Oral History

Robert Mills Donihi describes witnesses 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.


There were so many people. They came into your office. You got their names, you asked to speak with them because you know that they're witnesses. They've been through a lineup procedure. And you kind of feel that in my situation, here it is a couple of years after they have been released from that terrible encampment, you kind of expect they're going to come in looking fairly healthy. And they come in and they're still emaciated. They're trembling. They've lost teeth. Their memory seems to lapse. Their eyes show various kinds of distress. You talk to people like this day after day, it's not long before you begin to feel a little bit like them. It's a terrible sensation, really, to realize -- I guess I could illustrate this, because none of us could possibly know exactly what it's like to be in one of those concentration camps any more than we could unless we've been in battle we couldn't know what it's like to be shot in a battle.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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