duly elected president of the United States. That's what these articles of impeachment call for."
White House counsel Pat Cipollone, also part of the defense, added: "What they are asking you do is to throw out a successful president on the eve of an election, with no basis, and in violation of the Constitution."
"Why not trust the American people with this decision? Why tear up their ballots?" Cipollone said. "The election is only months way. The American people are entitled to choose their president."
While Trump's lawyers argued that the Democrats were trying to undo the last election, the president's focus on Tuesday night was on the next one. For his first rally since the Senate trial began, Trump was traveling not to a 2020 battleground state but instead to the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey.
Remaining largely disciplined, Trump avoided the specifics of the impeachment trial and did not mention the name of his former national security adviser John Bolton, whom Democrats want to call as a witness in the case. But Trump mused at the rally about competing in New Jersey this election -- he lost by double-digit percentage points in 2016 — and polled the crowd about whether he should hold a rally at the state's famed Meadowland Sports Complex over the summer
The setting was atypical for Trump: a Jersey shore town where people camped out overnight on the beach to get a spot in line for the rally being held at a boardwalk convention center. Van Drew, who attended the rally, said Trump has helped restore the military and protect the economy. "Do we want to keep it that way?" he asked the crowd.
Countries on Wednesday began evacuating their citizens from the Chinese city hardest-hit by an outbreak of a new virus that has killed 132 people and infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad.
China's latest figures cover the previous 24 hours and add 26 to the number of deaths, 25 of which were in the central province of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. The 5,974 cases on the mainland marked a rise of 1,459 from the previous day, although that rise is a smaller increase than the 1,771 new cases reported on Monday. Dozens of infections of the new type of coronavirus have been confirmed outside mainland China as well.
A Japanese chartered flight carrying 206 evacuees from Wuhan included some who had coughs and fever on the plane, Kyodo News reported, citing health ministry officials. They were expected to be taken by ambulances to a Tokyo hospital specializing in infectious diseases.
Takeo Aoyama, an employee at Nippon Steel Corp.'s subsidiary in Wuhan, told reporters he was relieved to be able to return home.
"We were feeling increasingly uneasy as the situation developed so rapidly and we were still in the city," Aoyama told reporters, wearing a white surgical mask that slightly muffled his voice.
Another of the evacuees, Takayuki Kato, said their temperatures were taken before the plane left Wuhan and again by a doctor on board.
Both Kato and Aoyama said they didn't see anyone with obvious symptoms or feeling ill near their seats. All of the passengers were expected to undergo further health checks and were expected to stay home until a lack of infection was confirmed.
Aoyama said more than 400 Japanese people wishing to return to Japan are in Wuhan, including those who are working for a Japanese supermarket chain that stays open to serve customers who need food.
He said it is important to step up preventive measures in Japan, but "I hope we can also provide support for the Chinese people, which I think would also help the Japanese people who are still there."
A plane carrying Americans who had been in Wuhan left for Anchorage, Alaska, where they will be rescreened for the virus. Hospitals are prepared to treat or quarantine people who may be infected. Then the plane is scheduled to fly to Ontario, California.
The British government is warning against "all but essential travel" to mainland China amid the outbreak of the new type of coronavirus. And Hong Kong's leader said the territory will cut all rail links to the mainland and halve the number of flights to stop the spread of the virus.
South Korea also said it will send a plane, and France, Mongolia and other governments also planned evacuations.
China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities in Hubei province to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The lockdown has trapped more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease control measures ever imposed.
The Japanese flight was bringing 20,000 face masks as well as protective gear, all in short supply as Chinese hospitals treat a growing number of patients. Wuhan is building two hospitals in a matter of days to add 2,500 beds for treatment of patients with the virus.
The sharp rise in infections recently suggests significant human-to-human spread of the virus, though it could also be explained by expanded monitoring efforts, said Malik Peiris, chair in virology at the University of Hong Kong.
Experts worry the new virus may spread more easily than originally thought, or may have mutated into a form that does so. It is from the coronavirus family, which also can cause the common cold as well as more serious illnesses such as SARS and MERS, which both emerged in the past two decades and are thought to have come from animals.
The new virus causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath and pneumonia. It is thought to have spread to people from wild animals sold at a Wuhan market. China on Sunday temporarily banned trade in wild animals and urged people to stop eating meat from them.
On Tuesday, Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss the latest information on the outbreak and reiterate their commitment to bringing it under control, WHO said in a news release.
"The National Health Commission presented China's strong public health capacities and resources to respond and manage respiratory disease outbreaks," the release said.
It said discussions focused on ways to cooperate to contain the virus in Wuhan and other cities and provinces and studies that could contribute to the development of medical countermeasures such as vaccines and treatments. Other WHO experts will visit China as soon as possible, it said.
"Stopping the spread of this virus both in China and globally is WHO's highest priority," Tedros said.
The source of the virus and the full extent of its spread are still unknown. However, WHO said most cases reported to date "have been milder, with around 20% of those infected experiencing severe illness."
The cases counted outside China include a German man who may have been infected by a co-worker visiting from Shanghai and a Japanese tour bus driver who had driven buses carrying tourists from Wuhan. Most of cases abroad have involved Chinese tourists traveling for the Lunar New Year holiday, people who visited Wuhan, or family members who had close contact with those already infected.
It was a happy holiday at Starbucks, but the company's sales momentum could start to slow due to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Starbucks said it had intended to raise its full-year earnings guidance Tuesday, but uncertainty about China put that on pause. Starbucks said it has already closed more than half of its stores in China due to coronavirus.
China's 4,292 Starbucks stores brought in 10% of the company's revenue during the October-December period, so the closure will affect earnings, the company said. But it's not yet clear how much of an impact there will be. Starbucks had expected full-year revenue growth in the 6% to 8% range and same-store sales growth of 3% to 4%.
"We remain optimistic and committed to the long term growth potential in China," Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson said in a conference call Tuesday with analysts.
Starbucks shares fell 1.6% to $87.20 in extended trading following the earnings report.
Johnson said the holiday season was one of the best in the company's history. New drinks like the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew were a hit with customers. Starbucks' new four-story Reserve Roastery in Chicago — which opened in November — is serving an average of 10,000 visitors each day, he said.
A combination of new stores and solid foot traffic helped the Seattle-based coffee giant handily beat Wall Street's forecasts in the October-December period. The company opened 539 net new stores in its fiscal first quarter. It now has nearly 32,000 stores worldwide.
Starbucks' earnings rose 16% to $886 million in the fiscal first quarter. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring items like restructuring charges, were 79 cents per share. That beat Wall Street's forecast of 76 cents.
Starbucks said same-store sales — or sales at stores open at least 13 months — jumped 5% worldwide in the October-December period, ahead of analysts' forecast of 4.4%. Revenue was up 7% to $7.1 billion, in line with analysts' forecasts.
Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said she's confident the company can sustain that momentum because of new products and technology in the pipeline. Starbucks is adding new equipment to stores to improve its cold brew process, she said. The company also plans to introduce a plant-based sausage sandwich at breakfast and more non-dairy milks based on customer requests, she said.
Starbucks also plans more mobile order and pickup locations in the U.S. after the successful opening of a small-format store in New York during the quarter. Mobile ordering and payment represented 17% of U.S. sales in the first quarter.
Mexico is trying to sell its luxurious presidential jet to Canada, but will raffle the plane off if the Canadians don't want it, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday.
The offer marks the latest chapter in a desperate effort to unload the large and lavish Boeing 787 Dreamliner that López Obrador views as wasteful.
He said Tuesday that the plane bought for more than $200 million by his predecessor would be a step up for Canada's prime minister.
"We learned that Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's airplane had problems, and we offered it to them, but there hasn't been an agreement yet," López Obrador said. "The truth is that it is bigger than the Canadian prime minister's, and better."
Officials have said Mexico would accept $130 million for the plane.
López Obrador presented a prototype of the lottery-style ticket that would be issued for the jet if the raffle idea goes ahead. He said he hoped business owners would buy huge blocks of the 500-peso ($25) tickets. The government hopes to sell 6 million tickets and use the proceeds to buy medical equipment.
More than a white elephant, the plane now seems to be an albatross. Some Mexicans said they wouldn't want to win it.
"I would not buy it," Mexico City resident Lidia Flores said of the possible raffle tickets, saying she would have no idea of what to do with the hulking airliner is she won.
Even López Obrador expresses doubts about the idea, saying he worries that greed or envy could wreck the life of anyone who won the jet in a raffle.
"I don't want to bear the guilt, because I would be responsible," he said Tuesday. "It worries me. It''s the only thing holding me back, how to prevent something bad befalling the person who wins."
Others see the raffle proposal as a distraction from Mexico's real problems, like crime, violence and economic stagnation.
"This is a smoke screen," said Eliseo Ochoa, a lawyer in Mexico City. "This is just a joke at the expense of the public."
The austerity-minded López Obrador takes commercial flights and has refused to step foot on the presidential jet, which was purchased by the previous president, Enrique Peña Nieto.
López Obrador says the jet is too luxurious for a country where half the people are poor.
The plane failed to find a buyer after a year on sale at a U.S. airstrip, where it piled up about $1.5 million in maintenance costs.
The jet is expensive to run and is configured to carry only 80 people, with a full presidential suite with a bedroom and private bath. Experts say it would be too expensive to reconfigure back into a commercial airliner that normally carries as many as 300 passengers.
Previously, López Obrador had suggested bartering the plane in exchange for U.S. medical equipment or selling it in shares to a group of businessmen for executive incentive programs. He has also offered to rent it out by the hour, in hopes of paying off the remainder of outstanding loans on the plane.
Mexican Twitter users are posting ideas about where they would park the huge jet if they won it (clue: in the yard, because it won't fit in the garage). They fantasize about the kind of parties they would throw aboard it (beer-filled trips to the Super Bowl appears popular) and what colors they would paint it (one user suggested bright purple).
But the most popular idea for using the jet appears to be turning it into a stationary restaurant or taco stand.