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 8 of 9)

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

[Page 133]

Q. How many hostages were selected in this manner?

A. I cannot recall that today, perhaps twelve to fifteen. Out of that number, five were left over; that is, five remained. That was the number finally decided upon, after it had been cut down from the original figure of fifty.

Q. I am going to have you shown a document concerning the seizure of these hostages. It is Document F-886, which becomes Exhibit RF 1527. This is a statement made by General Christiansen, or rather, it is a copy of a statement made by General Christiansen, which was taken from an affidavit of the head of the

[Page 134]

Dutch Delegation. Will you please look at the fourth paragraph before the end of the first statement?

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got the original?

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I just said that this was but the copy of a statement, which comes from an affidavit of the head of the Dutch Delegation. If the Tribunal desires, we can certainly have the original submitted as soon as we have received it.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, there is no certificate at all identifying the copy, is there?

M. DEBENEST: I thought, Mr. President, that there was an affidavit of the representative of the Dutch Delegation in Nuremberg ... On the original ... I beg your pardon. It was not stencilled, but the original does have that affidavit.

THE PRESIDENT: What are you going to prove by this affidavit? About the hostages?

M. DEBENEST: Yes, Mr. President. It says that the defendant himself selected these hostages.

THE PRESIDENT: In what proceedings was the affidavit made?

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, it was during the proceedings which were taken against General Christiansen in the Netherlands.

THE PRESIDENT: How do you say it is admissible under the Charter?

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I believe that we have already submitted documents of this nature - that is, copies - to the Tribunal, copies which have been certified as being copies of an original which is being kept in the country where it originated.

THE PRESIDENT: If the original from which the copy was taken were a document which is admissible under the Charter, that would probably be so, if there were an authentic certificate saying it was a true copy of a document which is admissible under the Charter. But is this document admissible under the Charter?

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I believe that it is admissible because it is purely and simply an affidavit. It is an affidavit which has been legally deposited in the Netherlands.

THE PRESIDENT: And you have not got a German translation of it?

M. DEBENEST: Yes, Mr. President, this document has been translated into German. I have had it translated into German.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, this appears to be a document which is in Dutch, and General Christiansen, who gave this evidence, was a German, was he not?

M. DEBENEST: No, Mr. President, the original affidavit is in Dutch.

THE PRESIDENT: The original is in Dutch, is it?

M. DEBENEST: The original is in Dutch, yes. That is according to the information that I have. Yes, the original is in the Dutch language.

THE PRESIDENT: And in what proceedings was the affidavit given?

M. DEBENEST: In Dutch, with interpreters.

THE PRESIDENT: I mean in what proceedings, before what court?

M. DEBENEST: I suppose before a Dutch military Tribunal. Yes, before a Dutch military Tribunal.

M. DUBOST: May it please the Tribunal -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, M. Dubost.

[Page 135]

M. DUBOST: This document is an excerpt from criminal proceedings in the Netherlands taken against General Christiansen upon the request of the Dutch Government. The Minister of Justice of the Netherlands has let us have an extract of the minutes which were taken in the Netherlands in legal form during the proceedings which were carried on against General Christiansen. The text was, therefore, made in the Dutch language.

THE PRESIDENT: This deposition, this affidavit is in Dutch. Now General Christiansen, is he a Dutchman?

M . DUBOST: General Christiansen is a German.

THE PRESIDENT: If he is a German why does he give his evidence in Dutch? If he did not give it in Dutch why is not the German copy here? You see, we have a certificate here from a Colonel, who is said to represent the Government of the Netherlands, that this document is a true copy of General Christiansen's evidence. Well, the document which we have here is in Dutch, and if General Christiansen gave his evidence in German, then it cannot be a true copy and it is subject to the translation in Dutch. What do you say to that?

M. DUBOST: The deposition made by General Christiansen was received through an interpreter in conformity with Dutch procedure and was transcribed in Dutch. It is not possible for a Dutch Tribunal to receive minutes in a foreign language. The minutes are taken in the Dutch language.


DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, may I just say a few words in this connection, please? I know, for I am in contact with the defence counsel for General Christiansen, that there was a court martial proceeding on the part of the English instituted against him. I have misgivings about this document, since it is not confirmed, and we cannot judge whether the interpreter who interpreted from German into Dutch was a suitable and adequate interpreter; and also, since in this manner I do not have the opportunity, as a defence counsel, to take General Christiansen into cross-examination. It seems to me that through the mere submission of this document, the rights of the defence have been greatly infringed.

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I have just been informed that General Christiansen is now imprisoned at Arnhem by the Dutch authorities.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, M. Debenest, the Tribunal will admit the document if you get a certificate from the court that tried General Christiansen. But the only certificate you have at present that this is a true copy is from Colonel van - some name that I cannot pronounce. There is nothing to show, except his statement, that he is an official on behalf of the Dutch government. We do not know who he is.

M. DEBENEST: Certainly, Mr. President, but we will get the original for the Tribunal later on.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you will submit the original later on.

M. DEBENEST: The official referred to is the accredited representative of the Dutch Government with the French Delegation.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I have only a French translation in front of me which reads as follows:

"Christiansen is not here as a witness, but rather as a defendant. He was interrogated as such, and he is not compelled to tell the truth. He can say whatever he pleases without being held responsible for what he says."
For that reason alone, I believe that document should be refused.

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Steinbauer, the reason why the Tribunal is prepared to admit the document, when it is certain that it is the document, is that Article 21 provides that reports, including the acts and documents of

[Page 136]

the committees set up in the various allied countries for the investigation of war crimes and the reports and findings of military or other Tribunals of any of the United Nations, shall be taken judicial notice of. It is for that reason that the document is, in the opinion of the Tribunal, admissible when the authentic document is before it.

Now, you undertake then to produce a properly certified copy of the document.

M. DEBENEST: Certainly, Mr. President.

THE WITNESS: May I please comment on this document?

M. DEBENEST: Will you kindly wait until I read to you the passage which I wish to submit to you.


Q. It is on Page 4 of the French text, the fourth paragraph before the end of the first statement, the second paragraph of the page:

"I think I can recall that on that occasion Seyss-Inquart said that five hostages would be shot. I did not know anybody amongst these hostages. I did not select these five men, and I had nothing whatsoever to do with their execution. It was a case of a purely political nature in which I became involved in my capacity of Commander of the Army."
Now you may tell us your attitude, if you choose to do so.

A. The picture which is given here by General Christiansen as a defendant, not a witness, completely coincides with the picture that I drew. In the beginning of this record, General Christiansen says Field Marshal Rundstedt and the OKW gave him the order through his chief to take the hostages, and he says further that through his legal department he had issued a proclamation that the hostages would be responsible with their lives if further sabotage acts should take place. He then says that they did take place, and he contacted the Commander-in-Chief West or the OKW and received the answer that the hostages were to be taken. Then, he further relates that he advised me of this order, that the old directive applying to hostages was still valid, and therefore I said that five of them were to be executed. That is what I have been saying for I also said the twenty-five were to have been killed and I negotiated for the lives of the remaining twenty.

The report, therefore, is fundamentally correct and agrees with what I have said.

Q. But in this document no mention is made of twenty-five hostages. We are only dealing with the fact here that it was you who chose these five hostages.

Please take the following page of the statement of 5th March, 1946. General Christiansen declares:

"I remember now that Lieutenant Colonel Kluter also took part in this conference. So there must have been seven participants in all. I therefore transmitted the order to take hostages and Seyss-Inquart said immediately that five men were to be seized. You are asking why it was as simple as all that. Obviously Seyss-Inquart had the authority to do this."
It was therefore you, indeed, who chose these hostages?

A. The repetition of these words in no wise changes the fact that twenty-five hostages were demanded, as the witnesses will confirm to you tomorrow, and that I intervened so that only five were demanded and that the entire matter was in the hands of the Army and the Higher SS and Police Leaders; the proclamations were issued in the names of both of them. As Reich Commissioner I assumed the right to decrease the number of hostages as much as possible. The final figure was determined by the Wehrmacht commanders and the Higher SS and Police Leader.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, did you read the last paragraph in the affidavit, Page 4 at the bottom?

M. DEBENEST: No, Mr. President, I did not read it. I am going to do so now.


Q. "I ask you to note that at this conference with Seyss-Inquart he expressly reserved the right to choose hostages."

[Page 137]

A. I can say nothing more than what I have already said. The choice of hostages was probably made by the Higher SS and Police Leader according to directives which he had received from the Wehrmacht commander, or, rather, from his superiors. I myself asked to be shown this list, for I, as Reich Commissioner, was interested in knowing who was to be selected, and I tried to exert influence. The result was as I have already said, that the fathers of many children were crossed off this list.

Furthermore, I do not wish to be polemical in face of the subjective descriptions of General Christiansen.

We got along very well together in our work. The Tribunal will decide whether I am not telling the truth or whether he is wrong in this case.

Q. That is exactly what I was thinking. You therefore do contend that this is the only case in which you intervened as far as the seizure and execution of hostages is concerned?

A. I believe so, yes.

Q. Did you know about the execution of hostages following the assassination attempt made on Rauter?

A. I stated the extent of my information on that matter yesterday. I did not know the exact figure. It was known to me, however, that shootings were taking place, the shooting of those men who, on the basis of their demeanour and actions had to be shot according to the decree of the Fuehrer by the Security Police. The actual figure was made known to me later.

Q. Consequently, you did not intervene in this question of the shooting of hostages at all?

A. I cannot say that, no, for I discussed at length with the deputy of the Higher SS and Police Leader what was to be done in such a case for after all, it was a very grave matter, the fact that he vas carrying out these executions; I said yesterday that I agreed. I declared yesterday that I could not contradict him, and keep him from actually carrying out the executions at this point.

Q. Who was this head of the police?

A. Dr. Schongart?

Q. What do you think about Dr. Schongart?

A. I believe that Dr. Schongart was not especially harsh, nor was he very eager to deal with this matter. He must certainly have found it unpleasant.

Q. But was he a man whom one could trust?

A. I always had confidence in him.

Q. Very well. In that case, I am going to have a document shown to you, Document F-879, which I submit as Exhibit RF 1528.

M. DEBENEST: I wish to inform the Tribunal that once again this is a copy of proceedings which was received at Amsterdam by the War Crimes Agency. It is signed by people who were questioned, and it also comes with an affidavit as in the preceding case. Here again, if the Tribunal wishes it, I shall obtain the original for the Tribunal later on.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you will submit the original as before.

M. DEBENEST: Certainly, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Or else get it from somebody in the government.

M. DEBENEST: Very well, Mr. President.


Q. Defendant, will you kindly look at Dr. Schongart's statement on Page 5 the French Document. It is the third declaration, the fifth paragraph.

Have you found it?

A. Yes, I have.

[Page 138]

Q. This is what Dr. Schongart says:
"After the investigation, I personally went to see Dr. Seyss-Inquart, the Reich Commissioner in Holland, with whom I discussed the matter. Seyss-Inquart then gave me the order to take increased measures of reprisal by executing 200 prisoners who were condemned to death, on the place where the assassination attempt had been made.

This execution was aimed at intimidating the population. It was announced by a public notice that a large number of persons would be executed because of this assassination attempt."

A. Yes.

[ 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.