Vivien Spitz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Vivien Spitz
A young white woman with dark hair loose and parted on the side, wearing a dark suit jacket.
Vivien Spitz, from a photo taken during the Nuremberg trials.
Vivien Ruth Putty

DiedApril 1, 2014
Notable workCourt reporter at the Nuremberg trials (1946-1948); court reporter in the United States House of Representatives (1972-1982)

Vivien Spitz (1924 – April 1, 2014), born Vivien Ruth Putty, was an American court reporter at the Nuremberg trials after World War II. From 1972 to 1982, she was Chief Reporter of Debates in the United States House of Representatives.

Early life[edit]

Vivien Ruth Putty was born in Montana and raised in Woodstock, Illinois. She supported herself, her widowed mother Kathryn Putty and two younger siblings[1] as a switchboard operator in her teens, before World War II, and learned to take dictation to improve her job prospects.[2] During the war, she graduated from Gregg College in Chicago, where she trained as a court reporter.[3][4]


Putty worked as a court reporter in Detroit after completing her training in Chicago.[5] From 1946 to 1948, she was a civilian employee of the United States Army, assigned to the Subsequent Proceedings trial at Nuremberg, to transcribe the testimony of twenty Nazi doctors and their assistants.[6] "I just had the feeling that I never saw such evil faces in my life, and eyes," she recalled. She later experienced recurrent nightmares from the overwhelming images she transcribed.[2][7]

Spitz became a court reporter in Denver, and was the first woman to serve as Official Reporter of Debates in the United States Senate. For ten years, from 1972 to 1982, she was Chief Reporter of Debates for the United States House of Representatives. She was a fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters of the National Court Reporters Association.[8]

In retirement Spitz lived in Aurora, Colorado, and in the mid-1980s was outraged by reports of a local school teacher calling the Holocaust a hoax.[7][9] She joined the University of Denver Holocaust Awareness Institute's Speakers Bureau, and toured as a lecturer, speaking to community groups about the Nuremberg trials.[10][11] She helped to found the University of Colorado Holocaust Contemporary Bioethics Program.[8]

Spitz published a memoir, Doctors from Hell, The Horrific Account of Nazi Experiments on Humans (2005).[12] In 2006, Spitz was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Vivien Putty married Ellis Spitz, a military police officer she met in Nuremberg. They had two sons, John and Peter.[13] Spitz died in Texas in 2014, aged 89 years.[2] In 2017 she appeared in older footage in the documentary Caring Corrupted: The Killing Nurses of the Third Reich.[14] There is a collection of items donated by Spitz, including transcripts and photographs, in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives.[15]


  1. ^ "Vivian Putty in the 1940 Census". The 1940 U.S. Census at Ancestry. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  2. ^ a b c "Women at Nuremberg: Vivien Spitz". USC Shoah Foundation. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  3. ^ "High Honors for Vivien Putty at Gregg College". The Daily Sentinel. 1943-11-05. p. 1. Retrieved 2020-06-18 – via
  4. ^ Mac Kay, Ruth (1943-11-09). "White Collar Girl". Chicago Tribune. p. 21. Retrieved 2020-06-18 – via
  5. ^ Pickett, Mary (2001-11-03). "Nuremberg Trials are Vivid Memory". The Billings Gazette. p. 1. Retrieved 2020-06-18 – via
  6. ^ "Former Resident at Nuernberg, Germany As Court Reporter". The Daily Sentinel. 1946-11-26. p. 1. Retrieved 2020-06-18 – via
  7. ^ a b "'It was burned into my memory'". The Atlanta Constitution. 2005-05-08. pp. E4. Retrieved 2020-06-18 – via
  8. ^ a b "In Memoriam: Vivien Ruth Spitz". The Journal of Court Reporting. April 8, 2014. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  9. ^ Pool, Bob (1999-02-07). "Reliving Nuremberg's Horror is Crusade for One Who Was There". The Los Angeles Times. p. 253. Retrieved 2020-06-18 – via
  10. ^ a b "Vivien Spitz". Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  11. ^ Feldman, Claudia (2009-06-13). "Museum killing evokes memory of Nazi trials". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  12. ^ Halicks, Richard (2005-05-08). "Doctors from Hell". The Atlanta Constitution. pp. E1. Retrieved 2020-06-18 – via
  13. ^ "Vivien Ruth Spitz". Houston Chronicle. April 5, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  14. ^ Cinema Clock, Caring Corrupted: The Killing Nurses of the Third Reich (2017), retrieved 2020-06-18
  15. ^ "Vivien Putty Spitz collection". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives. Retrieved 2020-06-18.

External links[edit]