The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. That would not have been so bad, but it is said that you
were particularly cruel and had a large number of people
shot without legal proceedings. What have you to say to

A. As far as I can remember, there was only one real case of
hostages being shot, that is, people were shot without there
being any connection with a crime. This occurred in August
1942, and the case has already been brought up here. It was
handled strictly according to the so-called "Hostage Law"
which has been quoted. It was in connection with an attack
on an army transport, and fifteen or twenty-five hostages
were demanded to be shot. It was, I think, the Higher SS and
Police Leader who made the demand through the Commander of
the Armed Forces upon request of the OKH.

My intervention consisted in reducing this figure to five
and in looking over the list which had been submitted to me
by other departments, and which has been read out here in
court, I, too, noticed something peculiar about it. The
Higher SS and Police Leader had given strict instructions
for the list to be drawn up in keeping with the directives,
saying that the attack could be traced back to the centres
of resistance on the right, not to those on the left, so
that no workers could be shot. I only exercised my influence
in so far as I caused the Higher SS and Police Leader to
cross out the names of fathers with several children from
the list.

Q. Witness, what do you know, in detail, about the people
who were shot when the camp at Vught was evacuated?

                                                   [Page 95]

A. When the British and Canadians were advancing through
Belgium towards the south of Holland, I had so much to do to
keep order in my province, that I could not pay any special
attention to the camp at Vught which was under police
direction. The Higher SS and Police Leader informed me that
the most important political prisoners, numbering about 200,
would be transferred to the Reich, the less important
political prisoners would be set free, and ordinary
delinquents would be placed under the command of a Dutch
police officer, and handed over to the Canadians. It was
only here that I heard some people were shot and the only
way I can explain it is that at the last minute the Reich
forbade these people to be transported into the Reich and
gave orders for them to be shot. I do not believe there were
Goo of them, because from what the witness Kollpuss said
there seem to have been some 130 to 150, but even that is a
high figure.

Q. What do you know about the shooting of hostages after the
attempt on the life of SS and Police Leader Rauter?

A. The attempt on the life of the Higher SS and Police
Leader came from the resistance movement and was carried out
with British weapons.

Q. What do you know about the Putten case?

A. Excuse me, I have not finished my previous statement.

Q. Oh, you want to give a more exact

A. Himmler, at that time, gave orders for 500 hostages to be
shot. Rauter's deputy Dr. Schongart refused and informed me
that there were a number of Dutchmen in the prisons who were
to be shot in accordance with the Fuehrer's order because
they had been convicted of other acts of sabotage. He had
hesitated, he said, since the number was rather large, but
now he could not hesitate any longer. He did not give me the
actual figure. In this situation, I could not, in my
opinion, prevent him carrying out the order, because we had
to control the resistance movement by whatever means we had
at our disposal. The movement had been organized and
supplied with arms by the Dutch Government in London and it
presented a serious danger to the German occupation forces.

Two hundred and thirty Dutchmen were supposed to be shot,
amongst them eighty in Apeldoorn alone, and this seemed to
me a lot, but Dr. Schongart told me that in the north of
Apeldoorn there was a centre of the illegal resistance

Q. I want to ask you, last of all, what do you know about
the Putten case?

A. In Putten there was an attack on German officers. Three
were murdered. The whole thing took place within the army,
the SS and the police, and I knew that measures of
repression were planned. I, myself, at that time, was
concerned with the construction of defences. The Higher SS
and Police Leader informed me that he had received the order
to burn the village of Putten, and to transfer the male
population to a concentration camp in the Reich. However, he
had reduced the figure to 40 per cent. and later on he
reported to me that there was a high mortality rate in
German concentration camps. Both he and I applied to the
military commander to have these men returned. The military
commander agreed. Whether this order was actually carried
out I do not know.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, perhaps at this point we
could make a short pause?


(A recess was taken.)

DR. STEINBAUER: Members of the High Tribunal, I should like
to come back to the question of the embargo on foreign

The defendant Reichsmarschall Goering has just informed me
during the recess that in this conflict Fischbock, Trip,
Wohltaht on the one hand, and then Funk, who was against it,
and he himself, Goering, as head of the Four-Year Plan, took
a decision to lift the embargo on foreign currencies - and
he writes me here, "I bear the responsibility." So it was a
decision which was taken by Goering.

                                                   [Page 96]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, it is not of course a regular
way in which to inform the Tribunal about anything, to tell
them what one of the defendants may have said to you during
an adjournment.

DR. STEINBAUER: He wrote it.

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid that does not improve matters.
You may ask the witness any question about it.

DR. STEINBAUER: As regards the question of shooting without
a court sentence, I should like to refer to a very important
document, No. 77, Page 199. This is Exhibit F-224, a report
made by Kriminal Kommissar Mund. He says the following on
Page 3:

  "In my opinion it is very likely that General
  Christiansen expected the maximum number of victims to be
  executed. Christiansen spoke of numerous reprisals to
  Rauter, who was an impulsive and tactless man, and he on
  his part brought pressure to bear on the Commander of the
  Security Police (Dr. Schongart)."

He reports further on Page 5

  "It was often a question of prisoners who had already
  been sentenced to death by the Higher SS and Police
  Leader. Reprisals for punishable acts were a matter for
  the police. After August 1944 and in accordance with an
  order of the Fuehrer these measures of reprisal were
  interpreted in such a way that a number of Dutchmen were
  arrested for entirely different reasons and were shot for
  acts of sabotage and attempts at murder."

A. May I explain that briefly?

Q. Please do.

A. For example, leading members of the Resistance movement
were arrested and on examination by the Higher SS and Police
Leader it was decided that they should be shot according to
the Fuehrer's orders. The Higher SS and Police Leader called
upon his court officer for this examination. After an
attempt to blow up a bridge had been made, instead of
shooting hostages these men were taken and shot. That was
the exact opposite of the shooting of hostages. Or at least
it was supposed to be.

Q. Now I come to Chapter IV-B, "Concentration Camps and
Prisons." My first question: Who was competent in these

A. For concentration camps and for police detention
barracks, the police were competent. For court prisons, the
court authorities and I myself were competent; that is, the
court prisons were under my charge.

Q. Were there concentration camps in the Netherlands?

A. Yes, especially the big concentration camp of Putten,
near Hertogenbosch; then a police transit camp near
Amersfort, and a Jewish assembly camp in Westerborg. I have
already spoken of Michelgestell; that was a protective
custody camp. And then might be mentioned the camp at Ommen,
which was neither a police nor a concentration camp, but
abuses occurred.

Q. What can you tell me about the Hertogenbosch camp?

A. Hertogenbosch was originally meant as a Jewish assembly
camp, at the time when we intended to keep the Jews in the
Netherlands. But Reichsfuehrer Himmler gave orders for it to
be turned into a concentration camp. After some reflection I
was satisfied with the idea, thinking that as I could not
prevent Dutchmen being put into concentration camps, I would
prefer them to be in concentration camps in the Netherlands
where I might still be able to exert a certain influence.

Q. But there are supposed to have been excesses in these
concentration camps too; for example, in the Vught camp,
which you mentioned.

A. That is quite true. There were excesses in prisons, as
well as in concentration camps. In wartime I considered it
almost unavoidable, because subordinates get an unlimited
sway of power over others and whenever I heard of any
excesses I took steps, the first time towards the end of
1940 or 1941 when the president of my German court reported
to me that a prisoner had been brought up with injuries

                                                   [Page 97]

from blows on the head. I had the case investigated and the
prison warden received exemplary punishment and was sent
back to the Reich. In the Vught concentration camp soon
after its opening there was a high mortality rate. I
immediately initiated an investigation, using the services
of Dutch medical personnel. Every day - and later on every
week - I had the mortality figures reported to me, until
they dropped to what was approximately a normal level. Of
course, I do not know whether the commandant of the camp
reported the normal death cases only or whether he included
the cases of shooting. I could not say.

In this camp there were excesses due to drinking parties and
revelling; brawls and fights were also heard of now and
then. The head of the camp was removed and sent to the
Reich. I noted that the Higher SS and Police Leader had
apparently himself tried to maintain order, although he was
not in charge of the camps; they were under Gruppenfuehrer

There was one very serious case which, in Document F-224, is
described under the title: "Woman in Cell."

The head of the camp had a large number of women, allegedly
for disciplinary reasons, crowded into a cell overnight,
whereby three or four women were smothered to death. When we
heard of that, we demanded court action. The Central
Administration in Berlin refused, and we turned to
Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler. We did not give in. The head of
the camp was put on trial and received at least four years -
I believe even a sentence of eight years. That is indicated
moreover in the French report.

Q. What about the Amersfort camp?

A. That was a police transit camp, that is, for prisoners
who were to be turned over to the courts or who were to be
sent to the Reich, or persons who refused labour service who
were being sent to the Reich. In general, they were not to
be there more than six or eight weeks. There were Dutch
guards in this camp; not Dutch police, but a voluntary SS
guard company, I believe.

Excesses did occur here. General Secretary van Damm called
my attention to the fact that a Dutchman was supposed to
have been beaten to death there. I urged the Higher SS and
Police Leader to clear up the case. He did this through his
court officer, and sent the documents to me. According to
the documents, severe maltreating occurred, but no one was
killed, and the persons responsible were punished.

I repeatedly called the attention of the Higher SS and
Police Leader to the fact that concentration camps and
prisons in wartime actually favoured the perpetration of
brutal excesses. If, here or there, not a severe case but
certain maltreatment was reported to me, I always called his
attention to it. He then reported to me either that the case
had not occurred, or that he had taken steps, and so forth.

In particular, I always had the food ration statistics of
the concentration camps and prisons reported to me. The food
rations were satisfactory. I believe that the Dutch in the
concentration camps and prisons, at the end of 1944 and in
1945, received more than the Dutch in the Western
Netherlands. Of course, I do not want to attach too much
importance to this fact, because the Dutch did suffer from

Q. Then there was the Westerborg camp.

A. The Dutch Government had already set up Westerborg as a
completely free camp for Jews who had fled from Germany.
This was enlarged into an assembly camp for Jews. In the
camp itself there were Jewish guards to maintain order.
Dutch police guarded the camp on the outside. There was only
a company of the Security Police for supervision in the
camp. In all the files I found no report about excesses in
the camp itself. Every Sunday clergymen went to the camp, at
least one clergyman for the Catholic Jews, and one for the
so-called Christians. They, too, never reported anything.

Q. We will speak about the transport later on.

A. Now I would like to speak about Ommen. There is a long
report on that. Ommen was intended as a training camp for
those Dutch who voluntarily wanted

                                                   [Page 98]

to be employed in the economy in the Eastern Territories.
They were given instruction on the country, the people, and
their language. The head of the camp borrowed prisoners from
a neighbouring penal institute for the work. I received
reports that these prisoners were being maltreated. The
judges of Amsterdam turned to me. I gave the Dutch judges of
Amsterdam permission personally to inspect the camp and
speak to the prisoners. That was done; according to Exhibit
F-224, on 5th March, 1943. Thereupon the Amsterdam judges
wrote a long letter to the General Secretary for Justice.
They complained about the maltreatment of the prisoners
which they had noted, and about the fact that Dutch
prisoners were transferred to prisons in the Reich for
labour engagement. The complaints were justified, and I
ordered that the prisoners should be sent back from the
Ommen camp to the Dutch penal institution, and that Dutch
prisoners should be returned from German prisons to Dutch
prisons. This procedure was correct, and therefore I
necessarily took due steps to settle the matter.

Q. But now I am obliged to ask you a certain question, Herr
Doctor, and confront you with a charge. Exhibit RF-931 shows
that you removed judges who made similar complaints, namely
in Leuwarden.

A. In my view the procedure of the court of Leuwarden was
incorrect. These judges did not approach me, but they
publicly asserted, while delivering a verdict, that the
Dutch prisoners were being sent to German concentration
camps and shot. According to the facts as they lay before
me, that was false. I then informed them about the results
obtained by the Amsterdam judges. The Leuwarden judges
refused to pass further judgements. I asked them to continue
to officiate, but they refused. I then dismissed them as
persons who refused to work. Of course, I could have had
them tried by a German court with charges of making atrocity

Q. Did you receive complaints from the Red Cross about
conditions in the camps?

A. In the Netherlands we had the arrangement that a
representative of the Dutch Red Cross, Mrs. von Overliyn,
could visit all concentration camps and prisons, especially
for the purpose of verifying whether the food packages were
being delivered. Neither Mrs. von Overliyn nor the heads of
the Dutch Red Cross ever lodged any complaint with me. I
should like to say that this fact was especially significant
for me because the Dutch complained about everything, and if
for a change I received no complaints, then that meant a
certain relief to me.

I should like to state that about the beginning of 1944,
according to information which reached me, about 12,000
Dutch persons were in concentration camps or prisons. That
caused me to set up legal commissions which had to visit the
camps and the prisons in order to make investigations and
determine what prisoners could be released or brought to
trial. Naturally in cases where there were orders for arrest
from Berlin, I could do nothing.

Q. Witness, so you say that you constantly struggled with
the police on this question?

A. I do not want to speak about a struggle.

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