Segment 5

Annotation

On 2 January 1945, Ettlinger was on a converted ship transport the Ile de France with 3,000 other men, and on 15 January 1945, he landed in Chevy, France on the border of Belgium and France. This was 30 miles behind the lines from where the Battle of the Bulge was taking place.Two weeks later Ettlinger ended up on a truck on his 19th birthday with 100 other trucks, with 2500 other soldiers, going to the front to be assigned to a division. His buddies ended up in the 99th Infantry Division. Ettlinger got pulled out just as the convoy started; a man came over and told him to get off, along with three other guys. He ended up learning what happened to his buddies later on, but they had him and 2,000 other guys become translators at the Nuremberg Trials. He traveled with this replacement group for the next three months from the end of January to the end of April. He is not sure when he landed in Munich at the 7th Army Headquarters. For those three months he ate, slept and goofed off. In those days, soldiers made $60 a month and he remembers making $1500 in a craps game one day and then losing it all the next day. He tried to keep himself occupied.Ettlinger found himself at the 7th Army Headquarters a week before the war ended. A man came up to him and asked him if he could speak and read German. He replied that he could and he was told that he was needed in an office a block away. It was there that he joined the G2 Intelligence Service. They were investigating the rape of women by American soldiers. There had been a drunken man knocking on doors asking women to come to his room. The American soldier took a daughter up to his room, but the mother wanted to join in; the soldier refused so the mother reported it, claiming that the soldier had raped her daughter. Ettlinger realized he did not want any part of that.Ettlinger ended up going to the office [Annotators Note: he wanted to be reassigned because he did not want to deal with situations like the drunken rape story] and told them he could read and speak German. An officer told him to go through documents and tell them the gist of the translation. Ettlinger did that for the next two weeks; he just translated documents. This officer, Captain Jim [Annotator’s Note: James] Rorimer, who later became the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art, asked Ettlinger to join him in jail in Munich to interrogate a man. The man turned out to be Heinrich Hoffman, the personal photographer of Adolf Hitler. That was very interesting to Ettlinger. He was 19 years old so it was a memorable experience for a young man. He was not used to doing the questioning.Ettlinger does not remember one word of the interrogation. He was told that his interrogation was recorded and is held in the National Archives. Another interrogator used his tape recording for his own use years later when Hoffman was interrogated again. 

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