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 4 of 9)

[Page 117]

BY DR. LATERNSER (Counsel for the General Staff and the OKW):

Q. Witness, I wanted to put one question to you regarding the floodings. What did you, your offices, or the Commander in Chief "West" undertake in order to prevent the pumps from being damaged and so avoid a great flooding of Holland?

[Artur Seyss-Inquart] A. I do not quite understand the question. There were two dangers. One was that of blowing up, and the pumping stations would not have been of any use then; anyway it was not done as is known, but was prevented. The second danger was the lack of coal and the lack of oil. We tried, as long as possible, to supply the pumping stations with coal. This coal was listed as a top priority. It was thus placed in the same category as every other Wehrmacht requirement. When we received less and less coal, we let certain very low-lying reclaimed areas run full, in order that others should not be flooded. There was completely frictionless co-operation with the Dutch offices and a deputy of the Dutch Government in England with whom I spoke later, to whom I sent my expert, said that from the technical point of view our flooding measures were not objectionable.

Q. Now, a second point. In answer to a question from your attorney, you said that you intervened against the demolition work in the harbour of Rotterdam. With whom did you intervene?

A. With General Christiansen, who was then Commander-in-Chief and Wehrmacht Commander, who took my side immediately.

Q. Then you found him in agreement at once? Did all agree to your intervention with this military office?

A. Yes.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.

BY DR. FLAECHSNER (counsel for the defendant Speer):

Q. Witness, you mentioned yesterday the-blocked industries. (Sperrbetriebe). Can you tell me when these industries were established in Holland and how they aimed to affect the labour employment programme, that is, the transport of workers from Holland to Germany?

A. I believe the blocked industries were established during 1943, if I remember correctly, in the second half of 1943. The workers in these industries were protected. Thus, the recruiting and transporting of Dutch workers to the Reich was partly slowed down, and partly stopped altogether.

Q. When the blocked industries began to function and work was taken up, were raw materials brought from Germany to Holland, coal in particular, so that the orders could be filled.

A. I believe all raw materials, with the exception of coal. Coal was brought in from Limberg.

Q. You mentioned yesterday the Organisation Todt. Do you know to what extent this Organization Todt in Holland used Dutch construction firms for construction work there on the Atlantic Wall, and to what extent this construction was carried out by these firms.

A. I believe that the largest amount of construction in Holland, Northern France and Belgium was done by native construction firms. This is definitely true of Holland; and Dutch construction firms also carried out work in Belgium and in Northern France. These firms brought their workers along with them.

Therefore, about 35,000 to 40,000 Dutch workers who were not drafted by compulsion were working in Belgium and Northern France in the middle of 1942.

Q. Can you tell us what results this procedure had generally on the recruitment of native labour?

A. The native workers naturally preferred to go into the blocked industries or the firms of the Organization Todt, for there they were at least more certain of not being transported to the Reich. And, in addition, while they were with the Organization Todt they received special food rations.

[Page 118]

Q. Witness, when in August or September, 1944, because of enemy bombings on the distribution system, production in Holland was hampered, or even stopped, what measures were taken in order to protect the workers of the blocked industries?

A. Three courses were open to us: First of all, to bring them into the Reich; secondly, to dismiss them and give them unemployment benefit; or, thirdly, to retain them and to pay them their wages even though they did little or no work.

I believe it was because of a decree issued by Reich Minister Speer that the third course was chosen. The workers in those industries received their pay, and I took care that the factory owners received a certain compensation for the wages which they paid those workers.

Q. Witness, you have already mentioned a discussion which you had on 1st April, 1945, with co-defendant Speer. Can you tell us what the purpose of this discussion was?

A. I have already explained that I wanted to talk with Minister Speer about the "submerged earth" decree. But Minister Speer also had a purpose in mind. He wanted us to transport potatoes from North Holland into the Ruhr region and in exchange to bring coal from the Ruhr area into the Netherlands. In view of the potato supply in North Holland this could readily have been done, but we did not have the means of transportation at our command to carry out this plan.

Q. Did Speer tell you about precautionary measures for the securing of food supplies during the period after the occupation?

A. Minister Speer told me that behind the Ruhr area he had stored transports of food and that he had taken over the means of transportation from the armament industry, so that if the Ruhr area were invaded there would be food available for this area.

DR. FLAECHSNER: Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Does any counsel for the prosecution wish to cross-examine? I am sorry, Dr. Kubuschok, have you something to say?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: (Counsel for the defendant von Papen):

The defendant Kaltenbrunner has asked me, as the defence counsel sitting nearest him, to state that he had discussed with his attorney a number of questions which he would like to put to Seyss-Inquart. I have just tried to get into touch with Dr. Kauffmann, Kaltenbrunner's defence counsel; at present and probably all this afternoon it will not be possible for us to do this. The defendant Kaltenbrunner asks for permission to have these questions asked of Seyss-Inquart tomorrow.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will expect some explanation from Dr. Kauffmann as to why he is not here to cross-examine. He must have known that the time was about to arrive for him to cross-examine. But the Tribunal will assent to the suggestion that those questions may be put at a later date, tomorrow, if possible.

Now, do counsel for the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Defendant, you have studied law, and you have told us that you had even obtained the degree of Doctor of Law at the University of Vienna in 1917?

A. Yes.

Q. You were a lawyer from 1929 to 12th February, 1938, at which date you became Minister for the Interior?

A. From 1927.

Q. Very well. Now, was not your clientele mainly composed of Jews?

A. No, not mainly, but there were some among them.

[Page 119]

Q. And yet you told us yesterday that you had been an anti-Semite ever since the First World War.

A. My clients knew that. It was widely known.

Q. Yes. But it did not, at the same time, cause you to despise Jewish money.

A. It did not prevent the Jews from coming to me.

Q. Were you a Catholic?

A. What do you mean by that?

Q. I am asking yon whether you were a Catholic.

A. I am a member; that is, I belong to the Catholic Church.

Q. Were you not also a member of a Catholic fraternity when you were a student?

A. I never belonged to any student organisation, Catholic or national.

Q. Very well. You were appointed Reich Commissioner for Holland by a decree of Hitler dated 18th May, 1940; is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. Your orders, on reaching the Netherlands - as you told us yesterday - were: to maintain the independence of the Netherlands, and to establish economic relations between that country and Germany. You added that these orders were never afterwards modified by the Fuehrer; is that true?

A. I did not quite understand one word, the reference to economic relations.

Q. I said that you arrived in the Netherlands with the following orders: one, to maintain the independence of the Netherlands and, two, to establish economic relations between that country and Germany. Is that so?

A. I would not put it that way exactly, but I was to try and bring about as close an economic relationship between Holland and Germany as possible. The economic stipulations, too, varied in the long run and, apart from war necessities, were not intended to be dictatorial.

Q. But you did say that you had not come with the intention of giving a definite political ideology to the people of the Netherlands. Is that correct?

A. Well, I would not put it that way. It was my intention to further National Socialist politics wherever possible in Holland, not to decree it, but to further it as much as possible.

Q. Was it also your intention not to introduce but to impose it?

A. No, for one cannot force a political ideology on any one.

Q. Very well. I am going to have Document 197-PS, handed to you. This document has already been submitted both by the prosecution, as Exhibit USA 708, and, yesterday, by the defence.

Will you kindly turn to Pages 7 and 8 of the German text? It is Page 7 of the French text, at the paragraph "Measures." This document, as you will note, is a report which you yourself made.

A. Yes.

Q. You write:

"In view of this state of affairs it was necessary first of all to eliminate Winkelmann's influence, which was done in the following manner. The Secretaries General were expressly informed that from now on they would receive orders only from the Reich Commissioner; this they expressly agreed to. The offices of Secretaries General were retained and the same persons kept in office, since in the event of their resignation it would probably be impossible to find Dutch people who would be willing to take over the administration. It seemed necessary, from a political point of view, that a certain number of measures, above all economic measures, and, indirectly, police measures as well, signed by the Dutch Secretaries General be made known to the Dutch nation."
In short, according to this document, it appears that if you decided to retain the Secretaries General, it was because you needed them for imposing certain measures on the Dutch people? Is that correct?

[Page 120]

A. Yes, but what has that to do with politics? This is a matter of administration.

Q. As far as I know, this refers to political as well as to economic questions.

A. No, in the German text, it says "police questions." Economic and police questions, not political; there is a difference.

Q. In that case, I will re-read the sentence, bearing your answer in mind.

"But it seemed necessary, from a political point of view ...."
Now is that "political" or "police" which we see?

A. Just a moment, please. Yes, that is correct. But that does not mean politics in the sense of party politics, but political in respect to the treatment of the Dutch people as such. Whether they thereby became National Socialists or not was quite immaterial to me.

Q. Was it in the interests of Dutch or of German policy?

A. Yes, I admit without any hesitation at all, that I followed a German policy. That was part of my task.

Q. But the German policy of that day was surely the policy of the National Socialist Party?

A. The German policy was, at that time, the policy of a fight for existence on the part of the German people, and this struggle was led by the National Socialist party. But the basic concern was not the carrying out of the twenty-five points of the Party policy, but rather the carrying through of our fight for existence and that is what this means.

Q. In your administration, in the Netherlands, you were helped by four Commissioners General: Wimmer: Administration and justice; Fischbock: Finance and Economy, Rauter: Public Security; and Schmidt: Special Questions.

The Commissioner General for Public Security, Rauter, was directly subordinate to you, was he not?

A. The four Commissioners General were immediately subordinate to me; Rauter, in so far as he, as Commissioner General for Security, headed the Dutch police, and not in so far as he was chief of the German police.

Q. You had decided to rule and administer the Netherlands alone; to accomplish this you dissolved the two assemblies which then existed, and by the same decree, you restricted the powers of the State Council to the juridical field.

A. I do not remember this decree, but it may very well have been that way.

Q. You also seized control over the finances, and over the Treasury of the Netherlands. For this purpose you issued a decree on 24th August, 1940, authorising you to appoint the President of the Bank of Holland.

A. I do not recall the date exactly, but I did issue such a decree.

Q. When you arrived in the Netherlands, Mynheer Trip was President of the Netherlands Bank and Secretary General for the Treasury?

A. Yes.

Q. For what reason did you have him replaced?

A. He was replaced because he objected to the lifting of the existing foreign currency and clearing limitations. I put it to him that he could resign if he did not want to carry out my measures.

Q. And by whom did you replace him?

A. By Mynheer Rost van Tonningen.

Q. You had known Mynheer Rost van Tonningen for a very long time?

A. I do not believe I knew him - only by name at the most. He was clearly capable, having held a similar post for Austria - in connection with the League of Nations - in Vienna.

Q. How long had you known him by name?

A. Most probably since the time when he assumed his office in Vienna. I do not know the date.

Q. You were not associated with him when he was in Vienna?

A. I do not think I ever saw him.

[Page 121]

Q. Was Mynheer Rost van Tonnigen not a member of the Dutch National Socialist Party?

A. Yes.

Q. Was that the reason why you appointed him?

A. That was one of the reasons. Not so much the fact that he was a member but rather that he represented our views.

Q. Will you kindly look again at the document which I have just shown to you, 997-PS, Page 5 of the German text, and Page 5 of the French text. This is what you say about Mynheer Rost van Tonningen:

"Rost van Tonningen: meets perfectly all the ideological requirements, is in line with the Germanic idea and National Socialism, speaks effectively and animatedly, has a strong desire to be active, does not find his strength in himself but seeks the support and backing of other people."
As far as I can see, we do not find in what you write here about Rost van Tonningen that he was particularly competent in financial matters.

A. In reference to the other gentlemen as well, I never described their technical qualifications, but merely their political attitude. I did not say that Mussert was really a well-known engineer in the Netherlands and so forth. I described merely their political attitude.

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