The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. What was his attitude in general towards National

A. Dr. Seyss-Inquart admitted to being a National Socialist.
However, as far as I know, the so-called 120 or 150 per cent
National Socialists - that is to say, the leaders of the
illegal movement - did not consider him a 100 per cent
National Socialist. He was, however, considered a very
suitable person to be used as a pawn on the chess-board of
the National Socialist Movement.

Q. If I understand you correctly, then, he was more a person
who was led than a person who was leading?

A. It was my impression that he was more led than leading.

Q. Now, how did you work together with Seyss-Inquart in his
capacity as Minister of the Interior?

A. There were no rifts in our understanding. It was a
completely harmonious understanding.

Q. Did he exert any influence upon the police? Did he, for
instance, bring National Socialists into the police corps?

A. No; that happened in no case.

Q. Did you have an opportunity to by-pass the Minister and
report directly to Federal Chancellor Schuschnigg?

A. Federal Chancellor Schuschnigg was the Chief of the
Government, and in that capacity he was naturally my highest
superior. It was natural that I had to make reports to the
Federal Chancellor regularly and upon special request and
that I also received instructions from him in return.

Q. Soon after Dr. Seyss-Inquart was appointed Minister he
went to visit Hitler in the Reich. Was that an official
journey, or was it kept secret?

A. It was official.

Q. How did you come to that conclusion?

A. It had been announced. I knew about the journey; and
Federal Chancellor Schuschnigg, so far as I know, also knew
about the journey. It was also suggestive

                                                  [Page 219]

that in his capacity as liaison man between the Austrian
Government and the Reich he must necessarily have an
opportunity to speak to Hitler.

Q. Well then, when Seyss-Inquart came back, did he make a
report on the discussions with the Fuehrer?

A. Yes. Upon his return I met Seyss-Inquart at the station,
and I asked him how the conferences with Hitler had gone
off. Seyss-Inquart, still being under the influence of the
meeting and discussions, informed me of what he had stated
to the Fuehrer I still remember the individual points
exactly. Seyss-Inquart told the Reich Chancellor the

  "Herr Reich Chancellor:
  1. I am an Austrian Minister, and as such I have sworn an
  oath of allegiance to the Austrian Constitution. I have
  sworn an oath, therefore, to Austria's autonomy and
  2. I am a faithful and active Catholic, and therefore, I
  could not follow a course which might lead to a cultural
  3. I come from a country where a totalitarian regime is
  out of the question."

Q. In spite of these views, did the Reich appoint a new
State leader for the illegal NSDAP?

A. Yes. As far as is known to me, on the 21st of February
Klausner was appointed State leader (Landesleiter).

Q. When Dr. Schuschnigg announced the plebiscite did he
order any special security measures?

A. The order for the plebiscite naturally had the effect of
a bombshell on the National Socialists, not only on the
National Socialists in Austria, but also in the Reich. There
was feverish activity, therefore, and precautionary measures
naturally had to be introduced.

This special activity can be explained by the fact that the
National Socialists were afraid that in the event of a
plebiscite they would suffer a great defeat, for the
election slogans would have been accepted by the
overwhelming majority of the Austrian population.

In this connection it is most interesting to draw your
attention to an article which appeared on the 11th of March
in the German-Austrian daily paper, and from which the fear
could be read that this plebiscite would open the way for a
democratisation of Austria, the formation of a people's
front, and consequently to a Bolshevisation. From this one
could recognize the consciousness that the Austrian National
Socialists were a minority.

Q. Now we come to the memorable 11th of March, 1938. When
did you, as Chief of the executive authorities, learn that
German troops were marching in?

A. The 11th of March was, of course, an exceptionally
exciting and eventful day. The sense of time was completely
absent during those hours. I know that in the evening hours
a report was submitted to me showing that German troops had
crossed the frontier, a report which could not be verified,
however, but which was supplemented by the fact that
unusually alarming troop movements were taking place on the
Austrian frontier.

Q. Did not Seyss-Inquart, after Schuschnigg's resignation,
say on the radio, that in order to avoid chaos he was asking
the population to remain quiet and orderly since he was
still Minister of Security?

A. Seyss-Inquart did make that statement on the radio.

Q. Did you make any observations to the effect that before
Schuschnigg's resignation he, Seyss-Inquart, gave
instructions, sent telegrams, made telephone calls, or
transmitted any other information regarding the seizure of

A. What I observed was that Seyss-Inquart's behaviour until
the critical moment was certainly very passive, and as I
have already said earlier, he did in fact give more the
impression of a man who was being led rather than a man who
was leading, and indeed there were clear indications that he
felt embarrassed.

                                                  [Page 220]

Q. Did you not, yourself, in the afternoon or evening,
receive an offer from President Miklas to take over the
Federal Chancellorship?

A. Federal Chancellor Dr. Schuschnigg first summoned me in
the late afternoon, and he told me that there had been an
ultimatum from Germany - that is to say, from Hitler - to
the effect that he would no longer be satisfied with calling
off the plebiscite, but was demanding Schuschnigg's
resignation. Then Schuschnigg told me that he, personally,
was ready to resign, but that he could not expect his staff
to accept Seyss-Inquart's appointment as Federal Chancellor.
He had a question to ask me, he said, and that was whether I
was prepared to take over the Chancellor's office. He did
this in agreement with the President, who, a few moments
later, made me the same offer.

I refused this offer and I refused it because I considered
that my appointment as Chancellor would, in Hitler's eyes,
mean a declaration of war. As Secretary of State for Matters
of Public Security I was at the head of the defensive front
against National Socialist aggression, and consequently was
also in personal opposition to Hitler. Therefore, had I
accepted the Chancellorship, this would have offered Hitler
a welcome opportunity to have his troops march in. My
acceptance of the Chancellorship, therefore, would have
meant the beginning of the struggle against invasion, and
such a struggle was probably hopeless, in view of the
manifold superiority of the German armed forces, compared
with the Austrian armed forces and Austrian executive

Q. Then Seyss-Inquart formed his cabinet and took you over,
too, as State Secretary. Why did you join that Ministry?

A. Seyss-Inquart proposed that I retain direction of matters
of public security in the State Secretariat under his
government, too. I accepted the offer, having confidence
that Seyss-Inquart would remember the proposals which he had
made to the Fuehrer; that is, that he would be Federal
Chancellor of an independent Austria. Apart from that, I was
impelled by the desire and hope that I could keep the
executive force in my hands, and that in the event of
Seyss-Inquart having difficulties in representing the
Austrian point of view, I could be of assistance to him. In
other words, there should be an Austrian strong point, an
Austrian enclave, in the cabinet of the Austrian Federal
Chancellor Seyss-Inquart.

Q. Did Seyss-Inquart still, at that time, speak in favour of
Austrian independence?

A. He did not speak about it in detail. We took that for
granted during the conference.

Q. When did you leave the cabinet, and why?

A. During the night of March  11-12, I took over the task of
going to the airfield to receive the Reichsfuehrer SS
Himmler, who had been announced from Berlin. On that
occasion he did not arrive alone, but with a whole
entourage. I can no longer remember the names of the
individuals, the number was too large; one name I understood
very clearly, and that was the name of Meissner. Meissner,
the Austrian naval officer who had joined the National
Socialist uprising on 25th July and who then, after the
collapse of this uprising, had fled to the Reich and now had
returned under Himmler's protection.

That to me was such an impossible situation that I made the
firm decision not to have any more to do with all this, and
so when I entered the Federal Chancellery at noon and
received the surprising news from Glaise Horstenau that
Himmler had demanded my resignation, I answered, "He can
have that immediately, because I had already decided on that
in the early hours of the morning".

Subsequently I also informed Federal Chancellor Dr.
Seyss-Inquart that I knew of Himmler's request, and that I
had naturally decided to resign and asked him to take
official notice of my resignation.

Upon this Seyss-Inquart replied, "It is true that Himmler
has demanded your resignation but I am not going to have
anything dictated to me from outside. At the moment the
situation is such that I think it perhaps better for you to

                                                  [Page 221]

for a few weeks, but then you must come back, because I
consider your co-operation important".

To be sure, I declared that I would not do that. And the
following day, in writing, I handed in my resignation as
Chief of the Police and State Secretary, after I had already
on the evening of the 12th actually handed the affairs of
the office over to Kaltenbrunner, who had been attached to
me as a so-called political leader of the executive force.

Q. And then you were imprisoned, and up to now have not yet
returned to Vienna?

A. I beg your pardon?

Q. I said, you were then imprisoned and have not gone back
to Vienna to this day?

A. First of all, I was held prisoner in my official
apartment under SS and police guard and then on the 24th of
May two crimes department officials of the Cassel Gestapo
conducted me to forced residence in Cassel, where I remained
until my liberation by the Allies.

DR. STEINBAUER: I have no further questions of this witness,
Mr. President, and perhaps this would be a suitable moment
for a recess.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: Do any other defendants' counsel want to ask
any questions? (No response.)

THE PRESIDENT: The prosecution?

MR. DODD: No questions, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, may I now call the next
witness, Dr. Friedrich Wimmer?

DR. FRIEDRICH WIMMER, a witness, took the stand and
testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Dr. Friedrich Wimmer.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will
speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I have finished the questions
concerning Austria with the cross-examination of the witness
Skubl and I shall now proceed to deal with the Netherlands.



Q. Witness, were you, from July 1940 until May 1945, general
commissioner for internal administration and justice in the

A. Yes.

Q. In that position did you have to deal with internal
administration, justice, education, health, archives,
museums and the legislature?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you not also, at the same time, the deputy of the
Reich Commissioner?

A. In exceptional cases, not otherwise.

Q. Did you also participate in the regular weekly official
conferences of the general commissioners and the general
secretaries with the Reich Commissioner?

A. Yes.

Q. Therefore, you were fully informed about events in the
occupied Netherlands.

                                                  [Page 222]

A. In general, yes.

Q. Now I ask you: Was the German police a part of the
offices of the RK, of the Reich Commissioner, or was it not
rather independently subordinate to the Berlin central

A. The German police was a distinct office, separate from
the Reich Commissioner's office, and was subordinate to the
respective central offices in the Reich, both
administratively and materially.

Q. That is to say then, directly subordinate to the
Reichsfuehrer SS, Himmler?

A. It was directly subordinate to the Reichsfuehrer SS.

Q. Now, did the German police, apart from the duties of the
regular and security police, have other special duties in
the Netherlands?

A. They had a number of special duties in the Netherlands.

Q. Can you enumerate them?

A. I could not enumerate them completely, but, for example,
the combating of resistance movements in the Netherlands
belonged exclusively to their sphere of activity;
furthermore, the establishment, direction, and supervision
of concentration camps belonged to their jurisdiction.
Furthermore, the removal of Jews from the body of the Dutch
nation belonged exclusively to their sphere of activity.

Q. Now we come to internal administration. At the head of
each of the former ministries there was a general secretary,
that is to say, a Dutchman. Were these men persecuted in any
way if they resigned?

A. No. The Reich Commissioner had told the Dutch general
secretaries upon assuming office that if they should feel in
any way embarrassed by the decrees or demands of the
occupation power, they should apply to him without any fear
and explain their difficulties to him, and that then, if so
desired, he would let them resign from their office in such
a manner that in no way would they ever have to fear any
unpleasantness, of any kind whatsoever, and that they would
also be assured of financial security and get their

Q. Did the Reich Commissioner also dismiss provincial

A. He probably dismissed provincial commissioners too, but
these changes also occurred - I recall two cases - through
the death of the provincial commissioner.

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