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The Nuremberg Trials | Article

We Were There

During the Nuremberg trials, the rubble-filled city became home to hundreds of Americans. They were there to support the tribunal -- as secretaries, stenographers, photographers, prison guards, and in many other capacities. While the prosecutors and judges were making history, many others had first-hand experience of the unprecedented trials.

Raymond D'Addario took hundreds of black and white and color photographs at Nuremberg for the Army. He also traveled to the former Nazi capital of Berlin. William Glenny guarded the Nazi defendants. Read their reminiscences about the trials and their work there.

Raymond D'Addario. Courtesy of WGBH.

How did you get assigned to Nuremberg?

Raymond D'Addario: I was waiting to go home... All the photographers, at that time, that were left were in Wiesbaden... I was one selected to go [to Nuremberg]. There were about 13 of us, still photographers and movie men, also truck drivers. We started in the morning and we ended up in the evening in a place called Stein Castle. It was a little bit outside of Nuremberg. All the press of the world was staying at Stein Castle. It was a real castle; it belonged to the Faber who made the pencils.

William Glenny: I was drafted in 1945, just at the end of the war, and I went overseas. In 1946, somewhere around May... I was told that I was going to Nuremberg, the Palace of Justice, where the war criminals were being held in a prison, there. And I was going to be a cell guard at the Nuremberg prison.

William Glenny. Courtesy of WGBH.

What was your workday like at the trial?

William Glenny: A hundred and twenty of us went in the prison; we were there for 24 hours... You were on those cells two hours on, four off: two on, four off, for 24 hours. Then another batch of men come in to relieve us... So it was on 24 hours, off 24 hours. It was quite a job, you know?

Raymond D'Addario: When we took a picture we didn't take one shot, we took one, two, three, four shots. Photographs we took then were radioed by radiogram, I guess they called it. And it went from Frankfurt to the States, to either New York or down in the Pentagon. And then they were distributed all over. Whoever wanted pictures got them from the Pentagon and they were free of charge.

How were the prisoners guarded?

William Glenny: The colonel of the prison gave us the rules. He said... "There will be conversations allowed between the guards and the prisoners." He says, "If it's a conversation, it has to be brief." He says, "If one of the prisoners asks what time it is, you can tell him, but that's all."

He says, "You'll have no guns, there will be no weapons in the prison... All you'll have is a blackjack that'll be on a wall. And you don't take that blackjack off that wall unless you open the cell door to escort the prisoner wherever he's going." And he says, "Anybody caught playing with this blackjack will be court martialed." ... You don't take your eyes off the prisoners, no more than two seconds at a time. So if you're watching the prisoner, you can take your eyes off them to rest them, but just for two seconds; you come right back. And we had very strict rules.

The cell door, you didn't have just a little peephole. There was a window in the cell door which was probably 15 inches square. So you looked in at the prisoner, and that window was open continuously for 24 hours so you could watch these men... If they went to the bathroom -- which was a little alcove in the cell -- you'd watch them. So they were watched, whatever they did; they were watched 24 hours a day.

...They couldn't sleep with their hands underneath the blanket. And you'd shine a light in there; when the lights turned dim, about ten o'clock at night, you'd put up a screen in front of this window... then you'd hook up a lamp which had a shield around it where you could shine in the cell. And the prisoners couldn't turn away from the light. If they went to sleep, they'd have to face the light.

What were the Nazi prisoners like?

William Glenny: In the courtroom [the defendants] were at their best. They had to be, because the whole world was watching this trial. When they come back to the cells, then they acted normal; they were normal people... Some of them cried in there. As a matter of fact, Ernest Kaltenbrunner... a notorious man, he was probably... big, tall fellow, about 6 foot 7, with scars on his face. We gave him a nickname, Scarface. But he was probably the biggest crybaby in there. We caught him many times, quite a few times, crying.

I guarded Hermann Göring, and he was the first one I took to the church services... We didn't use keys and there was no lock on the cell doors. All there was is a bolt that was located about three-quarters of the ways down the door... And Göring came out right away... Well, of course, the only reason he went to church is not that he was a religious man... Göring didn't like... to be confined in his cell, to look at these four walls. So most of them went just to get out of the cell.

Was the city of Nuremberg an interesting place to be?

Raymond D'Addario: At night there was plenty of activity... There was a nightclub or movies. You would go to the movies, you had the opera. It was pretty good for Americans over there. I took a lot of pictures for myself of the city, because it was all destroyed. I wanted to show it, how bad it was. I sent them to my mother to show why I was still in Germany. They wanted me to come home, but I stayed in Germany... for three and a half years.

How much of the trial did you see?

Raymond D'Addario: We were at the trial from the first day... Three months went into six months, and six months went into nine months. We were there for the whole time that the trial took place. We thought that we would take the pictures of the defendants who were going to be executed. No, we didn't; we were disappointed. They had an officer that came down from Frankfurt. All he did was take the pictures of the bodies after the execution... Today, I'm very, very happy that I didn't see the execution.

Were you surprised by Göring's suicide?

William Glenny: [It was] a terrible, terrible thing. To guard this man this length of time and then let him get away by committing suicide, not hanging him. The first thing that entered my head was, "What are they going to do to the poor guard... That could have been me, that could have been any one of the guards." There was an investigation which amounted to nothing much, and nothing was done to the guard.

Where did you go next?

Raymond D'Addario: I stayed at Nuremberg about three and a half years, because of the 12 other trials. The other trials were historic... they were all bad people, Nazis. But we sided with the German people... we became very, very friendly with the German people.

William Glenny: When the hangings took place and the trial was over... I got a call to go to Regensburg to try out for the Army band, which I did. And I ended my career in the service in the First Division Army Band.

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