Roland Freisler

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Roland Freisler (30 October 1893–3 February 1945) was a prominent and notorious Nazi judge. He became State Secretary of Adolf Hitler's Reich Ministry of Justice and President of the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court), which was set up outside constitutional authority. This court handled political actions against Hitler's dictatorial regime by conducting a series of show trials.


Early life

In contrast to most of the Nazi leadership, not much beyond basic detail is known about Freisler. He was born in Celle, the son of an engineer, and saw active service during World War I. He was an officer cadet in 1914, and by 1915 he was a Lieutenant and was decorated before becoming a prisoner of war in the Russian Empire in October 1915.

While imprisoned in Russia, Freisler learned Russian, and after the Russian Revolution of 1917, he is said to have developed an interest in Marxism. The Bolsheviks made use of him as a commissar for the camp's food supplies.[1] Another author, H. W. Koch, states that after the Bolshevik Revolution, the prisoner camps in Russia were handed over to German administration, and the title of commissar was merely functional, not political.[2] It is also said, though it is not supported by any contemporaneous documents, that after the prisoner camps were dissolved in 1918, Freisler became a convinced Communist.[3] H. W. Koch rejects this assertion: "Freisler was never a Communist, though in the early days of his NS career [...] he belonged to the NSDAP's left wing".[4] Freisler himself rejected all accusations that he had even tentatively approached the hated enemy, but he could never fully escape the stigma of being a bolshie.[5]

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