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Memoirs of the Nuremberg Trial’s ‘voice of doom’

The extraordinary memoirs of the chief interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials have come to light after they lay hidden in an attic for more than 25 years, revealing for the first time some of the final thoughts of defeated Nazi leaders.

Former Northumberland Fusilier Wolfe Frank interpreted the judges’ opening statements and announced the verdicts to the Nazi defendants and millions of radio listeners around the world.

The grim sentences he relayed to the 24 Nazis included 14 death penalties, earning him the nickname the ‘Voice of Doom’. While his work brought him face-to-face with the men responsible for the deaths of millions.

Now his memoirs, which offer a haunting window in the past, have been released as a book, revealing the acceptance and defiance of some of history’s most evil men as they prepared for the hangman’s noose. 

 

Wolfe Frank (right) and Judge Michael Musmanno (centre) interrogating General Karl Wolff (SS- Obergruppenfuehrer) (left). The photograph is likely to have been taken during the Einsatzgruppen Trial. The Einsatzgruppen Trial was the ninth of the 12 Nuremberg Trials, and sought to charge directly the roaming death squads, operating behind the front line in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe. From 1941 to 1943 alone, they murdered more than one million Jews. The hand written inscription on the photograph (pictured) reads: ‘To Wolfe Frank, Ace Interpreter at Nuremberg International War Crimes Trials, and so far as I am concerned the whole world round. Most sincerely, M A Musmanno’

Former Northumberland Fusilier Wolfe Frank interpreted the judges' opening statements and announced the verdicts to the Nazi defendants and millions of radio listeners around the world. The grim sentences he relayed to the 24 Nazis included 14 death penalties, earning him the nickname the 'Voice of Doom'. Mr Frank later received acclaim as a daring investigative reporter going undercover in post-war Germany to track down high ranking Nazis who had evaded justice and extract confessions from them. He was married five times and had numerous affairs - he died aged 75 in 1988

Former Northumberland Fusilier Wolfe Frank interpreted the judges' opening statements and announced the verdicts to the Nazi defendants and millions of radio listeners around the world. The grim sentences he relayed to the 24 Nazis included 14 death penalties, earning him the nickname the 'Voice of Doom'. Mr Frank later received acclaim as a daring investigative reporter going undercover in post-war Germany to track down high ranking Nazis who had evaded justice and extract confessions from them. He was married five times and had numerous affairs - he died aged 75 in 1988

Former Northumberland Fusilier Wolfe Frank interpreted the judges’ opening statements and announced the verdicts to the Nazi defendants and millions of radio listeners around the world. The grim sentences he relayed to the 24 Nazis included 14 death penalties, earning him the nickname the ‘Voice of Doom’. Mr Frank later received acclaim as a daring investigative reporter going undercover in post-war Germany to track down high ranking Nazis who had evaded justice and extract confessions from them. He was married five times and had numerous affairs – he died aged 75 in 1988

In his memoirs Mr Frank, who was Jewish, wrote of his conversations with Nazi figures Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer and Robert Ley.

During one chilling exchange he recalled Ley telling him he wanted to be defended by a Jewish lawyer as it would be a ‘just turn of fate’.

In another passage, he struggled to contain his horror as he revealed how Nazi criminal Otto Ohlendorf took great pleasure in recounting how he killed tens of thousands of Jews.

Mr Frank, who fled to England from Nazi Germany two years before the start of the Second World War, left his all possessions including his memoirs to close friend Mike Dilliway.

He stashed Mr Frank’s documents in several boxes in his attic at his home in Gillingham, Dorset, where they remained untouched for a quarter of a century.

Hermann Wilhelm Goering was among the Nazi leaders Wolfe Frank encountered. The veteran First World War pilot ace rose to become one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi, for a time second only to Adolf Hitler. As one of the earliest members of the Nazi Party, Goering amassed power and political capital and was appointed commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe. After his force proved unable to prevent Allied bombings, his standing declined and he withdrew gradually. Eventually his focus turned to collecting valuable artwork, much of which was taken from the victims of the Holocaust. Goering was sentenced to death by hanging but committed suicide by ingesting cyanide the night before it was to be carried out - a final act of defiance

Hermann Wilhelm Goering was among the Nazi leaders Wolfe Frank encountered. The veteran First World War pilot ace rose to become one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi, for a time second only to Adolf Hitler. As one of the earliest members of the Nazi Party, Goering amassed power and political capital and was appointed commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe. After his force proved unable to prevent Allied bombings, his standing declined and he withdrew gradually. Eventually his focus turned to collecting valuable artwork, much of which was taken from the victims of the Holocaust. Goering was sentenced to death by hanging but committed suicide by ingesting cyanide the night before it was to be carried out – a final act of defiance

Goering was flown to Camp Ashcan, a temporary prisoner-of-war camp housed in the Palace Hotel at Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg. There he was weaned off morphine, an addiction he endured since he was hospitalised in 1923 during the failed Beer Hall Putsch - an attempted coup d'état by National Socialist German Workers' Party leader Adolf Hitler which led to riots. While imprisoned, he was put on a strict diet, lost some 27kg and found to have an IQ of 138

Goering was flown to Camp Ashcan, a temporary prisoner-of-war camp housed in the Palace Hotel at Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg. There he was weaned off morphine, an addiction he endured since he was hospitalised in 1923 during the failed Beer Hall Putsch - an attempted coup d'état by National Socialist German Workers' Party leader Adolf Hitler which led to riots. While imprisoned, he was put on a strict diet, lost some 27kg and found to have an IQ of 138

Goering was flown to Camp Ashcan, a temporary prisoner-of-war camp housed in the Palace Hotel at Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg. There he was weaned off morphine, an addiction he endured since he was hospitalised in 1923 during the failed Beer Hall Putsch – an attempted coup d’état by National Socialist German Workers’ Party leader Adolf Hitler to seize control of the government of Bavaria. Mr Frank wrote that Goering had a disarming sense of humour and at times felt overawed by the man’s presence. Writing ‘He had deep rings under his eyes, probably the effect of the drug withdrawal programme he had undergone, but his eyes themselves were very alert and his intelligence was obvious’

While imprisoned, Goering was put on a strict diet, lost some 27kg and found to have an IQ of 138. At the Nuremberg Trials, the prosecution levelled charges including crimes against humanity, waging a war of aggression, war crimes - including the plundering and removal to Germany of works of art, the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, the murder and enslavement of civilians - at the time estimated to be more than 5,700,000 Jews. While he was not permitted to present a lengthy statement in defence, he declared himself to be 'in the sense of the indictment not guilty'

While imprisoned, Goering was put on a strict diet, lost some 27kg and found to have an IQ of 138. At the Nuremberg Trials, the prosecution levelled charges including crimes against humanity, waging a war of aggression, war crimes – including the plundering and removal to Germany of works of art, the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, the murder and enslavement of civilians – at the time estimated to be more than 5,700,000 Jews. While he was not permitted to present a lengthy statement in defence, he declared himself to be ‘in the sense of the indictment not guilty’

It was only when he moved house in 2015 that he asked his friend, historian Paul Hooley, to take a look at the memoirs to see if they had any historical importance.

A stunned Mr Hooley has transcribed their contents which have now published for the first time in a book, Nuremberg’s Voice of Doom.

Mr Hooley, 77, said: ‘Mike asked me to take a look at Wolfe’s documents – and I found this printed history of a man whose life, involvements and achievements, together with the important historical information contained therein, deserved to be recorded for posterity.

‘I only hope I have done him justice and that I have told the Wolfe Frank story the way he would have wanted it to be presented – warts and all. He was a major contributing factor in the success of the ‘greatest trial in history’.’

Mr Frank, who fled to England from Nazi Germany two years before the start of the Second World War, left his all possessions including his memoirs to close friend Mike Dilliway. He stashed Mr Frank's documents in several boxes in his attic at his home in Gillingham, Dorset, where they remained untouched for a quarter of a century. It was only when he moved house in 2015 that he asked his friend, historian Paul Hooley, to take a look at the memoirs to see if they had any historical importance. A stunned Mr Hooley has transcribed their contents which have now published for the first time as: Nuremburg's Voice of Doom

Wolfe Frank and second wife Maxine Cooper at Davos in 1946. Mr Frank later received acclaim as a daring investigative reporter going undercover in post-war Germany to track down high ranking Nazis who had evaded justice and extract confessions from them. However, his turbulent personal life - he was married five times and had numerous affairs - and ill health took a heavy toll and he died aged 75 in 1988.

Mr Frank, who fled to England from Nazi Germany two years before the start of the Second World War, left his all possessions including his memoirs to close friend Mike Dilliway. He stashed Mr Frank’s documents in several boxes in his attic at his home in Gillingham, Dorset, where they remained untouched for a quarter of a century. It was only when he moved house in 2015 that he asked his friend, historian Paul Hooley, to take a look at the memoirs to see if they had any historical importance. A stunned Mr Hooley has transcribed their contents which have now published for the first time as: Nuremberg’s Voice of Doom

Mr Frank was born in 1913 in Beierfield in the Saxony region of Germany. In the early years of Nazi rule, he was a resistance worker who smuggled Jews out of Germany and was considered ‘an enemy of the state to be shot on sight’.

In 1937, he escaped to Britain where during the war he enlisted in the British Army, rising to the rank of captain.

Unable to speak English prior to his arrival, by the time of the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 he was described as the ‘best interpreter in the world’.

In his memoirs, Mr Frank sheds light on his meetings with Goering, Ley and Hess, finding them to be very different characters.

He described his harrowing encounter with Ohlendorf, who admitted to killing 90,000 Jews with his mobile gas chambers. He wrote: ‘He was, without doubt, proud of his work.

‘He talked quietly – with expressive gestures of well-shaped hands, smoking our cigarettes – of the attacks on German occupation troops by Polish freedom fighters and the unreasonable time and effort required to dispose of the Jews at the same time.

‘It was here, he felt, that his talents as an organiser and his ingenuity had served the Fatherland so well, and surely, he deserved everybody’s recognition – including ours?

‘None of us could ever have imagined, until that day, such utter total lack of moral, ethical or human standards as we had witnessed. The man was proud, self-satisfied and mentally at peace.

Wolfe Frank and other interpreters following proceedings whilst awaiting their turn in the interpreting booths. Mr Frank was born in 1913 in Beierfield in the Saxony region of Germany. In the early years of Nazi rule, he was a resistance worker who smuggled Jews out of Germany and was considered 'an enemy of the state to be shot on sight'. In 1937, he escaped to Britain where during the war he enlisted in the British Army, rising to the rank of captain. Unable to speak English prior to his arrival, by the time of the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 he was described as the 'best interpreter in the world'

Wolfe Frank and other interpreters following proceedings whilst awaiting their turn in the interpreting booths. Mr Frank was born in 1913 in Beierfield in the Saxony region of Germany. In the early years of Nazi rule, he was a resistance worker who smuggled Jews out of Germany and was considered ‘an enemy of the state to be shot on sight’. In 1937, he escaped to Britain where during the war he enlisted in the British Army, rising to the rank of captain. Unable to speak English prior to his arrival, by the time of the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 he was described as the ‘best interpreter in the world’

In his memoirs, Mr Frank sheds light on his meetings with Goering, Robert Ley and Rudolf Hess, finding them to be different characters. Hess, another  high-ranking Nazi, is pictured reading the book 'Youth' by Ernst Claes in his cell in Nuremberg, Germany, while awaiting his trial. Appointed Deputy Fuhrer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, Hess served in this position until 1941, when he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom at the height of the Second World War. He was taken prisoner and eventually convicted of crimes against peace, serving a life sentence until his suicide

In his memoirs, Mr Frank sheds light on his meetings with Goering, Robert Ley and Rudolf Hess, finding them to be different characters. Hess, another  high-ranking Nazi, is pictured reading the book 'Youth' by Ernst Claes in his cell in Nuremberg, Germany, while awaiting his trial. Appointed Deputy Fuhrer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, Hess served in this position until 1941, when he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom at the height of the Second World War. He was taken prisoner and eventually convicted of crimes against peace, serving a life sentence until his suicide

In his memoirs, Mr Frank sheds light on his meetings with Goering, Robert Ley and Rudolf Hess, finding them to be different characters. Hess, another  high-ranking Nazi, is pictured reading the book ‘Youth’ by Ernst Claes in his cell in Nuremberg, Germany, while awaiting his trial. Appointed Deputy Fuhrer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, Hess served in this position until 1941, when he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom at the height of the Second World War. He was taken prisoner and eventually convicted of crimes against peace, serving a life sentence until his suicide

On May 10, 1941, Hess flew to Scotland from the airfield at Augsburg-Haunstetten in his specially prepared aircraft. It was the last of his several attempts to depart on this mission, after previous attempts had to be called off due to mechanical issues or poor weather. Wearing a leather flying suit bearing the rank of captain, he packed a supply of money, toiletries, a torch, camera, maps and charts, and a collection of medicines including a dextrose tablet to help ward off fatigue. Setting off to Bonn, Hess used familiar landmarks to orient himself before flying in an easterly direction to stay out of British radar. Eventually, he approached the town of Bamburgh, on the North East Coast of Britain Hess, pictured next to Goering (second row, left)

On May 10, 1941, Hess flew to Scotland from the airfield at Augsburg-Haunstetten in his specially prepared aircraft. It was the last of his several attempts to depart on this mission, after previous attempts had to be called off due to mechanical issues or poor weather. Wearing a leather flying suit bearing the rank of captain, he packed a supply of money, toiletries, a torch, camera, maps and charts, and a collection of medicines including a dextrose tablet to help ward off fatigue. Setting off to Bonn, Hess used familiar landmarks to orient himself before flying in an easterly direction to stay out of British radar. Eventually, he approached the town of Bamburgh, on the North East Coast of Britain Hess, pictured next to Goering (second row, left)

Writing of Hess, Mr Frank said: 'Hess was next. He looked terrible. His cheeks were deeply sunken, his burning eyes had an insane look to them, his mouth was only a slit and he remained defiant, if not belligerent, throughout our conversation. 'He had no intention of defending himself he declared at one moment and then announced that he would defend himself. I explained patiently that he would not know how to do this in the face of the unfamiliar rules of procedure. 'Das ist mir gleichguelting (I couldn't care less) he snarled

Writing of Hess, Mr Frank said: 'Hess was next. He looked terrible. His cheeks were deeply sunken, his burning eyes had an insane look to them, his mouth was only a slit and he remained defiant, if not belligerent, throughout our conversation. 'He had no intention of defending himself he declared at one moment and then announced that he would defend himself. I explained patiently that he would not know how to do this in the face of the unfamiliar rules of procedure. 'Das ist mir gleichguelting (I couldn't care less) he snarled

Writing of Hess, Mr Frank said: ‘Hess was next. He looked terrible. His cheeks were deeply sunken, his burning eyes had an insane look to them, his mouth was only a slit and he remained defiant, if not belligerent, throughout our conversation. He had no intention of defending himself he declared at one moment and then announced that he would defend himself. I explained patiently that he would not know how to do this in the face of the unfamiliar rules of procedure. “Das ist mir gleichguelting” (I couldn’t care less) he snarled

‘Unlike all the other murderers, the henchmen, the executioners, the sadists, the monsters I had encountered, he was searching for no explanation, no excuse, no justification, because he saw it all in his outstanding services, rendered to the cause.

‘There were days, such as that, when after my day in court I could not eat and I had to drown myself in alcohol before I could sleep.’

He wrote that Goering had a disarming sense of humour, but Ley and Hess were very cold and distant.

He stated: ‘As the door of Goering’s cell was noisily unlocked, the former Reichmarshall rose from his cot where he had, obviously, been napping. Feeling rather nervous, I told him why I was there (to help him select a defence lawyer).

Head of DAF, German Labour Front. Ley committed suicide on October 25, 1945, before the trial began. Indicted but neither acquitted nor found guilty as trial did not proceed, Ley was reputed to be a drunk and erratic leader who nonetheless kept favour with Hitler by his unswerving loyalty. When Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933, Ley accompanied him to Berlin. In April, when the trade union movement was taken over by the state, Hitler appointed him head of the German Labour Front

Head of DAF, German Labour Front. Ley committed suicide on October 25, 1945, before the trial began. Indicted but neither acquitted nor found guilty as trial did not proceed, Ley was reputed to be a drunk and erratic leader who nonetheless kept favour with Hitler by his unswerving loyalty. When Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933, Ley accompanied him to Berlin. In April, when the trade union movement was taken over by the state, Hitler appointed him head of the German Labour Front

‘Ley was brought to an interrogation room and I found him to be excessively nervous. In fact, he had difficulty in speaking. I put the list of lawyers before him but he began to talk, disjointedly, of the possibility of handling his own defence – he didn’t however pursue this line for long. He looked at the list, absentmindedly, and then said: “I have given much thought to being defended by a Hebrew lawyer, I mean, a Jew,” and he said something about it being a “just turn of fate” if he were to be defended by such a person. I could not offer such a choice from the list for reasons that hardly require elucidation. He finally selected a name from the list but the services of this counsel were not required – he hanged himself in his cell afterwards’ (Ley is pictured,  left, with the Duke of Windsor in 1937, and, right, with Adolf Hitler in 1940)

‘Ah,’ he said ‘sehr schoen’ (splendid). He offered me a seat on his cot and proceeded to apologise for the lack of hospitality. I have asked for some of my furniture from Carinhall to be brought here,’ he declared, poker-faced.

‘It has still not arrived. I blame the management.’

‘Quite a sense of humour, I thought, looking at Goering for the first time, somewhat overawed by the occasion.

‘He had not bothered to put his trousers on either but had wrapped a blanket around his legs as he was sitting down next to me.

‘He had deep rings under his eyes, probably the effect of the drug withdrawal programme he had undergone, but his eyes themselves were very alert and his intelligence was obvious.’

Of Ley and Hess, he added: ‘Ley was brought to an interrogation room and I found him to be excessively nervous. In fact, he had difficulty in speaking.

‘I put the list of lawyers before him but he began to talk, disjointedly, of the possibility of handling his own defence – he didn’t however pursue this line for long.

‘He looked at the list, absentmindedly, and then said: “I have given much thought to being defended by a Hebrew lawyer, I mean, a Jew,” and he said something about it being a “just turn of fate” if he were to be defended by such a person.

‘I could not offer such a choice from the list for reasons that hardly require elucidation. He finally selected a name from the list but the services of this counsel were not required – Ley hanged himself in his cell soon afterwards.

‘Hess was next. He looked terrible. His cheeks were deeply sunken, his burning eyes had an insane look to them, his mouth was only a slit and he remained defiant, if not belligerent, throughout our conversation.

‘He had no intention of defending himself he declared at one moment and then announced that he would defend himself. I explained patiently that he would not know how to do this in the face of the unfamiliar rules of procedure.

‘Das ist mir gleichguelting (I couldn’t care less),’ snarled Hess and that was his answer to any other argument I put forward. The interview ended inconclusively.’

Mr Frank later received acclaim as a daring investigative reporter going undercover in post-war Germany to track down high ranking Nazis who had evaded justice and extract confessions from them.

However, his turbulent personal life – he was married five times and had numerous affairs – and ill health took a heavy toll and he died aged 75 in 1988. 

What were the Nuremberg Trials? How Nazis including Hitler’s chosen successor were tried for war crimes between 1945 and 1949 

The Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals held by the Allied forces under international law and the laws of war following the Second World War.

They were notable for the prosecution of leading figures from the political, military, judicial and economic leadership of Nazi Germany. Many of these figures were responsible for war crimes including the Holocaust and systematic ethnic cleansing of non-Aryan races.

The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, and are described as the ‘greatest trial in history’.

Held between November 20, 1945 and October 1, 1946, the Tribunal was given the task of trying 24 of the most important figures within the Third Reich.

Hermann Goering:  Reichsmarschall, Commander of the Luftwaffe 1935–45, Chief of the 4-Year Plan 1936–45, and original head of the Gestapo until 1934. 

Originally the second-highest-ranked member of the Nazi Party and Hitler’s designated successor, he fell out of favour with the Nazi leader in April 1945. He was the highest ranking Nazi official to be tried at Nuremberg. 

Goering was sentenced to hanging, but committed suicide by ingesting cyanide while waiting to be executed.

Rudolf Hess: Hitler’s Deputy Fuhrer until he flew to Scotland in 1941 in a bid to broker peace with the United Kingdom. Was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes. At the age of 93, Hess is said to have hanged himself. 

Dr Robert Ley: Head of DAF – the German Labour Front. Ley committed suicide on 25 October 1945, before the trial began. He was indicted but neither acquitted nor found guilty as trial did not proceed.

Albert Speer: Was sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes against peace and humanity. Hitler’s close friend and favorite architect, he was the Minister of Armaments from 1942 until the end of the war. In this capacity, he was responsible for the use of slave labourers from the occupied territories in armaments production.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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