The Nazi and the Psychiatrist

The Nazi and the Psychiatrist

Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and A Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
Details the mission of U.S. Army psychiatrist Captain Douglas M. Kelley to understand the psychological link between the captured high-ranking Nazis and the motivations for their criminal behavior.

Perseus Publishing
In 1945, after his capture at the end of the Second World War, Hermann Göring arrived at an American-run detention center in war-torn Luxembourg, accompanied by sixteen suitcases and a red hatbox. The suitcases contained all manner of paraphernalia: medals, gems, two cigar cutters, silk underwear, a hot water bottle, and the equivalent of $1 million in cash. Hidden in a coffee can, a set of brass vials housed glass capsules containing a clear liquid and a white precipitate: potassium cyanide. Joining Göring in the detention center were the elite of the captured Nazi regime?Grand Admiral Dönitz; armed forces commander Wilhelm Keitel and his deputy Alfred Jodl; the mentally unstable Robert Ley; the suicidal Hans Frank; the pornographic propagandist Julius Streicher?fifty-two senior Nazis in all, of whom the dominant figure was Göring.

To ensure that the villainous captives were fit for trial at Nuremberg, the US army sent an ambitious army psychiatrist, Captain Douglas M. Kelley, to supervise their mental well-being during their detention. Kelley realized he was being offered the professional opportunity of a lifetime: to discover a distinguishing trait among these arch-criminals that would mark them as psychologically different from the rest of humanity. So began a remarkable relationship between Kelley and his captors, told here for the first time with unique access to Kelley’s long-hidden papers and medical records.

Kelley’s was a hazardous quest, dangerous because against all his expectations he began to appreciate and understand some of the Nazi captives, none more so than the former Reichsmarshall, Hermann Göring. Evil had its charms.

& Taylor

Details the mission of U.S. Army psychiatrist Captain Douglas M. Kelley, who tried to understand the psychological link between all of the capturing high-ranking Nazis, the link that made them act the way they did, and describes how on his dangerous quest he began to appreciate and understand some of his Nazi captives, most specifically, Hermann Goering.

Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, [2013]
Edition: First Edition
ISBN: 9781610391566
Branch Call Number: 341.69 EL39n
Characteristics: x, 281 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Mar 16, 2017

Following Germany's surrender at the end of World War II, American psychiatrist Douglas Kelley accepted a military assignment to become familiar with, study, and otherwise mentally examine the surviving high-ranking Nazi officials leading up to the Nuremberg Trials. His hope was to identify a common personality trait or defect which would assist in explaining their willing participation in the inhuman atrocities that took place.

Kelley's notes reveal fascinating and shocking insights into the psyches and motivations of these famous prisoners, including Göring, Hess, Rosenberg, Streicher, et al, in ways generally excluded from history textbooks. Several of the top officials, including Göring himself, admitted openly that they didn't even sincerely believe that Jews were inferior, but rather were merely a convenient means of inciting fear and anger among the rest of the German population.

A few passages of note, some chillingly relevant in today's political climate:
* Kelley: "I was more than casually interested as a psychiatrist to find in Rosenberg an individual who had developed a system of thought differing greatly from known fact, who absolutely refused to amend his theories, and who, moreover, firmly believed in the magic of the words in which he had expressed them."

* Hess had founded an alternative-medicine hospital that bore his name, "where the only requirement was that men practicing there could not be medical doctors," Kelley reported.

* The anti-Semitism of the Nazis stuck Göring as useful bait for potential adherents with gripes more emotionally rooted than the mere imposition of an offensive peace treaty.

* Kelley: "They are people who exist in every country of the world. Their personality patterns are not obscure. But they are people who have peculiar drives, people who want to be in power, and you say that they don't exist here, and I would say that I am quite certain that there are people even in America who would willingly climb over the corpses of half of the American public if they could gain control of the other half..."

Minnesota Book Award finalist, 2014

Dec 06, 2016

A very good fact laced narrative that follows a timeline. However, I do wish that the book had a little more structure.

This book focuses on an amazing subject, Kelley (The Psychiatrist), and how he handled his job working with (re: on) some of the most notorious men in the history of the world. Great subject and an even better job of compressing countless details into a readable book as the reader stands alongside Kelley in the Nuremberg prison.

bibliotechnocrat Dec 06, 2014

There is a curious and tantalizing connection between the deaths of Hermann Goring and Douglas Kelley (the American psychiatrist who evaluated the Nazi prisoners at Nuremberg), but the similarities are really more superficial than linear. This book is marketed - and even structured - to focus on the connection, but this is not the most interesting focus of the narrative. Instead, the glimpses at the banality of evil personified by the Nazi prisoners raise questions about who is capable of atrocity. Does it take a certain kind of personality mixed with mental illness? Could anyone find themselves engaged in incomprehensible evil? The psychiatrist's arrogance and profound lack of self-awareness, serve to underline this question.

lib_apart Oct 24, 2013

There are plans to make this into a movie already, read more about it:


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SJCPL

To Top