The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th June to 19th June 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-First Day: Monday, 10th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 9)

[Page 66]

THE PRESIDENT: I call on counsel for the defendant Seyss-Inquart.

DR. STEINBAUER (counsel for the defendant Seyss-Inquart): Your Lordship, gentlemen of the Tribunal, I open the defence case with the last words spoken by Dr. Schuschnigg, as he resigned from the Austrian Chancellorship on 11th March, 1938, the words: "God protect Austria."

It is a coincidence in history that at a time when the question of the Anschluss is discussed here with reference to the person of Seyss-Inquart, the four foreign ministers are preparing the peace treaties on the basis of the same events. May I, therefore, draw the Tribunal's attention to my documents on this matter and ask that I be permitted to quote from them at more length than I had originally intended?

Now, with the permission of the Tribunal, may I begin with the examination of the defendant as witness in his own defence.

ARTUR SEYSS-INQUART took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Artur Seyss-Inquart.

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.



Q. Witness, when and where were you born?

A. I was born in 1892 in Iglau, situated in what was up to now a German-speaking part of Moravia. Moravia, at that time, was a crown province of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. There and in the then German-speaking Olmutz, also in Moravia, I lived until the age of fifteen, when with my parents I moved into the vicinity of Vienna, where I completed my studies at high school, and the legal faculty of Vienna University. In August 1914 I enlisted in the army.

Q. Were you in the army during the whole of the war?

A. Yes. I served with the Tyrolean Kaiserjager and saw fighting in Russia, Roumania, and in Italy. On furloughs during the war I passed my final examinations and in 1917 I received my doctor's degree. I was wounded once, decorated several times, three times for bravery in the face of the enemy.

Q. What impressions did you carry with you into life from the time of your youth?

A. Relevant to my case is, I think, only the experience of the struggle between the nationalities in Moravia, between the Germans and the Czechs. The Germans, in those days, were in favour of a unified Austrian State, while the Czechs pursued a predominantly nationalistic policy. It is, however, not without significance that a language compromise was agreed upon in Moravia.

[Page 67]

Q. What lasting impressions did you retain from your service in the war?

A. Apart from the experience of comradeship at the front, I remember especially the discussions towards the end of the war, on the Fourteen Points of President Wilson.

Q. Their main point being the peoples' right of self-determination?

A. It was clear to us that the realization of those Fourteen Points would mean the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. We Germans regarded it as at least a compensation that in pursuance of this right of self-determination the hereditary German territories would be able to return to the Reich from which they had been separated just fifty years before, in 1866. Yes, these territories had been created by the German Reich and had been part of it for nine hundred and fifty out of the thousand years of their existence.

Q. What did you do after your return from the war?

A. I devoted myself to my legal profession. In 1921 I set up my own practice, which in time grew into a very successful one.

Q. What of your political attitude? Were you a member of any political party?

A. I was not a member of any political party, because I did not want to tie myself to partisan politics. I had good friends in all parties, including the Christian Social and Social Democratic Parties, but the party programmes seemed to me rather one-sided, designed for individual groups of the community.

Q. Were you a member of any political clubs-for instance, the Austro-German Volksbund?

A. Yes, I was a member of the Executive of the Austro-German Volksbund, because the only political idea to which I adhered after 1918 was Austria's union with the German Reich. I recall the 12th of November, 1918, when the provisional national assembly, in fulfilment of the right of self-determination, decided that "Austria is a part of the German republic." Furthermore, the constitutional national assembly repeated the decision six months later. But the dictate of St. Germain forbade the Anschluss. Thereupon the various districts tried to hold plebiscites; in Salzburg and Tyrol ninety-eight per cent. of those entitled to the vote were in favour of the Anschluss. Dr. Schuschnigg describes these events in his book Three Times Austria.

The answer was a serious attempt to divide Austria among its non-German neighbours; but they could not agree on the booty.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, may I at this point submit to the Tribunal and refer briefly to several documents of my Document Book? The first document, which I have given the number SJ-1, is on Page 2 of the Document Book, and contains the proclamation of the German-Austrian deputies after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy on 21st October, 1918. There it says in the second sentence:

"The German-Austrian State claims the territorial jurisdiction over the entire German settlement areas especially also the Sudeten-lands. The German-Austrian State will fight any annexation by other nations of territories which are inhabited by German peasants, workers, and citizens."
Then, as Exhibit No. 2, I should like to submit - it is on Page 4 of the Document Book - the resolution which the witness has already mentioned, passed by the provisional Austrian national assembly on 12th November, 1918, which says:
"German-Austria is a democratic republic. All public authorities are installed by the people. German-Austria is a part of the German republic."
The leader of the biggest national party of the time, Dr. Karl Renner, explained the reasons for this law on 12th November and said the following, which appears on Page 6 as Exhibit No. 3:
"Our great people is in distress and misery, the people whose pride it has always been to be called the people of poets and thinkers, our German people of humanism, our German people which loves other peoples is deeply bowed in misery. But it is just in this hour in which it would be so easy and con-

[Page 68]

venient and perhaps also tempting to settle one's account separately and perhaps to snatch advantages from many an enemy, in this hour our people in all provinces wish to know: We are one family and one people living under a common fate!"
Then I come to Exhibit No. 4, which is on Page 18 -

THE PRESIDENT: Page 8, is it not?

DR. STEINBAUER: Page 18. I beg your pardon, yes, Page 8.

That refers to the plebiscite on 24th April, 1921, in Tyrol, when 145,302 voted for the Anschluss and 1,805 against it. On 18th May, 1921, there were 98,546 votes for the Anschluss in the district of Salzburg, and 877 votes against it.

Your Honours, while submitting the documents, I already said that I maintain there were three component factors leading to the Anschluss:

Firstly, the economic emergency which, a recurring theme, runs through the entire history of the period.

Secondly, the disunity among the democratic parties, resulting therefrom.

Thirdly, the attitude of the rest of the world, particularly the big powers, towards our small country.

Those thoughts are contained in my Document Book, and I should like now with reference to the economic emergency of that time to submit as my next exhibit the speech of Prelate Hauser, President of the Austrian Parliament. The speech, made on 6th September, 1919, appears on Page 114 of my Document Book.

As President of the Parliament, he suggested the acceptance of the peace treaty of St. Germain, giving the following reason:

"The national assembly has no choice. Country and people need lasting peace which will open the world to them again morally and economically, and which can once again procure work for the masses of our people at home and abroad."
Then in the second paragraph he says:
"It also has no other choice, because our country depends on the big powers for its supply of food, coal and industrial raw materials as well as in the re-establishment of its credit and its currency."
The same point of view was expressed by the two statesmen, Seipel and Schober.

In Document No. 17, Seipel, regarded as the greatest Austrian statesman, said at that time: "But we will never believe that the Central European question is solved as long as the great State which virtually makes up Central Europe, the German Reich, is not a party to the solution."

I shall now continue with the examination of the witness.


Q. I want to ask you, witness, do you still remember the time and conditions after 1927?

A. On account of the economic situation which you have just described the League powers again and again forced Austria to make so-called voluntary declarations renouncing the Anschluss. This had repercussions in Austrian domestic politics. The Austrians, who in 1918 had been resolved to have a democratic parliamentary form of government, turned to radical ideas of an authoritarian character.

Q. At that time a new party was formed. Which one was that?

A. Then there occurred the so-called Palace of Justice fire, an uprising of the Marxists, which had as its result that the anti-Marxists formed themselves into the Home Guard, a kind of military organization. Thus uniforms were introduced into the political life of Austria. The controversy between the Marxists and the anti-Marxists became ever more marked. The only non-partisan organization at that time was the Austro-German Volksbund, and the Anschluss idea was the only political objective which still held all parties together.

About the year 1930, at least then it was first noticeable, the National Socialist German workers Party made its appearance.

[Page 69]

Q. What impression did that Party give you, particularly with reference to the seizure of power in the Reich?

A. I want to say quite openly that as far as Austrian conditions were concerned the Party appeared somewhat strange. Uniforms had, of course, already been introduced into politics by the Republican Guard of the Marxists and the Home Guard, but in the NSDAP even the actual political leaders wore uniforms and marched in close formation. And also the kind of intransigent political attitude which they displayed was not in keeping with our accustomed political views.

Q. What were the reasons for that?

A. Well, let me say that the NSDAP would not recognize any value in any other party and was never prepared to co-operate with any other.

Q. Then, what positive successes did you think the Party had gained in the Reich?

A. I think that the influence of the Party in Austria, undoubtedly very great as time went on, was due to its unqualified determination to attain the Anschluss, and I believe that this radical attitude can be traced back for instance to the prevention of the customs union, finally as a result of the Hague decision, a decision in favour of the democratic party leaders.

Q. In addition, were there not economic reasons which brought success to the NSDAP?

A. What was discussed in the Reich, and what we heard from the Reich -

THE PRESIDENT: Defendant, I suppose you are hearing the words spoken by Dr. Steinbauer direct, and you are answering them without any pause, which gives the interpreter no chance.

A. We, in Austria, observed after 1933 the removal of the discriminations imposed by the Versailles Dictate, and above all, the end of unemployment in the Reich. In Austria, too, about ten per cent. of the population were unemployed at that time. Especially the Austrian workers, therefore, were hoping that the Anschluss would put an end to their unemployment, and Austrian farmers were greatly interested in the Reich Food Organization and in the German market-value.

Q. If I understand you correctly, then, it was the Anschluss idea which brought you, too, in contact with the Party? I do not want to speak of the Party programme which has been discussed here again and again, but I just want to ask you briefly: When did you join the Party?

A. Officially, I became a member of the Party on 13th May, 1938, and my membership number is above the seven million mark.

Q. Did you have any contact with Dr. Dollfuss?

A. I met Dr. Dollfuss in the period after the war. I knew that he wanted to include me in his Ministry in 1933, and a week before 25th July, 1934, at his invitation, I had a discussion with him.

Q. Did you participate in any way in the murder of Chancellor Dr. Dollfuss on 25th July, 1934?

A. No, in no way. Dr. Dollfuss planned to have another discussion with me. He was interested in my solution for alleviating the very radical situation at that time. I told Dr. Dollfuss at that time that there were no more nationalists in Austria, but only National Socialists, and that the National Socialists were acting only on Hitler's orders.

Q. But, I must remind you, Dr. Seyss-Inquart, that the prosecution has submitted a photograph which shows the murder of Dollfuss being extolled.

A. That is the so-called Annual Commemoration in the year 1938. During that celebration nobody thought of Dollfuss; it was a Party Commemoration of the seven SS men who had been hanged in connection with the Putsch attempt at that time. None of us referred to that death as murder.

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