Roland Freisler


Roland Freisler : biography

30 October 1893 – 3 February 1945

Contribution to the Nazification of the law

Freisler published an article on "Die rassebiologische Aufgabe bei der Neugestaltung des Jugendstrafrechts ("The racial-biological task involved in the reform of Juvenile Criminal Law").In Monatsschrift für Kriminalbiologie und Strafrechtsreform, 1939, p. 209. Freisler argued that "racially foreign, racially degenerate, racially incurable or seriously defective juveniles" should be sent to juvenile centres or correctional education centres and be segregated from those who are "German and racially valuable."Cited by Wayne Geerling, see below the Bibliography.

He strongly supported rigid laws against Rassenschande ("race defilement", the Nazi term for sexual relations between "Aryans" and "inferior races") as racial treason. In 1933, Freisler published a pamphlet that called for banning "mixed-blood" intercourse, regardless of the kind or proportion of "foreign blood" involved, which faced strong public criticism and, at the time, no support from Hitler. This led to conflict with his superior, Franz Gürtner.Koonz, Claudia. The Nazi Conscience, pp 173-174 ISBN 0-674-01172-4

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".Wayne Geerling, Id. 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.

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."

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. He 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.

While a prisoner of war in Russia, Freisler learned Russian. He is said to have developed an interest in Marxism after the Russian Revolution; the Bolsheviks made use of him as a commissar for the camp’s food supplies.Knopp, Guido. Hitler’s Hitmen, Sutton Publishing, 2000, pp. 216, 220–222, 228, 250. It is also said that after the prisoner camps were dissolved in 1918, Freisler became a convinced Communist, though this is not supported by any contemporaneous documents.Wesel, Uwe. "Drei Todesurteile pro Tag" (Three death sentences per day), Die Zeit, 3 February 2005. Uwe Wesel is professor emeritus of Legal History in Berlin’s Free University. However, historian H. W. Koch states that after the Bolshevik Revolution, the POW camps in Russia were handed over to German administration, and the title of commissar was merely functional, not political, and that "Freisler was never a Communist, though in the early days of his NS career […] he belonged to the NSDAP’s left wing."Koch, H. W. In the Name of the Volk: Political Justice in Hitler’s Germany, Barnes & Noble, New York, 1997, p. 29.

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. From 1924, he worked as a lawyer in Kassel. He was also elected a city councillor, as a member of the Völkisch-Sozialer Block (German, roughly "People’s Social Block"), an extreme nationalist splinter party.

In 1928, he married Marion Russegger. Together, they had two sons, Harald and Roland.