The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/05/16

Q. I would still like to ask you: did you ever receive anything?

A. No. On my fiftieth birthday -

THE PRESIDENT: The light is going on frequently.

Q. But you received a title, did you not?

A. Do you mean the title of "Gruppenfuehrer of the SS "? On
the 15th of March, I was made Gruppenfuehrer of the SS, as
an honorary rank. I must add that I did not try to obtain
it, and that I went through no examinations, or other such
things. As a rule, an honorary rank in the SS does not
entail membership of the general SS; it does not bestow on
the holder power to issue orders, and he is also not subject
to disciplinary powers. I myself learned that when I
complained to Himmler about Burckel and demanded proceedings
- that letter has been submitted here - Himmler told me then
that he had no disciplinary powers over Burckel, who held
only an honorary rank. I myself, as regards the SS -

Q. I think that is sufficient.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, as I understood it, the
defendant said that he received a secondary post to furnish
reports to Heydrich. What was that secondary post? Is that
what you said?

THE WITNESS: Heydrich wrote a secret report against me. No,
I am sorry, Heydrich sent an escort -

THE PRESIDENT: You said in 1937 Heydrich issued a secret
report about Austria, and then said that the solution was
unavoidable except for the policy of Seyss-Inquart. That was
the substance of it, was it not?

THE WITNESS: I did not quite understand that.

THE PRESIDENT: And after that, I understood you to say you
received a secondary post to furnish reports to Heydrich.

THE WITNESS: No, Heydrich sent four or five of his men to
accompany me as a kind of guard escort, and these men had
orders to report my movements to him.

THE PRESIDENT: I see, I must have misunderstood the


Q. To sum up, I can say that apart from your appointment as
SS Gruppenfuehrer you received no awards with the exception
of a promise that you would become Reich Minister within a
year? Is that correct?

A. This promise was given at the end of April 1938. I refer
to a question in the cross-examination of the
Reichsmarschall. Before the 13th of March, 1938, I did not
receive the slightest promise from the Reich, and was not in
any way under obligation to anyone or bound to obey anyone
in the Reich.

                                                   [Page 83]

Q. And with that I can close the chapter on Austria, and
briefly discuss the Czechoslovakian question.

You are accused, on the basis of a congratulatory letter
sent to the Fuehrer by Henlein, of having taken an active
part in the annexation of Czechoslovakia?

A. In the affairs of September 1938 I had no other part at
all than that of receiving, as Reichsstatthalter in Austria,
the refugees from the border areas, and lodging and feeding
them in Austria. Henlein and a few other leaders I knew
personally, without, however, interfering in their politics,
and without being well acquainted with their relations to
the Reich.

Q. What can you say about Slovakia?

A. The relations between Vienna and Bratislava were very
good at the time of the old Austrian monarchy; I, myself,
had relatives in Bratislava. Hence the Slovaks and the
Germans knew each other well. We knew in particular the
complaint of the Slovaks that the promise of Pittsburgh had
not been kept, that they had not received full autonomy in
their State. Pater Hlinka was in favour of complete
autonomy; he was venerated in Slovakia like a saint, and at
least three-quarters of the Slovak people were behind him;
he advocated independence from the parliament in Prague, and
Slovak as the official language.

After March 1938, to be exact, after September 1938, I met a
few Slovak politicians, Sidor, Dr. Tiso, Dr. Churchansky,
and perhaps one or two others. The Fuehrer himself once
asked me to inform him and to send him a report on Slovak
conditions, and I commissioned two of my colleagues, who had
very good personal connections with Slovakia, to obtain the
desired information. In March 1939, I talked to Sidor and
Dr. Tiso, because they wanted to confer with me on possible
Berlin-Prague developments and their consequences for
Slovakia; at least, so I was told by my colleagues who had
invited me. Mention was made in these discussions of the
possibility of a Berlin-Prague clash, and of the concern for
the integrity of Slovakia, because there was the danger that
the Hungarians, and the Poles too, might take advantage of
the occasion by occupying Slovak territory. The Slovak
gentlemen wanted assurances on what Berlin intended to do,
and what they could do to preserve the integrity of their
country. I spoke very openly with these gentlemen, but I did
not ask them to declare their independence, for they
themselves had to make that decision. We discussed rather
the question of whether differences between Slovak and
German interests existed, and we established that they did
not exist.

Q. In this connection I should like to refer to two
documents. One is No. 71, Page 181. This is the reference to
the Pittsburgh treaty. The second document is No. 72, Page
183, submitted by the prosecution as USA 112 as proof that
the defendant was in unlawful contact with the Slovaks.

You are, of course, acquainted with this document, witness.
It is a report of Viscount Halifax of 21st March, 1939. Who
was in Bratislava with you at that time? Or were you there
at all?

A. State Secretary Keppler was at that time sent from Berlin
to Vienna with the task of putting certain questions to the
Slovak Government. Both Burckel and I had refused to take
over such an assignment; that was one of the few instances
in which I agreed with Burckel. As chief of the
administration it fell to me to make preparations for the
visit to Bratislava, and it was agreed that State Secretary
Keppler would go to Bratislava in my car. Burckel and I
accompanied Keppler. No Generals or other representatives of
the Wehrmacht were present. The record of the conversations
is no doubt accurate.

Q. It says in the document "and five German Generals"?

A. That is wrong. I should like to call the Tribunal's
attention to the fact that both the Slovak Minister Sidor
and Msgr. Tiso, who later became President, declare in this
document that they negotiated only with Burckel; the name
Seyss-Inquart does not appear at all.

                                                   [Page 84]

Q. Then, to sum up, can I say that you did not engage in the
activity with which the prosecution charges you in
connection with Czechoslovakia or Slovakia? Is that correct?

A. At any rate, I do not think that, in pursuing the
interests of the Reich, I overstepped the limits which in
such negotiations must be conceded to someone charged with
representing legitimate interests. I did not participate
when, on 12th March, Dr. Tiso through Burckel ....

I did not overstep the limits justified in representing
legitimate interests of the Reich.

Q. Thank you, that is sufficient.

Then in 1939, on 1st of May, 1939, you became Minister
without Portfolio. Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you ever take part in a cabinet session, or a session
of the Secret Defence Council?

A. It no longer existed.

Q. Did you have influence in any way on the decision to make
war on Poland?

A. In no way whatever.

Q. When the war with Poland had actually begun, did you
express your opinion about it to Hitler?

A. In the second week of September, I wrote a letter to
Hitler. I hope that this letter too is among my Vienna
files. I read a copy of it about a year and a half ago, and
I remember the contents well. I called Hitler's attention to
the fact that among the German people there was no
enthusiasm at all, but on the contrary, the gravest concern
that it would be a life and death struggle. I expressed my
opinion that the war would not end through a military
solution, but would have to be solved politically, and that
the basis for such a political solution would be the
alliance with the Soviets, which should perhaps be extended
to a military alliance. Consideration should be given to the
fact that the Soviets, like Czarist Russia, would never
abandon their interests in the Balkans, and that Pan-Slavism
would also play a role; consequently, Russia would have to
be reckoned with in the Czechoslovak and Polish questions. I
said that it was necessary at all costs to maintain the belt
of neutral States. Then the war on the narrow Western front
would stop of its own accord. The Italian policy, however,
should not become a charge on Germany, but an agreement
should be reached with Greece and Turkey. England could not
be defeated from the air or by U-boats, one had to attack
her position in the Mediterranean to force her to make

Q. Did you receive an answer to this letter from the

A. I received no direct answer but, once in a conversation,
he made a remark which showed clearly that he had read the
letter. He said to me: "I do not want to destroy the British
Empire at all " whereby, however, he betrayed that he had
misunderstood my letter.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, if the Tribunal agrees, I
think this would be a suitable time to adjourn.


(A recess was taken.)




Q. We last spoke about your attitude with regard to the
question of Czechoslovakia. You talked about your position
as Reich Governor in Vienna and described your intolerable
relations with Burckel, which was the reason why you changed
your work and went to Poland. What functions did you carry
out in Poland?

                                                   [Page 85]

A. First of all, I was appointed administrative chief for
Southern Poland, which position actually came within the
organization of the Armed Forces. The administration,
however, was never set up since the Government General was
created forthwith and I became the deputy of the Governor
General. My sphere of influence was legally defined but
depended, of course, upon the different cases in which the
Governor General needed me as his deputy. On 19th January,
1940, he settled this at a conference.

Q. In this connection I should like to refer to Document 73
on Page 185, which is an extract from Dr. Frank's diary. On
Page 14 of this diary he describes the functions of
Seyss-Inquart, and then on Page 30 he says something which
he repeated to you in person, that he bore the
responsibility for what happened there.

Now, you became the deputy of the Governor General although
by rank as a Minister you were actually placed higher, and
you exercised certain functions there, which, as we have
heard, consisted primarily of making out reports. Under
Document PS-2278 is a report which you yourself wrote, in
which there are certain things for which you are accused.
Will you please tell us what you have to say about this
report on your travels.

A. My secretary wrote that report. I certainly read it.

Q. It is Exhibit USA 706.

A. It is brought up against me amongst other things that the
Governor of Lublin had suggested that the Jews should be
transferred from Lublin to the district of Kirov and then
decimated. The prosecution itself has stated that this is an
insertion made by the writer. In any case this was not an
official report at a meeting. Kirov itself was a settlement
occupied by a group of German nationals, and the employment
of Jews in that area could hardly make me suspected of
wanting to exterminate the Jews in that district because of
the climatic conditions. I knew, however, that it was the
Governor's wish to have the very large Jewish population of
Lublin removed from the town. I remember nothing of any
specific intention expressed by the word "decimating," in
the sense of annihilating. The Governor of Radom reported to
me that desperate criminals there had been shot. It is true,
he did tell me that. I vas under the impression that this
had been done by the summary police courts which still
functioned at the time. But there are several passages in
this same report where I always point out that German courts
must be introduced and that no sentence must be carried out
without proper court procedure. I think that quite probably
I said the same thing at the time I was at Radom, only this
is not mentioned in the report.

I have been accused of wanting to monopolise certain vital
products, such as salt, etc. That was quite natural
considering the economic chaos in which we found Poland. We
had to arrive at a natural economic system, and supply the
agricultural population with certain products so that they
in turn could supply food for the benefit of the Polish town
populations. In this connection I wish to point out that I
urged the re-establishment of Polish self-administration
under the old people of former Polish times, and that I
asked for 9,000,000 zloty to be placed at disposal for motor
vehicles, etc. In addition to this I said that compulsory
work must be replaced by normal employment as soon as

Q. The so-called "AB Action" plays a considerable part in
the Polish question. It is an abbreviation for
"extraordinary pacification action." Since that might have
happened in your time, I should like to ask if you know
anything about it.

A. This affair took place during the very last period of my
stay in Poland. With the beginning of the Norwegian campaign
the resistance movement in Poland became extremely active
and grew as a result of the campaign in the West. The
Security Police demanded the severest counter-measures.
Buehler really made the objection which he stated here on
this witness stand. I always understood the Governor
General's words just as Buehler wanted them to be
understood; but Buehler was quite right in making the
objection, because the police might have interpreted these
words as giving them much greater powers than the Governor
General intended to give them.

                                                   [Page 86]

Dr. Frank always opposed the sentences passed by these
summary police courts and he set up his own commission of
inquiry. I was the chairman of this commission as long as I
was in Poland, and sometimes we cancelled as many as 50 per
cent. of the sentences imposed.

Q. How long were you actually deputy during your period of
office when Dr. Frank was prevented from carrying out his

A. Ten days I believe.

Q. Ten days. Well, then, I think I can rapidly wind up the
Polish question by asking: Did you introduce any measures
which could really be said to be in the interests of the
Polish population?

A. During the winter of 1939 to 1940 there was famine in
Polish towns. I intervened with Secretary of State Backe
myself, and on one occasion, for instance, I obtained six
thousand tons of grain for the large cities. I approached
Reichsmarschall Goering and the Fuehrer, too, and asked for
the town of Lodz to be left under the administration of the
Government General. I did the same for the coal district
west of Cracow.

Q. I now come to the main part of the accusation held
against you, and that is the question of your activities in
the Netherlands.

My first question is this: How did you manage to become
Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands?

A. The Fuehrer appointed me.

Q. And where were you at the time?

A. I was on a service mission in the Government General, and
Dr. Lammers called me to headquarters.

Q. So you did not apply for this job?

A. No, that did not even enter my mind. At that time I had
just asked the Fuehrer, for permission to join the Armed

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