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 9 of 9)

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

[Page 138]

Q. Well?

A. In any event, it is confirmed that we are concerned here with the shooting of Dutchmen who, as this man says, had been condemned to death for having participated in some sort of sabotage or other matter. They were, under the Fuehrer decree, to be shot anyhow. That is the first and most important point. The question is whether the figure of 200 was mentioned; and the question further is whether I demanded that number. I still maintain what I have already said in reply to the testimony of former collaborators; but I also maintain my own declaration to the effect that I never would have had the opportunity to give an order like that to Dr. Schongart He was not my subordinate in such things. At any rate I did state that we must act harshly in this case. That is quite right. The figure of 200 - I even believe it was 230 - first came to my knowledge later. The announcement which he mentions here is signed by Dr. Schongart.

Q. You did not say "severe measures"; you said "increased measures of reprisal". It is not quite the same thing.

A. I did not understand the question.

Q. I repeat. You did not say "severe measures", but "increased measures of reprisal".

A. The severe measures which were to be taken would, of course, serve to intimidate. But we were not concerned with reprisals; that is, the shooting of people who otherwise had no reason to be shot.

Q. But it seems to me that this document is extremely clear. It deals with "measures of reprisal" following the assassination attempt against Rauter.

A. Which were to be carried through in such a way that Dutchmen were executed who would have been executed in any event; for he confirms here that they had been condemned to death.

Q. Will you kindly repeat the explanation. I did not get the translation.

A. Here we were concerned with the shooting of men who would have been shot in any event, for it says specifically here in the next paragraph that they had already been sentenced to death.

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) I already wrote it down five minutes ago. You have said it already.

He has said it already. The document speaks for itself, M. Debenest.

M. DEBENEST: Very well, Mr. President.


Q. You stated yesterday as well that no hostage had been shot at the hostage camp of Michelgestell.

A. That is unknown to me.

Q. Nevertheless, you stated that yesterday.

A. (No response).

Q. Or are you still claiming that none had been shot at that time?

THE PRESIDENT: Will the defendant answer, please? Do not just nod your head. It does not come through the sound system.

THE WITNESS: I wanted to say only that I know of no case. Perhaps on one occasion such a case did occur, but I do not remember.

[Page 139]


Q. Will you kindly repeat that?

A. I wanted to say only that I do not recall any such case.

Q. Nevertheless, you are not denying that some may have been shot?

A. There might have been reasons which necessitated such a shooting. But I do not recall a single case.

THE PRESIDENT: We are getting two voices on the one line now.


Q. The hostages who were executed in this manner, were they all people who had been sentenced to death?

A. I do not know because I do not know whether anyone was shot at all.

Q. In the case of the execution of hostages at Rotterdam, was not one of the hostages arrested the day before the execution, and shot the very next day?

A. I am not informed on that point. I can see from this document that we are talking about hostages from Michelgestell. I do not recall that hostages were taken from this camp. But in this case, it may have been possible, for that was an actual hostage case.

Q. No. I am not asking you whether hostages were taken from the camp of Michelgestell. I am asking you, in the case of the execution of the hostages of Rotterdam whether one was not arrested on the eve before the execution, and shot the next day?

A. I do not know.

Q. I will give you the name. Maybe that will help you remember the case Baron Schimmelpfennig.

A. As far as I recall Baron Schimmelpfennig came from Seeland. But I do not know any more than that.

Q. You do not know under what conditions he was arrested, and why?

A. No; I know only that a Baron Schimmelpfennig was among those five hostages who were shot.

Q. You therefore do admit that numerous executions followed the setting up of the summary justice courts in the Netherlands by you?

A. No. That is certainly not the case. For these shootings, from the middle of 1944 onward, cannot be traced to my directives and my summary justice courts, but rather to a direct decree of the Fuehrer.

Q. You therefore claim that there was not a single case of execution as a result of your order of 1st May, 1943?

A. The executions did not come about on the basis of summary courts which I had provided for in this decree but against violations of this decree. It is possible that the Higher SS and Police Leader used this decree as the basis for his decision.

Q. But you are still contending that you had no power over this chief of police?

A. I did not have the power to give him orders, but we certainly worked together in a close understanding.

Q. He therefore consulted you about the reprisal measures?

A. No. How do you mean?

Q. Were the reprisal measures which were taken or which were announced by him carried out with your agreement?

A. The reprisal measures and his announcements were made in his domain. In many cases, I myself did not learn of these announcements at all or frequently not until afterwards. There was no directive which I gave for these measures. I again and again refer to the fact that this resulted from the Fuehrer decree given by Himmler to the police.

Q. Very well. Were you in favour of these measures of reprisal?

A. I took for granted that action had to be taken against members of the resistance movement who committed sabotage and other acts. There were no other means for taking steps except arrest by the police, passing of judgement on the part of the Higher SS and Police Leader, and shooting on the part of the police.

[Page 140]

I could not oppose these measures. You might interpret that as agreement, if you want to. I would have preferred it if courts had given the judgement.

Q. Yes, certainly.

I am going to have you shown Document F-860, a letter which I am submitting as Exhibit RF 1529. This is a letter written by you dated 30th November, 1942 and addressed to Dr. Lammers. I will pass over the first part.

M. DEBENEST: I am sorry. I forgot to tell the Tribunal that the originals are not here; they are just photostatic copies. But I have in my possession an affidavit which I shall submit to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: It is all right, M. Debenest. You need not bother to give us an affidavit. We have the photostatic copy.

Q. I will pass over the first two pages of the French copy, and will pass on to the second paragraph. Second subject - you write here:

"The working out of the Special Police Law (Polizeistandrecht) was effected in accordance with the views expressed in a letter of the Reichsfuehrer SS. I believe that I have conformed with all the wishes which are contained in it, only I would not like to appoint the Supreme Head of the SS and of the Police as a court administrator, for, from the point of view of the Dutch, this would mean a curtailment of the authority of the Reich Commissioner, particularly because of the fact that the Reich Commissioner in the Fuehrer decree is designated as the guardian of the interests of the Reich. But in the decree I have assigned to the Higher SS and Police Leader all the powers which a court administrator needs. I believe that this Special Police Law may be a useful instrument and to a certain extent an example for all further regulations"
You did, therefore, have authority over the head of the police?

A. I had the authority over the Polizeistandgericht (Special Police Court), but not over the Higher SS and Police Leader. I remained the highest court administrator, even in the Police Court in exceptional circumstances. All the same I could not give executive orders to the Police. Anyway, this Police Law existed in the Netherlands for two weeks at the most.

Q. It is nevertheless certain that we here find special Tribunals and that you entrusted them to the head of the police.

A. Yes, that is correct, but only within the scope of Police Tribunals in the case of emergency, and what the police courts did at that time was my responsibility.

That was a result of the general strike in May 1943.

Q. Well, we quite agree then. You did entrust these emergency Tribunals to the police.

Very well, I will now have you shown Document 3430-PS. This document is a collection of all the speeches which you made during the occupation of the Netherlands. Will you please take -

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, is that the only reference you are making to Document 860?


THE PRESIDENT: I ask you, is that the only reference you are going to make to this document?

M. DEBENEST: Yes, Mr. President, I am only concerned with the second part. The first part concerns the police.

THE PRESIDENT: Do not you think it is imposing a very heavy burden on the translation department. There are eighteen pages of it.

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I quite agree with you. I intended to use this document for the police organisation, which is in the first part. But, I did not think it was necessary to do so at this moment because I wished to save time.

[Page 141]

THE PRESIDENT: I only mean this, if you are only going to use a small part of the document, it does not seem necessary to make the translation department, who have a very great deal of work to do, translate eighteen pages of it.

Here is another one - 803 F, which has got many more than eighteen pages in it, and of which very little use has been made. But go on.

M. DEBENEST: I know, Mr. President. I did not use more of it because the Tribunal considered that it dealt with details which it did not consider important. That is the only reason.

THE PRESIDENT: You have passages on each of these eighteen pages? I am very much surprised.

M. DEBENEST: Certainly not, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, anyway.


Q. Very well, we will now pass to another subject.

When you arrived in Holland, did not that country possess extremely important stocks of food stuffs and of raw materials?

A. Yes, a great many supplies were on hand. An extraordinary amount.

Q. Were not important requisitions made during the first years of the occupation?

A. I did not quite follow that.

Q. Were not important requisitions made during the first years of the occupation?

A. Yes, in accordance with a decree within the scope of the Four-Year Plan, all supplies were requisitioned and a six months' reserve supply was set up in the Netherlands with the obligation on the part of the Reich to supply all further needs as required.

Q. You therefore claim that these stocks were to be reserved for the Dutch population?

A. Certainly.

Q. Certainly? Very well. Will you take the document which I have shown to you this morning, 997-PS, Pages 9 and 10.

A. Will you please give me the number of the document?

Q. 997-PS.

A. Have I the document before me?

Q. Page 12 of the French text and Page 11 of the German. You write:

"The stocks of raw materials have been collected and with the agreement of the General Field Marshal have been distributed in such manner that a quota sufficient to keep the Dutch economy running for six months will be left behind. Raw material quotas and food rationing, etc., will be dealt with in the same way as in the Reich. Considerable stocks of raw materials have been guaranteed for the Reich, such as, for example, 70,000 tons of industrial fats, representing about one half of the amount which the Reich still needs."
A. I believe that coincides with the description I have just given you.

Q. But I thought you said that the stocks were at the disposal of the Dutch people and not for the Reich?

A. No, that is an error in transmission. I said that the supplies were confiscated and enough left there for only six months and that future needs would be supplied by the Reich in the same proportion as the Reich was supplied. But primarily these stocks were confiscated for the Reich.

Q. Very well, the translation did not come through. You received numerous complaints about these requests, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And what measures did you take?

A. The attention of the gentlemen who were with me, that is the General Secretary Hirschfeld and the other secretaries, was called to the fact that this was

[Page 142]

a strict directive in the framework of the Four-Year Plan. In some cases, I may have transmitted the complaint to the Agencies of the Four-Year Plan, if the stocks were taken away in what seemed to me too large amounts.

Q. In addition to these requests, were there not mass purchases made by the Reich?

A. I do not understand you. What was that?

Q. In addition to these requests -

A. Yes, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Shall we adjourn now? Will you be much longer, M. Debenest?

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, everything will depend upon the length of the answers which the defendant will make, but I think that in half an hour or three-quarters of an hour at the most I shall be finished.

THE PRESIDENT. Very well, then we will adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, 12th June, 1946.)

[ 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.