The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/06/12

DR. STEINBAUER: With the approval of the Tribunal, I shall
call the witness Dr. Hirschfeld to the stand.

DR. HEINZ MAX HIRSCHFELD, a witness, took the stand and
testified as follows:


Will you state your full name please?

A. Heinz Max Hirschfeld.

O. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will
speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Witness, when the Netherlands were occupied in May 1940,
were you General Secretary of the Economic and Agricultural

A. Before I answer your question, I should like to state
that I would have preferred to speak Dutch, but in order not
to delay the proceedings, I will speak the foreign language
which I speak best; I will speak in German.

As for your question, I can say "yes."

Q. In this same capacity, did you direct the affairs of both
ministries until the end of the occupation?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that the Reich Commissioner, in the first
conference, told all the general secretaries that he
expected loyal fulfilment of their duties, but that no one
would have to fear any disadvantage if he should resign?

A. In answer to that, I should like to say that the
Netherlands general secretaries, who were ordered by the
Netherlands Government to remain in the Netherlands, told
the Reich Commissioner at that time that, in the interests
of the Netherlands people, they would remain in office,
after they had received approval to do so from the
Commander-in-Chief of the Netherlands Army who, at that
time, was the authorized representative of the Netherlands
Government. In answer to the question of the Reich
Commissioner we said "yes," under those conditions.

As for his remark about not fearing disadvantages if we
should resign, we answered that that had nothing to do with
our decision.

Q. Did the general secretaries who resigned receive their
pension? For example, Mr. Trip, who was president of the
Netherlands Bank.

A. Yes.

Q. Did the General Secretary of the Interior, Frederiks,
remain in office until September of 1944?

A. Yes.

                                                  [Page 240]

Q. Now we will speak of your own department, Agriculture and

Did the Reich Commissioner interfere in the administration
of your ministry? In particular, did he release or transfer
officials from the Food Service?

A. The Reich Commissioner personally did not interfere. His
officials attempted to do so several times, but we refused
to allow it.

Q. A so-called State Political Secretariat of the NSB
existed. Did it have any influence on the Administration?

A. According to the order of the Reich Commissioner, this
State Political Secretariat had no influence on the
Netherlands Administration. However, I should like to add
that through the appointments of the NSB General Secretaries
later, such influence was actually exercised in various
departments, though not in my department.

Q. Did the Reich Commissioner have the Head of the Food
Service, Louwes - who was known as being hostile to the
Germans - retained in the interest of the food supply for
the population?

A. I believe the Netherlands officials, left behind by the
Government, in general had the same attitude as Mr. Louwes.
However, Mr. Louwes was left in his office.

Q. Although it was demanded that he should be removed?

A. This was reported to me by Mr. van der Wense only at that

Q. When the trade economy was reorganised, was this done by
order of the Reich Commissioner or by the General Secretary?

A. The reorganisation of the trade economy was carried out
on the basis of an order signed by me, although there was
originally a draft, which was to be signed by the Reich
Commissioner. I refused this, because I was of the opinion
that this was a Dutch affair, and if the order was signed by
me the danger of German influence could be prevented.

Q. The Reich Commissioner organized agriculture in the
so-called Landstand. Did this Landstand receive any
executive powers?

A. The Landstand did not receive any executive powers. I
should like to add that, in a personal talk, I advised the
Reich Commissioner not to form the Landstand.

Q. Was the so-called Conscription Order
(Dienstpflichtverordnung) of 1941 enforced to a great
extent, particularly in the Netherlands?

A. As far as I know, the Conscription Order was only
enforced to a limited extent in the Netherlands, but it was
applied all the more for the deportation of Dutch workers to

Q. Then there was a drive to remove members of the
population who were capable of military service, especially
from Rotterdam and The Hague. Who carried out this drive?

A. Which drive do you mean?

Q. To remove members of the population capable of military

A. In 1944?

Q. 1944.

A. This drive was carried out by the Wehrmacht.

Q. Did the Reich Commissioner weaken this action, by making
exemptions, particularly in your department?

A. As for issuing exemptions, I heard very little of this at
the time.

Q. The shipyards and dock installations in Rotterdam and
Amsterdam were to be blown up. Do you know the attitude of
the Reich Commissioner on this subject?

A. I only know, from statements of the deputy of the Reich
Commissioner, Voelkers, in Rotterdam, that he opposed these
measures, in the face of the Wehrmacht.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I must remark that Voelkers'
affidavit has not yet arrived and at the moment cannot be
traced at all; that is why I am putting this question to
this witness.

                                                  [Page 241]


Q. Do you confirm the fact that through the intervention of
the Reich Commissar the area which was to be flooded was
reduced by about 100,000 hectares?

A. I know that through the intervention of the Reich
Commissioner, or his office, the area which, in 1933 in
particular, was to be flooded was reduced. I do not know
exactly to what extent.

Q. You mean 1943. You made a mistake. You said 1933; it must
be 1943.

A. '43.

Q. Is it possible that this figure of 100,000 hectares is

A. I recall that it might be about half of what the
Wehrmacht had intended to flood at that time.

Q. Is it true that the Reich Commissioner, in view of the
blockade, reorganised agriculture for the production of food
at an opportune moment?

A. When in 1940 the Netherlands were invaded and occupied by
the Germans, the authorities who dealt with agriculture were
of the opinion that a reorganisation of agriculture was
necessary. The Reich Commissioner and his office did not
oppose us in this work.

Q. Is it true, in particular, that the stock of high quality
cattle in the Netherlands was retained by these measures.

A. The livestock in the Netherlands was, to my knowledge,
reduced by about 30 per cent in the period of occupation.
These measures of reorganisation of agriculture made it
possible to retain this 70 per cent of the livestock
throughout the war. Hogs, however, had been reduced to a
much greater extent, and it was necessary to slaughter
almost all the fowls.

Q. The question of the embargo in 1944 was discussed in
detail here. I have one question to put to you:

When did you speak to the defendant Seyss-Inquart for the
first time about lifting the embargo?

A. In answering this question, I must go back a little. When
the railway strike was proclaimed, Mr. Louwes and I on the
17th of September - I beg your pardon, the 22nd of
September, 1944, were visited by van der Wense, who, on
behalf of the Reich Commissioner, told us that he expected
that Mr. Louwes and I would issue an appeal to the railway
men, in order to put an end to the railway strike in the
interests of the food supply for the country. If we did not
do so, counter-measures would immediately be taken to
threaten the Netherlands population in the west of the
country with famine.

We refused to issue such a statement, and we told van der
Wense that he should report to the Reich Commissioner that
reprisals against the population in connection with the
railway strike would place responsibility for the famine on
the Reich Commissioner. That was the decisive discussion.
Nevertheless, the embargo came into being. Thereupon,
protests were lodged on this subject with the various
agencies of the Reich Commissioner, and on the 16th of
October, 1944, the first discussion took place in which it
was announced that the intention was to lift this embargo.

Q. Is it true that unfortunately in this particular year the
frost came earlier than in other years?

A. Perhaps it came a little earlier than in other years; but
in Holland the question of frost is always uncertain. From
the Dutch side it was pointed out - I did this myself in a
Press report - that we always have to expect an early frost.

Q. When the invasion threatened and a large part of the
population was drawn upon to build fortifications, did the
Reich Commissioner agree to your suggestion that a large
number of the agricultural workers should be allowed to go
home early?

A. I know of two cases. In the first place, it was a
question of workers from the big cities who were sent to the
north-eastern provinces in order to dig potatoes, and the
promise was made that these workers would not be used for
fortification work. This promise was kept. Secondly, at the
same time, a large number of

                                                  [Page 242]

agricultural workers in the province of Trente who were
already being used for fortification work were released for
digging potatoes.

Q. I was unfortunately not able to ask the witness Fischbock
about questions relating to finance. Do you know that Mr.
Trip, who resigned on the question of the foreign currency
blockade, was retained in the Bank for International
Payments by the Reich Commissioner in agreement with Funk,
the Minister for Economics.

A. I recall in this connection that Mr. Trip intended to
resign as a member of the administrative council of the
International Bank. When this became known, the Germans were
apparently somewhat scared, and Mr. Trip was asked not to
hand in his resignation. I know that he did not hand it in.
What this implied and what reasons were behind it, I do not
know from my own experience.

Q. I have two last questions, which are extremely important.
We know of an order of the Reich authorities under the title
"scorched earth." It was actually issued in March, 1945, for
the Netherlands. Locks, pumping machinery, dykes, etc., were
to be destroyed. Do you know what was the opinion of the
Reich Commissioner with respect to this important matter?
Did you speak with him about this question?

A. This question was discussed for the first time in a
conversation which I had with the defendant on the 14th of
December, 1944. In this conversation he told me that in view
of military developments, he feared that the Wehrmacht might
receive an order to destroy the west of the country. At that
time he discussed with me to what extent it would be
possible to keep the western part of the Netherlands out of
hostilities. On the 7th of January, 1945, this conversation
was continued. As a result of this conversation, I attempted
to establish contact with London on this question. I did not
succeed in obtaining an answer. These reports had to be made
by secret radio stations. I never learned whether it was
even possible to get one through. Then the Reich
Commissioner visited me on the 2nd of April and told me that
the "scorched earth" order had arrived, and that he had
called on Speer for that reason. Speer had told him that the
Reich Commissioner did not need to carry out this order in
the civilian sphere. But Speer could not speak for the
Wehrmacht. Therefore, the Reich Commissioner had also talked
with General Blaskowitz. Blaskowitz had told him, that
orders were orders, but if a way could be found to avoid
this order, he would be ready to act. Then the Reich
Commissioner asked me what possibilities I could see. This
discussion was the result of a communication which I
reported to London by telegram in April, 1945. It was
confirmed to me that this report had reached London. Further
conversations followed then.

Q. The last question: Did the Reich Commissioner, in
contrast to the central authorities, establish any contact
with the agents of the resistance movement in order to stop
the war prematurely?

A. A few days after the conversation on the 2nd of April,
1945, I had a talk with the deputy of the Reich
Commissioner, Schwebel. He asked me to what extent the Reich
Commissioner could have been in contact with the agents and
whether the few men designated by Herr Schwebel were the
proper men. I then confirmed this.

DR. STEINBAUER: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any other of the defendants' counsel want
to ask questions?

DR. SAUTER (Counsel for the defendant Funk): I should like
to ask the witness a few questions.


Q. Dr. Hirschfeld, you just said that the former president
of the Dutch State Bank, Mr. Trip, was in the administrative
council of the Bank for International Payments at Basle and
remained there after he had resigned his office as bank
president in Holland. You just confirmed that. I should like
to ask you, do you

                                                  [Page 243]

know that the Reich Minister of Economics, Funk, urged the
bank in Basle to allow Mr. Trip to remain in the
International Bank in Basle although Mr. Trip was no longer
authorized to represent Dutch interests?

THE PRESIDENT: How are we concerned with this, Dr. Sauter?

DR. SAUTER: In questioning the defendant Seyss-Inquart the
French prosecution brought out the fact that the former
president of the Dutch State Bank, Mr. Trip, was forced to
resign, or resigned, and the defendant Seyss-Inquart was
charged with this. As defence counsel for the defendant
Funk, I should like to prove that the defendant Funk took
part with Mr. Trip as president of the Netherlands State
Bank and saw to it that Mr. Trip was retained in the
International Bank at Basle.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Sauter, the Tribunal thinks it so
remote and so trivial that really it is quite a waste of
time for the Tribunal to listen to this sort of thing.

DR. SAUTER: Very well, Mr. President, then I will ask
another question.


Witness, do you know that at the time when Dr. Funk was
president of the Reichsbank, the Reichsbank shares in the
possession of Dutch capitalists were taken over and that
Dutch circles realised that this was done in a fair and
satisfactory way by Dr. Funk?

A. I know nothing at all about taking over Reichsbank

Q. Do you know anything, Dr. Hirschfeld, about the opinion
Dr. Funk expressed to you on the question of the treatment
of the clearing debts?

A. After the outbreak of the war between Holland and Germany
I never spoke to Funk. Therefore he did not express any
opinion at all to me during the war.

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