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-Third Day: Wednesday, 12th June, 1946
(Part 3 of 12)

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

[Page 151]

Q. Had you not deposited a certain number of works of art which had come from the Netherlands?

A. I know nothing about that.

Q. Well, I will pass on to something else. Who ordered the confiscation of the property of the Royal House?

A. I personally.

Q. Therefore you took the initiative in this matter?

A. Well, not only was I the instigator, but I decided to do it and I carried the decision through.

Q. So you only carried it through?

A. I also carried it through.

Q. I did not ask if you also carried it through. I asked quite clearly, if you only executed this order?

A. No, I stated very clearly yesterday the reasons why I decided to confiscate the Royal property. I also carried out the confiscation.

Q. You maintained that it was the result of a speech made by the Queen. Is that not what you stated yesterday?

A. Yes.

Q. I will show you Document F-828, which I submit as Exhibit RF 1533. This document is a letter from Reichsleiter Martin Bormann to Reich Minister Dr. Lammers of 3rd July, 1941. At the beginning of the letter Bormann discusses the speech of the Queen of Holland, and in the last paragraph, which is the one which is important to me, he writes:

"The Fuehrer has therefore given the permission to confiscate the property of the Netherlands Royal House for which the Reich Commissar had already applied at an earlier date."
Do you still maintain that it was because of the speech made by the Queen?

A. I beg your pardon. There was a hitch in the sound apparatus.

Q. Yes, there was, but in any case you have the document in your hands.

A. Yes. I know what the question is here.

Q. Of course, you know it.

A. It had escaped my memory entirely, that I lead asked for that permission at an earlier date. I really cannot remember. Perhaps I discussed the question as to whether this property was to be confiscated or not, but the only thing I do remember is my suggestion at the time this speech was made. After all, that was not the first speech made by the Queen of the Netherlands. She had spoken in the same manner previously.

Q. That is an explanation, and the Tribunal will take note of it.

Now, as regards the plundering of the Netherlands and the attempt to Nazify and Germanise that country - were these not the actions of the Civil Government of which you were the head?

A. Yes and no. It is quite obvious to me that from the economic point of view the Dutch people considered our conduct as plundering. Seen from the legal

[Page 152]

point of view I do not think it was. I did not Germanise the Netherlands in any way.

Q. Will you take Document 997-PS, Page 26 of the French text and Page 22 of the German text? I refer to the section of your report entitled: "Remarks." Have you got it? I will read the remarks which you made concerning your own activities. That was on 18th July, 1940:

"(2) The administration is at present sufficiently under the direction and control of the German authorities and will be increasingly so in the future.

(3) The national economy and communications have been set in motion again and adapted to a state of war. Plans are on foot for large-scale reconversion geared to the continental economy, and practically everything is ripe for this changeover. Stocks in the country have been placed at the disposal of the Reich War Economy. Nearly all the financial resources" - that is in 1940 - "have been made available and placed under the control of the Reich - all this on the basis of extensive co-operation by the Netherlanders."

Is that not exactly what you wrote? Is that not exactly what you thought?

A. Yes, and I believe that any occupation power would fully understand point 2, and point 3 expressed a constructive conception of a new Europe.

Q. That is an opinion which the Tribunal will judge.

I would like to return briefly to the Jewish question. You stated yesterday that you protested against the deportation of a thousand Jews to Mauthausen or Buchenwald, and that there had been no more deportations to these camps. But why did you not protest against the transports to Auschwitz? Did you think that this camp was very different from the other two?

A. Naturally, because Mauthausen and Buchenwald were concentration camps, whereas I was informed that Auschwitz was an assembly camp in which the Jews were to remain until such time as the war would be decided, or some other decision would be made.

Q. Before coming to the Netherlands you had been *Adjutant Governor General of Poland, had you not? [N.B. French "Adjoint" which interpreter rendered as "Adjutant."]

A. Not adjutant, but deputy.

Q. Better still. Consequently you had heard about this camp, had you not?

A. At that time Auschwitz did not even exist.

Q. But did you not know that the ashes of those thousand Jews, who had been sent to Buchenwald or Mauthausen, were sent back to their families against payment of seventy-five florins? This happened in 1941. That did not prevent you later on from taking other measures against the Jews, measures which necessarily led to their being deported.

A. Because in my view this measure, which was first of all called an evacuation, was something completely different from a deportation to a concentration camp.

Q. But after all you knew the fate of these Jews who were transported to a camp in this manner?

A. Most people - the great majority - did not know of their fate as it is known to us today, and I testified yesterday as to my misgivings.

Q. That is an opinion. You spoke yesterday of reprisals taken against the newspaper in the Hague -

A. (Interposing.) In the Hague?

Q. Yes, in the Hague, and you stated -

THE PRESIDENT: (Interposing). Is this something you cross-examined about yesterday?

M. DEBENEST: These are questions which were handed to me this morning as a result of statements made yesterday by the defendant. Otherwise I have finished.

[Page 153]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks you should not go over this matter again.

M. DEBENEST: Then I have finished, since all the questions concern either hostages or -

There is still one question which I would like to ask, if the Tribunal permits; it is a question about the flooding. All the other questions I had in mind concern hostages, and if the Tribunal so wishes, I will not ask them. However, may I be permitted to ask a question concerning the flooding?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks that you went over the flooding yesterday.

M. DEBENEST: Then I have finished.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn this afternoon at 4.45 in order to sit in closed session.

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I have noticed that counsel for the defendant Kaltenbrunner is here this morning. I understood there was to be some cross-examination of this defendant by counsel for Kaltenbrunner, and I thought we might save time if he preceded us and finished his cross-examination.


DR. KAUFFMANN (Counsel for defendant Kaltenbrunner): Mr. President, I beg to apologise for having incurred the Tribunal's displeasure yesterday by not being here. But I had a very special reason, for circumstances are sometimes stronger than the will. If I may say this, I have been through a serious illness in the last few years and I did not feel well, although I firmly intended to be present at the session yesterday and had prepared everything. I respectfully beg to be excused.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, Dr. Kauffmann, the Tribunal accepts your explanation.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Thank you very much.


Q. Witness, since when have you known the defendant Kaltenbrunner?

A. It was either in 1935 or at the beginning of 1936 that I met Dr. Kaltenbrunner, in connection with the "Langgott" relief work for National Socialist families who were in need. This was a form of support, tolerated by the police.

Q. What part did Kaltenbrunner play in Austria before the Anschluss in March 1938? Did he belong to the radical elements or was he a moderate?

A. At the time I was told that Kaltenbrunner was closely connected with the SS, but he was not the leader of the illegal SS. That was an engineer from Styria.

Q. Was it the engineer named Leopold?

A. No. I spoke several times to Zernatto about Kaltenbrunner. We called him the "policeman of the 11th of July" in the Party; that is to say, it was due to his influence that radical elements were dissuaded from excesses, such as those of July 1934.

Q. And then Kaltenbrunner became Under-Secretary of State in Austria?

A. Yes.

Q. Was the suggestion for his appointment as Under-Secretary of State made by Austrian circles, or did it come from Himmler and Hitler, or the defendant Goering?

A. As far as I know, it was only made by Austrians. I myself did not receive or accept any suggestions from the Reich regarding my own ministry. The Party in Austria drew my attention to Kaltenbrunner because we wanted also to have a man in the police organization.

[Page 154]

Q. What were his actual tasks as Under-Secretary of State?

A. I think that as Under-Secretary of State, he did nothing at all. After Skubl had retired, the President appointed him Secretary of State. In that -capacity he had administrative and economic functions. He could not intervene in the strictly executive actions. For instance, if I wished a man to be released from custody, then Kaltenbrunner would have had to get in touch with the commander of the Security Police; and if he said "no," then he would have had to go to Heydrich.

Q. Now, it has been established that in 1943 Kaltenbrunner was appointed Head of the Reich Security Main Office. He has testified here that he repeatedly tried not to accept that post. Can you say anything about that?

A. I only know that I was at headquarters at the end of November or the beginning of December 1942. On that occasion I also visited the field headquarters of Himmler, and one of the adjutants, I think it was Wolff, told me that the Reichsfuehrer wanted to have Kaltenbrunner for the RSHA, and that Kaltenbrunner was reluctant to accept. He was now going to be ordered to appear at police headquarters and remain there for four weeks, where he would be handled in such a way that he would take over the post.

Q. Have you any proofs that the actual reason for the appointment of Kaltenbrunner as Chief of the RSHA was that he was to organize and direct a political and military intelligence service?

A. I know certain things which go to prove that he did not have control of security police matters to the same extent as Heydrich, and I had definite personal knowledge regarding his intelligence work. In Heydrich's time, the commander of my security police, when he wished to get a decision from Berlin, only talked about Heydrich. When Kaltenbrunner came into office, I do not remember his mentioning Kaltenbrunner, but he talked about the RSHA, and sometimes mentioned Muller. I myself, as far as I can remember, only discussed security police matters with Kaltenbrunner on two occasions. One was about Dr. Schuschnigg's remaining in office, and Dr. Kaltenbrunner has already told you about that. The second time was when a relative of mine was to be taken to a concentration camp. I went to Kaltenbrunner because he was the only man I knew in the RSHA and I assumed he had some influence there. I knew nothing about the line drawn between the various functions. On that occasion Kaltenbrunner telephoned to Muller and spoke in a manner such as a superior would never adopt when talking to a subordinate official. I have positive proofs of his activities, because since 1944 I worked closely with Kaltenbrunner. I placed at his disposal foreign currency for his foreign intelligence service, that is, I obtained it for him from the departments concerned; everything was done in conjunction with the appropriate department in the Reich.

Q. Just now you mentioned Muller: Do you mean Gestapo Chief Muller?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you have the impression that this man really held the reins as far as Security Police matters were concerned?

A. I can only say that I know that in the course of that telephone conversation Kaltenbrunner said to Muller: "How will you decide in this case?"

Q. Then you received military and political reports directly from Kaltenbrunner? Is that true?

A. Yes, quite often. Those were the very secret reports of which only four copies were made, I believe.

Q. Was this the case before Kaltenbrunner's appointment

A. No. Kaltenbrunner only introduced these reports at the end of 1943 or 1944, if I remember rightly.

Q. What was the difference between those reports and the reports formerly prepared by Canaris?

A. I know nothing about the Canaris reports, of very little. I know them only from the former Reich Security Main Office.

[Page 155]

Q. Is it true that the reports made by Kaltenbrunner were noted for their particularly sharp and open criticism of all public measures?

A. Yes. Kaltenbrunner's reports were above all really objective, and not prepared reports serving certain ends.

Q. How big were these reports?

A. I think these reports generally ran into forty to sixty pages, sometimes more, and they probably were issued every three to four weeks, as far as I know; but there must have been special reports as well.

Q. Do you know whether these special reports were addressed to military offices or did they - the ones you have just mentioned - sum up the situation from the military point of view?

A. The reports of which I am speaking were predominantly political and they were addressed directly to the Fuehrer. In connection with these reports I remember they contained particularly severe criticism of the attitude of the Reich toward the Poles and towards the Catholic Church, and that they were written on stationery with the RSHA heading, which appeared to me then to be an impossible state of affairs.

Q. You have just mentioned two criticisms. Can you perhaps tell me, what was the gist of that criticism of the two spheres of public life which you have just mentioned?

A. With regard to the Poles, it demanded quite tersely that the Poles should once again be given an autonomous and independent existence as a State, or at least they should be promised it; and speaking of the Catholic Church, it demanded that all administrative and other measures should be rescinded and that the Catholic and Protestant churches should in no way be molested.

DR. KAUFFMANN: Thank you very much. I have no further questions.

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