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The Nuremberg Interviews Paperback – October 25, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030439
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030439
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In 1946 Goldensohn, a U.S. Army psychiatrist, conducted a series of interviews with many of the defendants and witnesses as the Nuremberg war-crimes trials unfolded. Until Gellately edited them, these interviews have been unavailable to the public. Virtually all of the top Nazi officials tried at Nuremberg are interviewed here, and their responses make for fascinating yet chilling reading. There are few surprises. Most of the defendants insist that they were unaware of the extermination camps, and many of them say they now realize the criminal nature of Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels. What is striking about them is what Hannah Arendt called the sheer "banality of evil." These men, with the possible exception of Julius Streicher, don't come across as fire-breathing monsters or even fanatics. In fact, under other circumstances, some of them would be viewed as rather decent. Goering, who was the charismatic "star" of court proceedings, was clearly a man of considerable intelligence and charm. Yet most of these men willingly played integral parts in a machine that practiced atrocities as a matter of routine. Without necessarily intending to do so, these men reveal how easily totalitarian systems can induce acquiescence to or even enthusiastic participation in evil. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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A rare gem of historical interviews.
This book contains the near-verbatim transcripts of interviews conducted by American psychiatrist Leon Goldensohn with the Nazi leaders on trial at Nuremberg.
T. Bachman
This is a most useful book, and one that is quite interesting to read for the most part.
Ronald H. Clark

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 80 people found the following review helpful By D. L. Workman on October 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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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89 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Donald G. Brenner on October 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am a personal friend of Eli, and first read some of this material at his home in NY. I was unable to respond to my emotions other than to say "the world has to see this". Handwritten pages of interviews transcribed every night to typewritten pages. Pages filled with the most mundane complaints concerning prision life, only interesting because these people were the architects of the most well known genocide of my life. That the author was a Jew and able to distance himself and gain the confidence of these people is nothing less than amazing. I an very pleased to see this in print, it came very close to being lost forever.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on March 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a most useful book, and one that is quite interesting to read for the most part. The author, who died in 1961, was an Army psychiatrist assigned to interview a number of the Nuremberg defendants and some of the witnesses (many of whom later were tried themselves). The editor has reclaimed the author's notes (which are almost verbatim transcripts) of the interviews and put them into a handy format for review, including introductory brief biographies. While at times repetitive (e.g., the individual knew nothing of the "final solution" because Hitler insisted that each official only be concerned with the work of his own department; they point to Bohrmann, Goebblels, and Himmler as being the real malignant characters more than Hitler), there is nothing comparable to hearing defendants like Goering, Hans Frank, von Ribbentrop, Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, Oswald Pohl and Erhard Milch recounting their views of the war and Hitler. There is a nice representation of civilian and military leaders. I found the interviews of Hitler's translator, Paul O. Schmidt, and that of Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, particularly interesting. Not surprisingly, most of the interviewees were not especially interested in talking about concentration camps and Jewish extermination--rather, a wide number of topics are touched upon relating to the Nazi party, Hitler, and military tactics. A helpful introduction and a discussion of how the interviews were obtained and preserved compliment the interviews themselves.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Harold Y. Grooms on April 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 1946, trial was held for 24 of the highest-ranking Nazi's, in Nuremberg, Germany. Arraigned on four counts including, conspiracy to commit crimes, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, 12 were sentenced to death by hanging, two others, to death in absentia, three to life imprisonment, two to twenty years, one to fifteen years, and one to ten years. Three were found not guilty. While awaiting trail, American psychiatrist, Leon Goldensohn, interviewed each of the defendants and key witnesses. This is their story.

Goldensohn lets each man describe his role in the Third Reich, in his own words. Readers get an insight into the demented thought processes of Hitler's Deputy, Rudolf Hess, and that of the vain and pompous Reich Marshal, Hermann Goering et. al. How and why 2.5 million people were gassed at Auschwitz it told without emotion by it's notorious Commandant, Rudolph Hoess. Common reasons were:

"I knew nothing!"
"I was given only enough information to do my job."
"The Holocaust was the work of Hitler, Himmler, and Borman."
"I was only following orders!"

Goldensohn allows the reader to determine each interviewee's degree of guilt or innocence. What is amazing is the candor of the men who tell exactly what they did and why without reservation. Almost all deny any wrongdoing! "I was only following orders," seemed an adequate defense to men raised under Nazi tutelage throughout their lives.

Nuremberg firmly established the principle of individual responsibility for crimes committed even during time of war. While the first, it was, by no means, the "final" solution to crimes against peace or humanity. The Nuremberg Interviews explains the motivations of the men most directly responsible for the deaths of an estimated 6 million people. This work is therefore a must read for anyone interested in the history of the Third Reich or the Holocaust. 5 stars!!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Truthteller on March 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
After World War II the allies and occupied/liberated countries (e.g., Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Greece, the Soviet Union) tried tens of thousands of people (German POWs, Nazi officials, Nazi colloborators, etc.) for war crimes. The records of most of these trials (many of which were summary) are not available for one reason or another. The most notorious of these war crimes trials were the ones before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (scene of the spectacle of the Nazi party day celebrations) in which the U.S., Britain, France, and the USSR jointly prosecuted both organizations (e.g., the SS) and individuals (e.g., Martin Bormann, presumed to be the most powerful man in Germany after Hitler at the end of war, although he was tried "in absentia").

These trials were notorious for two reasons.

First, major players of the Third Reich then in captivity were on trial and attesting to events they were involved in (unlike in normal criminal trials in the U.S., in these trials the accused had no right against self-incrimination and could not refuse to testify or be cross-examined).

Second, documentation of the mass killings in concentration/extermination camps, which some had tried to downplay to that point as propaganda, was divulged to the world for all to see.

Dr. Goldensohn was a psychiatrist who interviewed defendants and witnesses in captivity at the Nuremberg trials on a regular basis. In so doing Dr. Goldensohn's purposes were several: He had to gauge the person's mental spirits (the prosecutors did not want to lose anyone to suicide) and medical well-being, as well as obtain a personal and family history, and prepare a psychological profile.

The results are nothing short of amazing, if not startling.
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