The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/05/16

THE PRESIDENT: Is that what you say, defendant, that the
document which you have just handed to your counsel is a
copy of the document which you say you produced during your
interrogations, which was from the shorthand notes you made
at that time?

WITNESS: Mr. President, the original notes I made on the
afternoon of February 17th. A few weeks later I dictated
these notes, which I made in shorthand, to my secretary who
took them down on a typewriter. I had several copies, one of
which I gave to the prosecution during one of my
interrogations last summer. I have now given a second copy
to my defence counsel. These are copies made from the
original notes a few weeks after the conference. The
original was in my secret files in Vienna.


MR. DODD: I wonder if we could learn just who it was to whom
the defendant gave these notes? Mr. President, I would like
to have some search made for them, and some effort made to
find them.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you know who was the interrogating

WITNESS: Mr. Dodd himself.

MR. DODD: We do not have it.

WITNESS: I think I am right in saying that it was handed

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, the main points of the
contents coincide with the voluntary statement, which the
defendant -

MR. DODD: I think this is important enough at this point,
Mr. President, to make it clear. I have the interrogation
that I first conducted on this defendant, and it clearly
shows that he referred to the notes, but he clearly said at
the time that he did not have them, that he left them in a
black leather case with other documents in Mondorf, and he
asked me if I would make an effort to get them, and I said
that I would. We have never been able to find them, and
that's the transcript of the interrogation.

(A short pause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, Dr. Steinbauer.

DR. STEINBAUER: May I say that Document No. 492, Page 113,
is substantially of the same content. The defendant, the
present witness, informed Schuschnigg of the substance of
that talk; that is evident from Document No. 65, on Page

Q. Witness, I want to ask you now whether Hitler approved of
your proposals?

A. He clearly said "yes" to a number of things, but on other
points he expressed doubts whether the Austrian Government
would agree; the principal impression was, however, that
this policy seemed feasible.

Q. In this connection it has also been alleged that as
Minister of the Interior and Police you brought executive
power under the control of the Nazis.

A. I should like to leave the main explanation on this
matter to my witness, Dr. Skubl. After Dollfuss's death Dr.
Skubl was a special confidant of the Austrian Government and
was placed at my disposal as Secretary of State and
Inspector-General for Security Matters; clearly also to act
as a kind of check. I had no objection at all to that and
was very pleased to have such an expert at my disposal.

I should just like to mention briefly that all orders of the
executive came from Skubl. I myself never gave a direct
order to the Austrian police. Skubl was given instructions
by Dr. Schuschnigg, particularly on 10th and 11th March. I
myself did not bring a single National Socialist into the
Austrian police.

                                                   [Page 75]
Q. All right, that is sufficient.

A. Perhaps I might refer briefly to the public appeal-

DR. STEINBAUER: In this connection I want to refer to two
documents, Nos. 51 and 52, on Pages 117 and 119

We have now reached Document Book No. 2. The first is a
speech by the defendant as Minister addressed to his police
officials, and the second speech is a radio talk which he
gave at Linz.

Q. We now come to the critical days in March. Were you
informed of the plebiscite plan of Schuschnigg, and by whom?

A. The day before Dr. Schuschnigg announced the plan for the
plebiscite in Innsbruck, he called me in and informed me of
his plan. I asked him whether the decision was unalterable,
and he affirmed that. I expressed my concern that this might
lead to difficulties, but I promised him that I would help
him wherever I could, either to make the best of this
plebiscite or to bring about a suitable outcome of it,
suitable, that is to say, even for the National Socialists.
Of course, I had continuous contact with the Austrian
National Socialists, since I was the liaison man. I spoke at
several meetings - Zernatto and Dr. Schuschnigg knew that -
and recounted what I had discussed with Adolf Hitler, or
what I had proposed to him. I avoided all possibilities of
demonstrations, and as Minister of the Interior also banned
such demonstrations. In that connection may I refer to the
general ban on public meetings, imposed by me among others,
and to the specific prohibition of a demonstration at Graz,
evident from the interrogatory of the witness Uiberreither.

Q. Did Schuschnigg give you any promises?

A. No. I want to say that on the same evening I was also
approached by Dr. Jury who in some way had already heard of
the plan for the plebiscite. I did not tell him that I had
given my assent to Dr. Schuschnigg, though on account of my
function as liaison man I should not have allowed silence to
be imposed on me; yet, I did keep silent.

DR. STEINBAUER: I think, Mr. President, this might be a
suitable moment for a recess.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. We will break off now.

(A recess was taken.)

Q. We got as far as the plebiscite which Schuschnigg had
planned and which then became known. We come now to 11th
March. What did you do in the forenoon of that day?

A. I must say first that a day or two before, after
consultation with Austrian National Socialists, I wrote a
letter to Dr. Schuschnigg in which I commented on the
plebiscite, in an unfavourable way. The reasons were
primarily that a regular plebiscite result was not
guaranteed, because it was not a proper plebiscite within
the meaning of the constitutional laws. For example, the
plebiscite was not decided on by the Council of Ministers,
but by the Fatherland Front, that is, by the Party, and it
was to have been carried out by that Party.

It was suggested that the plebiscite be postponed and a
proper election with all its legal requisites be held. On
the evening of 10th March, in the presence of Foreign
Minister Schmidt, I had another detailed conversation with
Dr. Schuschnigg, and we agreed that the Government - as well
as the provincial governments, and so forth - should include
National Socialists, that in effect a coalition government
should be formed; and in that case the National Socialists
would also vote "yes." Only with reference to the licence of
the Party, the activities of the Party, there were still
differences of opinion. I reported this to the Austrian
National Socialists but they were not much interested,
because news had come from Berlin that Hitler had rejected
the plebiscite. I was told that on the next day I would
receive a letter from Hitler.

Q. Did you receive a letter?

                                                   [Page 76]

A. Yes. I received a letter from Hitler by courier. I am
almost certain that the letter also contained the draft of a
telegram for a march into Austria, but I cannot recall
whether the draft of a radio speech was also included in it.

Q. What did you do in the morning, after receiving this

A. After receiving this letter I went with Minister Glaise
to Dr. Schuschnigg. We were at the Chancellor's office at
ten o'clock, and I informed Chancellor Schuschnigg of the
entire contents of this letter without reservation. In
particular, I pointed out that in case of a refusal, Adolf
Hitler expected unrest among the Austrian National
Socialists, and that he was ready, if disturbances occurred,
to answer an appeal for help by marching in. In other words,
I expressly called Chancellor Schuschnigg's attention to the
possibility of this development.

Q. Did you ask for an answer from him?

A. The letter set a deadline for twelve o'clock noon. As our
talk lasted until about eleven-thirty, I asked Chancellor
Schuschnigg to give me an answer by two o'clock. I know that
in the meantime, and also on the previous day, he had taken
security measures through Dr. Skubl, of which I had
approved. A number of age groups of the Austrian Army were
called up; the police everywhere received instructions, and
a curfew was imposed in the evening.

Q. What happened in the afternoon of 11th March?

A. At two o'clock I went to the Chancellor's office with
Minister Glaise. We had a talk with Dr. Schuschnigg; he
rejected a postponement. At that moment I was called to the
telephone; Field Marshal Goering was on the phone, and the
conversation between us is reproduced here under Exhibit USA

And then followed demands and concessions. When I told Field
Marshal Goering that Chancellor Schuschnigg rejected the
postponement, he declared, in the name of the Reich, that he
had to ask for Schuschnigg's resignation, because he had
broken the agreement of the 12th of February, and the Reich
had no confidence in him. Dr. Schuschnigg was then ready to
postpone, but not to resign. Thereupon Field Marshal Goering
demanded not only Schuschnigg's resignation, but my
appointment as Chancellor. During a conference with Dr.
Schuschnigg at three-thirty in the afternoon, the Chancellor
said that he would hand to the President the resignation of
the whole cabinet. When I was informed of this, I left the
Chancellor's office, because I considered my function as a
middle-man concluded in the meaning of the agreement of the
12th February, and I did not want in any way to advocate or
promote my own appointment as Chancellor.

Q. In this connection may I refer to my document lumber 58,
Page 134. This is an excerpt from the telephone
conversations of Goering; Goering is listening to reports,
and Seyss-Inquart is speaking of the relationship between
Germany and Austria. It says here:

  "Yes, he means that Austrian independence will be

Now, that was on the 11th of March, in the late afternoon?

A. In these telephone conversations it was also suggested
that the Party formation, the emigrant Legion, should come
to Austria. From the same telephone conversation it is
obvious that I opposed this, but that I wanted an election
or a plebiscite held before the entry of any formation into

In the course of that afternoon Secretary of State Keppler
came to Vienna and requested information from me. And so I
again went to the Chancellor's office. Berlin repeatedly
asked me to intervene with the President in order to effect
my own appointment as Chancellor. I always refused to do

Q. And what did the Austrian NSDAP do?

A. The Party in Austria began demonstrations. Party members
left their houses, crowded the streets and, whether only
Party members or sympathisers, took part in a demonstration
against the system and for the National Socialists, a
demonstration which assumed enormous proportions.

Q. What was the feeling in the provinces?

A. I had no contact with the provinces, but learned quite
late during that night, or on the next day, that there, even
on a larger scale than in Vienna, big demonstra-

                                                   [Page 77]

tions of large crowds had taken place against the Fatherland
Front and for the National Socialists.

Q. What attempts did President Miklas make to solve this

A. I cannot say anything about that from my own observation,
for until eight o'clock in the evening no one at all
approached me on these matters. No one spoke to me about the
Chancellorship, no other possibility of a solution was
discussed with me. I heard that the President wanted to make
Dr. Ender, of Vorarlberg, Chancellor and me Vice-Chancellor.
I believe that suggestion would have been completely
practicable. But I could not discuss it, least of all with
Berlin, because no one had said anything to me about it.

Q. And when events reached a climax and Schuschnigg offered
his resignation, did you compile a cabinet list?

A. In the course of the evening it became clear that
Chancellor Schuschnigg would resign, and that the Reich
would not tolerate any other than a National Socialist
Government. Therefore, in order to avoid being taken by
surprise, I considered it my task to study whom I would take
into a cabinet. The suggestions mentioned in the telephone
conversations were not conveyed to me at all.

I chose my colleagues quite independently - naturally after
consultations with the Austrian National Socialists - and
they included people with Catholic ties, such as Professor
Mengin, Dr. Wolff, and others.

I asked Foreign Minister Schmidt to enter the cabinet. He
asked me for a reason, and I told him: I want to keep
Austria autonomous and independent, and I need a foreign
minister who has connections with the Western Powers.
Schmidt refused, remarking that Chancellor Schuschnigg had
introduced him into politics and that he would remain loyal
to him.

DR. STEINBAUER: I should like to submit some documents now:
No. 50, Page 115, from Zernatto's book, on Seyss-Inquart's
attitude; then, on Page 1125, Document No. 54, also from
Zernatto's book, where it says:

  "He (Seyss-Inquart) no longer has developments in his

Then Document 62, Page 149, in which Zernatto quotes from a
conversation with Dr. Seyss-Inquart:

  "He says that there are two main points on which he will
  not compromise. The first is Austria's independence and
  the second, the possibility for the conservative-catholic
  element developing its own life."


Q. Now we come to a very important question. You then made a
radio speech in which you called yourself a minister,
although Schuschnigg had already resigned.

A. The situation was as follows: The resignation of the
whole cabinet was not accepted by the President; that is we,
including myself, remained ministers. When Dr. Schuschnigg
made his farewell speech, he did not speak of the
resignation of the whole cabinet. He only said, "We yield to
force." Dr. Schuschnigg and President Miklas had agreed that
I would not actually be appointed Chancellor, but that with
the entry of German troops executive power should be passed
to me.

Q. The prosecution asserts that you yourself exerted
pressure on President Miklas to appoint you Chancellor?

A. I did not see President Miklas at all until nine or ten
o'clock in the evening, after Schuschnigg's speech, "We
yield to force."

DR. STEINBAUER: I should like to submit to the Tribunal this
speech of Chancellor Dr. Schuschnigg of the 11th of March
under No. 53, Page 122; in it he says

  "The President has commissioned me to inform the Austrian
  people that we are yielding to force. Since we are at all
  costs determined not to spill German blood, even in this
  grave hour, we have given orders to our army to withdraw
  without resistance, if the march into Austria is carried
  out, and to await the decision within the next hours."

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