Josef Bühler (middle) in May 1941
|Born||16 February 1904
Bad Waldsee, German Empire
|Died||22 August 1948
Cause of death
|Occupation||Nazi legal officer|
|Death by hanging|
|Conviction(s)||Crimes against humanity.|
|Governor General Hans Frank's Representative To
The Wannsee Conference
20 January 1942 – 6 March 1942
(Conference Held Two Meetings)
Bühler was born in Bad Waldsee into a Catholic family of 12 children, his father being a baker. After obtaining his degree in law he would come to work under Hans Frank, a legal advisor to Adolf Hitler and NSDAP, and a member of the Reichstag.
Hans Frank was appointed Minister of Justice for Bavaria in 1933. Bühler became a member of NSDAP on 1 April 1933, according to his own testimony at the Nuremberg Trials, and was appointed administrator of the Court of Munich. In 1935 he became district chief attorney.
In 1938 Hans Frank, now Reich Minister without portfolio, put him in charge of his cabinet office. After the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in September 1939, Frank was appointed Governor-General for the occupied Polish territories and Bühler accompanied him to Kraków to take up the post of State Secretary of the General Government, also serving as Frank's deputy. He was given the honorary rank of SS-Brigadeführer by SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler around this time.
Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution
Bühler attended the Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942 as the representative from the Governor-General's office. During this conference – which discussed the imposition of the 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question in the German Sphere of Influence in Europe' – Bühler stated to the other conference attendees the importance of solving 'the Jewish Question in the General Government as quickly as possible'.
After the war, Bühler testified on Frank's behalf at the Nuremberg Trials. He was later extradited to Poland and tried before the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland for crimes against humanity, sentenced to death and the forfeiture of all property on 10 July 1948, and executed in Kraków. His death was announced 22 August by Polish authorities and noted in the New York Times the following day.
In popular media
Bühler played a major part in the 1992 alternate history novel Fatherland, written by Robert Harris. In Fatherland's alternate history, Nazi Germany continued to fight the Soviet Union well into the 1960s and had hopes of building an alliance with the United States. In this fiction, Bühler continued to serve in the General Government until 1951, when he was wounded by Polish resistance and was forced to retire. Bühler's main role in Fatherland is that he was murdered by the Gestapo during April 1964 in an attempt to cover all traces of the Final Solution, which he, Bühler helped to instigate. The discovery of Bühler's corpse in the Havel at the beginning of the novel sparks the investigation by the protagonist Xavier March a major in the now peace-time SS police force. It is this investigation that leads to the discovery of the "final solution".
- Minutes of the Conference discovered in participant Martin Luther's files after the war
- Short biography, House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial Site
- Transcript, Bühler's testimony at the Nuremberg Trials, IMT Proceedings vol. 12, pp. 64–113
- Summary, the trial against Bühler, Law Report, United Nations War Crimes Commission, 1949
- Videoclip, Part I, Bühler testifying at the Nuremberg Trials (in German)
- Videoclip, Part II, Bühler testifying at the Nuremberg Trials (in German)