By Rev. Moritz Fuchs
Before WWII, was an engineering student at Purdue, drafted
after second semester at age 18. Entered at Camp Upton, Long Island, chose
ASTP and went to Ft. Benning, GA for basic training. All were dumped into
Infantry instead, sent to Camp Livingston, LA, 87th Division. Shipped out
of Fort Meade, MD to New Jersey docks, some 5,000 of us boarded QE for a seven-day
trip over the Atlantic. We slept in three eight-hour shifts. Ship took a zigzag
route to hopefully avoid enemy submarines. I remember a display shot from
a cannon on the aft deck. A 50-gallon barrel was dropped overboard. When it
was at a great distance from the rolling deck a shot was fired and hit it.
They told us that the accuracy of the cannon aim was possible because gyroscopes
We landed in Scotland – really green contrast from the sea – were sent over night by train to Portsmouth soon to Omaha Beach as replacements in the First Division under General Omar Bradley. If I remember correctly, we disembarked by climbing down rope nets into landing craft. We were soon involved in battle at Huertgen Forest where I was wounded November 19th. Our whole squad was wiped out that day. Whitey Swarthout had been due for 30-day leave, was the first man I saw get killed. Shrapnel from 88s burst in the pine trees, raining deadly steel. Evacuated through Cherbourg to England, spent three months at Army Hospital at Blandford. So I missed the Battle of the Bulge.
Learned some German words from army phrase books so I was able to claim ability to interrogate prisoners, hence was called to Bn Hq and put on a bazooka team --- squad. I figure that language advantage saved my life, as it got me for a while off the front line.
At Dueren on the Roer River I remember a German teen soldier kneeling, bandaged, frozen in the vestibule of a small church. We crossed the Rhine at Remagen and trucked to the Harz mountains to engage again. President Roosevelt died at that time, in April 1945. Soon after, we were transferred to Patton’s Third Army and ended up in Czechoslovakia, to end the war May 8. The Bn Gommander Lt. Col. John T. Corley with a jeep driver took two of us west to Konnersreuth, Germany to visit Theresa, a stigmatic, one who bore the wounds of Jesus.
Our 3rd Bn, 26th Inf of the 1st Division, (Big Red One), were moved to Ansbach, Germany, south of Nuremberg. Sometime in July I was appointed by Col. Corley to protect the Hon. Robert H. Jackson, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, who had been named by President Truman to be the Chief Prosecutor of the Trials. At first I kept my 1st Div and 26th Inf insignia, and was provided with a 45 cal. Pistol. After the trials were underway awhile I was to wear a generic, unidentified army uniform and was provided with a 38 snub nose pistol in a shoulder holster, and an extendable blackjack.
That was 57 years ago, and I was only 20 years old. Merely a spectator, but I had a really good seat to observe the proceedings of the IMT – International Military Tribunal. From the summer of 1945 to August 1946 I was on duty with Mr. Jackson, 24/7.
Mr. Jackson was provided a comfortable small estate at 31 Lindenstrasse, Fuerth-Dambach, a few miles NW of Nuremberg. The property had a tennis court and was well landscaped for privacy. An MP sentry was posted at the road entrance at all times. Some smaller building provided quarters for the two drivers and two cooks. A Mrs. Hassler had a schedule to come and supervise housekeepers. No Mr. Hassler was ever present.
Much of the TV movie visuals and info are wrong, marred by Hollywood license. Fuchs did not come from Brooklyn but from Fulton, New York; Jackson never had to ride in a jeep. I was not a driver for I did not then yet know how to drive; I became a PFC only after the war ended, and became a S/Sgt only on the Nuremberg assignment. The TV movie suggestions of romance between Jackson and the secretary Mrs. Douglas are totally without foundation from my full year’s daily experience with them.
Mr. Jackson was provided with the use of a Mercedes touring car, 16-cylinder gas guzzler that had a 75-gallon tank capacity and got three miles to the gallon. It was one of only five made like that. This one had belonged to Von Ribbentrop. The dashboard looked like an airplane cockpit; a supercharger kicked in at 40 mph. The hubcaps screwed on and held the wheels. We had it up to 120 mph once on the Autobahn. Once on the Autobahn we had a flat. The inner tube had simply disintegrated. Hardly a piece of the tube was left larger than a thumbnail. Leather upholstered, the car had jump seats enabling seven persons to sit in back.
The house in Fuerth-Dambach had two floors, several rooms upstairs, where Jackson and Douglas lived and had offices to work in and where a considerable number of VIP guests came at many different times to consult and plan strategies. Steps from the driveway led up to a small porch enclosure. I had a single small room immediately to the right with full view of the sentry post and the front door, so I acted as greeter to all guests.
Some pictures here show staff and guests at a Christmas party held there in December 1945. The pictures give evidence of some good camaraderie among the staff. Knowing that I could have mustered out of the army, Mr. Jackson sent a note home at Christmas to my mother. Nearer the end of the trial he recommended me for the Army Commendation Medal for having served him well.
A smaller car was also available, shown in one picture. Once we visited Rothenburg, a quaint medieval walled city west of Nuremberg. Another time arrangements were made for several of staff with Mr. Jackson and son, Naval Lt. William Jackson, to go hunting. I was the only one to shoot a deer which Mr. Jackson himself later dressed. He and others were assured and comforted to see that his personal bodyguard was a good marksman.
Other short trips included Dachau, Berchesgaden, Oberammergau and Innsbruck. There surely were many other excursions, but those stand out in my memory now at age 76, 57 years later.
The time sequence of events has faded in my memory, but I know that I accompanied Mr. Jackson and his staff to London and Berlin on business, and later to Nice and Rome where he went to be at the consistory when Pius XII elevated Cardinal Spellman as archbishop of New York. A short flight to Paris went without me as I had the flu.
The courtroom at the palace of Justice in Nuremberg was fairly well represented in the TV movie, except that all eight judges sat all the time, the judges and the alternates. The courtroom was well modernized and the layout well planned. A translation system that was being worked out at the United Nations organizational meetings at San Francisco was adapted to allow all in the courtroom to listen not only to verbatim dialog, but by earphones to any of the four major languages being spoken: English, German, French, or Russian, as the dialog was translated simultaneously from the 12 translators, boxed off in a corner of the courtroom.
The defendants were enabled to select their own lawyers to represent them, anyone they could find. They were offered any advantage that any court or tribunal of any of the four chief countries allowed to their citizens.
The departure, trip home, was in August 1946. We flew via Gander, Newfoundland, for refueling. Passengers those days each had to wear a parachute harness. We arrived at WDC. I remember passengers included Mr. Jackson, Mrs. Douglas, Bill Jackson, Capt. John Vonetes, Bob Vlastnik, a driver and myself among other staff. Mr. Jackson invited Vlastnik and myself to stay at his home then at McLean, VA until we went to the army separation center at Ft. Dix. Later that estate became the home of Robert Kennedy.
After discharge I arrived in Fulton, New York August 15th and entered St. Andrew’s Seminary a few weeks later. It was a good move! Mr. Jackson and some smaller staff returned to Nuremberg for the sentencing in October.
It may have been in 1953 during my years of study at Theological College, CUA that I visited with Mr. Jackson in the Supreme Court chambers. Then he died in October 1954. Mrs. Elsie Douglas honored me greatly by coming to Syracuse in May 1955 for my ordination and first Mass in Fulton.
DOCUMENTATION on the major trial is abundant. Books I know
are better than the movie.
“Nuremberg, Infamy on Trial” by Joseph Persico.
“America’s Advocate” by Eugene Gerhart
“American’s Advocate” Two Volumes by Herbert Wechsler
Forty-one or forty-two volumes of the entire proceedings fill about 12 feet of shelf – GPO Mr. Jackson sent me a set that was donated a few years later to the Alibrandi Thomas More Center at SU. Later they gave it to the SU Law School, which now may have two sets. Autographed first volume was graciously replaced so I could keep it.
“Time and Memory” by Joseph Persico, American Heritage, July/Aug 1994
“Judgment at Nuremberg” by Robert Shinayerson, Smithsonian, Oct 1996
CONCLUSION: Robert Houghout Jackson became for me a hero
among national leaders. I found him to be an exemplar of knowledge, culture,
sensitive to the dignity and value of human beings, and hence, appropriately
outraged at the abuses perpetrated by the Nazis against human beings. He deserved
my deepest respect and high esteem, as he was articulate in perceiving and
expressing in precise and legal terms the abhorrence we all sensed after learning
of so many horrors from their own records.
I like the man very much and hold him in highest esteem. He knew himself t be human, but with his background of faith and learning, he is one who deserves high honor as a statesman who did his part well and is worthy of admiration and pride of our nation.