Oral History

Robert Mills Donihi describes defendants at the postwar US trials in Germany

In 1945, Robert Mills Donihi was practicing law in Nashville, Tennessee. He accepted a government assignment to Tokyo where he worked on the trial of 28 high-ranking Japanese officers. After a year, he left for Germany, and arrived in Nuremberg in January 1947. Donihi was a member of the legal team at the postwar US trials in Germany, serving as both an interrogator and a prosecutor.


Well, anyone who is an SS person or administrative personnel within the concentration camp, was automatically going to be tried because he was a member of a common design there. Anyone who had a position such as a Kreisleiter, we'll say a mayor, a Gauleiter, we'll say a governor, head of the Hitler Youth, anyone who came across say any of our desks with that kind of category, was categorically in a criminal organization and therefore was subject to trial for the criminal acts of that organization. If you wanted to be more specific about what his particular role was then you dug deeper, but he could have been tried on the common design theory alone, if you wanted to. Lawyers were reluctant to do that. I did that with regard to the Wuelfert case simply because I felt like don't let them get off simply because they were being nice to prisoners and letting them eat. What they're saying in a situation like that is "Oh we let them live. We let them sleep on the floor where it was nice and warm." You could hardly call that kindness.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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