Hans Fritzsche

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Hans Fritzsche

Born 21 April 1900(1900-04-21)
Bochum, German Empire
Died 27 September 1953 (aged 53)
Cologne, West Germany
Nationality German
Political party National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
Spouse(s) Hildegard Fritzsche
Occupation Ministerialdirektor in the Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda
Profession Journalist, Government Official

August Franz Anton Hans Fritzsche (21 April 1900 – 27 September 1953) was a German official who worked under Joseph Goebbels in the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. At the International Military Tribunal Fritzsche was a defendant but acquitted. However, he was later tried by a West German "denazification" court and was sentenced to nine years.


Hans Fritzsche.png

Fritzsche was born in Bochum (a city in the Ruhr Area) and served in the Imperial German Army in 1917. Post-war he studied at the universities in Greifswald and Berlin (Studium der Germanistik, Geschichte und Volkswirtschaft) before becoming a journalist for the Hugenberg Press and then involved in the new mass media of the radio, working for the German government. In September 1932 he was made head of the Drahtloser Dienst (the wireless news service). On 1 May 1933, he joined the NSDAP (NSDAP-Nr.: 2 637 146). Under Joseph Goebbels' Reich Ministry he continued to head the radio department before being promoted to the News Section at the Ministry.

  • 1933: Head of news in the press department in the Propagandaministerium
  • 1938: Deputy of "German Press" department in the Propagandaministerium (later head)
    • (stellvertretende) Leitung der Abteilung “Deutsche Presse” des RMVP
  • October 1942 to 1945: Ministerialdirektor in the Propagandaministerium
  • November 1942: Head of the broadcasting department in the Propagandaministerium
    • Leiter der Rundfunkabteilung des RMVP als Ministerialdirektor (“Beauftragter für die politische Gestaltung des Großdeutschen Rundfunks”)

In mid-1938 he became deputy to Alfred Berndt at the German Press Division. Responsible for controlling German news, the agency was also called the Home or Domestic Press Division. In December 1938 he was made chief of the Home Press Division. In May 1942 Goebbels took personal control of the division, and Fritzsche returned to radio work for the Ministry as Plenipotentiary for the Political Organization of the Greater German Radio and head of the Radio Division of the Ministry.

Short biography

Hans Fritzsche was born on 21 April 1900 in Bochum to a family of a postal clerk. He took part in the First World War in 1918 and was active in the right-wing press agencies in the Weimar Republic. In 1932, he became chief of the German government press agency under chancellor Franz von Papen, which was incorporated into the new Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda) after Hitler came to power. In 1938, Hans Fritzsche became head of the Press Division of the ministry. During the war, Fritzsche remained one of the most prominent radio commentators. After a short service as a member of a propaganda company on the Eastern Front, he was appointed to the head of the Radio Division of Goebbels’ ministry in November 1942 and was also responsible for the political organisation of the German radio. In April 1945, Fritzsche remained in Berlin and was present in the Führerbunker when Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide. After Goebbels, who prohibited any surrender attempts, also committed suicide, Fritzsche moved to the Propaganda Ministry’s office at the Wilhelmplatz near the Reich Chancellery and drafted a surrender letter addressed to Marshal Georgy Zhukov. Despite the attempt of General Wilhelm Burgdorf to stop him, Fritzsche went over to the Soviet lines and offered to surrender the city to the Red Army, since he claimed to be the highest ranked official that still remained in Berlin. On 2 May 1945, representatives of the 8th Guards Army ordered him to read the capitulation order on radio. After that, Fritzsche was taken prisoner and helped to identify the remains of the Goebbels family near the Führerbunker. Subsequently, he was sent to the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow and later delivered to Nuremberg. Here he was charged, among 23 other persons, by the International Military Tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was acquitted but later sentenced to nine years in prison by a German denazification court. In 1950, he was pardoned and married his second wife. Hans Fritzsche died of cancer on 27 September 1953 in Cologne.[1]

Nuremberg Show Trials

Fritzsche was taken prisoner by Soviet soldiers in Berlin on May 2, 1945. He was tried before the International Military Tribunal. He was charged with conspiracy to commit "crimes against peace", "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity". It was unclear to attendees why he was charged, rumors abounded that he was only in the dock as a stand-in for Goebbels. Shirer remarked that "no-one in the courtroom, including Fritzsche, seemed to know why he was there – he was too small a fry – unless it were as a ghost for Goebbels..."[2]

He was one of only three defendants to be acquitted at Nuremberg (along with Hjalmar Schacht and Franz von Papen),[3] but he was tried by a West German denazification court and was eventually sentenced to nine years. He was acquitted because it became evident to the tribunal that he had never pushed for the extermination of the Jews, and on two instances he even attempted to stop the publication of the anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer. He was released in September 1950 and died of cancer soon after. His wife Hildegard Fritzsche (born Springer) died the same year.

Awards and decorations (excerpt)


  • Das Schwert auf der Waage, 1953

External links