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The memoirs of Wolfe Frank, which lay hidden in an attic for twenty-five years, are a unique and highly moving behind-the-scenes account of all that happened at Nuremberg – ‘the greatest trial in history’ – as seen through the eyes of a witness to the entire proceedings. They include important historical information never previously revealed. In an extraordinarily explicit life story, Frank includes his personal encounters, inside and outside the courtroom, with Goering, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Ley, Speer, Hess, et al. This book therefore is a unique record that adds substantially to what is already publicly known about the trials and the defendants.
Involved in proceedings from day one and used more than any other interpreter, Frank translated the first piece of evidence and concluded the trials by announcing the sentences to the defendants (and several hundred million radio listeners). This earned him the soubriquet ‘Voice of Doom’.
As an interrogator, he drew many confessions out of the war criminals including Otto Ohlendorf’s admission to ‘humanely’ killing 90,000 Jews with his mobile gas chambers.
Prior to the war, Frank, a man of Jewish descent, was a Bavarian playboy who, for over three years, managed to avoid giving the Nazi salute, even on the many occasions he was in Hitler’s presence. He was also an engineer, a resistance worker, a smuggler (of money and Jews out of Germany) and he was declared to be ‘an enemy of the State to be shot on sight’. Having escaped to Britain and been interned at the outbreak of war he successfully campaigned for his release and to be allowed to enlist in the British Army – in which he rose to the rank of Captain. Unable to speak English prior to his arrival, by the time of the Nuremberg trials he was described as being the ‘finest interpreter in the world’.
A unique character of extreme contrasts Frank was a maverick, a sybarite, a womaniser, a risk taker and an opportunist. He was also a highly intelligent man of immense courage, charm, good manners, integrity and ability. He undertook the toughest assignment imaginable at Nuremberg and he played a major role in ‘materially shortening the enormously difficult procedures by an estimated three years’.
Nuremberg’s Voice of Doom is a story of two interwoven themes: one of love, adventure and excitement; the other of a former German citizen’s fight for the right to become a British soldier and his extraordinary commitment to service, duty and justice. Whilst this book is therefore an important military record that will appeal to those interested in the history of World War II and the rise and fall of the Nazi Party, as well as being a definitive account of all that happened at Nuremberg, it is also an enthralling human-interest story that will intrigue and fascinate a much wider audience.
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