Nuremberg translator shares story with News 12
As people across the world marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with ceremonies and stories of survival, News 12 Long Island?s Shari Einhorn sat down with a Long Island man who has stories from a different side of the Holocaust.
Eighty-five-year-old Port Washington resident Richard Sonnenfeldt served as the chief translator for prosecutors in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg after World War II. The Nuremberg trials were when the first time war criminals were prosecuted for their crimes against humanity.
?I was in Nuremberg from July 1945 until the end of August 1946,? Sonnenfeldt, a German-born Jew told News 12. ?The scenes at Nuremberg are imprinted on my mind.?
Specifically, Sonnenfeldt says it was his personal interactions with high-ranking Nazi leaders that he will never forget. When he was just 22 years old, Sonnenfeldt helped interrogate Auschwitz commander Rudolf Hoess and Hitler-successor Hermann Goering. Sonnenfeldt says he, a lowly private at the time, was able to stop the second-most powerful man in the German military from interrupting him when he spoke. He deliberately mispronounced Goering's name to mean "little nothing" in German.
?And he said to me ?My name is not Gerink, it's Goering.? And I said ?I'll make a deal with you. If you don't interrupt me again, I won't call you Gerink again.??
Sonnenfeldt never really talked about his past until his grandchildren started interviewing him for school projects. He still says it?s as if the events happened only yesterday.
To watch the entire interview with Sonnenfeldt, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.