Born: 1920 Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Witness : Military Liaison, Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
“I worked up a plan so they could attend and realize this was serious and we weren't just there for revenge or show,“ says Ray Sandvig, an American Army officer involved in the Nuremberg Trials. He adds that it was “very important to me to let the Germans believe in what we were doing.“
The Nuremberg Trials were convened by the Allied powers to sit in judgment on those suspected of crimes against humanity during World War II. When Ray thinks back, he is overwhelmed. “I remember one day just sitting at my desk and tears came running down my cheek,“ he says. “It was just too much, you know, too much hitting the body all at once. It was part of history, a time for retribution. A very important time for many.“
Ray was surprised to see how many German civilians supported the process. Many were quick to denounce Nazism- a protest that could have cost them their lives just months before. He recalls the “doctors' trial“ for those who performed medical testing and experimentation on Jewish prisoners. He heard a witness describe how German physicians froze fully conscious live subjects in an experiment to determine the limits the human body could withstand. The victims often died or were permanently disfigured.
Twenty-two “major“ German and Austrian war criminals were tried during eleven months of hearings at Nuremberg. Other tribunals throughout Europe would continue the work begun at Nuremberg, and a number of low-level officials were convicted, but many Nazis and Nazi collaborators were never brought to justice.