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 6 of 10)

[COLONEL SMIRNOV continues his cross examination of Hans Frank]

[Page 121]

Q. Then may I ask whose attempt it was? In this case it is evidently an attempt by Hitler for he signed this decree. Krueger was evidently more powerful than Hitler?

A. That question is not quite clear to me. You mean that Krueger acted contrary to the decree of the Fuehrer? Of course he did, but that has nothing to do with power. The decree was considered by Himmler as a tremendous concession made to me. I want to refer to a memorandum of the summer of 1942, I think, shortly after the decree of the Fuehrer came into force.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(A recess was taken until 14.00 hours.)


Q. Tell us, defendant, who was the actual leader of the National Socialist Party policy in the Government General?

A. I hear nothing at all.

Q. I have the following question to put to you: After 6 May, 1940, in the Government General ...

A. 6 May?

Q. Yes, 6 May, 1940, after the Nazi Organisation had been completed in the Government General, who was appointed its leader?

A. I was.

[Page 122]

Q. Thus the leadership of the administration of the National Socialist Party and of the police was concentrated in your hands. Therefore you were responsible for the administration of the police and the political life in the Government General.

A. Before I answer that question, I must protest when you say that I had control of the police.

Q. I believe that that is the only way one could interpret the Fuehrer's orders and the other documents which I have put to you.

A. No doubt, if one disregards the actual facts and the realities of the situation.

Q. Well, then, let's pass on to another group of questions. You heard of the existence of Maidanek only in 1944, isn't that so?

A. In 1944 the name Maidanek was brought to my knowledge officially for the first time by the Press Chief Maschner.

Q. I will now ask that you be shown a document which was presented by your defence Counsel and which was compiled by you and which is a report addressed to Hitler, dated June, 1943. I will read into the record one excerpt, and I wish to remind you that this is dated 7 June, 1943:-

"As a proof of the degree of lack of confidence shown the German leadership, I enclose a characteristic excerpt from the report of the chief of the Security Police and of the S.D. in the Government General - "
A. Just a moment. The wrong passage has been shown me. I have the passage here on Page 35 of the German text, and it is differently worded.

Q. Have you found the place now?

A. Yes. But you started with a different sentence. The sentence here starts "A considerable part of the Polish intelligentsia" -

THE PRESIDENT: Which page is it?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: Page 35 of the German text, last paragraph.

A. It starts here with the words "A considerable portion ..."

Q. All right. Then I will continue:-

"As a proof of the degree of lack of confidence shown the German leadership I enclose" - these are your own words, this passage comes somewhat higher up in the quotation - "a characteristic excerpt from the report of the Chief of the Security Police and of the S.D. in the Government General for the period from 1-31 May, 1943, concerning the propaganda possibilities resulting from Katyn."
A. That is not here. Would you be good enough to show me the passage?

Q. No, it is there; it comes somewhat earlier in your text.

A. I think it has been omitted from my text.

Q. I begin now at that part which you find lower down at the bottom. Follow the text:-

"A large part of the Polish intelligentsia however would not let itself be influenced by the news from Katyn and held against Germany alleged similar crimes, especially Auschwitz."
I omit the next sentence and I continue:-
"Among that portion of the working classes which is not communistically inclined, this is scarcely denied; at the same time it is pointed out that the attitude of Germany towards the Poles is not any better."
Please note the next sentence:-
"There are concentration camps at Auschwitz and Maidanek where likewise the mass murder of Poles was carried out systematically."
How can one reconcile this part of your report which mentions Auschwitz and Maidanek, where mass murder took place, with your statement that you heard of Maidanek only at the end of 1944? Well, your report is dated June, 1943; you mention there both Maidanek and Auschwitz.

A. With reference to Maidanek we were talking about the extermination of

[Page 123]

Jews. The extermination of Jews in Maidanek became known to me during the summer of 1944. Up to now the word Maidanek has always been mentioned in connection with extermination of Jews.

Q. Consequently, we can understand you - I take the text submitted to you as an initial point - that in May, 1943, you heard of the mass murder of Poles in Maidanek and in 1944 you heard of the mass murder of Jews?

A. I beg your pardon? I learnt about the extermination of the Jews at Maidanek in 1944 from official documents handed to me.

Q. And you heard of the mass killings of the Poles in 1943?

A. That is contained in my memorandum, and these are the facts as I put them before the Fuehrer.

Q. I will ask that the following document be shown to you. Do you know this document, are you acquainted with it?

A. It is a decree dated 2 October, 1943. I assume that the wording agrees with the text of the original decree.

Q. Yes, in full agreement with the original text. In any case your defence counsel can follow the text and will be able to verify it. I have to ask you one question. What do you think of this law signed by you?

A. Yes, it is here.

Q. You were President of the Reich Academy of Law. From the standpoint of the most elementary standards of law what do you think of this law signed by you?

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got the number of it?

COLONEL SMIRNOV: It is Exhibit USSR-335, Mr. President.

THE WITNESS: This is the general wording for a drumhead court martial decree. It provides that the proceedings should be headed by a judge, that a document should be drawn up and that the proceedings should be recorded in writing. Apart from that, I had the power to give pardons so that every sentence had to be submitted to me.

Q. I would like you to tell us how this court for drumhead court martial proceedings was composed, who the members of this court were. Would you please pay attention to paragraph 3, point 1 of paragraph 3?

A. The Security Police, yes.

Q. You were telling us of your hostile attitude to the S.D. Why, then did you give the S.D. the right to exert oppression on the Polish population?

A. Because that was the only way by which I could exert any influence on the sentences. If I had not published this decree, then there would have been no possibility of control and the police would simply have acted blindly.

Q. You spoke of the right of amnesty which was entrusted to you. Would you please note paragraph 6 of this law. I remind you that, according to the text, the verdict of this drumhead court martial by the S.D. was to be put into effect immediately. I remind you again that there was only one possible verdict, death. How could you change it if the condemned person was to be shot or hanged immediately after the verdict?

A. The sentence would nevertheless have to come before me.

Q. Yes, but this sentence had to be carried out immediately.

A. That is the general instruction which I had issued in connection with the power given me to grant reprieve, and the committee which dealt with reprieves was continuously sitting. Files were sent in -

Q. Since you have spoken of the right to reprieve, I will put to you another question. Do you remember the A.B. Action?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember that this action signified the execution of thousands of Polish intellectuals?

A. No.

Q. Then what did it signify?

[Page 124]

A. It came within the framework of the general action of appeasement and it was my plan to eliminate, by means of a properly regulated procedure, arbitrary actions on the part of the police. This was the meaning of that action.

Q. I do not understand very well what you mean. How did you treat persons who were subjected to the A.B. Action, what happened to them?

A. This meeting really only dealt with the question of arrests.

Q. I ask you what happened to them later?

A. They were arrested and taken into safe custody.

Q. And then?

A. Then they were subjected to the proceedings which had been established. At least, that is what I intended.

Q. Was this left to the police exclusively?

A. The police were in charge.

Q. In other words, the police took over the extermination of these people after they had been arrested, is that so?

A. Yes.

Q. Well, then tell us, please, why you did not exercise your power of reprieve while they were carrying out this inhuman action?

A. I did make use of it.

Q. I will put before you your statement, dated 30 May, 1940. You certainly remember this meeting with the police on 30 May, 1940, when you gave final instructions to the police before carrying out this action?

A. No.

Q. You stated the following:-

"Any attempt on the part of the legal institutions to intervene in the operation A.B., undertaken as a police measure, should be considered treason towards German interests."
Do you remember this statement?

A. I do not remember it, but you must take into account all the circumstances which spread over several weeks. You must consider the statement in its entirety and not seize upon one single sentence. This concerns a development which went on for weeks and months and in the course of which the reprieve committee was established by me for the first time. That was my way of protesting against arbitrary actions, and introducing legal justice in all these proceedings. That is a development extending over many weeks, which you cannot, in my opinion, summarise in one sentence.

Q. I am speaking of words which in my opinion can have only one meaning for a jurist. You wrote:-

"The reprieve committee which is part of my office, is not concerned with this action. The operation A.B. will be carried out exclusively by Police and S.S. Chief Krueger and his organisation. This is a penal measure which exists outside the scope of a normal legal, trial."
That is to say you renounced your right of pardon?

A. At that particular moment, but if you follow the further development of the operation A.B. during the following weeks, then you will see that this never became effective. That was an intention, a bad intention which, thank God, I gave up in time. Perhaps my defence counsel will be able to say a few words on the subject later.

Q. One single question interests me. Did you renounce your right of pardon while carrying out this operation or not?

A. No.

Q. Well then, how can you account for your words, this one sentence:-

"The reprieve committee is not concerned with these matters."
How should we interpret these words?

A. This is not a decree, it is not an edict, it is not the final ruling on the matter. It is a remark which was made on the spur of the moment and was

[Page 125]

then negotiated on for days. But one must recognise the final stage of the development and not merely the various motives as they came up during the development.

Q. Yes, I understand that very well, defendant. But I would like to ask you, was this statement made during a conference with the police and did you instruct the police in that matter?

A. Not during that meeting. I assume it came up in some other connection. Here we discussed only this one action. After all, I also had to talk to State Secretary Buehler.

Q. Well, all right. While discussing with the police the A.B. operation you stated that the results of this action would not concern the reprieve committee which was subordinated to you, is that right?

A. That sentence is contained in the diary, but it is not the final result but rather an intermediate stage.

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