The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/05/21

Q. How many hostages were selected in this manner?

A. I cannot recall that today, perhaps twelve to fifteen.
Out of that number, five were left over; that is, five
remained. That was the number finally decided upon, after it
had been cut down from the original figure of fifty.

Q. I am going to have you shown a document concerning the
seizure of these hostages. It is Document F-886, which
becomes Exhibit RF 1527. This is a statement made by General
Christiansen, or rather, it is a copy of a statement made by
General Christiansen, which was taken from an affidavit of
the head of the

                                                  [Page 134]

Dutch Delegation. Will you please look at the fourth
paragraph before the end of the first statement?

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got the original?

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I just said that this was but
the copy of a statement, which comes from an affidavit of
the head of the Dutch Delegation. If the Tribunal desires,
we can certainly have the original submitted as soon as we
have received it.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, there is no certificate at all
identifying the copy, is there?

M. DEBENEST: I thought, Mr. President, that there was an
affidavit of the representative of the Dutch Delegation in
Nuremberg ... On the original ... I beg your pardon. It was
not stencilled, but the original does have that affidavit.

THE PRESIDENT: What are you going to prove by this
affidavit? About the hostages?

M. DEBENEST: Yes, Mr. President. It says that the defendant
himself selected these hostages.

THE PRESIDENT: In what proceedings was the affidavit made?

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, it was during the proceedings
which were taken against General Christiansen in the

THE PRESIDENT: How do you say it is admissible under the

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I believe that we have already
submitted documents of this nature - that is, copies - to
the Tribunal, copies which have been certified as being
copies of an original which is being kept in the country
where it originated.

THE PRESIDENT: If the original from which the copy was taken
were a document which is admissible under the Charter, that
would probably be so, if there were an authentic certificate
saying it was a true copy of a document which is admissible
under the Charter. But is this document admissible under the

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I believe that it is admissible
because it is purely and simply an affidavit. It is an
affidavit which has been legally deposited in the

THE PRESIDENT: And you have not got a German translation of

M. DEBENEST: Yes, Mr. President, this document has been
translated into German. I have had it translated into

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, this appears to be a document
which is in Dutch, and General Christiansen, who gave this
evidence, was a German, was he not?

M. DEBENEST: No, Mr. President, the original affidavit is in

THE PRESIDENT: The original is in Dutch, is it?

M. DEBENEST: The original is in Dutch, yes. That is
according to the information that I have. Yes, the original
is in the Dutch language.

THE PRESIDENT: And in what proceedings was the affidavit

M. DEBENEST: In Dutch, with interpreters.

THE PRESIDENT: I mean in what proceedings, before what

M. DEBENEST: I suppose before a Dutch military Tribunal.
Yes, before a Dutch military Tribunal.

M. DUBOST: May it please the Tribunal -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, M. Dubost.

                                                  [Page 135]

M. DUBOST: This document is an excerpt from criminal
proceedings in the Netherlands taken against General
Christiansen upon the request of the Dutch Government. The
Minister of Justice of the Netherlands has let us have an
extract of the minutes which were taken in the Netherlands
in legal form during the proceedings which were carried on
against General Christiansen. The text was, therefore, made
in the Dutch language.

THE PRESIDENT: This deposition, this affidavit is in Dutch.
Now General Christiansen, is he a Dutchman?

M . DUBOST: General Christiansen is a German.

THE PRESIDENT: If he is a German why does he give his
evidence in Dutch? If he did not give it in Dutch why is not
the German copy here? You see, we have a certificate here
from a Colonel, who is said to represent the Government of
the Netherlands, that this document is a true copy of
General Christiansen's evidence. Well, the document which we
have here is in Dutch, and if General Christiansen gave his
evidence in German, then it cannot be a true copy and it is
subject to the translation in Dutch. What do you say to

M. DUBOST: The deposition made by General Christiansen was
received through an interpreter in conformity with Dutch
procedure and was transcribed in Dutch. It is not possible
for a Dutch Tribunal to receive minutes in a foreign
language. The minutes are taken in the Dutch language.


DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, may I just say a few words in
this connection, please? I know, for I am in contact with
the defence counsel for General Christiansen, that there was
a court martial proceeding on the part of the English
instituted against him. I have misgivings about this
document, since it is not confirmed, and we cannot judge
whether the interpreter who interpreted from German into
Dutch was a suitable and adequate interpreter; and also,
since in this manner I do not have the opportunity, as a
defence counsel, to take General Christiansen into
cross-examination. It seems to me that through the mere
submission of this document, the rights of the defence have
been greatly infringed.

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I have just been informed that
General Christiansen is now imprisoned at Arnhem by the
Dutch authorities.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, M. Debenest, the Tribunal will admit
the document if you get a certificate from the court that
tried General Christiansen. But the only certificate you
have at present that this is a true copy is from Colonel van
- some name that I cannot pronounce. There is nothing to
show, except his statement, that he is an official on behalf
of the Dutch government. We do not know who he is.

M. DEBENEST: Certainly, Mr. President, but we will get the
original for the Tribunal later on.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you will submit the original later on.

M. DEBENEST: The official referred to is the accredited
representative of the Dutch Government with the French

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I have only a French
translation in front of me which reads as follows:

  "Christiansen is not here as a witness, but rather as a
  defendant. He was interrogated as such, and he is not
  compelled to tell the truth. He can say whatever he
  pleases without being held responsible for what he says."

For that reason alone, I believe that document should be

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Steinbauer, the reason why
the Tribunal is prepared to admit the document, when it is
certain that it is the document, is that Article 21 provides
that reports, including the acts and documents of

                                                  [Page 136]

the committees set up in the various allied countries for
the investigation of war crimes and the reports and findings
of military or other Tribunals of any of the United Nations,
shall be taken judicial notice of. It is for that reason
that the document is, in the opinion of the Tribunal,
admissible when the authentic document is before it.

Now, you undertake then to produce a properly certified copy
of the document.

M. DEBENEST: Certainly, Mr. President.

THE WITNESS: May I please comment on this document?

M. DEBENEST: Will you kindly wait until I read to you the
passage which I wish to submit to you.


Q. It is on Page 4 of the French text, the fourth paragraph
before the end of the first statement, the second paragraph
of the page:

  "I think I can recall that on that occasion Seyss-Inquart
  said that five hostages would be shot. I did not know
  anybody amongst these hostages. I did not select these
  five men, and I had nothing whatsoever to do with their
  execution. It was a case of a purely political nature in
  which I became involved in my capacity of Commander of
  the Army."

Now you may tell us your attitude, if you choose to do so.

A. The picture which is given here by General Christiansen
as a defendant, not a witness, completely coincides with the
picture that I drew. In the beginning of this record,
General Christiansen says Field Marshal Rundstedt and the
OKW gave him the order through his chief to take the
hostages, and he says further that through his legal
department he had issued a proclamation that the hostages
would be responsible with their lives if further sabotage
acts should take place. He then says that they did take
place, and he contacted the Commander-in-Chief West or the
OKW and received the answer that the hostages were to be
taken. Then, he further relates that he advised me of this
order, that the old directive applying to hostages was still
valid, and therefore I said that five of them were to be
executed. That is what I have been saying for I also said
the twenty-five were to have been killed and I negotiated
for the lives of the remaining twenty.

The report, therefore, is fundamentally correct and agrees
with what I have said.

Q. But in this document no mention is made of twenty-five
hostages. We are only dealing with the fact here that it was
you who chose these five hostages.

Please take the following page of the statement of 5th
March, 1946. General Christiansen declares:

  "I remember now that Lieutenant Colonel Kluter also took
  part in this conference. So there must have been seven
  participants in all. I therefore transmitted the order to
  take hostages and Seyss-Inquart said immediately that
  five men were to be seized. You are asking why it was as
  simple as all that. Obviously Seyss-Inquart had the
  authority to do this."

It was therefore you, indeed, who chose these hostages?

A. The repetition of these words in no wise changes the fact
that twenty-five hostages were demanded, as the witnesses
will confirm to you tomorrow, and that I intervened so that
only five were demanded and that the entire matter was in
the hands of the Army and the Higher SS and Police Leaders;
the proclamations were issued in the names of both of them.
As Reich Commissioner I assumed the right to decrease the
number of hostages as much as possible. The final figure was
determined by the Wehrmacht commanders and the Higher SS and
Police Leader.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, did you read the last paragraph
in the affidavit, Page 4 at the bottom?

M. DEBENEST: No, Mr. President, I did not read it. I am
going to do so now.


  Q. "I ask you to note that at this conference with
  Seyss-Inquart he expressly reserved the right to choose

                                                  [Page 137]

A. I can say nothing more than what I have already said. The
choice of hostages was probably made by the Higher SS and
Police Leader according to directives which he had received
from the Wehrmacht commander, or, rather, from his
superiors. I myself asked to be shown this list, for I, as
Reich Commissioner, was interested in knowing who was to be
selected, and I tried to exert influence. The result was as
I have already said, that the fathers of many children were
crossed off this list.

Furthermore, I do not wish to be polemical in face of the
subjective descriptions of General Christiansen.

We got along very well together in our work. The Tribunal
will decide whether I am not telling the truth or whether he
is wrong in this case.

Q. That is exactly what I was thinking. You therefore do
contend that this is the only case in which you intervened
as far as the seizure and execution of hostages is

A. I believe so, yes.

Q. Did you know about the execution of hostages following
the assassination attempt made on Rauter?

A. I stated the extent of my information on that matter
yesterday. I did not know the exact figure. It was known to
me, however, that shootings were taking place, the shooting
of those men who, on the basis of their demeanour and
actions had to be shot according to the decree of the
Fuehrer by the Security Police. The actual figure was made
known to me later.

Q. Consequently, you did not intervene in this question of
the shooting of hostages at all?

A. I cannot say that, no, for I discussed at length with the
deputy of the Higher SS and Police Leader what was to be
done in such a case for after all, it was a very grave
matter, the fact that he vas carrying out these executions;
I said yesterday that I agreed. I declared yesterday that I
could not contradict him, and keep him from actually
carrying out the executions at this point.

Q. Who was this head of the police?

A. Dr. Schongart?

Q. What do you think about Dr. Schongart?

A. I believe that Dr. Schongart was not especially harsh,
nor was he very eager to deal with this matter. He must
certainly have found it unpleasant.

Q. But was he a man whom one could trust?

A. I always had confidence in him.

Q. Very well. In that case, I am going to have a document
shown to you, Document F-879, which I submit as Exhibit RF

M. DEBENEST: I wish to inform the Tribunal that once again
this is a copy of proceedings which was received at
Amsterdam by the War Crimes Agency. It is signed by people
who were questioned, and it also comes with an affidavit as
in the preceding case. Here again, if the Tribunal wishes
it, I shall obtain the original for the Tribunal later on.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you will submit the original as before.

M. DEBENEST: Certainly, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Or else get it from somebody in the

M. DEBENEST: Very well, Mr. President.


Q. Defendant, will you kindly look at Dr. Schongart's
statement on Page 5 the French Document. It is the third
declaration, the fifth paragraph.

Have you found it?

A. Yes, I have.

                                                  [Page 138]

Q. This is what Dr. Schongart says:

  "After the investigation, I personally went to see Dr.
  Seyss-Inquart, the Reich Commissioner in Holland, with
  whom I discussed the matter. Seyss-Inquart then gave me
  the order to take increased measures of reprisal by
  executing 200 prisoners who were condemned to death, on
  the place where the assassination attempt had been made.
  This execution was aimed at intimidating the population.
  It was announced by a public notice that a large number
  of persons would be executed because of this
  assassination attempt."

A. Yes.

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