The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. What about the mayors?

A. As far as the appointment of mayors is concerned, in
principle the same thing holds true as for all other
officials in the Netherlands. The mayors in the Netherlands,
contrary to the rule in many other nations, in most nations,
are not elected to office, but are civil servants in the
true sense of the word. They were appointed by the Queen,
even the mayors of the small communities. Since the head of
the State was not present in the Netherlands, the Reich
Commissioner was confronted with the necessity of regulating
the appointment and dismissal of mayors and he made the
regulations in such a way that in so far as the most
important positions of the State were concerned, he reserved
for himself the right to make appointments, whereas he
placed the appointments and dismissals of lesser importance
in the hands of the Dutch general secretary.

Q. So if you look back today and examine the question of how
conditions were between '40, and '45 regarding the offices
and civil servants in the Netherlands, what can you state in
that respect?

A. I believe I may say that at the end of the period of
German occupation the majority of the civil servants, who
had been in office when the German occupation force came
into the Netherlands, were still in office.

Q. Seyss-Inquart has been accused of dissolving the
political parties. When and why did that take place?

A. The dissolution of the political parties was necessitated
by the fact that some political parties displayed an
attitude which, especially in critical times, the occupying
power could not tolerate, apart from the fact that in an
occupied territory it is generally difficult if not quite
impossible to deal with political parties. Report

                                                  [Page 223]

after report came from our intelligence services about
conspiracies of the most various kinds, and so the Reich
Commissioner felt called upon to dissolve the parties.
Nevertheless, he did not constitutionally remove the parties
as such; the institution of parties, as such, still

Q. It was suggested on the part of the Reich that the
administration be reorganised and that the Netherlands be
divided into five administrative districts instead of the
traditional provinces. Did Seyss-Inquart do that?

A. The Reich Commissioner refused such suggestions or
demands every time, and indeed he could do that all the more
easily because the Dutch administration was on a high level
and primarily because the Reich Commissioner expected, and
on the basis of all kinds of assurances could expect, that
the Dutch administration would show itself loyal to the
occupying power.

Q. Now we also have a party which was very close to the
National Socialists led by Mussert, the NSB. Did this NSB
party gain a leading influence in the administration or not?

A. The NSB, as a party, gained no influence at all in the
administration. It was only that the occupying power, as was
very natural, applied to the NSB and consulted it in certain
cases, for every occupying power in history, I believe, as
well as in our days, is not going to approach those parties
or groups which assume a hostile attitude toward the
occupying power.

Q. Did the leader of the NSB, Mussert, try to create a
similar situation as existed in Norway under Quisling; that
is for him to become Prime Minister of the Netherlands?

A. Mussert did have that aim. He expressed it persistently,
again and again, and I can say that by doing so, he put the
Reich Commissioner into disagreeable situations.

Q. Well, briefly the Reich Commissioner -

A. The Reich Commissioner rejected this every time.

Q. Another question. Did Seyss-Inquart in any way exert
pressure in religious matters on the population of the
occupied territory?

A. No.

Q. Did he, in the field of education, issue decrees which
reduced the rights of the Netherlands?

A. No.

Q. Did he not encourage the Dutch Red Cross, although there
were cells of the illegal resistance movement in it?

A. He not only permitted the Red Cross to carry out its
functions without hindrance, but, as you say, he even
encouraged it. As far as the political attitude was
concerned, he would have had sufficient reasons to interfere
because broadcasting stations, illegal broadcasting
stations, had been found under Red Cross control.

Q. They were resistance centres?

A. Yes.

Q. Furthermore, he has been accused of interfering with the
existing legislation by issuing laws concerned with
citizenship and also with marriage. You were in charge of
the Department of Justice. What can you say about that,
quite briefly?

A. Acts of interference of that kind did occur. However,
they occurred because they were necessary from the point of
view of the conduct of the war and the armed forces in
particular, for, to speak about the question of citizenship,
those Dutchmen who had joined the German Army wanted to have
the assurance of also obtaining German citizenship. The
Reich Commissioner, however, who was of the opinion that by
acquiring German citizenship they should not incur any
disadvantage in Holland, decreed - and this can be found in
the corresponding decree - that these Dutchmen who acquired
German citizenship should retain their Dutch citizenship, so
that by so doing they would not be alienated from their
people and their nation.

                                                  [Page 224]

So far as marriage laws are concerned, the necessity arose
that if soldiers, in particular, wanted to marry Dutch
girls, the parents' approval of the marriage was refused,
and not for political reasons. This approval was of some
importance in that connection because the parents, contrary
to the rule in many other nations, retained this right of
approval until, I believe, the thirtieth year of the
daughter concerned.

Q. Now I come to another chapter. That is the question of
the so-called summary courts-martial (Standgrichte). Will
you tell us how these courts-martial were organised and how
long and when they were functioning?

A. The creation of courts-martial was considered a necessity
after a general strike had broken out in Amsterdam and we
wanted to have a legal basis for future cases, so as
possibly to prevent future strikes in advance, that is, to
be able to combat them, above all, on the basis of the
proper law, properly and effectively after they had broken

How these courts-martial were organized and when they had to
function is exactly set out in the corresponding decree of
the Reich Commissioner. However, if I am to answer your
specific question here about the composition of these
summary courts-martial, I can in any case only say from
memory that the president of these courts was a judge, and
moreover a judge who fulfilled all the requirements which a
judge in the German Reich had to fulfil.

Q. Well, that is the essential point, and if I understand
you correctly, before these courts became police courts a
judicial functionary was president of these courts-martial.
Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it known to you whether Seyss-Inquart had so-called
collective fines imposed on certain cities and communities?

A. The Reich Commissioner actually imposed such collective
fines. The largest, I believe, was the one which was imposed
once on Amsterdam on the occasion of the general strike
which I have already mentioned. The fines were decreed in
accordance with established procedure on the basis of
existing decrees, and they were proclaimed in an official
decree by the police.

Q. If I understand you correctly, therefore, these
collective fines - you mentioned the words "general strike"
- were imposed when actions of a large community were
involved, and not actions by individuals.

A. The collective fines were imposed in cases of violations
which were charged to a fairly large portion of the
community in question.

Q. I believe we can conclude that chapter. However, you did
not tell me how long these so-called police courts-martial
were functioning.

A. The police courts-martial were functioning as long as
police martial law was in force. That was two weeks.
Moreover, that was the only time that martial law had been
proclaimed in Holland by the Reich Commissioner, that is, if
you do not count the state of emergency that was declared
after the invasion as such.

Q. Now I come to one of the most severe accusations brought
against my client. That is the accusation that he had
hostages shot illegally and contrary to International Law,
or participated in their execution.

With the permission of the Tribunal I submit two statements
to you which were put to my client yesterday by the
prosecution. One is a statement by General of the Air Force
Christiansen, as a defendant, dated the 20th of February,
1946, and the other one is also an interrogation of a
defendant, Higher Police official Dr. Schongart. It is

Will you please look at it and tell me what you know about
these questions. Take your time - I remind you of your oath
- and answer these questions as far as you can do it in good

Have you read it?

A. No, not yet.

Q. Witness, I will help you. Are you through?

A. No, I am not through yet, but please go ahead.

                                                  [Page 225]

Do you know that hostages were shot in August 1942, on the
occasion of an act of sabotage in Rotterdam?

A. Yes, yes.

Q. Why were these hostages shot? On whose orders?

A. It is well known what the Rotterdam incident was all
about. It was an attempt to blow up a Wehrmacht leave train.
In this affair, the Wehrmacht applied to the Reich
Commissioner and therefore -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): That is not an answer to the
question. The question was: Who gave the order?

THE WITNESS: The order for what?


Q. For shooting the hostages.

A. The order for the execution was, I believe, given by the

Q. What did the Reich Commissioner have to do with it? You
have read here how Christiansen accuses him in that

A. The Wehrmacht applied to the Reich Commissioner because
it was customary in fairly important matters for the two
offices, that is, the Commander of the Armed Forces and, the
Reich Commissioner, to get together and discuss these
things. I recall that the Commander of the Wehrmacht
appeared in a very determined manner and demanded that an
example should be made so that such cases might be prevented
in the future as much as possible. It was stated on the part
of the Wehrmacht that it considered hardly any other means
possible than the shooting of a considerable number of

I no longer recall the figure very exactly today, but as far
as I do remember, the figure was around fifty. I also recall
that it was stated on the part of the Wehrmacht that they
could dispense with such a selection of hostages if the
assurance could be given by the police that on the basis of
some sort of material which the police had in their
possession there was a chance that the perpetrators might be
found and brought to punishment by the German court, that is
to say, by the court of the Wehrmacht.

On the part of the Wehrmacht it was also pointed out that,
at that time, resistance in the Netherlands was beginning to
organize in increasing measure, and that this was finding
expression in an increase in sabotage and other acts hostile
to the occupation forces. I also recall that it was pointed
out that if the Wehrmacht and police had been present in
larger numbers than was actually the case, it would perhaps
not have been necessary to take a severe step of that kind.
The forces at that time at the disposal of the German Army
in the Netherlands were extremely small and in case of an
increase in the resistance movement the position of the
Wehrmacht in the Netherlands could have been seriously

Q. Witness, I shall ask you several questions so that we can
go ahead.

You have stated that the commander of the Wehrmacht came
and reported that in view of this outrage he would have to
shoot some hostages.

A. Yes.

Q. Is it known to you that there was a Reich decree stating
that saboteurs in the occupied western territory should not
be tried by the courts but turned over to the Police? Can
you remember that?

A. I do not think that was the case at this particular
time. Especially if you refer to the so-called "Nacht and
Nebel" ("Night and Fog") decree which, to my recollection,
is of a later date. I remember very clearly that an order
was mentioned at that time, but I believe this order was
one which applied exclusively to the military sector. And
so I do not know the wording of that order.

Q. Is it known to you that the Reich Commissioner used his
influence to see that instead of the fifty you mentioned -
in reality, it was only twenty-five hostages - that these
were reduced to five?

A. That is known to me.

Q. And that he also succeeded in having this done

                                                  ]Page 226]

A. And that he succeeded.

Q. And that he particularly succeeded in having fathers of
families excluded?

A. Yes, indeed.

Q. That concludes one case. There is another case which has
been presented to you. That is the case of the attempt made
on the life of the Higher SS and Police Leader, Rauter,
when, in fact, more than 150 persons were shot as hostages.
Have you finished reading that?

A. Partly.

Q. Please read it all then.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, why is it necessary for the
witness to read the whole document? You can put the facts to



Q. Witness, at that time, it was demanded that as a reprisal
for the attempt on the Police and SS Leader hostages should
be shot?

A. Yes.

Q. Who ordered that and who carried it out?

A. I know of the case because - that is, I know of it from
the report of Brigadefuehrer Schongart, who was at that time
the chief of the Security Police. He had applied to me to
find out what his proper title was, after Rauter had become
incapacitated for duty and he had to sign a proclamation and
in so doing add his official title. On that occasion he told
me this story and he also told me that he had got in touch
with Berlin, to find out what they would consider necessary
as reprisals for the attempt on Rauter. Berlin wanted a
considerable number of hostages shot. He mentioned a figure
to me which was something like 500; at any rate, not less
than 500 but rather more than 500. Then he also told me that
he had talked to the Reich Commissioner and told him about
this wish on the part of Berlin.

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