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 6 of 9)

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

[Page 86]

Q. But did not your war-injury prevent you joining the Armed Forces?

A. I had hoped that I might be useful somehow or other.

Q. And what were the instructions the Fuehrer, gave you when he appointed you?

A. The instructions are described in Document 997-PS, which was submitted by the prosecution. That gives a fair picture of them.

Q. That is Exhibit RF-122.

A. I was responsible for the civil administration and, amongst my administrative tasks, I had to look after the interests of the Reich. Apart from this I had a political task - I had to see that whilst Dutch independence was maintained the Netherlands were persuaded to change their pro-British attitude for a pro-German one, and enter into a particularly close economic collaboration.

I wish to draw your attention to Paragraph 3 of this document, in which I point out the difficulties connected with these two tasks and the difficulties in co-ordinating them. I showed that one could not co-ordinate the two so easily.

The occupying power, I said, demanded that all public activities be prohibited and would like to see the growth of a political will while granting such freedom that the final result for the Dutch would depend on their own decision.

It was not my intention, therefore, to force upon the Dutch people any definite political will.

Q. Was this order of the Fuehrer, ever altered later on?

A. No, this order was never altered.

Q. How did you carry out this task from the political point of view? Did you ask the existing parties in Holland to co-operate?

A. With the exception of the Marxist parties I allowed all parties to remain, and I gave them as much freedom to continue their activities as was compatible with the interests of the occupying forces. I particularly helped the National Socialist parties.

[Page 87]

Q. The prosecution makes the accusation against you that in your speeches you often describe things quite differently from the way in which you carried them out.

I refer to Document PS-3430, Exhibit USA 708. It is stated there that you tried to force National Socialism upon the Dutch. That is Document 76, on Page 197 of my Document Book.

A. It is certainly correct that the goal which I had set for myself, and which I proclaimed in my speeches, was not reached in practice, nor could it be reached. However, it may be possible that it gave the Dutch the impression that I was trying to force National Socialism upon them because, after all, later on I could only admit National Socialist parties, whereas I had to dissolve the others.

I never used State methods of coercion to force any Dutchman to become a National Socialist, nor did I make membership in the National Socialist Party a condition for exercising the general rights and privileges which every Dutchman was entitled to.

Incidentally, I referred to this quite clearly in my speech. I said

"I shall always act as a National Socialist. But that does not mean that I shall force National Socialism on one single person. National Socialism is a matter of inner conviction. There are two groups of organizations. There are the political ones in which it is important for every member to be a National Socialist. These are absolutely voluntary organizations. Then there are the vocational organizations, in which it is immaterial what political views the individual has, as long as he fulfils his duties in his particular profession."
Q. Why and when did you dissolve the political parties in Holland?

A. That happened during the second half of 1941. With the beginning of the Eastern campaign all the political parties with the exception of the National Socialists adopted an actively hostile attitude towards the occupation forces. In the interests of the occupation forces, that could no longer be tolerated.

I think it remarkable, to say the least, that for a year and a half I allowed those parties to continue their work, since, after all, they were no less hostile to National Socialism than National Socialism is today with regard to the democratic parties.

Q. Tell me, is it true or not that you showed partiality and gave preference to the NSB Party?

A. That is quite true, as far as the field of political propaganda was concerned; it is untrue as far as State matters were concerned.

The creation of a so-called National Political Secretariat has been held up as an accusation against me. That was a National Socialist advisory body for my administration, and it was not allowed to exercise any influence on the Dutch administration. Any such attempts were strictly prohibited by me.

Q. Did you not, nevertheless, put individual members of the NSDAP into State positions?

A. That is true, and it seemed a matter of course to me because I had to find colleagues on whom I could rely. They were not under party orders however; on the contrary, in most cases a certain difference arose between these people and the heads of the Party.

In the face of urgent protests I did not create a National Socialist government in the Netherlands, as was the case in Norway, and chiefly because certain Dutch gentlemen like General Secretary van Damm, President van Lohen of the Supreme Court and Professor Sheider, who was President of the Cultural Committee, urged me to realize how wrong it would be to do so.

Q. President Vorrinck, a witness who has been examined here, talked about a policy of exploitation which you carried on. Is that true?

A. An exploitation of the National Socialist parties for the benefit of German policy did actually occur. I observed it, and I stated the fact publicly. I regretted this occurrence, but I could not stop it. The German occupation forces

[Page 88]

had to introduce a number of measures which were oppressive for the Dutch people, and which discredited our Dutch friends.

Q. What do you have to say to the accusation brought against you that you had politically co-ordinated all the cultural institutions?

A. The accusation is partly correct. With the prohibition of the political parties, most of the organizations of the liberal professions became impossible, since right down to the chessplayers' club, everything in the Netherlands was organized on a political basis. In the interests of the occupation forces I had to create new supervisory bodies. Maybe it was due to lack of imagination that these organizations were in part at least very similar to their prototypes in the Reich. But I only used these organizations for purposes of supervision and never asked them to co-operate politically. Not only did I refrain from making the exercise of a profession dependent on co-operation, but I did net even insist upon compulsory collection of membership fees.

I admit that we made two mistakes from two errors of judgement: First of all we had the mistaken impression that the order we imposed as occupation authorities was necessarily the right one, at least the better one; and secondly, that in an occupied country, an independent political will can develop. It was there that our policy failed.

Q. What institutions did you set up in consequence?

A. I created a cultural association (Kulturkammer ), a medical association (Aerztekammer), a chemists' association (Apothekerkammer) and a board of agriculture (Landstand); then there was a workers' front, but that was a voluntary organization. Members could leave it without any disadvantage to themselves whenever they wished.

Q. Then another charge is brought against you, that of "Germanisation." What do you say to that?

A. First of all, I must get something quite clear. In English, you say "Germany," and in Russian you say "Germanski." Both mean "German" (Deutsch). And when we spoke of "Germanisation," then we did not mean "making them into Germans"; we meant a political and cultural union of the so-called "Germanic peoples," with reciprocal equal rights. That we did intervene in this way, I stated in a speech, Document 103:

"Why do the Germans interfere with everything in the Netherlands?"
Then I went on to say that in this total warfare there would be moments of tension -

THE PRESIDENT: What page is that on?

DR. STEINBAUER: It is still Exhibit USA 708, which has not been translated. But the entire book has been presented.

THE PRESIDENT: Has it got a PS number?

DR. STEINBAUER: Its PS number is 3430. It has been made Exhibit USA 708. It is a book entitled Four Years in the Netherlands, and it contains a collection of speeches made by the witness, several of which have been submitted by the prosecution. The witness is now replying to them.


THE WITNESS: There are moments of tension where there is no longer any dividing line between something which is important to the war effort and of a military nature, and something which is private and a matter for civilians.

I was quite aware of the fact that all public activities might be used for or against the occupation forces, and that I had therefore to exercise control over them.


Q. Were there any attempts on the part of the NSDAP in the Reich to influence your administration in the interests of the Party?

[Page 89]

A. The Foreign Organization in the Netherlands had a remodelled organization which permitted it to support the policy of the Dutch National Socialist Party in every respect. It had, however, no particular influence of its own.

Q. That is the important thing. Now, let us turn to the administration proper. Who were the competent authorities in the Netherlands?

A. In the civilian sector, there was the Reich Commissioner ... on a similar footing as the commander of the armed forces, and the police had a sector of their own. The commander of the armed forces had special rights to intervene, and from July 1944 on, a part of the executive powers was transferred to him.

The police were merely placed at my disposal, and came under the Higher SS and Police Leader, who was nominated by Himmler and appointed by the Fuehrer. I was never asked about this beforehand. The police reserved the right to investigate, that is to say, if I gave them an order they would investigate as to whether the order was in line with the instructions which Himmler had given directly to the Higher SS and Police Leader.

Then there were the General Plenipotentiary for Employment of Labour and the Armament Minister who carried out the orders for the Four-Year Plan.

Q. Yes, and as another Reich organization, there was Rosenberg's Einsatzstab, too, and Speer, to complete the picture?

A. Yes, Speer was the Minister for Armaments. Then there were other smaller and separate mandates of a special nature.

So that you were really nothing but a kind of executive organ attached to higher Reich offices?

A. No; I was not an ordinary official. I bore responsibility for the Reich in the civilian sector. Perhaps during the first few months departments in Berlin went straight ahead and ignored me, but I then concentrated the administration in such a way in my own hands that nothing occurred in the civilian sector to which I had not previously given my consent. The Fuehrer acknowledged this quite plainly on one occasion, and I should like to remark that you must not draw any conclusions from this with regard to other occupied territories. I am perfectly convinced that in the Eastern territories and in the Government General the same centralisation did not exist.

Q. What possibilities did you have then of setting up an administration?

A. The initiative for and the extent of the demands made by the Reich came, of course, from the competent central offices in the Reich. I investigated the demands with my colleagues in consultation with the Dutch offices. We would then make counter-proposals, which seemed to us reasonable for the Dutch. And if the Reich still demanded more, then we made efforts not to exceed what could be expected of them. Until 1943, all demands were fulfilled by the Dutch authorities themselves. I gave my officials no authority to make such demands until after this period. Then the demands became so increased, that I could no longer expect the Dutch authorities to meet them.

Q. I come back to the question of the police for a moment, which, as you said, came directly under Himmler ....

A. You asked what possibilities I had?

Q. Yes.

A. I had two possibilities: The Queen of the Netherlands and the government had gone to England. I could have appointed a new Dutch government, as in Norway, or I could conduct the administration of the country myself. I decided on the second solution.

Q. How did you organize the existing police force in the Netherlands?

A. Whereas the German police were not in any way dependent on me, the Dutch police were under my orders; but it was a matter of course that I should transfer the supervision of the Dutch police to the Higher SS and Police Leader, and make him my General Commissioner for Security. The Dutch police were divided into three or four different branches. I think that we can safely say we

[Page 90]

were acting in the interests of the occupying power when we co-ordinated them as regards organization.

Q. What was the "Home Guard"?

A. The "Home Guard" was a protection squad organized by the Dutch National Socialists. In 1943 there were serious cases of terror-attacks on National Socialists, and also some very cruel murders. There was the danger of the counter-terror, of which we had heard in Denmark, and in fact several unfortunate incidents did happen. Consequently I had this "Home Guard" organized with orders to act as a regular disciplined auxiliary police force and to control street traffic at night, and guard railways, etc. The result was that these acts of terror almost entirely ceased, and until the middle of '44, no further difficulties arose.

Q. Witness, we now come to an exceptionally important chapter.

A. May I just for a moment refer to Document 101? This document has been held against me by the prosecution -

THE PRESIDENT: Is 101 the right designation?

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, the speeches which the defendant is quoting have been sent down by me to be mimeographed. Although they are actually already before the Tribunal, the translation department did not quite catch up, as they wanted to translate all the affidavits too. So they are not here yet in the translation, but I hope to have them by tomorrow morning.

THE PRESIDENT: Has it not a PS number or any other designation?

DR. STEINBAUER: It is a book, Exhibit USA 708. The prosecution has only quoted individual passages from it.


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