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-Second Day: Tuesday, 11th June, 1946
(Part 7 of 9)

[M. DEBENEST continues his cross examination of Artur Seyss-Inquart]

[Page 129]

Q. Well, I shall give you briefly an account of paragraph two of your regulation. It is the regulation of 11th March, 1943, No. 27.
"Each student who, after the present regulation has been put into effect, has successfully passed the final examination or a similar test, in one of the studies mentioned in paragraph one, specified as such by orders of the General Secretary in the Ministry for Education, Science and Culture, is compelled to work for a determined period within the scope of the Arbeitseinsatz (labour commitment.)."
Is that your ordinance?

A. Does it say labour service?

Q. I have not got the German version in front of me. It is ordinance Document No. 27.

A. Ordnance No. 27. May I ask what paragraph it is?

Q. Second paragraph.

A. That is correct. It says, "Students who have taken the final examination", that is, who are no longer studying but have finished their studies. Members of

[Page 130]

the same age groups were meanwhile drafted for labour commitments, and those exempted by me had to make this up. But their study was not disturbed or interrupted.

Q. Therefore, the students were able, freely to continue their studies?

A. I do not recall any obstacles.

Q. Good. Will you please look at the following decree, that is, No. 28, which is a decree of Secretary General van Damm. This decree forces the students to make a declaration of loyalty.

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. What were the consequences?

A. The Universities were, at that time, the seat of anti-German activities. I demanded from the university students a declaration promising they would uphold the laws in effect in the occupied Netherland territories, that they would abstain from any action against the German Reich, the Wehrmacht, and the Netherlands authorities, and that they would not interfere with public order at the University.

I could not understand why a University student could not make such a statement. Those who did make it were able to continue their studies without any hindrance. But the Dutch professors, by way of sabotage, refused to give them any instructions.

Q. Well, then, those who did not subscribe to this declaration, what happened to them?

A. They were no longer university students, and if they fell into the age groups which I had called up for labour commitment, they were drafted.

Q. Did you not apply the Fuehrer principle to the Universities?

A. Not quite as strictly, I believe, as in the community administrations. But I gave the director of the University greater power because I demanded greater responsibility from him.

Q. Very well. Was not a certain National Socialist propaganda made in the schools?

A. I believe that could not be entirely prevented.

Q. In particular, did not the students have to visit certain exhibitions and be present at lectures organized by the Party or even by the Reich offices?

A. I do not know, but it is possible.

Q. In short, you interfered in the administrative domain, in the realm of teaching, and you also interfered in a similar manner in the cultural life of the Dutch people?

A. Yes, to the extent which I stated yesterday.

Q. You did, in fact, create various professional associations, is not that what you told us?

A. Yes, yes.

Q. You alleged that the acceptance into these trade associations was not obligatory and that you never imposed payment of dues?

A. That is not correct. Membership in these associations was obligatory. I am also convinced that the head of the associations required the members to pay their dues. I refused to conclude, from the failure to pay dues, that a person was no longer a member of the association, and consequently could no longer practice his trade, or that his dues could be collected by way of court action.

Q. However, do you not recall the difficulties which arose in this manner with the medical profession?

A. I was just thinking of the Medical Association. Certain circles in it desired that the members who did not pay their dues should be prohibited from carrying out their profession, or, at least, the dues should be collected through court pressure. I told these gentlemen that if it was not possible to persuade the members to pay their dues, I, for my part, would not apply any force.

Q. What were these circles?

A. Perhaps you can tell me, then we shall save more time.

[Page 131]

Q. Was it not the NSB for instance?

A. In what connection?

Q. Well, still in connection with - You yourself said that certain circles had demanded the payment of dues. I am asking, what circles?

A. Do you mean what friends or co-workers of mine urged me to insist on payment? The question is not very clear to me.

Q. I am just asking you to say exactly what you mean by "circles". You, yourself, used the word - unless it is a mistranslation.

A. "Circles?"

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, the Tribunal thinks really that you are spending too much time on these various small subjects. We have spent the whole afternoon on these various measures which the defendant introduced in the Netherlands. It is perfectly clear according to his own admission that he was altering the whole form of administration in the Netherlands.


Q. Did you not also take part in the persecution of the churches?

A. I do not know whether the measures could be called "persecution of the churches", but I took measures concerning the churches.

Q. What measures in particular? What measures?

A. I believe that the most serious, in your eyes, would be the confiscation of various Netherlands cloisters. One of them was turned into a German school and the church building was pulled down.

Q. You alleged yesterday that priests or at least one priest could visit concentration camps? Is that correct?

A. I did not understand the question.

Q. You said -

A. No, I do not understand. Please speak more slowly.

Q. You said yesterday that a priest or priests had the right to visit concentration camps. Is that right?

A. No, I did not say that. I said only that in the Jewish camp at Westerborg there were Catholic and Protestant Jews, who were visited on Sundays by a clergyman from outside. I do not believe that clergymen were allowed to pay visits at the concentration camps under the control of German Police or were able to enter them.

Q. Just one question as regards the Press. Did the Press retain a certain - I repeat, a "certain" - liberty during the time of the occupation?

A. From my point of view, much too little. The Press was under fairly strict control of the Propaganda Ministry. The editors were employed after being judged suitable by the Netherlands Propaganda Ministry. I believe that it is a matter of course for an occupying power that for such an important instrument one takes only people who have a certain positive attitude. I would have wished that these men be given much more freedom of speech, and I believe I can say that so far as I exerted any influence, this was the case; but even the Reich Commissioner in the Netherlands was not almighty.

Q. Were there not reprisal measures taken against certain newspapers?

A. I do not know....

THE PRESIDENT: We might get on a little bit more quickly. There is a very long pause between the question and the answer.

THE WITNESS: I must first recall the circumstances. If unexpectedly I am questioned about something which happened five years ago I must think over carefully what actually happened in individual cases. For example, I can say "No" immediately, but I am sure that the answer is wrong.

For example, reprisals - I know that once in the Hague the editor's office of a newspaper was blown up. That was a measure taken by the Security Police. It was the seat of an illegal propaganda group.

[Page 132]


Q. You spoke yesterday of the sterilisation of the Jews in Holland. Who introduced this measure?

A. If you say "introduced" - I believe that I can answer the question correctly. The Security Police informed me that a number of Jews had themselves sterilised by Jewish doctors and that thereupon these Jews were freed of all restrictions and dispensed with the wearing of the Jewish Star. These were Jews who otherwise would have been evacuated, and they were allowed to remain in Holland subject to certain restrictions.

I asked the head of my Health Department to investigate the matter. He informed me that this was a very serious operation in the case of women, and thereupon I asked the Higher SS and Police Leader, at least in the case of women, to forbid this action. Then the Christian churches protested to me. I answered the Christian Churches - I assume you have the letter in your files - describing the state of affairs and pointing out expressly that no compulsion should be exerted here. Shortly thereafter this action was finished. As I heard, the Christian churches informed the Jews, and when they were sure that no compulsion would be exerted on them, they no longer submitted themselves to this operation.

I myself gave back their property to the Jews in question, and the matter was ended; although I must say today that the farther away one is from this period of time, the less conceivable it is.

Q. But was it you who had the idea of this sterilisation?

A. No, the matter was reported to me by the Security Police.

Q. Very well, I shall have Document 3592-PS handed to you; it will be submitted as Exhibit RF 1526. It is an affidavit of Hildegard Kunze, an agent of the RSHA. Third Paragraph:

"I remember that either in this or another report he (that is Seyss-Inquart) suggested that all Jews who were privileged to remain in Holland should be sterilised."
It is not a question of the police service there.

A. This involves the correctness of the memory of a stenographer.

Moreover she does not even assert that the report in the third paragraph is the one mentioned in the previous paragraph which she ascribes to me. It is out of the question that she saw any report from me wherein I made such a suggestion. The case was reported to me as a fact by the Security Police, as an already existing fact or one in process of realization.

Q. So you contend that it was not you but the police. In any case, you tolerated it?

A. As far as the male Jews were concerned, I tolerated it for a time; that is true. It was made clear to me that no direct compulsion was exerted on these Jews, no threat to their disadvantage.

THE PRESIDENT: We might adjourn for ten minutes.


Q. Defendant, do you claim that you forced nobody to go and work in Germany

A. On the contrary, I believe I compelled 250,000 Dutch people to work in Germany, and I testified to that yesterday.

Q. Good. I shall not dwell on that point.

Did you not also introduce certain legislative clauses as far as nationality was concerned?

A. You mean the nationality of the Dutch people?

Q. Yes.

A. Yes, I did that.

Q. Did you take part in the arrest, internment, and deportation to concentration camps in Germany of Dutch citizens and, if so, in what way?

A. I should like to explain briefly the matter of citizenship - Staatsburgerschaft.

[Page 133]

Q. Certainly. A. Quite a few Dutch reported for the Waffen SS. It was the intention of the Fuehrer to give them German citizenship. However, with that they would have lost their Dutch citizenship, and that was something they certainly did not want to happen. Therefore, I issued a decree that upon the acquisition of German citizenship, the Dutch citizenship was not lost for a year, during which time the person involved could make his decision.

This should serve to clarify the purpose and the object of this decree of mine.

Q. I am going to put to you again the question which I put to you a few minutes ago. Did you take part in the arrest, internment, and deportation to concentration camps of Dutch citizens, and, if so, under what conditions?

A. Deportation to and retention in a concentration camp was exclusively a matter for the police. I do not recall a single instance in which I requested the police to put any Dutchmen into a German concentration camp. It may have happened that I ordered the German police to take Dutchmen to Herzogenbusch or Amersfort. Especially at the time when the Netherlands courts were very lenient with black-marketeers and slaughterers who supplied the black market, did I demand their internment in a concentration camp for two or three months.

However, if you have specific cases in mind, please mention them and you may be assured that I will tell you everything exactly as I remember it.

Q. No, your answer is sufficient.

Did you participate in the seizure of hostages and in their execution?

A. I stated yesterday that I recall only one actual hostage case, which took place in 1942, and I told you what I had to do with it. The so-called shooting of hostages, beginning with July of 1944, was not actually shooting of hostages, but rather executions carried out by the police on the basis of a Fuehrer decree.

I myself never ordered a single shooting. But I would like to say this: if, for instance, I called the attention of the police to the fact that in any certain locality of the Netherlands an illegal resistance movement was causing much trouble, and gave the police instructions to investigate the case, it was perfectly obvious to me that the leaders of the resistance movement could be arrested by the police and, on the basis of the Fuehrer decree, these people would be shot.

But I must emphasise that I had to meet my responsibility, even in a difficult situation, so that those who were guilty - that is, legally guilty and not morally, because morally I probably would have acted the same way as they did - those who were guilty were not brought before a court. Q. As far as the fact which you mentioned yesterday is concerned, this does deal with hostages who were shot following an attempt which was made against the railway at Rotterdam.

A. Yes.

Q. Who selected those hostages?

A. Hostages were selected by the Security Police, and the Higher SS and Police Leader submitted this list to me. As I testified yesterday, I asked why he selected the people that he did and he explained that to me. Then, in checking the matter over, I crossed off the names of fathers who had several children. I returned the list to the Higher SS and Police Leader and asked him to take my attitude into consideration in the execution of this decree.

Therefore, through my direct intervention, the fathers of several children were saved from being shot.

[ 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.