John Demjanjuk is the focus of Netflix’s new documentary series, The Devil Next Door. Demjanjuk was an autoworker in Cleveland who was accused of being Ivan the Terrible, a Nazi concentration camp guard who committed terrible crimes. While living in the United States, he was married to Vera Demjanjuk and they had three children. Here is what you need to know about Vera.
1. He & Vera Demjanjuk Had Three Children Who Believed John Was Innocent
Demjanjuk worked as a mechanic at Ford’s plant in Cleveland. He and Vera had three children: John Jr., Irene, and Lydia, CBS reported.
In 1988, during one of his trials, Irene, John Jr., and his wife Vera walked onto the stage and yelled at the prosecutors, telling them that they were all liars. Security guards rushed them out, the Los Angeles Times reported. Vera yelled: “You’re a liar! You liar! Shame on you! Shame on you! You have no heart–nothing!””
After Demjanjuk died in 2012, Vera Demjanjuk was still saying that the Justice Department had done a “dirty job,” Cleveland.com reported. She said she had 10 grandchildren and was very worried about their future. (Other reports say they have seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.)
2. She Was 86 When John Died in 2012, Still Living in the Same House Since 1975
Vera was 86 when John died at the age of 91. He died in January and she said she hadn’t spoken to him since March.
Vera lived at the same home in Ohio since 1975. She said that John always worried about her and their children. Vera said they moved to the U.S. in the 1950s and now that he had died, she expected to move out of their home in about a year.
3. She Hadn’t Seen Her Husband Since 2009 Because Heart Problems Prevented Her from Traveling
She hadn’t seen him since 2009, when he was taken to Germany for another trial. She wasn’t able to go to Germany because of her heart problems.
4. John & Vera Met in a German Camp for Displaced Persons
Originally Vera Bulochnik, she and John met in a German camp for displaced persons, The New York Times reported. They married and were still living in the camps in the 1950s when she gave birth to Lydia. In 1952 they emigrated to the United States.
Vera, also from Ukraine, told Cleveland.com that she lived through World War II and famine. For three years she lived in the front line. “I couldn’t walk across the street or I had to step on a body,” she recalled.
5. A Vera Demjanjuk of the Same Name & Age Passed Away in September 2019
In late September 2019, a Vera Demjanjuk of Ohio passed away. She was the same age as John Demjanjuk’s wife, but it is not yet confirmed if this is the same Vera. Demjanjuk’s wife attended the same church listed in the obituary: St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.
Vera and her son filed a complaint that their expenses were not reimbursed even though Demjanjuk’s proceedings were dismissed. In January 2019, the European Court of Human Rights held that this didn’t violate Article 6 or the presumption of innocence.