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Hans Frank (Karlsruhe, May 23, 1900 – Nuremberg, October 16, 1946) was a Nazi soldier and lawyer during the 1920s and a senior official in Nazi Germany. In October 1939 he was appointed Governor-General of Poland occupied by the Nazis, becoming the absolute head of the territory for the next 6 years. At the beginning of 1945, with the Soviet offensive of the Vistula-Óder it had to leave the Polish territory and the 3 of May of 1945 was catched by North American troops. He was placed at the disposal of the International Military Tribunal and prosecuted during the Nuremberg Trials for his role in perpetrating the Holocaust and found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. For this reason he was sentenced to be hanged and executed on October 16, 1946.
Frank was born in Karlsruhe and enlisted in the German army in 1917, fighting in the First World War. He worked like many other Nazi leaders in the Freikorps and was registered in 1919 in the German Workers’ Party (DAP), a party that would later become the German National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP). He studied law, passing the state’s final exam in 1926, and prepared to be Hitler’s personal legal adviser. He was elected deputy by the Reichstag in 1930, and in 1933 he was appointed Minister of Justice for the State of Bavaria.
He was also the head of the National Socialist Association of Lawyers and President of the German Law Academy from 1933. He gave his approval to the extrajudicial killings, such as those taking place in the Dachau concentration camp. and also during the Night of the Long Knives. From 1934 he became Minister of the Reich without portfolio. Frank’s point of view about the requirements in judicial processes should not be exaggerated:
The role [of the judge] is to safeguard the specific order of the racial community, to eliminate the dangerous elements, to prosecute all acts harmful to the community, and to arbitrate disagreements among the members of the community . The national-socialist ideology, especially in what is expressed in the Party’s program and in the speeches of our Leaders, is the basis for the interpretation of legal sources.
In September 1939 he was assigned as head of administration to Gerd von Rundstedt in the General Government. What follows next is the division of Poland, and freeway to be the Governor-General of the occupied Polish territories (he was given the rank of für de Generalgouverneur besetzten polnischen Gebiete), who is head of the general government that controls those areas of Poland that had not been incorporated directly into the III Reich. He was awarded the SS-Obergruppenführer grade. He oversaw the segregation of Jews in the ghetto and the use of Polish civilians as slave laborers. In 1942 he lost his positions of power outside the general government after Hitler became annoyed with a series of speeches in Berlin, Vienna, Heidelberg, and Munich and also as part of a struggle for the Secretariat for Security with Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, the Head of state of the SS and Police in the General Government. But Krüger was ultimately replaced, by Wilhelm Koppe. Frank was later entrusted with the extermination of Jews, which was controlled entirely by Heinrich Himmler and the SS. On the “Jewish question,” Frank made clear his position before his cabinet:
Gentlemen, I must ask you to abandon compassion. We must annihilate the Jews.
At the beginning of 1944 he suffered an assassination attempt orchestrated by the Polish Secret State on the night of January 29 to 30 (coinciding with the 11th anniversary of Hitler’s coming to power) in Szarów, next to Krakow. The train in which Frank was traveling went to Lvov and derailed after an explosive device exploded but nobody was killed and therefore the attempt failed.For this time, German military power was in retreat on all fronts and in July of 1944 the Red Army entered the territory of the General Government, arriving until the outskirts of Warsaw. That was when the Warsaw Uprising took place, with the subsequent German repression and destruction of the old capital. At the beginning of 1945 the former General Government was liberated by the Soviet troops in the framework of the Vistula-Oder offensive and with it Frank had to flee from Krakow, being captured by American troops in Tegernsee (Bavaria), on May 3, 1945.
After being captured, he tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat, and two days later, he wounded his left arm while trying to cut his veins in a second unsuccessful suicide attempt. He was later sent and placed at the disposal of the International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg in November 1945. At the time the Trials lasted he renewed the practice of Catholicism of his childhood and voluntarily handed over some forty volumes of his personal diaries to the allies, which were used against him as evidence in the trial. During his testimony, he said he submitted petitions for the resignation of Hitler on fourteen occasions, but Hitler did not allow him to resign. He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to death on October 1, 1946. Journalist Howard K. Smith wrote of his execution:
Frank’s face was next, in the parade of death: “he was the only one condemned with a smile”. Although he was nervous and swallowing frequently, this man, who converted to Roman Catholicism after his arrest and before being executed, answered in a low voice, almost in a whisper: “I am grateful for the good treatment during my captivity and I ask may God accept me with mercy ».
Hans Frank executed, on October 16, 1946.
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