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 4 of 9)

[Page 78]


Q. The prosecution, witness, sees evidence of this pressure also in the fact that SS units were called to the Chancellor's office at that time. What can you say to that?

[Artur Seyss-Inquart] A. I believe it was after Schuschnigg's farewell speech, when I saw in the anterooms ten or fifteen young men in black trousers and white shirts, that was the SS. I had the impression that they were doing messenger and orderly duty for Secretary of State Keppler and the others. As they approached the rooms in which Chancellor Schuschnigg and President Miklas were, I ordered guards of the Austrian Guard Battalion to be placed at the doors. I may mention that these were selected men of the Austrian Army who according to Austrian conceptions were fully armed, while these SS men, forty at most, possibly carried pistols. Moreover, fifty steps away from the Chancellor's office were the barracks of the Guard Battalion, with a few hundred picked and well-armed men. If President Miklas and Chancellor Schuschnigg had not been concerned with things other than those which happened in the Chancellor's office and on the street outside it, they could easily have put an end to this situation by calling out the Guard Battalion.

Q. The prosecution has submitted an affidavit of the Gauleiter of Upper Austria, Eigruber, which states that even before you became Chancellor, you ordered the seizure of power in the various Austrian provinces.

A. That is completely incorrect, and the Gauleiter of Upper Austria also does hot claim to have talked to me. I believe he says that he received a telegram signed by me. I did not send a telegram and I did not give oral instructions to any Gauleiter or to anyone else for the seizure of power.

Later I heard from Globotschnik that he had carried out the seizure of power. He told me of that in these words:

"You know, I seized power for you and acted as the government; but I did not tell you anything about it, because you would have been against it."
Q. You say, you would have been against it. Was the population against it, too, against the marching in, which had meanwhile taken place, as described by the defendant Goering?

A. One cannot call it a marching in; it was a stormy, loudly cheered entry of German troops. There were no villages, even those with a strongly Catholic population, and no working districts which did not burst out in stormy jubilation. Both Dr. Schuschnigg and I were completely clear about this; once he had agreed with me, when I said that the forcible entry of German troops into Austria could not be stopped by anything but the ovations of the population.

DR. STEINBAUER: In this connection, I should like to refer to a document, No. 37, Page 86. This is a quotation from the book by Sumner Welles, The Time for Decision, describing a conversation between him and the Italian Foreign Minister, Count Ciano, and it says:

"Before the occupation of Austria, Dr. Schuschnigg came to Rome. He frankly admitted that in case of an occupation of Austria by Germany the majority of the Austrians would participate in occupation and that the Austrians to a man would join the Germans in a fight against Italy, if Italy should send troops to Austria to prevent the occupation."

Q. Now, witness, we come to the next day, to the 12th of March. Did you not at that time have a telephone conversation with Hitler?

A. Yes; I rang the Fuehrer up in connection with the entry of troops. I should like to repeat and explain that on the day before, at about seven o'clock, the negotiations suddenly came to a stop. Everybody waited. At half past seven State Secretary Skubl came with the news that the entry of German troops had actually begun, according to a report from one of the frontier posts; indeed Field Marshal Goering had repeatedly said that it would take place. Thinking that the entry was actually in progress, Schuschnigg then made his farewell speech. And

[Page 79]

with that the government of the Fatherland Front resigned from office. And I state expressly, up to this moment I did nothing which in any way demanded the taking over of control in Austria, or to express it more correctly, nothing which intentionally demanded the establishment of the National Socialists and the seizure of power. I only negotiated within the meaning of the treaty of the 12th of February. But from the moment when the system of the Fatherland Front came to an end, I considered it my responsibility to take action. First I made a radio speech, but not the one which had been prescribed for me in the morning. For I did not speak of a provisional government, but I referred to myself as Minister of the Interior. Only then did I call on the SA and the SS to act as auxiliary police, and, like Schuschnigg, I gave the order to offer no resistance to the entry of German troops. Subsequently I was appointed Chancellor, and my cabinet was approved. On the same night I drove Dr. Schuschnigg home in my car, because I was afraid something might happen to him at the hands of provocateurs; and I asked Dr. Keppler to ring up the Fuehrer and ask him not to give the order for the entry of troops. Reichsmarschall Goering spoke about that here.

In the morning I rang up again, then I met the Fuehrer at the airport in Linz and as the entry of the troops was in full progress, I asked him whether it would not be possible to have Austrian troops march into the German Reich, so that symbolically at least, equal rights would be maintained. The Fuehrer agreed, and Austrian troops actually marched into Munich, Berlin, and other cities in Austrian uniform.

Q. How, in your capacity as newly appointed Chancellor, did you envisage the further development of the situation?

A. Since the system of the Fatherland Front had broken down, I could no longer entertain my idea of a coalition government. It was clear to me that a National Socialist government with a very strong Catholic tendency would shape developments, but not in the form of an immediate Anschluss, rather, however, by carrying out appropriate elections and a plebiscite for an economic and possibly a military union with the German Reich.

DR. STEINBAUER: Mr. President, in this connection, I should like to submit an extremely important document, which shows in an entirely new way how the Anschluss came about. It is a sworn statement of the former State Secretary of the Interior, Dr. Stuckhardt, who is imprisoned here. I submit it to the Tribunal and should like to establish the following from this testimony -

THE PRESIDENT: Where is the document?

DR. STEINBAUER: It is not in the Document Book because I received it later. The translation of it has not yet been completed. I will read from it only briefly to establish the connection - I have submitted the original to the Tribunal -

THE PRESIDENT: You are giving it a number, are you?

DR. STEINBAUER: No. 92. The witness says in it that Hitler would probably have incorporated the presidency of Austria in his own person, that he, the witness, was told by Frick to draft a law to that effect, but that he was then suddenly ordered to Linz -

THE PRESIDENT: Wait just a minute, Dr. Steinbauer.

DR. STEINBAUER: In the Dutch matter also, there are a few affidavits which have not yet arrived, or which have only just come in. Perhaps it would be more expedient to submit these documents when they have been translated.

THE PRESIDENT: The prosecution will have the affidavit, I suppose?

DR. STEINBAUER: Yes, the prosecution already has the affidavits.

If I may continue, he says that, to his surprise, he was told by Hitler in Linz to draft a law, providing for the direct, total Anschluss, that is, providing for Austria's status as a province, a territory, of the German Reich, like Bavaria and the other German Laender. He worked out this law as he had been instructed to do, flew to Vienna and submitted it for approval to the ministers who were assembled there.

[Page 80]

I should like to establish in three documents the impression which the Anschluss made on the population. First, No. 30. This is the celebration at which the Viennese welcomed the Fuehrer on the biggest square in Vienna, the Heldenplatz. On that occasion, on the 15th of March, the witness welcomed the Fuehrer and said:
"The goal for which centuries of German history have battled, for which untold millions of the best Germans have bled and died, which has been the final aim of fierce struggle, the last consolation in the bitterest hours - has today been reached. Austria has come home."
Hitler now ordered that this Anschluss subsequently be sanctioned by a plebiscite of the Austrian population. Documents showing the results of this plebiscite have already been submitted to the Tribunal. I should just like to point out, in addition, the attitude of the Catholic bishops towards the plebiscite - that is Document No. 32, Page 73 - and the then attitude of the present President, Dr. Karl Renner - that is Document 33, Page 76. On the attitude of the other powers to the Anschluss question I shall quote from testimony of the witness Schmidt, who as the then Foreign Minister was a qualified man; but I should like to submit one document on it, namely Document 38, Page 89. That is the House of Commons speech of Chamberlain, who was Prime Minister at the time. In reply to a question he said:
"... nothing could have stopped this action by Germany unless we and others had been ready to use force to prevent it. Now Austria has been incorporated, it is a part of the Greater German Reich, with Seyss-Inquart as Chancellor."
BY DR. STEINBAUER: Did you remain Chancellor or did you receive another State function after the seizure of power?

A. On the 13th during the night, I reported on the Anschluss law to the Fuehrer and I took the opportunity of discussing three questions with him immediately. That was not at all easy for the Fuehrer was very moved and wept.

First, I asked that the Austrian Party might retain relative independence and be headed by an Austrian as the provincial leader; second, that Austria as a State might also enjoy a certain degree of independence. To the first request the Fuehrer said "possibly"; to the second he said "yes," Austria would be given her own governor, a Reichsstatthalter. I then rose and asked the Fuehrer that I may be allowed to return to private practice as a lawyer. As a third request, I asked that the unjust exchange rate of two schillings to one mark be altered to one fifty. The Fuehrer agreed to that also.

On the 15th of March, on the occasion of the celebration which has already been mentioned here, the Fuehrer told the radio announcer to announce: Reichsstatthalter Seyss-Inquart will now speak. That to me was actually the first news of my appointment as Reichsstatthalter. I held that post until the end of April 1939.

Q. Who really directed policy in Austria after the Anschluss?

A. Burckel was sent to Austria immediately with the task of reorganising the Party and preparing the plebiscite. The interference of Burckel and his collaborators and various odd plans for Austria caused me, on the 8th of April, in Buerckel's presence, to call the Fuehrer's attention to this sort of co-ordination and in my hearing the Fuehrer said to Burckel:

"Burckel, you must not do that, otherwise the enthusiasm of the Austrian; for the Anschluss will change to irritation with the Reich."
Nevertheless, a few weeks later Burckel was made Reich Commissioner for the Reunion. He controlled both the Party and politics and propaganda, including Church policy, and he had the right to give me instructions in State matters.

Q. You know that the prosecution makes charges against you in connection with the policy in Austria shortly after the Anschluss. The first charge is with regard to the Jewish question, namely, that you participated in this grievous treatment of the Jewish population, and that you were responsible for it.

What can you say to that?

[Page 81]

A. I cannot at all deny it; for certainly, as chief of the civil administration I issued orders along that line, though Burckel claimed that the Jewish question as such was part of his field; and in a document which has been submitted here, he called the Jewish question a matter arising as a consequence of the Anschluss.

DR. STEINBAUER: May I, in this connection, refer to two documents. One is Document No. 64, a decree on Page 154. It is the decree of the Fuehrer on the appointment of Burckel as Reich Commissioner for the Reunion of Austria with the Reich. I emphasize here especially Article 4, which gives Burckel the detailed right to issue orders to the witness. The second document is No. 67, Page 163; the Tribunal already has it, it is Document PS-2237. Based on this long document, I only want to demonstrate that the entire execution of the Jewish affair, particularly in November 1938, was a matter with which the defendant had nothing to do.

The defendant's own attitude I should like to show by submitting an affidavit which came to me unsolicited from Australia. This is Document 70, Page 175. I am fully aware of the Tribunal's view that it is not very weighty evidence, that some defendants have submitted letters from Jews; "One swallow does not make a summer," as the proverb says. The reason for my submitting this document is Paragraph 12 on Page 4, in which the witness, Dr. Walter Stricker, who comes from a much respected Jewish family in Linz, says the following:

"After my departure from Austria, I heard from other families, to which Dr. Seyss-Inquart gave similar help to Jews, that in May 1938, when the persecutions of the Jews became particularly severe, he protested to Gauleiter Burckel."
It is therefore clear that the defendant did not participate in but rejected this radical policy.


Q. Witness, you know from the trial brief that you are charged with double dealing. What was the attitude of the Party toward you after the Anschluss?

A. I know that this charge is made against me and has been made against me before. Radical circles of the Party made the same accusation against me, and I will admit openly that I can understand why it was made. I attempted to bring together two groups which, as history has shown, simply could not be brought together, and since this could not be anticipated at the time, the radical elements of both groups had clearly to come to the conclusion that the man who attempted it was not honest in his attempt. But more important is something else. The final solution of the Austrian question was not my solution, but the solution of the radical elements in the Party. I myself, however, on the 11th of March at eight in the evening, participated in that solution. As a result, it is easy for people to say that I participated in it beforehand and prepared for it; but that is not true. Only at eight in the evening, after Schuschnigg and the Fatherland Government had resigned, did I, too, adopt this point of view, because another one was then realistically impossible. For there was no political power in Austria other than that of the National Socialists; the alternative was civil war.

I, myself, welcomed the Anschluss Law, and my attitude also determined that of my colleagues. On the 13th of March, of course, I welcomed the opportune moment. At most, there might have been some sort of hesitation as to whether the Anschluss should actually then be carried through. I considered that, but as I saw it, there was no need for misgivings on the foreign political plan, because, according to all reports, everything would develop satisfactorily. Domestically, there had never been so much enthusiasm in Austria. I felt that no Austrian statesman, no man in a position of responsibility, ever had the whole population behind him so much as I. But the Anschluss Law was valuable and useful, in so far as in any case the Reich would in reality have had the authority, and thus it was certainly well that outwardly too it had full responsibility.

[Page 82]

Q. The defendant Kaltenbrunner told me that he and you were at this time very closely shadowed by Heydrich. Is that correct?

A. Heydrich in particular was among those who distrusted us, and "us" includes Kaltenbrunner. At the end of 1937, Heydrich wrote a secret report which I later received. In this report he said that the solution of the Austrian question in favour of the Party was inescapable, that the policy of Staatsrat Seyss-Inquart might, however, prove to be the only obstacle, for he would be in a position to produce something like Austrian National Socialism. After the Anschluss a so-called escort was attached to me with the sole task of sending to Heydrich constant reports on what I was doing. I had as little objection to this as to the fact that as Austrian Minister of Security my telephone conversations were tapped.

Q. After you had allegedly played the main role in this affair, what reward did you receive for your activity? Were you given an estate, or a gratuity of several hundred thousand marks? Did you ever receive anything like that?

A. No, and there was no question of anything like that. My reward was the knowledge of having worked for the formation of the Greater Germany.

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