American comes face to face with Nazi who signed family death warrant
THE WORLD’S leading Nazi hunter has described as “sheer nonsense” the attempt by an American man to sue a former assistant of SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
Mark Gould (43) went under-cover in Germany’s neo-Nazi scene to meet and befriend Bernhard Frank, a 97-year-old former SS lieutenant colonel in Himmler’s office.
Mr Gould accuses Mr Frank of responsibility for the murder of countless Jews in the Holocaust, including some of his relatives. He claims Mr Frank’s signature can be found on an order from Himmler from July 28th, 1941, for the mass execution of Jews on the Polish-Ukrainian border.
The order contains the sentence “if the population is of lesser racial or human value . . . then all are to be shot” – something Mr Gould suggests is the first written proof of the looming genocide.
He has filed a civil suit against Mr Frank in Washington, claiming he was responsible under the 1941 order for the resulting attack on Ukrainian village Korets in which members of his family perished.
Talking to Bild tabloid yesterday about his undercover investigation, Mr Gould said he spent four years pretending to be a wealthy neo-Nazi from the US.
He filmed many lengthy interviews with Mr Frank, in one of which, in halting English, he can be heard saying: “With Himmler I had a very good relationship, he loved me, and I can only say he was a good man.”
Eventually Mr Gould confronted the elderly man, telling him he was his enemy. “My enemy, why?” asked Mr Frank.
“Because you killed my family,” replied Mr Gould.
The work of Mr Gould has its defenders, including Stephen Smith, founder of Britain’s Holocaust Centre, but others have questioned his self-styled crusade.
Mr Gould, a former trader of Nazi memorabilia, is not Jewish; the family that perished may have been relations of the Jewish man his mother later married.
Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem suggests Mr Gould is a self-promoter, pointing to a pending book and film deal. He describes Mr Frank as a “glorified proof-reader” in Himmler’s office and describes his continued belief in Nazi ideology as irrelevant for a prosecution.
The 97-year-old man lives in Frankfurt, he has never hidden from view, is known to German prosecutors and even published his autobiography five years ago.
“Gould is claiming Bernhard Frank is the guy who started the Holocaust, which is sheer nonsense,” said Mr Zuroff.