The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Artur Seyss-Inquart

(Part 4 of 18)

[Page 963]

National delegate to the 'Langoth' in Linz was working with Rheintaller. Dr. Neubacher and myself contacted this circle and met there some other men whose names I have forgotten, but who later did not play a particular role. After some time, the lawyer applicant from Linz, Dr. Kaltenbrunner, joined this circle. He was said to be an SS man. The main activities consisted in organizing an institution to succor the needy families of those arrested and condemned Nazis. *** As matters calmed down, the Austrian National Socialists collected themselves again into an illegal party, the organization was built up for better or worse according to the old schedule, those who returned from the Reich were considered to be more 'in the know' and authoritative. The institution of succor, 'Langoth,' remained outside the party organization. But here were also men in the Nazi circles who considered an absolute dependence on the Reich as politically wrong and endeavored for an independent Austrian National Socialist Party. In effect, Dr. Rainer from Karnten belonged to those, and by his influence the future Gauleiter Klausner who is now dead; also Globotschnigg was in it, though I doubt he was sincerely convinced, and also others. Dr. Neubacher took a keener interest in political affairs and entered into relation-ship with the proper Party circles." (3254-PS)

The defendant submitted his plans to Hitler, Hess, and Goering for their approval, and contacted other German Nazis.

"After my appointment as State Councillor, Wilhelm Keppler, the German Secretary of State for Austrian affairs, arranged a visit for me with Hess and Goering. I explained my intentions and plans to them, namely, the attainment of the legal activity for the Austrian National Socialist, independent of the Reich Party. Hess expressed his interest and said to me among other things: he regretted that I was not one of the original 'old fighters.' I believe that at that time Goering had already established direct connections with the Austrian State Secretary, Guido Schmid. After my appointment as Minister of Interior and Security of Austria, I went to Berlin to visit Hitler. I arrived in Berlin on 17-2-1938 where I was met by Keppler who took me to Himmler. This visit was not anticipated in my program. Himmler wanted to talk over police matters, I informed him, however, that I was not conversant to speak about them. I did not follow the suggestions which he made. I greeted Hitler with raised hand -- permissible after the agreement of 2-12 -- advised him, how-

[Page 964]

ever, immediately that as Austrian Minister, my responsibility lay with Austria. I explained to Hitler my plans, namely: I was to be the living guaranty for Dr. Schuschnigg of the evolutionary way. The Austria National Socialists must only conduct their activities according to the Austrian Constitution and on those lines find their way to the Reich; they must not make any totalitarian claim nor conduct a cultural struggle. The leadership of the Austrian National Socialists must be independent of the Reich and remain responsible to Austria. I would have, as Minister of Security to oppose any kind of illegal activity. Against this the Austrian National Socialist would be permitted full freedom of activity to work for the closest cooperation of Austria and Germany. Hitler agreed to my plans but expressed certain doubts whether Dr. Schuschnigg would be willing to go so far. During my conference with Hitler, Keppler and Ribbentrop waited in the ante-room of Hitler's office." (3425-PS)

Seyss-Inquart's fellow Nazi conspirators regarded his position as Councillor of State in the Austrian Government as most important to them, because he had a mandate from the German Nazis in power, which he was attempting to carry out. Because his negotiations with Chancellor Schuschnigg seemed to be running aground, Seyss-Inquart sent a report of that fact to Keppler by courier, stating that he felt compelled to return his mandate, and expressing a desire to discuss the matter before acting accordingly. Keppler immediately sought advice from Goering in a letter dated 6 January 1938. On that same day Goering's secretary was instructed to telephone instructions to Keppler to do anything to avoid the resignations of Councillor of State Dr. Seyss-Inquart and State Minister Glaise von Horstenau. Keppler received this telephone message on 7 January 1938, and on 8 January 1938 wrote a letter to Seyss-Inquart informing him of Goering's instructions and relaying Goering's request not to give up the mandate under any circumstances without discussing the matter with Goering. (5473-PS; 3397-PS)

Despite assertions, in statements since his arrest and indictment, to the effect that he desired a union of Austria and Germany in an evolutionary manner and by legal means, Seyss-Inquart has on other occasions made statements to the contrary. His letter of 14 July 1939 to Goering is particularly illuminating on this point:

"I told myself in July 1934 that we must fight this clerical regime on its own ground in order to give the Fuehrer a chance to use whatever method he desires. I told myself that

[Page 965]

this Austria was worth a mass. I have stuck to this attitude with an iron determination because I and my friends have had to fight against the whole political church, and Free Masonry, the Jewry, in short, against everything in Austria. The slightest weakness which we might have displayed would undoubtedly have led to our political annihilation; it would have deprived the Fuehrer of the means and tools to carry out his ingenious political solution for Austria as became evident in the days of March 1938. I have been fully conscious of the fact that I am following a path which is not comprehensible to the masses and also not to my party comrades. I have followed it calmly and would without hesitation follow it again because I am satisfied that at one point I could serve the Fuehrer as a tool in his work, even though my former attitude, even now, gives occasion to very worthy and honorable Party comrades to doubt my trustworthiness. I have never paid attention to such things because I am satisfied with the opinion which the Fuehrer and the men close to him have of me." (2219-PS)

Another statement of the defendant, which throws some light on this point, is found in his letter to Himmler dated 19 August 1939:

"On 8 November 1938, the Fuehrer invited several political leaders for supper. The Fuehrer asked me to be next to him. We discussed the situation in Ostmark. I told him that in accordance with his order, we started to dissolve the competence of the Austrian government by giving the powers partly to the Gauen and partly to the central leaders. But there still would remain certain affairs which would be common for all Gauen." (5271-PS)

Furthermore, Seyss-Inquart has made the following statement:

"I was happy that the Anschluss of Austria with the German Reich had come at last after so many vain endeavors since 1918 because I was in favor of the Anschluss of Austria with the Reich under many conditions. I was aware at least to a certain extent of the harshness of the National Socialist regime, but I was of the opinion that these two German countries belonged together and that the German people should solve their own internal affairs and difficulties. I was convinced that the harshness of the National Socialist regime chiefly because of its achievement of the National aim -- cancellation of discriminatory peace treaties and achievement of the right of self- determination would in time be surmounted." (425-PS)

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