The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1999/09/16

M. FAURE: Mr. President, may I ask the permission of the Tribunal to
call the witness Jacobus Vorrink?


M. FAURE: This witness speaks Dutch as his native tongue, and the
interpreting system does not include this language. I suggest that he
speaks in the German language, which he knows well.

          (The witness took his place in the box.)


Q. What is your name?

A. Vorrink.

Q. Your Christian name, your first name?

A. Jacobus.

Q. Do you swear to speak without hate or fear, to speak the truth, all
the truth and only the truth? Will you raise your right hand and say, "I

            (The witness raised his right hand.)

A. I swear. BY M. FAURE: Sit down.

Q. Mr. Vorrink, you are a Dutch Senator?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. You are President of the Socialist Party of the Netherlands?

A. Yes, Sir.

Q. You exercised these functions in 1940 at the time of the invasion of
the Netherlands by the Germans?

A. Yes.

Q. I would like to ask you to give a few explanations on the following
situation: There existed in the Netherlands, before the invasion, a
National Socialist Party. I would like you to state what the situation
was after the invasion by the Germans and during the occupation, with
regard to the various political parties in the Netherlands, and more
particularly the National Socialist Party, and what were the activities
of this Party in liaison with the German occupation ?

A. I would prefer to speak in the Dutch language. I am sorry I do not
know French and English well enough to use these languages -- but in
order not to delay the proceedings I will give my answers in German.
This is the only reason why I am using the German language.

The political situation in Holland after the invasion by the Germans was
that first and foremost the German Army wanted to maintain public order
in Holland. But the real Nazis immediately came with the Wehrmacht and
tried to direct and organise public life in Holland according to their
concepts. There were among the Germans three main categories. In the
first place, there were those who believed in the "blood and soil" (Blut
und Boden) theory. They wanted to win over the whole of the Dutch people
to their National Socialist concepts. I must say that in certain
respects this was our misfortune, because

                                                               [Page 11]

these people, on the basis of their "blood and soil" theory, loved us
too much, and when that love was not reciprocated it turned to hate.

The second category consisted of the politically informed, and these
people knew perfectly well that the Dutch National Socialists in Holland
were only a very small and much-hated group. At the elections of 1935
they received only 8 per cent. of the votes, and two years later this
percentage had been reduced by one-half. These people were tactlessness
itself. For instance, when the ruins of Rotterdam were still smoking
they saw fit to make a demonstration at which the Dutch leader of the
Dutch National Socialists, Mussert, dedicated to Goering a new bell as a
thank offering of what he had done for Holland. Fortunately, it did not
prevent him from being defeated.

In the third place, there were the so-called intriguers -- those who
wanted to destroy the national unity of Holland and who first of all
tried through Seyss-Inquart to gain the favour of the Dutch people by
flattery. In the same way as Seyss-Inquart, they always stressed that
the two peoples were kindred races and should therefore work together,
while behind the scenes they played off one Nazi group against the

In Holland at that time there existed the Dutch National Socialist
Workers' Party, the Dutch National Socialist Front, and the so-called
National Front. All these three movements had their contacts with
certain German organisations. The Germans first tried to find out
whether it was possible to use these groups for their purposes. Slowly,
however, they recognised that it was not possible to work with these
groups, and so they decided to adopt the National Socialist movement

These National Socialists gradually occupied the key positions in the
Dutch administration. They were appointed General Secretaries for
internal administration, they became Commissioners of the Provinces,
mayors, etc.

I would like to mention in this connection that at that time there were
not enough people qualified to become mayors, so that short courses of
instruction were arranged, which performed the record feat of turning
out Dutch mayors in three weeks. You can imagine what kind of mayors
they were.

Furthermore, they became administrators in Nazified organisations and
commercial undertakings, which gave them certain power in Holland, and
they behaved like cowardly Nazi lackeys.

M. Rost von Tonningen, for instance, used millions of Dutch guilders to
finance the war against Russia in order to fight against Bolshevism, as
he called it. Finally, in December, 1942, Seyss-Inquart declared the
Nazi Party to be the representative of the political life of Holland. If
it had not been so tragic, one might have laughed at it. Mussert was
then appointed as the Leader of Holland. I must add that the Nazi Party
had only a shadow existence from the political point of view, with the
single but important exception that these people had occasionally the
opportunity to deal with matters of personnel. I would also add that
sometimes they turned the heads of young Dutchmen and persuaded several
thousands of them to enter the S.S. formations -- and during the last
years it became even worse. Then they even went so far as to put young
boys into the S.S. without their parents' consent. They even forced
young boys from correctional institutions into the S.S. Sometimes -- I
know of cases myself -- young boys who for certain reasons were at
loggerheads with their parents were taken into the S.S. To realise the
harm done, you must -- as I have sometimes done-go and speak to these
children who now are in camps in Holland. You will then see what a
monstrous crime has been committed against these young people.

M. FAURE: Am I to understand that all these methods employed by the
Germans were intended to achieve the Nazification of Holland, and that
if there were -- as you have indicated -- several varying tendencies
among the

                                                               [Page 12]

Germans, these tendencies differed only as to the means to be employed
and not in regard to the purpose of Germanisation?

A. The actual Nazification of Holland extended to practically all
spheres of our national life. They tried in every domain to introduce
the Fuehrer principle. I would like to point out, for instance, that,
contrary to our expectations, they did not ban the Socialist Trade
Unions, but just tried to employ them. They merely sent a Nazi
Commissioner who told the people: "The era of democracy is past, just go
on working under the leadership of the Commissioner and you can still
help the workers. It is not necessary to change anything." They even
tried that with the Dutch political parties.

As President of the Socialist Democratic Workers' Party of Holland, I
had a long conversation with Mussert, who personally told me that it was
a pity that the good cultural work done to educate the workers should
cease. We both wanted Socialism and all we had to do was to work
together calmly. I denied that at the time of that conversation. I told
him that for us, democracy was not a question of opportunism but a part
of our ideology, and that we were not prepared to betray our convictions
and our principles.

They tried to keep the workers in their organisations, but slowly the
workersthousands and tens of thousands of them -- left these
organisations. When finally the National Labour Front was created, with
the Catholic and Christian Trade Union, there certainly was an
organisation, but no longer any members.

Q. Can you state with accuracy whether in your country persecutions
against the Jews were started?

A. One of the worst chapters of our sufferings in HollandWas the
persecution of the Jews. You may know that we in Holland -- and
especially in Amsterdam -- had a strong Jewish minority. These Jews took
a very active part in the public and cultural life of Holland, and one
can say there was no anti-Semitism in Holland.

When the Germans first came to Holland they promised us that they would
not harm the Jews at all. Nevertheless, even in the first weeks there
was a wave of suicides. In the following months the measures against the
Jews started. The professors in the universities were forced to resign.

The President of the highest court in Holland was dismissed. Then the
Jews had to present themselves for registration, and then came the time
when the Jews were deported in great numbers.

I am proud to say that the Dutch population did not suffer this without
protesting. The Dutch students went on strike when their Jewish
professors were driven out, and the workers of Amsterdam went on strike
for several days when the persecution of the Jews started. But one has
to have seen this with one's own eyes, as I have, to know what a
barbaric system this National Socialism was.

The Green Police sealed off whole sections of cities, went into houses,
even went on the roofs, and drove out young and old and took them off in
their lorries. No difference was made between young and old. We have
seen old women of over 70, who were lying ill at home and had no other
desire than to be allowed to die quietly in their own home, put on
stretchers and carried out of their home, to be sent to Westernborg and
from there to Germany, where they died.

I myself remember very well how a mother, when she was dragged from her
home, gave her baby to a stranger, who was not a Jewess, and asked her
to look after her child. At this moment there are still hundreds of
families in Holland where these small Jewish children are being looked
after and brought up as their own.

Q. Can you state whether, apart from these measures against the Jews,
the Germans concerned themselves with other denominations, other

                                                               [Page 13]

A. From the beginning the German always tried to get the Curches into
their power. All the Churches -- the Catholic, as well as the Protestant
-- protested whenever the Germans violated human rights. The Churches
protested against arbitrary arrest of persons, and against the mass
deportation of our workers, and never failed to testify for the Jews.

Of course, the Church dignitaries, the priests and pastors had to suffer
for that, and hundreds of our pastors and priests were taken to
concentration camps, and of the 20 parsons and priests whom I knew in
the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, only one has returned to

Q. Can you state what measures were adopted with regard to culture,
propaganda, and teaching?

A. What incensed us most in Holland was not so much our military defeat.
We were a small people, and I can say that during those five days we
fought as well as we could. Perhaps it would have been possible to
maintain a correct attitude with the Occupation Forces if it had not
been for the Nazi's determination to dominate us, not only in a military
sense but also to break our spirits and to crush us morally. Therefore,
they never lost an opportunity of encroaching on our cultural life in
their efforts to Nazify us.

In regard to the Press, for instance, they forced us to publish in our
Press editorials which were written by Germans, and to print them on the
front page in order to create the impression that the editor-in-chief of
the paper had written them. One can even say that these measures were
the starting point for the very extensive underground Press in Holland,
because we would not allow the Germans to lie to us systematically. We
had to have a Press which told us the truth.

Also in regard to the radio, it was soon forbidden to listen to foreign
stations, and they dealt out exceedingly harsh punishment to people who
defied this ban, and there were a great many people in Holland who
listened to the foreign radio, especially the B.B.C. We in Holland were
always glad to hear the British radio which never hesitated to give the
people in full the affecting speeches of Hitler and Goering, while we
were not allowed to listen to Churchill's speeches. In those moments we
were deeply conscious of the reasons why we had built up our resistance,
and we also knew why our Allied friends strove with all their might to
deliver the world from the Nazi tyranny.

It was the same in the field of the arts. Quite a number of guilds for
painters, musicians and writers were forced to organise themselves. An
author could not even publish a book without submitting it to some Nazi

They also encroached on school life, and tried to influence elementary
education; for instance, in the text books for children of 6 to 12 years
they ordered that whole sentences should be struck out, e.g. a sentence
like the following: "When the Queen visited them the people cheered." In
the schools and public buildings they organised real hunts for pictures
of our Royal Family.

M. FAURE: I thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: You have finished your examination, have you?

M. FAURE: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko?

GENERAL RUDENKO: No questions.

THE PRESIDENT: Have the British or American prosecutors any questions?
Does any member of the defendants' counsel wish now to cross-examine?

DR. STEINBAUER (counsel for defendant Seyss-Inquart): Mr. President, in
order to avoid the witness having to make the long trip from Holland a
second time, I would like to cross-examine him to-day, although my
client is absent.


Q. Witness, when Seyss-Inquart took over the Government in Holland under
the decree of 18th May, 1940, was the Queen or were members of the Dutch
Government still on Dutch territory?

                                                               [Page 14]

A. No, there were no longer on Dutch territory.

Q. Did the Government of Seyss-Inquart, the Reich Commissioner, leave in
office the functionaries of the former Government?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know that of the nine general secretaries appointed by the
former Royal Government and still in office, only one was dismissed?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you further know that of the eleven Commissioners of the Provinces
only four were dismissed from the Government for political reasons?

A. I do not know the exact number, but that is possible.

Q. Do you know how many mayors were appointed by the Royal Government
and, in particular, is it correct that more than one-half were still in
office in 1944?

A. Yes, I believe so.

Q. You have not answered fully the question which was asked you by the
Prosecutor. He asked you how many political parties there were in
Parliament at the time of the invasion.

A. The Catholic Party, two Protestant Christian parties, two Liberal
parties, the Social Democratic Party, the Communist Party, and some
minor parties.

Q. I will now talk about two subjects mentioned by you -- schools and
churches. Is it correct that the Dutch school system, throughout the
Seyss-Inquart regime, was under the direction of a Dutchman?

A. It was under a Dutchman during the whole time, but we do not consider
him as a Dutchman. This Dutchman is to-day in prison because he betrayed
his country.

Q. But he was not a German?

A. He was a Dutch traitor.

Q. Is it correct that Seyss-Inquart showed great interest in the Dutch
school system ?

A. I cannot remember that.

Q. For instance, that he added a class to the elementary school?

A. That is correct.

Q. And that in this way adolescents did not have to enter the Labour
Services until later?

A. Correct.

Q. Did he show an interest in a long-standing wish of the Dutch
concerning the spelling of the Dutch language, and did he not appoint a
special committee to investigate the matter?

A. In this connection he did take some interest in a thing about which
he knew nothing, he got his information from the wrong people.

Q. But he did make an effort?

A. Yes, but in the wrong direction.

Q. Is it correct that he endeavoured to increase the number of teachers?

A. No, certainly not.

Q. That, in particular, he employed pupil teachers and reduced expenses
thereby ?

A. He did that because he wanted to influence the Dutch Youth.

Q. Do you know, for instance, that as a result of protests, Seyss-
Inquart rescinded measures that had been taken against the Commercial
Academy in Rotterdam?

A. Will you repeat the question? I did not understand it.

Q. Do you know that Seyss-Inquart, as a result of protests made, took
steps to see that the Commercial Academy in Rotterdam was not interfered

A. I do not know.

                                                               [Page 15]

Q. As far as the Churches are concerned, apart from deportation, as you
say for political reasons, were the Catholics and Protestants ever
prevented from practising their religion?

A. The Germans interfered very much with the right to worship. They put
spies in the churches to listen to the sermons with the idea of
denouncing the priests.

Q. Yes, but that has happened in other countries too. Please could the
priest or the parson still continue to preach according to his

A. No, certainly not according to his conscience.

Q. Do you know that during the whole of the occupation the prayer for
the Queen was allowed in churches of all denominations?

A. It was certainly not allowed. Several ministers were arrested for
that very reason.

Q. Do you know that Seyss-Inquart prevented 27 convents being
confiscated? Is it correct?

A. I know nothing about it.

Q. But perhaps you may know that he prevented the destruction of
synagogues in Rotterdam and in The Hague. The police wanted to them, and
he prevented them from doing it. Do you know anything about  that?

A. I do not know whether he wanted to prevent it, but in any case they
were destroyed, and those who destroyed them went unpunished, and later
on took part in the worst persecution of the Jews.

Q. Witness, do you know that out of the Catholic and Protestant
clergymen deported to Germany, Seyss-Inquart succeeded in getting
two-thirds sent back to Holland?

A. I do not know.

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