Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project: Interview with Robert E. Matteson
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Robert Matteson was born in St. Paul in 1914, attended St. Paul public schools and St. Paul Academy, from which he graduated in 1933, and went to Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, graduating in 1937. He received a Rockefeller Internship to the National Institute of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., and then attended Harvard's Littauer School (now the Kennedy School of Government), where he received a master's degree and did doctoral work, completing all but a thesis. He married Jane Paetzold of St. Paul in 1940, and a year a half later they had a child while Matteson, deferred from the draft, taught international relations back at Carleton. Wanting to be more involved in the war, Matteson took a job in the State Department, but seven months later he asked to be drafted and became an Army private. He was sent to England with the 80th Infantry Division and went to Normandy, France, in July of 1944, 30 days after D-Day. While in Europe Matteson received promotions through the rank of tech sergeant and got a battlefield commission as an officer. Meanwhile he had also been made a special agent in counterintelligence. In April of 1945, as the war ended, he was involved in searching for Nazi officials and arrested, among others, the German general Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was convicted at Nuremberg and hanged for war crimes. Matteson also entered the Ohrdruf concentration camp about six to twelve hours after its guards abandoned it. His group had to break a locked gate to get inside. After the war Matteson was research director for former Minnesota governor Harold Stassen while Stassen was involved with the creation of the United Nations. Later Matteson continued to work in Washington, including research positions in the CIA. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Detailed account of General Kaltenbrunner's arrest; top Nazi officials; Nuremberg trials, including security measures in which Matteson was involved; postwar contact with German acquaintances, and their feelings about the war and concentration camps; a 1985 conversation with an Ohrdruf concentration camp survivor who said the Americans neglected the survivors, who faced food shortages for many months after being freed; Matteson's career after the war; books about intelligence operations during the war; Matteson's own writing about his career.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
17 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:31:45 running time
Creation Interviewee: Matteson, Robert Eliot
Interviewer: Lewin, Rhoda Greene
Dates Creation: 01/08/1987
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 52.7
Accession Number AV1996.48.7
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Minnesota Liberators of Concentration Camps Oral History Project'

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