Oral History

John Dolibois describes translating for a prison psychiatrist

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.


This guy Gilbert arrives... Douglas arrives on the scene, and he's a prison psychiatrist, and he's primarily working for some institute, I think it was the Drexel Institute, to test these prisoners. But the information would also be useful to the tribunal, because it would help them understand. So he became very important, the prison psychiatrist. Except he couldn't speak German. Then they found out that I had majored in psychology in college, so I knew the terms, with the result I became the interpreter for the Rorschach analysis, which I loved, it was a lot of fun. He gave the questions and I interpreted, translated, and gave the answers. And then he would ask me to write what I thought after an interview. "What did you think of this?" And then I would write my layman's report of what I think the prisoner was like. And then he combined that with his technological, his scientific analysis. It made for a pretty intelligent report. The layman couldn't read his report, whereas if it had been all scientific probably not much would have become of it.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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