Wilhelm Frick was a devoted bureaucrat in the Nazi
Party prior to and during World War II
who was responsible for crafting the Nuremberg Laws
, which were the policies of racial and religious discrimination that would form the basis for the Nazi Party's rationalization of die Endlösung: The Final Solution
"As far as the charge against me is concerned I have a clear conscience."
Wilhelm Frick at the Nuremberg Trials, 1946
Wilhelm Frick was born on March 12, 1877 in Germany. From 1896 until 1901, he studied to be a lawyer in Munich, Goettingen, and Berlin; he finally graduated in 1901 in Heidelberg. He became a police officer in Munich and joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party and was involved in the Beer Hall Putsch. Due to this, he was tried and imprisoned along with Adolf Hitler. In 1924, he was elected to the Reichstag, one of the central governing bodies of the state, where he continued to associate with members of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. He also became involved with its more radical members who were led by Gregor Strasser. According to the Program of the National Socialist German Workers' Party:
"Only those who are our fellow countrymen can become citizens. Only those who have German blood, regardless of creed, can be our countrymen Hence no Jew can be a countrymen."1
Frick's involvment with this party early on would become central to the roles he played during the war; it was where he met Adolf Hitler, who was the party's leader by 1921, and was where he become so thoroughly tied to his ideals. Some sources indicate that Frick was involved with the party as early as 1920, and may have associated with Hitler since 1919.2
After his election to the Reichstag, Frick became the first member of the Nazi party to hold a high office when he was appointed as Minister of the Interior in the state of Thuringia. In 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor, Frick became responsible for the operation of the Enabling Act, which allowed the government the unlimited power to pass whatever legislation it wanted for a limited time. After Frick's appointment as the Minister of the Interior, he also wrote the Nuremberg Laws, which signaled the beginning of the persecution of the Jewish people of Germany.
The purpose of the Nuremberg Laws, according to Frick, was to outline what regulations would exist in order for a person to be a citizen of the Third Reich, and it also attempted to put some sorts of restrictions in place in order to maintain the "purity" of German blood. He began to become involved in a power struggle with Heinrich Himmler and the Schutzstaffel, and he lost his post as Minister of the Interior in 1943. Afterward, Hitler appointed him as the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, which he held until the end of the war.
At the Nuremberg Trials, Wilhelm Frick was accused and convicted on three counts. In his defense, he used Hitler as a scapegoat, as many of his fellow defendents. He said in his defense:
"Hitler didn't want to do things my way. I wanted things done legally. After all, I am a lawyer ... the mass murders were certainly not thought of as a consequence of the Nuremberg Laws, [though] it may have turned out that way."3
At the trials, there were four possible crimes that the defendents could be indicted with: Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, which included any premeditated plans to commit acts of war; Waging Aggressive War, which included all actions of war violating major treaties; War Crimes, including the poor treatment of prisoners, the use of slave labor, and the use of outlawed weapons; and Crimes Against Humanity, including all actions involving the creation and sanction of concentration camps and the murders that took place therein. Frick was found guilty on all counts save Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War, for which there was a lack of evidence. He was hanged on October 1, 1946.