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 11 of 12)

[DR. STEINBAUER continues his direct examination of Dr. Friedrich Rainer]

[Page 184]

Q. Those of 10th March.

A. May I have permission to go into detail in this connection? The expression "revolutionary steps" is too far reaching. The measures which were introduced were mainly these: After Chancellor Schuschnigg's speech at Innsbruck, Major Klausner was convinced that thereby every basis for a political understanding had been destroyed and that this speech would be like a spark in a powder barrel.

Whereas previously we had had consultations as to under what circumstances the vote might be "yes," the plebiscite had now, in view of the attitude of the broad masses, become impossible.

A clear-cut indication of attitude by the National Socialist leaders had to be brought about. During the night, the new Gauleiter were still being given their first information, according to which the Party was not agreeable to the proposed plebiscite, and that therefore the slogan would be, for the time being, 'refrain from voting.' The strictest discipline was demanded, because we feared that feelings would soon run very high. On 10th March, the long prepared propaganda of Zernatto began, and clashes occurred. We also had reports to the effect that large groups of the Protective Legion, forbidden in February 1934, were being armed. Strictest alert was ordered for the formations therefore, and the formations received orders to provide protection for the Nationals.

Essentially, these were the steps ordered on the 10th; I think I informed Dr. Seyss-Inquart, generally in the afternoon, regarding the atmosphere in the provinces. I probably did not inform him about individual organisational measures.

[Page 185]

Q. Did he promote that atmosphere?

A. No.

Q. Did he demand demonstrations, or did he prevent them?

A. He neither prevented them, nor did he urge them. Prevention at that stage was no longer possible.

Q. Then what happened in the morning of the 11th?

A. On the 11th of March in the forenoon, I was working at the office of State Councillor Jury, at No. 1, Seitzergasse. I no longer know at exactly what task. We met Dr. Seyss-Inquart, Glaise Horstenau and several others about noon in the office of Dr. Fischbock, and Dr. Seyss-Inquart told us of the outcome of the conferences with Dr. Schuschnigg.

The result of our consultation was the letter which the ministers and State councillors wrote to Dr. Schuschnigg, stating that two o'clock in the afternoon was the time limit, demanding the cancellation of this unconstitutional plebiscite and the arranging for a new plebiscite to be held a few weeks later, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, and expressing our determination to resign if he did not comply with our requests.

Q. Then what happened? Schuschnigg postponed the plebiscite. How did you hear about that.

A. Yes. Schuschnigg postponed the plebiscite, but he refused to give a date for a new plebiscite and gave orders to Dr. Seyss-Inquart, the Security Minister, to adopt severe measures. That solution was reported to the Chancellery in Berlin by telephone in the afternoon, and it caused the statement from the Reich that this solution, as being only a half-solution, was not acceptable. As far as I know, that started the intervention by the German Reich.

Q. But was not intervention already brought about through the fact that Glaise Horstenau, as has been stated, or a courier, took a letter from Adolf Hitler to Vienna?

A. It was my view that certain documents which Globocnik showed me at midday, and which had been addressed to the county management offices, had been brought along by Glaise Horstenau who came back from Berlin that morning. As I heard later, that was allegedly done by a courier. In my opinion this was not an intervention on the part of the Reich.

Q. Was there collaboration between the Party and the Reich on one hand, and Seyss-Inquart on the other?

A. If you mean "conspiracy" by "collaboration," then I must say definitely no. But the collaboration which was agreed upon at Berchtesgaden was carried out.

Q. Did Klausner give the order that the Party was free to act and that it was to seize power?

A. Through a specific order from Adolf Hitler, the Party was bound not to undertake any revolutionary steps. That order had been retransmitted by Keppler during the early days of March, and Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop had called Keppler, who was already in the 'plane, back in order to impress upon him -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, surely, the question was what Klausner did, and the witness is now telling us what a lot of other people did.



Q. I asked you, when did Klausner give the order to the Gauleiter to seize power?

A. That order was given by Klausner in the evening of 11th March.

Q. Did Seyss-Inquart approve?

A. Seyss-Inquart was not informed of that until some time later.

Q. Now I must put to you the fact that Gauleiter Eigruber, from Upper Austria, has stated in an affidavit that he received a telegram in which he was addressed as Landeshauptmann. Do you know anything about that?

[Page 186]

A. I know nothing whatever about telegrams, or a telegram. I know that Klausner's order was telephoned from No. 1, Seitzergasse. That evening Globocnik was also putting through calls from the Chancellery. I assume that Eigruber is referring to one of these telephone calls.

A. Is it known to you that Globocnik, who was Gauleiter of Vienna before this illegal period, told you that he misused the name of Seyss-Inquart for the seizure of power?

A. Globocnik told me that several inquiries had been directed to the Chancellor's office which were passed on to him over the telephone, and that he did not always state his name in that connection. One special case relating to Salzburg is known to me very well.

Q. In this Rainer letter you also made a statement which mentions some assistance rendered on 25th July, 1934. The prosecution considers that this has some connection with the murder of Chancellor Dollfuss.

A. That remark goes back to a conversation during which Seyss-Inquart told me that, after 25th July, he had been afraid for a few days that his name might be connected with those events. But after a few days it turned out that there was no such connection. Subsequently he tried to exert his personal influence towards reconciliation, and he took over the defence of some cases. That is what I meant.

Q. So that is your explanation for the expression "rendering assistance"?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know that pressure was brought to bear on the President, Dr. Miklas, by the Austrian National Socialists, to make him appoint Seyss-Inquart?

A. The negotiations, which occupied the entire late part of the afternoon and evening, were under a certain amount of pressure; for practically in the whole of Austria the change had already been carried out. The overthrow of Schuschnigg's cabinet loosened a tremendous avalanche. During the negotiations, that fact made itself felt.

Q. In other words, you mean that. the pressure was visible but of a psychological nature and not physical force directed against the person of the President?

A. There can be no question of that.

Q. But, then how do you explain that at that time forty SS men marched into the Chancellery building and occupied it?

A. An occupation by the SS is hardly the right expression. When, towards 8 o'clock in the evening, Miklas had again refused to nominate a National Socialist as Chancellor, Keppler stated that at 8 o'clock they would march in, as he feared for the safety of the negotiators. In fact, as one said, affairs in Austria were in confusion and the situation appeared very dangerous. The Chancellery building was occupied by the police and was put in a state of defence. I informed National Headquarters of this situation and I asked them to take precautionary measures, so that wilful acts would not cause unforeseen mischief. As a result of the measures which were then taken, about 10 o'clock in the evening an SS leader reported in civilian clothes stating that he and his men had been assigned to protect the negotiators. Seyss-Inquart considered that step excessive, but I asked him to take the measure into consideration; and he then allowed these men to pass through the police and guards and they were admitted to the courtyard of the Chancellery building. There was never any pressure nor were there acts of force; it was merely a precautionary measure.

DR. STEINBAUER: I have no further questions.

BY DR. SERVATIUS (Counsel for the defendant Sauckel):

Q. Witness, you were Gauleiter of Carinthia. Did you also have administrative powers during the war in the neighbouring area of Italian sovereignty?

A. Yes. In September 1943, I was appointed Supreme Commissioner in the operational zone "Adriatic Coastland," with my seat in Trieste, and I had six provinces under my authority.

[Page 187]

Q. Did you recruit foreign workers there for employment in Germany?

A. Yes.

Q. In what manner was this done?

A. It was done without any need for coercion, since for many decades these workers were accustomed to going north to work.

Q. These workers were put to work in your Gau, were they?

A. The majority were put to work in my Gau, but also in other parts of the Alpine regions.

Q. What were the living conditions of these people in your Gau?

A. Their living conditions were the general and normal ones.

Q. Where were they accommodated? In camps? Did you see any such camps?

A. Some were housed by their employers, but greater numbers of them lived in camps which were looked after by the Italian Consulate and the German Labour Front.

Q. Did the Labour Front supervise matters in practice?

A. Yes, it was bound by an agreement to that effect of which I was informed, and it went to great pains to carry out that task.

Q. Did you yourself inspect any camps?

A. Yes. I inspected camps repeatedly and I found conditions to be good and orderly. In the case of certain industries, for instance, the water works, I found that conditions were exceptionally good.

Q. Can you give us the names of these camps?

A. A particularly good impression was made on me by one camp attached to some waterwarks at Muend on the Drau river, the same applies to Schwabeck.

Q. How did these foreign workers behave at the end of the war? Was there unrest?

A. No. Because of the considerable number of foreign workers in my small Gau, I was worried about the food supply. Relations with the population were good because the Carinthian is a good natured and agreeable type of person. I myself have experienced that French workers, who had been assembled by the British in camps to await transportation, went back to their farmers, preferring to wait there rather than in the camp.

Q. Was the National Socialist Party strongly represented in Carinthia?

A. Yes. There were so many National Socialists in Carinthia that Schuschnigg said on one occasion: "One ought to put barbed wire around that county and the concentration camp would be complete."

Q. But their relations with the foreign workers were good?

A. Yes, naturally.

DR. SERVATIUS: I have no further questions.



Q. Witness, when did you come to the conclusion that this defendant, Seyss-Inquart, was not a member of the Party as you stated in your letter? When did you change your mind about that?

A. I did not learn until fairly late after the Anschluss that he was not a member of the Party. I cannot tell you the exact year.

Q. But it was not long after you wrote this report, was it, that you found out that what you had said in here was not exactly correct? You had misunderstood?

A. In that report I made various attempts to describe matters in a manner favourable to Seyss-Inquart, because I was reluctant to help the Prosecution against him.

Q. Now that is not what I asked you. I asked you if it was a fact that you found out soon after you wrote this letter that you were in error in stating that Seyss-Inquart had been a member of the Party. Now you can answer that very directly, I think, without any long statement.

[Page 188]

A. I do not believe that I noticed it shortly afterwards.

Q. Well, when was it? That is all we want to know. If at any time you actually did receive such information, when did you receive it?

A. That I can no longer say and it did not appear important to me at the time.

Q. All right! Now when did you change your mind or find that you were in error in saying that Seyss-Inquart knew about and participated in the staged demonstrations or the arrangements for the demonstrations which were to take place in Vienna? When did you find that that was misinformation or a mistake?

A. I am not aware that Dr. Seyss-Inquart participated in demonstrations in Vienna.

Q. Now that is not what I said. If you misunderstood me, I am sorry. Now turn around and maybe if you will look at me it will help a little. You told the Tribunal, in answer to a question from Dr. Steinbauer, that Seyss-Inquart did not provoke the demonstrations and he could not prevent them at that stage. But what Dr. Steinbauer asked you was if what you said in your letter about his participation in the plans was true. You know what you say in your letter or your report do you not? Do you remember what you said in this report about Seyss-Inquart and his participation?

A. The details of my report are no longer in my memory.

Q. Would you like to look at it?

A. Yes, please.

Q. While you are waiting for it I can clear some other things up here. Now as a matter of fact, you gave us an affidavit in November, swearing that this was true, did you not?

A. I specifically stated in this connection that I was partly relying on information received from authoritative individuals and that afterwards I had further information showing me that not everything had been correctly represented. I also stated specifically, and had it included in the record, that I had made these statements with a certain bias. A supplement to my affidavit was also made.

Q. Just a minute. On 15th November, 1945, right here in Nuremberg, under oath, you executed this affidavit, in which you said that you confirmed the facts of this report and that they were all true to the best of your knowledge and belief. Now what information have you received since 15th November and from whom, that warrants you in making statements contrary to this report today before the Tribunal?

A. I wish to state in this connection that the point of view which I adopted on 15th November is maintained by me today.

Q. Well, is this report true or not in its entirety, as you told us it was on the 15th day November?

A. The report must not be taken literally. Partly it is based on statements made by reliable people, and I made it to the best of my knowledge and belief, according to the situation existing, I believe, in July 1939, with a certain bias.

Q. Well, you told us it was true in November, did you not?

A. I did not say that. I said specifically -

Q. I will show you your affidavit. Your affidavit is attached to that document that you have, and that is your signature, is it not, and you have sworn to the truth of it?

A. I made a specific statement in connection with it, and as a precaution I made a short note about it afterwards. The formulation of the reservations was discussed at length.

Q. Now please answer my question. Is that the affidavit that you executed under oath on 15th November here in Nuremberg? Yes, or no?

A. Yes.

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