Is ‘The Devil Next Door’? 

TDND is a documentary series on the case of Ivan Mykolaiovych Demjanjuk, who lived as an ordinary family man, about whether he was truly ‘Ivan the Terrible’, the nickname given to a notoriously cruel guard at the Treblinka extermination camp during the Holocaust who murdered thousands. As the audience watches the episodes, it is seemingly natural to give rise to personal judgements, based on appearances and available information at first…

Is he just coolly innocent, or really coldly sociopathic? As the plot thickens with twists and turns, it becomes sometimes more conclusive either way, yet less during other times. The series is an excellent cautionary true story on why none of us should be too quick to make judgements — lest we misjudge with deadly effects (in terms of effecting the death sentence). Is the ‘devil’ next door, or in your house? Guilty too are those who impose guilt with too little evidence.

Due to the much publicised series of complex trials over years, many emotionally charged up masses with survivors were so worked up, that they were ready to demonise Demjanjuk, by jumping to conclusions, even before the court cases ended. There was a strong sense that there must be justice served — but how can it be truly served if indisputable facts have yet to align adequately?

An intriguing story has interesting ups and downs, and the audience is taken on a roller-coaster ride with alternating conjectures versus truths. Was there truly justice served at the end to the real Ivan the Terrible? Not that there ought to be any vengefulness, the ethical consolation is that even if human courts fail with their imperfect laws and judgements, the impartial law of karma has long arms that stretch beyond one lifetime.

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