Richard W. Sonnenfeldt
Richard W. Sonnenfeldt, was born on July 3, 1923, the son of two German Jewish physicians. He lived in Gardelegen, in northeastern Germany, until the rising tide of Nazism forced him to flee to England in 1938. After Dunkirk, in 1940, he was mistakenly interned as a "German Enemy Alien" by his British hosts and was deported to Australia via a 57-day-passage on an infamous prison ship, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat but survived. After he complained about his undeserved incarceration, he was released in Australia and the 17-year old then embarked on a solo odyssey across U-boat infested oceans, ending up in Baltimore in 1941 via India, South Africa and South America. At age 20, as a newly minted American citizen, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and the conquest of Germany as a front line U.S. combat soldier.
Five weeks after V-E day he was named Chief Interpreter for the OSS group that evolved into the American Prosecution at the 1945 Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals.
Back in America, Mr. Sonnenfeldt graduated first in his class from the Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering, and became a principal developer of Color TV and computer technology for the NASA "MoonShots." From 1979-82 he was executive vice president at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC); from 1982 to 1998 he advised CEO's of multinational corporations and served on over a dozen corporate boards. He was simultaneously CEO of NAPP Systems, Inc. the world's leading producer of newspaper printing plates from 1986 to 1990. To mark his fiftieth anniversary in business and his 75th birthday, Sonnenfeldt raced his yacht "Peregrine" across the Atlantic in 1998.
Mr. Sonnenfeldt's recent autobiography, published in Germany, includes a riveting account of his experiences at Nuremberg, where he had revealing conversations with Hermann Goering and other principal Nazi war criminals. "Mehr als ein Leben" (More than One Life), the German-language version of his book became an instant bestseller in Germany and he was the only American honored with a public reading at the giant 2003 Frankfurt Book Fair. He has been a featured guest on seven of Germany's most prominent national TV talk shows and has been a principal commentator in History Channel documentaries in America explaining how to extract testimony, without resorting to force or threats, from war criminals. He is currently writing an essay that relates his Nuremberg experiences to the forthcoming trial of Saddam Hussein. The German video production company A VE is making a full length documentary of his life for NDR, a component of national German TV, to be aired in connection with the sixtieth anniversary of the Nuremberg trials and the seventieth anniversary of the Nuremberg Laws which stripped German Jews of their civil rights.
A frequent media guest and lecturer in the U.S. and abroad, Richard Sonnenfeldt lives in Port Washington, New York, with his wife Barbara, near their six children and fifteen grandchildren.
Richard W. Sonnenfeldt, 4 Secor Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050
Tel: (516) 883-8533; E-mail: Richard@Sonnenfeldt.com