Dr. Hans Hermann Frensing

John Tschinkel
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Dr. Hans Hermann Frensing

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Beitrag von John Tschinkel » Di 2. Jun 2015, 17:52

Dr. Frensing, the author of “Die Umsiedlung der Gottscheer Deutschen; das Ende einer südostdeutschen Volksgruppe“ (The Resettlement of the Gottscheer Germans; the End of a South-East German Ethnic Group), died in Berlin on October 2014. He was 80 years old.

Hans Hermann Frensing grew up in Westphalia and studied at the Free University of Berlin where he became a professor of German history and from which he received a doctorate in 1969. In 1972 he became Director of the Widukind Gymnasium in Enger from which he retired in 1997.

His studies toward the doctorate consisted of research on ethnic Germans ingathered as part of the “Home to the Reich” program of the Third Reich. This included the Gottschee Germans who until 1941 lived in the southeastern part of present day Slovenia for over 600 years. His Dissertation on this group was published by Verlag R. Oldenburg of Munich in 1970. The publication of the book was sponsored by the Südostdeutsche Historische Kommission in Tübingen.

The book describes how the Gottschee Germans came under the spell of National Socialism during the 1930’s. It shows how they were manipulated and coerced by their young leadership in 1941 to leave their homes and lands for an unknown place in the Reich. These young leaders, all surrogates of Nazi Germany, however knew that the destination was not the Reich, but a part of Slovenia annexed by the Reich in 1941 from which the Slovene residents were driven out. These leaders withheld this information from their people, fearing that if they were told the destination they would refuse to resettle. In the end, the coercion was successful and 12,093 persons, or 99.97% of the population opted for resettlement. Simultaneously, all agreed to be sworn in as citizens of the Third Reich and the leadership was promised high level positions after the resettlement.

Frensing clearly itemizes the events leading up to the resettlement and describes the disillusionment of the “Optants” when the destination finally became known. Many of them decided to change their mind which caused the SS-Resettling Authority to intervene and rescue the success of the “Home to the Reich” program. The SS blamed the young leadership for not enforcing discipline and dismissed all of them from leading roles. They had delivered the Gottscheer, and further efforts on behalf of this objective of the Reich were no longer required. With this ‘The betrayers of the Gottschee people had become the betrayed’.

Frensing came to my attention in the 1980’s while reading the Gottscheer Zeitung which made occasional references to him. Having lived through the resettlement period myself, I began to realize that our history, as presented by the Zeitung, was being falsified. Eager to obtain the complete facts, I started to search for the Frensing book and located two at the Gedenkstätte in Graz, Austria. Its Chairman Karl Schemitsch kindly let me have one.

The book not only supported my recollections, but it enlarged upon them by providing many of the unknown details about the resettlement. This convinced me to translate the book into English. Mainly to make the non-German readers aware of the details that caused the end of the Gottscheer.
My quest to obtain the translation rights brought me into contact with Dr. Frensing who invited me to his home in Spenge, Westphalia. There, he willingly gave me the desired rights.

He also gave me all his research materials, including all issues of the 1941 Gottscheer Zeitung. He also told me of the efforts of the exiled former Gottscheer leadership to prevent the publication of his book. One such attempt came directly from the son of Wilhelm Lampeter, the head of the Gottscheer leadership 1938-1941, claiming that the information would damage his father’s career as a Professor at the Karl-Marx-Universität in Communist East Germany. (No such damage did occur and Lampeter retired with honors in 1981).

Frensing also mentioned that he had become aware that the Gottscheer Landsmannschaften in Germany and Austria had tried to buy up all the published copies of his book. The perceived reason was to prevent the facts of the resettlement and the role of the Gottscheer Nazi leadership to become widely known. As a result, the limited volume of the printing quickly sold out.

During my stay with Dr. Frensing, Hans Hermann and I became personal friends and remained such until his death.

On the way back to the USA, I stopped in Tübingen to talk to Dr. H. Fassel, Director of the Südostdeutsche Historische Kommission. Dr. Fassel had already, in writing, given me the translation right on behalf of the Kommission. While there, Dr. Fassel told me that the wife of Richard Lackner, formerly Lampeter’s right hand, had phoned to say that her husband was on his way there to prevent the Kommission from giving me the translation rights. Since this had already been done, she in turn, contacted her husband who interrupted his travel and returned home. After that, in a letter to Frensing, Lackner labelled the book as “Falschmünzerei” (falsified coinage) for which Frensing threatened him with a lawsuit. (Years later Lampeter used similar words regarding Frensing’s book).

It is obvious that Frensing’s book was a threat to the former Gottscheer leadership and their adherents who had become imbedded in exiled associations. And they, again, spared no effort to prevent my translation into English. The reasons for this I will describe in the Post Script below.

With the agreement of Hans Hermann, I postponed the translation since I decided to tell the history of the Gottscheer and their resettlement -- my way --. Tell it as a “Zeitzeuge”, as one who has lived through it all. Frensing, knowing that I would honor his impartiality, fully supported me in this decision and his research and knowledge were of immense help when I began to publicize his findings. For this, I have been vilified as a renegade, turncoat and traitor by those who feel threatened. Frensing was also very helpful when I was writing “The Bells Ring No More”. It has now been published in both English and Slovene.

The Frensing translation, however, is still a work in progress. It will eventually be published for those who are interested. And the totally unbiased document, written by an honorable German historian, will remain so.
PS. -- Dr. Horst Fassel, Chairman of the Südostdeutsche Historische Kommission, in a letter dated September 4, 1999, commented on the continued domination of the exiled by the former Gottschee leadership: “Es ist wie es in den meisten Landsmannschaften nach 1949 in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland geschah: man hat die alten Positionen lange aufrecht erhalten. So lange die Generation der Handlungsträger vor 1945 noch am Leben waren“.
(It is similar to what occurred in most ethnic organizations in the Federal Republic of Germany after 1949; the old positions were kept upright for a long time. As long as the generation of the responsible before 1945 were still alive.”)

That this was the case with the Gottscheer ”old positions’” who assembled in Landsmannschaften in Austria, Germany, Canada and the USA was plainly obvious. There was, however, a significant difference between the Gottscheer and other German minorities who supported the invader and who were, (unfairly, as they argued) expelled for doing so.

The Gottscheer, like the other minorities, had also actively supported the National-Socialists. But, in addition, they swore allegiance to Adolf Hitler, accepted citizenship of the Third Reich, agreed to give up their homes and lands and move to another part of ethnically cleansed Slovenia in 1941/42. Frensing details all this in his book.

Frensing describes how the youthful Gottscheer leaders and their adherents, “persuaded” their people into all of the above, in spite great opposition from their elders, the clergy and others who believed that giving up their heritage in the middle of a war was sheer folly. But the young leaders, all trained in the Reich and taking orders from their SS superiors, managed to turn “Love of the land into love for the Führer”. So writes Frensing.

After their resettlement in 1941 and expulsion in 1945, the exiled Gottscheer realized the folly of having believed the Sirens song. In Ridgewood they met in a park that became known as the “Yökapark” (Crypark) where they came to cry about their having been fooled. They also gathered in existing Associations where they discussed their involvement without fear of being overheard.

And when in 1955, the newly formed Gottscheer Zeitung started telling them it was all due Slovene hatred, they felt relieved and the Mantra “Blame the Slovene” was willingly accepted since it freed them from blaming themselves.

Sadly, they did not know that the Zeitung was again being edited by those who had convinced them to resettle to begin with. And that their Associations were now under the control by the same former leaders and their adherents who demanded and got their support.

As Dr. Fassel said: “the old positions were kept upright; as long as the generation of the responsible before 1945 were still alive”. No wonder, therefore, that these “old Positions” and their adherents tried so hard to suppress the Frensing book. In any language. Fortunately they are no longer able to do this.

To counteract the Frensing revelations, the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gottscheer Landsmannschaften” or the AG (Umbrella organization of Gottscheer Associations), commissioned Dr. Erich Petschauer in 1971 to write a comprehensive book with the title “Das Jahrhundertbuch; Gottschee and its People through the Centuries”. In this effort, Petschauer a Gottscheer who lived in Bavaria, had Richard Lackner advising him on the period 1933 - 1941. (Lackner was Lampeter’s former right hand man and leader of the Gottscheer youth during that period. He became Chairman of all Gottscheer Associations in Germany after June 1968. He was also elected "Honorary Member" of the AG in which the GHGA is a member organization.)

The main intent of Petschauer’s book was to solidify a “Mantra” that removed any blame from the former leadership. While he tries hard to justify the role of this leadership and hide their connections to the Nazis, he hides the zest with which they carried out their assignment. As often heard: “They were only following Hitler’s orders”. And any blame for the tragedy can only be attributed to Hitler and the Slovene.

Petschauer even claims that the leaders had not been informed about where the Gottscheer were going. (See page 124). This is a lie. It is clearly disproven by Frensing and other historians.

Otherwise, the historical part up to the 20th Century clearly comes from the “Kočevski Zbornik”, published in Ljubljana in 1939. However Petschauer lists, as a references, neither this Slovene anthology nor Richard Lackner as his advisor in the Appendix. Petschauer’s book can therefore not be considered a serious historical document. However, it served the purpose of the unrepentant who found it imperative to hide their deeds and provide false comfort to their victims.

Both the Frensing and Petschauer books are available on http://www.gottschee.de
John Tschinkel