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-Fifth Day: Friday, 14th June, 1946
(Part 4 of 9)

[M. DUBOST continues his cross examination of Dr. Heinz Max Hirschfeld]

[Page 247]


Q. How did Seyss-Inquart's attitude change during the occupation?

A. I should like to make a clear distinction with regard to his point of view after September - after the autumn of 1944 and in the first four and a half years. After the autumn of 1944 he was much more outspoken in the Netherlands' interests than previously.

Q. Before being the General Secretary of the various administrations which you administered during the German occupation, you were Director of Foreign Trade in Holland, and as such you were present at international negotiations and

[Page 248]

in particular you negotiated with the representatives or Germany about economic questions concerning your country. You therefore knew Schacht?

A. Yes, I believe I first met Schacht in 1933 at the World Economic Conference in London.

Q. During your negotiations with Schacht, were you not led to ask him to restrict the rearmament of Germany which was ruining her credit?

A. If I am to answer this question, I must go back to a conversation in 1936 when I was in Berlin and saw Herr Schacht in connection with Trade Treaty negotiations. During this conversation, the international financial situation came up for discussion because there were various currency devaluations at that time of the French franc, the Swiss franc and the Dutch guilder. The situation of German currency was also discussed in this connection. When I voiced my criticism, Schacht said, "How would you do it?"

I said I could only give him my private opinion. Then I asked if Germany, a question under discussion at that time, when taking up more international loans, would be ready to assume the consequences as the interests and amortizations would imply a blocking of the importation of raw materials which would have an unfortunate effect on the labour market and on the rearmament. Would Germany be willing to accept such consequences? If so, then, according to what was my private opinion in 1936, international loans might be discussed. If not, then there would not be much point in such a discussion.

Then Schacht gave me his opinion. Germany needed rearmament, in order to be equal to the other great Powers in international politics, Only on such a basis could one negotiate, and Schacht said to me, in his own ironical pointed way, "I want a great and powerful Germany and to achieve that I would even ally myself with the devil." In the course of this discussion, Schacht asked a few questions. First, he wanted to clear up the currency question, and secondly, he considered the colonial question important.

Regarding the colonial question, he told me that in his opinion it was possible for Germany to take over colonies again, and that she would accept the responsibility not to arm these colonies, and not to set up any naval bases there. If such a policy was to be adopted, he believed that German economic and foreign policy might be reverted. In this connection Schacht told me that he did not approve of the anti-Semitic tendencies then prevalent in Germany. He gave me examples of his attitude toward anti-Semitism and how he rejected it. I may add one example here that he gave me, his conversation with a certain Klagges who was Minister President of Brunswick, and who made Hitler a German citizen.

Q. That is of no interest to me. Schacht told you he had defended the Jews.

Now, about the General Staff. Was it not the General Staff who gave the order to have these raids carried out in Rotterdam?

DR. LATERNSER: Mr. President, if I understood the question correctly, the witness is to be questioned about the charges against the General Staff and the OKW. I object to this question for the following reasons -

THE PRESIDENT: You go too fast. Do you not see the light?

DR. LATERNSER: As defence counsel for the General Staff and the OKW, I was prohibited by a court decision promulgated on the 8th of June to question or cross-examine any witnesses. The same ought to apply to the prosecution. If I am not allowed to question witnesses, then the prosecution must not be allowed to question them either, since the rules must be the same for prosecution and defence.

M. DUBOST: I will forgo my question.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not hear what you said, M. Dubost.

M. DUBOST: I said, Mr. President, that I would forgo my question about the General Staff, and I have two more questions about Seyss-Inquart.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, just one moment. Go on, M. Dubost.

[Page 249]


Q. Did Seyss-Inquart give the order to have raids carried out in all the large Dutch cities?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. Who gave the order for these round-ups to be carried out? Who was it?

A. These raids were carried out by the German Wehrmacht. I do not know who gave the orders. It is only known that in Rotterdam, when these raids - I believe it was on 11th November, 1944 - were carried out, the Divisional Commander in Rotterdam made a speech in the town hall on the subject and organized this raid.

Q. But did not Seyss-Inquart have orphan children from the hospitals taken away for work in Germany?

A. The question is not clear.

Q. Was it Seyss-Inquart who had orphan children seized and sent to work in the service of Germany?

A. From my own experience I know nothing about this.

Q. Were orphan children compelled to serve in certain of the SS units, on Seyss-Inquart's orders?

A. I know that the SS in the Netherlands recruited soldiers. As far as I know from the newspapers, bulletins and handbills, it was always done by the SS as such.

Q. Who pledged himself not to use chemical products made in Holland for war? Was it Seyss-Inquart who had pledged himself not to do so?

A. I beg your pardon.

Q. Who had pledged himself not to use chemical products made in Holland for warfare, and to have them reserved exclusively for Dutch agricultural purposes?

A. This is the question of the nitrogen fertiliser?

Q. Yes.

A. With regard to the nitrogen fertiliser, from the beginning the promise was made that the nitrogen fertiliser industries in the Netherlands should only produce artificial fertilizers. This was done until about the middle of August, 1944, when instructions came that the nitrogen fertiliser industry was to change its production over to explosives. These instructions had been issued by an office of the Reich Commissioner. It was signed by a certain Herr Brocke. Thereupon, after I had spoken to an official of the industry, I attempted to speak to Seyss-Inquart personally on this matter and to intervene. I was given the answer by his adjutant that he had already made his decision and that I could establish contact with Fiebig, the representative of Speer in the Netherlands. I discussed the matter with Fiebig and told him that Dutch industry and Dutch labour could not work on explosives. Thereupon I was told -

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, cannot this question be answered a little more shortly? The question is, did Seyss-Inquart promise that chemicals should be used, I suppose, on the land in Holland and not used for purposes in the Reich? Is not that the question?


Q. You have heard what Mr. President has said. Try to answer more briefly.

A. We had the promise that only artificial fertiliser would be produced. Then the demand was made to produce explosives.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Dubost, we do not want it all again. Cannot you get the question answered?

M . DUBOST: I did not hear the answer of the witness, Mr. President. It did not come through.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken.)

[Page 250]

M. DUBOST: With the permission of the Tribunal, I shall ask the witness one more question.


Q. Witness, do you know under what conditions and for what reasons the newspaper published in The Hague was destroyed by the agencies of the Reich Commissioner?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you tell us?

A. Yes. The newspaper published in The Hague was destroyed because the employees of this newspaper refused to publish an article which spoke against the railway strike, an article which had been compiled by the Information Chief of the Reich Commissioner. That was the reason for refusing to publish it.

Q. Yes. It was destroyed by means of dynamite, was it not? The buildings and machinery were blown up, were they not?

A. The equipment was blown up with dynamite.

DR. STEINBAUER (Counsel for the defendant Seyss-Inquart):

I have no further questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. STEINBAUER: Now, with the permission of the High Tribunal, I should like to call my last witness to the witness stand, Ernst Schwebel.

ERNST AUGUST SCHWEBEL, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Ernst August Schwebel.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath and added "so help me God.")

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Witness, what functions did you have before you assumed service in the Netherlands?

A. I was Oberverwaltungsgerichtsrat at the Prussian Administrative Court in Berlin.

Q. When did you come to the Netherlands?

A. On 18th May, 1940.

Q. Is it true that, beginning with June, 1940, you were the delegate or plenipotentiary of the Reich Commissioner in the province of South Holland, including the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam?

A. Yes.

Q. In this capacity, as plenipotentiary for this province, did you have constant contact with the Dutch administrative authorities in this province and with the local authorities?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know how many of the mayors of the Royal regime in the province were left in their office?

A. At the end, about one-half to two-thirds.

Q. Did the Reich Commissioner replace and charge many of the officials of the province and of the local government?

[Page 251]

A. No, he made very few changes. Shall I discuss these changes?

Q. Yes, but briefly. Perhaps you can just cite the reasons for the changes.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, the changes have already been stated by other witnesses, have they not, and have not been cross-examined to. Is that right? Did not Seyss-Inquart state the changes, and they were not cross-examined to?

DR. STEINBAUER: Then I shall turn to another question.


Q. Is it true that in the second half of the year 1944 a state of emergency was declared?

A. Yes, on 4th December.

Q. And the executive powers were turned over to the Wehrmacht within a radius of 30 kilometres?

A. Yes, but this transfer did not take place due to the regulation declaring this emergency state, but as a result of a special military regulation.

Q. Due to military developments?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that at the beginning of the year 1945 special commandos of the Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler began to place time bombs in the public buildings of your province in case of an evacuation of this territory?

A. As far as these special commandos of Himmler were concerned, I know nothing about them. I know only one case in which an Oberleutnant appeared, but I believe that that was prior to the time you mentioned. He wanted to take such steps. I immediately got in touch with the Reich Commissioner and the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, and I learned that none of these gentlemen knew about this. Thereupon, at the request of the Reich Commissioner, this Oberleutnant was told to cease his activity, to remove the bombs which he had already planted and to leave immediately. I know of no other cases like that.

Q. Do you know that deficiencies arose in Gouda as a result of the so-called drive for "Wehrfaehige ins Reich" (those who were fit for military service to be taken into the Reich)?

A. Yes; the Wehrmacht was carrying through this drive at the time, and with them a delegate of Minister Goebbels, in his capacity as Reich Commissioner for Total Warfare. They set up special agencies in Gouda and in two other places in the province. The director of the Gouda office carried these duties out in an improper manner - rather harshly. Thereupon I discussed this matter with the Reich Commissioner, and he immediately got in touch with the commanding general and had this officer dismissed on the spot.

Q. Do you know anything about the extent of the resistance movement in your province?

A. The resistance movement was fought by the Security Police in connection with the Wehrmacht. What I know is not from my own experience in my administrative post, but knowledge I received through my connection with the agencies. As a result of that connection I know that the resistance movement approached 50,000; that is an estimate. These were people who could be counted as members. By that I do not mean that they were people who were organized in groups or in permanent action.

Q. Do you know that the Reich Commissioner started a food drive for 250,000 Dutch children?

A. Yes, I know that he initiated this drive.

Q. You were an actual witness to the attempt on the part of Seyss-Inquart to end the war quickly. Will you tell us briefly how connections were established with the Chief of the General Staff of General Eisenhower?

A. At the beginning of April, 1945, a Mr. van der Vlugt approached me. He was the leader of the so-called IKO. That was an inter-denominational organization to assist in the food problems.

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