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-Second Day: Tuesday, 11th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 9)

[Page 104]

MR. DODD: Mr. President, I would like to clear up the matter that I raised yesterday with respect to the notes of the conference between this defendant and Hitler. I had the investigation made and I think these are the facts. Apparently, Colonel Williams of our Staff, who interrogated him late in October, was handed these notes by the defendant, and somehow or other they never reached our files and have been misplaced. So the defendant was quite right in saying that he turned them over, but I think in error in saying that he turned them over to me.




Q. Yesterday we had reached one of the most important points in the Indictment, the question of the evacuation of Jews from the Netherlands. Witness, what did you do when you learned of this removal of the Jews from the Netherlands? Did you write any letters?

A. Yesterday I stated that I had people sent from the Netherlands to the Auschwitz camp in order to ascertain whether there was accommodation and, if so, what kind. I have given you the result of this inquiry. I asked the Security Police, that is, Heydrich, whether it would not be possible for the evacuated Jews to keep up correspondence with the Netherlands. This concession was made by me. For about three-quarters of a year or a year correspondence was maintained; not only short postcards but long letters were permitted. I do not know how the camp administration did this. But the letters were identified as authentic by the addressees. When the number of letters dropped off later - it never stopped completely - the Security Police told me that the Jews in Auschwitz now had fewer acquaintances in the Netherlands, meaning other Jews, because most of them were already in Auschwitz.

Q. Witness, did you turn to Bormann, too?

A. Yesterday I stated that, after learning of Heydrich's order, I requested Bormann to inquire of the Fuehrer whether Heydrich actually had such unlimited power. Bormann confirmed this. I admit frankly that I had misgivings about the evacuation.

Q. Did you do anything to get rid of these misgivings?

A. My misgivings - which increased in the course of the war - were lest the severity of the war would especially burden the Jews. If there was too little food in the Reich, the Jewish camps in particular would receive little, and probably the Jews would be treated severely and heavy punishment be imposed upon them for comparatively slight reasons. Of course, I also thought of the unavoidable tearing apart of families, to a certain extent, at least, in the case of conscription for labour. That was the reason why we resisted for three or four months.

The decisive argument, however, was the declaration of the competent authority, the Security Police, that in case of a landing attempt the Jews should not be in the immediate theatre of operations.

I ask the Tribunal to consider that the most important and most decisive motive for me was always the fact that the German people were engaged in a life and

[Page 105]

death struggle. Today, looking at it from another perspective the picture looks different. At that time, we might have told ourselves that the Jews would be kept together in some camp, even if under severe conditions, and that after the end of the war they would find a settlement somewhere. But these considerations had to be cast aside because their presence in the battle area might have weakened the German power of resistance.

In the course of 1943, I spoke with Hitler and called his attention to this problem in the Netherlands. In his own convincing way he assured me and at the same time admitted that he was thinking of a permanent evacuation of the Jews, if possible, from all of Europe with which Germany wanted to maintain friendly relations. He wanted to have the Jews settled on the eastern border of the German sphere of interest in so far as they were not able to emigrate to other parts of the world.

At the beginning of 1944, I spoke with Himmler, whom I happened to meet in Southern Bavaria. I asked him about the Jews in the Netherlands. The fact that our eastern front was being withdrawn meant that the camps would be in the battle area in the course of time, or at least in the rear area. I was afraid that the lot of the Jews would become even more serious then. Himmler said something to the following effect: "Do not worry; they are my best workers." I could not imagine that on the one hand the Jews capable of doing so were working if on the other hand their relatives were being destroyed. I believed that in that case one could expect nothing else than that every Jew would attack a German and strangle him.

Q. Witness, when you learned of these evacuations did you in your capacity as Reich Commissioner help to carry out these evacuations through your administration?

A. Since the evacuation was a fact, I considered it proper to concern myself with it to the extent possible for me as Reich Commissioner. I gave my deputy in Amsterdam, Dr. Bohmke, powers to carry out the evacuation, to exercise control and to take steps if there were excesses due to other than unavoidable difficulties, or to report them to me. Dr. Bohmke was in constant opposition to the so-called Central Office for Jewish Emigration. We had to intervene again and again, but I am convinced that we did not put an end to all hardships.

The Jews were assembled in the Westerborg camp. When the first transports left, I received a report that the trains were overcrowded. I vigorously remonstrated with the Commander of the Security Police and asked him to see that the transport was carried out in an orderly manner. The Netherlands Report states that at the beginning the transports were made under bearable conditions; later, conditions generally became worse. But that such excessive overcrowding of trains occurred, as indicated in the report, did not come to my knowledge. It is true that the Security Police made it very difficult to have the execution of these measures controlled. At the suggestion of some Dutch secretaries general, especially Secretaries General von Damm and Frohlich, I managed to arrange exemptions for a number of Jews, but only in individual cases. I believe that the number of exemptions was greater than indicated in the Netherlands Report, at least according to my own reports.

These Jews were, at the last, in the Westerborg Camp. When the invasion began, Himmler wanted to remove them. Upon my objections, this was not done. But after the battle of Arnheim, he removed them, as he said, to Theresienstadt, and I hope that they remained alive there.

Q. Did you also release property on this occasion?

A. Those Jews who were exempted retained control of their property.

DR. STEINBAUER: In closing this chapter I should like once more to call the attention of the Tribunal to Document 1726-PS, Exhibit USA 195, in the document book of the prosecution. This document sums up the whole Jewish problem in the Netherlands, and on Page 6 it gives all the agencies which dealt with that problem. Under (3) you will find the General Commissioner for

[Page 106]

Security, the Higher SS and Police Leader H. Rauter, General of Police. Under (4) is the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, with its Chief, Aus der Funte, under the General Commissioner. The report says about this:-
"Ostensibly an organisation for Jewish emigration; in reality, an organisation to rob the Jews of their rights, to segregate them, or to deport them."
This was the most important office, which was directly under the Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler, and not the defendant.

THE WITNESS: I should like to point out that Rauter functioned as Higher SS and Police Leader in this case, and not as General Commissioner for Security, for the measures were carried out by the German police, and not by the Netherlands police.

DR. STEINBAUER: The witness in a speech also spoke about his views on the Jewish problem at one time. The prosecution has submitted a part of this speech.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, you are putting Document 1726-PS to the witness, which contains an historical statement, apparently. Does the witness agree that the historical statement is accurate?

Do you, defendant, agree that his historical statement is accurate?

THE WITNESS: May I see the document?

(A document was handed to the witness.)

DR. STEINBAUER: It Is Appendix 2.

THE PRESIDENT: You see, Dr. Steinbauer, you put forward the document and it is for you to ascertain from the witness whether he agrees with the document or whether he challenges it.

THE WITNESS: The presentation of facts is accurate, except for the corrections which I made with reference to the General Commissioner for Security.

THE PRESIDENT: There are certain passages in the document which your attention ought to be drawn to: February, 1941, for instance. You have the document before you, Dr. Steinbauer?


THE PRESIDENT: Will you look at the last entry under the heading, February, 1941? Do you see that?


THE PRESIDENT: You have to put that to the witness. He said that the facts are accurate.


Q. Witness, you will find under "February, 1941," a statement - I have only the English here - saying that Jews were arrested and then sent to Buchenwald and Mauthausen.

A. I mentioned this case yesterday. That was a measure by direct order of Himmler, which only came to my knowledge after it had been carried out, and against which I protested. To my knowledge, mass deportations to Mauthausen did not occur again after that.

THE PRESIDENT: Then what I understand the defendant to say is that that document is accurate under the numbers 3 and 4, on the last page. Is that right?

THE WITNESS: In my testimony yesterday I confirmed the orders contained in this document, but not all the details of the actual events.


Q. The presentation on Page 6, of the individual agencies is correct?

A. The actual presentation too is basically correct. Yesterday I spoke also of the burning of synagogues in the Hague and Amsterdam.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Dr. Steinbauer. Go on.

[Page 107]

DR. STEINBAUER: Now I should like to refer to Document 79, Page 203, Exhibit USA 708. That is a speech which Seyss-Inquart made on the Jewish question. The prosecution submitted this document. Since it needs a little explaining I shall begin by reading the last sentences:
"The only thing we can talk about is the creation of a tolerable transitional stage by maintaining our stand that the Jews are enemies and thus applying every precaution customarily observed against enemies. As regards the time when Germany will not be here as an occupying force to maintain order in public life, the Dutch people will have to decide for themselves whether they want to endanger the comradely union with the German people for the sake of the Jews."

Q. Witness, I should like to ask you about this speech. Were you thinking of the complete elimination and destruction of the Jews?

A. I never thought of that at all, and in this speech I was not even thinking of evacuation. At that time I held the point of view that the Jews should be confined in the Netherlands, as were enemy aliens, for the reasons which are given in the preceding part of this speech, which the American Prosecution has submitted. The idea still prevailed of treating them as enemy aliens, even though Englishmen, for example, were also transported to the Reich.

I have already pointed out that that viewpoint later changed to conform to the measures against Jews which were customary in the Reich.

Q. We now come to -

THE PRESIDENT: What is the date of the speech?

THE WITNESS: This speech is of March 1941. Only once again did I express my point of view, and that was on 20th April, 1943, when I made the - I admit - somewhat fantastic suggestion that all belligerent powers should pool one per cent. of their war costs in order to solve the Jewish problem from the economic standpoint. I was thus of the opinion that the Jews still existed; furthermore, I never called the Jews inferior.


Q. I believe I can conclude this topic and go on to another charge, which is made against you - violations of International Law, the subject of plundering.

Who confiscated raw materials and machinery in the Netherlands?

A. The initiative for this, and the extent to which it was to be done, originated with the Reich offices. The operations were carried out either by my offices, by the Wehrmacht, by the armament inspection offices or even by the police and the Waffen SS; but from the middle of 1944 on they were carried out in the main by the office of the armament minister, which was also my office, and by the field economic commands of the High Command of the army. At that time control was extremely difficult.

Q. What was your own attitude towards this problem?

A. I was of the opinion that the provisions of the Hague Convention for Land Warfare applying to this were obsolete and could not be applied to a modern war, because the labour potential of the civilian population is at least as important as the war potential of the soldiers at the front. How much could be demanded seemed, to me, to depend on the conditions reigning in one's own country. These doubtlessly, varied in each country. I therefore endeavoured to obtain a statement from Reichsmarschall Goering to the effect that the Dutch were to live under the same conditions as the German people. This promise, to be sure, was not kept completely in the ensuing period.

Q. How were the confiscations carried out? By what authorities?

A. Until 1943, the Dutch offices carried out our assignments. The technical experts had to show me factual justification for confiscations, for I did not understand anything about such matters. I took steps when complaints reached me.

[Page 108]

For example, I prevented the removal of margarine works in Dortrecht and of a new electrical works in Leuwarden.

Reich Minister Speer issued an important order that only the machines from factories which delivered more than one-half of their total production to the Reich, for example, Phillips, of Eindhoven, could be moved to the Reich.

Q. The French Prosecution charges that you favoured the black market. What do you have to say about this?

A. We fought the black market from the beginning. It was always a so-called "grey market" with us. I had prohibited the purchase of food from the current production and likewise of other important consumer articles on the black market. Every case was investigated by the competent offices in conjunction with the Dutch offices. If it was a business which had been forbidden by me, the goods were confiscated and turned over to the Dutch offices. These measures were 100 per cent. for the benefit of the Dutch, for what the German Reich wanted officially it got anyhow. I see from the document that the turn-over in the Netherlands was the lowest anywhere. The figures are deceptive, though, since prices on the black market were several times higher than those on the normal market; the actual amount of goods is thus much lower.

Q. In Document 1321-PS the charge is made that you turned medical instruments over to the SS.

A. That is true. Please judge that in connection with my general statements. The SS needed microscopes for its hospitals at the front, for all its hospitals which had been destroyed by bombings. In the laboratories of the University at Utrecht there were microscopes which were not being used. I had the case investigated by my office, and what could be spared was confiscated. In this connection I refer to a case which was much more important for the Dutch. The Reich wanted to pull down the Kammerling Institute at Leyden, one of the most famous low-temperature research institutes in the world. I believe only the Soviets and the Americans have one as well, especially suitable for atomic research. I prevented the pulling down of this institute, which would have meant an irreparable loss for the Netherlands. Experiments which seemed necessary were carried out by Professor Heissenberger himself in Leyden.

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