- Frank, Hans
- (1900–1946)Frank was the governor-general of the General-Gouvernement in German-occupied Poland from 1939 to 1945. During the 1920s he received both his doctorate and law degree from the University of Kiel. A militant nationalist, Frank joined the Sturmabteilungen (SA) in 1923 in time to participate in Adolf Hitler’s beer hall putsch, his ill-fated attempt in Munich to overthrow the Bavarian government. Until the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Frank was the Nazi Party’s chief attorney and Hitler’s personal lawyer. From 1934 to 1941, he served as the president of the Academy for German Law, and he was appointed to his position as head of the General-Gouvernement in Poland following the German occupation in September 1939.Frank has been described as an ambitious but insecure person with a penchant for brutality. His cruelty was displayed toward the Poles, whom he treated as slaves of the Reich. Frank was even more hostile toward the Jews. In a speech that he gave in December 1941, Frank called for the extermination of the Jews. Frank’s ambition, however, tempered his enthusiasm for mass murder. He desired to rule over a modern crusader kingdom in the General-Gouvernement, which would emulate the medieval order of Teutonic Knights. In this scenario, Frank saw both the Poles and the Jews performing the same role as that of the medieval serfs who served the nobility. But Frank’s jurisdictional rivalry with Heinrich Himmler over the fate of the Jews in the General-Gouvernement prevented him from accomplishing his objective. Although Frank approved of the policy of extermination in principle, the need for forced labor outweighed his preference and brought him into conflict with Himmler and the proponents of the Final Solution. Frank had written to Hitler that “you should not slaughter the cow you want to milk,” but Hitler viewed Frank’s “kingdom” as a racial dumping ground and an area in which the Final Solution would eventually take place. Thus, Frank vacillated between advocating the rational exploitation of the ghetto economies and the policy that encouraged the starvation and mass murder of the Jews. Ultimately he lost his battle against Himmler, and in March 1942, he was stripped of all jurisdiction over racial and police matters in the General-Gouvernement. Frank was tried as a war criminal at the Nuremberg Trials and hanged in October 1946.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.