J. Duncan wrote: ↑
20 Dec 2008 21:24
From what I've read on the man and what i've seen of footage of the trials, I think Freisler is mentally unhinged.
He looks somewhat deranged to me in the photo above, like someone who has been on prozac for 20 years. Freisler was influenced by the Bolsheviks as a WWI POW and probably studied the Stalinist techniques of Andrei Vyshinsky.
I'm currently reading "Hitler's Executioner" by Helmut Ortner and that's certainly the impression he gives too. Freisler's behaviour in the courtroom, his written judgements and personal correspondence with colleagues all became more bizarre and erratic as the war progressed.
Yes, he was a "show man" who played to the gallery and who enjoyed verbal sparring with lawyers and defendants.
But some of his statements and the way he conducted himself in court were truly embarrassing to the Nazi leadership.
Goebbels and Bormann complained about his conduct during the 20 July hearings and there were frequent concerns raised with the Reich Minister of Justice, Otto Thierack, who believed Freisler was completely unsuitable for the role.
According to Ortner, his decisions were often inconsistent. Freisler would occasionally charm defendants and act friendly towards them. Some of those on serious charges were either acquitted on a whim or else given lenient sentences.
Whilst others convicted of relatively minor offences were given unduly harsh death sentences.
These inconsistent judgements also drew criticism from many senior figures and led to more complaints landing on Thierack's desk.
He was tolerated. Obviously, after Stalingrad, punishments became more severe and his erratic behaviour seems to get worse from then onwards. Perhaps he embraced his job with a little too much zeal?
It's an excellent book by the way. No photographs and the final chapter about the circumstances of his death is disappointing. The sole few paragraphs are lazily copied from an article in Der Spiegel. No attempts at original research whatsoever so far as I can see.
There's a wealth of translated letters, documents, judgements and court transcripts though which make this book enjoyable though.
For sure, Freisler was a complicated person who seems to have had a Jekyll and Hyde personality.