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-Fourth Day: Thursday, 13th June, 1946
(Part 9 of 10)

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

[Page 226]

Q. Would you be more specific, please. Berlin is large and has various Reich offices.

A. That was the Reichsfuehrer SS, of course; it is quite clear that when one of the highest functionaries in the sphere of the police and SS is concerned one had to approach the Reichsfuehrer SS personally, and not only his office. He also told me he reported it to the Reich Commissioner, and that the Reich Commissioner, who as such was not authorized to deal with that matter, had asked him to tell the Reichsfuehrer SS that he asked and advised him to refrain from carrying out such a large number of executions. Thereupon - naturally - everything was done only by telephone - the Reichsfuehrer agreed to reduce the number and I believe, on the basis of several telephone conversations, that in the end a number of about 150 or 200 - I no longer remember exactly today - was decided upon.

I am convinced that if this advice and this request and these representations had not been offered by the Reich Commissioner through Schongart, the number demanded originally by Berlin would have lost their lives, so that one can say with conviction that in this case the Reich Commissioner saved the lives of several hundred Netherlanders.

Q. Were the people who were actually shot collected at random in the streets or were they people who had already been officially condemned?

A. Of course, on this point, I can only report what Brigadefuehrer Schongart told me at that time during the conference. Indeed, I have no reason to assume that he did not tell me the truth. He informed me that only such persons were considered who had already been condemned, so that it was only a question of advancing the time of the execution, and if the number should not suffice, then possibly others might be selected who in any case were already in prison and would certainly be sentenced to death.

Q. I believe I can conclude this chapter by asking you what happened to the persons who were sent as hostages to Buchenwald by way of a so-called Dutch East Indian reprisal.

[Page 227]

A. After some time, I no longer remember just how long, when complaints were received about their treatment, a large number of these hostages, or perhaps all of them, were brought back into the Netherlands and a very large number of them were released; not altogether and at once, as I remember, but a few at a time.

Q. A small town, Putten, was destroyed because of serious acts of sabotage; was this ordered by the Reich Commissioner or someone else?

A. Since it was a purely military affair, just like the Rotterdam incident, where a plot was directed against the Wehrmacht, the incident was dealt with by the Wehrmacht. The order was given by the Commander of the Wehrmacht, and if I remember correctly, the Reich Commissioner - in any case, I only learned about the incident after the execution had taken place.

Q. Now I pass over to the next chapter, and that is the combating of so-called enemies of the State.

Yesterday it was mentioned that the property of the Freemasons and the Jehovah's Witnesses was confiscated. I should like to ask you, so that there may be no mistake, whether it was only the property of the organizations which was claimed, or was it also the property of the individual members? And so, taking the Freemasons as an example, was the property of the individual Freemasons claimed as well as the property of the lodges?

A. In all these cases property that belonged to organizations was demanded, never that belonging to individuals. If there were individual cases where this happened, then there were abuses by individuals, but I cannot recall any such abuses.

Q. The Dutch Jews were also counted among the so-called enemies of the State. Who was responsible for handling the Jewish question in the Netherlands? You have really already told me that.

A. From the very beginning, the police laid claim to the handling of the Jews, to jurisdiction over the treatment of the Jews, as a matter of fundamental principle.

Q. Now, we have an entire list of decrees here which bear the name of Seyss-Inquart and which indicate encroachments on the rights of the Jews. Can you remember when the legislation against the Jews was introduced and in what form?

A. The development was briefly more or less as follows: Seyss-Inquart was opposed to the entire idea of taking up the Jewish question at all in the Netherlands, and in one of the Reich Commissioner's first conferences it was ordered that this question was not to be dealt with.

After a certain length of time - it may have been a few months - the Reich Commissioner informed us that he had received the order from Berlin to take up the Jewish problem because Jews had participated in comparatively large numbers in various movements and actions in the Netherlands which at that time, indeed, could only be characterised essentially as conspiracies.

Apart from that, one had to expect that if the war should last a fairly long time, the Jews who naturally because of the treatment they had undergone were not, and could not be, any friends of the Germans, might become dangerous, and, therefore, that they should be considered as enemies, if not in the formal sense of the word; nevertheless, practically so.

The Reich Commissioner began to carry out this order with much hesitation, although in the official conference he pointed out that he could not help doing so because he could not assume such a responsibility.

So far as I remember, this can be ascertained immediately from the Reich Commissioner's ordinance bulletin. At first, steps were taken to register the property of the Jews, then to prevent German maidservants from being in Jewish households; the police requested that especially because naturally all kind of information could be carried back and forth in this way, and then when Berlin became more insistent in that question, the Reich Commissioner finally decided to decree and regulate a registration of all Jews by ordinance. It was pointed out particularly that we would at least have to know where the Jews were because only

[Page 228]

in this way could the proper security police control and supervision be made possible.

In themselves these measures were far behind those which were already being carried out in the Reich at that time.

Then more pressure was exerted; I do not know whether it was perhaps Heydrich who did this at that time, whether he was already in the Netherlands at that time - I never saw him - I only know that he visited the Reich Commissioner in the Netherlands at least twice.

At any rate, in the course of the year 1941 and particularly in 1942, a comprehensive treatment of the question was urged. At first the Reich Commissioner still believed that he could meet these demands by bringing the Jews in the Netherlands together in one place where they could be more easily supervised, and therefore the idea arose that in Amsterdam one, two or three districts of the city might be used to house the Jews there, which was also connected with the necessity of resettling a part or a considerable number of non-Jewish Netherlanders because there was not yet a completely separate Jewish quarter at that time. The non- Jewish Dutch did not live completely apart from them.

THE PRESIDENT: All this evidence that the witness is giving is all in the decree and has already been given by the defendant, has it not? What is the difference?


THE PRESIDENT: What is the point of it?

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I only wanted to say one thing, and that is that on such an important question I wanted to have confirmation briefly by the witness.

THE WITNESS: I have not much more to say.


Q. All right, I shall now summarize. Is it true that one wanted to put the Jews together in a ghetto in Amsterdam?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that Heydrich demanded the evacuation of the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that the Reich Commissioner tried, in so far as it was possible under existing conditions, to use more humane methods in this deportation of the Jews?

A. Yes.

Q. I believe that I have now finished that chapter, too.

There were also concentration camps in the Netherlands. Is it known to you that Seyss-Inquart had these camps inspected by judicial commissions and corrected abuses found there?

A. Yes. Not only in concentration camps, but in camps of this kind in general.

Q. At the end of 1944 and early in 1945 there was a large-scale operation to deport all the men in Holland able to bear arms. Was that operation directed by the Reich Commissioner or by a different office?

A. That was an operation by the Reich, primarily an operation by the armed forces.

Q. Why did that operation take place?

A. It took place because during those critical times there were objections to the fact that men who were able to bear arms remained in Holland. First, because a large number of former prisoners of war who had been released by order of the Fuehrer in 1940 were later on mostly brought back to the Netherlands and a part of them remained there. Secondly, the resistance movements increased greatly during that time, and so it was stated that, from the military point of view, the responsibility of leaving those people able to bear arms in the Netherlands could not be assumed.

Q. Did the Reich Commissioner, in order to moderate that operation, issue so-called "Release Certificates" (Freistellungsscheine) - release slips?

A. Yes.

[Page 229]

Q: Did not a part escape this operation by way of the Labour Allocation (Arbeitseinsatz)?

A. As far as I know, yes, but I have no detailed knowledge of it.

Q. Do you know what happened to the diamonds confiscated after, the battle of Arnhem?

A. These diamonds were placed in safety in Arnhem by a German office, the Economic Testing Office I believe, and then after some time they were taken to Berlin, from where, as indeed I learned in Holland after the surrender, they were brought back to Amsterdam again.

Q. How was the financial economy in the administration? Were the tax revenues used sparingly, or was a very lax management displayed?

A. I am not really competent .in this field. The General Commissioner for Finance and Economy could say much more about that and with much greater authority than I can, but so far as my impressions went, I may say -

THE PRESIDENT: If he is not competent to speak about it, I do not see why he should speak about it.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, the witness Fischbock cannot be found. However, as deputy of the Reich Commissioner, this witness must know something about the general features of it. I will ask him for details.


Q. Did the Reich Commissioner save fairly large sums of money in his budget and deposit them in a special fund?

A. Yes.

Q. You know nothing about foreign currency restrictions, apparently?

A. No.

Q. How were raw materials, manufactured items, and foodstuffs requisitioned in the civilian branch of the administration?

A. It was regulated by an ordinance in the Reich Commissioner's ordinance bulletin and can be seen tyre. As a matter of principle, the requisitions were sent from the Reich to the Reich Commissioner and the Reich Commissioner passed them on to the Dutch offices concerned, which then carried out those requisitions themselves.

Q. So it was not the German offices but the Dutch offices headed by the Dutch General secretaries?

A. Yes. They also were authorized to do this by a special decree.

Q. Did the Reich Commissioner or his offices take anything from the large museums?

A. I did not quite understand that. From where?

Q. From the public museums.

A. No. I do not recall a single case, and I would have learned about it because the museums were under me.

Q. Yes, that is why I asked you. Were there possibly any archives that were carried away?

A. In general, no, but exchange of archives was probably worked out during the occupation which had been under consideration even before the war. There was an exchange of archives between, in particular, the Haus archives, but also other Dutch archives, and German archives, and, to be exact, this was done according to where they came from - on the so-called principle of origin.

Q. Was it possible for everybody to confiscate what he wanted, or was that controlled in any way?

A. No, that was controlled, and the respective regulations were again repeated in an especially stern decree of the Reich Commissioner during the last year. Those who transgressed or intended to transgress these regulations were given serious warning. There were only two agencies which, according to the decree, were allowed to carry out confiscations at all and these were the police and the Wehrmacht.

[Page 230]

Q. In conclusion, I should like to refer once again to the Wehrmacht operations. Was that discontinued in the autumn? By "Wehrmacht operation" I mean the collection of those members of the population able to bear arms.

A. That was stopped on the basis of an objection made by myself on behalf of the Reich Commissioner to General Student, who at that time was Chief of the Army Group, and under whose jurisdiction the Netherlands also came.

Q. Then one last question. Can you remember the Jewish Library Rosenthaliana?

A. Yes.

Q. What happened to that?

A. As far as I know, it remained in the Netherlands.

Q. Was not that to have been remodelled?

A. Yes. There were such intentions, but since this library was public property, the property of the City of Amsterdam, the Reich Commissioner, upon my suggestion, ordered that this library was to remain in Holland.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I have concluded the questioning of this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Any other defendants' Counsel want to ask questions?

(No response.)

Do the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Witness, you were selected to fill the office of General Commissioner in the Netherlands by Seyss-Inquart himself?

A. Yes.

Q. You had known Seyss-Inquart for several years?

A. Yes.

Q. Had you not been one of his assistants ever since 1938?

A. Yes.

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