The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th April to 1st May, 1946

One-Hundred-and-Eleventh Day: Thursday, 18th April, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 101]


DR. SEIDL (Counsel for defendant Hans Frank): Mr. President, members of the Tribunal, on 9 April of this year, deviating from the rule made by the Tribunal, I made the application that I should first be allowed to present the documents, then call the witnesses, and then at the end examine the defendant as a witness. I do not know whether the Tribunal is already in possession of the document books. I have ascertained that Volume I of the document book was translated by 8 April; Volume 2 and 3 on 11 April; and Volume 4 and 5 a few days later. At any rate, I have not yet received any document books myself for the reason that the office concerned has not yet received permission to bind the books.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I thought I asked about this, not yesterday, but the day before yesterday, yes, and you said you were perfectly ready to go on.

DR. SEIDL: I had been told that the books had been translated and I naturally assumed that these books would also be bound. Yesterday I discovered that this is not the case. At any rate, the fault is not mine.

THE PRESIDENT: I was not suggesting that there was any fault on your part.

MR. DODD: In the first place, we did not have much to go over with Dr. Seidl. The agreement was reached with him the night before last about six o'clock or a little afterwards. Hereafter the materials were put into the process of preparation and there are five hundred pages. They have just not been completed, and it is not that the people did not receive authority to go ahead. They have not been able to complete their work and there will be some delay.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, you can go on with your witnesses. You have the defendant himself to call and several other witnesses.


THE PRESIDENT: And the documents will no doubt be ready by then. We are rising this evening at half-past four, and by the time that the Tribunal re-assembles, by Tuesday morning, no doubt all the documents will be ready. As to your application, the Tribunal has considered this and sees no reason to depart from their ordinary rule that the defendant should be called first; that is to say, if you intend to call the defendant.

DR. SEIDL: Oh yes, I have the intention of examining the defendant but in the interests of accelerating the proceedings I suggested that the other witnesses should be heard first, so that the examination of the defendant might be as short as possible. It is possible that he can then answer a number of questions merely by saying yes or no. Another reason why I consider this procedure to be the most expedient is because a proper examination of the defendant is only possible if I have the document book at hand at the same time. That necessity does not apply to the other witnesses. I should, therefore, like to ask the Tribunal to give me permission to examine first the witnesses who are already in the witness' room.

THE PRESIDENT: The documents are all, or nearly all, I imagine in German and can be put to the defendant in the course of his examination, and the Tribunal think as they have already said, that calling the defendant first is in the interest of expedition and they, therefore, feel they must adhere to their rule.

[Page 102]

DR. SEIDL: Very well. In that case, with the permission of the Tribunal, I call the defendant Dr. Hans Frank to the witness stand.

HANS FRANK, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you give your full name?

A. Hans Frank.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth, and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: Will you sit down, please.


Q. Witness, when and where were you born?

A. I was born on 23 May, 1900, at Karlsruhe in Baden.

Q. Will you please give the Tribunal a brief outline of your education?

A. In 1919 I finished my studies at the High School, and in 1926 I passed the final State law examination, which completed my legal training.

Q. And what profession did you follow after that?

A. I had several legal posts. I worked as a lawyer, as a member of the teaching staff of an Institute of Technology and then, I worked in the main as legal adviser to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

Q. Since when have you been a member of the N.S.D.A.P.?

A. I joined the German Labour Party, which was the predecessor of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, in 1919, but did not join the newly formed N.S.D.A.P. In 1923, I joined the movement in Munich as a member of the S.A. and, eventually, I joined the N.S.D.A.P. in 1927.

Q. Were you ever a member of the S.S.?

A. I have never been a member of the S.S.

Q. That means you have never had a rank of an S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer or General of the S.S.?

A. I never had the rank of an S.S. Obergruppenfuehrer or S.S. General.

Q. Not even honorary?

A. No, not even honorary.

Q. You were a member of the S.A. What was the last you held therein?

A. I was Obergruppenfuehrer in the S.A. at the end, and this was an honorary position.

Q. Which offices did you hold in the N.S.D.A.P. during the various periods, and what functions did you carry out?

A. In 1929 I became the head of the Legal Department of Reich Leadership Office of the N.S.D.A.P. In that capacity I was appointed Reichsleiter of the N.S.D.A.P. by Adolf Hitler in 1931. I held this position until I was transferred in 1942. These are the principal offices I have held in the Party.

Q. Until the seizure of power you concerned yourself in the main with legal questions within the Party, did you not?

A. I dealt with legal questions in the interest of Adolf Hitler and the N.S.D.A.P. and its members during the difficult years of struggle to bring about the victory of the movement.

Q. What were your basic ideas regarding the concept of a State ruled by law?

A. That idea, as far as I was concerned, was contained in Point 19 of the Party programme, which speaks of German common law to be created. In the interest of accelerating the proceedings, I do not wish to present my ideas in

[Page 103]

detail. My first endeavour was to save the core of the German system of justice: the independent judiciary.

My idea was that even in a highly developed Fuehrer State, even under a dictatorship, the danger to the community and to the legal rights of the individual would at least be lessened if judges who did not depend on the State Leadership could still administer justice in the community. That means, to my mind, that the question of a State ruled by law is to all intents and purposes identical with the question of the existence of the independent administration of law. Most of my struggles and discussions with Hitler, Himmler and Bormann during these years were more and more focussed on this particular subject. Only after the independent judiciary in the National Socialist Reich had definitely been done away with, did I give up my work and my efforts as hopeless.

Q. You were also a member of the Reichstag?

A. In 1930 I became a member of the Reichstag.

Q. Which offices did you hold after 1933?

A. First, I was Bavarian State Minister of Justice, and, after the ministries of justice in the various States were dissolved, I became Reich Minister without portfolio. In 1933 I became the President of the Academy of German Law, which I had founded. I was the Reich Leader of the National Socialist Lawyers' Association, which was later on given the name of "Rechtswahrerbund" (National Jurist's League). In 1933 and 1934 i was Reich Commissar for Justice and in 1939 I became Governor General of the Government General in Cracow.

Q. What were the tasks of the Academy of German Law which you were the founder?

A. These tasks are written down in the Reich Law regarding the Academy of German Law. The main task, the central task of that Academy was to carry out Point 19 of the Party programme to bring German Common Law into line with our national culture.

Q. Did the Academy of German Law have definite functions, or could it act only in an advisory capacity?

A. The Academy of German Law was the principal seat of the most prominent legal brains in Germany in the theoretical and practical fields. Right from the beginning I attached no importance to the question whether the members were members of the Party or not. Ninety pre cent. of the members of the Academy of German Law were not members of the Party. Their task was to prepare laws, and they worked somewhat on the lines of an advisory committee in a well organised parliament. It was also my idea that the advisory committee of the Academy should replace the legal committees of the German Reichstag, which was gradually fading into the background in the Reich.

In the main the Academy has only helped to frame laws of an economic or social nature, since owing to the development of the totalitarian regime, it became more and more impossible to co-operate in other spheres.

Q. If I understand you correctly, then the governmental administration of law was solely in the hands of the Reich Minister of Justice, and that was not you.

A. No, I was not Reich Minister of Justice. The Reich Minister of Justice, Dr. Guertner, was, however, not competent for the entire field of legislation but merely for those laws which came within the scope of his ministry. Legislation in the Reich, in accordance with the Enabling Act was in the hands of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor and the Reich Government as a body. Consequently, my name appears in the Reich Law Gazette at the end of only one law, and that is the Law Regarding the Re-introduction of Compulsory Military Service. However, I am proud to find my name at the end of that law.

[Page 104]

Q. You have stated earlier that during 1933 and 1934 you were Bavarian Minister of Justice.

A. Yes.

Q. In that capacity, did you have an opportunity of taking a stand on the question of concentration camps and what were the circumstances?

A. I learned that the Dachau concentration camp was being established in connection with a report which came to me from the Senior Public Prosecutor's office in Munich on the occasion of the killing of the Munich attorney, Dr. Strauss. This Public Prosecutor's Office complained to me, after I had given them orders to investigate the killing, that the S.S. had refused them admission to the Dachau concentration camp. Thereupon I got Reich Governor, General von Epp, to call a meeting, where I produced the files regarding this killing and pointed out the illegality of such an action on the part of the S.S. and stated that so far representatives from the German Public Prosecutor's Office had always been allowed to investigate any death which evoked the suspicion that a crime had been committed, and that I had not become aware of any departure from this principle in the Reich. After that, I continued protesting against this method to Dr. Guertner, the Reich Minister of Justice, and also to the Attorney General. I pointed out that this meant the beginning of a development which threatened the legal system in an alarming manner.

At Heinrich Himmler's request, Adolf Hitler intervened personally in this matter, and he used his power to quash any legal proceedings. The proceedings were ordered to be quashed. I handed in my resignation as Minister of Justice, but it was not accepted.

Q. When did you become Governor General of the occupied Polish Territories and where were you when you were informed of this appointment?

A. On 24 August, 1939, as an officer in the reserve, I had to join my regiment in Potsdam. I was busy with training my company and on 17 September, or it may have been 16, I was making my final preparations before going to the front when a telephone call came from the Fuehrer's special train ordering me to go to the Fuehrer at once.

The following day I travelled to Upper Silesia where the Fuehrer's special train was stationed at that time, and in a very short conversation which lasted less than ten minutes, he gave me the mission, as he put it, to take over the functions of Civilian Governor for the occupied Polish Territories.

At that time the whole of the conquered Polish Territories was under the administrative supreme command of a military commander, General von Rundstedt. Towards the end of September, I was attached to General von Rundstedt's staff as Chief of Administration, and my task was to do the administrative work in the Military Government. In a short time, however, it was found that this method did not work, and when the Polish Territories were divided into the part which was incorporated into the German Reich and the part which then became the Government General, I was appointed Governor General as from 26 October.

Q. You have mentioned the various positions which you held over a number of years. I now ask you: Did you, in any of the positions you held in the Party or the State, play any vital part in the political events of the last 20 years?

A. In my own sphere, I did everything that could possibly be expected of a man who believes in the greatness of his people, and who is filled with fanaticism for the greatness of his country, to bring about the victory of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist movement.

I never participated in far-reaching political decisions, since I never belonged to the circle of the closest associates of Adolf Hitler, neither was I consulted by Adolf Hitler on general political questions, nor did I ever take part in conferences about problems of policy. Proof of this is that throughout the period

[Page 105]

from 1933 to 1945 I was received only six times by Adolf Hitler personally to report to him about my sphere of activities.

Q. What share did you have in the legislation of the Reich?

A. I have already told you that and there is no need to give a further answer.

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