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Hans Frank


In office
October 26, 1939 – January 1945

Born May 23, 1900(1900-05-23)
Karlsruhe, Baden, Germany
Died October 16, 1946 (aged 46)
Nuremberg, Germany
Nationality German
Political party National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
Spouse(s) Brigitte Herbst (married 1925)

Dr Hans Michael Frank (May 23, 1900 – October 16, 1946) was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany. He was prosecuted during the Nuremberg trials for his role in perpetrating the Holocaust during his tenure as the Governor-General of that portion of occupied Poland that was not incorporated into the Reich, although administered by the Nazis, and known as the General Government. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and executed on October 16, 1946.

Contents

Pre-war career

Frank was born in Karlsruhe, and his parents were Karl Frank, a lawyer, and his wife Magdalena (née Buchmaier). He had an elder brother, Karl Jr., and a younger sister, Elisabeth. He joined the German army in 1917, during World War I. After the war he served in the Freikorps under the command of Franz Ritter von Epp, and then joined the German Worker's Party (which soon evolved into NSDAP), in 1919, and was one of the party's earliest members.

He studied law, passing the final state examination in 1926, and rose to become Adolf Hitler's personal legal adviser. In this capacity he was privy to personal details of Hitler's life. In his memoirs, written shortly before his execution, Frank made the sensational claim that he had investigated Hitler's family in 1930 after a "blackmail letter" had been received from Hitler's nephew, William Patrick Hitler, who allegedly threatened to reveal embarrassing facts about his uncle's ancestry. Frank claimed to have uncovered evidence that Maria Schicklgruber, Hitler's paternal grandmother, had been working as a cook in the household of a Jewish family named Leopold Frankenberger before she gave birth to Hitler's father, Alois, out of wedlock. According to Frank, Hitler told him that his grandmother had merely extorted money from Frankenberger by threatening to claim his paternity of her illegitimate child. Frank accepted this explanation, but added that it was still just possible that Hitler had some Jewish ancestry. Nevertheless, he thought it unlikely because, "from his entire demeanor, the fact that Adolf Hitler had no Jewish blood coursing through his veins seems so clearly evident that nothing more need be said on this."[1] No evidence has ever emerged to support Frank's claims.[2]

As the Nazis rose to power, Frank served as the party's lawyer, representing it in over 2,400 cases, and spending over $10,000. This sometimes brought him into conflict with other lawyers, and one, a former teacher of Frank's appealed to him: "I beg you to leave these people alone! No good will come of it! Political movements that begin in the criminal courts will end in the criminal courts!"[3]

He was elected to the Reichstag in 1930, and in 1933 he was made Minister of Justice for Bavaria. He was also the head of the National Socialist Jurists Association and President of the Academy of German Law from 1933. Frank objected to extrajudicial killings,[4] both at the Dachau concentration camp and during the Night of the Long Knives.

However, Frank's view of what the judicial process required should not be exaggerated:

[The judge's] role is to safeguard the concrete order of the racial community, to eliminate dangerous elements, to prosecute all acts harmful to the community, and to arbitrate in disagreements between members of the community. The National Socialist ideology, especially as expressed in the Party programme and in the speeches of our Leader, is the basis for interpreting legal sources.[5]

From 1934, Frank was Reich Minister Without Portfolio.

Wartime career

Ruler of occupied Poland

In September 1939 Frank was assigned as Chief of Administration to Gerd von Rundstedt in the General Government (GG). From October 26, 1939, following the invasion of Poland, Frank was the Governor-General of the General Government for the occupied Polish territories (Generalgouverneur für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete), that is head of the General Government controlling those areas of Poland that had not been directly incorporated into Germany (roughly 90,000 km² out of the 187,000 km² Germany had gained). He was granted the SS rank of Obergruppenführer.

One of his first operations was the AB Action, aimed at destroying Polish culture. Frank oversaw the segregation of the Jews into ghettos and the use of Polish civilians as "forced and compulsory" labour. In 1942 he lost his positions of authority outside the GG after annoying Hitler with a series of speeches in Berlin, Vienna, Heidelberg, and Munich and also as part of a power struggle with Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, the State Secretary for Security — head of the SS and the police in the GG. Krüger himself was ultimately replaced with Wilhelm Koppe.

Frank later claimed that the extermination of Jews was entirely controlled by Heinrich Himmler and the SS and that he, Frank, was unaware of the extermination camps in the General Government until early in 1944. During his testimony at Nuremberg, Frank claimed he submitted resignation requests to Hitler on 14 occasions, but Hitler would not allow him to resign. Frank fled the General Government in January 1945, in advance of the Soviet Army.

Chess

Hans Frank was extremely interested in chess. He not only possessed an extensive library of chess literature but was also a good player, and he even received the Ukrainian chess grandmaster Efim Bogoljubow at the Wawel castle. He was a patron of General Government chess tournaments (1940–1944). On 3 November 1940 he organized a chess congress in Krakow. Six months later he announced the establishment of a chess school under Bogoljubow and the World Chess Champion, Dr. Alexander Alekhine, and he visited a chess tournament in October 1942 at the "Literary Café" in Cracow.[6]

Capture and trial

Frank (center, wearing a glove after an unsuccessful suicide attempt shortly after his arrest) at the Nuremberg trial, with Alfred Jodl and Alfred Rosenberg

Frank was captured by American troops on May 3, 1945, at Tegernsee in southern Bavaria. Upon his capture, he tried to cut his own throat; two days later, he lacerated his left arm while attempting to slit his wrists in a second unsuccessful suicide attempt. He was indicted for war crimes and tried before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. During the trial he renewed the faith of his childhood, Roman Catholicism, and claimed to have a series of religious experiences.

Frank voluntarily surrendered 43 volumes of his personal diaries to the Allies, which were then used against him as evidence of his guilt. Frank confessed to some of the charges put against him and viewed his own execution as a form of atonement for his sins. Although on the witness stand he expressed remorse, during the trial, he vacillated between penitence for his crimes and blaming the Allies, especially the Soviets, for an equal share of wartime atrocities.

The corpse of Hans Frank after he was hanged

The former Governor-General of Poland was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity on October 1, 1946, and was sentenced to death by hanging. While awaiting execution, he wrote his memoirs. The sentence was carried out on October 16 by Master Sergeant John C. Woods. Journalist Howard K. Smith wrote of the execution:

Hans Frank was next in the parade of death. He was the only one of the condemned to enter the chamber with a smile on his countenance. And, although nervous and swallowing frequently, this man, who was converted to Roman Catholicism after his arrest, gave the appearance of being relieved at the prospect of atoning for his evil deeds.[7]

He and Albert Speer were the only defendants to apparently show any true remorse for their war crimes during World War II.[8]"My conscience does not allow me simply to throw the responsibility simply on minor people...A thousand years will pass and still Germany's guilt will not have been erased." [9]

He answered to his name quietly and when asked for any last statement, he replied "I am thankful for the kind treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy."[7]

Family

On April 2, 1925 Frank married 29-year-old secretary Brigitte Herbst (1895–1959) from Forst (Lausitz). The wedding took place in Munich and the couple honeymooned in Venetia. Hans and Brigitte Frank had five children:

  • Sigrid Frank (born March 13, 1927 in Munich)
  • Norman Frank (born June 3, 1928 in Munich)
  • Brigitte Frank (born January 13, 1935 in Munich)
  • Michael Frank (born February 15, 1937 in Munich)
  • Niklas Frank (born March 9, 1939 in Munich)

Brigitte Frank had a reputation for having a more dominant personality than her husband, and from 1939 she called herself "Königin von Polen" ("Queen of Poland"). The marriage was unhappy and became colder from year to year. When Frank sought a divorce in 1942, Brigitte gave everything to save their marriage in order to remain the "First Lady in the General Government". One of her most famous comments was "I'd rather be widowed than divorced from a Reichsminister!" Frank answered: "So you are my deadly enemy!"[10]

In 1987, Niklas Frank wrote a book about his father, Der Vater: Eine Abrechnung ("The Father: A Settling of Accounts"), which was published in English in 1991 as In the Shadow of the Reich. The book, which was serialized in the magazine Stern, resulted in controversy in Germany because of the scathing way in which the younger Frank depicted his father, referring to him as "a slime-hole of a Hitler fanatic" and questioning his remorse before his execution.[11]

Quotations

In a 1940 interview in the Völkischer Beobachter:

In Prague, big red posters were put up on which one could read that seven Czechs had been shot today. I said to myself, 'If I had to put up a poster for every seven Poles shot, the forests of Poland would not be sufficient to manufacture the paper.' [12]

About Polish partisans in Warsaw in 1943, he spoke from Kraków, stating:

If not for Warsaw in the General Government, we wouldn't have 4/5 of our current problems on that territory. Warsaw was and will be the center of chaos and a place from which opposition spreads throughout the rest of the country.[citation needed]

.

Portrayal in the media

Hans Frank has been portrayed by the following actors in film, television and theater productions.[13]

References

  1. ^ Dieter Schenk, Frank: Hitlers Kronjurist und General-Gouverneur, 2006, p.65. ISBN 978-3100735621: "Dass Adolf Hitler bestimmt kein Judenblut in den Adern hatte, scheint mir aus seiner ganzen Art dermaßen eklatant bewiesen, dass es keines weiteren Wortes bedarf," (p.330 of Frank's memoirs published in 1953 as Im Angesicht des Galgens. Deutung Hitlers und seiner Zeit aufgrund eigener Erlebnisse und Erkenntnisse).
  2. ^ Rosenbaum, R. (1998). Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of his Evil, Macmillan, pp.16-36. ISBN 978-0679431510
  3. ^ Evans, Richard J. (2004). The Coming of the Third Reich. Penguin Press, p. 179. ISBN 978-1594200045.
  4. ^ See Martyn Housden, Hans Frank's Opposition to the SS: Social Behavior, Consistency and the Power of the Situation, University of Bradford.
  5. ^ Quoted in Evans, Richard J. (2005). The Third Reich in Power. Penguin Press, p. 73. ISBN 978-1594200748
  6. ^ Hans Frank and Chess - Edward Winter
  7. ^ a b See Smith, "The Execution of Nazi War Criminals"
  8. ^ Gilbert, G.M. (1995). Nuremberg Diary. De Capo Press, pg. 19. ISBN 978-0306806612
  9. ^ From the transcript of his cross-examination during his trial. See Testimony of Frank at Nuremberg
  10. ^ "Hans Frank - Pre-war career, Wartime career, Quotation, Fiction and film," in Cambridge Encyclopedia, Vol. 32. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
  11. ^ See Frank, Niklas (1991). In the Shadow of the Reich. Knopf. ISBN 978-0394583457. See also Susan Benesch's Review in Washington Monthly, Nov. 1991.
  12. ^ Date of publication was June 6, 1940. Cited in Davies, N. (2003) Rising '44. Macmillan, London. p.84 ISBN 978-0333905685. A slightly different translation is given by Czapski, J. (1987). The Inhuman Land. London: Polish Cultural Foundation, p.306. ISBN 978-0850651645: The occasion was a widely distributed proclamation in Czechoslovakia announcing the execution of seven Czech students. This is what he said: 'If I had to order a distribution of posters announcing such an event every time I order a shooting of seven Poles, there would not be enough trees in the Polish forests to supply the necessary paper.'
  13. ^ "Hans Frank (Character)". IMDb.com. http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0062614/. Retrieved June 1, 2008. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

After the deed is done, one always becomes clever and philosophical.

Hans Michael Frank (May 23, 1900October 16, 1946) was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi party during the 1920s and 1930s and a senior official in Nazi Germany. He was prosecuted during the Nuremberg trials for his role in perpetrating the Holocaust during his tenure as Governor-General of occupied Poland. He was found guilty of both war crimes and crimes against humanity and executed on October 16, 1946, aged 46.

Sourced

  • I am thankful for the kind treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy.
    • Last words, 10/16/46, quoted in "The Mammoth Book of Eyewitness World War II" - Page 565 - by Jon E. Lewis - History - 2002
  • Death by hanging...I deserved it and I expected it, as I've always told you. I am glad that I have had the chance to defend myself and to think things over in the last few months.
    • To Dr. G. M. Gilbert, after receiving the death sentence, quoted in "Nuremberg Diary" by G. M. Gilbert - History - 1995
This war would be only a partial success if the whole lot of Jewry survived it, while we shed our best blood to save Europe.
  • This war would be only a partial success if the whole lot of Jewry survived it, while we shed our best blood to save Europe. My attitude toward the Jews will therefore be based solely on the expectation that they must disappear. They must be done away with. Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourself of all feeling of pity. We must annihilate the Jews wherever we find them and wherever it is possible.
    • Speech at a meeting with soldiers, December 1941, quoted in "The Trial of the Germans" - Page 438 - by Eugene Davidson - 1997
  • We must not be squeamish when we learn that a total of 17,000 have been shot. We are now duty bound to hold together, we who are gathered together here figure on Mr. Roosevelt's list of war criminals. I have the honour of being Number One.
    • Speech on the need to exterminate the Poles, January 25, 1943, quoted in "The Trial of the Germans" - Page 439 - by Eugene Davidson - History - 1997
  • If the authority of the National-Socialist Reich is to be upheld, then it is unacceptable that representatives of the Reich should be obliged to meet Jews when they enter or leave the house, and are in this way liable to infection with epidemics. I therefore intend to clear the city of Cracow, the seat of the Governor-General of the General Government, of Jews, as far as at all possible, by November 1, 1940. There will be a major operation to move the Jews, on the grounds that it is absolutely intolerable that thousands upon thousands of Jews should go slinking around and occupy apartments in the city which the Führer has granted the great honor of becoming the seat of a high Reich Authority...
    • April 12, 1940, from "Documents on the Holocaust: Selected Sources on the Destruction of the Jews" - Page 197 - by Yitzhak Arad, Israel Gutman, Abraham Margaliot, Lea Ben Dor, Steven T. Katz - 1999
Time always has some reconciling effect. On every ruin there eventually grows grass, and then some shrubbery, and finally, before you realize it, what is really an old hideous ruin becomes a romantic sight and legend.
  • Let me tell you quite frankly: in one way or another we will have to finish with the Jews. The führer once expressed it as follows: should Jewry once again succeed in inciting a world war, the bloodletting could not be limited to the peoples they drove to war but the Jews themselves would be done for in Europe. If the Jewish tribe survives the war in Europe while we sacrifice our blood for the preservation of Europe, this war will be but a partial success. Basically, I must presume, therefore, that the Jews will disappear. To that end I have started negotiations to expel them to the east. In any case, there will be a great Jewish migration. But what is to become of the Jews? Do you think that they will be settled in villages in the conquered eastern territories? In Berlin we have been told not to complicate matters: since neither these territories, nor our own, have any use for them, we should liquidate them ourselves! Gentlemen, I must ask you to remain unmoved by pleas for pity. We must annihilate the Jews wherever we encounter them and wherever possible, in order to maintain the overall mastery of the Reich here... For us the Jews are also exceptionally damaging because they are being such gluttons. There are an estimated 2.5 million Jews in the General Government, perhaps. 3.5 million. These 3.5 million Jews, we cannot shoot them, nor can we poison them. Even so, we can take steps which in some way or other will pave the way for their destruction, notably in connection with the grand measures to be discussed in the Reich. The General Government must become just as judenfrei (free of Jews) as the Reich!
    • To senior members of his administration, December 16, 1941, quoted in "Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?: the final solution in history" - Page 302 - by Arno J. Mayer - History - 1988
Even in art, there is no light without shadows, and no shadows are cast without some light. Even the shadow of Adolf Hitler is accompanied by some light.
  • I did not care for Wagner. My tastes are more classical. Der Fuhrer had no musical taste and liked Wagner because of the bombastic Teutonic glories.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, February 12, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • I tried to commit suicide because I sacrificed everything for Hitler. And that man whom we sacrificed everything for left us all alone. If he had committed suicide four years before, it would have been all right.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, February 12, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Ah! American cigarettes are like the American soul - sweet and light.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, February 12, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • It doesn't matter whether I'm judged criminal. I have a great feeling of guilt - I have a feeling that I ran after Hitler like a wildfire without reason. If I can sacrifice my life to make something good, I'd gladly do it.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 5, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
Ah! American cigarettes are like the American soul - sweet and light.
  • All these things are still apparent today. You Americans can see for yourselves how impossible it is to feed the German people from the German soil itself. From the viewpoint of a historian, one can say that Hitler never would have arisen if the Allies had not treated Germany so poorly. Justice Jackson said so himself. Today things are more impossible than ever. The East has been taken away from Germany - in other words, hunger created Hitler, and paradoxically, Hitler created still greater hunger.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 16, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • After the deed is done, one always becomes clever and philosophical.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 16, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004 - Page 29
  • I feel that I am obligated to my people - that is not pessimism. If I tried to prove that I was innocent, it would be the same as trying to prove that the German people are guilty. Only one innocent man sits in that dock - and that man is the symbol of the German people. An epoch with such happenings as the murder of 5 million Jews, the projective extermination of millions of Slavs - such an epoch must close up definitely once and for all. It cannot go dragging on and on. Those of us who are guilty must pay the price and set the German people free, no longer to be blamed for our stupidity.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 16, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
After the deed is done, one always becomes clever and philosophical.
  • You can't indict a government and its organizations as criminal. The conception of the Reich government is a hundred years old. The general staff is several hundreds of years old. The case of the SS is another matter, because it was started with the party and by the party. But it's quite impossible to indict or convict an organization as criminal if it has in its membership millions of innocent people.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, July 20, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Even in art, there is no light without shadows, and no shadows are cast without some light. Even the shadow of Adolf Hitler is accompanied by some light.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, July 20, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004 - Page 37
  • I think of these things frequently, because I know the German people. Among them might arise the legend of Hitler, because Hitler was not heard from in this trial. Time always has some reconciling effect. On every ruin there eventually grows grass, and then some shrubbery, and finally, before you realize it, what is really an old hideous ruin becomes a romantic sight and legend.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, July 20, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004 - Page 36
I am thankful for the kind treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy.
  • I think that Hitler was abnormal in his sexual needs. That is, he needed too little from the opposite sex. He considered women as objects of beauty, and he often talked with affection about his own mother. I obtained the impression that he disliked his father, because he never mentioned him. But it is a bad thing if a man has too little Eros in him. It makes him insensitive, and probably leads to cruelty. Freud, Sigmund Freud, the last of the great German psychiatrists, who died in England, pointed out the relationship between frustrated love and cruelty. I believe it is what you psychiatrists term sadism. I'm convinced that a man who does not need the love of a woman, and thinks he can forgo it, or who does forgo it, can turn to cruelty and sadism as a substitute.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, July 20, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Both Einstein and Freud were clever in leaving Germany, because both of them would doubtlessly have been caught by Himmler and murdered.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, July 20, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • What a horrible system we had. How blind we were.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, July 20, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • A thousand years will pass and still this guilt of Germany will not have been erased.
    • Quoted in "After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation" - Page 448 by Giles MacDonogh - History - 2007
  • Hitler is lonely. So is God. Hitler is like God.
    • Quoted in "The War Against God" - Page 3 - by Carl Lamson Carmer - Nationalism - 1943

About Frank

  • Similarly, the defendant Frank was not asked decisive questions. For example, when Frank was asked what he knew of the Jewish murders, he said, 'You could smell it.' That is a complete lie and a dishonesty. Frank could not only smell it, he knew about it. There he was, the governor general of Poland - he couldn't just have smelled it, he must have known it. The rest of the trial is without any importance.
  • The fanatical Frank, who solidified Nazi control by establishing the new order of authority without law, so that the will of the party was the only test of legality, proceeded to export his lawlessness to Poland, which he governed with the lash of Caesar and whose population he reduced to sorrowing remnants.

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