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-Third Day: Wednesday, 12th June, 1946
(Part 5 of 12)

[MR. DODD continues his cross examination of Artur Seyss-Inquart]

[Page 159]

Q. And you say:
"The conversations with Herr Keppler today were carried on in an atmosphere of complete calm, and they were also extremely revealing. I do not believe that things are so ripe for discussion as they appear to be from the national side and in the Reich."
Then you go on:
"I should be pleasantly surprised if an initial solution were to be found before the end of this year."
What you were really talking about was the handing over of Austria to the Nazis. Is that not what you had in mind when you wrote this letter? Is that not the "initial solution"?

A. No. First of all, it does not say that my conversations with Keppler were secret, but only that they were informative.

Q. It says "in complete calm." I do not know whether that is secret. I do not know what that means.

A. It means that we talked very realistically. The Reich was very insistent. We might have discussed the possibility of applying some diplomatic pressure, but the aim was to strengthen the National Socialists in Austria, with the intention, however, of achieving the ultimate goal of the Anschluss.

The contents of the Hoszbach document were not mentioned at all, and I am convinced that Keppler had no knowledge of them. Keppler did not have a very strong position with the Fuehrer at all.

Q. Yes. You recall you wrote Keppler a letter a little later, in January of 1938. Do you remember that?

A. Yes.

Q. You wanted to give up your mandate or your trust or your responsibility or whatever the proper expression is.

A. Yes.

Q. What kind of mandate did you have from Keppler or from Goering to which Keppler refers in his letter?

[Page 160]

A. I wanted to give up the Austrian State Councillorship, as well as the task of investigating the conditions necessary for obtaining the co-operation of the national opposition. I did not receive any mandate at all from Keppler, and I could hardly have accepted one.

Q. You know the document that is in evidence, 3397-PS. It is Exhibit USA 702. And Keppler says that he informed Goering of the situation and that Goering told him to keep you at your task, or that is the sense of it.

Now, my question is: Why should Goering be interested in this mandate if it only had to do with your position as State Councillor in Austria? He was not an official of the Austrian Government, and you were.

A. In this case may I have the document?

Q. Yes, indeed. You will also find reference in here to Dr. Jury, the very man concerning whom we talked a few minutes back, and to whom you wrote that letter on 11th November.

A. Which passage do you mean, Mr. Prosecutor?

Q. I am sorry; I did not understand that. Which what?

A. Which passage do you mean in this letter?

Q. Well, my question about it is this: I am wondering why Keppler would go to Goering with your desire to withdraw from whatever position it was that you occupied with respect to the Nazis, or, as you put it, with respect to your place as State Councillor. What did Goering have to do with that?

A. Yesterday I stated that Dr. Schuschnigg had given me the task of investigating conditions for co-operating with the national opposition. I always told Schuschnigg that the Austrian National Socialists would not accept any offers without Hitler's agreement. With the knowledge of Zernatto and Dr. Schuschnigg I visited Goering and Hess. Both the latter knew that I not only had contact with the Austrian National Socialists, but also with important people in the Reich, through Keppler, and they were interested. Naturally if I suddenly said: "I am through, I am not going on with it," then I considered it my duty to inform these gentlemen in the Reich that they could no longer count on my co-operation. That, I believe, is a matter of course. One could not do otherwise.

Q. Yes, and the letter that you wrote to Jury on 11th November was after your meeting with Hess and Goering too, was it not? Of course it was, you saw Hess and Goering in July 1937.

A. Yes, the Reichsmarschall has testified to that already.

Q. Well, all right. Now I will ask you a little bit about this meeting with von Papen in Garmisch. As I understood you, that just happened casually and was not planned. You talked about the possibility of the place of the Minister of Security being filled by a member of the Nazi Party. What I want to know is, did you also talk about the possible trip of Schuschnigg to Berchtesgaden, which was made not long after this meeting? Was it mentioned?

A. No, we did not discuss the question as to whether a meeting between Dr. Schuschnigg and Hitler should take place, and whether this should be accomplished through diplomatic channels and so forth, that was not discussed by us.

Q. Was it not discussed at all, that is all I want to know? Was there not any discussion about it?

A. A meeting between these two State leaders was not discussed.

Q. When did you learn for the first time about the proposed meeting between Schuschnigg and Hitler, and from whom?

A. I think two days - On or about 10th February, I received information from Rainer or Globocnik telling me that this meeting was expected to take place. At about the same time Zernatto asked me to come to Vienna, but he still did not tell me what it was about.

Q. Actually, is it not a fact that you prepared notes for Hitler which were the basis of his discussions with Schuschnigg in Berchtesgaden?

A. I did not quite hear. What was it that I was supposed to have prepared?

[Page 161]

Q. My question is, is it not a fact that you prepared notes, or, if you prefer to call it so, a memorandum for Hitler which he used as the basis of his discussions with Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden?

A. I made a written proposal for clearing up the matter, and I gave it to Zernatto as well as to Dr. Rainer. It is perfectly possible that Rainer passed it on to the Reich.

Q. You know very well, do you not, that Muhlmann was sent up there that night by you and your associates, and he got to Berchtesgaden ahead of Schuschnigg and von Papen with that memorandum, is that not a fact?

A. Dr. Muhlmann is -

Q. Yes, the same gentleman you referred to as having been in Holland with you, and in Berchtesgaden.

A. Dr. Muhlmann went to Berchtesgaden at that time and was informed about my last conversation with Dr. Schuschnigg. He will probably have noted that down.

Q. Do you not know that he did, and Schuschnigg did not know, and that the important thing is what Muhlmann was doing up there ahead of him with the notes or the conditions that you had presented to Schuschnigg the night before. Schuschnigg did not know that, did he, when he went there like a lamb to Berchtesgaden?

A. I am convinced Schuschnigg did not know that Muhlmann was in Berchtesgaden and had quite probably informed Keppler, who in turn had informed the Fuehrer Schuschnigg certainly did not know that. When I talked to Dr. Schuschnigg, I did not know Muhlmann would go.

Q. When did you find out that Muhlmann would go?

A. After the discussion with Dr. Schuschnigg I returned to my office and there I found Dr. Rainer and perhaps someone else, and I told Dr. Rainer about our conversation. Possibly Muhlmann was present, and then we - I say we, because I do not want to exclude myself from this - we decided to inform Keppler * of the nature of our conversation. [N.B. Interpreter transmitted "Keppler" to Mr. Dodd as "Hitler."] In the meantime, Dr. Schuschnigg had probably gone to the station. I really did not see any reason for informing him directly at this time.

Q. And so you did want to inform Hitler then - did I hear you correctly - of the nature of your conversation with your Chancellor Schuschnigg that night?

A. At that time I had no opportunity or reason to inform Dr. Schuschnigg of the fact that Muhlmann was going there.

Q. I know you may not have seen any reason, but what I am trying to make clear is that you did want to let Hitler know that you had had this conversation with Schuschnigg, and what you had said to Schuschnigg.

A. Yes.

Q. Why in the world were you notifying the head of another State about your conversation with the head of your own State, to which you owed allegiance?

A. I do not see that this is a breach of faith. It was giving information to heads of two parties with whom I was negotiating an agreement.

Q. Do you say that it was correct to negotiate between your country and Germany at that time without notifying your own Chancellor? Schuschnigg did not know that you had sent that note on to Hitler, did he? Now be frank about it?

A. Yes, it is certain that Dr. Schuschnigg did not know this. But Dr. Schuschnigg did know very well that I was in constant contact with the Reich through Keppler, and that the outcome of our conversations was always passed on to the Reich, for the Reich also had to express an opinion. I always said there could be no internal political understanding unless Hitler agreed with it. That was a fact, and nothing could be done about it; whether it was morally right or

[Page 162]

not, that was the position. Otherwise there could have been no attempt at carrying through a policy of understanding.

Q. That was not the only tune that you did not play completely fairly with Schuschnigg, was it? Do you remember when you gave him your word of honour that you would not make known his plans to hold a plebiscite? Remember when he first told you and asked you on your word of honour to keep quiet and you told him that you would?

A. Yes.

Q. You went right from that meeting to the Regina Hotel, and do you remember what your associates asked you and what answers you made?

A. Mr. Prosecutor, I cannot help you; I think you are confusing two events. At that time I did not go to the Regina Hotel. It was on the evening of 10th March, and it was an entirely different matter. First of all, it was wrong for Dr. Schuschnigg to ask me for my word of honour, for he himself employed me as liaison man in connection with the agreement of 12th February. Had I known in advance what he wanted of me, I would have turned it down, for on the basis of the agreement of 12th February it was my duty to inform the Reich of this. But I kept my word. On the same evening Jury came to me. He had heard about the plebiscite from other sources, and I did not mention a single word to Jury of my knowing about it. I did not take part in these negotiations until nearly midday. During the forenoon of the following day, Rainer came. Rainer says that it was in the forenoon, but it was really towards noon.

Q. Well, I will accept the correction as to the time, but I do not think it is very important. The point is -

A. It is very important in my opinion.

Q. Very well, if you think it is, we will settle the matter. I want you to read what Rainer says about your keeping your word.

"Seyss-Inquart explained that he had known about this for only a few hours, but that he could not talk about it because he had given his word to keep silent on this subject. However, during the conversation he made us understand that the secret information we received was based on truth, and that in view of the new situation, he had been co-operating with National Headquarters from the very first moment."
Now, certainly, that is not keeping silent or keeping your word as both you and Schuschnigg understood it, is it?

A. In this case, it was absolutely impossible to do otherwise. It was getting on towards noon on the day on which my pledge of silence expired. The gentlemen sat in front of me and told me all the details. I could not suddenly say that it was all a bunch of lies, for I did not promise Schuschnigg to lie either. Instead, I kept silent about it, and from that the others deduced that it was probably true.

Q. You knew when to keep silent and you knew when to make observations in order to give information to your associates what Schuschnigg had asked you to keep confidential.

Now, when did you learn the true facts of what happened at Berchtesgaden, about the threats and about the terrible way that Schuschnigg was treated there?

A. That I heard from Zernatto. I think it was on 13th February. Then I heard it from Foreign Minister Schmidt, and Dr. Schuschnigg told me more or less the same thing. It was therefore probably on 13th or 14th February.

Q. Well then, you had a rather complete picture of the way that Schuschnigg was threatened and I suppose you knew about Keitel being called in to frighten him, and all the threats relative to marching in by sundown. You had a rather full knowledge of what happened up there, did you not?

A. I do not remember the story of Keitel, but Schuschnigg told me that the generals were up there, and obviously military pressure was to be exercised.

Q. And you knew, too, that Hitler had demanded your inclusion in the Government as Minister of Security. Schuschnigg told you that, did he not?

[Page 163]

A. Yes, I believe that Hitler had demanded that the National Socialists should have the Ministry of the Interior and Security at their disposal, and Schuschnigg acquiesced. Schuschnigg was supposed to have mentioned my name, but all this was rumour and hearsay and I do not know any details. At any rate, that happened in the course of these very dramatic conversations.

Q. I think this is rather important, because you have a witness coming here who was there at that meeting, Dr. Schmidt. Are you now telling this Tribunal that it was Schuschnigg who suggested your name, and not Hitler who demanded that you be appointed?

A. I do not want to tell the Tribunal any stories; I merely want to make my contribution to clear up the background of events as far as the Charter allows. I say explicitly, I have heard that it was so. If Schmidt was there and says that it was otherwise, then of course I will believe him.

Q. Can you tell us who told you that, because we have the sworn testimony of President Miklas, who says Hitler demanded it. We know that Schuschnigg says Hitler demanded it and Dr. Guido Schmidt is going to tell you that Hitler demanded it. Now, who told you that it was Schuschnigg?

A. Dr. Muhlmann told me that. But I wish to say that the facts are as you state them, Mr. Prosecutor, for this is just a tactical detail. If the Fuehrer forces Schuschnigg to name the Minister of the Interior, and then there is a play of words and he states my name first, then I do not want to draw the slightest conclusion from that for my defence.

Q. Well, I think that is very brave. The fact of the matter is that it was all arranged; you knew it, and so did Hitler, that you were to be included in their government, and that anything that went on there as to who actually mentioned your name first was unimportant.

A. That is correct. But I did not know for sure that on that day Hitler would demand the Ministry of the Interior and would nominate me, because Herr von Papen did not inform me about the outcome of his conversation with Hitler. I only supposed that things would take that course. I was by no means such a persona grata in Berlin that Berlin would certainly decide on me.

Q. Now, not many days after that so-called agreement which was reached in Berchtesgaden, Hitler broke it, did he not?

A. On 17th February, yes.

Q. He broke it before the 17th, did he not? Do you remember when he appointed Klausner as the Head of the Party, despite the fact that he had agreed with Schuschnigg that no such thing would be done and that there would be no such political organization? You knew about that, did you not, when it was done?

A. I beg your pardon, but I think perhaps I misunderstood your first question.

Q. Maybe it is a little involved. The point is that a few days after this meeting in Berchtesgaden, Hitler appointed Klausner as the Head of the illegal Nazi Party in Austria; is that not so?

A. I believe that happened after 17th February, because I myself suggested to Hitler that he ought to agree to Klausner being the leader of the Nazis in Austria. It was perfectly clear to me that no National Socialist in Austria would follow anybody unless Hitler approved.

Q. Would you accept the recorded history of Guido Zernatto, whose book you have offered to the Tribunal? Would you accept his record of when it happened?

A. Yes, I would.

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