The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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THE PRESIDENT: Witness, will you kindly pause after the question
has been asked you. Do not answer it absolutely immediately.
Otherwise, it gives the interpreters no time to translate.


Q. What position did you have in the Austrian Republic?

A. After the overthrow of 1918, I was in the civil service,
Director of Archives at the University, a historian and author.
Among other things, I was the author of a basic work about the
collapse of old Austria, which -

Q. Witness, I am sorry to interrupt you, but we want only your
public positions. I am interested in knowing about them only.

What public positions did you have?

A. Director of Archives, then, from 11th July on, I was Minister
in the Cabinet of Schuschnigg, as guarantor of the July
Agreement, and then during the March days of 1938, I was in the
cabinet of Seyss-Inquart.

In November 1939 I voluntarily entered the German Army, first in
the modest position of a graves registration inspector, and from
1941 on, became a military diplomat and was on duty at Zagreb
without troop command. In September 1944 1 was dismissed from my
post in Zagreb because, being an Austrian of the old regime, I
was against the official policy and was one of the opponents of
the Ustaschi terror. Another reason was that I was supposed to
have called the Head of the State, who was elected and appointed
by us, Ante Pavelic, a "criminal subject," among other
undiplomatic things.

Q. General, I shall put a few questions to you, and it is quite
sufficient if you just answer them briefly. The Tribunal does not
want to know very much about the Anschluss itself, but everything
as to how it came about. After the July putsch of 1934, were you
in any way connected with Chancellor Schuschnigg?

A. Yes.

                                                       [Page 177]

Q. What was the economic situation at that time?

A. The economic situation at that time is clearly indicated by
the average figure of unemployment. Out of six million
inhabitants, 400,000 were unemployed, and that means, counting
their families, that more than a million were suffering through
lack of employment.

Q. What possibilities were there regarding the expansion of the
economic area?

A. In this connection I can say openly and immediately that all
policies and proposals suggested for achieving economic expansion
were turned down. If Austria wanted the Anschluss, the answer was
"No." If Austria wanted to call the Hapsburgs back, the answer
was "No." If Austria wanted to enter a German customs union in
order to expand her economic area, the answer was "No." And when
great men, like Briand and Tardieu, spoke of a Danube Federation,
we were only given the cold shoulder by our autarchic-minded
neighbours. That is the Austrian tragedy.

Q. Now a party was formed which took up the Anschluss as the main
point of its programme. What were the campaigning methods of this

A. In the year 1918, the standard bearer of this Anschluss was
the Social Democratic Party led by Otto Bauer, who, the year
previously, had declared the Anschluss to be the only possibility
for the Austrian proletariat. Later the National Socialist Party,
unified at the end of the 1920s by unconditional subordination to
the leadership of Adolf Hitler, became the dominating force
behind the movement

Q. Who was the leader of the NSDAP in Austria at that time?

A. The leaders themselves changed frequently. Hitler, however,
sent a land inspector by the name of - what is his name - the
Prussian? ... in the person of a Prussian ... I cannot think of
the name at the moment ... who was expelled from the country by
Dollfuss in 1933. Habicht - Dr. Habicht is his name.

Q. And after him, is it correct that it was Captain Leopold?

A. After him, Captain Leopold rose to the leadership of the

Q. And how did the Austrian National Socialists stand with
respect to Adolf Hitler?

A. They considered themselves bound to him by absolute obedience

Q. Now the famous agreement of 11th July, 1936, was reached.
After this agreement, you met Seyss-Inquart. What did he tell you
about his political objective?

A. I became well acquainted with Seyss-Inquart shortly before
this agreement. I do not remember exactly what he told me then
about it, but my recollection is that it was similar to that
which he defined later as his political objective.

Q. And what was that, briefly?

A. The Party to be not as an organization, but only as a
supporter of an ideology in the totalitarian instrument of the
Dollfuss-Schuschnigg regime, in the Fatherland Front and the
members were to acknowledge allegiance to the State and
Constitution in Austria, and have Adolf Hitler's blessing in

Q. Did you yourself deal with the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, or have
talks with him?

A. Apart from the March days of 1938, I had three opportunities
to speak with Adolf Hitler.

Q. When did Seyss-Inquart enter the government?

A. Seyss-Inquart entered the government after 12th February,

Q. Did he visit Adolf Hitler?

A. As far as I can remember, he visited Adolf Hitler on 17th

,Q. Did he make a report about his visit with Hitler to
Schuschnigg and the other members of the cabinet?

A. Certainly he told Schuschnigg and he told me as well.

                                                       [Page 178]

Q. Did he collaborate in the planned plebiscite which was to take
place on 13th March, 1938?

A. At that time, without knowing about the plebiscite, I left, on
the 6th of the month, on two weeks' leave. Therefore, I cannot
give you a reliable answer to this question.

Q. But do you know whether this plebiscite had been decided upon
in the Ministerial Council with the consent of Seyss-Inquart or
not? Did he tell you about that subsequently?

A. To my knowledge, the plebiscite was not handled by any
Ministerial Council.

Q. Did the National Socialists agree to the plebiscite?

A. As far as I could judge on my return from my leave, certainly

Q. Now, it became known that Schuschnigg wanted to have a
plebiscite. Where were you and what did you experience at that

A. On 6th February - March, as I have already said, I went on
leave, and in Stuttgart I gave a lecture, the subject of which
was "Central Europe in the year 1000 A.D."

Q. We are not interested in details, only in the facts.

A. Then I undertook a private visit to Landau in the Pfalz to
visit my French relatives, and there I visited Burckel, whom I
had not informed beforehand of my arrival, and in his home I
heard over the radio the speech made by Schuschnigg at Innsbruck.
Immediately, it was obvious to me that the scheduled plebiscite
would, in view of Hitler's nature, certainly bring about serious
repercussions, and I decided to fly to Vienna at once. Burckel,
was to have arranged this. However, he telephoned to the Reich
Chancellery and Hitler expressed the wish that I should come to
Berlin. I gave my reasons for complying with this request to the
American interrogator and, subsequently, I found out here the
real reason why Hitler had called me to Berlin. I heard from the
lips of an absolutely authentic witness that he did not want me
to return to Austria. He knew that I was an enemy of all
solutions by force. During the night of 9th to 10th March, I met
Hitler and entered into a discussion with him which lasted for
two and a half hours, a discussion of a rambling nature which led
to no definite decision. Hitler told me that during the course of
the day, at eleven o'clock in the morning, he would see me again.
In fact, he did not send for me until eight o'clock in the
evening in order to give me the drafts: (a) of a resignation for
Seyss-Inquart to offer to Schuschnigg, and (b) of a radio speech.

I declared that I could not take these documents to Austria
myself, and I asked that they should be sent in the usual way, by

Later on, I received a third draft from Goering, who was Field
Marshal at the time. There was a telegram therein, containing a
second request to Hitler asking for the marching-in of German
troops. I should like to say from the beginning, all these drafts
- as far as I know also the third draft - had no actual
significance. These were my experiences on the 11th of March in

Q. Then you flew to Vienna and met Seyss-Inquart. What did you do
in association with him on that critical morning of 11th March?

A. Seyss-Inquart met me at the airport. I advised him briefly
about what had taken place in Berlin, and made entirely clear to
him that I was gravely concerned about the situation. Together,
Seyss-Inquart and I, at eleven o'clock in the morning -that is
shortly after my arrival - went to Schuschnigg. While
Seyss-Inquart placed before Schuschnigg certain domestic
political problems, which I did not know about because I had been
absent, I pointed out to Schuschnigg, who was nearly weeping,
that there was great danger of new world complications, even of a
new world war, and implored him to give in and to rescind the
plebiscite which was scheduled for Sunday.

Q. Did you and Seyss-Inquart offer to resign?

A. I cannot recall whether we did so then. This discussion was
comparatively brief, but afterwards, about one o'clock, we
offered to resign.

                                                       [Page 179]

For this neither a decree by Hitler nor a decree by the National
Socialist leader, Klausner, was necessary. As early as Thursday
evening I had made my decision in Burckels house that, in
connection with the plebiscite, I would also make use of this
traditional method of threat of ministerial resignation in order
to bring pressure to bear, to prevent the worst, if possible.

Q. And how did Schuschnigg react to this proposal to postpone the

A. Schuschnigg at first was rather reserved, but at about two in
the afternoon, Guido Schmidt and Guido Zernatto - I do not have
to tell you who these gentlemen were - made efforts to establish
a modus vivendi with Seyss-Inquart. I kept myself in the
background since my mission had already been fully accomplished
on 12th February.

Q. And what did Seyss-Inquart do in the afternoon?

A. Shortly after this discussion, which led to no result,
Schuschnigg still hesitated. But finally, he declared that, in
accordance with the expressed wishes, he would postpone the
Sunday plebiscite. I believed that the worst had passed. A short
time thereafter, Seyss-Inquart was called to the telephone, and
returned visibly agitated, saying that he had been advised from
Berlin that Hitler could not work any longer with Schuschnigg,
and that Seyss-Inquart was to demand succession to the post of

Seyss-Inquart invited me to go with him to Schuschnigg. I turned
this down for reasons of delicacy. Seyss-Inquart went in alone
and returned after a brief period, and we had a discussion which
seems to me to be of importance to this Court. He was confident
of receiving the Chancellorship, and said to me, almost with an
undertone of regret: "Now we will have to take in the Nazis after
all, and we shall work with the Catholics and others who are of
similar trends to establish a political combine with which I
shall govern." However, he was going to demand of Hitler, as far
as internal politics were concerned, an agreement for five years'

Q. And, of course, Hitler did not agree to that. Instead he
marched into Austria and you were confronted with a law. You were
named Vice-Chancellor. Did you sign this law, and why?

A. I was a co-signer of this law. I entered into the government
after Keppler requested me to and I counter-signed this law, for
three reasons:

First, under the impression that Austria was completely alone in
the world, and that no one was lifting a finger on her behalf;
secondly, and I must say something here which has been said in
the Southern German Press, I entered under the influence of the
overwhelming street demonstrations that were taking place.
Thirdly, on the Ballhausplatz on the night that I received the
draft of the law - I did not participate in the drafting of this
law - the German tanks were rolling past below me, and the
occupation of the country by Adolf Hitler was accomplished. With
him this meant, "bend or break." An attempt on Austria's part to
oppose him would have been useless.

Of course, one is easily inclined to say about my home country
that it should have committed suicide -

DR. STEINBAUER: That is sufficient, General, thank you. Mr.
President, I have no further questions to address to this

BY DR. KUBUSCHOK: (Counsel for the defendant von Papen):

Q. Was the July Agreement concluded as a result of pressure from
Germany or through a mutual desire and mutual interest?

A. It was concluded on the basis of mutual desire and mutual

Q. Did you then and later have complete confidence in
Schuschnigg, and he in you?

A. Up until the winter of 1937-1938, my relationship to
Schuschnigg was one of complete confidence.

Q. Do you know anything about the intention of Herr von Papen to
effect the removal of Chancellor Schuschnigg?

                                                       [Page 180]

A. Never did I have the slightest hint of that sort.

Q. What was the so-called "Langgott" aid fund?

A. The "Langgott" aid fund was a fund which was established in
typical Austrian fashion - this is not intended as criticism, my
saying that it was in typical Austrian fashion - for the
assistance of the families of National Socialists who had been

Q. Did Schuschnigg and the government have knowledge of this

A. Both of them knew about this and they both knew definitely of

Q. What was the attitude of the NSDAP and particularly of Leopold
to Herr von Papen?

A. The NSDAP and Leopold were completely hostile to von Papen.
They were inimical towards him not only because he was a
Catholic, but because they distrusted him in every sort of way.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Did you know a man named General Muff?

A. Yes, very well indeed.

Q. You were in the habit of telling him everything that went on
in the Ministerial Council of
Austria, were you not?

A. No.

Q. Do you know Stephen Tauschitz, the Austrian Ambassador to

A. Yes, but neither to him did I speak of other than ordinary
topics. That I should let myself be used as an informer was
contrary to my tradition as a soldier of the empire.

Q. Then what did you think you were being brought to Berlin for
by Burckel from Stuttgart?

A. I cannot follow you, I am sorry.

Q. What did you understand to be the purpose of your trip when
you were being brought to Berlin from Stuttgart in March 1938,
when Hitler wanted to see you?

A. I did not go to Berlin from Stuttgart, but rather from the
Pfalz. Hitler had had me urged to come at all costs. I considered
the matter and finally decided to go because I wanted to know
what was going on in Berlin ...

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