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Translators & Interpreters for the Nuremberg Trials – Image via Flickr

As the world becomes more and more interconnected globally, the sight of an interpreter rendering a simultaneous interpretation has become common place. However, it hasn’t always been that way. Unbeknownst to most of us, the practice of interpreters rendering this simultaneous interpretation did not exist before 1945.

The origins of¬†simultaneous interpretation can be traced back to some of the most famous of trials in all of history: the Nuremberg Trials. Before the end of World War II, all interpretation was done consecutively, meaning one speaker would speak at a time and interpretation would follow. The Nuremberg Trails and the need for “fair and expeditious” trials changed all of this.

With the trials themselves being a massive undertaking and the need for the dialogue to be interpreted in the four languages of the nations involved (German, English, French and Russian), there had to be an efficient solution created to expedite the process of rendering all of the communication accurately and completely. One man had the answer, and his name was Col. Leon Dostert. He was the first to believe in and carry out the now commonplace method of simultaneous interpretation.

To find out more about how the Nuremberg Trials sparked the creation of simultaneous interpretation and how Dostert helped to have the practice adopted worldwide, please read the following article.