The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/05/21

                                                  [Page 117]

BY DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and the

Q. Witness, I wanted to put one question to you regarding
the floodings. What did you, your offices, or the Commander
in Chief  "West" undertake in order to prevent the pumps
from being damaged and so avoid a great flooding of Holland?

A. I do not quite understand the question. There were two
dangers. One was that of blowing up, and the pumping
stations would not have been of any use then; anyway it was
not done as is known, but was prevented. The second danger
was the lack of coal and the lack of oil. We tried, as long
as possible, to supply the pumping stations with coal. This
coal was listed as a top priority. It was thus placed in the
same category as every other Wehrmacht requirement. When we
received less and less coal, we let certain very low-lying
reclaimed areas run full, in order that others should not be
flooded. There was completely frictionless co-operation with
the Dutch offices and a deputy of the Dutch Government in
England with whom I spoke later, to whom I sent my expert,
said that from the technical point of view our flooding
measures were not objectionable.

Q. Now, a second point. In answer to a question from your
attorney, you said that you intervened against the
demolition work in the harbour of Rotterdam. With whom did
you intervene?

A. With General Christiansen, who was then
Commander-in-Chief and Wehrmacht Commander, who took my side

Q. Then you found him in agreement at once? Did all agree to
your intervention with this military office?

A. Yes.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.

BY DR. FLAECHSNER (counsel for the defendant Speer):

Q. Witness, you mentioned yesterday the-blocked industries.
(Sperrbetriebe). Can you tell me when these industries were
established in Holland and how they aimed to affect the
labour employment programme, that is, the transport of
workers from Holland to Germany?

A. I believe the blocked industries were established during
1943, if I remember correctly, in the second half of 1943.
The workers in these industries were protected. Thus, the
recruiting and transporting of Dutch workers to the Reich
was partly slowed down, and partly stopped altogether.

Q. When the blocked industries began to function and work
was taken up, were raw materials brought from Germany to
Holland, coal in particular, so that the orders could be

A. I believe all raw materials, with the exception of coal.
Coal was brought in from Limberg.

Q. You mentioned yesterday the Organisation Todt. Do you
know to what extent this Organization Todt in Holland used
Dutch construction firms for construction work there on the
Atlantic Wall, and to what extent this construction was
carried out by these firms.

A. I believe that the largest amount of construction in
Holland, Northern France and Belgium was done by native
construction firms. This is definitely true of Holland; and
Dutch construction firms also carried out work in Belgium
and in Northern France. These firms brought their workers
along with them.

Therefore, about 35,000 to 40,000 Dutch workers who were not
drafted by compulsion were working in Belgium and Northern
France in the middle of 1942.

Q. Can you tell us what results this procedure had generally
on the recruitment of native labour?

A. The native workers naturally preferred to go into the
blocked industries or the firms of the Organization Todt,
for there they were at least more certain of not being
transported to the Reich. And, in addition, while they were
with the Organization Todt they received special food

                                                  [Page 118]

Q. Witness, when in August or September, 1944, because of
enemy bombings on the distribution system, production in
Holland was hampered, or even stopped, what measures were
taken in order to protect the workers of the blocked

A. Three courses were open to us: First of all, to bring
them into the Reich; secondly, to dismiss them and give them
unemployment benefit; or, thirdly, to retain them and to pay
them their wages even though they did little or no work.

I believe it was because of a decree issued by Reich
Minister Speer that the third course was chosen. The workers
in those industries received their pay, and I took care that
the factory owners received a certain compensation for the
wages which they paid those workers.

Q. Witness, you have already mentioned a discussion which
you had on 1st April, 1945, with co-defendant Speer. Can you
tell us what the purpose of this discussion was?

A. I have already explained that I wanted to talk with
Minister Speer about the "submerged earth" decree. But
Minister Speer also had a purpose in mind. He wanted us to
transport potatoes from North Holland into the Ruhr region
and in exchange to bring coal from the Ruhr area into the
Netherlands. In view of the potato supply in North Holland
this could readily have been done, but we did not have the
means of transportation at our command to carry out this

Q. Did Speer tell you about precautionary measures for the
securing of food supplies during the period after the

A. Minister Speer told me that behind the Ruhr area he had
stored transports of food and that he had taken over the
means of transportation from the armament industry, so that
if the Ruhr area were invaded there would be food available
for this area.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any counsel for the prosecution wish to
cross-examine? I am sorry, Dr. Kubuschok, have you something
to say?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: (Counsel for the defendant von Papen):

The defendant Kaltenbrunner has asked me, as the defence
counsel sitting nearest him, to state that he had discussed
with his attorney a number of questions which he would like
to put to Seyss-Inquart. I have just tried to get into touch
with Dr. Kauffmann, Kaltenbrunner's defence counsel; at
present and probably all this afternoon it will not be
possible for us to do this. The defendant Kaltenbrunner asks
for permission to have these questions asked of
Seyss-Inquart tomorrow.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will expect some explanation
from Dr. Kauffmann as to why he is not here to
cross-examine. He must have known that the time was about to
arrive for him to cross-examine. But the Tribunal will
assent to the suggestion that those questions may be put at
a later date, tomorrow, if possible.

Now, do counsel for the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Defendant, you have studied law, and you have told us
that you had even obtained the degree of Doctor of Law at
the University of Vienna in 1917?

A. Yes.

Q. You were a lawyer from 1929 to 12th February, 1938, at
which date you became Minister for the Interior?

A. From 1927.

Q. Very well. Now, was not your clientele mainly composed of

A. No, not mainly, but there were some among them.

                                                  [Page 119]

Q. And yet you told us yesterday that you had been an
anti-Semite ever since the First World War.

A. My clients knew that. It was widely known.

Q. Yes. But it did not, at the same time, cause you to
despise Jewish money.

A. It did not prevent the Jews from coming to me.

Q. Were you a Catholic?

A. What do you mean by that?

Q. I am asking yon whether you were a Catholic.

A. I am a member; that is, I belong to the Catholic Church.

Q. Were you not also a member of a Catholic fraternity when
you were a student?

A. I never belonged to any student organisation, Catholic or

Q. Very well. You were appointed Reich Commissioner for
Holland by a decree of Hitler dated 18th May, 1940; is that

A. Yes.

Q. Your orders, on reaching the Netherlands - as you told us
yesterday - were: to maintain the independence of the
Netherlands, and to establish economic relations between
that country and Germany. You added that these orders were
never afterwards modified by the Fuehrer; is that true?

A. I did not quite understand one word, the reference to
economic relations.

Q. I said that you arrived in the Netherlands with the
following orders: one, to maintain the independence of the
Netherlands and, two, to establish economic relations
between that country and Germany. Is that so?

A. I would not put it that way exactly, but I was to try and
bring about as close an economic relationship between
Holland and Germany as possible. The economic stipulations,
too, varied in the long run and, apart from war necessities,
were not intended to be dictatorial.

Q. But you did say that you had not come with the intention
of giving a definite political ideology to the people of the
Netherlands. Is that correct?

A. Well, I would not put it that way. It was my intention to
further National Socialist politics wherever possible in
Holland, not to decree it, but to further it as much as

Q. Was it also your intention not to introduce but to impose

A. No, for one cannot force a political ideology on any one.

Q. Very well. I am going to have Document 197-PS, handed to
you. This document has already been submitted both by the
prosecution, as Exhibit USA 708, and, yesterday, by the

Will you kindly turn to Pages 7 and 8 of the German text? It
is Page 7 of the French text, at the paragraph "Measures."
This document, as you will note, is a report which you
yourself made.

A. Yes.

Q. You write:

  "In view of this state of affairs it was necessary first
  of all to eliminate Winkelmann's influence, which was
  done in the following manner. The Secretaries General
  were expressly informed that from now on they would
  receive orders only from the Reich Commissioner; this
  they expressly agreed to. The offices of Secretaries
  General were retained and the same persons kept in
  office, since in the event of their resignation it would
  probably be impossible to find Dutch people who would be
  willing to take over the administration. It seemed
  necessary, from a political point of view, that a certain
  number of measures, above all economic measures, and,
  indirectly, police measures as well, signed by the Dutch
  Secretaries General be made known to the Dutch nation."

In short, according to this document, it appears that if you
decided to retain the Secretaries General, it was because
you needed them for imposing certain measures on the Dutch
people? Is that correct?

                                                  [Page 120]

A. Yes, but what has that to do with politics? This is a
matter of administration.

Q. As far as I know, this refers to political as well as to
economic questions.

A. No, in the German text, it says "police questions."
Economic and police questions, not political; there is a

Q. In that case, I will re-read the sentence, bearing your
answer in mind.

  "But it seemed necessary, from a political point of view

Now is that "political" or "police" which we see?

A. Just a moment, please. Yes, that is correct. But that
does not mean politics in the sense of party politics, but
political in respect to the treatment of the Dutch people as
such. Whether they thereby became National Socialists or not
was quite immaterial to me.

Q. Was it in the interests of Dutch or of German policy?

A. Yes, I admit without any hesitation at all, that I
followed a German policy. That was part of my task.

Q. But the German policy of that day was surely the policy
of the National Socialist Party?

A. The German policy was, at that time, the policy of a
fight for existence on the part of the German people, and
this struggle was led by the National Socialist party. But
the basic concern was not the carrying out of the
twenty-five points of the Party policy, but rather the
carrying through of our fight for existence and that is what
this means.

Q. In your administration, in the Netherlands, you were
helped by four Commissioners General: Wimmer: Administration
and justice; Fischbock: Finance and Economy, Rauter: Public
Security; and Schmidt: Special Questions.

The Commissioner General for Public Security, Rauter, was
directly subordinate to you, was he not?

A. The four Commissioners General were immediately
subordinate to me; Rauter, in so far as he, as Commissioner
General for Security, headed the Dutch police, and not in so
far as he was chief of the German police.

Q. You had decided to rule and administer the Netherlands
alone; to accomplish this you dissolved the two assemblies
which then existed, and by the same decree, you restricted
the powers of the State Council to the juridical field.

A. I do not remember this decree, but it may very well have
been that way.

Q. You also seized control over the finances, and over the
Treasury of the Netherlands. For this purpose you issued a
decree on 24th August, 1940, authorising you to appoint the
President of the Bank of Holland.

A. I do not recall the date exactly, but I did issue such a

Q. When you arrived in the Netherlands, Mynheer Trip was
President of the Netherlands Bank and Secretary General for
the Treasury?

A. Yes.

Q. For what reason did you have him replaced?

A. He was replaced because he objected to the lifting of the
existing foreign currency and clearing limitations. I put it
to him that he could resign if he did not want to carry out
my measures.

Q. And by whom did you replace him?

A. By Mynheer Rost van Tonningen.

Q. You had known Mynheer Rost van Tonningen for a very long

A. I do not believe I knew him - only by name at the most.
He was clearly capable, having held a similar post for
Austria - in connection with the League of Nations - in

Q. How long had you known him by name?

A. Most probably since the time when he assumed his office
in Vienna. I do not know the date.

Q. You were not associated with him when he was in Vienna?

A. I do not think I ever saw him.

                                                  [Page 121]

Q. Was Mynheer Rost van Tonnigen not a member of the Dutch
National Socialist Party?

A. Yes.

Q. Was that the reason why you appointed him?

A. That was one of the reasons. Not so much the fact that he
was a member but rather that he represented our views.

Q. Will you kindly look again at the document which I have
just shown to you, 997-PS, Page 5 of the German text, and
Page 5 of the French text. This is what you say about
Mynheer Rost van Tonningen:

  "Rost van Tonningen: meets perfectly all the ideological
  requirements, is in line with the Germanic idea and
  National Socialism, speaks effectively and animatedly,
  has a strong desire to be active, does not find his
  strength in himself but seeks the support and backing of
  other people."

As far as I can see, we do not find in what you write here
about Rost van Tonningen that he was particularly competent
in financial matters.

A. In reference to the other gentlemen as well, I never
described their technical qualifications, but merely their
political attitude. I did not say that Mussert was really a
well-known engineer in the Netherlands and so forth. I
described merely their political attitude.

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