The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
November 20 to December 1, 1945

Seventh Day: Wednesday, 28th November, 1945
(Part 4 of 6)

[MR. ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 224]

I now proceed with the next paragraph of the affidavit:
"The Austrian Legion was kept in readiness in Germany. Although it was taken back some miles further from the Austrian frontier, it remained undissolved in spite of the assurance which had been given to dissolve it. The Austrian Government received positive information to this effect from time to time, which it passed on to me and I had direct information to the same effect from reliable persons coming from Germany to Vienna who actually saw the Legion."
The fact of the reorganisation of the Nazi Party in Austria is corroborated by a report of one of the Austrian Nazis.

I offer in evidence our document 812-PS, as exhibit USA 61. It contains three parts. First, there is a letter dated 22nd August, 1939, from Dr. Rainer, then Gauleiter at Salzburg to the defendant Seyss-Inquart, then Austrian Reich Minister. That letter encloses a letter dated July 6th, 1939, written by Dr. Rainer to Reich Commissar, Gauleiter Josef Burckel.

DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for defendant Seyss-Inquart): I object to the presentation of the letters contained in document 812. Of course, I cannot object to the presentation of this evidence to the extent that this evidence is to prove that these letters were actually written. However, if these letters are to serve as proof for the correctness of their contents, then I must object to the use of these letters, for the following reason. Particularly, the third document is a letter which, as is manifest from its contents, has a particular bias, for this reason, that in this letter it is explained to what extent the Austrian Nazi Party participated in the Anschluss.

It purports, further, to expose the leading role played by the group.

From the bias that is manifest in the contents of this letter, this letter cannot serve as proof for the facts brought forth in it, particularly since the witness Rainer, who wrote this letter, is available as a witness and, as we have discovered, is at present in Nuremburg.

[Page 225]

I object to the use of this letter to the extent it is to be used to prove the correctness of its contents, because the witness who can testify to that is, at the present time, in Nuremburg.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will hear Mr. Alderman in answer to what has been said.

MR. ALDERMAN: I think perhaps it would be better to read the letter before we argue about the significance of its contents.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, are you relying upon the letter as evidence of the facts stated in it?


THE PRESIDENT : Whom is the letter from, and whom is it to?

MR. ALDERMAN: The first letter is from one Rainer who was, at that time, Gauleiter at Salzburg, to the defendant Seyss- Inquart, then Reich Minister of Austria.

That letter encloses a letter dated 6th July, 1939, written by Rainer to Reich Commissar and Gauleiter Josef Burckel. In that letter, in turn, Rainer enclosed a report on the events in the N.S.D.A.P. of Austria from 1933 to 11th March, 1938, the day before the invasion of Austria.

I had some other matters in connection with this that I did want to bring to the attention of the Tribunal before it passes judgement upon the admissibility.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think that the defendant's counsel is really challenging the admissibility of the document; it is the contents of the document.

MR. ALDERMAN: Yes. On that, in the first place, we are advised by defendant's counsel that this man Rainer is in Nuremberg. I would assume he is there.

We have also an affidavit by Rainer stating that what is stated in these communications is the truth. However, it seems to us that the communications themselves, as contemporaneous reports by a Party officer at the time, are much more probative evidence than anything that he might testify before you to-day.

DR. LATERNSER: I have already said that this letter has these characteristics, that is it biased, and that it tends to emphasise and decorate the participation of the Austrian Nazi party in the Anschluss. Therefore, I must object to the use of this letter as objective evidence, in that it was not written with the thought in mind that it would be used as evidence before a court. If the writer had known that, the letter undoubtedly would have been formulated differently.

I believe that the witness is in Nuremberg. In that case - a principle which is a basis for all trial procedure - the witness should be presented to the Court personally, particularly since, in this case, the difficulties that apply in the case of Messersmith do not apply here.

THE PRESIDENT : The Tribunal is of the opinion that the letters are admissible. They were written to and received by the defendant Seyss-Inquart. The defendant can challenge the contents of the letters by his evidence.

If it is true that Rainer is in Nuremberg, it is open to the defendant to apply to the Tribunal for leave to call Rainer in due course. He can then challenge the contents of these letters, both by the defendant Seyss-Inquart's evidence and by Rainer's evidence. The letters themselves are admitted.

MR. ALDERMAN : May it please the Tribunal, I agree quite fully with the statement that, if it had been known that these letters were to be offered in evidence in a court of justice, they very probably would have been differently written. That applies to a great part of the evidence that we shall offer in this case. And I would say that if the photographer who took the photograph of the Memorial Plaque had known that his photographs would be introduced in evidence in a conspiracy case, he probably never would have snapped the shutter.

The letter from Rainer to Burckel indicates that he was asked to prepare a short history of the role of the Party. Perhaps I had better read the covering letter, addressed to the defendant Seyss-Inquart:

"Dear Dr. Seyss,

I have received your letter of 19th August, 1939, in which you asked me to

[Page 226]

inform you what I know of those matters which, among other, are the subject of your correspondence with Burckel.

I do not wish to discuss sundry talks and all that, or what has been brought to my notice in the course of time by different people. I wish to clarify essentially my own attitude.

On the 5th of July, 1939, I was asked by telephone by the Reich Commissar Gauleiter Burckel if I was in possession of the memorandum of Globus regarding the events of March. I told him that I had not this memorandum and that I never possessed a single part of it, and, further, that I did not then participate in the matter, and did not know its contents. Because of official requests by Burckel, I have entrusted him with a report accompanied by a letter written on the 6th of July.

If Burckel now writes to you that certain statements were confirmed by me, I feel obliged to entrust you with a copy of each of those two documents, which were only written in single originals. I shall specially inform Burckel of this. I connect this with the declaration: that I have given - apart from those written explanations - no confirmations, declarations, or criticism whatsoever regarding you and your attitude and that I have authorised nobody to refer to any statements of mine.

Since the beginning of our collaboration, I have always expressed and represented forcefully my ideas regarding yourself and my opinion of your personality.

This conception of mine was the very basis of our collaboration. The events of February and March have not changed this, especially since I considered the political success of the 11th of March merely as a confirmation of the intentions and convictions which have equally induced both of us to collaborate.

As far as Globus is concerned, you are fully aware of his character, which I judged always and in every situation only by its good side. I believe that you have already talked to Globus about the occurrences between the 11th of March, 1938, and to-day; and I am convinced that he will tell you everything that is bothering him, if you will speak to him about this matter, as is your intention.

With best regards and Heil Hitler!
Yours, Friedl Rainer."

And so Rainer writes his report, which is enclosed with this letter, to show that the Party as a whole is entitled to the glory which is exclusively ascribed to one person, Dr. Seyss- Inquart.

I refer to the third paragraph of the first enclosure, the report to Reich Commissar Gauleiter Josef Burckel:-

"We saw in March and April how a false picture about the actual leadership conditions developed from this fact, which could not be corrected in spite of our attempts to that effect. This was an important factor for the varying moods of Globotschnik who hoped particularly that you would emphasise to Hitler, and also to the public, the role of the party during the events preceding 12th March, 1938. I limited myself to address this verbal and written declaration to party member Hess, and furthermore, to secure the documents about the March days. In addition, I spoke at every available opportunity about the fight of the party. I did not take steps to give just credit to other persons for the glory which was exclusively ascribed to one person, Dr. Seyss- Inquart, and I would not do that, primarily because I appear as a beneficiary, and furthermore, because I believe that I would not gladden Hitler by doing so. I am also convinced that Dr. Seyss-Inquart did not act crookedly, and furthermore that Hitler does not want to commit an act of historical injustice by special preference to his person, but that he is attracted to him personally. It really is of no great account to Hitler if this or that person was more or less meritorious in this sector of the great fight of the movement. If, in the last analysis, by far the greatest part is to be ascribed only to him; he

[Page 227]

alone will be considered by history as the liberator of Austria. I, therefore, considered it best to accept existing conditions and look for new fruitful fields of endeavour in the party.

If I should be asked to describe - without personal interest - the role of the party according to my best conviction, I am ready to do so at any time. For this reason I promised yesterday to submit to you again a short summary, and to make it available for your confidential use. Of this Letter and of this abbreviated description I retain the sole copy.
Heil Hitler! Rainer."

Now, of course, all of these enclosures went to the defendant Seyss-Inquart, and he had knowledge of the contents of all of them.

It is a fact of history, of which the Court will take judicial notice, that Seyss-Inquart was the original Quisling. It so happened that the Norwegian Seyss-Inquart gave his name to posterity as a meaningful name, but all Quislings are alike.

The Tribunal will observe from this that the Rainer report is hardly likely to be tendentious, as counsel says, or to be prejudiced in favour of the defendant Seyss-Inquart's contribution to the Anschluss. It tends, on the contrary, to show that Seyss-Inquart was not quite so important as he might have thought he was. Even so, Rainer gives Seyss- Inquart credit enough.

The Rainer report further tells of the disorganisation of the Nazi Party in Austria and of its reconstruction. I now quote the second and third paragraphs of the report, appearing on pages 3 and 4 of the English text of 812-PS, which is exhibit USA 61; and I believe it is on pages 1 and 2 of the original German of the report or Bericht, which is the third part of the document:-

"Thus began the first stage of battle, which ended with the July rising of 1934. The decision for the Jul rising was right, the execution of it was faulty. The result was a complete destruction of the organisation; the loss of entire groups of fighters through imprisonment or flight into the 'Alt-Reich,'" - the old kingdom - "and with regard to the political relationship of Germany to Austria, a formal acknowledgement of the existence of the Austrian State by the German Government. With the telegram to Papen, instructing him to reinstitute normal relationships between the two States, the Fuehrer had liquidated the first stage of the battle; the Landesleitung Munich was dissolved, and the party in Austria was left to its own resources.

There was no acknowledged leader for the entire party in Austria. New leaderships were forming in the nine Gaus. The process was again and again interrupted by the interference of the police; there was no liaison between the formations, and frequently there were two, three, or more rival leaderships. The first evident, acknowledged speaker of almost all the Gaus in Autumn 1934 was engineer Reinthaler (already appointed Landesbauernfuehrer - leader of the country's farmers - by Hess). He endeavoured to bring about a political appeasement by negotiations with the Government with the purpose of giving the N.S.D.A.P. legal status again, thus permitting its political activities. Simultaneously, Reinthaler started the reconstruction of the illegal political organisations, at the head of which he had placed engineer Neubacher."

Next are the secret contacts between German officials, including the defendant von Papen, and the Austrian Nazis; the use by the Austrian Nazis of personalities. There are two cardinal factors concerning the Nazi Organisation in Austria which should be borne in mind.

First, although the Fuehrer had, on the surface, cast the Austrian Nazis adrift - as indicated in the document I have just read - in fact, as we shall show, German officials, including von Papen, maintained secret contact with the Austrian Nazis in line with Hitler's desires. German officials consulted and gave advice and support to the organisation of the Austrian Nazis. [Page 228] In the second place, the Austrian Nazis remained an illegal organisation in Austria, organising for the eventual use of force in a so-called emergency. But, in the meantime, they deemed it expedient to act behind front personalities, such as the defendant Seyss-Inquart, who had no apparent taint of illegality in his status in Austria.

Mr. Messersmith relates, in his affidavit, that he got hold of a copy of a document outlining this Nazi programme. I quote from page 8 of document 1760-PS, which is exhibit USA 57, the following:-

"For two years following the failure of the 25th July Putsch, the Nazis remained relatively quiet in Austria. Very few terroristic acts occurred during the remainder of 1934 and, as I recall, in 1935, and most of 1936; this inactivity was in accordance with directives from Berlin, as direct evidence to that effect, which came to my knowledge at that time, proved. Early in January, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Berger-Waldenegg, furnished me with a document which I considered accurate in all respects, and which stated" - quoting from that document:-

"The German Minister here, von Papen, on the occasion of his last visit to Berlin, was received three times by Chancellor Hitler for fairly long conversations, and he also took this opportunity to call on Schacht and von Neurath. In these conversations the following instructions were given to him :

During the next two years nothing can be undertaken which will give Germany external political difficulties. On this ground, everything must be avoided which could awaken the appearance of Germany interfering in the internal affairs of Austria. Chancellor Hitler will, therefore, also for this reason, not endeavour to intervene in the present prevailing difficult crisis in the National Socialist Party in Austria, although be is convinced that order could be brought into the Party at once through a word from him. This word, however, he will, for foreign political reasons, give all the less, as he is convinced that the ends desired by him may be reached in another way. Naturally, Chancellor Hitler declared to the German Minister here, this does not indicate any disinterestedness in the idea of Austria's independence. Also, before everything, Germany cannot for the present withdraw Party members in Austria, and must, therefore, in spite of the very real exchange difficulties, make every effort to bring help to the persecuted National Socialist sufferers in Austria.

As a result, Minister of Commerce Schacht finally gave the authorisation that from then on 200,000 Marks a month were to be set aside for this end (support of National Socialists in Austria). The control and the supervision of this monthly sum was to be entrusted to engineer Reinthaler, who, through the fact that he alone had control over the money, would have a definite influence on the Party followers. In this way it would be possible to end most quickly and most easily the prevailing difficulties in the Austrian National Socialist Party.

The hope was also expressed to Herr von Papen that the recently authorised foundation of German 'Ortsgruppen" of the National Socialist Party in Austria (made up of German citizens in Austria) would be so arranged as not to give the appearance that Germany was planning to interfere in Austrian internal affairs."

The report of Gauleiter Rainer to Reich Commissar Burckel in July of 1939 outlines the further history of the Party and the leadership squabbles following the retirement of Reinthaler.

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