The Nuremberg Interviews

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The Nuremberg Interviews reveals the chilling innermost thoughts of the former Nazi officials under indictment at the famous postwar trial. The architects of one of history's greatest atrocities speak out about their lives, their careers in the Nazi Party, and their views on the Holocaust. Their reflections are recorded in a set of interviews conducted by a U.S. Army psychiatrist. Dr. Leon Goldensohn was entrusted with monitoring the mental health of the two dozen German leaders charged with carrying out ...
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Overview

The Nuremberg Interviews reveals the chilling innermost thoughts of the former Nazi officials under indictment at the famous postwar trial. The architects of one of history's greatest atrocities speak out about their lives, their careers in the Nazi Party, and their views on the Holocaust. Their reflections are recorded in a set of interviews conducted by a U.S. Army psychiatrist. Dr. Leon Goldensohn was entrusted with monitoring the mental health of the two dozen German leaders charged with carrying out genocide, as well as that of many of the defense and prosecution witnesses. These recorded conversations have gone largely unexamined for more than fifty years.

Now, Robert Gellately-one of the premier historians of Nazi Germany-has transcribed, edited, and annotated the interviews, and makes them available to the public for the first time in this volume.

Here are interviews with the highest-ranking Nazi officials in the Nuremberg jails, including Hans Frank, Hermann Goering, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and Joachim von Ribbentrop. Here, too, are interviews with the lesser-known officials who were, nonetheless, essential to the workings of the Third Reich. Goldensohn was a particularly astute interviewer, his training as a psychiatrist leading him to probe the motives, the rationales, and the skewing of morality that allowed these men to enact an unfathomable evil. Candid and often shockingly truthful, these interviews are deeply disturbing in their illumination of an ideology gone mad.

Each interview is annotated with biographical information that places the man and his actions in their historical context. These interviews are a profoundly important addition to ourunderstanding of the Nazi mind and mission.

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Editorial Reviews

William Grimes
[Gellately] has produced a gripping work of history, a series of oral narratives that drag the reader, almost by force, into the nightmarish mental landscape of the Third Reich.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
"How did you figure a six-month-old Jewish infant must be killed-was it an enemy?" Goldensohn asked Otto Ohlendorf at Nuremberg. "In the child," explained the SS lieutenant general, "we see the grown-up." Goldensohn, an army psychiatrist, was assigned in 1946 to the Nuremberg trials. In his evaluations of the German defendants, he quickly got over his shock at their casual acceptance of Nazi doctrine and refusal to take personal responsibility for their acts. Goldensohn died in 1961, and recently his brother Eli collected the long-stored transcripts edited by historian Gellately (The Gestapo and German Society). Goldensohn tried to coax childhood memories from the men, seeking early motivations for later monstrousness, and found little to go on. Most were ordinary people who took unexpected opportunities in politically festering interwar Germany. Few expressed even meager repentance, blaming betrayal of the Nazi ideal for the thwarting of the Garden of Eden promised by Hitler, who remained for them a political and military genius. Goldensohn's conversations with these men are perturbing because most of the them seem like many of us except for the circumstances that lured them into opportunistic deviance. Goldensohn may not have left a headline-making legacy of belated revelations, but he has complicated further the tapestry of evil. 31 photos. (Oct. 6) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1946, Goldensohn, a psychiatrist serving with the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, interviewed several of the major defendants. Edited by Gellately (history, Florida State Univ.), these excerpts of the interviews provide fascinating detail about the mindset of the surviving members of the Nazi leadership. Although many of the interviewees attempted to direct the conversations to dovetail with their defense strategies, their comments nevertheless provide a window into the Nazi leadership, their self-justifications, and their reflections on their place in history. Gellately's superb introduction provides a succinct analysis of the discussions that led to the creation of the tribunal and why some in the Anglo-American leadership advocated summary executions instead. He also shows how the flawed charge that Hitler had conspired to wage war since 1923 and the prosecutors' assumption that the Nazis were all mentally deranged influenced later Holocaust historiography. Highly recommended.-Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A rare document: a psychiatrist's working notes on Nazi officials awaiting trial for war crimes. Goldensohn, who served on the US army medical staff at Nuremberg in 1946, may have intended to publish his interviews with the likes of Hermann Goering and Julius Streicher one day, but he did not. A pity, for the documents gathered here provide much insight into the minds and lives of the Third Reich's founders and rulers, who survived the war through no end of intrigue and backstabbing. Not surprisingly, most of Goldensohn's subjects deny having committed crimes, protest that they were merely following orders, profess having had no knowledge of the Holocaust. Thus, Goldensohn writes, Admiral Karl Doenitz, who surrendered Germany to the Allies, "knew nothing of plans for an aggressive war, knew nothing about the extermination of the Jews, nothing about the extermination of 30 million Slavs, nothing of the atrocities in Russia and Poland," adding, "He sees only that he was innocent of any crime, past or present, and that any attempt to incriminate him or any of the others on trial with him is political connivery." Similarly, Hans Frank, the Nazi governor general of Poland, insists that "the extermination of the Jews was a personal idea of Hitler's" in which he had played no part. Goering asserts, "Many of us in the party were opposed to the sharp racial laws and politics, but we were too busy." (He adds, "I made other proposals, as for example that Jews who had been living in Germany for a hundred years or more should be exempted." And so on: By the time he reaches Nazi theoretician Streicher, whom many of the defendants blame for their woes, Goldensohn is plainly fed up: "He smilesconstantly, the smile something between a grimace and a leer, twisting his large, thin-lipped mouth, screwing up his froggy eyes, a caricature of a lecher posing as a man of wisdom."Striking proof of the banality of evil.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375414695
  • Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/5/2004
  • Pages: 490
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.63 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction : Nuremberg - voices from the past
How the Nuremberg interviews were obtained and preserved
Pt. 1 Defendants
Karl Doenitz 3
Hans Frank 18
Wilhelm Frick 40
Hans Fritzsche 47
Walter Funk 76
Hermann Goering 101
Rudolf Hess 135
Alfred Jodl 137
Ernst Kaltenbrunner 139
Wilhelm Keitel 157
Constantin von Neurath 169
Franz von Papen 174
Joachim von Ribbentrop 182
Alfred Rosenberg 197
Fritz Sauckel 204
Hjalmar Schacht 217
Baldur von Schirach 237
Albert Speer 251
Julius Streicher 252
Pt. 2 Witnesses
Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski 265
Kurt Daluege 276
Sepp Dietrich 279
Franz Halder 286
Rudolf Hoess 295
Albert Kesselring 317
Ewald von Kleist 329
Erich von Manstein 351
Erhard Milch 358
Rudolf Mildner 367
Otto Ohlendorf 386
Oswald Pohl 395
Walter Schellenberg 415
Paul O. Schmidt 433
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2004

    A Fascinating Book in Many Ways

    Everything about this book is utterly fascinating - it contains verbatim interviews with the Nazi leaders on trial for their lives at Nuremberg, conducted by Leon Goldensohn, a military psychiatrist who passed away in 1961. Dr. Goldensohn's hand-written and typed interview notes were kept in boxes in his family's home for over 40 years. The interviews read like narratives - details of the prisoners themselves, their surroundings, their motives, are described in ways that read like a good story, although very chilling at times. Not surprisingly, each man conveys an unwillingness to assume responsibility for his part in the Holocaust. This is a must read for those interested in Jewish history but also for anyone who is intrigued in the story behind the story - how a young Jewish doctor from Newark, New Jersey was able to sit in a prison cell with leaders of the Nazi party and get them to talk so openly about themselves.

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