The Gustloff Assassination

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


David Frankfurter (1909 - 1983)


     In 1936, David Frankfurter visited the home of Wilhelm Gustloff, where Mrs. Gustloff showed him into the study of Wilhelm and asked him to wait until Wilhelm was finished telephoning in another room. When Wilhelm entered the study, Frankfurter told Gustloff that he was a Jew. He then shot Gustloff five times and killed him in his own home. 

     This occurred in Davos, Switzerland, not far from Bern. Bern is the capital of that country and is located in the German speaking part of Switzerland. French and/or Italian are spoken in other parts.

      Frankfurter was born in Croatia, the son of a rabbi. In 1931, Frankfurter moved to Germany to study dentistry, first in Leipzig and later in Frankfurt (a.M. on the Main River). There is another Frankfurt in Germany located at the Oder River.

      After all Jews were expelled from German universities in 1934, Frankfurter continued his studies in Switzerland, where he discovered that the German Nazi Wilhelm Gustloff was organizing a Swiss Nazi party and that Gustloff had published The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian forgery and anti-Jewish hate book.

     Directly after Frankfurter killed Gustloff, he called the police himself and was subsequently sentenced to 18 years in prison. In 1945, Frankfurter was given a pardon and released from prison, having served nine years. He then moved to Israel, where he became an officer in the Israeli army and an employee of the department of defense. He stayed in Israel until his death in 1983.

     The killing of Gustloff was used by the Germans to claim that “the Jews” were attacking all Germans, who now needed to defend Germany against a Jewish conspiracy. The Nazi hierarchy sought to revenge themselves by attacking all German Jews. However, Hitler would not allow retaliation against the German Jews because the Olympic Games were taking place in Berlin that year and Hitler feared that public attacks against the Jews would lead to a boycott of the games.

     However, Gustloff was made into a Nazi martyr. He was given an elaborate funeral attended by all the Nazi “big wigs.” In addition, a German troop ship was named after him. That ship was docked in the harbor of Danzig on the Baltic Sea in 1945 when the Russian army was advancing upon that city. Anxious to escape from Russian retaliation for the crimes the Germans had committed in Russia just a few months earlier, ten thousand Germans crowded into the Gustloff for a trip across the Baltic Sea to Kiel. Kiel is on the west side of the Baltic and was at that time still in German hands.

     Shortly after the “Gustloff” left the port of Danzig, a Russian submarine operating in the Baltic Sea spotted the “Gustloff.” Its captain, Marinesko, ordered three torpedoes to be fired at the German ship. The ship was torn apart and sank. Nine thousand passengers died, as only 1,230 were able to use the life boats.

     A number of books and one movie have been made to commemorate the Gustloff disaster. The Germans, unwilling to this day to admit their barbaric murder of six million Jews, find it convenient to make the murder of Wilhelm Gustloff and the sinking of the “Gustloff” great tragedies in their history. Yet, a recent survey of German attitudes towards the slaughter of millions of innocent victims reveals that only 30% of Germans find it necessary to admit to these cruelties. The vast majority remember only the Gustloff disaster, which they brought on by all the crimes they committed in the name of racial purity, Aryan superiority, and arrogance.

     One outcome of this episode is that a minor Nazi agitator has become part of German history. This is not unknown. For example, John Harvard, an English clergyman, left a few books in his will to Boston College, which then changed its name to Harvard College, although John Harvard had visited only briefly one time.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Assassination, Anarchy, & Terrorism (2012).

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