Nuremberg Trials: Nazi War Criminals and what their guards thought.
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How Britain tortured German POWs until they signed sign a confession for use in war crimes prosecutions
The German SS officer was fighting to save himself from the gallows for a war crime and might say anything to escape the noose. But Fritz Knöchlein was not lying in 1946 when he claimed that, in captivity in London, he had been tortured by British soldiers to force a confession out of him. It was in 2005 during my work as a reporter that I came across a mention of a WWII detention centre known as the London Cage. It took a number of Freedom Of Information requests before government files were handed over. From these, a sinister world unfolded — of a torture centre that the British military operated throughout the Forties, in complete secrecy, in the heart of one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in the capital.
Jewish translator at Nuremberg: "If you sat down to talk to the top Nazis, they were like your friends and neighbours."
Howard Triest, a German Jew who became a US military translator, is the last surviving member of a team that carried out psychological tests on leading Nazis after the war. They learned very little, he says - but he gained unique insights into their characters: "If you took away the names of these Nazis, and just sat down to talk to them, they were like your friends and neighbours. Did we learn anything from these psychiatric tests? No. We didn`t find anything abnormal, nothing to indicate something that would make them the murderers they would become.In fact, they were all quite normal. Evil and extreme cruelty can go with normality."
Strange Nazi trials: A Gestapo torturer protected by the CIA, a Soviet POW serving as an SS guard
Klaus Barbie was a Gestapo torturer protected by the CIA, John Demjanjuk and Samuel Kunz were Soviet Red Army soldiers fighting the Third Reich but ending up as a Nazi guards. These are only some of the strange Nazi court cases which have emerged over the decades, and even the bigger trials are stuck with own controversies.
The Witness House: Nazis and Holocaust Survivors Sharing a Villa During the Nuremberg Trials
In 1945, a private home in Germany became a temporary residence for one of the most bizarre groups of guests in history: a mix of Nazi Party officials and Holocaust survivors, called as witnesses in the Nuremberg Trials. In "The Witness House" journalist Christiane Kohl writes: "It was obviously a place of opposites: pain and joy, laughter and tears, bitterness and arrogance."
Memorium Nuremberg Trials: An information centre opens in the Nuremberg courtroom
In 1945-1949, Court Room 600 of the Regional Court Nürnberg-Fürth was in the global spotlight during the Nuremberg Trials. On 21 November, 2010, a new information centre and memorial - called the Memorium Nuremberg Trials - opens in the historic courthouse. Unfortunately the actual courtroom remains in everyday use and cannot be visited.
Whitney R. Harris - Last surviving U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg trials passes away
Whitney R. Harris, one of the original prosecutors of Nazi crimes after World War 2, has passed away at 97. He was part of the team, led by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, that began the prosecution of war criminals in Nuremberg after the war was over. In 1945, Harris led the team`s first case, that of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the highest-ranking leader of the Nazi Security Police (RSHA) to face trial. Harris also questioned Auschwitz commander Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss: "Höss told me, as unemotionally as if he were talking at the breakfast table, that 2.5 million people were killed at Auschwitz."
Documentary film "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" finally released in North America
When filmmaker Stuart Schulberg shot his documentary about the 1945 Nuremberg trials, he made two versions: For the Germans the film showed how Nazi leaders had failed them and why top Nazis were being tried. For the Americans, it was a chance to see one of the greatest courtroom dramas in history. Yet when "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" now is shown at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, it will be the first time in North America. The documentary film was never released to American cinemas. The original footage disappeared until Schulberg`s daughter, film producer Sandra Schulberg, rediscovered it.
Nuremberg trial Interrogator John Dolibois recalls talks with Hitler`s Inner Circle
During Nuremberg trial John Dolibois looked into the eyes of evil as a top interrogator of the captured Nazi leaders. His mind is a warehouse stocked with memories - and later generations of U.S government Nazi hunters still pick his brain for information and interrogation techniques. After the war Dolibois gained the trust of some members of Adolf Hitler`s inner circle: Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Karl Doenitz, Julius Streicher and Albert Speer. Goering had "a terrific sense of humor. He was full of jokes - about himself and other Nazis. He was easy to interrogate. He did not deny anything. He said `Yes, we did that.`"
Richard Sonnenfeldt was the principal interpreter for American prosecutors at the Nuremberg war crimes trials
Richard Sonnenfeldt was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who became the main translator for American prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials, helping to interrogate the leaders of the Third Reich. As a private in the US Army, he had fought at the Battle of the Bulge and was working in a vehicle maintenance pool, greasing an armoured car, when he came to the attention of General William "Wild Bill" Donovan, head of the OSS. Among the 21 men he questioned were Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering; armaments minister Albert Speer; and Rudolf Hess. He was one of the two men who served the indictments - as his autobiography "Witness to Nuremberg" reveals.
One of the last of the prosecutors at the Nuremberg war crime trials passes away
Henry King`s death leaves just Whitney Harris and Ben Ferencz as the last of 200 American prosecutors who helped bring Nazi leaders to trial 1945-1949. King helped prosecute Walther von Brauchitsch, the commander of German armed forces and prepared the case against Field Marshal Erhard Milch, second-in-command of the Luftwaffe. King interviewed Speer and was impressed by his admission of guilt. King regarded Speer "the window into Hitler`s soul", writing in his memoir, The Two Worlds of Albert Speer: "Speer closed his eyes to the world of humanity, and thus a concern for human ethics never intruded on his relentless drive as armaments minister."
How a British lawyer beat Hermann Göring after he outsmarted American prosecutor Robert Jackson
He was the most important Nazi leader to be captured by the Allies and face trial at the end of World War II. But Herman Goering, far from being broken by his downfall, was a formidable defendant at the Nuremberg hearings, outsmarting his U.S. prosecutor. During his cross-examination, Goering`s mocking and evasive answers got the better of American prosecutor Robert Jackson, who became so angry that he refused to continue. It took a British lawyer to turn the tide against the overweight Luftwaffe chief, nicknamed `fat boy` by his captors. Letters of prosecutor Sir David Maxwell Fyfe shed light on the historic face-off in 1946.
A pair of WWII veterans who guarded Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials
Bill Miller and Ken Fulkerson told of their time as guards during the Nuremberg Trials at the end of World War II. The two combat veterans were among the GIs who stood outside the cells of the 21 high-ranking Nazi officials. The most important of the Nazi captives was the most engaging: Hermann Goering, the Luftwaffe chief and No. 2 man in the Nazi regime. Fulkerson shed light on the question of how Goering got a cyanide capsule: "I know that he asked a second lieutenant to bring him a small bag when he needed it. The lieutenant brought the bag that day, and the capsule was in the bag." He said the lieutenant got a gold watch from Goering for his co-operation.
Nuremberg August 31, 1946 - The last stand for Hitler`s henchmen
A bitter, defiant attack on the prosecution by Hermann Goering, an incoherent monologue from Rudolf Hess and a dramatic warning of the horrors of the next war from Albert Speer were the highlights of the final plea by the 21 Nazi defendants. All looked smartly groomed: their clothes and uniforms had been brushed and pressed for the occasion. Goering stated: "What Germany did in France, Belgium, Holland, Norway and Greece bears no comparison with what the occupying powers are doing in Germany now – dismantling industry, confiscating the money of millions and gravely interfering with the people`s freedom."
The Nuremberg trials team drank champagne, dined on veal and danced until the small hours
By day they led the Nuremberg courtroom, overseeing duels with the architects of the Third Reich and founders of the gas chamber. But by night they drank champagne, dined on veal and danced until the early hours of the morning - while Germans struggled on meagre rations. The Nuremberg trials have been shown in a new light by a cache of documents - now for sale. The invitations and photos of secretary Kathleen Kentish reveal how staff lived lavishly, as she attended cocktail parties at the private residence of the Russian prosecutor and enjoyed a buffet supper and dancing with the American team.
He guarded top Nazis at Nuremberg trials
Jack Carver was a third-year history major in 1945 and World War II was in its final months when he was assigned to serve as an infantry platoon leader with the 3rd Division. When WWII ended, many soldiers headed home, but Carver was assigned guard duty at the prison attached to the Nuremberg Palace of Justice. On his first day in August 1946, fellow guard Lt. Jack "Tex" Wheelis took him down to the yard where the "Big 21" were pacing in a circle. Jack waited until one in particular came around. "Howdy," he said to the man who was Hitler`s No. 2 in command. "This is Hermann Goering." ... "We gave him a psychological test. Of the 21, he scored the third-highest."
Witness to WWII trials talks to historical society (Article no longer available from the original source)
In 1945 Pat Barelli, then a captain in the U.S. Medical Corps, was witness to Nuremburg trials and was a physician to some of the most notorious men of the 20th century. One of only a handful of firsthand witnesses of the trials still living, he recalled what he saw when he arrived at the 385th Station Hospital in Nuremberg after 92% of the city was destroyed from Allied bombings and 65% of the city`s population had either perished or fled. "They all claimed there were innocent. They blamed Adolf Hitler; of course, he was dead. They blamed (the head of the Gestapo) Heinrich Himmler; of course, he was dead."
Richard W. Sonnenfeldt - Chief American interpreter in Nuremberg (Article no longer available from the original source)
Even after six decades, Richard W. Sonnenfeldt is struck by some of the statements from nazi leaders when he was chief American interpreter at the war crimes trials in Nuremberg. There was the way Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, angrily denied that he`d exterminated 3.5 million people there: "He said, `Oh, no, it was only 2.5 million" adding that the rest died of "other causes." And Hoess` almost surreal reaction to being asked if he, like some of his S.S. men, had ever stolen gold from the teeth and jewelry of those they`d gassed. "He said, `What kind of man do you think I am?`"
Defending Nazis - Lt. Col. Douglas Bates Jr had unique assignment (Article no longer available from the original source)
In 1945 Lt. Col. Douglas Bates Jr. stepped involuntarily onto the world`s stage. He was the chief defense counsel at the Dachau Military Tribunal, the first judicial proceeding of its kind in the wake of WWII. 40 Germans, numerous officers and 4 physicians, were among his "clients." They were accused of atrocities at Dachau camp. 36 were sentenced to the gallows. "After the court adjourned the defendants filed by and shook our hands, thanking us for the fight we lost. Strong German men with tears in their eyes and streaming down their cheeks, telling us American officers that they could not have had a better defenders."
Nuremberg -- Just don`t mention the flaws
The Nuremberg trial was more deeply flawed than we care to remember. It was mounted with haste, just six months after the WWII and when little was known about the inner workings of Hitler’s regime. Many of the key nazi figures were dead: Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels. Someone was needed to stand for nazi propaganda, and the only prisoner who fitted the bill was Hans Fritzsche, who was almost no one’s idea of a leading war criminal. Yet he now found himself fighting for his life. Someone, too, was needed to stand for anti-Semitism, so Julius Streicher, who had taken no part in the war itself, was selected.
The problem of how to deal with the leaders of Nazi Germany
As the Allies began to triumph at the end of the World War II, the problem of how to deal with the leaders of Nazi Germany was raised. Stalin did not think this was a difficult issue: At the Tehran Conference in 1943, he proposed a toast "I drink to the justice of the firing squad." By the time of the Yalta Conference in 1944, Stalin’s position had changed: he insisted that "the grand criminals should be tried before being shot". When the British Cabinet considered the problem, the Lord Chancellor Lord Simon could not see the point of a trial to establish the obvious guilt of Nazi leaders. "Fancy ‘trying’ Hitler," he joked.
Young Kiwi unimpressed by Hermann Goering, Julius Streicher
Nazi leaders such as Hermann Goering and Julius Streicher did not impress a young Colin Aikman who saw part of their war crimes trial. "With the possible exception of Goering and von Ribbentrop, they are a very ordinary-looking set of old buffers. Only Chief of Staff Wilhelm Keitel, Wehrmacht Operations section chief Albert Jodl and Goering are in uniform, and the fact that some are in flannels doesn`t help them impress. Goering is a person of considerable personality. As a general impression, they are a bunch of second-rate men whom opportunism and the accidents of history have put in a position to perform first-rate atrocities."
Warren J. Miller who guarded Hitler`s No. 2 man during the Nuremberg (Article no longer available from the original source)
After fighting in World War II, Army Staff Sgt. Warren J. Miller remained in Europe, where he breathed down the necks of Nazi leaders. He was a security guard during the first of the Nuremberg trials. The 22 defendants at the first trial included Rudolf Hess, deputy to the fuhrer, and Reich Marshal Hermann Goering. Miller stood at attention, with his arms behind his back, for 8 hours a day throughout the trial. Miller said he mostly guarded Goering, and he still has the handcuffs he used to restrain Goering. "Hess read a book during the whole trial."
British navy before nazi trial: We had similar tactics (Article no longer available from the original source)
Britain told prosecutors after World War Two not to press charges against Nazis for sinking ships on sight because the British navy had similar tactics. Admiralty voiced the worries in an secret 1945 letter: "We have to bear in mind the fact that ultimately, by way of reprisal, we ourselves adopted a total sink-at-sight policy in prescribed areas. British naval officials were concerned about the trials of German naval commander Erich Raeder and his successor Karl Doenitz: "We have been a little anxious concerning the possibility that the trials of Doenitz and Raeder might involve a controversy concerning legal principles of maritime warfare."
BBC to show Nuremberg trial drama
The drama documentary will mark the 60th anniversary of the execution of the top Nazi criminals at Nuremberg. The Nuremberg Trial: Inside the Nazi Mind, will be broadcast on BBC Two later this year. Producer Detlef Siebert said the series would reveal what top Nazis, including Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer and Hermann Goering, revealed as they were interrogated.
Re-creation of one Nazi`s day in Nuremberg court (Article no longer available from the original source)
Hugh Taylor knows he doesn’t have grim Nazi eyes and he hasn’t quite nailed the accent, but he did find a uniform. In recent weeks he has been memorizing Nuremberg trial transcripts, practicing his German and hunting down an original Nazi SS uniform. He found it from a WWII collector and promptly drove down to get his picture taken in the outfit. "The photos were primarily for evidence. I thought it would be a nice touch to enter them as exhibits." Taylor’s commitment to detail is typical of the group of lawyers and judges who will re-create the Nuremberg trial of Nazi SS commander Otto Ohlendorf.
Former Nuremberg prosecutor discusses Trials` dramatic moments
Whitney R. Harris told that "an especially dramatic moment" of the trial was the cross-examination of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering, the highest-ranking Nazi official to be brought before the tribunal. "Among the issues we raised was Goering’s role in the terrible program of Nov. 9, 1938, which has come to be known as Kristallnacht," Harris said.
Journey to Justice documentary: Jewish refugee who became a translator at trials
It couldn`t have been easy for Howard Triest to keep his emotions in check as he questioned Hermann Goering, Joachim von Ribbentrop and the other Nazi leaders in their Nuremberg jail cells. After all, if Triest had not fled Germany as a teenager in 1939, he likely would have been sent to a death camp, as his parents were. In 1945, Triest was hired to serve as a translator during the Nuremberg war crimes trials. Triest never lost his composure during his many conversations with the defendants. Not when Julius Streicher, the founder of the notorious anti-Semetic newspaper Der Stuermer, mistook Triest for an Aryan and told him that "I can smell a Jew from a mile away."
Hangman Waits: Nuremberg TV Special
Saddam Hussein`s trial is a twopenny farce compared with Nuremberg, where the Third Reich`s major criminals played their final performances to a disgusted audience. "The Nuremberg Trial," chilling one-hour PBS special, focuses on the battle between chief prosecutor Robert Jackson and Hermann Goering, commander of the Luftwaffe and the highest ranking Nazi to survive the war. Goering, a malignant blowfish of a man with a ready smile, was a shrewd opponent. When he surrendered May 6, 1945, he brought along 17 truckloads of personal necessities and the expectation of being treated like royalty.
Resident recalls his role in the Nuremberg trial
The Nazi was ranting again. Isolated in a dark cell at Nuremberg, Julius Streicher easily became enraged. The founder of the anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer launched into another tirade as soon as Howard Triest entered the cell. As an interpreter helping psychiatrists interview the prisoners, Triest had the run of the prison, and had become accustomed to Streicher`s outbursts. Streicher had some very important personal papers and would entrust them only to a "good German," like the blond-haired, blue-eyed interpreter. He reached past the psychiatrist and handed the papers to Triest. He never learned that the interpreter was Jewish.
Art of Justice: The Filmmakers At Nuremberg
Years before he wrote "On the Waterfront," and before he earned the ire of many colleagues by testifying during the Hollywood communist witch hunt, writer Budd Schulberg had the distinct honor of arresting Leni Riefenstahl. He was in Germany, assembling a film to be used at the Nuremberg trials as evidence against the Nazis. Riefenstahl, the legendary director and propagandist for Hitler, knew where the skeletons were. So Schulberg, dressed in his military uniform, drove to her chalet on a lake in Bavaria, knocked on her door, and told the panicked artist that she was coming with him.
The Nuremberg Interviews: Psychiatrist`s Conversations with the Defendants
Goldensohn was a prison psychiatrist at the Nuremberg in 1946. While there, he interviewed 33 high-ranking Nazi war criminals. He asked Rudolf Hoess to tell him how many people were executed at Auschwitz. “Hoess: ‘About 2.5 million.’ Goldensohn: ‘What do you think of it?’ Hoess (looking blank and apathetic): ‘I had my personal orders from Heinrich Himmler.’ ‘Did you ever protest?’ ‘I couldn’t do that.’ ‘Don’t you have a mind or opinion of your own?’ ‘Yes, but when Himmler told us something, it was so correct and so natural we just blindly obeyed it.’
Interview With Nuremberg Prosecutor Whitney Harris
Harris: The whole court case was a huge challenge. I was assigned to the case of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, meaning I had to investigate the murder of millions. Kaltenbrunner took over from Reinhard Heydrich as the head of Reich security and was in charge of tens of thousands of Gestapo agents, police and security forces. I did not have the slightest idea of the scale of genocide that had taken place in Germany.
World: Nuremberg Trial Hopes Unfulfilled After 60 Years
20 November marks the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, which were an attempt to bring to account the key actors responsible for unleashing the bloodiest conflict in history and carrying out unprecedented atrocities. One of the most important trials in modern history got under way in the bombed out city of Nuremberg. 24 of the highest-ranking captured Nazi leaders - including Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo; Alfred Rosenberg, the chief Nazi racial theorist; and Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Nazi foreign minister - were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.