The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Thank you. Therefore, you set up, in the Netherlands, a
civil government and a German civil government.

A. My four commissioners general could not be considered as
having the same offices as ministers normally have. Certain
functions, however, had been delegated to the secretaries

But these secretaries general did not represent a government
or a ministry. I mentioned yesterday that I took over the

Q. But they did represent the Government of the Netherlands,
did they not?

A. No, they were the supreme heads (officials) of certain
ministries, but they were not what we call the bearers of
sovereignty in the State. Those gentlemen were in England.

Q. But you knew, nevertheless, that they had been left in
the Netherlands by the Government in order to carry on the
duties of the government in its place?

A. What intentions the government which had gone to England
had had in making this appointment, I do not know. I assumed
that they remained there in order to direct the
administration technically. It is within the jurisdiction of
an occupying power, in the case of complete occupation of a
country, to determine just how the government is to be
carried on.

Q. But did you consider that the creation of a German civil
government in an occupied country was in conformity with
international conventions?

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, I object to this question. In
my opinion, it is a question which should be solved by the
High Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks the question may be
asked. The defendant has already given his views on
International Law in his examination-in-chief. We allow the


Q. Then answer me, please.

A. May I please have the question repeated?

Q. Do you consider that the creation of a German civil
government in an occupied country is in conformity with
international conventions?

A. In the way in which it took place in Holland, certainly.

Q. And why?

A. Because, as a result of the complete occupation, Germany
had assumed responsibility for the administration of this
country and, therefore, had to establish a responsible
leadership in this country.

Q. You yourself created the Secretariats General,
particularly the Secretariat for Information and Fine Arts?

A. We called it the Propaganda Ministry.

                                                  [Page 122]

Q. Yes, that is it.

A. Yes, I did that.

Q. And whom did you put at the head of this Secretariat?

A. I believe, Professor Kudewagen first. He too was a member
of the Dutch National Socialist Party.

Q. That is true. Was not the Staff of the General
Secretariat mainly composed of members of the Dutch National
Socialist Party?

A. I agree to that, but I did not know them individually.

Q. Do you also know that in one of the offices, a member of
the SS acted in an advisory capacity?

A. The Dutch SS.

Q. No, the German SS.

A. Then he was a consultant?

Q. He was a consultant for national educational and national

A. I did not quite follow you - he was a consultant for ...?

Q. For national education.

A. Yes, but I did not know him. I consider it possible, but
I do not believe that he was there as an SS man in
particular, but rather for other reasons.

Q. You ordered the dissolution of the municipal and
provincial assemblies; why?

A. One cannot say I ordered the dissolution of the
administration. I eliminated merely the elected
representatives of the communities and the provinces. I not
only kept the administration itself, but also strengthened
it in its functions.

Q. You even turned out the mayors of the more important

A. Certainly, and, I am convinced, with the full right of an
occupying power. The Burgomaster of Amsterdam did not
prevent the general strike but rather promoted it.

Q. But was that the same reason that made you turn out all
the mayors, or at least a certain number of them?

A. I did not remove any mayors from office until they became
unbearable to me because of their actively hostile attitude.
Otherwise their political attitude was of no significance to
me. Up to 1945 I kept Herr Boraine's brother as mayor in a
Dutch city, even though he was a very bitter enemy of
National Socialism and of us Germans.

Q. Very well. And by whom did you replace all these mayors?

A. I believe that until the year 1943, at least, the posts
were filled in agreement with Mr. Fredericks, the Secretary
General of the Interior, who was left behind for me by the
Dutch government to administer interior affairs. There were
National Socialists; there were those who were not National
Socialists. For instance, the son of the Province
Commissioner of Holland, whom I appointed mayor of one of
the largest Dutch cities, Zwolle, was a firm enemy of
National Socialism and of Germany.

Q. You are not exactly answering my question. I am asking
you to tell me by whom you replaced all the mayors whom you
had turned out?

A. In part they were members of the Dutch National Socialist
Party. In part they were non-political men, and in part they
were those whose political trends were absolutely against
National Socialism and against Germany. In time there were
more and more people of the Dutch National Socialist Party,
for other people did not put themselves at our disposal any
longer. It was the greatest success of the Dutch resistance
movement that politically it resisted us so completely.

Q. You therefore pretend that it was the Dutch Resistance
Movement which led you to put a great number of NSB people
in all the important positions?

A. No, that would be going a bit too far. The Dutch
resistance movement merely induced the population not to
co-operate with the occupying power at all, so that apart
from the members of the Dutch National Socialist Party there
was no one who wanted to work with us.

                                                  [Page 123]

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)




Q. Defendant, you installed, in the larger towns and in the
provinces of the Low Countries, agents who were directly
subordinate to you and to whom you gave full powers. Were
those agents not members of the NSDAP?

A. Will you please tell me what you mean by "agents"? I had
German representatives in the provinces and in the big
cities. Do you mean the German or the Dutch ones?

Q. No; I meant to speak of the Beauftragte (delegates).

A. They were Germans, and I assume that all were members of
the NSDAP. I do not know for certain, but it is quite
possible and I believe that was the case.

Q. Well, then, in order to refresh your memory, will you
please take Document 997-PS, which I had handed to you this
morning. I refer to Page 9, in the French and German texts.

M. DEBENEST: I would like to inform the Tribunal that I gave
an incorrect reference this morning. The document was
submitted as Exhibit USA 708, but is, in fact, RF 122.


Q. At the top of Page 9, you write:

  "Delegates with far-reaching administrative powers have
  been appointed for the provinces. The creation of these
  posts was delayed due to the necessity of making a
  preliminary examination of the situation. It has now been
  shown that it must be less a question of administrative
  officers than of men who have had political experience.
  Therefore, through Reichsamtsleiter Schmidt, Reichsleiter
  Bormann (Hess' staff) was asked for men, who mostly,
  coming from the Party, are now on their way and can be
  installed in their functions in the provinces in a few

That was true, was it not?

A. Yes, and I find my assertion confirmed that they were not
all from the Party.

Q. Very well, but I also notice that these men were
specially selected.

A. Yes, they were politically experienced men, for I did not
want any administrative bureaucrats, but men who were
experienced and skilful in public political life, and not
Party political life.

Q. On what basis did you organise the municipal councils and
the regional councils?

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, it seems to the Tribunal - I do
not know whether we are right - that it would be better if
you would pause after the sentence rather than after each


THE WITNESS: Will you please tell me what you mean by
municipal and provincial councils? According to our concept,
the word "council" means a body, but I did not establish any
bodies, I appointed individuals to direct the


Q. In the communes, in the Netherlands, there were municipal
assemblies call them, if you wish municipal councils. In the
provinces there were provincial assemblies, which you call
provincial councils.

A. Thank you. I understand. In 1941 I dispersed the
provincial and community representatives which had
previously existed. I provided for such

                                                  [Page 124]

councils in the community regulations which I issued then,
but never actually appointed such councils, because the
Netherlands population did not co-operate and, as a result,
these community councils would have been only artificial
bodies. This provision of my community regulations did not
come into effect.

Q. But upon what basis did this regulation establish this

A. May I ask to have the question repeated?

Q. But on what basis did this regulation lay down this

A. I cannot recall any certain basis. I assume that it was
established by law, if it was provided for at all.

Q. Well, I will put the question in a different manner and
perhaps you will be able to answer it. Did you introduce, by
means of your regulations, the Fuehrer principle?

A. Yes. I called it the "one-man responsibility," and I am
of the opinion that in times of crises a "one-man
responsibility" is the correct thing.

Q. That was, in fact, the system which was also applied in

A. That is true. Perhaps it was not exactly the same, but
under the circumstances, I considered it correct.

I repeat what I said yesterday: We committed an error here.
We committed the error of considering the authority
exercised by the occupying forces better than that already
existing in the occupied territory.

Q. Well, the introduction of this principle had a particular
importance, had it not?

A. I certainly thought it had; in these territorial
districts in particular, I had to have a man who was
responsible to me for the administration, and not an
anonymous majority of a representative body.

Q. I am having Document F-861 handed to you, which I submit
as Exhibit RF I524. In the last paragraph, you will see the
importance which was attached to that in the Reich. It is a
letter of the Minister of the Interior, dated 6th September,
1941. It reads as follows:

  "Particular importance must be accorded to the decree
  because it contains detailed regulations concerning the
  introduction of the Fuehrer principle in the municipal
  government of the Netherlands."

A. Yes. The Ministry of the Interior was interested in this.
I should only like to point out to get things straight that
the Reichsminister of the Interior exerted no influence and,
in the second place, these larger powers were given in 1941
to at least eighty per cent of the mayors who belonged to
the democratic party and were therefore my political

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, have you not established, by the
questions that you have put to this defendant, that he did
alter, to a considerable extent, the form of government in
the Netherlands, and that he introduced a different form of
government. Is not that all that you really require for the
argument which, no doubt, you intend to present? The details
of it do not very much matter, do they?

M. DEBENEST: Mr. President, I simply wish to demonstrate
that, contrary to what the defendant said, he had sought to
impose the National Socialist system upon the people of the

THE PRESIDENT: Well, to a large extent, I think he had
admitted that. He said just now that he introduced what he
called "one-man responsibility," which is another phrase for
the Fuehrer principle, and that he had dissolved various
organisations of the Netherlands government. All I am
suggesting to you is that, having got those general
admissions, it is not necessary to go into details about the
exact amount that the government of the Netherlands was
interfered with or the exact way in which it was replaced.
Is it not really all stated in a document drawn up by the
defendant, namely, the document you have been putting,

M. DEBENEST: More or less, Mr. President, but not entirely.

                                                  [Page 125]

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the only question is whether the
details are really very important for the Tribunal.

M. DEBENEST: I thought that those details might have a
certain importance, since the governors of the Reich itself
attached a great deal of importance to the decree, and that,
in fact, the whole was part of a plan which had been
definitely laid down.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal is inclined to think that
you have got all that is necessary for the argument which
you are indicating that you would present. If there are any
particular details that you think important to us, no doubt
you can bring them out.

M. DEBENEST: Quite so, Mr. President.


Q. To what end had you centralised the police into a police

A. May I ask to have the question repeated?

Q. For what purpose had you centralised the police into a
police directorate?

A. I will repeat my testimony of yesterday. The Netherlands
police was under three or four different agencies, the
Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, I believe
the Army Ministry and so forth. For the sake of a police
administration, I thought it necessary to unite these
various police organisations into one and to place it under
the Ministry of Justice.

Q. Did you not appoint as chief of this police a National

A. Yes.

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