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 8 of 12)

[Page 172]


Q. Then I call your attention to another matter. The French Prosecutor asserted that the Dutch General Secretaries were left behind by the Dutch Government to carry on its administration and that you were not justified in interfering with the sovereignty of the Netherlands. What have you to say to that?

[Artur Seyss-Inquart] A. I know nothing about that and I also believe it is of no consequence. The Netherlands capitulated, and the capitulation covered the entire region except Seeland.

The terms of capitulation consisted only of military details. From the civilian point of view it was unconditional surrender. I believe that on the basis of International Law I was entirely justified in taking over the government.

DR. STEINBAUER: May it please the Tribunal, in this connection I should like to submit a document which bears on the legal aspect of this question. This is a verdict by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands of 12th January, 1942. In my final speech I shall refer to this. It will be submitted to the Tribunal in certified form in four languages. The prosecution have agreed to this. The exhibit number is 96.


Q. Then further, the French Prosecutor asserted that you carried out mass shootings and, particularly, deportations of civilian workers and the transporting of Jews, in order to reduce the population of the Netherlands.

A. I believe that I can cite concrete examples which show that I had the opposite intentions. It is certain that during a war losses do arise among the population, and perhaps if I had given more attention or put up greater resistance, I might have prevented more than I did. That I did not do so, I truly regret. But two figures are decisive: the figures for mortality and those showing the increase in the population.

Until the year 1944, the mortality rate in Holland, on the basis of the statistical data of the Netherlands Statistics Bureau, rose from 9.5 per thousand per annum to 10 per thousand, whereas in the years 1914-1918 12 per thousand rose to 17 per thousand, in other words by almost 50 per cent., even though the Dutch people were under their own government, were not in the war, and were not subject to a blockade. According to the statistics which I received from the Netherlands Statistics Bureau, from 1914 to 1918 there was a decrease in population.

[Page 173]

During the period of my administration, up until 1944, the population increased from 20 per thousand to 25 per thousand. That is a good one-fourth increase. Of course, the primary cause was the will to live of the Dutch people. But it is surely also a consequence of the measures of my civil administration.

DR. STEINBAUER: In order to prove the figures just cited by my client, I should like to submit a report of the Netherlands Central Statistics Bureau. I received this by way of the General Secretary in a German and English version, but it is not certified. The original should be in the office of the General Secretary.

THE WITNESS: I should like to remark that in these statistics -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Steinbauer, how do you show the relevance of this?

DR. STEINBAUER: Because in the Indictment and in the proceedings here, it was claimed that Seyss-Inquart had the intention of Germanising the Dutch people and of breaking resistance, and because he is also held responsible for the poor state of health of the population, the decrease in births, and the mortality rate. These were all assertions made in the Dutch Government's report and in part also made here. Yesterday, with the permission of the Tribunal, I submitted this request for the official statistics to the Dutch Government and I received this report. In fact it answers more than I requested, particularly taking war victims into account. But we will pay homage to the truth and submit it as we got it.

THE PRESIDENT: Are you putting that in then? Are you offering that in evidence?

DR. STEINBAUER: I submit it the way I received it from the General Secretary. It is Document 106.

THE WITNESS: I should like to add that the reduction of the birth rate in the years 1914-1918 is shown at a lower figure than in the report which I received in January of 1945.


Q. I still have two brief questions regarding Austria. The first question is: The American Prosecutor has charged that you gave Muhlmann notes to take to Berchtesgaden. Can you say what the notes contained?

A. Yes, that was the outcome of the discussion which I had just had with Dr. Schuschnigg and it included, above all, the agreement to call upon Dr. Jury, Dr. Reinthaler and Dr. Fischbock, the incorporation of National Political elements, legal advisers in the Fatherland Front, in short, things that we had agreed on, things which Adolf Hitler, at Berchtesgaden, did not in any way have to force through for the Austrian National Socialists.

Q. Then the American Prosecutor asked you whether you knew that Austrians died in concentration camps after the Anschluss. You answered, no, that you did not know this but did know that people had died in Austrian concentration camps. Here in this room, in the course of months, you have learnt what conditions were in German concentration camps. Were they similar to the conditions in Austrian concentration camps?

A. In no way at all.

Q. Thank you, that is sufficient.

A. And apart from that, I said I had heard that it might have been possible that Austrians died in German concentration camps. The Austrian concentration camps can in no way be compared with what we have heard here about German concentration camps.

DR. STEINBAUER: Thank you. I have concluded my examination-in-chief of the defendant, and with the permission of the Tribunal, I should like to call my first witness on the Austrian question, General Glaise-Horstenau.

[Page 174]

BY MR. BIDDLE (interposing):

Q. Defendant, you said that you had considered that the laws of land warfare were obsolete. Do you remember?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you consider that they were all obsolete?

A. No.

Q. Which ones did you consider were obsolete?

A. I was of the opinion that the treaty clauses relative to the protection of the civilian population were outdated by technical developments in weapons, for obviously certain warlike measures, total blockade, demolition bombing attacks etc., are directed primarily at the destruction of the civilian population and consequently are only justifiable if the civilian population is considered a war potential, like the troops at the front. But if that is the case, then the civilian population of the occupied countries must be considered in such a way also.

Q. And when you say "considered in such a way," you mean therefore Germany had the right to use the civilian population to fight the war, make ammunition and so forth; is that not the conclusion?

A. That is my conclusion, yes.

Q. When was that conclusion reached?

A. I believe with the increase of the bombing attacks, approximately.

Q. Never mind the increase of the bombing attacks. Just give me the date. When was it reached?

A. The end of 1941, beginning of 1942.

Q. All right. Now there are two other short questions. You said that you told the Fuehrer that you would not act as a Trojan horse, is that right?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. Well, had he suggested to you that you should act as a Trojan horse?

A. No, not that, but I was fully aware of my difficult position. It was quite obvious to me that I could be misused for such purposes, that behind the back of my ministerial post a situation could be prepared for the occupation of Austria.

Q. Well, you used that expression after you had been talking to the Fuehrer for some time, did you not?

A. In the course of the discussion, but the thought itself had come to me previously; I only brought it up during the discussion.

Q. You had had this idea for some time?

A. Yes.

Q. Ever since you had entered into this Austrian matter actively you had had the idea, I suppose?

A. The possibility of dissension and of a difference of opinion about this situation was quite clear to me.

Q. That your actions might be misconstrued?

A. Yes, and also that the fact of my activity could be exploited in a way that I did not intend.

Q. Of course, because you represented both sides at the same time, and that was always a difficult position, was it not?

A. That is correct.

Q. Well now, let us take up this matter of declaring forfeited property of enemies of the State. You made those declarations I presume, did you not, as Commissioner?

A. Yes.

Q. And was that made under a decree of the Fuehrer giving you authority to do that?

A. That was a basic practice which was current in the Reich and if I did not get the order I nevertheless had a sort of directive

Q. Now wait a minute. I did not ask you about the practice. It was made under a decree, was it not? That practice was under a decree?

A. Yes.

[Page 175]

Q. And that decree applied to all occupied countries, did it not?

A. I do not think so. I first announced this decree in the Netherlands myself. The measures in the Netherlands came about on the basis of my directive.

Q. I understand that. I do not want to get you confused. Your action was taken under a decree of the Fuehrer, was it not, giving you that authority; is that right?

A. Let us say on the basis of a directive.

Q. Of a directive of the Fuehrer, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Is that directive in evidence? Has it been put in evidence?

A. I do not think so.

Q. All right. Now tell us what was in it. What was in that directive?

A. It was the general directive that the property of persons who committed acts inimical to the Reich was to be confiscated. I had already issued a decree similar to this in Austria. The first one was issued in the Reich itself; that was the model.

Q. Now, you were the person in the Netherlands who had complete discretion to make the decision as to who was an enemy of the Reich, did you not? That was your decision under the decree?

A. No, that was actually a matter for the police and the courts.

Q. I see.

A. I only had influence.

Q. Now, the police did not have to go to the courts to get that decision surely, did they?

A. No. Either the police directly made a decision of this kind or the people were put at the disposal of the court and the court sentenced the people on the basis of certain offences and then on the strength of the judgement their property was confiscated.

Q. Now, the property of the Freemasons was confiscated under that decree. What other property, of what other groups, was confiscated in the Netherlands under that direction of the Fuehrer? I do not mean individuals; I mean groups.

A. At the moment I cannot think of any others, although there were a few other groups.

Q. But, in effect - see if I state the practice correctly - the police would decide that an individual or group of individuals, on account of their words or their actions, were enemies of the Reich, and then their property would be confiscated; is that right?

A. Yes. And the decisive office at the time was that of Heydrich.

Q. The decisive factor was Heydrich?

A. And the Netherlands agencies carried through his decisions.

Q. And you carried through Heydrich's decisions, right?

A. I carried through Heydrich's decisions in respect to property rights. The association of Bible Students (Bibelforscher) [N.B. "Jehovah's Witnesses."] belonged to those groups.

Q. Oh, the Bible Students belonged to the groups too?

A. They were also among them.

Q. And the property of the Bible Students was confiscated also, since they were enemies of the Reich?

A. They probably did not have very much, but what they had was confiscated because of their attitude in refusing to serve in the war effort.

Q. They refused - let me get this straight. This is interesting. The Bible Students refused to fight or to serve in the German war effort and therefore their property was confiscated. Is that right?

A. Not quite. The Bible Students in Germany refused to serve in the German Army. So first of all they were prohibited there and then, this prohibition was expanded to Bible Students in every region.

[Page 176]

Q. Wait a minute. I am not talking about that. I am talking about the Netherlands. Was that true in the Netherlands?

A. Yes; but the Bible Students in the Netherlands were not prohibited because they refused to serve in the German Army, but rather they were prohibited because we were against this group on principle.

Q. Oh, I see, on general principles. As pacifists, you were against them so you confiscated their property; right?

A. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: The defendant can return to the dock.

EDMUND GLAISE HORSTENAU, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please.

A. Edmund Glaise Horstenau.

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.


BY DR. STEINBAUER (Counsel for the defendant Seyss-Inquart):

Q. Witness, what position did you have in the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy?

A. I was born in 1882 in Braunau in Upper Austria. I came of an officer's family of French descent. In 1918 I was a Major in the General Staff in Austrian headquarters as adviser on politics and the Press.

Q. What position did you have then in the Austrian Republic?

A. After the collapse of 1918 -

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