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Leon Goldensohn papers

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2012.430.1

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    The Leon Goldensohn papers consist largely of original, typescript notes of 137 interviews conducted by Dr. Goldensohn with Nazi defendants and witnesses during the trials of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, from January to July, 1946. Goldensohn served in the United States Army as a prison psychiatrist during this period, and conducted these interviews with the aid of a translator. In addition to interview typescripts, this collection contains resumes drafted by some of the defendants, correspondence, notebooks, photographs, texts of speeches delivered by Goldensohn, as well as notes, published reviews, and other documentation related to the publication of a selection of these interviews in 2004.

    While containing some biographical information about Goldensohn, the bulk of the collection consist of typed transcripts of interviews that he typically conducted with defendants and witnesses in their prison cells in Nuremberg. Goldensohn usually jotted down detailed notes in small notebooks during the interview—assisted during the interviews by an American translator, Howard Triest—and then typed up more extensive transcripts based on these notes shortly after the interview. Although a few notebooks are extant and included in this collection, the core of this collection consists of the typed transcripts. In some cases, defendants or witnesses interviewed by Goldensohn also supplied brief, handwritten biographical statements or resumés prior to their interviews, and these are usually filed with the transcripts or in a file adjacent to them. In addition, a few defendants’ files contain correspondence with their family members (such as Wilhelm Keitel, Julius Streicher, Oswald Pohl, or Karl Wolff ) , memoranda by Goldensohn about their medical and psychological conditions (such as Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Karl Wolff), or other documents written by prisoners describing actions or events they had participated in (such as Otto von Skorzeny’s essay “Italien-Einsatz im Jahr 1943,” describing his role in the liberation of Mussolini from captivity in Italy and his evacuation to Austria in 1943).

    After the transcripts and papers were gathered together in the 1990s from various family members by Dr. Eli Goldensohn, the brother of Leon Goldensohn, work was begun to eventually produce a publication based on these transcripts. The resulting work, edited by historian Robert Gellately, was published as The Nuremberg Interviews, conducted by Leon Goldensohn, edited and with an introduction by Robert Gellately (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004). This collection contains transcripts that were published in that book, as well as ones that were not.
    inclusive:  1946-2012
    bulk:  1946
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Eli S. Goldensohn
    Collection Creator
    Leon N. Goldensohn
    Leon Nathaniel Goldensohn, M.D., was born in New York, NY, on October 19, 1911. He received a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University, and an M.D. from George Washington University School of Medicine. After serving his residency in neurology at Montefiore Hospital in New York and receiving training in psychiatry at the William Alanson White Institute, he was Board certified to practice both neurology and psychiatry. In 1943, Goldensohn joined the United States Army, serving as Division Psychiatrist of the 63rd Infantry Division, initially in Mississippi but later in the European Theatre, where he received several decorations. At the end of the war, Major Goldensohn was assigned to the 121st General Hospital in Nuremberg.

    In January 1946, Goldensohn received orders to report to the Internal Security Detachment at Nuremberg, where he was designated the prison psychiatrist at the International Military Tribunal jail during the trials of high-ranking Nazi leaders. As part of his duties, he regularly interviewed the defendants as well as witnesses, inquiring about their medical condition but also questioning them and encouraging them to discuss at length their life stories, including their motivations and activities during their careers within the Nazi party. After completing this tour of duty in July 1946, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and shortly thereafter returned to civilian life in New York, where he resumed a practice in psychiatry. In addition, he served as a consultant to Teachers College, Columbia University; and was a lecturer at New York University and the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry.

    Goldensohn died of a heart attack at the age of 50, on October 24, 1961.

    Physical Details

    English German
    4 boxes
    System of Arrangement
    The collection is arranged in five series: Biographical; Writings, speeches and publications; and three series of interview transcripts: Defendants (published in Gellately, 2004), Witnesses (published in Gellately, 2004) and Witnesses (unpublished). Each series is arranged alphabetically, either by topic or by name of interviewee.

    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

    Geographic Name
    Nuremberg (Germany) Germany.
    Personal Name
    Goldensohn, Leon.

    Administrative Notes

    Dr. Eli S. Goldensohn donated the Leon Goldensohn papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, June 2012.
    Record last modified:
    2023-02-24 13:38:59
    This page:

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