- Freisler, Roland
Jurist of proces, Hans and Sophie Scholl. Took part in the 1942 “Wannsee Conference”.
- 30-10-1893, Celle, Niedersachsen.
- 03-02-1945, bomb-attack on the court building, age 51, Berlin.
- Family grave of his wife, Marion Russegger in Berlin, Dahlem.
Roland Freisler, born 30-10-1893 in Celle, Niedersachsen, the son of an engineer, saw active service during World War I. He was an officer cadet in 1914, and by 1915 he was a Lieutenant and won the Iron Cross of both classes. In October 1915, after fighting and being wounded at the western front, he was captured by Russian troops, becoming a prisoner of war. While imprisoned in Russia, Freisler learned Russian, and after the Russian Revolution of 1917, he is said to have developed an interest in Marxism. 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. He returned to Germany in 1920 to study law at the University of Jena, becoming a Doctor of Law in 1922, In 1928, he married Marion Russegger on 28-03-1928 and had two sons, Harald and Roland. Marion died old age 86, on 21-01-1997, in Berlin, Dahlem. Even though the Nazis declared themselves arch-enemies of Marxism, Freisler joined the Nazi Party in July 1925. During this period, he served as defense counsel for members of the nascent Party who got into trouble with the law. He was also a delegate to the Prussian Landtag, or state legislature, and later he became a member of the Reichstag. In February 1933, Freisler was appointed department head in the Prussian Ministry of Justice. In October 1939, Freisler introduced the concept of 'precocious juvenile criminal' in the "Juvenile Felons Decree". This decree "provided the legal basis for imposing the death penalty and penitentiary terms on juveniles for the first time in German legal history". In the period 1933 through 1945, the courts sentenced at least 72 German juveniles to death, among them 16-year-old Helmuth Hübener, found guilty of high treason for distributing anti-war leaflets in 1942. one of the youngest opponents of the Third Reich to be sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof and executed. The "Decree against National Parasites", September 1939, introduced the term perpetrator type, which was used in combination with another Nazi term, parasite, The adoption of racial biological terminology portrayed juvenile criminality as parasitic, implying the need for harsher sentences. Freisler justified the new measures in the following manner: "In times of war, breach of loyalty and baseness cannot find any leniency and must be met with the full force of the law." Freisler represented the latter at the Wannsee Conference,
20-01-1942, where he with Reinhard Heydrich (see Heydrich) and Adolf Eichmann (see Eichmann) and Erich Neumann (see Neumann) stood in for Minister Franz Schlegelberger (see Schlegelberger), as regarding the detailed plans of the Final Solution, the murder of all European Jews. (see Wiesenthal). Freisler's mastery of legal texts, mental agility and overwhelming verbal force combined well with strict adherence to the party line and the corresponding ideology, so that he became the most feared judge and the personification of the Nazis' "blood justice". Despite his undisputed legal competence, he was never appointed to cabinet. Probably because of an attribute to two factors, firstly, Roland Freisler was regarded as a lone fighter and had no influential patron, secondly, he was compromised by his brother Oswald's actions. Oswald Freisler, though also a Nazi, appeared as the defense counsel in politically significant trials which the Nazis sought to use for propaganda purposes. Oswald even wore his Nazi Party badge in court, which confused the Party's role in these trials. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels accordingly reproved Roland Freisler and reported the incident to Hitler, who, for his part, decreed the immediate exclusion of Oswald Freisler from the party. Oswald committed suicide on 04-03-1939, age 43. Freisler's mastery of legal texts, mental agility and overwhelming verbal force combined well with strict adherence to the party line and the corresponding ideology, so that he became the most feared judge and the personification of the Nazis' "blood justice". Goebbels (see Joseph Goebbels) (did you know) was the only Nazi leader well disposed towards Freisler. At a round-table discussion in the Führer's headquarters, with also Franz Schlegelberger (see Schlegelberger) the Minister of Propaganda proposed his name for the post of Reich Justice Minister, Hitler's (see Adolf Hitler) (did you know) dismissive retort was: "That old Bolshevik? No! Freisler was known for humiliating defendants and shouting at them. He was known to be an admirer of Andrei Vyshinsky, the chief prosecutor of the Soviet purge trials, and reportedly copied his demeanor. The Great Purge was a series of repressive measures in the Soviet Union in the late 1930s and Vyshinsky died age 70, on 22-11-1954, in New York. A number of the trials for defendants in the 20 July Plot before the People's Court were filmed and recorded. In the 1944 trial against Ulrich Wilhelm Graf Schwerin von Schwanenfeld, for example. (see Schwerin- von Schwanenfeld). He also condemned the Scholl''s (see Hans and Sophie) brother and sister Sophie and Hans to death, they were killed on the quillotine in Munich.
Ronald Freisler was killed, at the age of 51, when on his way to the shelter he returned to the court building, as he forgot some papers. An almost direct hit on the building caused him to be struck down by a beam in his own courtroom in Berlin, on 03-02-1945. Freisler was always a very frustrated man because of Hitler's refusal to meet him personal, and all his gram and punishing, came over his victims. A foreign correspondent reported, "Apparently nobody regretted his death." Luise Jodl, then the wife of General Alfred Jodl (see Jodl), recounted more than 25 years later that she had been working at the Luetzow Hospital when Freisler's body was brought in, and that a worker commented, "It is God's verdict." According to Mrs. Jodl, "Not one person said a word in reply." Freisler is buried in the family grave of his wife Marion "Minnie" Russegger, on the cemetery of Dahlem in Berlin, but his name is not inscripted in the gravestone.