The trial was held in a commandeered building in the Bellevue Strasse, between the Wilhelmstrasse and the Tiergarten in the centre of Berlin.’ The People’s Court, over which Roland Freisler had presided since 1942, had been set up in 1934. Freisler had been a prisoner-ofwar in Russia during 1914–18 and is believed to have been a Communist in Kassel in 1918 before becoming a Nazi in 1925. He had been an under-secretary in the Ministry of Justice and is said to have regarded his appointment to the Court as a set-back to his career which he was determined to overcome by making a name for himself in the post! His methods of procedure were reputedly modelled on those used by Andrei Vishinski during the Russian purge trials of 1937–8. Accounts make it sound as though he had missed his vocation and would have won a considerable name for himself on the stage. He possessed the lawyer’s ability to master a brief but did not hesitate to combine the role of prosecutor with that of judge. Delp said of him, ‘Freisler is clever, nervous, vain and arrogant. He is performing all the time in such a way that the player opposite to him is forced into a position of inferiority…. All the questions were neatly prepared and woe betide you if the answers you gave were not what Freisler expected.’
KeywordsNational Socialist State Illegitimate Child Death Thinking High Treason Yesterday Evening
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