A Matter of Record

Day after day, Vivien documented the evidence against Brandt and the others. In one experiment, prisoners had their arms severed at the shoulders and their legs removed at the hips so Nazi doctors could then try to attach them to other dismembered men, women and children. Bin upon bin of severed arms and legs, some removed with little or no anesthesia.

Then came high-altitude experiments. Freezing experiments. Malaria experiments. Mustard gas experiments. Jaundice experiments. Sterilization experiments. Spotted fever experiments. Sea water experiments. Euthanasia experiments.

"I had to put my head down on the table because the tears were coming to my eyes," Vivien recalls. "I was supposed to be able to cope with this in a dispassionate way, but I couldn't. I had to lower my head to my chest so no one would see the tears, but I was still writing."

All told, 1,471 pieces of documented evidence was presented against the Nazi doctors, including their own meticulous records, photographs and movie film that had been captured by the Allies. Eighty-five witnesses and victims also testified.

Their defense: "Following orders."
Brandt sat across from Vivien with an arrogant, defiant expression. When he was sentenced to death, he clicked his boots, saluted Hitler and strode from the courtroom. In June 1948, on the day he died, he said, "It is no shame to stand on this scaffold. I served my fatherland as others before me."

The medical trial lasted ten months. Vivien and the other reporters compiled more than 11,000 pages of court transcripts. Seven of the doctors were sentenced to death. Seven were acquitted and released. Nine received prison sentences ranging from ten years to life.

Vivien wondered, "How many more have escaped?"

Vivien left Nuremberg in the spring of 1948. Although six months remained on her contract with the War Department, she had seen enough. When she returned home to Detroit, she had a recurring nightmare: She is scurrying through a tunnel beneath a concentration camp, and above ground is a barbed-wire fence with Nazi guards with bayonets. Five children clutch her skirt and she tries to quiet them and hurry along by candlelight, but it's dark and she can't see and she wants to make it under the fence...

She dreamed that dream for three straight years. Although she would marry, give birth to two sons, move to Denver and continue her career, the nightmare sometimes returned. In it, she never escaped.

Vivien retired in 1985. She had worked nineteen years in the Denver District Court, became the chief court reporter of the United States Congress and was the first woman stationed on the floor of the U.S. Senate. She had also reported the Nixon impeachment debate in the House and the State of the Union addresses by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. When she finally packed away her Parker pen and court reporter's notebook, Vivien could write 260 words per minute, only twenty words shy of the world record, which had been set with a stenotype machine.

She had planned to spend the rest of her life in Colorado, skiing, painting and enjoying friends and family from a home overlooking a golf course. Then she picked up her morning paper and read an article about a high school teacher in Aurora who had called the Holocaust the "Holohoax."

Vivien was furious.
She had collected boxes upon boxes of photos, documents and files from the Nuremberg trials. Boxes and boxes of proof. Although Vivien had been asked to speak about her experiences before, she had addressed only a few casual gatherings. For the most part, she had kept her story to herself. But that teacher struck a nerve. Vivien decided to unpack her files and prepare a lecture.

Today, Vivien has appeared before more than 18,000 people. She has been interviewed by Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation and is the only court reporter featured in the foundation's video archives. Her personal photographs and documents have been added to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum archives. Her experiences have been shared in classrooms throughout the country.

"Everywhere I go, I receive a standing ovation," she says. "I set out to record this history. I was an eyewitness to what happened in that courtroom. The 330,000 total pages that the court reporters made will stand as a permanent record in our national archives to refute the insidious threat of Holocaust denial. People can never forget it."

Her words are not always welcome. Last year, during a Colorado Springs gathering of attorneys and judges, Vivien was confronted by a man from the Institute of Historical Review, which denies the Holocaust occurred. The man distributed fliers, challenged her to a debate, and when she refused, sat back and glared.

In February, it happened again. In Long Beach, California, only miles from the institute's Newport Beach headquarters, Vivien was forced to register at her hotel under an assumed name. After her lecture, she was escorted from the stage by armed security guards as agitators waited in the hall.

"That just energizes me more," she says.
But sometimes, it is not the organized Holocaust denial that concerns her. It's the ignorance, she says, and the loss of history. Last year, at a high school in Golden, Vivien finished her presentation with a slide of Adolph Hitler. Just then, an eleventh-grader raised his hand.

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