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-Fifth Day: Friday, 14th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 9)

[Page 235]




Q. I still have a few questions to put to this witness. Witness, consequent upon the answers which you gave yesterday about the libraries which have been looted and taken to Germany, I would like to read to you a few lines taken from a document which I submitted the day before yesterday to the Tribunal. This document is F-803, Exhibit RF 1525, on Page 34 of the French text. This is a report from the Minister of Education and Art, of the Netherlands. We find the following:

"The Collections, as well as the libraries of the International Institute for Social History at Amsterdam, have been closed down. The Library, which has about 150,000 volumes, has been taken to Germany as well as a very important collection of newspapers. The Library Rosenthaliana of the University of Amsterdam which belongs to the city has been stacked in 153 crates and has also been taken to Germany. Famous collections concerning Natural History of the College of St. Ignace at Mont Faucon (Valkenburg) and the Museum of Natural History at Maestricht have also been taken to Germany as well as the Library which belonged to it.

In 1940, all the property of the Masonic Lodges was confiscated and taken away to Germany. It included the well-known Klausna Library."

THE PRESIDENT: Monsieur Debenest, have you not put enough for the purpose of your question now? We have the document already and you have questioned him about half a dozen libraries which you are suggesting were taken to Germany, and you want to know what he has to say to it, I suppose. It is not necessary to go into the whole detail.


Q. What do you think about this story, witness? Are these facts correct?

A. The question which you have put to me was answered in part yesterday, as far as it concerns the property of Freemasons. It was said yesterday, and I confirmed it, that it is known to me that the property of the organizations, but not of the individual members, was confiscated.

THE PRESIDENT: That is not an answer to the question. The question is, was it true that these libraries were moved to Germany?

WITNESS: I know nothing of the removal of these libraries.


Q. But you did, nevertheless, claim that the Rosenthaliana Library had remained in the Netherlands, did you not?

A. The Rosenthaliana, I said that.

Q. The Rosenthaliana, yes, the report specified that it was packed in 153 crates and taken to Germany.

A. Do you mean the Rosenthaliana?

Q. Yes, the Rosenthaliana.

[Page 236]

A. I do know that instructions were given by the Reich Commissioner that this Library was to remain in Amsterdam. If it was removed in spite of this, the action was contrary to instructions and I have no knowledge of it.

Q. But still it was you who were responsible for education, or at least for supervising education in arts?

A. Yes, but not of the arts.

Q. No, but as far as the libraries and universities were concerned?

A. Yes.

Q. It is rather curious that you should not have been kept informed of this.

A. I do not know whether the Library was removed or not.

Q. Well, all right. According to the statements which you made yesterday evening you seem to claim that the Reich Commissioner did all he could in favour of the Dutch nation, is that so?

A. Yes.

Q. At any rate, he always did everything he could to avoid the worst, is that so?

A. Yes.

Q. On the other hand, you know that numerous people in that country were interned, deported and shot; that severe coercion was forced upon that nation in every sphere, under threat of heavy penalties and reprisals. Finally you know that that country was looted. Who were then the people who ordered these crimes and committed them?

A. I said that the Reich Commissioner did for the country what he could. In a five-year period of occupation; measures had to be taken which were difficult for the country to bear. I do not deny the fact, it is undeniable. The ... I would ask you to formulate your questions more concretely, and to mention the actions which you call crimes. The question is too general for me to answer it "yes" or "no," or at all briefly.

Q. Who ordered the arrests?

A. I beg your pardon?

Q. Who ordered these arrests?

A. Which arrests?

Q. The arrests of the Dutch people, of course.

A. I beg your pardon?

Q. The arrests of the Dutch people.

A. The arrests were ordered by the Higher SS and Police Leader, he was Chief of Police.

Q. Who ordered the internments?

A. Which internments? Do you mean internments in the concentration camps?

Q. In concentration camps and in internment camps.

A. They were ordered by the Higher SS and Police Leader. That was his department.

Q. Who chose the hostages?

A. The police.

Q. Who appointed Rauter, as Commissioner for Public Security?

A. As General Commissioner for Public Security, he was appointed by the Reich Commissioner but his main function was that of the Higher SS and Police Leader. To that office he was appointed by the Reichsfuehrer SS.

Q. But he had been appointed - I suppose you know the order - to assist the Reich Commissioner and for security reasons.

A. He was to be at the disposal of the Reich Commissioner, but the Reich Commissioner did not have any unconditional right to issue instructions to the Higher SS and Police Leader. The Reichsfuehrer SS had this right. The appointment as General Commissioner for Security was a formality. It was made because the Reichsfuehrer SS wished the Higher SS and Police Leader to have this title too. Originally he was not to be appointed General Commissioner.

Q. You therefore consider that Seyss-Inquart had no authority over Rauter?

[Page 237]

A. Yes.

Q. Very well. In that case I am going to read a document to you, and you will tell me what you think of it, whether Seyss-Inquart had no authority, and you can also make any explanations you choose.

M. DEBENEST: That is Document 3430-PS, which has already been submitted as Exhibit USA 708. This is an excerpt from Seyss-Inquart's speeches made in Holland, and it is to be found on Page 124 and Page 125 of the German text. I submit it to the Tribunal.

It will most probably also be found in the Trial Brief of Seyss-Inquart. I am afraid I do not have the exact page, but I think it is Page 57 or Page 58.


Q. Seyss-Inquart in that speech of the 29th January, 1943, said:

"I will give the orders, and they must be strictly carried out by everybody. In the present situation, the refusal to carry out such an order cannot be called anything except sabotage. It is also clear, now more than ever, that every resistance which is directed against this fight for existence must be suppressed."
And further on, he says
"At the moment in which our men, fathers and sons with iron determination, look towards their fate in the East, and unflinchingly and steadfastly perform their highest pledge, it is unbearable to tolerate conspiracies whose goal is to weaken the rear of this Eastern front. Whoever dares this must be annihilated. We must be severe and become even more severe against our opponents. This is the command of a relentless sequence of events and for us, perhaps, inhumanly hard but our holy duty. We remain human because we do not torture our opponents. We must remain hard in annihilating them."
If Seyss-Inquart had had no authority over the police, would he have been able to make such a speech and say that he would issue the orders?

A. I did not say that Seyss-Inquart had no authority over the police. I only said that the orders were given by the Higher SS and Police Leader. The relationship with the police was as follows:

The Reich Commissioner could, of course, turn to the police in any case in which he needed them, but could convey only his wish and not a binding order. In such cases, if they were important, the police first consulted the Reichsfuehrer SS, or his office, and only if this office approved could a wish of the Reich Commissioner be carried out by the police.

Q. The question is simpler than that. Could he - Yes or No - and did he do so - issue orders in cases such as are mentioned in his speech? He himself mentioned this, you know.

A. He could express wishes but not give orders.

Q. I merely note that you do not agree with Seyss-Inquart's speech.

I will now speak to you of another document, and you will tell us how you explain that Seyss-Inquart could only express wishes, as you term it, and not give orders. This is F-860, which I submitted yesterday. This document is a letter of Seyss-Inquart which was sent to Dr. Lammers. In this letter he writes that he had wanted to reorganise the Dutch Police in order to adapt it to the German Police organization, and in the same document he states the opinion that the police must be the strongest expression of the interior administration of a country which should not be transferred to another agency. That is what Seyss-Inquart says in that document. How can you then reconcile your answer with what Seyss-Inquart writes?

A. As for this reorganisation, it was not suggested by the Reich Commissioner but originated with the police themselves. The Reich Commissioner in this reorganisation - and I myself, too - attempted to arrange that the Dutch Police at least would not be completely separated from the administration, which in the

[Page 238]

main was already the case in Germany, and was what the German Police in the Netherlands also wanted.

Q. You contradict what Seyss-Inquart himself wrote in this document. How do you explain what Seyss-Inquart wrote further on in the same document:

"I would not like to appoint expressly as president of the Tribunal the Higher SS and Police Leader here, for this appointment suggests to the Dutch a limitation of the authority of the Reich Commissioner: this is of particular importance because the Reich Commissioner was appointed as the guardian of the interests of the Reich by order of the Fuehrer. But I have myself given to the Higher SS and Police Leader all plenary powers which a magistrate needs."
A. Would you please read the first two sentences again?

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, the document is before us.

M. DEBENEST: Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: It is scarcely worth while to argue with the witness about it.

M. DEBENEST: I will not insist upon it, Mr. President.


Q. Witness, how do you explain the fact that Schongart - you saw the document yesterday, did you not, which counsel for the defence submitted to you, the interrogatory of Schongart after the attempt on Rauter's life - how do you explain that Schongart on the very morning after the investigation, went to Seyss-Inquart and that Seyss-Inquart gave him the order, as he himself states in the document, to take increased measures of reprisal and to execute 200 prisoners, and this with the aim of intimidating the population?

A. Yesterday, I believe, I covered this subject. I said everything I knew about it.

Q. Will you give me the explanation I am asking you to make?

A. I said yesterday that Brigadefuehrer Schongart came to me and - to be brief about it - represented the matter to me to the effect that the Reichsfuehrer SS had demanded 500 shootings, and that Schongart on the advice of the Reich Commissioner, had succeeded in reducing the number to 200. That is what I said yesterday.

Q. You maintain that he had received orders previous to the ones he received from the Reich Commissioner then?

A. Not from the Reich Commissioner, from the Reichsfuehrer SS.

Q. Yes, from the Reichsfuehrer?

A. I can only say that Brigadefuehrer Schongart reported the matter to me in that way. I was not there when he telephoned the Reichsfuehrer SS.

Q. Very well. Did you not yourself take part in a meeting during which hostages were chosen?

A. A meeting?

Q. A meeting, a conference, if you prefer.

A. Yes.

Q. On what occasion?

A. I recall that in the Rotterdam case the Reich Commissioner had a conference with the General Commissioners, and the matter was reported.

Q. Were you present at the meeting with General Christiansen?

A. I cannot say with certainty; I believe I was.

Q. Do you know what Seyss-Inquart said during that meeting, what his attitude was?

A. His attitude was that the intention of the Wehrmacht to carry out 50, or, as I heard yesterday, 25 shootings, was going too far and that this could not be done. In this connection, I testified yesterday that the Reich Commissioner was able, after repeated remonstrations, to persuade the Wehrmacht to agree finally to have only five hostages shot.

[Page 239]

THE PRESIDENT: M. Debenest, this has all been gone over with Seyss-Inquart, has it not?


THE PRESIDENT: And with this witness?

M. DEBENEST: Yes, Mr. President. I just wished to see whether the witness agreed with the document which I submitted to the Tribunal.

I have finished, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you wish to re-examine, Dr. Steinbauer?

DR. STEINBAUER (Counsel for the defendant Seyss-Inquart): I have no questions to put to the witness, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can retire.

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