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Preparing for the subject of vicarious traumatisation in interpreters to be covered towards the end of the next "Interpreters for Interpreters" Workshop in Berlin (13th July 2012)

we wondered whether there is any information available in AIIC archives or elsewhere on

  • how the interpreters for the Nuremberg Trials were recruited
  • what kind of training they had received - if any
  • what it was like for them to interpret at the trials (especially considering the atrocities and crimes that had to be covered)
  • whether they received any sort of psychological support?

asked 16 Apr '12, 19:13

AlmuteL's gravatar image


retagged 03 May '12, 09:53

msr's gravatar image



Thank you all for your valuable answers within such a short time - I am very impressed!

Kind regards and best wishes to you all Almute

(17 Apr '12, 16:18) AlmuteL

In addition to what the others have said, you can find these articles on the AIIC site:

Justice in Four Languages or "Interpreters and Mistresses" : Review of "The Origins of Simultaneous Interpretation: The Nuremberg Trial" by Francesca Gaiba, 1998 (article by Ruth Morris)


Lunch with a Legend, an interview with Peter Less who interpreted at Nuremberg, by Tanya Gesse

You may also want to see this review of Interpreters at the United Nations by Jesus Baigorri, which has a reference to another book by the same author: “La interpretación de conferencias: el nacimiento de una profesión. De París a Nuremberg.”

And this Language in the News column that has three links to interviews with Sigfried Ramler, an interpreter at Nuremberg.

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answered 17 Apr '12, 13:08

Luigi's gravatar image


Weitere Infos auf Deutsch, Almute:

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answered 17 Apr '12, 15:44

Alexander's gravatar image


In the bookshop window next door to the Nuremberg court building in which the trials were held the following book is on display:

Simultandolmetschen in Erstbewährung: Der Nürnberger Prozess 1945
Mit einer orientierenden Einführung von Klaus Kastner und einer kommentierten fotografischen Dokumentation von Theodoros Radisoglou sowie mit einer dolmetschwissenschaftlichen Analyse von Karin Rumpre Redaktion: Hartwig Kalverkämper, Larisa Schippel erschienen Oktober 2007 336 Seiten, zahlr. farb. u. schw.-w. Abb., Paperback Frank & Timme | ISBN: 3865961614

Some questions might be answered in there.

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answered 17 Apr '12, 08:34

deedee's gravatar image


Hi I have recently completed a Masters dissertation entitled "The Professional Interpreter in Transitional Justice: An Empirical Study". I have reviewed the literature on Nuremberg and also carried out research among interpreters working currently at the ICTY and the ICTR in the form of a questionnaire. If you are interested, I can send you a copy of the dissertation.

Martyn Swain

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answered 19 Apr '12, 05:12

Martyn%20Swain's gravatar image

Martyn Swain

...I'd love one, Martin, if you're feeling generous :-)

(19 Apr '12, 07:08) msr

I remember the late Pat Vander Elst telling us that they drank a lot... She also appears in the documentary film The Whisperers.

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answered 17 Apr '12, 03:11

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

edited 17 Apr '12, 05:46

...thinking back to the 50th anniverary of the main Trial that we celebrated in Brussels and all the reading and researching we did for the occasion:

  1. recruitment: word of mouth and visits to schools, ad-hoc testing

  2. training: consecutive at best, no sim. training then + in-house training in Nuremberg - mainly in the "listening room" - before moving to the front of the house, plus there was always a monitor listening in (other than those in the "listening room") who presumably would spot issues warranting further training

  3. stress: some couldn't take it :-( and either dropped out altogether or switched to translation

  4. support: never heard any reference to formal support, I'm sure that informal networking, as always, must have been active

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answered 17 Apr '12, 07:20

msr's gravatar image


edited 17 Apr '12, 07:32

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Tanya Gesse conducted an interview with Peter Less, one of the Nuremberg interpreters, cf. "Lunch with a legend"

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answered 17 Apr '12, 04:36

Tanja's gravatar image


edited 17 Apr '12, 04:37

Hi everybody, I think the colleague's name is "Astrid Geese"? I also think a conversation with somebody who was part of the Nuremberg interpreting teams can be found on the DVD "The Whisperers" (Die Flüsterer).

(17 Apr '12, 04:46) Julia

Wolf Frank, who worked with Pat at the trials, told me the following - a cinematic moment if ever there was one. He was anxious to be the interpreter who announced the death sentence on Goering. Judge put on black cap, started reading the sentence, Wolf started to work. Goering put his hand up, and indicated that he couldn't hear anything through his earphones. Siemens technicians rushed in and put it right. Judge and Wolf started again - Goering turned round and gave Wolf a kind of thumbs-up signal while the death sentence was being pronounced, concentrating on being able to hear, rather than what was being said.

Pat told me they all suffered from Nuremberg Cough - the city was in ruins, gradually being cleared, and the dust was appalling. As was the smell - so many bodies still being recovered. Hence, possibly, their all drinking quite a lot.

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answered 22 Sep '13, 11:58

dunphail's gravatar image


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question asked: 16 Apr '12, 19:13

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last updated: 22 Sep '13, 11:58

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