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 9 of 12)

[Page 176]

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, will you kindly pause after the question has been asked you. Do not answer it absolutely immediately. Otherwise, it gives the interpreters no time to translate.


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

[Edmund Glaise Horstenau] A. After the overthrow of 1918, I was in the civil service, Director of Archives at the University, a historian and author. Among other things, I was the author of a basic work about the collapse of old Austria, which -

Q. Witness, I am sorry to interrupt you, but we want only your public positions. I am interested in knowing about them only.

What public positions did you have?

A. Director of Archives, then, from 11th July on, I was Minister in the Cabinet of Schuschnigg, as guarantor of the July Agreement, and then during the March days of 1938, I was in the cabinet of Seyss-Inquart.

In November 1939 I voluntarily entered the German Army, first in the modest position of a graves registration inspector, and from 1941 on, became a military diplomat and was on duty at Zagreb without troop command. In September 1944 1 was dismissed from my post in Zagreb because, being an Austrian of the old regime, I was against the official policy and was one of the opponents of the Ustaschi terror. Another reason was that I was supposed to have called the Head of the State, who was elected and appointed by us, Ante Pavelic, a "criminal subject," among other undiplomatic things.

Q. General, I shall put a few questions to you, and it is quite sufficient if you just answer them briefly. The Tribunal does not want to know very much about the Anschluss itself, but everything as to how it came about. After the July putsch of 1934, were you in any way connected with Chancellor Schuschnigg?

A. Yes.

[Page 177]

Q. What was the economic situation at that time?

A. The economic situation at that time is clearly indicated by the average figure of unemployment. Out of six million inhabitants, 400,000 were unemployed, and that means, counting their families, that more than a million were suffering through lack of employment.

Q. What possibilities were there regarding the expansion of the economic area?

A. In this connection I can say openly and immediately that all policies and proposals suggested for achieving economic expansion were turned down. If Austria wanted the Anschluss, the answer was "No." If Austria wanted to call the Hapsburgs back, the answer was "No." If Austria wanted to enter a German customs union in order to expand her economic area, the answer was "No." And when great men, like Briand and Tardieu, spoke of a Danube Federation, we were only given the cold shoulder by our autarchic-minded neighbours. That is the Austrian tragedy.

Q. Now a party was formed which took up the Anschluss as the main point of its programme. What were the campaigning methods of this party?

A. In the year 1918, the standard bearer of this Anschluss was the Social Democratic Party led by Otto Bauer, who, the year previously, had declared the Anschluss to be the only possibility for the Austrian proletariat. Later the National Socialist Party, unified at the end of the 1920s by unconditional subordination to the leadership of Adolf Hitler, became the dominating force behind the movement

Q. Who was the leader of the NSDAP in Austria at that time?

A. The leaders themselves changed frequently. Hitler, however, sent a land inspector by the name of - what is his name - the Prussian? ... in the person of a Prussian ... I cannot think of the name at the moment ... who was expelled from the country by Dollfuss in 1933. Habicht - Dr. Habicht is his name.

Q. And after him, is it correct that it was Captain Leopold?

A. After him, Captain Leopold rose to the leadership of the party.

Q. And how did the Austrian National Socialists stand with respect to Adolf Hitler?

A. They considered themselves bound to him by absolute obedience and loyalty.

Q. Now the famous agreement of 11th July, 1936, was reached. After this agreement, you met Seyss-Inquart. What did he tell you about his political objective?

A. I became well acquainted with Seyss-Inquart shortly before this agreement. I do not remember exactly what he told me then about it, but my recollection is that it was similar to that which he defined later as his political objective.

Q. And what was that, briefly?

A. The Party to be not as an organization, but only as a supporter of an ideology in the totalitarian instrument of the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg regime, in the Fatherland Front and the members were to acknowledge allegiance to the State and Constitution in Austria, and have Adolf Hitler's blessing in addition.

Q. Did you yourself deal with the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, or have talks with him?

A. Apart from the March days of 1938, I had three opportunities to speak with Adolf Hitler.

Q. When did Seyss-Inquart enter the government?

A. Seyss-Inquart entered the government after 12th February, 1938.

Q. Did he visit Adolf Hitler?

A. As far as I can remember, he visited Adolf Hitler on 17th February.

Q. Did he make a report about his visit with Hitler to Schuschnigg and the other members of the cabinet?

A. Certainly he told Schuschnigg and he told me as well.

[Page 178]

Q. Did he collaborate in the planned plebiscite which was to take place on 13th March, 1938?

A. At that time, without knowing about the plebiscite, I left, on the 6th of the month, on two weeks' leave. Therefore, I cannot give you a reliable answer to this question.

Q. But do you know whether this plebiscite had been decided upon in the Ministerial Council with the consent of Seyss-Inquart or not? Did he tell you about that subsequently?

A. To my knowledge, the plebiscite was not handled by any Ministerial Council.

Q. Did the National Socialists agree to the plebiscite?

A. As far as I could judge on my return from my leave, certainly not.

Q. Now, it became known that Schuschnigg wanted to have a plebiscite. Where were you and what did you experience at that time?

A. On 6th February - March, as I have already said, I went on leave, and in Stuttgart I gave a lecture, the subject of which was "Central Europe in the year 1000 A.D."

Q. We are not interested in details, only in the facts.

A. Then I undertook a private visit to Landau in the Pfalz to visit my French relatives, and there I visited Burckel, whom I had not informed beforehand of my arrival, and in his home I heard over the radio the speech made by Schuschnigg at Innsbruck. Immediately, it was obvious to me that the scheduled plebiscite would, in view of Hitler's nature, certainly bring about serious repercussions, and I decided to fly to Vienna at once. Burckel, was to have arranged this. However, he telephoned to the Reich Chancellery and Hitler expressed the wish that I should come to Berlin. I gave my reasons for complying with this request to the American interrogator and, subsequently, I found out here the real reason why Hitler had called me to Berlin. I heard from the lips of an absolutely authentic witness that he did not want me to return to Austria. He knew that I was an enemy of all solutions by force. During the night of 9th to 10th March, I met Hitler and entered into a discussion with him which lasted for two and a half hours, a discussion of a rambling nature which led to no definite decision. Hitler told me that during the course of the day, at eleven o'clock in the morning, he would see me again. In fact, he did not send for me until eight o'clock in the evening in order to give me the drafts: (a) of a resignation for Seyss-Inquart to offer to Schuschnigg, and (b) of a radio speech.

I declared that I could not take these documents to Austria myself, and I asked that they should be sent in the usual way, by courier.

Later on, I received a third draft from Goering, who was Field Marshal at the time. There was a telegram therein, containing a second request to Hitler asking for the marching-in of German troops. I should like to say from the beginning, all these drafts - as far as I know also the third draft - had no actual significance. These were my experiences on the 11th of March in Berlin.

Q. Then you flew to Vienna and met Seyss-Inquart. What did you do in association with him on that critical morning of 11th March?

A. Seyss-Inquart met me at the airport. I advised him briefly about what had taken place in Berlin, and made entirely clear to him that I was gravely concerned about the situation. Together, Seyss-Inquart and I, at eleven o'clock in the morning -that is shortly after my arrival - went to Schuschnigg. While Seyss-Inquart placed before Schuschnigg certain domestic political problems, which I did not know about because I had been absent, I pointed out to Schuschnigg, who was nearly weeping, that there was great danger of new world complications, even of a new world war, and implored him to give in and to rescind the plebiscite which was scheduled for Sunday.

Q. Did you and Seyss-Inquart offer to resign?

A. I cannot recall whether we did so then. This discussion was comparatively brief, but afterwards, about one o'clock, we offered to resign.

[Page 179]

For this neither a decree by Hitler nor a decree by the National Socialist leader, Klausner, was necessary. As early as Thursday evening I had made my decision in Burckels house that, in connection with the plebiscite, I would also make use of this traditional method of threat of ministerial resignation in order to bring pressure to bear, to prevent the worst, if possible.

Q. And how did Schuschnigg react to this proposal to postpone the plebiscite?

A. Schuschnigg at first was rather reserved, but at about two in the afternoon, Guido Schmidt and Guido Zernatto - I do not have to tell you who these gentlemen were - made efforts to establish a modus vivendi with Seyss-Inquart. I kept myself in the background since my mission had already been fully accomplished on 12th February.

Q. And what did Seyss-Inquart do in the afternoon?

A. Shortly after this discussion, which led to no result, Schuschnigg still hesitated. But finally, he declared that, in accordance with the expressed wishes, he would postpone the Sunday plebiscite. I believed that the worst had passed. A short time thereafter, Seyss-Inquart was called to the telephone, and returned visibly agitated, saying that he had been advised from Berlin that Hitler could not work any longer with Schuschnigg, and that Seyss-Inquart was to demand succession to the post of Chancellor.

Seyss-Inquart invited me to go with him to Schuschnigg. I turned this down for reasons of delicacy. Seyss-Inquart went in alone and returned after a brief period, and we had a discussion which seems to me to be of importance to this Court. He was confident of receiving the Chancellorship, and said to me, almost with an undertone of regret: "Now we will have to take in the Nazis after all, and we shall work with the Catholics and others who are of similar trends to establish a political combine with which I shall govern." However, he was going to demand of Hitler, as far as internal politics were concerned, an agreement for five years' tranquillity.

Q. And, of course, Hitler did not agree to that. Instead he marched into Austria and you were confronted with a law. You were named Vice-Chancellor. Did you sign this law, and why?

A. I was a co-signer of this law. I entered into the government after Keppler requested me to and I counter-signed this law, for three reasons:

First, under the impression that Austria was completely alone in the world, and that no one was lifting a finger on her behalf; secondly, and I must say something here which has been said in the Southern German Press, I entered under the influence of the overwhelming street demonstrations that were taking place. Thirdly, on the Ballhausplatz on the night that I received the draft of the law - I did not participate in the drafting of this law - the German tanks were rolling past below me, and the occupation of the country by Adolf Hitler was accomplished. With him this meant, "bend or break." An attempt on Austria's part to oppose him would have been useless.

Of course, one is easily inclined to say about my home country that it should have committed suicide -

DR. STEINBAUER: That is sufficient, General, thank you. Mr. President, I have no further questions to address to this witness.

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

Q. Was the July Agreement concluded as a result of pressure from Germany or through a mutual desire and mutual interest?

A. It was concluded on the basis of mutual desire and mutual interest.

Q. Did you then and later have complete confidence in Schuschnigg, and he in you?

A. Up until the winter of 1937-1938, my relationship to Schuschnigg was one of complete confidence.

Q. Do you know anything about the intention of Herr von Papen to effect the removal of Chancellor Schuschnigg?

[Page 180]

A. Never did I have the slightest hint of that sort.

Q. What was the so-called "Langgott" aid fund?

A. The "Langgott" aid fund was a fund which was established in typical Austrian fashion - this is not intended as criticism, my saying that it was in typical Austrian fashion - for the assistance of the families of National Socialists who had been imprisoned.

Q. Did Schuschnigg and the government have knowledge of this fund?

A. Both of them knew about this and they both knew definitely of "Langgott."

Q. What was the attitude of the NSDAP and particularly of Leopold to Herr von Papen?

A. The NSDAP and Leopold were completely hostile to von Papen. They were inimical towards him not only because he was a Catholic, but because they distrusted him in every sort of way.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Does the prosecution wish to cross-examine?



Q. Did you know a man named General Muff?

A. Yes, very well indeed.

Q. You were in the habit of telling him everything that went on in the Ministerial Council of Austria, were you not?

A. No.

Q. Do you know Stephen Tauschitz, the Austrian Ambassador to Germany?

A. Yes, but neither to him did I speak of other than ordinary topics. That I should let myself be used as an informer was contrary to my tradition as a soldier of the empire.

Q. Then what did you think you were being brought to Berlin for by Burckel from Stuttgart?

A. I cannot follow you, I am sorry.

Q. What did you understand to be the purpose of your trip when you were being brought to Berlin from Stuttgart in March 1938, when Hitler wanted to see you?

A. I did not go to Berlin from Stuttgart, but rather from the Pfalz. Hitler had had me urged to come at all costs. I considered the matter and finally decided to go because I wanted to know what was going on in Berlin ...

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