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At the Nuremberg trials several Nazi leaders achieved genius-level scores on an IQ test. Highest result was 143!

Goran Blazeski

After World War II, the Allied forces prosecuted certain Nazi leaders of the Third Reich for their war crimes in the famous Nuremberg trials.

The first, and best known of these trials, described as “the greatest trial in history” by Norman Birkett, one of the British judges who presided over it, was the trial of the major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT). Held between 20 November 1945 and 1 October 1946, the Tribunal was given the task of trying 24 of the most important political and military leaders of the Third Reich, though one of the defendants, Martin Bormann, was tried in absentia, while another, Robert Ley, committed suicide within a week of the trial’s commencement.

The defendants at Nuremberg Trials. Source: Wikipedia/Public Domain

The defendants at Nuremberg Trials. Source: Wikipedia/Public Domain

The trials were less about whether the Nazis committed the crimes and more about why they had committed such atrocities. Were the commandants who ran the Nazi death camps psychopaths? Was there a specific Nazi mental illness that drove these men to act as they did? Were they just ordinary men who made appalling decisions? Did they have subnormal intelligence?

A team of American psychologists and psychiatrists were directed to answer these questions during the Nuremberg trials. They were supposed to conduct exten­sive interviews and tests with the defendants. Such crimes could not be committed by a normal person, they reasoned, the defendants were probably different in some fundamental way from the rest of humanity.

Defendants in the dock at the Nuremberg trials. Source: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Defendants in the dock at the Nuremberg trials. Source: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Part of establishing whether or not the Nazis were capable of standing trial was the administration of an IQ test. The Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Test was adapted from English and given in German, and at the time, it was one of the most widely used IQ tests available. Scores of 65 or less were classified as “defective,” between 80 and 119 as normal, and 128 and above was “very superior.” Only about 2.2 percent of the population scored in that range. The average of all the Nazis tested was 128. This means that they were a lot above from the average human IQ. Here are the results for all 21 Nazis tested:

1 Hjalmar Schacht 143
2 Arthur Seyss-Inquart 141
3 Hermann Goering 138
4 Karl Doenitz 138
5 Franz von Papen 134
6 Eric Raeder 134
7 Dr. Hans Frank 130
8 Hans Fritsche 130
9 Baldur von Schirach 130
10 Joachim von Ribbentrop 129
11 Wilhelm Keitel 129
12 Albert Speer 128
13 Alfred Jodl 127
14 Alfred Rosenberg 127
15 Constantin von Neurath 125
16 Walther Funk 124
17 Wilhelm Frick 124
18 Rudolf Hess 120
19 Fritz Sauckel 118
20 Ernst Kaltenbrunner 113
21 Julius Streicher 106

Judges sitting in Nuremberg trials. Source: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Judges sitting in Nuremberg trials. Source: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Their reaction to the testing is even more fascinating than the results; they looked forward to it and were most pleased with the results. Franz von Papen on one occasion said that IQ testing was one of the most enjoyable moments of their captivity.

Rudolf Hess was one of the examined with IQ 120 and when asked for a brief career summary he admitted in an unemotional tone that he had been responsible for the deaths of more than two and a half million Jews. When asked how it was possible to kill so many people. “Technically,” answered Höss, “that wasn’t so hard — it would not have been hard to exterminate even greater numbers.”

Chief American prosecutor Robert H. Jackson addresses the Nuremberg court. 20 November 1945. Source: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Chief American prosecutor Robert H. Jackson addresses the Nuremberg court. 20 November 1945. Source: Wikipedia/Public Domain

 

It is now generally fairly well known that the Nazi leadership and their scientists were extremely smart. However, it’s extremely disturbing that such intelligent individuals were attracted to such a destructive and horrid ideology.