The Linguist

The Linguist 53,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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This event, with the captivating title 'Nuremberg Trials', coincided with the 60th anniversary of AIIC, which was founded not long after the conclusion of those trials. The association has played a vital role in the professionalisation of the industry and in maintaining the highest quality of interpreting standards internationally. After an inspiring introduction, Linda Fitchett, AIIC President, welcomed the speakers and guests, among them embassy staff, visitors from professional bodies, academics and AIIC members from across the globe. Written extracts from three interpreters at the trials were then read out in their original language: French, German and Russian. This point in the proceedings was probably the first instance when we all became consciously aware of the interpreters at the back of the room. Having had personal experience of being in the booth at interpreting- focused conferences, I send my compliments to these wonderfully competent AIIC interpreters. The Nuremberg Military Tribunals, which began in late 1945, are deemed to be the birthplace of the use of simultaneous interpreting equipment – albeit a much more rudimentary version of the equipment we use today. Remarkably, at these early stages, this new system of simultaneous interpreting was not necessarily met with universal acceptance. Having just attended a memorial event at which my interpreting students had been given a unique opportunity to interpret in the actual courtroom where the trials took place, I was delighted to receive the invitation to the AIIC event from Deborah Muylle, PR officer of AIIC UK and Ireland. This would give me the opportunity to see, in person, Siegfried Ramler, who is one of the few remaining interpreters to have worked at the Nuremberg Trials. Mr Ramler, who is now 90, had flown from his home in Hawaii to have an interview-style chat, with questions asked by the eminent human rights 26 The Linguist DECEMBER 2014/JANUARY 2015 REVIEWS barrister Prof Philippe Sands QC. Born in Vienna, Mr Ramler had experienced the fear and dangers of the Nazi regime first- hand, and he recounted the particularly terrifying events during Reichskristallnacht of 1938. His family was spared that night, but he was sent by his parents, via Kindertransport, to England. In Britain, he rapidly acquired a good command of the English language, which, combined with his talent and application, laid the cornerstone for his interpreting career. In his early 20s, he first applied for and gained a post, interpreting as a military liaison linguist in post-war Germany. However, when his employer refused to give him permission to work at the Nuremberg Trials, he went AWOL and started his career as an interpreter in Nuremberg. He had no training and very much learnt on the job. He thrived in the position through his own enthusiasm for the work – even though he did state that he would not have employed himself! We were given an insight into the life of the interpreters during the trials, both in the courtroom and in interrogation situations (the contemporary term), which involved both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting. One of the main interrogations on which Mr Ramler worked was that of Hans Frank, the Governor-General of occupied Poland. When asked how he had felt, as a young Austrian coming face-to-face with a prominent member of the murderous regime, he said that he simply concentrated on the language work at hand. Mr Ramler gave us a frank account of the interpreting process, some examples of errors which occurred in the interpreting process, the pressures of instantaneous interpreted renditions being used as evidence, and a humorous insight into life outside the courtroom. Time was also allocated to describing the cross-examination of Herman Göring by the US Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson, a brilliant lawyer who, on this occasion, had inadequately prepared. Göring's issues with the terminology used in the interpreting process were also described. Although Kate Mackintosh, the Deputy Registrar at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), worried that Mr Ramler was a hard act to follow, she nevertheless managed to give a very illuminating insight into the 'modern version' of the Nuremberg Trials. The daughter of an AIIC interpreter herself, it is clear how highly she thinks of the ICTY interpreters with whom she works. She gave an account of the type of work that is undertaken by these interpreters, their high-level competence, and the emotionally disturbing situations with which they have to deal. Finally, there was a chance to chat and network over wine and delicious canapés. I have rarely been at an event where the entire conversation afterwards revolved around just how inspiring the occasion had been, and how wonderful it is to be in a profession where we are required to work at the highest, and sometimes emotionally very challenging, level in international criminal courts and related settings. A big thank you to AIIC for putting together this wonderful event. Kirsty Heimerl-Moggan FCIL, International Conference and Business Interpreter, and Senior Lecturer in Conference Interpreting at UCLan Nuremberg Trials Interpreter Event AIIC UK and Ireland (the International Association of Conference Interpreters) 30 September; Army and Navy Club, London XäxÇàá

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