Sonnenfeldt, Richard Wolfgang

Inventor, executive and chief interpreter at the Nuremberg trials






Nazi Germany introduced the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. The laws forbade marriages and intercourse between Jews and Germans and the employment of German females under 45 in Jewish households. The laws also declared that only those of German or related blood had the right to be Reich citizens. Richard Wolfgang Sonnenfeldt was born in a Jewish family in 1923, Berlin. In 1938 his mother could deliver him with his younger brother to a boarding school in England. When World War II started, Sonnenfeldt was interned in England as an enemy alien, sent to a prison in Australia and then released. After a short stay in India, he arrived in Apr 1941 in the United States where he met his family again in Baltimore.

Sonnenfeldt became a U.S. citizen and was drafted into the US Army in 1943. The army sent him as a soldier back to the frontlines in Europe. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge (16 Dec 1944 – 25 Jan 1945), the last major German offensive on the Western Front in the forested Ardennes. In Apr 1945 Sonnenfeldt entered the liberated Dachau concentration camp. There he saw the many dead bodies and near-dead survivors.

After Nazi Germany surrendered, Sonnenfeldt served as Sergeant in Austria where General William J. Donovan recruited him to be his personal interpreter. Sonnenfeldt spoke fluently German and English. After the war Donovan became the first deputy of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson. President Truman had appointed Jackson as U.S. Chief of Counsel for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals. Sonnenfeldt became the principal interpreter for American prosecutors at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. He helped interrogating notorious leaders of the Third Reich, including Rudolf Hess, Hermann Goering and Albert Speer.


Digitronics Corporation 
certificate for less than 100 shares of 10 cents, 1967 
printed by Hasbrouck, Thistle & Co, New York 
facsimile signature of Richard Wolfgang Sonnenfeldt in lower right corner 
see also detail at the bottom 


After the Nuremberg trials Sonnenfeldt returned to the US to study electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. In 1949 he joined Radio Corporation of America (RCA) as an engineer where he worked on monochrome and color television receivers. There, he led a team that won the race for the Federal Communications Commission's color television standard. RCA's solution would be referred to as the NTSC system. At RCA, he worked also on satellite technology and industrial controls. In 1959 Sonnenfeldt managed RCA's new industrial computer business at Natick, Massachusetts.

RCA sold its industrial computer division in Natick in 1962 to the Foxboro Company. At the same time, Sonnenfeldt left RCA and became General Manager of Foxboro's new Digital Systems Division. Three years later, he joined Digitronics Corporation as President and Chief Executive Officer. Digitronics developed and manufactured data communication equipment and special purpose computers.



Digitronics Corporation 
100 shares of ten cents,  1970 
printed by American Bank Note Company 
facsimile signature Richard Wolfgang Sonnenfeldt in lower right corner 


Richard Sonnenfeldt rejoined RCA in Aug 1970 as Staff Vice President, New Business Programs. He recommended RCA to withdraw from the computer business. In Dec 1974 the company appointed him Staff Vice President, SelectaVision VideoDisc Operations. Sonnenfeldt was elected Vice President SelectaVision VideoDisc Project in 1978. The following year he was named Vice President, Special Corporate Projects. From 1979 to 1982 he was Executive Vice President at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), owned by RCA.

At the age of 75, Richard Sonnenfeldt sailed his yacht across the Atlantic. He died in 2009.



Details from the share illustrated at top of the page
American "less than .. shares" securities often include in the right margin a "counter".
This counter is actually a table holding columns for units, tens, often hundreds and sometimes thousands and ten thousands.
Holes punched in the columns indicate the corresponding number of purchased shares.
In this case the certificate was issued for 67 shares, a quantity also punched in the tens (6) and units (7) column.