The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Is it true that during the occupation of the Netherlands
a large number of members of the NSB and pro-German elements
were appointed not only to leading positions, but also to
subordinate positions in the Dutch police, and that they
were charged with executing orders issued by the occupation
authorities, such as the arresting of Jews, members of the
resistance, and hostages?

A. I can confirm the fact that members of the NSB and of
groups friendly to the Germans were employed in high and low
positions by the Reich Commissioner. However, as to their
proportional part within the total of Dutch civil servants
employed in the civilian branch, I believe that even at the
end of the occupation period the participation of these
groups in proportion to the Dutch population was not greater

Q. I spoke to you expressly about the police; reply to that

A. You mean only the police?

Q. I told you: the police.

A. Yes, that is known to me. However, I do not believe that
those members of pro-German groups received special
assignments, but rather I believe that they received their
assignments in exactly the same way as the other civil
servants in the same positions. I cannot, however, say
anything in detail about that, because I had very little to
do with the police.

Q. When officials of the Dutch police refused to carry out
orders which had been given to them by the occupation
authorities and abandoned their posts, did not the German
authorities take members of their families as hostages,
women and children, for instance?

A. I cannot recall that.

Q. In no case?

                                                  [Page 231]

A. That relatives of police officials were arrested? Members
of their families?

Q. Yes, of those who were not carrying out the orders of the
German authorities.

A. I do not remember that.

Q. Well, perhaps you may remember that members of families
of Dutch citizens who offered resistance in one way or
another were arrested as hostages?

A. I have heard about that.

Q. There were some hostages arrested in such cases, for
example, were there not? There were hostages arrested in
those cases?

A. You call it "hostages". Do you also use that expression
in cases where the individuals concerned did not have to
expect that they would lose their lives, that it would cost
them their heads?

Q. So far I have been asking you the questions, and you have
been answering them, have you not?

For instance, did you not receive protests from the Board of
the University of Amsterdam against the fact that the wife
and children of a professor of that University had been
arrested as hostages?

A. I do not remember that. It is possible, however, that
such a complaint came to the Main Department for Education,
which belonged to my Commissariat.

Q. In any case, you do not deny the fact?

A. I could not deny it entirely, but I do not know anything
about it.

Q. Another question. Following the declaration of loyalty
which was imposed on the students, those who refused, were
they not forced to present themselves immediately for work,
and were they not deported to Germany without waiting for
their group to be called up?

A. Yes, but not by the Labour Service (Arbeitsdienst). Do
you mean the Labour Allocation Office (Arbeitseinsatz)?

Q. That is of little importance; but they were deported to
Germany for that reason, were they not?

A. Yes, by virtue of a decree by the Higher SS and Police

Q. Is not it true that numerous and extensive reforms were
introduced by the Reich Commissioner in all the activities
of the life of the Dutch people, and that these reforms were
all contrary to the Constitution?

A. One cannot say that.

Q. But there were reforms, were there not?

A. Certainly, yes, which were caused by the necessities of
war and the fact of the occupation. And there is a third
factor involved, too, which was that there were measures
necessitated by the absence of the head of State and the

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, would it not be better to put
the particular points you want to him, rather than general
questions, which will enable him to deal with the matter at

M. DEBENEST: Yes, Mr. President.


Q. Did the civil administration service in the Netherlands
enjoy a certain freedom?

A. Yes, a great deal of freedom.

Q. I am going to read to you a passage from a report of the
defendant Seyss-Inquart, a report drafted on 19th July 1940,
You shall tell me whether you still maintain the reply that
you have just given me. This is what Seyss-Inquart wrote:

  "The civil administration" (he means the civil
  administration in the Netherlands) "at present finds
  itself in a sufficient and otherwise progressive way
  under the direction and control of the German

Is the answer which you have just made in agreement with
what Seyss-Inquart wrote?

A. If mention is made in Dr. Seyss-Inquart's reply that the
control was in German hands, that can only mean that the
supervision was in the hands of German

                                                  [Page 232]

authorities, for it is naturally to be taken for granted
that the German occupation authorities reserved for
themselves a certain control and supervision over Dutch
legislation, as well as all important acts of administration
and government; and if everything went as it should,
important decrees could not be issued without the approval
of the occupying power.

Q. That is enough. The Tribunal will judge your answer with
regard to this document.

Will you explain why a civilian government was established
in the Netherlands, whereas no such government was set up in
other countries, such as Belgium, for instance?

A. I do not know the real reason for that, but from what I
have heard and could find out myself, the main reason was
that Germany attached the greatest value to establishing a
good relationship with the Netherlands, and the leaders in
the Reich probably thought that this could be more easily
done through men of the civilian administration than through
the Wehrmacht.

Q. More exactly, were they not pursuing a political goal in
this, the goal of placing the country in the hands of the
National Socialists, in order to bring about some sort of
Germanic federation of Germanic states?

A. Whenever I spoke with the Reich Commissioner about such
things, the Reich Commissioner expressed the point of view
that the Dutch people had all the characteristics of a
distinct and independent people and therefore should remain
independent and sovereign as a State. It goes without saying
that during the occupation period the Reich Commissioner and
the German administration maintained fairly close contact
with those parties and groups which were pro-German, and I
do not have to give any reasons for that. But that the
Netherlands, especially during a period of occupation, were
not going to accept completely the political ideology of the
occupying power was quite clear to the Reich Commissioner,
as well as to anyone who was able to judge the conditions at
all reasonably.

Q. You said a few moments ago, if I understood correctly,
that the Reich Commissioner did not want to force the
general secretaries of the Netherlands to make decisions
which might be contrary to their conscience, and if they
felt uneasy about it, they could tender their resignation.
Is that what you stated?

A. Yes.

Q. Did he dismiss any general secretaries who had not
tendered their resignation?

A. There was only one exception, that of General Secretary
Spitzen. That was the general secretary to the Ministry of
Waterways who did not carry out an order of the Reich
Commissioner and in spite of this did not hand in his

Q. Which general secretary was this? In which department?

A. That was the Ministry of Waterways - that was the
ministry that was responsible for canals, reclaimed land,
highways, inland waters, and so forth.

Q. Is that the only case that you know of?

A. That is the only case of which I know.

Q. In what year was that?

A. That, I believe - one moment - at any rate, that was in
1944; in the summer, I believe.

Q. Do you not remember the dismissal of the general
secretary for national defence, Mr. Ringelin?

A. The dismissal of the general secretary for national
defence was not a matter for the Reich Commissioner, but
fell within the jurisdiction of the commander of the
Wehrmacht, since by virtue of the Fuehrer's decree all
military matters fell within the jurisdiction of the
commander of the Wehrmacht.

Q. Why was he dismissed?

A. That is not known to me.

                                                  [Page 233]

Q. Try to refresh your memory with the aid of
Seyss-Inquart's report, and then we will see whether this
was in agreement with the head of the Wehrmacht. This is
what the defendant writes:

  "One of the general secretaries tried - "

THE PRESIDENT (Interrupting): M. Debenest, the witness does
not know anything about it, apparently.

M. DEBENEST: He says that he does not know the reasons, Mr.
President, but he adds - he had previously added - that it
was in agreement with the military, authorities.

THE PRESIDENT: It is a matter which would come under the
competence of the military authorities; and he does not know
about it. That is what he said.

THE WITNESS: All the matters of the ministry for national
defence fell within the jurisdiction of the commander of the
Wehrmacht, for it is perfectly clear that everything of a
military nature which took place or was directed in the
Netherlands there was directed by this ministry, and it is
clear that the commander, the German military representative
of the Reich, was competent in this sphere.

THE PRESIDENT: If you have a document which proves that the
man's dismissal was done by Seyss-Inquart, I suppose you can
put it to him.

M. DEBENEST: I wanted simply to demonstrate that the answer
he gave was inexact, merely by reading four lines of the

THE PRESIDENT: As I said, if you have a document which
proves that the man's dismissal was by Seyss-Inquart, you
can put it to him.

M. DEBENEST: That is what I intended to do, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Do it; put it to him, then.

M. DEBENEST: I do not have the original in German. I handed
it in yesterday evening to the Secretary of the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Read it to him, M. Debenest. Read it to him.

M. DEBENEST: That is what I am going to do, Mr. President.


Q. Here is what Seyss-Inquart wrote:

  "One of the general secretaries tried to appeal to the
  authority of Winkelmann" - Winkelmann was the military
  chief - "concerning the question of the continuation of
  work in armament factories for the Wehrmacht. But this
  official - "

A. I did not understand that. Will you please read the last
two sentences once more?

Q. " ...concerning the matter of the continuation of
armament factories for the Wehrmacht. But this official was
immediately dismissed."

A. But that does not say that the Reich Commissioner
dismissed this official.

Q. Certainly it is not said that the Reich Commissioner did
it; but it is none the less clear in this report that the
Reich Commissioner indicates here that when an official, no
matter who he may be, does not obey the orders which are
given to him, he is dismissed from his office and he quotes
this case as an example.

A. But here it is a question of the military branch. What I
have said before deals exclusively with the civilian sector,
the Reich Commissioner's branch. It is perfectly clear and
possible that in a report to Hitler the Reich Commissioner
should speak about other things also, because he was the
guardian of the interests of the Reich. And he reported
about other things to his superior also, besides those which
were exclusively within his sphere of activity.

I do not know either whether by these officials or these
workers, for example, the general secretary is meant, the
general secretary for national defence.

                                                  [Page 234]

Q. Very well. We will leave this question.

Did you not request that the Secretary General for Education
should place the Kamerlynek-Honesse Laboratories in Leyden
at the disposal of the German authorities for research on
atomic energy?

A. But only in the Netherlands; not in Germany.

Q. But if it was not for Germany, the Secretary General for
Education had perfect freedom to decide for himself; you did
not have to intervene, did you?

A. No. That was a German measure which had been demanded by
the Reich and which was now carried out in such a manner
that all the materials, machinery and so on, remained in the
Netherlands, and German scientists were to have the
opportunity to carry out their researches there. Moreover, I
do not believe that that had anything to do with atomic

Who said that?

Q. You claim that important public libraries and private
libraries were not confiscated or transported to the Reich?
You said so just now, is not that a fact?

A. Just now? I did not speak about libraries at all just

Q. But just now when Seyss-Inquart's defence counsel was
questioning you, you certainly said, unless I misunderstood
you, that no libraries had been transported to the Reich
which came from the Netherlands.

A. I did not say that. Will you please show me that in the

Q. Then it is doubtless a mistake. Were not the professors
of the University of Amsterdam threatened with the death
penalty if they handed in their resignations, and did you
not threaten them yourself?

A. I neither expressed such a threat, nor do I know of any
such threat. I consider it quite impossible that anybody
could have uttered such a threat.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, 14th June, 1946.)

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