The attacks on supposedly amateur Nazi hunter Mark Gould by the more “professional” class of Nazi hunters represented by Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center over ex-Nazi Bernhard Frank were placed in a new context today when it was reported that the Israeli Knesset may ask for the extradition of the 97-year old Frank from Germany. From Ynet:
Eighteen years after Israel held its last legal proceeding against a Nazi war criminal, the Knesset this week may demand the extradition of Bernhard Frank, the assistant of SS Commander Heinrich Himmler.
Frank is considered the highest ranking Nazi officer still alive.
Himmler’s assistant managed to conceal his involvement in the extermination of Jews during World War II for many years. Frank personally signed the Reich order allowing the first mass execution of European Jews.
Frank’s identity was recently revealed in Germany, due to the work of Jewish researcher Mark Gould.
Gould posed as a neo-Nazi sympathizer and managed to collect evidence and recordings against Frank.
Apparently Himmler’s assistant has been living in plain sight in Germany for decades. He even wrote a book about his escapades — the ones he wanted to describe anyway — until Gould got him to talk on camera.
But then the story changed. When Gould, after a fair amount of painstaking work, made his research public, Gould himself became the story and not Frank. Certain voices in the mainstream media like Michael Slackman in the New York Times and Mark Fisher in the Atlantic decided the Nazi hunter was an over-reaching self promoter and emphasized that in their reportage, paying scant attention to the real subject — Bernhard Frank and his activities. The title of Fisher’s article says it all: “Can Nazi-Hunting Go Too Far?” (I don’t know — can political correctness and cultural relativism go too far? Nah.)
One wonders currently what Slackman and Fisher think now that the Knesset seems to be taking this more seriously than they did. Not that that matters anyway. If Gould were the worst self-promoter in the world that would have nothing to do, in the end, with the depth of Bernhard Frank’s Nazism. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I met Gould once very briefly and didn’t find him to be exceptionally self-promoting. On the other hand, I have been guilty of occasional self-promotion myself, so who am I to say? Slackman and Fisher, however, being journalists, are of course better than that.)
Nevertheless, the nub of Slackman and Fisher and Zuroff’s (above) argument is that Frank may have signed these documents sending Jews and others to their deaths, but he didn’t really understand what they meant. Or he didn’t have sufficient authority to sign them by himself. Or something. These are assertions that are easy to make but almost impossible to prove about events that occurred seventy years ago. But it is clear that Frank understands now what it was all about. In all probability he knew plenty about it then. In fact, Frank was apparently given task of making sure all documents conformed with proper Nazi doctrine.
What makes these revelations even more interesting is that these secret documents were executed by Frank in 1941. That is before the infamous Wansee Conference of January 1942 when Reinhard Heydrich was first appointed to oversee “the final solution of the Jewish question.” Gould’s investigation could prompt further research into the true beginnings of this extraordinary crime.
According to reports received by Pajamas Media, Holocaust survivors were in attendance at the Knesset session when Bernhard Frank was discussed. There were tears in their eyes.
For PJ Institute video of Bernhard Frank by Mark Gould go here. And watch Pajamas Media for further developments from the Knesset and elsewhere.
UPDATE on this story at The PJ Tatler.