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Before starting the International military tribunal at Nuremberg, the prosecutors had to make sure that all the 22 high-ranking Nazi defendants were mentally fit to stand the trial. For this, psychiatrists were involved, the chief being the American mental specialist Douglas Kelley.
He decided to define the “Nazi personality”, perceive which psychiatric deviations were common for the Nazi leaders. Kelley had no doubts about the presence of deviations. Those people could not possibly be normal! A healthy man is not capable of committing all those atrocities that became known to the world right after the war…
Kelley came up with the idea of a large-scale competency evaluations of the prisoners: he was carrying on long-lasting conversations, conducting various tests and interrogations.
The results of the research overwhelmed the psychiatrist. And affected his life. He quitted his profession.
And on January 1, 1958, 12 years after the end of the IMT, Dr. Kelley committed suicide by ingesting potassium cyanide. His examinee Hermann Göring chose the same method the night before he was to be hanged, on October 15, 1946.
Was there any connection between those two suicides? Definitely, yes. While working with flagrant criminals, the doctor seems to have revealed the “dark side of his soul”, and could not cope with it …
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