After World War II the allies and occupied/liberated countries (e.g., Britain, France, Italy, Poland, Greece, the Soviet Union) tried tens of thousands of people (German POWs, Nazi officials, Nazi colloborators, etc.) for war crimes. The records of most of these trials (many of which were summary) are not available for one reason or another. The most notorious of these war crimes trials were the ones before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (scene of the spectacle of the Nazi party day celebrations) in which the U.S., Britain, France, and the USSR jointly prosecuted both organizations (e.g., the SS) and individuals (e.g., Martin Bormann, presumed to be the most powerful man in Germany after Hitler at the end of war, although he was tried "in absentia").
These trials were notorious for two reasons.
First, major players of the Third Reich then in captivity were on trial and attesting to events they were involved in (unlike in normal criminal trials in the U.S., in these trials the accused had no right against self-incrimination and could not refuse to testify or be cross-examined).
Second, documentation of the mass killings in concentration/extermination camps, which some had tried to downplay to that point as propaganda, was divulged to the world for all to see.
Dr. Goldensohn was a psychiatrist who interviewed defendants and witnesses in captivity at the Nuremberg trials on a regular basis. In so doing Dr. Goldensohn's purposes were several: He had to gauge the person's mental spirits (the prosecutors did not want to lose anyone to suicide) and medical well-being, as well as obtain a personal and family history, and prepare a psychological profile.
The results are nothing short of amazing, if not startling. With a few possible exceptions, all of the interviewees tried to distance themselves from the mass killings in one way or another and expressed remorse that they occurred. Their primary excuses were: (1) they knew nothing about them until the end of the war when the inmates in the camps were freed, and (2) they were just following orders, which if disobeyed meant their own death or imprisonment.
The extracts from Dr. Goldenson's contemporaneous interview notes are presented as separate chapters, one for each person. The interviews are primarily independent of each other (they are presented in the book in alphabetical order by defendants and then by witnesses). They can thus be easily read separately or out of order at a leisurely pace without losing the overall context of the book.
The interviews for a particular person vary from 1-2 pages (Rudolf Hess, Alfred Jodl, Albert Speer, Kurt Daluege) to over 20 pages (Walther Funk, Hermann Goering, Hjalmar Schacht, Ewald von Kleist) in length, most are about 10-15 pages. Many of the interviewees come off as bland and colorless, one exception is Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering who by turns is remonstrative and bombastic. Each chapter begins with the person's photo, along with a brief description of their positions and titles, and what ultimately happened to them (death, imprisonment, not guilty).
Dr. Goldensohn's work is particularly enchanced by the participation of historian Robert Gellately, who (1) provides as an introduction a 20-plus page insightful and balanced discussion of the background of the trials and interviews, (2) masterfully edits and abridges the interviews presented (they were still in an incomplete format when Dr. Goldensohn died in 1961, some were typed, some were handwritten, and contained errors in spelling and syntax, etc.), and (3) provides useful endnotes on many of the statements of the interviewees (the endnotes explain the context of some of the statements made, expose misstatements or outright falsehoods, and contain references for further reading).
There are a couple of minor shortcomings to the work: (1) Dr. Goldensohn was not fluent in German and had to rely on a translator for what most of the interviewees were saying: thus it is possible "something got lost in the translation"; (2) one must remember that all of the interviewees were on trial for their lives (10 of the 19 "defendants" were sentenced to death as, at subsequent trials, were 5 of the 14 "witnesses"; 7 of the defendants and 7 of the witnesses received jail terms) and probably suspected anything incriminatory they said would be used against them (indeed, there was no patient-doctor confidentiality in these interviews and any statements they made to Dr. Goldensohn could have been used against them although that apparently never happened). (In this regard, for what its worth, two of the most extensive interview notes in the book are those for Hans Fritsche, a minion who worked in the German Propaganda Ministry, and Hjalmar Schact, former president of the Reichsbank (to 1939) and minister without portfolio (to 1943), both of whom were found not guilty.)