Richard Sonnenfeldt, Nuremberg interpreter, dies


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Richard Sonnenfeldt, the chief interpreter for the prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials, has died.

Sonnenfeldt, a German-born Jew who fled the country in 1938 at 15, made his way to the United States after being deported from England as a German enemy alien on a prison ship that was torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat.

Sonnenfeldt enlisted in the U.S. Army, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was among the American troops who liberated the Dachau concentration camp.

He was recruited during his Army service by the Office of Strategic Services to assist the prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials. Sonnenfeldt became the chief interpreter for the Army and later the prosecution team that interviewed the Nazi war criminals on trial.

His book of memoirs, "Witness to Nuremberg" recounts his many meetings with the notorious defendants during the trials.

Sonnenfeldt later graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in electrical engineering and had a successful career in technology and business.

In 2002, Sonnenfeldt traveled throughout Germany under the auspices of the American Jewish Committee to tell his story to schoolchildren and adults.

"He was able to reach thousands of people, young and old, sharing with them his unique experience fleeing Nazi Germany, as well as his later contribution in helping ensure that those responsible were held accountable for their nefarious deeds," said Deidre Berger, director of AJC’s Berlin Office.

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