IN THE SHADOW OF THE REICH by Niklas Frank

IN THE SHADOW OF THE REICH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A bitter and often shocking memoir of Hans Frank, Nazi Governor-General of Poland, by his journalist son. Beginning with the fact, learned apparently from an aunt, that his mother had no orgasm when he was conceived, and proceeding on to a detailed discussion of his father's execution after he was convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg, including speculation as to the quality of the sound when his father's neck snapped, Frank gives a chronological account of his father's checkered career. A lawyer with dreams of grandeur, the elder Frank participated in a minor way in Hitler's abortive Putsch in 1923. He caught the FÅhrer's eye when he defended some Nazi hooligans, and thereafter his ascent was rapid: Bavarian Minister of Justice; President of the Academy for German Justice; Reich Commissioner for Justice; Minister of the Reich--all while still in his 30s. His first compromise with evil lay in his acquiescence in the murder of S.A. leader Rohm and a number of his associates shortly after Hitler's rise to power. Frank's moral decline after becoming Governor- General of Poland was rapid: ``There is no reason for us to be squeamish when we hear about seventeen thousand people being shot,'' he told one audience. Deeply corrupt--they extorted furs and antiques from wealthy Jews--he and his wife laid themselves open to blackmail by Himmler. The son was seven years old when he had a last view of his father, visiting him in the death cell. Unfortunately, the cruelty of the father is matched by a certain cruelty in the son, and the format of the book, an extended conversation with the elder Frank in which the younger mocks and denounces his father's life, diminishes both the subject and the sympathy we would otherwise have for the son. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 1991
ISBN: 0-394-58345-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991




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