Hans Frank

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Dr. Hans Frank (May 23, 1900October 16, 1946) was a senior Nazi official in Nazi Germany and Governor-General of the so-called General Government in occupied Poland during World War II.

Frank was born in Karlsruhe and joined the German army in 1917. He served in the Freikorps and joined the German Labour Party in 1919, becoming a member of NSDAP proper in 1927. He studied law, passing the final state examination in 1926, and rose to become the personal legal advisor to Hitler. 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 extra-judicial killings, both at Dachau and during the Night of the Long Knives. From 1934 he was Reich Minister Without Portfolio.

In September 1939 Frank was assigned as Chief of Administration to Gerd von Rundstedt in the General Government. From October 26, 1939, following the division 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 170,000 km² Germany had gained). He was granted the SS rank of Obergruppenführer.

Frank oversaw the segregation of the Jews into ghettos (Jewish quarters) and the use of Polish civilians as "forced and compulsory" labour. In 1942 he lost his positions of authority outside of the General Government 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 General Government. But it was Krüger who 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 time as Governor-General, Frank submitted resignation requests to Hitler on fourteen occasions. Frank fled the General Government in August 1944.

Hans Frank (right) hosts  during a visit to  in 1940.
Hans Frank (right) hosts Heinrich Himmler during a visit to Kraków in 1940.

Capture and Trial

Frank was captured by American troops on May 4, 1945, near Berchtesgaden and was one of the defendants in the Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg from 20 November 1945 to 1 October 1946. During the trial he converted to Catholicism. Frank had surrendered over forty volumes of his diaries to the Tribunal and much evidence against him was gathered from them. Frank confessed to some of the charges put against him and viewed his own execution as a sort of atonement for his sins. On the witness stand he uttered: "a thousand years will pass and the guilt of Germany will still not be erased".

He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and on October 1, 1946, he was sentenced to death by hanging. Journalist Howard K. Smith wrote of his 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.
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.
He answered to his name quietly and when asked for any last statement, he replied in a low voice that was almost a whisper, "I am thankful for the kind treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy."


About Polish partisans in Warsaw in 14 XII 1943, Cracow: 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 or chaos and a place from which opposition spreads throughout the rest of the country.

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