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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  October 4, 2021 12:30am-1:01am BST

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niklas frank, i'm wondering why you have chosen to make your life in the very far north of germany. is it because you wanted to get as far away as possible from your family background in bavaria? no. i still love bavaria. and every year, we spend many weeks in bavaria in the same village where i grew up. it was my professional journalist, which i worked for 23 years based in hamburg. so i had to lure my wife from munich because she was a big gardener to a house with a big garden, and it was a good idea, and so we live here for 33 years.
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this place where you now live is extraordinarily peaceful. yes, it is. would you say it has helped bring you some sort of peace of mind? no, no, i don't think. ——no, no, i don't think that it depends on the country and living in. it's in myself that i found peace because i acknowledged what my father has done. but i think the 1st and most important step, thinking of my father, thinking first about his victims, there is no german around who has not certain pictures of corpses in his mind, and those pictures always remind me of my father, what he did, and especially
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when i look at him, this leather coat of my father, it's a scarecrow. in germany, we call it... and this scarecrow, it's the most expensive one in germany, i would say, because i bought it from a soldier's heir who had stolen it. the coat you mean? the coat, yes. so one of the heirs gave me a call asking if i would be interested in this coat of my father, i said yes, and he wanted, she wanted $500, and i paid it. you mean this old military grade coat, this leather coat, is actually your father's old coat? yes. what i have to admit, since this scarecrow is standing here, i have got a stronger connection to my father, it's very strange. and always when i am
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sitting in our living room looking at him, being a scarecrow in the end, father, that's your fault. niklas, i want to hear more about your family history, dig deeper into your relationship with their father, but i also went to get out of this cold north german wind. good idea. why don't we head back into your home? okay, that's great. bye—bye, scarecrow. niklas frank, welcome to hard talk. thank you. do you feel that you have some sort of a duty to your country to speak about your past? i think so, yes. i think i have that duty because by chance, i was born in this family, and i could tell the people how to behave
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with parents like i had. when do you think you first began to feel that you must speak out as volubly, as publicly as possible about your father and about your feelings towards your father? it was a growing wish because of the silence in germany. the families, all the families of my friends, everybody was silent, and they didn't talk about the past. and this, i couldn't endure because i always wanted to know how 5 society behaves if it changes to a dictatorship, and i always had a feeling that
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germany is still prepared to do this, and so i looked closer toward families and friends and i found out there is still something in the german people which makes me fear them. fear, your own country and your own people? yes, i would say so. well, i want to pick up on that because that is a pretty remarkable thing to feel and to say, but before i get to your thoughts on the country, on germany, i do want to stay with the personal, because it seems to me in that period you are talking about after the end of the war and for decades afterwards, many families of senior top nazis still felt a sort
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of residual, vistigual loyalty to their kin, to their blood. did you never feel that? no. especially not from my father. it's slightly different with my mother, because i have experienced my mother as a really fighting mother for us. btt she was a nazi too? she wasn't a nazi. was she not? she was never a member of the nazi party, nor was she a nazi. she hated all of the screaming of her husband when he was delivering a speech. and she hated this kind of stuff, but she very much liked luxury. she found through the position because of her husband, she was very cold and inhuman women.
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in terms of your father, i want you to just look at this picture with me of your father in his nazi uniform. when you look at him, do you feel anger, rage, what do you feel? angerand rage, angerand rage. and the next thing was always, which for me, is always sticking to my father is what a coward you were, what a coward. and that feeling isn'tjust a memory feeling, it's something that's very alive. it's very alive, it's very alive. it is still as if he is sitting in your place. i despise him, really. he died, he was hung after the nuremberg trials when you were 7 years old.
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so i'm just wondering how strong your memories can be of him when you were in that castle, in krakoff, his headquarters, the headquarters of the nazi occupation force in poland, do you barely remember what it was like and what he was like? no. i didn't remember what kind of profession he had. i only knew poland was ours. and the castle was ours. and the other castle outside of krakoff was ours. the guards were our property. it was almost like you were a part of the rail family. yes, it was, it was. and this i enjoyed very much, like my mother. i enjoyed it. what about the truth of the unimaginable crimes
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and cruelty as a young boy growing up from the age, well, from being a baby to being 6 years old. did you have any awareness of what was happening? no. the only thing was when i accompanied my mother into the krakoff ghettos when she was shopping. it was one visit, maybe more, but i remember one visit there was a lot of people out. everybody was looking very sadly, and this was my only memory. but i didn't know where it was. later on, i talked to my nanny, my beloved hilda, and i told her the flashes of my memory, and she told me it was a krakoff ghetto, and we were together, and i remember her sitting beside me in the car.
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we now associate your father with the holocaust. he was instrumental in delivering millions ofjews and others to their deaths, and he seemed to be enthusiastic about it. was there any way that anybody else in your family could have known exactly what was happening? exactly knew it? his wife, my mother. your mother knew? she knew exactly. you have to imagine this marble castle in krakoff. it was really like the kingdom. everybody knows each other. yes? everybody talked to each other. they knew exactly what was going on in the death camps and what was going on day by day. you have said, i think, that you have no doubt that your father loved hitler, more than he loved his own family. yes, yes, that's for sure. and you use that word "love" advisedly.
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you really mean love. really love, really love. it was something of the homosexual kind of love. tell me about your last encounter with your father. he has course was tried at nuremberg as one of the top nazis to be held responsible for the genocide for the work nazis to be held responsible for the genocide for the war crimes, crimes against humanity, but before he was executed, you saw him one last time. yes. sitting on my mothers lap, it was a big room, on the other side, i remember i was going behind this window, with small holes to understand each other and i was sitting on my mothers lap, and knowing that will be my last visit to him and he smiled at me and laughed. do you have a picture of him at nuremberg? herejust during his...
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this is during the trial? during the trial, yes. so he smiled, what did he say to you? what was his last message to you? his last message to me was a big lie. i knew that he will be hanged and he told me, "hi, nikki," which was my nickname in the family. "hi nikki, we will soon celebrate christmas in our "house," and i was really thinking why is he lying? why is he lying? let's move forward and think about the impact of all of this on your family. you have siblings, two older sisters and i think two brothers. yes. could you — in the years that followed — talk to them, share feelings with them, actually have the same sort of understanding of what your father had done
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and what it meant to you as a family? i was living in a boarding school until i finished school. we were separated in different places, but whenever we came together after a short while, we where discussing our father. and then very slowly i found out that we had very different approaches to my father especially. and this separated me. because your sisters, what, they... ? three of my sisters defended my father, said he was an innocent victim of hitler and of justice and nuremberg. i would say it cost them their lives. they died very early. my next older sister called kitty, she already wrote in her diary when she was about 16 or 17 years old, i will not become older than our father,
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and she committed suicide when she was a6, the same age when my father was hanged. my next elder brother, michael, was a really great looking guy. very supportive, very funny guy, and he suddenly started to drink milk, litres a day, he got fatter and fatter and died, that's what follows when you get too fat. and he also defeneded. and he was alive when my book came out and he attacked me in public. it sort of destroyed your family. yes, for sure. what about forgiveness? there are many people who share your story ——there are many people who hear your story and the rage and the anger that you acknowledge you feel to this very day, and they say,
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there is something inhuman about it, because humanity is full of the deepest failings and flaws, and in the end, part of humanity is to find forgiveness. i am an in human being. i will never forget him. ——i will neverforgive him. looking around in europe and also the other countries of america and finding a lot of families my father has ruined, has killed part of the stanley's, ——has ruined, has killed part of those familes, i cannot forgive him. never. do you ever wonder whether you might have had a better, happier, more positive life if you had found a different way to deal with what is after all your father's terrible crime, not yours? yes, but this crime, you could say it was my father,
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but the crimes of belonging and demolishing societies and demolishing families and killing innocent children, this is what...it�*s the victims, it's not my father. my father did it and my father gave all of the signatures for death penalties, for all this kind of stuff. he was responsible by law, by the german lot, he was a deputy of hitler in poland, so every desk ——he was a deputy of hitler in poland, so every death camp he was responsible for. the true power was with hitler, that's for sure, but he was responsible. with you talking to me, when you ask me these questions, as he can see, maybe in the redness of my face, that i become furious again
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because it is so unbelievable and that she was engulfed, in which he did actively. but the red cheeks and the fury that you feel, are they not allowing your father to define you? define you, exactly. you are giving your father anotherform of enormous power. he weilded this terrible power over so many millions in poland, and still over you, i think he once called yourself a puppet on a string. yes. why haven't you cut those strings cut? don't allow your father, even in death, after so many years, to pull your strings. too many victims. let's not just talk about you, though, let's talk about germany. you introduced that topic earlier in this conversation, and i want to come back to it because it does seem to me that you feel, i think you used the word "fearful" of your own country and your own people today. 72 years after the liberation of auschwitz.
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you know my people not so as i know them. i don't trust them because nobody talked inside the families, the normal german family never really talked about what father and mothers or grandfathers have really seen. they are cowards who are actively involved in the system. they were silent, and this is like a swamp. a swamp that was never drained, so here and there in germany, you find nowadays and all the years i have lived until nowadays, we have found those poisioned flowers coming out, and suddenly there is a meadow full of posion. but that, when you say suddenly there is a meadow full of poisioned flowers, that is where i wonder whether that is fair.
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this interview is being found by three young german man, all in their �*20s and �*305. why should they have to bear any sense of guilt or shame or responsibility? no, no guilt, no shame, acknowledge, acknowledge really acknowledge. if you talk to these youngsters, really, inquire, you will find out a lot of uncertainty, of not really wanting to talk about it. nw, because they say why should we be taken on high school trips to bergen—belsen? why should we have to, as kids, be fed this sense of our collective responsibility? the responsibility, for me, it is a debt. you have to know your history. the history of your people.
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it hurts to admit, to say there was a time in germany where we left the family of people all around and we killed millions of innocent people in a system which was really a bad system to be against the system was to have a very brave character to do it. but this hurt, you can endure like i endure, and i still love germany. i love being world champion in football, for instance, really, i'm a nationalist. yes? and i also loved very much when when merkel said we would do it with the refugees, it was a good thing. but also, as he can see, especially with merkel and the refugees, everything
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changed because the silent majority, as if it were jews again, the swamp is coming. you really feel that? you feel so insecure about your germany today? yes. don't trust us. and especially i was very happy when the european community, yes, suddenly we were watched with countries all around germany, we have invaded some before, so what gave me a happy so what gave me a happy feeling, now england is leaving, poland is like a dictatorship, hungary, czechoslovakia, italy, now, who is the strongest left? the germans. yes, but the germans, as you painted, the germany today is a bore work of moderation, of tolerance compared to so many messages
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coming from hungary or from so many people in so many corners. as long as our economy is great, and as long as we make money, everything is very democratic. but let's wait, and hopefully not see, if we have five to ten years heavy economic problems and the swamp is a lake, it is a sea and will swallow again everything. i swear to you, stephen, really. i don't trust us. it always makes me... thinking and feeling exactly, "wait a minute, niklas, "it's something else, you can lead a happy life, "but there's something else around you, yeah, "that makes it, it hurts, but on the other hand,
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"it makes you stronger." i have really a happy life, ask my grandchildren. niklas frank, that is a nice way to end, but we must end. thank you... thank you. ..for being on hardtalk. thank you. hello. we're eyeing up another area of low pressure, another spell of wind and rain heading into parts of the uk overnight monday into tuesday. until then, it is showers, not quite as windy for monday. it will still be breezy out there, especially in wales and england. so, on this brisk flow of air coming in from the west,
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the showers mostly across western areas developing low pressure, though, to the southwest will bring that rain — later in the day — that next area of low pressure. starting numbers for monday, showers, some heavy, just running through southeast england and east anglia early on before they're clearing away. then many eastern areas will be largely dry for the rest of the day, just the odd hit and miss shower. a scattering of showers to the west, any where you catch a shower could be heavy, could be some hail mixed in and perhaps the rumble of thunder. and as for temperatures, we're topping out at around 13—17 celsius, some decent spells of sunshine around. rain gathering, though, to the southwest, that next area of low pressure pushing the rain into southwest england and wales. some of this will be heavy on monday evening. then it feeds across the rest of england, and then going into tuesday, it's a question ofjust how far north that rain is going to get. quite a chilly night, though, in scotland and northern ireland, where it stays clear with lighter winds on tuesday morning. so, something to play for in the detail of where this band of rain is going to come to a halt on tuesday,
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maybe affecting parts of northern england, but also toward southern and eastern scotland, so we will keep you updated on that. there will be showers elsewhere though much of northwest scotland and northern ireland will avoid the rain from this weather system, it will be a cool day on tuesday and near that rain, there's a chance of gales as well. the area of low pressure will slowly move away into the north sea as we go on into wednesday with high pressure building in behind. still breezy across eastern areas with early showers or some spells of rain slowly easing. lighter winds elsewhere with some sunshine around, clouding up again towards northern ireland and parts of scotland later in the day as outbreaks of rain move in on wednesday. now, later in the week, there's a change of weather pattern, if you like, low pressure. this is ex—hurricane sam in the northwest. a trailing weather front, though, will be sitting across parts of scotland and northern ireland thursday into friday with a chance of rain, whereas elsewhere, high pressure is building in. now, all parts will turn milder, but drierfor wales and england, quite a bit of cloud, though, and some
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mist and fog around.
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welcome to newsday on the bbc. i'm karishma vaswani. the secret wealth of dozens of world leaders has been exposed in one the files link russia and show the king ofjordan secretly spent more than $100 million building his property empire in the uk and a from it's bbc panorama, and a
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year—long joint investigation

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