Leon Goldensohn

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Leon Goldensohn
Leon Goldensohn

October 19, 1911
New York City
DiedOctober 24, 1961 (aged 50)

Leon N. Goldensohn (October 19, 1911 – October 24, 1961) was an American psychiatrist who monitored the mental health of the twenty-one Nazi defendants awaiting trial at Nuremberg in 1946.

Born on October 19, 1911, in New York City, Goldensohn was the son of Jews who had emigrated from Lithuania.[1] He joined the United States Army in 1943 and was posted to France and Germany, where he served as a psychiatrist for the 63rd Division. He replaced another psychiatrist, Douglas Kelley, in January 1946, about six weeks into the trials, and spent more than six months visiting the prisoners nearly every day. He interviewed most of the defendants, including Hermann Göring and Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945.[2] Goldensohn conducted most of his interviews in English with the aid of a translator to have the defendants and witnesses express themselves fully in their own language. Some of his subjects, notably foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Großadmiral Karl Dönitz,[3] were partially or fully fluent in English, and conducted their interviews in that language.

Goldensohn served as prison psychiatrist until July 26, 1946. He had resolved to write a book about the experience but later contracted tuberculosis and died from a coronary heart attack in 1961. The detailed notes he took were later researched and collated by his brother Eli, a retired neurologist. Robert Gellately, a World War II scholar, edited and annotated the interviews in the book The Nuremberg Interviews: An American Psychiatrist's Conversations with the Defendants and Witnesses.[1]

After the war, Goldensohn kept his papers at his New York City apartment and his home in Tenafly, New Jersey.[4]


  1. ^ a b Joan Ryan (January 30, 2005). "In father's files, son finds secrets from Nuremberg". sfgate.com. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  2. ^ Kalish, Jon (November 5, 2004). "A Jewish Doctor Who Put Nazis on the Couch". The Forward. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  3. ^ L. Goldensohn, The Nuremberg Interviews, Pimlico, London, 2006, p. 3 (original ed.: 2004)
  4. ^ Goldensohn, Leon. [https://books.google.com/books?id=c0dyUmYnJigC&pg=PA1 The Nuremberg Interviews, p. 1. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2007. ISBN 9780307429100. Accessed May 11, 2017. "When Leon left the Army in 1946, he brought his papers back and kept them in his New York City apartment until 1950 and subsequently in his Tenafly, New Jersey, home until his death in 1961."