|Born||23 May 1900|
|Died||16 Oct 1946|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseHans Michael Frank was born in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany as the second of three children to lawyer Karl Frank and his wife Magdalena Buchmaier. He joined the German Army in 1917 and served in WW1. After WW1, he was a member of the nationalist para-military Freikorps movement, and then joined the German Worker's Party, which eventually evolved into the Nazi Party, in 1919 as one of the party's earliest members. On 2 Apr 1925, in Munich, Bavaria, he married 29-year-old secretary Brigitte Herbst of Forst, Brandenburg; the couple had five children. In 1926, he completed his study and became a lawyer, and rose to the role of Adolf Hitler's legal advisor. He was elected to the Reichstag in 1930, and by 1933 he was made Minister of Justice of Bavaria. Also in that year, he was made the head of the National Socialist Jurists Association and President of the Academy of German Law. He objected to extra-judicial killings, including those committed by concentration camps, although his idea of a judicially-determined just execution was twisted, as his philosophy was deeply rooted in the Nazi racist ideologies that stresses "dangerous elements" must be removed from Germany in order to "safeguard the concrete order of the racial community". "The National Socialist ideology, especially as expressed in the party program and in the speeches of our leader, is the basis for interpreting legal sources", he said. Between 1934 and 1939, he was a minister in the Reichstag without portfolio.
ww2dbaseIn Sep 1939, Frank was sent to Poland as Gerd von Rundstedt's civilian chief administrator. Beginning on 26 Oct 1939, he was named the Governor General of the General Government over the occupied Polish territories which had not been incorporated into Germany's borders. He was given the SS rank of Obergruppenführer to give him authority over SS units in Poland. In this role, he oversaw the segregation of Jews and other ethnic groups into ghettos as well as the establishment of forced labor programs. In 1942, he lost political influence and authority outside of Poland, largely because Hitler was annoyed with his internal political struggles with another SS member, Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger. In the same year, after his marriage had grown unhappy, he sought a divorce. Brigitte was the unfaithful member of the marriage, but she fought hard against the divorce in order to maintain her high social position as Frank's wife.
ww2dbaseIn Jan 1945, with the Russian troops advancing across Poland's eastern borders, Frank fled the General Government. He was captured by American troops on 3 May 1945 at Tegernsee near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany. During the captivity, he attempted suicide twice; both attempts failed. Frank was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, and was tried between 20 Nov 1945 and 1 Oct 1946. During the trials, he insisted that he was unaware that the Nazi Party had gone as far as conducting mass killings at concentration camps until early 1944, and after which time he claimed that he opposed it. He further supported his argument by stating that, upon learning of the mass killings, he attempted to resign on fourteen occasions, but Hitler rejected every one of them. Nevertheless, he admitted to some of the charges, and said that, should he be sentenced to death, it would be justified. He also cooperated with the proceedings, voluntarily surrendering over forty volumes of his personal diaries to the Allies, even though some entries contain items that could be, and were, used against him. Despite the admission of guilt, he also pointed his fingers at the Allies, particularly the Russians, for committing their share of war time atrocities. He was found guilty on 1 Oct 1946 and was sentence to death by hanging. Between 1 Oct and 16 Oct, he completed his memoirs. On 16 Oct, journalist Howard K. Smith noted that he was the only one to enter the execution chamber with a smile on his face. When asked for any last statement, he said "I am thankful for the kind treatment during my captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy."
Last Major Revision: Aug 2007
Hans Frank Timeline
|23 May 1900||Hans Frank was born.|
|3 Oct 1939||Hans Frank ordered a "ruthless exploitation" of occupied Poland.|
|12 Oct 1939||Hans Frank is appointed Gauleiter of the General Government in occupied Poland.|
|8 Nov 1939||Hans Frank was appointed the head of General Government in Poland.|
|12 Oct 1940||German Governor-General of occupied Poland Hans Frank ordered 138,000 Jews in Warsaw to move into the city's ghetto.|
|15 Oct 1941||German SS General Hans Frank, the Nazi Governor-General of occupied Poland, issued a general order proclaiming that any Jews leaving the Warsaw ghetto would be liable for the death penalty as would any person who knowingly gave shelter to such Jews.|
|16 Dec 1941||During a cabinet meeting, Hans Frank, Gauleiter of Poland, asked his peers to shed any feeling of pity for the victims of the genocide.|
|25 Jan 1944||Nazi Gauleiter Hans Frank noted in his diary on this date that "At the present time we still have in the General Government perhaps 100,000 Jews." Prior to the German occupation, the area now called the General Government had a Jewish population of about 2,500,000.|
|16 Oct 1946||Hans Frank passed away.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945