Frank was born in Karlsruhe and joined the German army in 1917. He served in the Freikorps and joined the German Labour Party in 1919, becoming a member of NSDAP proper in 1927. He studied law, passing the final state examination in 1926, and rose to become the personal legal advisor to Hitler. He was elected to the Reichstag in 1930 and in 1933 he was made Minister of Justice for Bavaria. He was also the head of the National Socialist Jurists Association and President of the Academy of German Law from 1933. Frank objected to extra-judicial killings, both at Dachau and during the Night of the Long Knives. From 1934 he was Reich Minister Without Portfolio.
|Hans Frank (right) hosts Heinrich Himmler during a visit to Krakow|
Frank oversaw the segregation of the Jews into ghettos (Jewish quarters) and the use of Polish civilians as "forced and compulsory" labour. In 1942 he lost his positions of authority outside of Poland after annoying Hitler with a series of speeches in Berlin, Vienna, Heidelberg, and Munich and also as part of a power struggle with Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, the State Secretary for Security - head of the SS and the police in Poland. But it was Kruger who was ultimately replaced, with Wilhelm Koppe. Frank later claimed that the extermination of Jews was entirely controlled by Heinrich Himmler and the SS and that he, Frank, was unaware of the extermination camps in Poland until early in 1944. During his time as Governor-General Frank submitted resignation requests to Hitler on fourteen occasions. Frank fled Poland in August 1944.
Frank was captured by American troops on May 4, 1945 near Berchtesgaden and was one of the defendants before the International Military Tribunal. During the trial he converted to Catholicism. Frank had surrendered over forty volumes of his diaries to the Tribunal and much evidence against him was gathered from them. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and on October 1, 1946 he was sentenced to death by hanging.