The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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THE WITNESS: The prosecution has quoted Page 167. On 1st
August, 1943, I made a speech announcing special measures
which would bring difficulties and restrictions upon the
Dutch, and the prosecution believes that the shootings which
took place later are connected with it. That is an error.
The restriction I spoke of in that speech was only an order
forbidding Dutch people to stay in places outside their own
provinces, so that bands of terrorists from the North-west
could not get to the East. As this happened during the
vacation tithe, it really was a restriction for the Dutch.

Q. Now I come to the next question. Did you change and
possibly misuse the existing organization of the lower

A. I took over the organization of the Dutch courts
entirely. The administration of justice in the Netherlands
was of a commendably high standard. Only on two occasions
did I supplement it. The Dutch judges showed little
understanding of the economic situation. For instance, on
one occasion a group of black market butchers, who had
killed large numbers of cattle and brought them to the black
market, were fined two hundred guilders; so I introduced
special economic judges, Dutchmen, who had more
understanding of these economic necessities. But the legal
situation remained as it was. Of course, we also introduced
our German courts, as every occupation force does.

Q. So that we had Dutch courts and German courts for Germans
staying in the Netherlands, and also the police courts?

A. Yes, but also for the Dutch who violated the interests of
the German occupation forces.

Q. Now, it is alleged in the proceedings that through these
courts there were four thousand executions which have to be
accounted for.

A. That is perfectly untrue. If I take into account all the
death sentences which were pronounced and actually carried
out by the German courts, the police courts, and the
military courts, and if I add to them the cases where
Dutchmen lost their lives in clashes with the executive
powers, then according to a statement of the Higher SS and
Police Leader up to the middle of 1944 there were less than

                                                   [Page 91]

eight hundred cases in four years, that is to say less than
were caused by a bombing attack on the town of Nijmegen. The
shootings came afterwards.

Q. You also exercised the right to reprieve, for which you
had a special reprieve department?

A. Yes.

Q. In this connection I wish to refer to Document No. 75,
Page 190 in the Document Book. This is the affidavit of
Rudolf Fritsch, who was Judge at the Court of Appeal in
Berlin, and reprieve expert for the Reich Commissioner. I
should like to quote from this document and I refer to the
second paragraph on Page 3:

  "In exercising his right to reprieve the Reich
  Commissioner proceeded from the standpoint that this was
  one of the most eminent rights of the head of a State and
  that it was especially apt to create a good, confidential
  atmosphere between the Germans and the Dutch. Therefore
  in the beginning it was he himself who made the decision
  in every case on the basis of case reports which were
  submitted to him together with a suggestion for a
  reprieve from the reprieve department. After about two to
  three months he delegated the exercise of the right to
  reprieve within his own organization to the chief of the
  department for reprieves. This Chief was competent except
  in the following cases: (1) The cancellation of
  proceedings; (2) decision in the matter of death
  sentences; (3) decision in fundamental questions; (4)
  decision in isolated cases without precedent .... No
  sentence of death was carried out without there being an
  official examination of the question of a reprieve, even
  when a formal appeal for a reprieve was not submitted."

Then I come to Page 5, the last paragraph:

  "Since co-operation with authorities in the Dutch courts
  proved that they could be trusted, the Reich Commissioner
  gradually delegated the right to reprieve to the Dutch
  Minister of Justice. From the great amount of mail which
  came in .... I repeatedly saw that police actions had
  been staged by the Gestapo in which regular jurisdiction
  was eliminated. In such cases I would collect material
  and make use of it to bring the persons involved before
  regular courts for trial. And I was actually successful
  with such action. This was proof to me that the Reich
  Commissioner opposed the wild police methods of the
  Gestapo and was in favour of regular legal procedure."

I think that with this we can close this subject of justice
and now come to the question of finance.

A. Yes, but the Fuehrer's order excluding courts is also
very important.

Q. Well, if you wish to add something else.

A. Yes, it is decisive. After the strike at Amsterdam, I
proposed court-martial procedure: That is not an invention
of recent times; it is summary court procedure for special
emergencies, such as you can find in the legislation of
every country. The summary courts were also subject to
certain provisions. First of all, a proper judge had to be
there; secondly, we admitted a counsel for the defence, who
could be Dutch. Thirdly, evidence had to be given in the
proper manner, and if the question of guilt was not clearly
proved, then the case had to be transferred to the ordinary

This court-martial procedure was only in force for two weeks
at the time of the general strike in May 1943. The number of
people shot later on cannot be traced back to these courts
martial. They had also been set up in case of a special
emergency if the Netherlands should again become a theatre
of war.

In the meantime, however, a decree came from the Fuehrer
which had already been made public in an order from the High
Command of the Wehrmacht. I refer to PS-1155 - no, I beg
your pardon, that is wrong - it is PS-835.

On 30th July, 1944, the Fuehrer ordered that all non-German
civilians in occupied territories who were guilty of
sabotage or terror actions were to be handed over to the
Security Police. The Higher SS and Police Leader and I both
objected to this order, as we realised what damaging effects
it would have especially in the

                                                   [Page 92]

Netherlands. Through such an order the Dutch would only be
driven into illegal organizations.

Over a period of four to six weeks the Higher SS and Police
Leader never carried out the order, but he then received a
severe reprimand from Himmler, and from that time on he was
obliged to deal with the Dutch who had been arrested for
sabotage or illegal activities and had to judge them
according to his own jurisdiction, shooting them when
necessary. One can account in this way for the majority of
people who were shot, but I do not believe that there were
as many as 4,000. As often as I could, I urged the Security
Police to be most careful in carrying out this order, and I
never received any reports on the individual cases. I had
the impression that there were perhaps 600 to 700.

Q. If I understood you correctly, then this was a police
affair, which was directly -

A. At all events it no longer came under my authority or
influence. But if at that time I gave the Security Police
orders to check up on an illegal movement somewhere, I
nevertheless realised that some Dutchman or other who was
found to be the leader of such a movement would be shot by
the police without the courts or me being able to
investigate the case. But then I could not refuse to
safeguard the security of the occupation authorities because
the Fuehrer decree had been issued.

Q. I now come to the chapter of finance. A document has been
presented here where a certain Mr. Trip announces his
resignation. Who was this gentleman?

A. Mr. Trip was the president of the Bank of the
Netherlands, that is to say, the bank of issue, and he was
also the General Secretary for Finance. I think he can
readily be considered one of the world's leading banking
experts. He is an outstanding personality and one of the men
who today are described as Dutch patriots.

Q. He was also General Secretary for Finance, was he not?

A. Yes. Until March 1941 he was the General Secretary for
Finance. In my first speech to the general secretaries I
said that I would not ask any general secretary to do
anything contrary to his conscience. If he thought that
there was something he felt he could not do, then he could
resign without any harm to himself. I said that all I asked
was that he should carry out my orders loyally as long as he
remained in office. Mr. Trip was in office until March 1941
and then he resigned, because there was something he refused
to carry out. He did this without the slightest disadvantage
to himself.

Q. Who was his successor?

A. I should like to say that what Mr. Trip carried out until
March 1941 is, in my opinion, justifiable in every respect.
Otherwise he most certainly would not have done it.

His successor was Dr. Rost van Tonningen. Rost van Tonningen
was a League of Nations Commissioner in Austria who there
had had the tasks similar to those I gave him in the

Q. What about the costs of occupation?

A. As far as the civilian administration was concerned, Mr.
Trip and I agreed that I should receive three million
guilders a month. Then there were another twenty millions in
fines in addition to that. During the first three years I
saved sixty million guilders which remained in the
Netherlands as a special bequest.

As far as the costs of the military occupation were
concerned, I had no authority to check them. The armed
forces put in their demands to the Minister of Finance, and
I then received orders to place the money at their disposal.
During 1941, the Reich exacted indirect occupation costs. It
took the point of view that not only the expenses which were
incurred directly in the Netherlands should be paid for, but
that the cost of preparations in the Reich should be borne
too. Fifty million marks per month were demanded, partly in
gold. Later this payment was designated as voluntary
assistance for the East -

                                                   [Page 93]

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean marks or do you mean guilders?

THE WITNESS: Marks, fifty million marks. Later on the
payment was known as voluntary assistance for the East for
political reasons, but of course it was not so. Later on,
the Reich demanded that this sum be increased to l00
millions but I refused.


Q. Mr. Trip retired as General Secretary for Finance because
the foreign currency embargo which still existed at the time
between Germany and the Netherlands was lifted?

A. Yes, that is correct. I received an order through my
administration for the purpose of intensifying economic
exchanges between the Reich and the Netherlands, to lift the
foreign currency embargo so that without having recourse to
currency banks guilders could be exchanged for marks and
vice versa.

The fundamental possibility of such exchanges had already
been determined by Mr. Trip, but it was subject to the
control of the currency banks, that is to say, of the
Netherlands Bank as well. Mr. Trip raised objections, and I
passed the matter on to Berlin. Berlin decided that it was
to be carried out, and Mr. Trip resigned.

I appointed Dr. Rost van Tonningen President of the Bank of
the Netherlands, and I published the decree.

I wish to say that the President of the Reichsbank, Herr
Funk, was against this procedure, and I can quote in
explanation that the effects at that time were not so
catastrophic as they turned out to be later. At that time
the Netherlands were completely cut off and the Reich had
reached the climax of its power. It was to be expected that
the mark would be the leading currency in Europe, and the
guilder would have taken on the same importance. In February
1941, for instance, imports from the Reich into the
Netherlands were greater than the exports from the
Netherlands into the Reich; Reich Minister Funk always held
the view that these were real debts, so that in the event of
a different outcome of the war, such debts which amounted to
some 41 billion would have had to be paid back to the

Q. If I understood you correctly, it was your General
Secretary for Finance, Dr. Fischbock, who suggested this
matter contrary to the wishes of Trip.

A. I do not know whether the suggestion came from Fischbock
only. I presume that he must have talked it over with other
people, but it was he who put the matter to me.

Q. You have also been accused of imposing collective
penalties in the form of fines, which is contrary to the
International Law.

A. Collective fines are prohibited under International Law
only where individual offences are concerned. The large
collective fine of eighteen million guilders was imposed in
connection with the general strike in Amsterdam, Arnhem, and
Hilversum, when the entire population took part.

Later, I had collective fines paid back if it was discovered
that definite individuals were responsible for the offence.

Q. Can you give us any practical example?

A. I think witness Schwebel will be able to tell you that.
There were towns in the South of Holland where it happened.

Q. You are also accused by the prosecution of being
responsible for what happened in the hostage camp in
Michelgestell. What have you to say to that?

A. I can take full and absolute responsibility for what
happened in the hostage camp in Michelgestell. It was not a
hostage camp in the actual sense of the word, I only took
Dutchmen into custody when they had shown themselves to be
active in resistance movements. The camp at Michelgestell
was not a prison. I visited it. The inmates of the camp
played golf. They were given leave, in the case of urgent
family affairs or business matters. Not a single one of them
was ever shot. I think the majority of the present Dutch
Ministers were at Michelgestell. It was a sort of protective
custody to temporarily hinder them from continuing their
anti-German activities.

                                                   [Page 94]

Q. In addition to this you are said to have prohibited the
reading of pastoral letters, and to have put Catholic
priests and Lutheran ministers in concentration camps?

A. It is true that I prohibited one pastoral letter. That
was during the occupation because it publicly opposed the
measures of the occupation forces and incited people to
disobedience. That was an isolated case and it never
happened again, for the good reason, too, that there were no
more provocations of such a kind in the pastoral letters. In
fact I even intervened and cancelled the prohibition issued
by the police, if the measures taken by the occupying power
were only criticized and there was no incitement to
opposition. I myself never sent priests to concentration
camps. On the contrary, at the beginning of 1943 after
repeated urgent requests, I received a list from the
Security Police with the names of the priests who were shut
up in concentration camps. There were forty-five or fifty of
them altogether. Three or four were mentioned as having died
in the concentration camp. On the grounds of the facts of
their case, I sought out about a third of them and demanded
their release. For another third I demanded investigation
within the coming six months, and it was only as far as the
last third was concerned that it was impossible for me to
intervene without violating my own responsibility towards
the Reich. Dutch hostages were also taken for purposes of
"repression." When the Netherlands came into the war, the
Germans in the Dutch East Indies were put into prison and
allegedly maltreated. The Reich demanded the arrest of 3,000
Dutchmen. The Security Police arrested 800 and took them to
Buchenwald. When I heard that the mortality was very high, I
made such urgent appeals that the hostages were finally
returned. They were then accommodated in such a way that one
could no longer talk of a prison. They were given leave, and
when necessary I released them. In the end, I had less than

Q. You are said to have prohibited prayers in church and
especially prayers for the Queen.

A. That is incorrect. The prayers in Dutch churches were
public demonstrations. Prayers were made - as was quite
natural - for the Queen of the Netherlands and for her
happiness and prosperity and the fulfilment of her wishes.
At the same time there were prayers for the Reich
Commissioner and for his enlightenment. I was severely
reproached for tolerating these demonstrations. But I found
nothing wrong with these prayers and did not prohibit them.
Perhaps, in some case or other a subordinate authority acted
and I had such action repressed.

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