Wednesday, June 05, 2019
The Undercover Nazi Hunter
This remarkable book by Wolfe Frank, chief interpreter at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, has two main characters that both deserve more attention: Wolfe Frank himself and the SS general that was supposed to lead the British section of the Waffen-SS.
Thanks to the editor of The Undercover Nazi Hunter, Paul Hooley, a vivid and often surprising picture of Wolfe Frank emerges. He became "the Voice of Doom" which Hermann Göring and other top Nazi leaders heard when they learned their sentences at Nuremberg. But Frank was so much more than an extremely talented interpreter. His path to Nuremberg, from playboy to German refugee to British Army volunteer, is one of those most incredible but true stories of WWII. The amount of work that the editor has invested in researching Frank´s whole career is impressive and the result is also a vast painting of post-war Germany with many insights.
A large part of the book, almost a hundred pages, deals with the testimony of SS General Waldemar Wappenhans. This amount of pages is warranted. Wappenhans was told by SS leader Heinrich Himmler that he was to take charge of the "British Legion" within the Waffen-SS. In other words the British Free Corps of the Waffen-SS originally known as the Legion of Saint George. Now, very little became of those ideas, but this book does provides some amazing pieces of the fantasy world of Himmler. The main value of the book´s large section about Wappenhans lies in something else - he managed to serve both in the German army, Luftwaffe and SS. His pilot experiences from 1918, flying against Lawrence of Arabia, are sure to interest WWI researchers and buffs. His account of fighting Soviet partisans is another highly interesting passage, although it quite surely lacks several darker aspects of these actions. While the chapters about Wolfe Frank were in some cases too long, the parts about Waldemar Wappenhans could have been longer.