Post by Matt Seccombe
During July I completed work on the prosecution documents on Goering and began work on the documents on Hans Frank. This amounted to 155 documents and 722 pages of material. One of the document books, for the cross-examination of Frank, was prepared by the USSR; this is the first Soviet file (in the English language) that has appeared in the collection.
In terms of the collection, the two sets occur in opposite forms: the Goering documents were not present under the heading the trial indicated they would be under, but turned up under another heading. With Frank, we have the proper official files, and also a parallel (and larger) set of evidence assembled by the US staff but not used in the trial. Nearly all of this “extra” evidence concerns how Frank ran the Government General in Poland. The prosecutors may have decided this information wasn’t needed to make the case, or responded to the Tribunal judges’ statements in court that they did not need or want to see the details of administrative operations. These documents say little about specific crimes, but do show how the Nazi system was built and how it operated in Poland, including a large measure of empire-building by Frank as governor, occasional tensions between Frank and the military, and ongoing tensions and conflicts between Frank and the SS (including Himmler) over police authority and operations, since the security police chief was subordinate to Frank in the government and to Himmler in the SS.
Goering’s Luftwaffe: With his customary grand rhetoric, in 1936 Goering declared that his forces would be able to “burst upon the foe like a chorus of revenge.”
Hitler on the Jews: At a meeting with Hungarian leader Miklos Horthy in April 1943, Hitler discussed how Germany and Hungary should treat the Jews: “They are just pure parasites . . . They had to be treated like Tuberculosis bacillae, with which a healthy body may also become infected.” This is the most direct statement by Hitler that I have seen, so far, on the extermination program and its rationale.
The empire: In October 1939, following Hitler’s orders, Frank declared the fundamental strategy for the occupation: “Poland is to be treated like a colony; the Poles will become the slaves of the Greater German World Empire.”
Frank on the Jews: In a speech about the German regime in Poland in 1940, Frank observed that “there are not so many lice and Jews any more”; they would be eliminated “in the course of time.” In December 1941 he described this as an active program: “We must annihilate the Jews, wherever we find them.” He stated that the details were going to be settled at an SS meeting under Heydrich. It is notable that these were public announcements, not private comments. In 1944 he boasted that his regime had brought out the dormant Antisemitism of the Poles, to the extent that Cracow could now be described as “Antisemitropolis.”
As reports of war crimes mounted and the Allies began to prepare for a reckoning, in 1943 Frank took pride in his role: “We must remember that we, who are gathered together here [in the occupation regime], figure on Mr. Roosevelt’s list of war criminals. I have the honour of being Number One.”
The HLS Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts.
We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding. For more information about this project, please contact [email protected].