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The Nuremberg Interviewsby Leon Goldensohn
Synopses & Reviews
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 our understanding of the Nazi mind and mission.
"'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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A rare document....Striking proof of the banality of evil." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[F]ascinating yet chilling reading....Without necessarily intending to do so, these men reveal how easily totalitarian systems can induce acquiescence to or even enthusiastic participation in evil." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Gellately's superb introduction provides a succinct analysis....Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
Book News Annotation:
Gellately (history, Florida State U.) has made available for the first time the interviews of former Nazi officials, both renown and obscure, under indictment at the Nuremburg trials. In his interviews, Goldenshon, a US Army psychiatrist, probed the officers' motives and rationales for their actions. The resulting conversations are candid, revealing and often shocking. Each interview is annotated with biographical information.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Dr. Leon Goldensohn was an American physician and psychiatrist who joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and was posted to France and Germany. He died in 1961.
Robert Gellately is the Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University and the author of The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933_1945 and Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
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