The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Thirty-Fifth Day: Wednesday, January 16th, 1946
(Part 7 of 11)


[Page 317]

Now, briefly summarising, the Tribunal will note that the defendant tells how his appointment as State Councillor in May, 1937, was the result of an agreement between Austria and Germany in July, 1936, which Rainer agreed Seyss-Inquart had helped to bring about; and that his appointment as Minister of the Interior and Security was one of the results of the agreement between Schuschnigg and Hitler at Berchtesgaden, 12th February, 1938. He admits too that, after the appointment and the agreement, the Austrian National Socialists engaged in more and more widespread demonstrations. He tells how, immediately after this appointment as Minister of the Interior and Security, he went directly to Berlin and talked with Himmler and Hitler; and then, finally, he describes the events of that day, of 11th March, 1938, when with the full support of German military power he became Chancellor.

I do not want to quote at length from that description, because the Tribunal knows already what happened. Reading from the middle of Page 3, he says:

"At 10 o'clock in the morning, Glaise-Horstenau and I went to the Bund Chancellery, and conferred for about two hours with Dr. Schuschnigg. We told him all that we knew, particularly about the possibility of disturbances and preparations by the Reich.

The Chancellor said that he would give his decision by 14.00 hours. While I was with Glaise-Horstenau and Dr. Schuschnigg, I was repeatedly called to the telephone to speak to Goering."

THE PRESIDENT: Has this been read already?

LIEUTENANT ATHERTON: No, Sir, this document has not been in before.



"He informed me that the agreement of 12th February had been cancelled and demanded Dr. Schuschnigg's resignation and my appointment as Chancellor."
The Tribunal has heard the other side of that story, the, actual telephone conversations. And then, finally, the next two paragraphs; he tells how

[Page 318]

Keppler repeatedly urged him to send a telegram calling on Germany to send troops, and that at first he refused but finally acquiesced, and I now read from the next to the last paragraph:
"As I am able to gather from the records available, I was requested about 10 p.m. to give my sanction to another somewhat altered telegram about which I informed President Miklas and Dr. Schuschnigg. Finally President Miklas appointed me Chancellor, and a little while later he approved my list of proposed ministers."
If the Tribunal will recall, the telegram in question called on Hitler, on behalf of the Provisional Austrian Government, to send German troops as soon as possible in order to support it in its task and help it to prevent bloodshed. The text of the telegram, as printed in Vol. 6 of the "Dokumente der Deutschen Politik," appears as Document 2463-PS of the document book. It is interesting to note that the text of this telegram is substantially identical with that dictated by Goering over the 'phone to Keppler, on the evening of 11th March, which appears on Page 575 of the record.

Now, on the next morning, again referring to the statement of the defendant, he admits that he telephoned Hitler -

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): Are you reading?

LIEUTENANT ATHERTON: No, Sir, I am summarising.

MR. BIDDLE: If you do not read it, it is not in evidence.

LIEUTENANT ATHERTON: In that event I will read a little further. I read now the last paragraph on Page 3:

"During the morning of 12th March I had a telephone conversation with Hitler, in which I suggested that, while German troops were entering Austria, Austrian troops, as assembled, should march on the Reich. Hitler agreed to this suggestion, and he agreed to meet in Linz in Upper Austria later on, on the same day. He then flew to Linz with Himmler, who had arrived in Vienna from Berlin. I greeted Hitler on the balcony of the City Hall and said that Article 88 of the Treaty of St. Germain was now inoperative."
I have referred to the slavish manner in which, as the evidence has shown, Seyss-Inquart carried out orders conveyed to him by telephone from Goering on 11th March, 1938, in his negotiations with Chancellor Schuschnigg and President Miklas. This relationship had in fact existed for some time. Early in January, 1938, Seyss-Inquart, although he then held an important position in the Austrian Government, had already considered himself as holding a mandate from the Nazi conspirators in Berlin in his negotiations with his own Government. As evidence of the way in which this happened, I offer Document 3473-PS as Exhibit USA 581. This is a letter from Keppler to Goering, dated 6th January, 1938, in which he states, and I quote:
"Dear General:

Councillor of State, Dr. Seyss-Inquart, has sent a courier to me with the report that his negotiations with the Federal Chancellor, Dr. Schuschnigg, have fallen to the ground, so that he feels compelled to return the mandate entrusted to him."

Dr. Seyss-Inquart desires to have a discussion with me regarding this before he acts accordingly. May I ask your advice, whether at this moment such a step, entailing automatically also the resignation of the Federal Minister von Glaise-Horstenau, appears indicated, or whether I should put forth efforts to postpone such an action?"

The letter is signed by Keppler. On top of the original is a brief note apparently attached by the secretary of the defendant Goering and dated Karinhall, 6th January, 1938, reading as follows:

[Page 319]

"Keppler should be told by telephone:

(1) He should do everything to avoid the resignation of Councillor of State Dr. Seyss-Inquart and State Minister von Glaise-Horstenau. If some difficulties should arise, Seyss-Inquart should come to him first of all."

Now, as a result of this directive, apparently telephoned to Keppler, the latter, on 8th January, 1938, wrote a letter to Seyss-Inquart. I now offer this letter, which is Document 3397-PS in evidence, as Exhibit USA 702. Keppler writes, and the Tribunal will remember that Keppler was, at that time, Secretary of State in charge of Austrian Affairs of the German Government:
"Dear State Councillor:

To-day I had a visit from Mr. Pl. who gave us a report of the state of affairs, and informed us that you are seriously considering the question of whether or not you are forced to hand back the mandate entrusted to you.

I informed General Goering of the situation in writing, and G. just informed me that I should try my utmost to prevent you, or anyone else, from taking this step. This is also in the same vein as G.'s conversation with Dr. J. before Christmas; at any rate, G. requests you to undertake nothing of this nature under any circumstances before he himself has the opportunity of speaking with you once more.

I can also inform you that G. is, furthermore, making an effort to speak to Ll., in order that certain improper conditions be eliminated by him."

Then the letter is signed by Keppler.

The two letters together, if the Tribunal please, show clearly enough the extent to which this defendant was a tool, the extent to which he was being used at that time by the conspirators in their planning for their assault on Austria. Now, once German troops were in Austria and Seyss- Inquart had become Chancellor, he lost no time carrying out the plans of his Nazi fellow-conspirators.

I next offer in evidence Document 3254-PS, which is a memorandum written by the defendant Seyss-Inquart entitled "The Austrian Question." It is Exhibit USA 704. I offer it only because of the description which he gives of the manner in which he secured the passage of an Austrian Act in annexing Austria to Germany. He said that on 13th March German officials brought him a proposal for inviting Austria into Germany. They reported that -

THE PRESIDENT: Are you quoting?

LIEUTENANT ATHERTON: I now quote from the middle of Page 20 of the English text:

"I called a meeting of the Council of Ministers, after having been told by Wolff that the Bund President would make no difficulties in regard to that realisation; he would return to his home in the meantime and would await me there. On my proposal the Council of Ministers, assembled in the meantime, adopted the draft bill to which my law section had made some formal modifications. The vote on the 26th April had been planned already in the first draft. According to the provisions of the Constitution of 1st May, 1934, any fundamental modification of the Constitution could be decided by the Council of Ministers, with the approbation of the Bund President. A vote or a confirmation by the nation was in no way provided for. In the event that the Bund President should, for any reason, either resign his functions or be for some time unable to fulfil them, his prerogatives were to go over to the Bund Chancellor. I went to the Bund President with Dr. Wolff. The President told me that he did not know whether this development would be of benefit to the Austrian Nation, but that he did not wish to interfere, and preferred to resign his functions, so that all rights would come into my hands according to the Constitution."
And then, omitting two or three sentences to the top of Page 21:
"Thereafter I returned to Linz, where I arrived about midnight and reported to the Fuehrer the accomplishment of the Anschluss law."

[Page 320]

The same day Germany formally incorporated Austria into the Reich by a decree, and declared it to be a province of the German Reich, in violation of Article 80 of the Treaty of Versailles. I ask the Court to take judicial notice of, Document 2307-PS, which is the decree to this effect, published in 1938 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part 1, Page 237.

If the defendant Seyss-Inquart seems unduly modest as to the part which he played in undermining the Government to which he owed allegiance, his fellow conspirators were quick to recognise the importance of his contributions. In a speech on the 26th March, 1938, the defendant Goering said - and I am reading now from Document 3270-PS, Exhibit USA 703, which is an extract from the "Dokumente der Deutschen Politik," Volume 6, Page 183:

"A complete unanimity between the Fuehrer and the N.S. Confidants inside of Austria existed.... If the N.S. rising succeeded so quickly and thoroughly and without bloodshed, it is first of all due to the intelligent and decisive firmness of the present Reichsstatthalter Seyss- Inquart and his confidants."
I want, before leaving the matter of the Anschluss, to stress this once more, because this was a time of great importance, and it was Seyss-Inquart who held the key position in this first open attack on another country. Had it not been for his part - as has been shown - things might have gone very differently; and if there were no other place where he was connected with the conspirators' plans for aggression, this would be sufficient to rank him with the foremost of the conspirators.

Now, passing on, Mr. Alderman has shown the way in which Seyss-Inquart co-operated with the conspirators in integrating Austria as fully as possible into the Reich, making its resources available to the Reich - its resources of wealth and its resources of manpower.

In furtherance of the conspirators' plan Reichsstatthalter Seyss-Inquart, for the first time, demonstrated his talent for the persecution of Jewish citizens. In an address in Vienna on 26th March, 1938, which will be found at Page 2326 of the record, he recalls that Goering expressly commissioned this defendant, as Reichsstatthalter, to institute anti-Semitic measures.

And the Tribunal will remember from previous evidence the kind of wholesale larceny which this involved. So successfully did Seyss-Inquart perform his task that at the meeting of the Air Ministry, under the chairmanship of the defendant Goering on the 12th November, 1938, Fischbock, a member of Seyss-Inquart's official family, was able to relate the efficiency with which the Civil Administration in Austria dealt with the so-called "Jewish Question." I refer to Document 1816-PS, Exhibit USA 261 - and I am reading first from Page 14 of the English translation. The Tribunal will note that this is the third full paragraph from the bottom of Page 14:

"Your Excellency:

In this matter we have already a very complete plan for Austria. There are 12,000 Jewish artisans and 5,000 Jewish retail shops in Vienna. Before the National Revolution we had already a definite plan for tradesmen, regarding this total of 17,000 stores. Of the shops of the 12,000 artisans about 10,000 were to be closed definitely and 2,000 were to be kept open. 4,000 of the 5,000 retail stores should be closed and 1,000 should be kept open, that is, were to be Aryanised. According to this plan, between 3,000 and 3,500 of the total of 17,000 stores would be kept open, all others closed. This was decided following investigations in every single branch, and according to local needs, in agreement with all competent authorities, and is ready for publication as soon as we receive the law which we requested in September; this law shall empower us to withdraw licences from artisans, quite independent of the Jewish Question." Goering said, "I shall have this decree issued to-day."

[Page 321]

Then, if the Tribunal please, I just wish to read one more sentence from the middle of the next page, in which Fischbock says:
"Out of 17,000 stores 12,000 or 14,000 would be shut down and the remainder Aryanised or handed over to the Bureau of Trustees which is operated by the State."
And Goering replies:
"I have to say that this proposal is grand. This way the whole affair would be wound up in Vienna, one of the, Jewish capitals, so to speak, by Christmas or by the end of the year."
The defendant Funk then says, "We can do the same thing over here."

In other words, Seyss-Inquart's so-called solution was so highly regarded that it was considered a model for the rest of the Reich.

The task of integrating Austria into the Reich being substantially complete, the Nazi conspirators were able to use Seyss-Inquart's expert services for the subjugation of other peoples. As an illustration I refer the Tribunal to Document D-571, Exhibit USA 112, which has already been read in evidence. The Tribunal will recall that from this document it appeared that on the 21st March, 1939, an official of the British Government reported from Prague to Viscount Halifax that a little earlier, on the 11th of March, 1939, Seyss-Inquart, Burckel and five German generals attended a meeting of the Cabinet of the Slovak Government, and told them that they should proclaim the independence of Slovakia, that Hitler had decided to settle the question of Czechoslovakia definitely (this has been read in Court to- day) and that, unless they did as they were told, Hitler would disinterest himself in their fate. It just gives an indication of the manner in which this man continued to be busy in the aggressive plans of these Nazi conspirators.

Now, early in September, 1939, after the opening of the attack against Poland, Seyss-Inquart became Chief of the Civil Administration of South Poland. A few weeks later, on 12th October, 1939, Hitler promulgated a decree providing that territories occupied by German troops, except those incorporated within the German Reich, should be subject to the authority of the Governor-General of the Occupied Polish Territories, and he appointed the defendant Frank as Governor-General and the defendant Seyss-Inquart as Deputy Governor-General. This decree will be found in the 1939 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, Page 2077, and I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it. Shortly thereafter, on 26th October, 1939, Frank promulgated a decree establishing the administration of the Occupied Polish Territories, of which he was Governor. This decree is published in the "Dokumente der Deutschen Politik" and appears in the document book as 3468-PS. I am informed that this book, Volume 7, will be Exhibit USA 705, and I offer it as such.

Article III of the decree provided that the Chief of the Office of the Governor-General and the Senior S.S. and Police Leaders should be directly subordinate to the Governor-General and his Deputy. The Deputy, of course, was the defendant Seyss-Inquart.

The significance of that provision is obvious in the light of the evidence which the Tribunal has heard and will hear. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.

As Deputy Governor-General of the Polish Occupied Territories, Seyss-Inquart seems to have had the job of setting up a German Administration throughout this territory; that is, he worked under the defendant Frank, but did much of the work of interviewing the various local leaders, telling them what they should do. As an illustration I offer in evidence a report of a trip which Seyss-Inquart and his consultants took between the 17th and 22nd of February, 1939. This is our Document 2278-PS, and I offer it as Exhibit USA 706. If the Tribunal please, I have misstated that date or period. It was 17th to the 22nd November, 1939 - in other words, shortly after the

[Page 322]

administration was set up. On the first page of the English translation - and I now quote from the second full paragraph- the following appears:
"At 3 p.m. Reich Minister Dr. Seyss-Inquart addressed the department heads of the District Chief and stated, among other things, that the chief guiding rule for carrying out German administration in the Government General must be solely the interests of the German Reich. A stern and inflexible administration must make the7 area of use to German economy, and, so that excessive clemency may be guarded against, the results of the intrusion of the Polish race into German territory must be brought, to mind."

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