Karl Hermann Frank

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SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Police Karl Hermann Frank

Karl Hermann Frank (24 January 1898 – 22 May 1946) was a Sudeten German and National Socialist senior official in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia prior to and during World War II when he became Minister of State (Reichsminister). He was in command of the police apparatus in the Protectorate, including the Gestapo, the SD, and the Criminal Police (Kripo). After the war he was executed by the Czech communists for his questionable role (he was in Berlin at the time) in the massacres of the people of the Czech villages of Lidice and Ležáky.


SS-Gruppenführer Karl Frank
Karola and Karl Frank (1942)
Holle-Sigrid Frank (2023)

Early life

Born in the famous spar town of Karlsbad, Bohemia, in Austria-Hungary, Frank was taught by his father to be, as an ethnic German, nationally aware. He had four siblings, but the two sisters died young, he grew up with his brothers Ernst and Walter. The eldest Karl Hermann attended elementary school in his hometown and later the humanistic Gymnasium. He experienced his ideological socialization in ethnic German-Bohemian clubs such as the Wandervogel (Wandervogelbewegung), the Bohemian Movement and the German Gymnastics Association.

Frank volunteered (Kriegsfreiwilliger) for the Austro-Hungarian Army (k.u.k. Infanterieregiment „Albrecht von Württemberg“ Nr. 73) in World War I in 1916, but was rejected on medical grounds due to partial blindness in his right eye. He continued to school in Karlsbad, where he passed the “War Abitur” in March 1917. He then completed a one-year “high school graduate course” at the German Commercial Academy in Prague.

He attended the law school of the German-language Charles University in Prague for four semesters and worked as a tutor to make money. Until 1924, he tried his hand at working as a clerk in a North Moravian metal factory, as a conductor on a North Bohemian local railway and as an apprentice to the “national” publisher Erich Fürchtegott Matthes from the Ore Mountains. From 1926 to 1934, he was a bookseller in various places in the Sudentenland. When his father died in 1928, he inherited 40,000 crowns, which he put into his “Völkische Buchhandlung mit Heimatverlag”.

An advocate of the incorporation of the Sudetenland into Germany, Frank joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party in Czechoslovakia (DNSAP) and by 1923 and was involved in setting up several DNSAP chapters in northern Bohemia and that part of Austrian Silesia which the Allies had included in the new artificial state. In 1925, Frank opened a book store which specialized in National Socialist literature. Frank joined and helped organize the Sudeten-German Homeland Front (SdH) in 1933, which officially became the Sudeten German Party (SdP) in 1935. He then worked in the SdP public relations and propaganda department.

In 1935, Frank became deputy leader of the SdP and was elected a ethnic German deputy in the Czechoslovak Parliament. Frank was subsequently made Deputy Gauleiter of the Sudetenland when it became part of Germany in October 1938. Frank officially joined the NSDAP (No. 6 600 002) and SS (No. 310 466) on 1 November 1938.

World War II

In 1939, Frank was promoted to SS-Gruppenführer and appointed Secretary of State of the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia under the "moderate professional diplomat" Reich Protector Freiherr (Baron) Konstantin von Neurath. Himmler also named him the Protectorate's Higher SS and Police Leader. As Secretary of State and Chief of Police, Frank was said to have pursued a policy of harsh suppression of dissident Czechs, and pushed for the arrest of Bohemia and Moravia's Prime Minister, Alois Eliáš. These actions by Frank were countered by von Neurath's "soft approach" to the Czechs thereby encouraging anti-German resistance by strikes and sabotage. This frustrated Frank and led to him secretly working to discredit Neurath.

Hitler relieved von Neurath of his active duties on 23 September 1941, though he still remained Reich Protector on paper. Frank hoped to be appointed as Deputy Protector and day-to-day head of the Protectorate. Instead, Hitler appointed Reinhard Heydrich, and gave him a mandate to enforce policy, fight resistance, and keep up production quotas of the motors and arms factories which were "extremely important to the German war effort". The working relationship between Frank and Heydrich was a good one as they both were ambitious. They arrested anti-German opponents. According to Heydrich, between 4,000 and 5,000 people were arrested and between 400 and 500 were executed by February 1942.


When Heydrich was murdered on 4 June 1942 by two Czech parachutists flown in from London, Frank was once again passed over for promotion as Deputy Protector; Kurt Daluege was chosen by Hitler instead. Daluege and Frank were said to be instrumental in initiating the destruction of the Czech villages of Lidice and Ležáky, whose inhabitants were accused of having aided and assisted Heydrich's assassins. Frank was said to have ordered Horst Böhme, the SiPo and SD chief in Prague, into action. However, the truth is that following Heyrich's murder a delegation from Bohemia, including Frank, were called to Berlin where Hitler prepared his own 'Thebes solution'.[1] At 7.45 p.m., barely an hour after their reception, Frank was instructed to telephone Prague with the order that following the decision made at the Fuhrer-Conference the village of Lidice was to be dealt with that same day in the following manner[2]:

  1. All male inhabitants to be shot;
  2. All females to be evacuated to a concentration camp;
  3. The children to be collected together; if capable of Germanization they are to be delivered to SS-families in the Reich, and the rest are to under go a different education;
  4. The place is to be burnt down and razed to the ground.

Bohme set off for Kladno with Dr. Otto Geschke (Gestapo Chief in Bohemia) to direct the operation. The Kladno regular police surrounded the village and allowed inhabitants returning from work to enter the place, but no-one to come out. During late evening, by which time an army detachment had taken over the roadblocks, the police moved into the village. The women and children were taken away in lorries to the gymnasium of the Technical High School in Kladno, and those pregnant to a Prague hospital. In his official report Bohme recorded that 170 males were initially shot. Fifteen relatives, already in custody, of Czechs who had fled to England were also shot along, with some others found returning late from work so that the total was 199. Of the deported women 143 returned after the war. Of the ninety-eight children only sixteen could be traced in the post-war chaos.[3]

Deschner states, citing archival materials, "It is not known who was the originator of the plan of destruction. It is almost certain not to have been Karl-Hermann Frank, who steadfastly rejected collective measures. It must have been some other participant in the Fuhrer-Conference, most likely Hitler, Bormann or Daluege. The answer to the question of why Lidice specifically was chosen also points to Daluege." Then on June 24th the hamlet of Lezáky was also destroyed and its inhabitants shot because the insurgents' radio operator, Bartos, had been captured there, together with his radio equipment, and because two contact-points for Czech agents abroad dropping by parachute had been discovered there. Other agents were connected with Lidice. Pavelka, the first captured parachute-agent from London had been given addresses in Lidice for his first contacts in Bohemia. Two young men from Lidice, Stribrny and Horák, were known to be serving in the so-called Czech brigade in England.[4]

Last years

In June 1943, Frank was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer and General of Police in Prague. Frank was also made a General of the Waffen-SS. Under Daluege, Frank continued to consolidate his power, and by the time Wilhelm Frick[5] was appointed Reich Protector in August 1943, Frank was the most powerful official in Bohemia and Moravia. In August 1943, he was made Minister of State for Bohemia and Moravia and was granted cabinet rank and status.

In 1944, he personally conducted anti-partisan operations in Moravia aimed at destroying the Jan Žižka terrorist brigade. Despite the deployment of 13,000 soldiers and summary executions of civilians found to be supporting the terrorists, they had some difficulty in destroying this brigade.


Frank was arrested by the United States Army in the area of Rokycany (Rokitzan) near Pilsen on 9 May 1945, after the war had ended. Like many others, they extradited him to the Czech Communist 'People's Court' in Prague where he was afforded a show trial in the best communist tradition, in 1946. After being convicted of war crimes and the destruction of Lidice and Ležáky, Frank was sentenced to death on 21 May 1946 and hanged on 22 May 1946 in the courtyard of the Pankrác Prison in Prague, before 5,000 onlookers. He was buried in an anonymous grave in Prague's Ďáblice cemetery. He was aged 48.

Personal life

Frank was married twice. On 21 January 1925, he married Anna Müller (born 5 January 1899 in Karlsbad). The couple had two sons Harald (born 20 January 1926; severely wounded as a Panzergrenadier of the LSSAH in Hungary in March 1945), and Gerhard (born 22 April 1931). They divorced on 17 February 1940 and later that year, Müller married Frank's successor as Deputy Gauleiter of Sudetenland, SA-Brigadeführer Fritz Köllner.

On 14 April 1940, Frank remarried a physician, Karola Blaschek (born 13 August 1913 in Brüx). The couple had three children together, two daughters Edda (born 16 August 1941), Holle-Sigrid (born 8 March 1944), and a son Wolf-Dietrich (born 20 August 1942).

Unlike Frank, Karola knew Czech. She was a rank-and-file member of the NSDAP, but was not involved in politics. Her brother was promoted as a clerk in the Reichsprotektor's office thanks to the influence of her husband. After the end of World War II, she was detained near Rokycany while fleeing in a convoy of cars along with her husband and her children. She was later moved to police headquarters on Bartolomejska Street in Prague, while the children stayed with a nanny. She spent several days on the fifth floor of the building on Bartolomejska Street. Here the Soviet military intelligence service showed interest in her. Before the end of May 1945, she was abducted and taken to a military airfield near Dresden. From there she was carried off to the Soviet Union in Moscow to the Lubyanka prison. She was sentenced to 12 years in prison in the Soviet Union. She spent a year in a prison in Lubyanka and the rest in a labor camp in Kazakhstan. Her fate in Soviet captivity is not entirely clear and she is the subject of investigation by historians. Probably in 1955, under the "Soviet-German Treaty on the Surrender of Prisoners of War", she was released and returned to Westphalia in West Germany, where she resumed her medical profession. She only learned of her husband's execution after her return to Germany. She also managed to find her children who were taken in by several German women in the Pilsen internment camp. The children were then transported to Germany and lived in families with new names. During a search that lasted four years, the three children were gradually found.[6]


  • 1 November 1938 SS-Mann
  • 4 November 1938 to March 1939 Deputy Gauleiter (Sudetengau)
  • 30 January 1939 SS-Brigadeführer with Rank Seniority (RDA) from 1 November 1938
  • 18 March 1939 State Secretary
  • 24 January 1940 SS-Gruppenführer with Rank Seniority (RDA) from 9 November 1939
  • 1 July 1942 Lieutenant General of the Police
  • 21 June 1943 SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Police
  • 20 August 1943 Minister of State
  • 20 June 1944 with effect from 1 July 1944 SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Police and General of the Waffen-SS

Awards and decorations


  • Bryant, Chad Carl, Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism, Harvard University Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-674-02451-9.
  • Miller, Michael, Leaders of the SS and German Police, vol. 1, James Bender Publishing, 2006, ISBN: 978-93-297-0037-2.
  • Williams, Max, Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography, vol. 2 - "Enigma", Ulric Publishing, Church Stretton, Shropshire, England, 2003, ISBN: 978-0-9537577-6-3.
  • Zentner, Christian, & Bedürftig, Friedemann, The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, Da Capo Press, New York, 1991/1997 reprint, ISBN: 978-0-3068079-3-0.


  1. Alexander The Great had punished Thebes by having that town ruthlessly razed to the ground and had sold the entire population into slavery.
  2. Deschner, Gunter, Heydrich, The Pursuit of Total Power, Orbis publishing, London, 1981, pps: 273, 277, ISBN:0-85613-295-0
  3. Deschner, 1981, p.273-4.
  4. Deschner, 1981, p.274-5.
  5. Acquitted at the Nuremberg show trials.
  6. Karola Blaschek / Karola Franková (Archive)