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David C. Porter papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2011.75.1

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    David C. Porter papers

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    The David C. Porter papers include military records, photographs, news clippings, and speech notes documenting Porter's experiences as a member of the United States Army during World War II and as a guard at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg from 1945-1946. The papers also include a 1946 photograph book, Nurnberg, which includes signatures of tribunal defendants, prosecution and defense staff, translators, press corps (including Betsy and Walter Cronkite), and the guard staff.
    inclusive:  circa 1944-2010
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Ethel P. Kemmerer
    Collection Creator
    David C. Porter
    David C. Porter (1926-2010) was born in Abington, Pennsylvania. He was the second of seven children born to Mary C. and William J. Porter. His parents were both born in Pennsylvania, and married in 1921. William worked as an iron clerk, and Mary was a secretary at a construction company.

    Soon after the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered World War II. In spring 1944, David completed high school. On September 11, he enlisted in the US Army and was assigned to the 102nd Combat Infantry Division, nicknamed the Ozarks Division. He was deployed to Germany in February 1945 and advanced with his unit through central Europe to the Rhineland and then toward Berlin. David rose to the position of mortar crew chief for Company A, 26th Infantry Regiment. On April 15, the Division was placed on patrol along the Elbe River. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered. The 102nd was placed on occupational duty in Gotha, Germany.

    In August 1945, the United Nations War Crimes Commission authorized a military tribunal to be convened by eighteen Allied Nations, and conducted by the four major powers, the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union in Nuremberg, Germany. The purpose of the International Military Tribunal was to seek justice for crimes against humanity, evidenced by the Holocaust, perpetrated by Nazi Germany. Twenty-four defendants were indicted in October 1945 for the first trial, the Major German War Criminals trial. There were four counts: crimes against peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy to commit these crimes. The trial began on November 20, 1945. The verdicts were delivered on October 1, 1946: twelve defendants were sentenced to death; three to life imprisonment; four to prison terms ranging from 10-20 years; three were acquitted.
    The 1st Infantry was assigned the task of guarding the defendants. There were three types of guards: Special, Regular and Prison. Initially, David was responsible for guarding defendants in their cells. Cell guards were equipped with white helmet liners and nightsticks. David received his promotion to Sergeant on September 5. In late December, David was promoted to Special escort and court guard and was assigned to stand guard behind the prisoners in the courtroom in the Palace of Justice. Other duties included escorting the defendants to and from their cells in the morning and evening, and transporting evidence. The guards supervised the lunches, where the defendants were separated into four groups of five, with Goring eating alone. In early July 1946, David returned to the US and was honorably discharged on July 29.

    David returned to Pennsylvania and worked as a comptroller at a manufacturing company. He married Violet Andrews and the couple had one child. David regularly presented lectures about his experiences as a guard during the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

    Physical Details

    6 folders
    1 oversize box
    System of Arrangement
    The David C. Porter papers are arranged as a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Ethel Kemmerer, sister of David C. Porter, donated the David C. Porter papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2011.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 13:37:39
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