The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

One Hundred and Fifty-First Day: Monday, 10th June, 1946
(Part 5 of 9)

[DR. STEINBAUER continues his direct examination of Artur Seyss-Inquart]

[Page 82]

Q. I would still like to ask you: did you ever receive anything?

A. No. On my fiftieth birthday -

THE PRESIDENT: The light is going on frequently.

Q. But you received a title, did you not?

A. Do you mean the title of "Gruppenfuehrer of the SS "? On the 15th of March, I was made Gruppenfuehrer of the SS, as an honorary rank. I must add that I did not try to obtain it, and that I went through no examinations, or other such things. As a rule, an honorary rank in the SS does not entail membership of the general SS; it does not bestow on the holder power to issue orders, and he is also not subject to disciplinary powers. I myself learned that when I complained to Himmler about Burckel and demanded proceedings - that letter has been submitted here - Himmler told me then that he had no disciplinary powers over Burckel, who held only an honorary rank. I myself, as regards the SS -

Q. I think that is sufficient.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, as I understood it, the defendant said that he received a secondary post to furnish reports to Heydrich. What was that secondary post? Is that what you said?

THE WITNESS: Heydrich wrote a secret report against me. No, I am sorry, Heydrich sent an escort -

THE PRESIDENT: You said in 1937 Heydrich issued a secret report about Austria, and then said that the solution was unavoidable except for the policy of Seyss-Inquart. That was the substance of it, was it not?

THE WITNESS: I did not quite understand that.

THE PRESIDENT: And after that, I understood you to say you received a secondary post to furnish reports to Heydrich.

THE WITNESS: No, Heydrich sent four or five of his men to accompany me as a kind of guard escort, and these men had orders to report my movements to him.

THE PRESIDENT: I see, I must have misunderstood the translation.


Q. To sum up, I can say that apart from your appointment as SS Gruppenfuehrer you received no awards with the exception of a promise that you would become Reich Minister within a year? Is that correct?

A. This promise was given at the end of April 1938. I refer to a question in the cross-examination of the Reichsmarschall. Before the 13th of March, 1938, I did not receive the slightest promise from the Reich, and was not in any way under obligation to anyone or bound to obey anyone in the Reich.

[Page 83]

Q. And with that I can close the chapter on Austria, and briefly discuss the Czechoslovakian question.

You are accused, on the basis of a congratulatory letter sent to the Fuehrer by Henlein, of having taken an active part in the annexation of Czechoslovakia?

A. In the affairs of September 1938 I had no other part at all than that of receiving, as Reichsstatthalter in Austria, the refugees from the border areas, and lodging and feeding them in Austria. Henlein and a few other leaders I knew personally, without, however, interfering in their politics, and without being well acquainted with their relations to the Reich.

Q. What can you say about Slovakia?

A. The relations between Vienna and Bratislava were very good at the time of the old Austrian monarchy; I, myself, had relatives in Bratislava. Hence the Slovaks and the Germans knew each other well. We knew in particular the complaint of the Slovaks that the promise of Pittsburgh had not been kept, that they had not received full autonomy in their State. Pater Hlinka was in favour of complete autonomy; he was venerated in Slovakia like a saint, and at least three-quarters of the Slovak people were behind him; he advocated independence from the parliament in Prague, and Slovak as the official language.

After March 1938, to be exact, after September 1938, I met a few Slovak politicians, Sidor, Dr. Tiso, Dr. Churchansky, and perhaps one or two others. The Fuehrer himself once asked me to inform him and to send him a report on Slovak conditions, and I commissioned two of my colleagues, who had very good personal connections with Slovakia, to obtain the desired information. In March 1939, I talked to Sidor and Dr. Tiso, because they wanted to confer with me on possible Berlin-Prague developments and their consequences for Slovakia; at least, so I was told by my colleagues who had invited me. Mention was made in these discussions of the possibility of a Berlin-Prague clash, and of the concern for the integrity of Slovakia, because there was the danger that the Hungarians, and the Poles too, might take advantage of the occasion by occupying Slovak territory. The Slovak gentlemen wanted assurances on what Berlin intended to do, and what they could do to preserve the integrity of their country. I spoke very openly with these gentlemen, but I did not ask them to declare their independence, for they themselves had to make that decision. We discussed rather the question of whether differences between Slovak and German interests existed, and we established that they did not exist.

Q. In this connection I should like to refer to two documents. One is No. 71, Page 181. This is the reference to the Pittsburgh treaty. The second document is No. 72, Page 183, submitted by the prosecution as USA 112 as proof that the defendant was in unlawful contact with the Slovaks.

You are, of course, acquainted with this document, witness. It is a report of Viscount Halifax of 21st March, 1939. Who was in Bratislava with you at that time? Or were you there at all?

A. State Secretary Keppler was at that time sent from Berlin to Vienna with the task of putting certain questions to the Slovak Government. Both Burckel and I had refused to take over such an assignment; that was one of the few instances in which I agreed with Burckel. As chief of the administration it fell to me to make preparations for the visit to Bratislava, and it was agreed that State Secretary Keppler would go to Bratislava in my car. Burckel and I accompanied Keppler. No Generals or other representatives of the Wehrmacht were present. The record of the conversations is no doubt accurate.

Q. It says in the document "and five German Generals"?

A. That is wrong. I should like to call the Tribunal's attention to the fact that both the Slovak Minister Sidor and Msgr. Tiso, who later became President, declare in this document that they negotiated only with Burckel; the name Seyss-Inquart does not appear at all.

[Page 84]

Q. Then, to sum up, can I say that you did not engage in the activity with which the prosecution charges you in connection with Czechoslovakia or Slovakia? Is that correct?

A. At any rate, I do not think that, in pursuing the interests of the Reich, I overstepped the limits which in such negotiations must be conceded to someone charged with representing legitimate interests. I did not participate when, on 12th March, Dr. Tiso through Burckel ....

I did not overstep the limits justified in representing legitimate interests of the Reich.

Q. Thank you, that is sufficient.

Then in 1939, on 1st of May, 1939, you became Minister without Portfolio. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ever take part in a cabinet session, or a session of the Secret Defence Council?

A. It no longer existed.

Q. Did you have influence in any way on the decision to make war on Poland?

A. In no way whatever.

Q. When the war with Poland had actually begun, did you express your opinion about it to Hitler?

A. In the second week of September, I wrote a letter to Hitler. I hope that this letter too is among my Vienna files. I read a copy of it about a year and a half ago, and I remember the contents well. I called Hitler's attention to the fact that among the German people there was no enthusiasm at all, but on the contrary, the gravest concern that it would be a life and death struggle. I expressed my opinion that the war would not end through a military solution, but would have to be solved politically, and that the basis for such a political solution would be the alliance with the Soviets, which should perhaps be extended to a military alliance. Consideration should be given to the fact that the Soviets, like Czarist Russia, would never abandon their interests in the Balkans, and that Pan-Slavism would also play a role; consequently, Russia would have to be reckoned with in the Czechoslovak and Polish questions. I said that it was necessary at all costs to maintain the belt of neutral States. Then the war on the narrow Western front would stop of its own accord. The Italian policy, however, should not become a charge on Germany, but an agreement should be reached with Greece and Turkey. England could not be defeated from the air or by U-boats, one had to attack her position in the Mediterranean to force her to make peace.

Q. Did you receive an answer to this letter from the Fuehrer?

A. I received no direct answer but, once in a conversation, he made a remark which showed clearly that he had read the letter. He said to me: "I do not want to destroy the British Empire at all" whereby, however, he betrayed that he had misunderstood my letter.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, if the Tribunal agrees, I think this would be a suitable time to adjourn.


(A recess was taken.)




Q. We last spoke about your attitude with regard to the question of Czechoslovakia. You talked about your position as Reich Governor in Vienna and described your intolerable relations with Burckel, which was the reason why you changed your work and went to Poland. What functions did you carry out in Poland?

[Page 85]

A. First of all, I was appointed administrative chief for Southern Poland, which position actually came within the organization of the Armed Forces. The administration, however, was never set up since the Government General was created forthwith and I became the deputy of the Governor General. My sphere of influence was legally defined but depended, of course, upon the different cases in which the Governor General needed me as his deputy. On 19th January, 1940, he settled this at a conference.

Q. In this connection I should like to refer to Document 73 on Page 185, which is an extract from Dr. Frank's diary. On Page 14 of this diary he describes the functions of Seyss-Inquart, and then on Page 30 he says something which he repeated to you in person, that he bore the responsibility for what happened there.

Now, you became the deputy of the Governor General although by rank as a Minister you were actually placed higher, and you exercised certain functions there, which, as we have heard, consisted primarily of making out reports. Under Document PS-2278 is a report which you yourself wrote, in which there are certain things for which you are accused. Will you please tell us what you have to say about this report on your travels.

A. My secretary wrote that report. I certainly read it.

Q. It is Exhibit USA 706.

A. It is brought up against me amongst other things that the Governor of Lublin had suggested that the Jews should be transferred from Lublin to the district of Kirov and then decimated. The prosecution itself has stated that this is an insertion made by the writer. In any case this was not an official report at a meeting. Kirov itself was a settlement occupied by a group of German nationals, and the employment of Jews in that area could hardly make me suspected of wanting to exterminate the Jews in that district because of the climatic conditions. I knew, however, that it was the Governor's wish to have the very large Jewish population of Lublin removed from the town. I remember nothing of any specific intention expressed by the word "decimating," in the sense of annihilating. The Governor of Radom reported to me that desperate criminals there had been shot. It is true, he did tell me that. I vas under the impression that this had been done by the summary police courts which still functioned at the time. But there are several passages in this same report where I always point out that German courts must be introduced and that no sentence must be carried out without proper court procedure. I think that quite probably I said the same thing at the time I was at Radom, only this is not mentioned in the report.

I have been accused of wanting to monopolise certain vital products, such as salt, etc. That was quite natural considering the economic chaos in which we found Poland. We had to arrive at a natural economic system, and supply the agricultural population with certain products so that they in turn could supply food for the benefit of the Polish town populations. In this connection I wish to point out that I urged the re-establishment of Polish self-administration under the old people of former Polish times, and that I asked for 9,000,000 zloty to be placed at disposal for motor vehicles, etc. In addition to this I said that compulsory work must be replaced by normal employment as soon as possible.

Q. The so-called "AB Action" plays a considerable part in the Polish question. It is an abbreviation for "extraordinary pacification action." Since that might have happened in your time, I should like to ask if you know anything about it.

A. This affair took place during the very last period of my stay in Poland. With the beginning of the Norwegian campaign the resistance movement in Poland became extremely active and grew as a result of the campaign in the West. The Security Police demanded the severest counter-measures. Buehler really made the objection which he stated here on this witness stand. I always understood the Governor General's words just as Buehler wanted them to be understood; but Buehler was quite right in making the objection, because the police might have interpreted these words as giving them much greater powers than the Governor General intended to give them.

[Page 86]

Dr. Frank always opposed the sentences passed by these summary police courts and he set up his own commission of inquiry. I was the chairman of this commission as long as I was in Poland, and sometimes we cancelled as many as 50 per cent. of the sentences imposed.

Q. How long were you actually deputy during your period of office when Dr. Frank was prevented from carrying out his duties?

A. Ten days I believe.

Q. Ten days. Well, then, I think I can rapidly wind up the Polish question by asking: Did you introduce any measures which could really be said to be in the interests of the Polish population?

A. During the winter of 1939 to 1940 there was famine in Polish towns. I intervened with Secretary of State Backe myself, and on one occasion, for instance, I obtained six thousand tons of grain for the large cities. I approached Reichsmarschall Goering and the Fuehrer, too, and asked for the town of Lodz to be left under the administration of the Government General. I did the same for the coal district west of Cracow.

Q. I now come to the main part of the accusation held against you, and that is the question of your activities in the Netherlands.

My first question is this: How did you manage to become Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands?

A. The Fuehrer appointed me.

Q. And where were you at the time?

A. I was on a service mission in the Government General, and Dr. Lammers called me to headquarters.

Q. So you did not apply for this job?

A. No, that did not even enter my mind. At that time I had just asked the Fuehrer, for permission to join the Armed Forces.

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