Psychologist Gustave Gilbert at The Nuremberg Trials

Gustave Gilbert was a psychologist in the US army during WW2. He got his PhD in psychology from Colombia University. He was commissioned to be a military psychologist and became a 1st lieutenant. He spoke German as well as English and also became an intelligence officer. At the Nuremberg trials, he was sent there as a translator but became the prison psychologist too. He has access to the top Nazi minds. He was fascinated about why the Nazis could commit their atrocities. Were they inherently evil? Had a psychosis? Or just humans who were brainwashed by the Nazi party? He interviewed Nazis like Goering, Albert Speer, and Rudolf Hess. Gilbert wrote a book about it called the Nuremberg Diary. A famous excerpt says,

Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Gilbert went on after the Nuremberg trials to become the head psychologist at  a Veterans Hospital in Lyons treating WW2 and WW1 victims of nervous breakdowns. Here’s a neat video showcasing the psychology involved at the Nuremberg trials. They gave tests like the Rorschach Test, Thematic Appreciation Test, and the Stanford-Binet test.

About History Is Interesting

I like ancient and medieval history!
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