My Internment and Testimony at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial

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This study provides a different perspective on the important Nuremberg war crimes trial of 1945 and 1946. Friedrich Rainer, an Austrian Nazi, a lawyer, an influential Gauleiter, and a well-placed Hitler lieutenant, was a witness for the defendant Arthur Seyss-Inquart. Rainer was imprisoned in the witnesses’ wing where he had a unique opportunity to observe the trial and its participants. Later, as a Yugoslav prisoner, he wrote about his nine-month incarceration. His story, both first-hand and historical, is more detached than the memoirs of the defendants and provides a different perspective from the prosecutors. Since he was not himself on trial, he maintained a certain detachment, yet he shared some of the extant emotion. Further, Rainer’s legal background allowed him to examine, compare, and analyze the process. He also endeavored to write with the historian’s eye, distinguishing between fact and rumor, presenting evidence, and drawing conclusions. Most important, he placed his account in a larger context than the immediate trial. Finally, this translation, plus the editor’s commentary, provides a glimpse into the world of a man who embodies much that was typical Nazi, a man who may be seen as an historian and apologist of National Socialism.


“ ... Friedrich Rainer played a significant role in the Third Reich. However, his post-war activities were perhaps equally important. As one of the defense’s witnesses at the Nuremberg trial of 1945-46 for Arthur Seyss-Inquart – one of the architects of the Austro-German Anschluss of 1938 and later the Reich Commissar of occupied Holland – Rainer had a ringside seat at the proceedings. His familiarity with the defendants, his knowledge of history, and his training as a lawyer as well as his ability to write clearly and succinctly, make his observations about the trial especially fascinating and valuable ... The document published for the first time here sheds much new and valuable information about the trial and is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of no fewer than 250 explanatory footnotes as well as valuable photographs, associated documents, and a map of the prison. All the people named by Rainer in his document are thoroughly identified by Professor Williams, who also notes where Rainer’s memory failed him. Readers will also be indebted to Dr. Williams for the detailed bibliography of materials related to the trial and its participants.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Bruce F. Pauley, University of Central Florida

“ ... Though the literature on Nuremberg, both secondary and primary (mostly memoirs), has become rich over the decades, this book permits new, even unique insights and information on everyday life and proceedings in detention and trial at Nuremberg ... Rainer’s report significantly expands our understanding of the Nuremberg story and gives valuable insight into the postwar mindset of a not untypical mid-level Nazi functionary.” – Dr. Siegfried Beer, University of Graz, Austria

“ ... In the pantheon of German recollections of the Nuremberg trials, this account by a Nazi insider will surprise readers for its detached and thoughtful analysis of the proceedings. Rainer provides fascinating details of routine prison life, cameo portraits of the major participants, and informed speculation on the future of international law. Superbly introduced and edited by Dr. Maurice Williams, Rainer’s prison memoir will be remembered for its shrewd observation, keen analysis and utter lack of remorse.” – Professor Evan B. Bukey, University of Arkansas

Table of Contents

Foreword by Bruce F. Pauley
Editor’s Overview and Introduction
Rainer’s Nuremberg Account
Rainer’s Career
Rainer’s Personality
Editor’s Note
F. Rainer, The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and its Side Effects
Rainer’s Table of Contents
The Document
Rainer’s Sketch of the Nuremberg Complex and the Court Room
1. Steps Taken to Prepare for Confinement of the War Criminals, 2 September 1945
2. Rules for Prisoners, 11 September 1945
3. Prisoner Routine
4. Sample Menus, Nuremberg

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