Frank, Hans

Generalgovernor Hans Frank at work: extermination and suppression

On September 15, 1939, two weeks after the invasion of Poland, Hitler appointed Frank chief of the Zivilverwaltung in die besetzte ehemalige Polnische Gebiete (civil administration of the occupied former Polish region) with the rank of SS-ObergruppenfŁhrer. In this function he was directly answerable to the military: Gerd von Rundstedt (Bio Von Rundstedt), commander of Armygroup South during the invasion of Poland. Soon, Frankís function changed however. On October 26th, 1939, he was appointed Generelgouverneur fŁr die besetzte Polnische Gebiete (Generalgovernor for the occupied Polish territory). This function was completely separated from any military command, it was a purely civil position.

Frank was not in the least qualified for this function. He neither spoke nor understood Polish, in the 20s and 30s he had hardly shown any interest in Poland and he almost complety lacked any experience in governing a country. Why Hitler had picked Frank for this post remains a matter of speculation up till today. It has been argued that Hitler wanted to tie one of the old hands of the N.S.D.A.P. to him after the outbreak of war. Others claim Hitler wanted to place the pioneer of the renewal of German law in charge of an occupation authority not ruled by law but by violence. As it was, Frank would go about his task in a manner that would definitely seal his reputation as suppressor.

Hans Frank left no room for misunderstanding his plans. In an early stage, he publicly made his intentions clear. Shortly before his appointment as Generalgovernor he had expressed himself on October 3rd, 1939, about his plans for the Generalgovernment in words that could not be mistaken: "Afterwards (i.e. the occupation of Poland) only one thing counts: the use of the land by ruthless exploitation, taking away all stocks important to the German war economy, demanding manpower for the benefit of employment in the Reich, reducing the entire Polish economy to a level where only the barest essentials remain for the poorest and the closing down of all educational institutions, in particular the technical and high schools in order to prevent the rise of a new generation of Polish intellectuals." And on another occasion: " When we finally have won the war, as far as I am concerned, mince meat can be made of Poles, Ukranians and whoever else wanders around here. Then we can do whatever we want with them"

Frank would keep his word. Throughout the whole period of his rule the aforementioned Befriedigungsaktionen continued uninterrupted. Certainly, not a trace was to be left of the Polish identity. Anyone who was able or could be able to thwart the germanizing of Poland was to be liquidated fast and efficiently.

Frank at a meeeting with chiefs of police on May 30th, 1940: "Those we already have identified as the leading part of the Poles must be liquidated and we will have to lock up the next generation and remove them in time (Ö). There is no need to drag these elements to the concentration camps in the Reich first, because that will only cause trouble and needless correspondence with family members. We will liquidate these elements in this country itself by the most simple method"

One example out of dozens: In the summer of 1940, an Ausserordentliche Befriedigungsaktion (special action) was launched. Lists were drafted of names of about 3.500 members of the Polish intelligentsia. All were earmarked for death. Actors, writers, journalists and painters were arrested and executed immediately or they disappeared into prisons and work camps where they would later die of deprivation or be murdered. The clear felling of intelligentsia that took place cannot be underestimated enough. In this way, Poland lost about 30% of its scientists and academics forever.

As the Catholic Church in Poland had played an important role in the resistance against foreign domination for ages, the clergy was not safe from Frankís terror either. Churches were closed down systematically, the majority of their priests were murdered or imprisonend. Neither seminars nor convents were spared from the occupier; monks and nuns were arrested and murdered in large numbers. Between 1939 and 1945, about 3.000 members of the Polish clergy perished.

According to Nazi ideology, the common Polish farmers and workers were only suitable as slaves. Frank was the person who directed their exploitation and deportation as work cattle. At the beginning of his reign, Frank already introduced deportation of Polish forced labourers to Germany where a ghoulish fate of exploitation, hunger and illness awaited them. On January 25th, 1940, he indicated his intention to deport one million Polish workers to Germany and he would try and achieve this number by police raids as soon as possible. On August 18th, 1942 he reported he had already delivered 800.000 forced labourers to the Reich and he expected to be able to deport yet another 140.000 to Germany before the year was out.

Between 1939 and 1945, at least 1.5 million Polish citizens were deported to Germany; the majority did not survive. They fell victim to exhaustion, maltreatment, executions and bombing attacks on the German industrial centres. All resistance was mercilessy crushed by Frank. The Poles found courage in the German defeat at Stalingrad in 1943 and their resistance increased. As a result, German reprisals increased in number and in barbarity. Hundreds of villages were demolished and the inhabitants massacred. Public executions in the cities remained the order of the day until the end.


A collection of principles and ideas of a certain system.
Armed incursion.
Annihilate, terminate, destroy.
Abbreviation of a national socialist.
Resistance against the enemy. Often also with armed resources.

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Hans Frank visiting Lublin
(Source: HolocaustResearchProject)

Hans Frank visiting Galicia
(Source: Holocaust ResearchProject)

Poststamp of the Generalgovernment with the imga of Hans Frank


Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Article by:
Robert Jan Noks
Published on:
Last edit on:
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