Nazi and the Psychiatrist by Jack El Hai
In 1945, an improbable relationship between the fallen Reichsmarschall, Hermann Goering, and ambitious US Army physician, Douglas Kelley, becomes a hazardous quest into the nature of evil, amid the devastation of Europe at the end of World War II The Nazi and the Psychiatrist explores the unusual relationship that took shape in a small prison cell in a bombed-out city in 1945. The cell held two men: Hermann Goering, the former Reichsmarschall and flamboyant commander of the German luftwaffe who was the most prominent leader standing of the Nazi regime's top leaders after World War II, and a young psychiatrist from the mountain of Truckee, California, with a compulsive desire to investigate the nature of evil. The psychiatrist, Douglas M.
Kelley, M.D., struggled to understand the workings of Goering's mind as part of his investigation of the psychological origins of evil. It was Major Kelley's assignment to assess the mental fitness of Goering and twenty-one other members of the Nazi leadership who awaited trial in Nuremberg during the last half of 1945. They would face a historic international tribunal judging them on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
But Kelley, following a personal agenda that he concealed from his American military superiors, wanted to know more than simply whether the defendants met the legal standards of sanity. He hoped to identify the exact ways in which the minds of the Nazis differed from everyone else's, and he sought to find the precise psychiatric defects that made the prisoners commit evil acts. Hermann Goering, who had joined forces with Adolf Hitler at the creation of the Nazi Party twenty-five years earlier and had risen to the highest ranks of the Third Reich, was the most fascinating target of the psychiatrist's scientific quest.
Jack El-Hai has exclusive access to recently discovered journals, medical records, psychological test results, and memos that Kelley's family has never before shown to researchers. Using these records, The Nazi and the Psychiatrist tells the dramatic story of the Goering-Kelley relationship, formed in the shadow of a monumental trial. Their unlikely relationship, which ended soon after the Nuremberg Trial began, continued to connect their lives even after the tribunal judges reached their verdicts.
Sentenced to death by the Nuremberg tribunal, Goering cheated the hangman in 1946 by swallowing a cyanide capsule just before his execution date. To the end he maintained that Germans of the future would honor his role in the Nazi regime. Douglas Kelley continued with the study and teaching of psychiatry and criminology after he left Nuremberg.
He taught at the University of California - Berkeley throughout the 1950s and assisted California police departments in the investigation of several high-profile murder cases. Alcoholism, depression, and an unhappy marriage plagued him during his last years. During an argument with his wife on New Year's Day in 1958, he committed suicide in front of his three children.
Like Goering, Kelley ended his life by swallowing a cyanide capsule. In the mysterious echo of Goering's death, Kelley's story becomes a parable about the dangers of coming too close to evil.