Oral History

John Dolibois describes interrogating German prisoners in preparation for postwar trials

John Dolibois immigrated to the United States in 1931 at the age of 13. After graduating from college, Dolibois joined the 16th Armored Division of the US Army. Due to his German language skills, he became involved in military intelligence. He returned to Europe in this capacity toward the end of World War II. Dolibois interrogated German prisoners of war, including leading Nazis, in preparation for the postwar trials of war criminals. He was later appointed US ambassador to Luxembourg, his birthplace.

Transcript

But the difficulty, and I think this is where our training at Ritchie was emphatic, don't get personally involved, don't show sympathy, don't show understanding even. In body language, we would try not to agree, not to nod your head when they made one of their profound statements, which might make them think "He agrees with me, he would have done the same thing if he were in my shoes." You had to avoid giving them the opportunity to transfer their doings to you, their philosophy, in other words, "He may be the enemy but he agrees with me, because I saw him nod his head, I saw him smile when I said that." So we had to learn to be very impersonal and stone-faced, and not to let ourselves be moved by what they said or what they sometimes did. So body language is very important in talking to them.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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