While preparing the Edelman Museum in Chicago, we discovered a set of my father’s war-time papers. Among the documents was a typed seating chart of the defendants at the November 1945 Nuremberg Trial, with Dan’s handwritten notes under each name. He describes Hermann Göring as intent, a determined note taker with a fat hand resting on the table. Rudolf Hess was interested, now and then sleepy. Julius Streicher was hard and stupid.
We also found his analysis of the German reaction to the Nuremberg Trial, dated December 26, 1945. Dan and his team conducted public opinion research in Germany with the mass public and opinion leaders across 38 towns in the American zone. Dan concluded that the intelligentsia were far more interested in the trial than the common man, who was struggling to find the necessities of life from firewood to food. There was consensus that the trial would be conducted in a fair manner (80 percent). Nearly the same percentage of Germans (77 percent) found the news coverage of the trial to be complete and trustworthy. Dan writes, “Another good indication that news reporting of the trial has been adequate is the rather remarkable fact that rumors about the trials have been practically non-existent.” Two thirds of the respondents said that they had learned something new from the trials; this was even more true of those in the higher socio-economic brackets.
Dan goes on to say that “most Germans have been only too eager to see their former leaders punished.” He concludes that this allows the average German to absolve himself of responsibility. These same leaders have also caused the miseries now imposed on the German people. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said they felt that all the defendants were guilty.
Finally, we found his report of December 24, 1945, in which he discusses the permanent effect of Nazi propaganda on German attitudes towards current events. He discusses Racial Theory, the conviction that Germans are culturally and racially superior to their Eastern neighbors and even to the French while Americans are dismissed as excessively materialistic. Power is touted over Reason, with democratic ideology rejected as intellectual acrobatics. Attitudes toward Hitler were divided, with some Germans professing deep hatred, others saying that he wanted the best for the country but had evil advisors.
Dan Edelman will be inducted as a distinguished member of the Psychological Operations Regiment on April 20, 2023 at Fort Bragg, NC. My sister and brother will join me for the ceremony. We will deliver to the military an entire set of Dan’s work from his four years in the service. He stayed up all night listening to Nazi propaganda broadcasts, writing a daily report for General Omar Bradley, then working on radio and leaflets to counter the Nazi messaging. He told me often that his experience in the Army was the making of him as a communicator and as a man, his favorite part of his life.
Follow this link to explore Dan's remarkable military career in greater detail.
Richard Edelman is CEO.