FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — A man who lived in Watertown during World War II is being remembered for his work in the Nuremberg Trials.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Around and About Fort Drum series is featuring Henry V. Cumoletti. who served as a court reporter during the Nuremberg War Crime Trials, which prosecuted former Nazi leaders for crimes against humanity before the International Military Tribunal.
According to Fort Drum, Cumoletti first began his civil service career as an assistant clerk-stenographer. at Fort Drum in 1941 when it was called Pine Camp. He was later promoted to a court reporter and served in over 250 courts-martial in this role.
However, in June o 1946, Fort Drum said Cumoletti received a phone call that changed his life forever. On June 23 of 1946, he was called by the War Department in Washington D.C., seeking to assign Cumoletti to the Nuremberg Trials.
This series of 13 trials were the first to have a panel of judges from four countries. This included the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Great Britain.
Three weeks after the phone call on June 23, Cumoletti left his family in Watertown and boarded an Army plane to Europe. He joined a team of court reporters to take testimony in shorthand or typed in 20-minute periods.
When sessions ended, he re-typed notes to be checked with the audio recording of the testimony and then made a copy for official records.
“When I got to the second relay, I faced these massive bronze doors with heavy security,” he said. “And the police opened up the doors just so I alone could walk into this courtroom, packed with dignitaries from all over the world, prosecutors and judges and the 21 Nazis sitting right up there,” Cumoletti said in a previous interview.
“It’s difficult to explain the thrill of that, to just walk in there, and the presence of everybody, and the proceedings were going on at the time, by the way, so there was a momentary disruption as everyone looked to see who’s this guy coming in,” he added.
Fort Drum noted that he sat feet away from defendants such as Rudolph Hess, Herman Goering and Albert Speer.
The Nuremberg Trials went on to convict also a number of other party members, the Gestapo and medical personnel. Cumoletti was asked to remain in Nuremberg for the subsequent trials, but he declined.
Cumoletti left civil service in 1953 but continued working as a court reporter for the Watertown City Court. He also published a book on his recollections of Nuremberg called “Crimes Against Humanity,” and delivered hundreds of lectures.
He died in 1996 at the age of 89 in Watertown. A courtroom in a wooden World War II-era building on Fort Drum was dedicated to him in 1997, and the Henry V. Cumoletti Courtroom was dedicated to him on Fort Drum in 2016.