Communication is the Key [70 Years After Nuremberg]

Nuremberg Palace

In the discussion about the defense applications, Dodd decided it would be best for Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe to speak for the entire prosecution. The only minor setback was how Dodd viewed him as a lawyer, ” He also is a fence straddler and he seems terribly afraid of the Tribunal with the result that he never stands up for a viewpoint” [p. 250, 3/6/1946]. Dodd attributes this as possibly due to Sir David living under a monarchy and his obedience towards the crown.  “I tell you we Americans do not half appreciate what we have. We are the free people of this world in heart, soul, mind, and body and we show it” [pg. 250, 3/6/1946]. Freedom and respect are not common aspects throughout life, and that was more than demonstrated throughout the Trials.
As the defense began on March 8th, the first to be introduced to the court was Airforce General Bodenshatz. Bordenshatz defended Göring,”Several weeks later, Hermann Goering called all the Gauleiter to Berlin, in order to make clear his attitude regarding the incidents of the 9th and 10th. He was violently opposed to these individual acts of barbarism. He criticized them severely as unjust, as economically unreasonable and harmful to our prestige in foreign countries. The former Gauleiter, Dr. Uiberreither, who took part in this conference of Gauleiter, has already given further particulars on oath” [, 3/8/2016]. Bordenshatz may have attempted to illustrate humanity within the Nazi ranks, but did not provide an explanation for the multiple atrocities previously presented to the court.

Thomas Dodd, Mr. Deribes, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, Gen. Rudenko, and Gen. Taylor

The following two days were spent outside of the courtroom, as the council did not meet. Instead, Dodd meet with Jackson to discuss his future cross examinations although he did have time to reflect on the ruins of Nürnberg. He had been in Germany for awhile now, but he “was surprised at the recovery and the reconstruction although it is pathetically little compared to what must be done. It is still a dead
city and the city of the dead” [p. 257, 3/10/1946]. It was going to be a task for years to come as the “dead city” worked to rebuild what had been destroyed but astonishingly, given the extent of the damage and the limited resources available, and tremendous amount of work was already well underway.

Nuremberg following Allied bombing

While the city seemed to be returning to life, the courtroom was moving at a snail’s pace–the cross examinations were getting no where. The lawyers present seem to be getting increasingly flustered and angered. Dodd writing, “… the Russian Rudenko was doing a terrible job. The court was annoyed most of the time…” [p. 259, 3/11/1946].
March 12th marked a slightly more productive day as the testimonies of Luftwaffe Colonel Bernd von Brauchitsch, state secretary Paul Korner and Field Marshal Albert Kesselring were presented. Dodd refers to Kesselring as a “good witness” against Göring himself, and furthermore “[h]e claimed the bombing of Rotterdam was an accident but his explanation did not square with the facts. He claimed the bombing of Warsaw was a military necessity. But on this too he did not sound well” [p. 260, 3/12/1946]. As a witness for the defense, Kesselring seemed to be providing the court with the truth through his lies. During his time on the stand, he was asked by Dr. Stahmer, “Bombs are said to have been dropped when negotiations about capitulation had already started”. To which Kesselring replied, ” As I said, no message to this effect had been received by the command, neither had the formation operating over Rotterdam picked up a message from the ground. Probably some confusion occurred at the command In Rotterdam itself of which I know nothing” [, 3/8/2016].

–Owen Doremus and Betsy Pittman

[Owen Doremus, a junior at Edwin O. Smith High School, is supporting this blog series with research and writing as part of an independent study.]

The majority of the letters from Tom Dodd to his wife Grace have been published and can be found in Letters from Nuremberg, My father’s narrative of a quest for justice. Senator Christopher J. Dodd with Lary Bloom. New York: Crown Publishing, 2007.

Images available in Thomas J. Dodd Papers.

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