In the Shadow of the Reich

by Niklas Frank. Knopf, $23.00. Mr. Frank is the son of Hans Frank, Hitler’s governorgeneral in Poland, who was hanged for war crimes at Nuremburg. Mr. Frank’s letter to his father is an outpouring of hatred and contempt so violent that one is tempted to label it pathological, for quotations from actual documents and diaries are interspersed with obscene and sadistic fantasies and speculations. Frank senior was a good Nazi—a murderer, a party sycophant, a liar, a hypocrite, a pious blabbermouth, a bisexual lecher, and a thief of everything from Gobelin tapestries to 200,000 pickled eggs. He also perpetrated bad verse, but that can hardly be blamed on the Nazis. Detestation of his father is not the whole motive for Mr. Frank’s savage excoriation. He believes that the qualities that made Frank senior and the rest of the Nazi brutes what they were remain under the surface of modern Germany—that is, “an ancient, inbred, eternally recurring pleasure in imprisoning, torturing, and killing people.” That perception frightens him. His eloquent and often sickening diatribe is an attempt to give a general warning as well as to exorcise his terrible ghosts.