The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/06/04

Q. Would you be more specific, please. Berlin is large and
has various Reich offices.

A. That was the Reichsfuehrer SS, of course; it is quite
clear that when one of the highest functionaries in the
sphere of the police and SS is concerned one had to approach
the Reichsfuehrer SS personally, and not only his office. He
also told me he reported it to the Reich Commissioner, and
that the Reich Commissioner, who as such was not authorized
to deal with that matter, had asked him to tell the
Reichsfuehrer SS that he asked and advised him to refrain
from carrying out such a large number of executions.
Thereupon - naturally - everything was done only by
telephone - the Reichsfuehrer agreed to reduce the number
and I believe, on the basis of several telephone
conversations, that in the end a number of about 150 or 200
- I no longer remember exactly today - was decided upon.

I am convinced that if this advice and this request and
these representations had not been offered by the Reich
Commissioner through Schongart, the number demanded
originally by Berlin would have lost their lives, so that
one can say with conviction that in this case the Reich
Commissioner saved the lives of several hundred

Q. Were the people who were actually shot collected at
random in the streets or were they people who had already
been officially condemned?

A. Of course, on this point, I can only report what
Brigadefuehrer Schongart told me at that time during the
conference. Indeed, I have no reason to assume that he did
not tell me the truth. He informed me that only such persons
were considered who had already been condemned, so that it
was only a question of advancing the time of the execution,
and if the number should not suffice, then possibly others
might be selected who in any case were already in prison and
would certainly be sentenced to death.

Q. I believe I can conclude this chapter by asking you what
happened to the persons who were sent as hostages to
Buchenwald by way of a so-called Dutch East Indian reprisal.

                                                  [Page 227]

A. After some time, I no longer remember just how long, when
complaints were received about their treatment, a large
number of these hostages, or perhaps all of them, were
brought back into the Netherlands and a very large number of
them were released; not altogether and at once, as I
remember, but a few at a time.

Q. A small town, Putten, was destroyed because of serious
acts of sabotage; was this ordered by the Reich Commissioner
or someone else?

A. Since it was a purely military affair, just like the
Rotterdam incident, where a plot was directed against the
Wehrmacht, the incident was dealt with by the Wehrmacht. The
order was given by the Commander of the Wehrmacht, and if I
remember correctly, the Reich Commissioner - in any case, I
only learned about the incident after the execution had
taken place.

Q. Now I pass over to the next chapter, and that is the
combating of so-called enemies of the State.

Yesterday it was mentioned that the property of the
Freemasons and the Jehovah's Witnesses was confiscated. I
should like to ask you, so that there may be no mistake,
whether it was only the property of the organizations which
was claimed, or was it also the property of the individual
members? And so, taking the Freemasons as an example, was
the property of the individual Freemasons claimed as well as
the property of the lodges?

A. In all these cases property that belonged to
organizations was demanded, never that belonging to
individuals. If there were individual cases where this
happened, then there were abuses by individuals, but I
cannot recall any such abuses.

Q. The Dutch Jews were also counted among the so-called
enemies of the State. Who was responsible for handling the
Jewish question in the Netherlands? You have really already
told me that.

A. From the very beginning, the police laid claim to the
handling of the Jews, to jurisdiction over the treatment of
the Jews, as a matter of fundamental principle.

Q. Now, we have an entire list of decrees here which bear
the name of Seyss-Inquart and which indicate encroachments
on the rights of the Jews. Can you remember when the
legislation against the Jews was introduced and in what

A. The development was briefly more or less as follows:
Seyss-Inquart was opposed to the entire idea of taking up
the Jewish question at all in the Netherlands, and in one of
the Reich Commissioner's first conferences it was ordered
that this question was not to be dealt with.

After a certain length of time - it may have been a few
months - the Reich Commissioner informed us that he had
received the order from Berlin to take up the Jewish problem
because Jews had participated in comparatively large numbers
in various movements and actions in the Netherlands which at
that time, indeed, could only be characterised essentially
as conspiracies.

Apart from that, one had to expect that if the war should
last a fairly long time, the Jews who naturally because of
the treatment they had undergone were not, and could not be,
any friends of the Germans, might become dangerous, and,
therefore, that they should be considered as enemies, if not
in the formal sense of the word; nevertheless, practically

The Reich Commissioner began to carry out this order with
much hesitation, although in the official conference he
pointed out that he could not help doing so because he could
not assume such a responsibility.

So far as I remember, this can be ascertained immediately
from the Reich Commissioner's ordinance bulletin. At first,
steps were taken to register the property of the Jews, then
to prevent German maidservants from being in Jewish
households; the police requested that especially because
naturally all kind of information could be carried back and
forth in this way, and then when Berlin became more
insistent in that question, the Reich Commissioner finally
decided to decree and regulate a registration of all Jews by
ordinance. It was pointed out particularly that we would at
least have to know where the Jews were because only

                                                  [Page 228]

in this way could the proper security police control and
supervision be made possible.

In themselves these measures were far behind those which
were already being carried out in the Reich at that time.

Then more pressure was exerted; I do not know whether it was
perhaps Heydrich who did this at that time, whether he was
already in the Netherlands at that time - I never saw him -
I only know that he visited the Reich Commissioner in the
Netherlands at least twice.

At any rate, in the course of the year 1941 and particularly
in 1942, a comprehensive treatment of the question was
urged. At first the Reich Commissioner still believed that
he could meet these demands by bringing the Jews in the
Netherlands together in one place where they could be more
easily supervised, and therefore the idea arose that in
Amsterdam one, two or three districts of the city might be
used to house the Jews there, which was also connected with
the necessity of resettling a part or a considerable number
of non-Jewish Netherlanders because there was not yet a
completely separate Jewish quarter at that time. The non-
Jewish Dutch did not live completely apart from them.

THE PRESIDENT: All this evidence that the witness is giving
is all in the decree and has already been given by the
defendant, has it not? What is the difference?


THE PRESIDENT: What is the point of it?

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I only wanted to say one
thing, and that is that on such an important question I
wanted to have confirmation briefly by the witness.

THE WITNESS: I have not much more to say.


Q. All right, I shall now summarize. Is it true that one
wanted to put the Jews together in a ghetto in Amsterdam?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that Heydrich demanded the evacuation of the

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that the Reich Commissioner tried, in so far
as it was possible under existing conditions, to use more
humane methods in this deportation of the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. I believe that I have now finished that chapter, too.

There were also concentration camps in the Netherlands. Is
it known to you that Seyss-Inquart had these camps inspected
by judicial commissions and corrected abuses found there?

A. Yes. Not only in concentration camps, but in camps of
this kind in general.

Q. At the end of 1944 and early in 1945 there was a
large-scale operation to deport all the men in Holland able
to bear arms. Was that operation directed by the Reich
Commissioner or by a different office?

A. That was an operation by the Reich, primarily an
operation by the armed forces.

Q. Why did that operation take place?

A. It took place because during those critical times there
were objections to the fact that men who were able to bear
arms remained in Holland. First, because a large number of
former prisoners of war who had been released by order of
the Fuehrer in 1940 were later on mostly brought back to the
Netherlands and a part of them remained there. Secondly, the
resistance movements increased greatly during that time, and
so it was stated that, from the military point of view, the
responsibility of leaving those people able to bear arms in
the Netherlands could not be assumed.

Q. Did the Reich Commissioner, in order to moderate that
operation, issue so-called "Release Certificates"
(Freistellungsscheine) - release slips?

A. Yes.

                                                  [Page 229]

Q: Did not a part escape this operation by way of the Labour
Allocation (Arbeitseinsatz)?

A. As far as I know, yes, but I have no detailed knowledge
of it.

Q. Do you know what happened to the diamonds confiscated
after, the battle of Arnhem?

A. These diamonds were placed in safety in Arnhem by a
German office, the Economic Testing Office I believe, and
then after some time they were taken to Berlin, from where,
as indeed I learned in Holland after the surrender, they
were brought back to Amsterdam again.

Q. How was the financial economy in the administration? Were
the tax revenues used sparingly, or was a very lax
management displayed?

A. I am not really competent .in this field. The General
Commissioner for Finance and Economy could say much more
about that and with much greater authority than I can, but
so far as my impressions went, I may say -

THE PRESIDENT: If he is not competent to speak about it, I
do not see why he should speak about it.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, the witness Fischbock cannot
be found. However, as deputy of the Reich Commissioner, this
witness must know something about the general features of
it. I will ask him for details.


Q. Did the Reich Commissioner save fairly large sums of
money in his budget and deposit them in a special fund?

A. Yes.

Q. You know nothing about foreign currency restrictions,

A. No.

Q. How were raw materials, manufactured items, and
foodstuffs requisitioned in the civilian branch of the

A. It was regulated by an ordinance in the Reich
Commissioner's ordinance bulletin and can be seen tyre. As a
matter of principle, the requisitions were sent from the
Reich to the Reich Commissioner and the Reich Commissioner
passed them on to the Dutch offices concerned, which then
carried out those requisitions themselves.

Q. So it was not the German offices but the Dutch offices
headed by the Dutch General secretaries?

A. Yes. They also were authorized to do this by a special

Q. Did the Reich Commissioner or his offices take anything
from the large museums?

A. I did not quite understand that. From where?

Q. From the public museums.

A. No. I do not recall a single case, and I would have
learned about it because the museums were under me.

Q. Yes, that is why I asked you. Were there possibly any
archives that were carried away?

A. In general, no, but exchange of archives was probably
worked out during the occupation which had been under
consideration even before the war. There was an exchange of
archives between, in particular, the Haus archives, but also
other Dutch archives, and German archives, and, to be exact,
this was done according to where they came from - on the
so-called principle of origin.

Q. Was it possible for everybody to confiscate what he
wanted, or was that controlled in any way?

A. No, that was controlled, and the respective regulations
were again repeated in an especially stern decree of the
Reich Commissioner during the last year. Those who
transgressed or intended to transgress these regulations
were given serious warning. There were only two agencies
which, according to the decree, were allowed to carry out
confiscations at all and these were the police and the

                                                  [Page 230]

Q. In conclusion, I should like to refer once again to the
Wehrmacht operations. Was that discontinued in the autumn?
By "Wehrmacht operation" I mean the collection of those
members of the population able to bear arms.

A. That was stopped on the basis of an objection made by
myself on behalf of the Reich Commissioner to General
Student, who at that time was Chief of the Army Group, and
under whose jurisdiction the Netherlands also came.

Q. Then one last question. Can you remember the Jewish
Library Rosenthaliana?

A. Yes.

Q. What happened to that?

A. As far as I know, it remained in the Netherlands.

Q. Was not that to have been remodelled?

A. Yes. There were such intentions, but since this library
was public property, the property of the City of Amsterdam,
the Reich Commissioner, upon my suggestion, ordered that
this library was to remain in Holland.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I have concluded the
questioning of this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Any other defendants' Counsel want to ask

(No response.)

Do the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Witness, you were selected to fill the office of General
Commissioner in the Netherlands by Seyss-Inquart himself?

A. Yes.

Q. You had known Seyss-Inquart for several years?

A. Yes.

Q. Had you not been one of his assistants ever since 1938?

A. Yes.

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