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Richard Sonnenfeldt

michael sonnenfeldt, richard sonnenfeldt
Richard Wolfgang Sonnenfeldt 23 July 1923 Berlin, Germany – 9 October 2009, Port Washington, New York was a Jewish American engineer and corporate executive most notable for being the US prosecution team's chief interpreter in 1945 prior to the Nuremberg Trial after World War II


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Books
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


Richard was born Heinz Wolfgang Richard Sonnenfelt in 1923 to Jewish parents, Walther and Gertrud Liebenthal Sonnenfeldt, in Gardelegen He was eventually driven from his homeland by the harshness of the Nuremberg Laws In 1938, his mother was able to deliver Richard and his brother Helmut to Bunce Court, a boarding school in England After Germany attacked England in 1940, he was interned in England as an enemy alien Sonnenfeldt was sent to a prison in Australia, then released On arrival in Australia he gave his name as Wolfgang Heinz Israel Sonnenfeldt He emigrated to India and then the United States, arriving in April 1941 and reunited with his family in Baltimore His brother, not treated as an enemy alien because he was under age 16, obtained passage from England to the US Their parents escaped from Germany to Sweden and made it from there to the US

In the US, Sonnenfeldt finished high school, was drafted into the US Army, and became a US citizen He was then sent back to Europe as a US soldier In 1945 following the Battle of the Bulge, he was in combat action In April 1945, he briefly entered the liberated Dachau concentration camp in Germany and saw many dead bodies and near-dead survivors After Germany's surrender, he was working in an Army motor pool in Austria when General William J “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the Office of Strategic Services OSS, recruited Sonnenfeldt to be his personal interpreter because he spoke both German and English fluently Donovan soon became the first deputy of US Supreme Court Justice Robert H Jackson, who had been appointed by President Truman to serve as US Chief of Counsel for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals Sonnenfeldt moved with Donovan into that project, first to Paris and then to Nuremberg

In 1946, Sonnenfeldt left Nuremberg and the Army and returned to the United States He studied electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, graduating first in his class In his subsequent careers, he was part of the Radio Corporation of America RCA team that invented color television, involved in work for NASA on the moon landings, a senior executive at the National Broadcasting Company NBC, the dean of a business school, and inventor and holder of many patents, among other things

Sonnenfeldt's memoirs, first published in Germany, were published in English in 2006 as Witness to Nuremberg Arcade Publishing Sonnenfeldt was interviewed for the 2006 BBC docudrama Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial and many other documentaries

Richard Sonnenfeldt died on October 9, 2009 from complications of a stroke at his home in Port Washington, New York at the age of 86


  • ISBN 978-1-55970-856-2 Witness to Nuremberg by Richard W Sonnenfeldt


  1. ^
  2. ^ Alien registration records NAA:MP1103/1 E40691 "Prisoner of War/Internee: Sonnenfeldt, Heinz Wolfgang", NAA:MP1103/2 E40691 "Prisoner of War/Internee; Sonnenfeldt, Wolfgang Heinz Israel" National Archives of Australia
  3. ^ A G Sulzberger, "Richard W Sonnenfeldt, Nuremberg Interrogator, Is Dead at 86" The New York Times Retrieved on October 13, 2009

External links

  • "Richard Sonnenfeldt's Memoir, Witness to Nuremberg" Press Release
  • An interview with Richard Sonnenfeltd on charlierosecom

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