The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Document 1988-PS, Exhibit RF 130, charges that you had
the rolling mill in Ymuiden removed.

A. This rolling mill in Ymuiden had been built by a German
firm after May 1941, so this firm were partners in the blast
furnace joint-stock company. The electrical installations of
these works were repeatedly destroyed by the English, not
without the aid of the Intelligence Service of the Dutch
resistance movement. In my opinion the Reichsmarschall was
right in ordering that they be moved to the Reich. This was
done. Why an indemnity was not paid, I do not understand,
for I had issued an order that all such demands had to
receive full indemnification, but perhaps the German concern
relinquished its partnership.

Q. The charge is further made that you turned over the
essential transportation means of the Netherlands to the

A. I could not in substance dispose of the means of
transportation; that was the concern of the transport
command of the Wehrmacht. Once I took part in demanding
50,000 bicycles - there were 4,000,000 bicycles in the
Netherlands - for the mobilization of troops in the
Netherlands themselves.

Q. Another charge is that you had art treasures removed from
public museums and collections.

A. I most painstakingly took care that famous art treasures,
especially pictures, in the Dutch public museums of
Amsterdam, Mauritzhuis and so forth were especially
protected. But it is possible that treasures loaned to these
museums, belonging to Jewish persons, were claimed in
connection with the liquidation of Jewish property. There
was just one case. A Kruller foundation existed in the
Netherlands which was willed to the Netherlands State.
Without my permission three pictures were taken from this
foundation to the Reich, and I later concluded

                                                  [Page 109]

a contract with the museum authorities for their sale. I
tried to replace these pieces for the museum. I procured
some beautiful Van Goghs and a Corre from the German
treasure list, and the head of the museum once told me that
the new pictures fitted better into the museum than the old
ones. The famous paintings were in an air-raid shelter on
the Dutch coast. When the coast was declared a fortified
area, I induced the Dutch authorities to have a new air-raid
shelter built near Maastrich. The pictures were taken there,
always under Dutch care. No German had anything to do with
it. In the autumn of 1944, Dr. Goebbels demanded that the
pictures be taken to the Reich. I definitely refused this
and had reliable guards placed at the air-raid shelter and
also sent an official from the Dutch Ministry who was
authorized to hand over the pictures to the approaching
enemy troops. I was convinced that the Dutch Government in
England would see to it that these pictures remained in the

Q. Did you yourself acquire any pictures?

A. I did not buy any pictures for myself in the Netherlands,
with the exception of two or three small etchings by a
contemporary artist. As Reich Commissioner I bought pictures
by contemporary artists at exhibitions when I liked them and
when they seemed worth the price and were offered for sale.
I also bought old pictures and gave them to public
institutions in the Reich, especially to the Museum of Art
History in Vienna and the Reich Governor's office in Vienna.
They were all purchases on the open market. Among them was a
picture attributed to Vermeer, but that was contested. On
the other hand I acquired an authentic Vermeer for the Dutch
State by preventing its sale to the Reich.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, there is no specific charge
against this defendant of having bought pictures.

DR. STEINBAUER: It was mentioned in the Trial Brief. May I
continue? Let us conclude this question.

THE PRESIDENT: We do not want details about it. It is
sufficient if he told us that he paid for the pictures. He
need not give us details about the pictures.

DR. STEINBAUER: I will go on to the next question.


Q. I submit to you Document RF 136. It describes the
confiscation of the property of Her Majesty, the Queen of
the Netherlands.

A. To tell the whole truth, I must add something to the
previous question. Pictures and art treasures from Jewish or
enemy collections, when there was reason, were liquidated
and sold in the Reich. In this connection very lively free
trade developed with the participation of the Dutch art
dealers, doubtless favoured by the free transfer of foreign

Q. Now I should like to go on to the question of the royal
property, RF 136. What do you know about the order for the
liquidation of this property?

A. I myself ordered this liquidation. In the Netherlands we,
of course, had an order to confiscate enemy property, as in
all occupied territories. When we came to the Netherlands,
the royal property was merely placed under trusteeship,
without any steps being taken to seize it. Immediately after
the outbreak of the campaign in the East, the Queen of the
Netherlands spoke personally on the radio in a very
antagonistic manner, sternly accusing the Fuehrer and making
an express appeal for active resistance. In view of this
state of affairs the property of every Dutch citizen could
have been confiscated. I therefore decided to proceed in
this case in the way I did, in order to prevent an excessive
extension of this measure as had been demanded of me, while
having the conviction that I could not make any exceptions.
I myself, as I said, signed the order for confiscation, in
order not to implicate anybody else.

                                                  [Page 110]

Q. What instructions did you give in the course of the

A. I immediately issued liquidation orders which in practice
prevented the liquidations being carried out. I ordered
estates or castles to be turned over to the Netherlands
State - with the exception of one apartment house, I believe
- and likewise bonds and securities and archives, and all
historic or artistic or otherwise valuable furniture to be
selected by a Dutch commission so that the Netherlands State
could take it over. The commission included almost
everything at all possible in its list. I realised that and
did not strike out one piece. In particular, I had the
historical institutions at Joesdijk and Huistenbosch turned
over in full, although Berlin wanted the Huistenbosch one as
memorial to the people of Brandenburg. Finally, even the
personal things -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think that the defendant need make
this quite so detailed, Dr. Steinbauer. He has made the
point that some of the things were turned over to the
Netherlands State.


Q. Then I should like very briefly to ask in this
connection: Do you know to what extent the property was
actually liquidated?

A. I had a survey given to me. It was reported to me that
three, or at the most, five per cent. of the property was
actually liquidated.

Q. Thank you, that is enough.

A. The proceeds were turned over to a fund for the repairing
of war damages.

Q. Now I shall proceed to the question of the confiscation
of factories and raw materials. Who undertook this

A. I may refer to my previous statements. From the late
summer of 1944 on, this was done primarily by the Field
Economic Commands. There are individual documents available
with notations referring to me. There were many unauthorised
confiscations. People came from the Reich with trucks and
began to take away machinery. Together with the Wehrmacht
commander and the Higher SS and Police Leader I ordered that
the strictest measures be taken against these methods.

DR. STEINBAUER: In this connection I should like to refer to
two documents which I submitted, but which I shall not read,
in order to save time. These are Documents number 80 and 81,
Pages 205 and 208. It can be seen from these that this is a
concern of the Armed Forces, that these confiscations were
all carried out by the occupation forces.


Q. In Document RF 137, witness, the charge is made that the
removal of furniture and clothing from Arnhem was sanctioned
by you.

A. The charge is correct. The situation was as follows: The
front was directly south of Arnhem. There were three or four
defence lines built in Arnhem proper. The city had been
completely evacuated. It was being shelled, and buildings
and goods in Arnhem were gradually being ruined in the
course of the winter. The Fuehrer ordered at that time
through Bormann that particularly textiles be brought from
the Netherlands for German families who had suffered bomb
damage. Without any doubt the furniture and the textiles in
Arnhem would probably either have been plundered or would
have been ruined by the weather or would have been burned in
battle. Although it was not in my territory but at the
front, and the executive power thus lay with the Wehrmacht,
I gave my approval, under the circumstances, for furniture
and textiles to be brought to the Ruhr area, I ordered at
the same time that the items be listed for indemnification
claims. I believe that Dr. Wimmer can confirm this as a

Q. I believe we can conclude that.

A. The charge is also raised against me that I blew up
safes. I opposed this most strongly. When such a case was
reported to me, I had my prosecuting authority issue the
indictment and the order for arrest.

Q. Now I shall go on to the next question. How about the
blowing up and destruction of ports, docks, locks and mines
in the Netherlands?

                                                  [Page 111]

A. Blastings were undertaken at the moment when the
Netherlands again became a theatre of war. As for port and
dock installations and shipyards, the following is
important: the port of Antwerp fell almost undamaged into
the hands of the enemy. I believed that that was of decisive
importance for the further development of the offensive.
Thereupon the competent military authorities in the
Netherlands began a precautionary blowing up of such
installations. I was acquainted only with the fact, not with
the details, and I refused to watch the explosions. But my
commissioner and I intervened with the Wehrmacht offices,
and I believe that in Rotterdam half of the installations
were not blown up. This is shown by the Netherlands reports.
I had nothing whatever to do with the matter, aside from
this intervention.

When the English reached Limburg, an order was issued to
blow up mines as being vital for war. I questioned Reich
Minister Speer about this, and he issued an order not to
blow them up but only to put them out of commission for
three or four months. The orders were issued to this effect.
I hope that they were not violated.

Q. We have heard in this trial of  "scorched earth " policy.
Did that apply to the Netherlands also?

A. I received a "scorched earth" order from Bormann. Without
there being a military necessity for it, all technical
installations were to be blown up. That meant, in effect,
the destruction of Holland, that is, the Western
Netherlands. If explosions are carried out in fourteen or
fifteen different places in Holland, the country is entirely
flooded in three or four weeks. I did not carry out the
order at first; instead I established contact with Reich
Minister Speer. I had a personal meeting with him on 1st
April, in Oldenburg. Speer told me that the same order had
been given in the Reich, but that he now had full authority
in this matter, and that he agreed that the order should not
be carried out in the Netherlands. It was not carried out.

Q. Now, to another chapter. Floods did occur. Did you have
anything to do with them?

A. I knew about this, and in a certain connection I did have
something to do with it.

There were floodings previously prepared by the Wehrmacht
for defence purposes and there were so-called "battle"
floodings, which suddenly became necessary in the course of
battle. The prepared ones were carried out in closest
contact with my office and the Dutch offices. Through the
latter's intervention, about half of the area was spared and
saved. The flooding was done mostly with fresh water so that
less damage would occur, and the outer dikes were spared.
There were two battle floodings in Holland, by order of the
Commander-in-Chief of Holland. The Wieringer Polder was
mentioned in particular. At that time there was great danger
of a landing from the air to outflank the Dutch defence
front. I was not actually informed of the execution of the
battle floodings. The Commander-in-Chief had decided on it

When, on 30th April, I talked to Lt.-Gen. Bedell-Smith,
General Eisenhower's Chief of the General Staff, he told us:
"What has been flooded so far can be justified from the
military point of view; if you flood any more now, it is no
longer justifiable."

After 30th April there were no more floodings.

Q. In this connection I should like to refer to Document 86,
Page 221, without reading it. It shows that these floodings
were of a purely military character.

Another charge which was made against you, witness, is the
question of the food supply for the Netherlands population.
What measures did you take to maintain the food supply of
the Dutch people?

A. The food question in the Netherlands was doubtless the
most difficult question of the whole administration, and I
believe, because of the special aspects of the case, it was.
one of the most difficult in all the occupied territories.

                                                  [Page 112]

In the Netherlands there is a density of population of 270
people per square kilometre, and in Holland specifically
more than 600, and all had to be fed. The food economy is
highly cultivated as a processing economy dependent upon the
importation of hundreds of thousands of tons of food. With
the occupation and the blockade all that had disappeared.
The whole food economy had to be put on a new basis, as well
as the production of food for immediate human consumption.
It was certainly a great  achievement of Dutch agriculture
and its leadership that made this successful. However, I may
say that my experts  aided very effectively, and we got a
great deal of support from the Reich.

Food distribution in the Netherlands was also very carefully
regulated, more so almost than in any other occupied
territory. The most important thing for me was to maintain
this distribution, although General Director Laures and his
entire staff of helpers were definitely hostile to the
Germans. Against the wish of the Reich Central Office I
nevertheless retained him, because otherwise I would not
have been able to bear the responsibility for the
nourishment of the people.

Q. Did you also deliver food to the Reich?

A. The troops claimed the right to live off the land, I
believe, but grain was supplied from the Reich to an extent
of 36,000 tons, vegetables being demanded in exchange. The
Reich demanded, in addition, more vegetables and also the
delivery of cattle, canned meat, fruits and some other
products. Vegetables and meat would not have made so much
difference, but the fruits caused trouble. I am convinced
that the Dutch food administration did its utmost to prevent

Q. I believe that that is enough on this theme, and I should
like to ask how the total food situation was in the autumn
of 1944?

A. During most of the occupation period we had a calorific
value at first of 3,000 and then of about 2,500 calories,
and in 1944 about 1,800 calories. Experience today will show
what that meant.

In September of 1944 the Netherlands became a theatre of war
again. At about the time the first British airborne
divisions landed at Arnhem, a general strike of Dutch
railwaymen began, by order of the Dutch Government in
England, and it was carried out almost completely. At the
same time ships vanished from the internal waterways. It was
not a formal strike, but it amounted to the same thing.

Through this situation the defence possibilities for the,
German Wehrmacht were most severely endangered. The German
Wehrmacht then began to confiscate ships and, in effect,
interrupted all traffic. I got in touch with the Wehrmacht
and was told that if the railway strike stopped, it (the
Wehrmacht) would not have to proceed so rigorously. I
reported this to Secretary General Hirschfeld and Director
General Laures. No result was achieved, and I had to
consider how I could restore shipping. I discussed it with
the Wehrmacht, and I suggested that I gave them three of
four weeks' time in which they could secure their necessary
shipping space. Of about two million tons available, they
needed 450,000 tons. During this time I forbade all ship
traffic, because the Wehrmacht was confiscating all ships
anyhow. I permitted traffic of small ships in Holland.

THE PRESIDENT: How is all this relevant to the charges made
against the defendant?

DR. STEINBAUER: The report of the Netherlands Government,
which the prosecution also mentioned, states in great detail
that the defendant, as Reich. Commissioner, is responsible
for the famine which began in September of 1944 and lasted
until the spring of 1945 and for the great mortality,
especially of children - whole tables of statistics have
been submitted - because, on the occasion of the shipping
and railway strike, he prohibited the importing of food.
That is one of the most important and serious charges made
against him. I have asked for witnesses on this subject, and
perhaps I might cut it short now so that the witnesses may
speak about it.

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