The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Well, Dr. Schuschnigg succeeded Dollfuss as Chancellor.
What conclusions were drawn by the NSDAP from this event, as
far as you could gather?

                                                   [Page 70]

A. The NSDAP itself was completely broken up and
disorganised, and a small circle of men organised
themselves; I found my way to those men and we drew the
following conclusions from the events of 25th July:

Firstly, that they represented a considerable danger. I
recall the meeting of statesmen in Stresa and its
resolutions against Germany. And even though we were never
worried about Italy, one had nevertheless to realize that in
this very troubled atmosphere anything could easily lead to
war. We all agreed that the main task of German policy must
be to avoid war.

Q. We are now in the year -

A. I should like to add that, domestically, the events on
the 25th of July were the worst possible that could have
happened with regard to the prospect of the Anschluss. We
reflected on what might be done and came to the conclusion
that the Party in the Reich should cease interfering with
the Austrian National Socialist Party, the existence of
which, from the point of view of the Reich Party,
anticipated the Anschluss; but in return, the National
Socialists in Austria should once more receive permission to
be active, and especially, there should be elections to
ascertain the strength of the parties.

Q. What I am interested in is the question whether you had
any connections with authorities in the Reich at that time,
that is, in 1936?

A. I had no connections with authorities in the Reich.

Q. Thank you. Did you -

A. Only, as Reichsmarschall Goering has said, when I became
a State Counsellor did I, for the first time, meet a leading
German politician.

Q. When was that?

A. That was in June or July, 1937.

Q. 1937?

A. 1937.

Q. What was your attitude towards the NSDAP in Austria at
that time, when you were State Counsellor?

A. When the agreement of 11th July, 1936, was reached -
without my having taken any part in it - Dr. Schuschnigg,
through Minister Klees, asked me for my political
co-operation. At that time I had particularly close
connections with Zernatto, the General Secretary of the
Fatherland Front. At the suggestion of Zernatto and his
friends, I became an Austrian State Counsellor and Dr.
Schuschnigg gave me the task, in writing, of examining the
terms under which the Opposition would collaborate
politically. In order to fulfil that task I did, of course,
have to contact the National Socialists, because the
Opposition consisted only of National Socialists.

Q. Who was the head of the NSDAP in Austria?

A. The Party in Austria had assembled again illegally;
Captain Leopold was the head.

Q. Were you on friendly terms with him?

A. I could not come to an agreement with Captain Leopold; he
did not understand my policy, but thought that, on the basis
of the agreement of 11th July, Dr. Schuschnigg had to allow
the NSDAP again in its earlier form. I think I talked to
Leopold only twice, or at most three times throughout that
time. He demanded that I be subordinate to him; that I

DR. STEINBAUER: May I, in this connection, draw attention to
the following documents without reading from them?

Exhibit No. 44, on Page 103 of the Document Book, an excerpt
from the Exhibit USA 583, already submitted to the Tribunal.

Exhibit No. 45, on Page 105, also Exhibit USA 581.

And Exhibit No. 97, on Page 109, in which Zernatto expressly
states that Seyss-Inquart entirely disagreed with Leopold's
aims and efforts.

My client has been accused by the prosecution of double
dealing. As counter-evidence, I applied for permission to
hear the former Gauleiter Siegfried Uiberreither. He was
interrogated here, and I want to quote from the

                                                   [Page 71]

which is Document No. 59, from the counter-questions put by
the prosecution on Page 140:

  "Question: Was not the defendant Seyss-Inquart, before
  the time wheel the Nazi Party was legalised, that is,
  before it was declared legal in February, 1938, was he
  not in constant contact with the illegal Nazi Party of
  Answer: No. I personally did not know Seyss-Inquart until
  his visit to Graz. In Nazi circles he was considered a
  non-Party member. I think - I do not know with certainty
  - that he joined the NSDAP only when it was legalised.
  For this reason, he personally encountered a strong
  opposition in illegal Nazi circles."

On Page 6 of the same document it says:

  "Question: Was the defendant Seyss-Inquart not a
  double-dealer: on one side his legal position in
  Schuschnigg's Cabinet and on the other side his
  co-operation with the formerly illegal Nazi Party, whose
  activity was then legalised to a certain extent through
  the efforts of the defendant at Berchtesgaden in
  February, 1938?
  Answer: I do not know to what extent he was in touch with
  the illegal Nazi circles before 12th February. I do not
  know about it, because I was not in Vienna. But from 18th
  February his contact with the Nazi Party ways not
  duplicity, but his duty. Schuschnigg himself had
  discussions with Leopold, the leader of the Nazis before


Q. This brings us to 1938. At the beginning of that year you
were State: Counsellor in the Austrian Government. What did
you think of the political situation at that time?

A. In many conversations with Dr. Schuschnigg, but most of
all in continuous discussions with Zernatto, I suggested, in
line with the conclusions we had drawn from the events of
25th July, 1934, that the Reich, and particularly Hitler, be
asked to refrain from all interference in Austrian politics
through the medium of the Austrian National Socialist Party.
I proposed that instead the Austrian National Socialists
should receive permission to be active. That did not mean at
all that I would give up the Anschluss, but I was completely
convinced that a lawful and responsible policy of the
Austrian National Socialists in Austria would in time win
for them the support of a clear majority of the Austrian
nation - I mean of the Germans in Austria; and that the
demonstration of such a clear majority would no longer be
challenged by the powers of the League of Nations. One had
to attempt to make Hitler agree to such a policy by
enlisting the support of the, autonomous and independent
State of Austria for the Fuehrer's policy and his demand for
equal rights of the German people. It was in the interests
of these ideas that I talked to Field Marshal Goering and
Herr Hess. I reported the outcome of these conversations to
Dr. Schuschnigg and to Zernatto and I recommended the
formation of a coalition government with National Socialist
ministers, as soon as Adolf Hitler's corresponding
guarantees were forthcoming. My suggestions made no headway
with either of the two parties, but were not directly turned
down. Meanwhile, the Austrian National Socialists continued
to be active illegally, the police intervened and made
arrests; three Austrian concentration camps were set up; in
short, the events of that time foreshadowed today's
denazification system.

Q. Were you at the Obersalzberg on 12th February, 1938?

A. No. But I want to describe how that meeting came about.
First of all, a renewed party radicalism set in. At the
beginning of 1938 legitimist tendencies were promoted in
Austria, the laws regarding the return of the Hapsburg
property were discussed in the State Council. For the
moment, my own position therefore became untenable, I
retired, and informed Zernatto and Secretary of State
Keppler who had been officially nominated by the Reich
Government to conduct the affairs relating to Austria. I
felt that in view of my task it was my duty to inform
Keppler also. I myself accepted an invitation from the Reich
Sport Leader Tschammer-

                                                   [Page 72]

Osten and went to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. There, without
previous appointment, I met Herr von Papen. Each of us
poured out his troubles to the other, and came to the
conclusion that both parties, that is to say, Hitler as well
as the Austrian Government, namely, Dr. Schuschnigg, should
be made aware of the fact that a clear decision on the lines
of my proposal was necessary. At that time, participation of
the National Socialists in the government was certainly
discussed. Perhaps the Ministry of the Interior was also a
subject of discussion, but my name was definitely not
mentioned though it was the obvious one. I received no
report on the discussions which Herr von Papen had with
Hitler, but I informed Zernatto of my conversation with Herr
von Papen. Zernatto, at that time, agreed with me on some
questions, in particular with regard to the expansion of
those sections of the government which were concerned with
the National Socialists; and he also placed means at my
disposal. It was on 10th February, I think, when I heard
through the group of my colleagues that Hitler had invited
Dr. Schuschnigg to Berchtesgaden. Among the members of my
circle were Dr. Rainer, Dr. Jury, Dr. Kaltenbrunner,
Langhot, and several others.

Q. Were you informed of the outcome of the discussions at
the Obersalzberg?

A. I was informed of the outcome of this conference first by
Zernatto. On the evening of the 11th before Dr. Schuschnigg
left for Berchtesgaden, I had a detailed discussion with him
and Zernatto. We agreed to a large extent, regarding the
appointment of National Socialists, for instance, Jury,
Reinthaler and Fischbock to certain public offices, but not
to ministerial positions. I did not mention the subject of a
ministerial post, because I did not know how Adolf Hitler
had reacted to the suggestion which I had made to Herr von
Papen. On 13th February, Zernatto asked me to see him, and
he then told me of the results and contents of the
Berchtesgaden conference, which were known to him.

Q. In this connection, I want to refer to Document 48, Page
111, in which Zernatto states:

  "I had the definite impression that he - Seyss-Inquart -
  did not until then know anything about the result of the
  discussion and the contents of the agreement of 12th

Witness, on the basis of that agreement, you became Minister
of the Interior and Police, did you not?

A. Yes, on 17th February.

Q. On 17th February, 1938, with the assignment of
establishing connections between Austria and the Reich, or
rather of improving them. Did you also have a discussion
with Hitler himself?

A. Yes. The agreement at Berchtesgaden on 12th February
contained a definite stipulation to the effect that I was to
be the liaison man between the Austrian Government and the
Austrian National Socialists on one side, and the German
Reich on the other. The contents of the protocol appeared to
me unsatisfactory, and even dangerous. There was no doubt at
all that my appointment to the Ministry of the Interior and
Security served as a notification, if not a signal, for the
Austrian National Socialists that they might expect an early
realization of their political objectives. In addition, they
received permission to profess their beliefs, they could
wear the swastika and salute with the raised hand. What was
not permitted, however, was their organization; my National
Socialist friends in Austria had no possibility therefore of
getting in touch with the National Socialists in a legal
way. This agreement opened the gates without providing for a
regular procedure thereafter. Hence, I myself resolved to
see Adolf Hitler and to ascertain whether my plan had his
approval. I went, with Dr. Schuschnigg's assent, and with an
Austrian diplomatic passport.

Q. And when did you talk to Hitler?

A. I mentioned an incorrect date just now; it was on the
16th of February that I became Minister and I went to Berlin
on the 17th. I talked with Adolf Hitler alone for more than
two hours.

                                                   [Page 73]

It was pointed out here by the prosecution that I saluted
Adolf Hitler with the raised hand. That was permissible
under the agreement. But I would ask the prosecution to
admit that during every one of my interrogations, I stated
that I had emphasized to Adolf Hitler at once that I was an
Austrian Minister and as such responsible to Austria. I made
some shorthand notes on this discussion on the back of a
letter, and a few weeks later I dictated those notes to my
secretary. I now want to relate the substance of my talk
with Hitler on the basis of those notes. My statements -

Q. Witness, will you kindly be as brief as possible; can you
do it by giving leading points, perhaps?

A. But this is the most important point with regard to my
whole responsibility.

  "A condition of Chancellor Schuschnigg is that I agree to
  an autonomous and independent Austria, that I support the
  Constitution. Further development, including the
  Anschluss, must be based on this. The formation of public
  opinion in Austria must proceed independently, and in
  accordance with present constitutional possibilities. I
  would have to be the guarantor for Dr. Schuschnigg's
  policy. The Party and Movement must not adopt an
  oppositionist attitude. No totalitarianism of the Party
  and Movement; that is, National Socialist ideology to be
  furthered with due appreciation of and regard for
  conditions in Austria; not to be imposed on others by
  force. The Party, as such, is not simply to disappear,
  but to exist as an organization of individuals; no
  illegal activity, no efforts inimical to the State,
  everything to be done in a legal fashion, anyone failing
  to do this to be arrested."

In the main, Adolf Hitler agreed, and he told me:

  "It is not a question of the twenty-five points, one
  cannot proclaim a dogma; one has to base National
  Socialist ideology on Pan-German and nationalistic

That was the gist of my conference with Adolf Hitler on 17th
February, starting at twelve and ending at two-ten.

Q. Did you -

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I understood the witness to say
that he made his notes on the meeting with Hitler and later
dictated them to his secretary. It is not clear to me
whether he was reading from those notes. Furthermore, we
have never seen such notes and I think it should be made
clear in the record.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, has the defendant got the

DR. STEINBAUER: The original was taken from him when he was

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, you heard the question I asked,
have you got the notes?

WITNESS: The original of these notes was among my files in
Vienna. I made an application to have these files of mine
searched for the notes. I handed a copy of the notes to the
prosecution during one of my first interrogations; it is in
the files of the prosecution. I have only copies, however, I
do not have the original.

THE PRESIDENT: The copy would be just as good for the

WITNESS: I have placed a copy at the disposal of the

DR. STEINBAUER: But I gave it back to you.

WITNESS: Then you can submit this one.

DR. STEINBAUER: Yes, would you hand it over?

THE PRESIDENT: Will you give it an exhibit number, Dr.

DR. STEINBAUER: Number 61, otherwise it would be confused
with the others.


                                                   [Page 74]

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I am confused about this, I still
do not understand, and I am sure that my colleagues do not.
We have never received any copy of any notes that this
defendant has claimed he made soon after, or at the time of
his conference with Hitler. We have no such copy in our
files. And I would like to understand whether or not he is
now claiming that this copy which is offered to the Tribunal
is a copy of the original that he claims he gave to us.

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