The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd February to 13th February, 1946

Forty-Ninth Day: Saturday, 2nd February, 1946
(Part 4 of 4)

[DR. STEINBAUER continues his cross examination of the witness Jacobus Vorrink]

[Page 15]

Q. Do you know that Seyss-Inquart prevented valuable cultural treasures, especially libraries, which were already ready for transportation, from being sent to the Reich?

A. I do not know whether Seyss-Inquart used his personal influence in that respect, I only know enormous quantities of our art treasures and books were taken away to Germany, and in any case he was then powerless to prevent it.

Q. You said also that foreign wireless was prohibited because it stimulated resistance. As a leader, would you have allowed foreign wireless?

A. I would by all means allow the wireless. I am of the opinion that there can be no human dignity if people are not allowed to form their opinions by hearing reasons for and against.

Q. Was Mussert given the task of forming a Government, or was that not done because Seyss-Inquart objected?

A. I really do not know what happened behind the scenes, but perhaps you may be right that Seyss-Inquart was no friend of Mussert. While in was taken out of my cell one night and asked to write an article on the Socialist movement in Holland, and I was requested to give my own personal opinion about Mussert. When I answered, "Why should I do this? You know what I think of Mussert and of all the Nazis," they said: "You make cannot it bad enough." I took this to be one of the many machinations of the Nazi cliques which fought one against the other.

DR. STEINBAUER: I thank you. I have no further questions.

BY DR. BABEL (counsel for the S.S. and the S.D.):

Q. Witness, you spoke of Dutch youngsers who had entered the S.S. you tell me approximately what the total number was?

A. I would say, a few thousand.

Q. In your opinion, how many of those entered the ranks voluntarily many were forced?

[Page 16]

IA. I cannot give you an exact figure, but I am of the opinion that if minors entered the organisation without the consent of their parents they did not do it voluntarily. They could not judge the consequences of their actions.

Q. I did not ask that question. I asked you how many, in your opinion, joined the S.S. voluntarily and how many were forced. Will you answer this question and no other?

A. I have already said that I cannot give you the exact number.

Q. Well, an approximate figure.

A. I would say several hundred were forced.

Q. Good, and you gave the total number as several thousand.

A. They were youngsters who for some reason or another left their home, and they were taken by the Green Police or the Security Police and pressed into the S.S. I myself have come across quite a few cases of this in Dutch concentration camps. As an old leader in the Youth Movement I was able to speak to these youngsters and got them to tell me about their life.

Q. You say "pressed." What do you mean by "pressed"?

A. That means that they were threatened with imprisonment if they were not willing to join the S.S.

Q. You heard that yourself?

A. Yes.

Q. You further said that thousands of workmen left their organisations. I think you said tens of thousands. Did they do so voluntarily, or what was the reason for this?

A. The reasons were that the workmen refused to be in a Nazified trade union and to submit to the Fuehrer principle. They wanted to be in their old trade unions where they could have a say in the running of their organisation.

Q. The resignations, therefore, were voluntary?

A. Yes.

Q. In regard to the Jewish Question, you said that at first nothing happened to the Jews, but that nevertheless there was a wave of suicides. Why? What was the reason for those suicides when it had been said, "Nothing will happen to you" ?

A. These Jews were the most sensible ones. We in Holland did not live on an island, and we knew all that had happened between 1933 and 1940 in Germany. We knew that in Germany the Jews had been persecuted to death, and I personally still have in my possession quite a few sworn statements of Jews, who had emigrated, who kept us hourly informed of how they had been tortured and martyred by the S.S. during the period before the war. That, of course, was known to the Dutch Jews, and in my opinion in that respect they were more sensible, since they knew they would suffer the same fate.

Q. You put it in such a way as to make it sound as if there were a large number. Was that so, or were they a few individual cases?

A. This happened to about 30 or 50 people, but in Holland, where we value life very highly, that is quite a large number.

Q. That is your opinion. Now, you used the word "Nazi illiterate."

A. I do not understand.

Q. You used the word, "Nazi illiterate." Have you - quite apart from, I would say, your not very friendly attitude towards us Germans -- have you any justification for saying this? Have you met a German who was illiterate?

A. I am rather surprised at this question. By an "illiterate Nazi" I meant a man who talks about things of which he has no knowledge, and the people who judged an author's work were people who had been set to read through the book to find out whether a Jew appeared in it and was presented as a good and humane character. According to the Nazi concepts, such a book could not be published.

Q. Yes?

[Page 17]

A. I would add that I have used the word "Nazi illiterate" from the days when there were found in the German cities, in the country of Goethe and Schiller, great piles of burned books, books that we had read and admired in Holland.

. Q. I understand you to mean that you can bring no positive facts which might justify this derogatory word "Nazi illiterate."

Thank you.

BY DR. PANNENBECKER (counsel for defendant Frick):

Q. I have just one question, Witness. You just said that young people who did not enter the S.S. were threatened with prison. Do I understand you to say that they would be given prison sentences for an offence committed previously or that they would be imprisoned only because they did not enter the S.S.?

A. They would be given a prison sentence, of course, because they had been threatened. Whether they would have put them in prison, I do not know, but it was a threat. It was one of the usual methods of the Nazis to say, "We want you to do this or that, and if you do not we will put you in prison." There were so many instances of this sort of thing that one could have no illusions about it.

Q. But it is correct, in this case, that these were youngsters who had run away from home because of differences with their parents?

A. Those are cases which I know of personally.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any other defence counsel wish to ask any questions?

(No response.)

THE PRESIDENT: M. Faure, do you wish to ask any questions?

M. FAURE: I have no further questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Then, the witness can retire.

M. FAURE: I will ask the Tribunal to be kind enough to take the brief and the document book bearing the title, "Denmark."

The Tribunal knows that Denmark was invaded on 9th April, 1940, in violation, as in other cases, of treaties, and particularly of a treaty which was not very old, since it was the Non-Aggression Treaty which had been concluded on 31st May, 1939.

Inasmuch as Denmark was not in a position to offer armed resistance to this invasion, the Germans sought to establish and to maintain the fiction according to which that country was not an occupied country. Therefore they did not set up a civil administration with powers to issue regulations as they were to do in the case of Belgium and Holland.

On the other hand, there was a military command, inasmuch as troops were garrisoned there. But this military command, contrary to what happened in the other occupied countries, did not exercise any official authority by issuing decrees or general regulations.

In spite of this fiction, the Germans did commit, in this country which they pretended they were not occupying, usurpations of sovereignity. These usurpations were all the more blatant inasmuch as they had no juridical justification whatever, even from the Nazi point of view.

During the first period, which extended to the middle of 1943, German usurpations were discreet and camouflaged. There were two reasons for this. The first was that one had to take into account international public opinion, inasmuch as Denmark was not officially occupied.

The second reasorf was that the Germans had conceived the plan of Germanising the country from within by developing national idealistic political propaganda there.

I think it should be noted, very briefly, that this Germanisation from within had already begun before the war. It is set forth in detail and in a most interesting manner in a part of the official report of the Danish Government, which I place before the Tribunal as Exhibit RF 901.

[Page 18]

This document comprises the whole of the green dossier which the Tribunal has before it. There are several sections. The subject of which I am now speaking is to be found in the first document of this bundle. This first document starts with the heading "Memorandum."

This document shows that even before the war the Germans had organised an information service which was supplemented by a clever espionage service. In particular they had established a branch of the National Socialist Party, into which Germans living in Denmark were recruited.

The idea was first of all to form a party made up of Germans and we shall shortly see how this National Socialist Party was afterwards called Danish.

This branch of the German Party was called "N.S.D.A.P., Ausland Organisation, Landeskreis Daenemark" (Foreign Section, Regional District Denmark). It acted in co-ordination with other institutions, particularly the Deutsche Akademie, the Danish-German Chamber of Commerce and the "Nordische Gesellschaft" (Nordic Association).

A German organisation in Hamburg called the "Deutsche Fichtebund," which was directly under the Reich Ministry of National Enlightenment and Propaganda, undertook a systematic propaganda campaign in order to gain favourable Danish public opinion.

In this connection I would like to quote a passage from the document, which is worthy of note from the poirit of view of German premeditation and of the methods employed. This passage is in the first document which I have just mentioned and which is called "Memorandum," on Page 6 of this first document. I will omit the first sentence of the paragraph.

I would point out to the Tribunal, in case it should be more convenient for them because of the length of the document, that these quotations are to be found in the brief.


"This information agency, which functioned in Hamburg with no less than eight different addresses, gave in one of its publications the following details about itself. It was established in January, 1940, in memory of the German philosopher, Fichte, and was to be looked upon as a 'union for world truth.' The objects were: (1) To encourage mutual understanding by the publication and distribution free of charge of information on the New Germany. (2) The protection of culture and civilisation by the propagation of truth concerning the destructive forces in the world."
I omit one sentence and continue:
"This German propaganda had for its essential purpose and its most obvious aim the creation in Denmark of a nation-wide sentiment favourable to Germany and hostile to England, but it could also represent an attempt to prepare the ground for the introduction into Denmark of a Nazi system of government by collecting surreptitiously all manifestations of discontent in Denmark against the democratic regime in order to use such data as documentary proof in the event of a liberation action in the future. Thus, in January, 1940, the propaganda was no longer content merely with attacking England and her methods of conducting the war, or the Jews and their mentality, but proceeded to make serious attacks on the mentality of the Government and the Danish Parliament."
Finally, in this connection the Danish report mentions a very revealing incident:
"At the end of February, 1940, the Danish police seized from a German subject a document entitled, 'Project for Propaganda in Denmark.'"
In saying this, I am summarising the first paragraph of Page 7 of this report. This document contains a characteristic sentence: it is the last sentence in that paragraph, in German, and is between quotes with a French translation in parentheses:

[Page 19]

"It should be possible to hold the daily Press under the control of the Legation and of its collaborators."
Germany did not limit herself to the use of her own subjects as agents inside the country and for carrying out propaganda, but she also inspired the organisation of Danish political groups which were affiliated with the Nazi Party.

This campaign first of all found favourable ground in Southern Jutland, where there was a German minority. The Germans thus were able to promote the organisation of a group called "Schleswigeche Karneradschaft," or S.K., which exactly corresponds to the German S.A. The members of this group received military training.

Likewise a group called "Deutsche Jugendschaft Nordschleswig" had been organised on the pattern of the Hitler Jugend.

I want to call the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that I am now summarising the statements in the Danish report in order to avoid reading in full. These statements are developed in detail in the following chapters of the report and what I have just said is on Page 7.

This German infiltration had been completed by social institutions such as the "Wohlfahrtsdienst" founded in 1929 at Tinglev and the "Deutsche Selbsthilfe" - founded in 1935, and also by economic organisations, the model of which was "Kreditanstalt Vogelsang," which by very clever and secret financing on the part of the Reich had succeeded in taking over important agricultural properties.

Pages 6 and 7: The movement formed in Southern Jutland then tried to spread to the whole of Denmark. Thus there existed, even before the war, a National Socialist Party of Denmark, whose leader was Fritz Clausen. We read in the Government report:

"With regard to the relations of the Party with Germany prior to the occupation, it can be said that Fritz Clausen himself, as well as the members of the Party, were assiduous participants at the Party Days held in Nuremberg and at the Congress of Streicher at Erfurth, and that, in any event, Fritz Clausen personally was in very close relation with the German Foreign Office."
This propagation of Nazism in Denmark, starting in Southern Jutland and spreading to the rest of the country, is illustrated by the fact that the Nazi newspaper, called "The Fatherland," which at first was published in Southern Jutland, was transferred in October, 1939, to Copenhagen, where from then on it was published as a morning daily.

Such, then, was the situation when the occupation started. As I have indicated, the Germans did not establish a formal occupation authority, and it follows that the two principal agents for the usurpation of sovereignty in Denmark were diplomatic representation, on the one hand, and the Danish Nazi Party on the other.

The German Reich Plenipotentiary in Denmark was at first von Renthe- Fink, and from October, 1942, Dr. Best.

Cases of diplomatic infringement on Danish sovereignty were numerous, and the demands, made at first in a discreet manner, became more and more sweeping. I will quote an example, a document which is contained in the Government report. This document is a memorandum submitted by the Reich Plenipotentiary on 12th April, 1941.

May I point out to the Tribunal that this text is to be found in book No. 3 of the report submitted. This third book is entitled, "Second Memorandum," or rather it is a continuation of this third book and there is a sheet entitled "Annex One." I am now quoting:

"The German Reich Plenipotentiary has received instructions to demand from the Royal Government of Denmark:

[Page 20]

First: A formal declaration as to whether His Majesty, the King of Denmark, to whom M. de Kauffmann, Minister of Denmark, now refers, or any member of the Royal Danish Government, had prior to its publication any knowledge of the treaty concluded between M. de Kauffmann and the American Government.

Second: The immediate putting into effect of the recall of M. de Kauffmann, Minister of Denmark, by His Majesty, the King of Denmark.

Third: The delivery without delay to the Charges d'Affairs of the United States in Copenhagen of a note disavowing M. de KauEmann, communicating the fact that he is being recalled and stating that the treaty thus concluded is not binding upon the Danish Government, and formulating the most energetic protest against the American procedure.

Fourth: A communication to be published in the Press, according to which the Danish Royal Government clearly states that M. de Kauffmann acted against the will of His Majesty the King and of the Danish Royal Government and without their authorisation; that he has been recalled, and that the Danish Government considers the treaty thus concluded as not binding upon it and has formulated the most energetic protests against the American procedure.

Fifth: The promulgation of a law, according to which the loss of nationality and the confiscation of property may be pronounced against any Danish subject who has been guilty of grave offences abroad against the interests of Denmark, or against the provisions laid down by the Danish Government.

Sixth: M. de Kauffraarm to be brought to trial for the crime of high treason, by virtue of Article 98 of the penal civil code, and of Article 3, Section 3, of the law of 18th January, 1941, and to lose his nationality in conformity with a law to be promulgated, as mentioned under paragraph 5."

I believe that this very characteristic example shows how the sovereignty of the legitimate Danish Government was violated by the Germans. They gave orders in the sphere of international relations, although liberty in this sphere constitutes the essential attribute of the sovereignty and the independence of the State. They even go so far, as the Tribunal has seen in the last two paragraphs, as to demand that a law be passed in accordance with their wishes and that a prosecution for high treason be made in conformity with such law, on the supposition that it will be promulgated at their instance.

To conclude the subject, I would like to read a passage from the Danish Government's report which appears in the second supplementary memorandum on Page 4. The second supplementary memorandum is the third book in the green file:

"In the month of October there occurred a sudden crisis. The Germans claimed that His Majesty the King had offended Hitler by giving too short a reply to a telegram which the latter had sent to him. The Germans reacted abruptly and with extreme violence. The German Minister in Copenhagen was immediately recalled. The Danish Minister in Berlin was then recalled to Denmark. Minister von Renthe-Fink was replaced by Dr. Best, who arrived in the country with the title of Plenipotentiary of the German Reich and who brought with him sweeping demands on the part of the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, von Ribbentrop, including a demand for a change in the Danish Government and the admission of National Socialists into the Government. These demands were refused by Denmark and, the Government having dragged out the matter, they were finally abandoned by Dr. Best."
THE PRESIDENT: This may be a convenient time to break off.

(The Tribunal adjourned until Monday, 4th February, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.