• Author: Jack El-Hai
• Genre: History
• Title: The Nazi and the psychiatrist
• Published: 2013
• Table of Contents: 10 chapters, 223 pages
• Published: Public Affairs Books
• Setting: Nuremberg, Germany
• Themes: Dr. Kelley’s ambitions was to examine the personality patterns of these men and the techniques they used to win and hold power.
In 1945, after his capture at the end of the Second World War, Hermann Göring arrived at an American-run detention center in war-torn Luxembourg, accompanied by sixteen suitcases and a red hatbox. The suitcases contained all manner of paraphernalia:
- medals, gems, two cigar cutters, silk underwear, a hot water bottle, and the equivalent of $1 million in cash hidden in a coffee can,
- There was a set of brass vials housed glass capsules containing a clear liquid and a white precipitate: potassium cyanide.
Among the elite 52 senior Nazis were:
- Grand Admiral Dönitz; commander submarine fleet, most positive impression on Dr. Kelley, “blessed with creative capacity and good inner life”
- Wilhelm Keitel
- Alfred Jodl (Keitel’s deputy)
- Robert Ley (mentally unstable)
- Hans Frank (suicidal)
- Julius Streicher ( pornographic propagandist)
- To ensure that the villainous captives were fit for trial at Nuremberg (20 November 1945 and 1 October 1946), the US army sent Captain Douglas M. Kelley, to supervise their mental well-being.
- Kelley wanted to discover a distinguishing trait among these arch-criminals that would mark them as psychologically different from the rest of humanity.
- So began a remarkable relationship between Kelley and his captors.
- Jack El-Hai had unique access to Kelley’s long-hidden papers and medical records.
- Kelley’s was a hazardous quest, dangerous because against all his expectations he began to appreciate and understand some of the Nazi captives, none more so than the former Reichsmarshall, Hermann Göring.
- Evil had its charms.
- Owned a 5 pound ivory baton embossed with gold eagles and platinum crosses and embedded with 640 diamonds. it was a gift from Hitler!
- Luggage seized from Goring contained more than 20.000 pills.
- Goring was taking paracodeine as if they were M&M’s! When the stress of the war was too much for him, he took 160 pills a day, litteraly feeling no pain.
- Goring beamed when the indictment accused him of theft: 87 million bottles of champagne!
- Tables in room where Nazis were held could not support a man’s weight to prevent suicide hanging.
- Albert Speer (Minister of War Production) and Hans Frank (Governor of Occupied Poland) were was the only Nazis who said ‘sorry’ at the Nuremberg Trials.
- Andrus, commander of Nuremberg jail, feared the prospect of a prisoner grabbing a gun from a guard.During the Nuremberg Trials there were only TWO persons carrying guns in the court room. The rest carried billy clubs.
- I have no idea where my fascination for all that is WW II and Nazis comes from.
- I’ve read Ravensbruck (G. Tillmon) and HHhH (L. Binet). Both were excellent books..
- Was there a ‘Nazi mental flaw” that caused the top twenty captives to participate in the monstrous deeds of the Third Reich? Was Nazism an illness?
- Without official sanction, Dr. Douglas Kelley was developing a plan to explore the psychological recesses of the brains of the Nazi leaders!
- Strong point : El-Hai’s style of writing. Setting is an important part of this book and the author uses descriptive words and phrases. Nothing was left to chance, spiral staircases enclosed with wire netting to prevent suicides. In the prison “door slammed and heels thudded on the hard floors. Keys jangled. The very air feels imprisoned.” (pg 51)
- El- Hai creates strong sense of atmosphere and makes the story come alive.
- Strong point: chapter 5: Mental evaluations with the help of inkblot tests were documented. The charges laid at the Nazis’s cell doors were extraordinary. Dr. Kelley noted each mans’s reactions when handed the indictments. Powerful.
- Reporters noted every detail of the prisoners actions in the court room at Nuremberg. Rebecca West reported for The New Yorker, John Dos Passos for Harper’s and Life magazines.
- I’ve never read a more ‘up close and personal’ account about the Nazi elite.
- Here were men who had terrified millions of people and now they were dying of fright.
Hans Frank: Governor of occupied Poland
- “Don’t let everyone tell you that they had no idea.
- Everyone sensed there was something wrong (death camps).
- ….even if we did not know all the details. They didn’t want to know”. (pg 135)
The Class of 1945:
The author is so kind …..received a twitter message thanking me for the reveiw!