The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. The majority of the Viennese Jews, witness, were - as you
yourself know - deported from Vienna. In 1940, when you were
Gauleiter in Vienna, or later on, did you ever receive a
directive from Hitler to the effect that you yourself should
carry out this deportation of the Jews from Vienna, or that
you should participate in the deportation?

A. I never received any such directive. The only directive
which I received in connection with the deportation of the
Jewish population from Vienna was a question from Hitler
asking about the number of Jews living in Vienna at the
time. That number, which I had forgotten, was recalled to my
memory by a document put to me by the prosecution. According
to that document, I reported to Hitler that 60,000 Jews were
then living in Vienna. That figure probably comes from the
Registration Office. In former times, about 190,000 Jews,
all told, lived in Vienna. That, I believe, was the highest
figure reached. When I came to Vienna, there were still
60,000 Jews left. The deportation of the Jews was a measure
carried out directly on orders from Hitler by the RSHA
(Reich Security Main Office) or Himmler, and there also
existed in Vienna an office of the RSHA, or a foreign branch
office under Himmler-Heydrich, which carried out these

Q. Who was in charge of that office?

A. The head of that office was - that I found out now, I did
not know it at the time - a man by the name of Brunner.

Q. An SS Sturmfuehrer?

A. An SS Sturmfuehrer, Dr. Brunner.

Q. The one, who, a few days ago, is supposed to have been
condemned to death? Did you know that?

                                                  [Page 365]

A. I heard it yesterday.

Q. Did you ever issue any orders to this Brunner who was an
SS leader, or any kind of instructions?

A. It was entirely impossible for me to stop the deportation
of the Jews, or to have any influence thereon. Once, as
early as 1940, I told the chief of my local food supply
department that he should see to it that departing Jewish
people should be provided with sufficient food. Frequently,
when Jews wrote to me requesting to be exempted from
deportation, I charged my adjutant, or some assistant, to
intervene with Brunner, so that possibly an exception might
be made for these persons. More I could not do. But I have
to admit frankly, here and now, that I was of the opinion
that this deportation was really in the interests of Jewry,
for the reasons which I have already stated in connection
with the events of 1938.

Q. Did the SS, which in Vienna, too, was charged with the
evacuation of the Jews, send continuous reports as to how
and to what extent this evacuation of the Jews was carried

A. No. I am, therefore, also not in a position to state how
long the deportation of the Jews took and whether the entire
60,000 were dragged out of Vienna, or if only one part of
them was carried off.

Q. Did not the newspapers in Vienna report anything at all
about these deportations of the Jews, about the extent of
the deportations, and the abuses taking place in this

A. No.

Q. Nothing? But, witness, I must put a document to you which
has been submitted by the prosecution. It is Document
3048-PS, an excerpt from the Viennese edition of the
Volkischer Beobachter, on a speech which you, witness, made
on 15th September, 1942, in Vienna, and in which the
sentence occurs (I quote from the newspaper):

  "Every Jew who works in Europe is a danger to European
  culture. If I were to be accused of having deported tens
  of thousands of Jews from this city, once the European
  metropolis of Jewry, to the Eastern ghetto, I would have
  to reply, 'I see in that an active contribution to
  European culture.'"

Thus runs the quotation from your speech, which otherwise
contains no anti-Semitic declarations on your part.
Considering your previous statements, witness, I am
compelled to ask you: Did you make that speech, and how did
you come to make it, despite your basic attitude which you
have previously described to us?

A. First, I want to say that I did make that speech. The
quotation is correct. I said that. I must stand by what I
have said. Although the plan of the deportation of the Jews
was Hitler's plan, and I was not charged with its execution,
I did utter those words, which I now sincerely regret, but I
must say that I identified myself morally with that action
only out of a feeling of misplaced loyalty to the Fuehrer
That I have done and that I can no longer undo. If I am to
explain how I came to do this, I can only reply that at that
time, I was already "between the Devil and the deep sea." I
believe it will become clear from my later statements, that
from a certain moment on, I had Hitler against me, the Party
Chancellery against me, and very many members of the Party
itself against me. Constantly I heard from officials of the
Party Chancellery, who told it to the Gauleiter of Vienna,
and from statements made in Hitler's entourage that one was
under the impression - and that this could be clearly
recognized from my attitude and my actions - that I was no
longer expressing myself publicly in the usual anti-Semitic
manner, or in other ways, either; and I just have no excuse
at all. But it may, perhaps serve as an explanation, that I
was trying to extricate myself from this painful situation
by speaking in a manner which I can no longer justify to

Q. Witness, I should like to ask you, in this connection -
you have just spoken of the painful situation in which you
found yourself in Vienna. Is it true that Hitler himself, on
various occasions, reproached you personally and severely on
the grounds that your attitude in Vienna had not been
sufficiently energetic, that

                                                  [Page 366]

you had become too slack and too complaisant, and demanded
that you should concern yourself more with the interests of
the Party, and that you should adopt far stricter methods?
And what, witness, did you then do?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, I assume that you realize that
you are putting questions in the most leading form, that you
are putting questions which suggest the answer to the
defendant, and such questions cannot possibly carry the
answers to such questions cannot possibly carry the weight
which answers given to questions not in a leading form would

Q. Witness, did Hitler personally reproach you for your
behaviour in Vienna and what attitude did you adopt?

I believe that is not a suggestive question.

THE PRESIDENT: I think it is. I should have thought it is a
leading question. He says he was in a very difficult
situation. You could ask him if he would explain what was
the difficulty of the situation.


Q. Good! Then will you answer this question, witness?

A. I could not, in any case, have accepted the question in
the form in which you previously presented it.

The difference between Hitler and myself arose primarily
over an art exhibition and the breach between Hitler and
myself, in 1943, was in the beginning, the result of
differences of opinion over the cultural policy. In 1943, I
was ordered to the Berghof where Hitler, in the presence of
Bormann, criticized me violently on account of my cultural
work, and insisted that I was leading a cultural opposition
in Germany. And further, in the course of the conversation,
he said that I was mobilising the spiritual forces of Vienna
and Austria, and the spiritual forces of the young people
against him in cultural spheres. He said he knew it very
well indeed. He had read some of my speeches, primarily the
Dusseldorf speech. He had discovered that I had authorized
in Weimar and in Vienna, art exhibitions of a decadent
nature, and he told me the alternatives, either I must end
this kind of oppositional work immediately - when everything
would remain as in the past - or he would stop all
Government subsidies for Vienna. This scene made a frightful
impression on me, for it represented to me, a breach of
Hitler's promised word, since he had granted me absolute
freedom of action when appointing me to the Vienna mission.
I then recognized that he nourished an icy hatred against
me, and that behind these statements on cultural policies
something else was concealed. Whether he was dissatisfied in
every detail with the way I conducted my office in Vienna at
the time, I do not know. He rarely expressed himself
directly about such matters. I could only find out one or
two things from his entourage. I then - and that led to the
complete and final break between Hitler and myself - a few
weeks after I had received this order, if I may call it so,
strangely received an invitation for myself and my wife to
spend some time on the Berghof. At that time I ingenuously
believed that Hitler wished to bridge the gap between us and
to let me know, in one way or another, that he had gone too
far. In any case, at the end of a three days' visit - I cut
my stay short - I discovered that this was a fundamental
error on my part. Here I will limit myself to a few points
only. I had intended, and I also carried out my intention,
that I would mention at least three points during my visit.
One was the policy towards Russia, the second was the Jewish
question, and the third was Hitler's attitude to Vienna.

I must state, to begin with, that Bormann had issued a
decree addressed to me, and probably to all the other
Gauleiter, prohibiting any intervention on our part in the
Jewish question. That is to say, we could not intervene
against Hitler in favour of any Jew or half Jew. That too
was stated in the decree. I have to mention this, since it
makes matters clearer. On the first evening of my stay at
the Berghof, on what appeared to me a propitious occasion, I
told Hitler that I was of the opinion that a free and
autonomous Ukraine would serve the Reich better

                                                  [Page 367]

than an Ukraine ruled by violence by Herr Koch. That was all
I said, nothing more, nothing less. Knowing Hitler as I did,
it was extremely difficult even to hazard such a remark.
Hitler answered comparatively quietly, but rather sharply at
the same time. On the same evening, or possibly the next
one, the Jewish question was broached according to a plan I
made with my wife. Since I was forbidden to mention these
things, even in conversation, my wife gave the Fuehrer a
description of an experience she had had in Holland. She had
witnessed one night, from the bedroom of her hotel, the
deportation of Jewish women by the Gestapo. We were both of
the opinion that this experience during her journey, and the
description of it, might possibly result in a change of
Hitler's attitude toward the entire Jewish question, and in
his treatment of the Jews. My wife gave a very graphic
description, a description such as we can now read in the
papers. Hitler was silent. All the other witnesses to this
conversation, including my own father-in-law, Professor
Hoffman, were also silent. The silence was icy, and after a
short time, Hitler merely said, "This is pure
sentimentality." That was all. No further conversation took
place that evening. Hitler retired earlier than usual. I was
under the impression that a perfectly untenable situation
had new arisen. Then the men of Hitler's entourage told my
father-in-law that from now on I would have to fear for my
safety. I endeavoured to get away from the Berghof as
quickly as possible without letting matters come to an open
break, but I did not succeed.

Then Goebbels arrived on the next evening, and there, in my
presence, and without my starting it, the subject of Vienna
was broached. I was naturally compelled to protest against
the statements which Goebbels at first made about the
Viennese. Then the Fuehrer began, with incredible and
unlimited hatred, to speak against the population of Vienna.
I have to admit, here and now, that even if the population
of Vienna are cursing me today, I have always felt very
friendly toward them. I have felt closely attached to that
population. I will not say more than that Joseph Weinheber
was one of my closest friends. During that discussion, I, as
was my duty, and according to my feelings, spoke in favour
of the people under         my leadership in Vienna.

At 4 o'clock in the morning, among other things, Hitler
suddenly said something which I should now like to repeat
for historical reasons. He said, "Vienna should never have
been admitted into the Union of Greater Germany." Hitler
never loved Vienna. He hated its population. I believed that
he had a liking for the city, because he appreciated the
architectural design of the buildings in the Ringstrasse.
But everybody who knows Vienna, knows that the true Vienna
is architecturally Gothic, and that the buildings in the
Ringstrasse are not really representative.

Q. Defendant, I consider that this subject has little to do
with the Indictment - Please adhere to the Indictment.

A. I shall now conclude. I only want to say that so total a
break resulted from that discussion, or rather, explosion of
Hitler's, that in the same night, at about 4.30 a.m., I took
my leave, and left Berghof a few hours later. Since then,
I had no further conversations with Hitler. I must now refer
to something else in this connection. Reich Marshal Goering
in the witness box, mentioned a letter of mine which Hitler
had shown him, and Herr von Ribbentrop has stated here that
he was present at a conversation during which Himmler
suggested to Hitler that I should be indicted before the
People's Court, which meant in reality that I should be
hanged. I must add one thing more: what Goering said about
this letter is mainly true. I wrote in a proper manner about
family relations in that letter. I also wrote one sentence,
to the effect that I considered war with America a disaster.

Q. When was that letter written?

A. 1943, shortly after my stay at the Berghof. That
statement contained nothing special, since Hitler even
without -

                                                  [Page 368]

THE PRESIDENT: He has not given the date of his stay at the
Berghof yet. What was the year?

DR. SAUTER: He has said 1943, Mr. President. He has just
said 1943.

THE PRESIDENT: There are twelve months in 1943.


Q. I believe you ought to give us the month.

A. I believe that the conversation on the Berghof was in the
spring, and that the letter, though I cannot tell you
precisely when, was written in the summer.

Q. Summer of 1943?

A. Yes, 1943, but I could not say precisely when the letter
was written. It was correct, it was written by hand; no
woman secretary read it. It went by courier to the Head of

Q. To Hitler personally?

A. To Hitler. It is also possible that it was addressed care
of Bormann. I cannot remember exactly. It went by courier,
and that letter contained nothing else but the clarification
required for replying to questions put to me in the circular
which Goering mentioned in his statement. That letter caused
Hitler to have an absolute loathing for me; and at about the
same tune, a file was started against me in the RSHA, the
Reich Security Main Office. That was due to the fact that I
had described, in a small circle of political leaders - of
high-ranking political leaders - the foreign political
situation such as I saw it, as I was accustomed to do from
the days of my youth. One of these leaders was an SS
intelligence officer; he reported what I said, and then the
file was started. The material was compiled in order to use
it eventually to bring me to trial. That it never came to a
trial I owe solely and exclusively to the circumstance that
both in the Army and at home, my comrades from the Youth
Leadership stood solidly behind me, and any proceedings
against me would have led to trouble. After 20th July, 1944,
my situation became very precarious. My friends in the Army,
therefore, placed a company of handpicked men at my
disposal. They were under the orders of an adjutant of the
former General Fromm. The company was directly subordinate
to me. It took over the protection of my person and remained
with me to the end.

Q. Was that company of the Wehrmacht which you have just
mentioned, placed at your disposal in place of the police
protection previously afforded you?

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, I have to refer once more to your Vienna speech
of 79th December, 1942. In that speech you speak of the
deportation of tens of thousands of Jews to the Eastern
ghetto. You did not speak about the extermination or the
murder of the Jews. When did you discover that Hitler's plan
aimed at extermination or destruction?

A. Counsel for the defence, if I, at that time, had known
anything about the destruction, i.e., the extermination of
the Jews, I would not be sitting here today. As far as I can
recall, I heard about an extermination of the Jews for the
first time through the following incident:

Dr. Ross came to see me.

Q. Who?

A. Dr. Colin Ross came to Vienna in 1944 and told me that he
had received information, via the foreign Press, that mass
murders of Jews had been perpetrated on a large scale in the
East. I then attempted to find out all I could. What I did
discover was that in the Warthe-Gau executions of Jews were
carried out in gas vans. These shootings in the East -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, what was the Gau that he spoke
of? The Warthe-Gau?

DR. SAUTER: The Warthe-Gau, My Lord.

THE WITNESS: The Warthe-Gau.

                                                  [Page 369]

DR. SAUTER: That is a Gau, a district on the Polish border.
That is an area in the East of Germany -
W-a-r-t-h-e-g-a-u-and the West of Poland, near Silesia.


Please, witness, will you continue briefly.

A. The executions, the shootings, on Russian territory,
mentioned in the documents submitted in the course of the
cross-examination in the Kaltenbrunner case, were not known
to me at that time. But at a later date - it was before 1944
- I also heard about shootings in the ghettoes of the
Russian area, and connected this up with developments on the
front, since I thought of possible armed risings in the
ghettoes. I knew nothing of the organized annihilation which
has been described to us in the Trial.

Q. Then, if I have heard you correctly, you were informed
about these events for the first time in 1944, by your
friend, Dr. Colin Ross, who knew it from reports in the
foreign papers?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you still remember the month?

A. That I cannot be sure of.

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