OSS officer in charge of compilation & editing The Nazi Plan, also writer of English inter-titles.
UFA film editor
UFA film editor
Assistant Film Editor
German film director
Hitler’s still photographer
Born in Berlin in 1918, Lieselotte Balte was working as a film cutter at the famous UFA film studio in Potsdam in 1945, when Lt. Ray Kellogg chose her to assist the OSS Field Photo/War Crimes Unit with the assembly of Nazi film evidence to be used at the Nuremberg trial. As Lilo Balte recounted to Sandra Schulberg in June 2011, she was charged with making selects for the 4-hour evidentiary film that would be titled The Nazi Plan. These selects were pulled from the German newsreel series, Die Wochenschau, and from other German footage stored at UFA. Having worked as a newsreel film cutter, she was already familiar with much of the material. Once she had completed this process, Ray Kellogg brought Balte to Nuremberg to help them complete The Nazi Plan under the supervision of himself and Budd Schulberg. There she worked in the OSS editing room in the Palace of Justice with the American OSS film editors Robert Webb, Robert Parrish, and Joe Zigman, and alongside writer and still photography expert Stuart Schulberg. (The latter two men were later charged with making Nuremberg.)
Once The Nazi Plan was shown in the Nuremberg courtroom in December 1945, the OSS unit returned to the U.S. Balte remained in Germany, seeking whatever work she could. She re-opened her interior design studio that shut down during the war, worked as a production assistant at the new RIAS radio network, and as a German teacher and ski instructor for the U.S. Army at the Berchtesgaden American School and Recreation Area. It was in Berchtesgaden in 1951 that she met her future husband, Lawrence Ashkins, an Army paratrooper who was part of the U.S. occupation force. She eventually joined him in the south of France in 1953, where he moved after completing his doctorate in economics at the University of Paris. It was there that he began work on a novel inspired by his experience as an American Jewish soldier in Nazi Germany.
Getting Balte to America proved to be a challenge, and Ashkins had to leave her in Europe while he cut through more red tape in New York. Finally, in July 1954, with her sponsorship secured and paperwork in hand, Lilo Balte boarded the ocean liner Conte Biancamano in Cannes and sailed to meet her fiancé. Lilo Balte and Lawrence Ashkins were married in New York City on August 9, 1954, and she became an American. Their daughter Lisa was born while they lived in Washington D.C. They also resided in Ohio and Oregon before making San Diego their permanent residence in 1967. After more than 40 years of marriage, Lilo’s husband, Lawrence Ashkins, died June 17, 1995, in San Diego, California.
Balte’s photographs, seen here, show members of the OSS film unit at work in the film editing room in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice.
Photos courtesy of Lieselotte Balte Ashkins