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 smiles constantly, 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.