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Copy of document 3732-PS
Excerpts from Transcripts of Interrogation of ARTUR SEYSS-INQUART, 9 October 1945, 1430-1510 by Mr. Thomas J. Dodd, OUSCC, Pages 18-25. Q. I am not talking about this particular Holland situation; I am talking about your whole record in the course of events and your present position. A. I am conscious of the fact that I was a representative bearer of the Great German Reich and that there happened an unbelievable and unthinkable catastrophe, and then one has to wonder to what extent one has contributed himself to it. Q. What are you worried most about? Your activities in Austria, or your activities in Holland? A. In Austria I am conscious that I have contributed to the Anschluss, which had not been achieved as I thought it; but the Anscliluss is on the way of my national will or aspiration. In Holland, I had an unusually difficult administrative task. I do [Page 540] believe that I did do certain things with which I am satisfied, as far as I was concerned. Q. How do you feel about your deportation of the Jews of Holland? A. I was against it. We wanted to concentrate the Dutch Jews into their quarters in order to keep them within the country. Q. How do you feel about your transportation of workers out of Holland into Germany, by force? A. The compulsory deportation started towards the end of '44. I then received a letter from Minister Lammers to the effect that we were to send to Germany 250,000 workmen. It was a matter of importance from the viewpoint of war. I wrote Larnmers that this was impossible and if this was a matter decided for war, then the war should be fought over. That is written in black and white. Q. You are a trained lawyer. You knew that that was a violation of every principle of international law. A. One moment. Toward the end of '44 and the beginning of '45, the high command of the Army gave an order that all males, ages from 17 to 42, were to be removed from the province of Holland, deported from the province of Holland to the Reich, where they were to work. This order was issued to General Student, who transmitted it to the Commander of the Wehrmacht, and the action was carried out by the Wehrmacht. Q. Under your direction? A. Well, I can’t intervene against the Wehrmacht. Q. You were the personal representative of Hitler in Holland, weren’t you? A. In my province, but not in the province of the Wehrmacht, and the action was carried out by the Wehrmacht. Q. Under your direction? A. Well, I can’t intervene against the Wehrmacht. Q. You were the personal representative of Hitler in Holland, weren’t you? A. In my province, but not in the province of the Wehrmacht, and the action was carried out by a general with his. own staff, which had been sent to Holland by the OKW. Q. What did you do about it? A. We consulted on the matter. According to the explariations of the generals, it was a matter indispensable from the military point of view. [Page 541] Q. That satisfied you, I suppose? A. I took note of it. Q. What do you mean by “I took note of it"? A. I didn’t oppose it. I helped to carry it out within my province. Q. What did you do about the shooting of the hostages in Holland? A. In Holland, no hostages were shot. Q. Oh, I beg your pardon. Are you telling us that no hostages were shot in Holland, while you were there as the Reichskommissar? A. By the shooting of hostages, I understand people who had no connection whatever with an illegal action, were just taken out and shot. Q. That is just what I understand. A. I wish to say the following: according to my recollection, five hostages; were shot in Holland in the spring of 1941. There had been an assault on a military train. Thereupon the Wehrmacht asked of the police that fifty hostages be shot. The Supreme Commander of the SS applied to me and I negotiated with the military commander and he reduced the number to five. Then the police carried it out. Q. How did you feel about going to Poland as the assistant to Frank, the Governor General for that country which had been taken over by the Germans? A. Well, I would like to state that, first of all, in a war, one has to follow all orders and receive any command.,; that are assigned to a person. Q. You mean you had to go to Poland ? A. Well, I didn’t go there against my wishes, but I had in order; I was appointed. Q. The point is that you weren’t forced to go. You were merely willing to go when you received the appointment. You didn’t refuse it or resist it. A. Why, I was assigned a task, and accepted this task, and I accepted it because I felt that possibly 1 could do something good for the Reich. Q. How did you feel when you were sent to Holland to do the same job there? A. Well, the same as for the first — that is, I wasn’t questioned, I was appointed; but accepted that position because I felt that here, in war time, I was assigned a job to do in the Reich, and I felt that I was going to do as good a job as I could. [Page 542] Q. All right. lt must occur to you that it is an interesting feature of your history, that you were a principle figure in bringing the Germans into Austria; and that thereafter, you served the Germans in Austria; and later you served them in Poland; and still later you served them in Holland. A. Yes. Q. Have you any regrets about any of that? A. Well, in Poland, naturally, I was not very active. Q. Well, I don’t care to hear any rationalization of how active you were in Poland, or how active you were in Holland, but for whatever part you played, you had something to do with the administration of affairs of Poland, and you were the Commissar, at least, in Holland. Now, my question is, knowing what happened in Poland; and knowing what happened in Holland; and knowing what happened in Austria; do you now have any regrets about your conduct, or would you do it all over again? A. Well, there I would like to state the following, for naturally every man does commit mistakes, and I don’t have any doubt that I made plenty of mistakes, but I would like to state in regard to Austria the following: For Austria, the course of events was such, that if there was any solution at all, then mine was the best one, but sometimes, I even doubt that there was even a solution, of this problem. Q. So you are satisfied in playing the part that you played in turning Austria over to Germany; you have no regrets for whatever you did? A. I most deeply regret the course that the events took, but I must reserve for myself, the right that I did take the responsibility for the course of events, in the best way that was open to me. Q. And how do you feel about what you had to do with the conduct of affairs in Poland? Do you have any regret about that now? A. Well, for Poland, I can’t take any particular position because for me the fact that the war with Poland broke out, and that afterwards I was placed in that function — those are things that I view objectively. Q. Well, to put it another way: knowing what happened in Poland while you were there under Frank, aren’t you at least regretful that you had even any small part to play in what went on there? A. I don’t think that up to May of 1940, within the responsibility of myself and of Frank, were any such things, because then [Page 543] we were just kind of getting ourselves settled and established. Primarily, I helped to establish a German body of administration, that is, in the German section. Q. And would you do that all over again if you had the opportunity ? A. Well, that naturally brings up the basic problem of war, but considering the premises, and assuming th~at in the war one has to do the job that is assigned to him, I do not feel that I have to be ashamed of anything that I did. Q. All right, let’s turn to Holland. You were the Reich Commissar in Holland. Do you have any regret about what happened in Holland during your tenure of office? A. I am conscious of the fact that I have made mistakes in Holland, possibly grave mistakes. I realize that fully, but with regards to the so-called exaggerations or excesses, for those I cannot consider myself responsible. Q. They went on while you were there, however, as the Governor General. A. Yes. Q. And you knew about them. A. Partly, yes, but for the greater part, I did not know about these events. Q. And you never resigned or refused to serve? A. No, I hold the viewpoint that in time of war one cannot do that. Q. You weren’t in the Army. A. In the First World War. Q. Oh, no, I am talking about this last one. A. Well, I tried to volunteer in Alay 1940, that is, when I was still in Poland, but the answer was that I would not be accepted in the Army, but would be sent as Reich Commissar to Holland instead. Q. Well, the point is that you weren’t under the usual requirements of obedience by which a soldier must abide. A. But I felt myself bound at least to the same degree as a soldier. Q. That was your personal viewpoint of it. A. Yes. Q. You could have resigned. A. I have once pondered on the significance that might have had. The most likely solution of that would have been that one would not have acknowledged it, but would have insisted that I remain at my post. [Page 544] Q. In any event, you never tried. A. No, I have not. Q. You issued some orders in Holland, requiring the male population between the ages of 17 and 45, I think, to report fol. labor in Germany (Arbeits-Einsatz). A. That must have been in January 1945. Q. No, earlier than that. 17 to 40 were the ages, by the way, those born between 1905 and 1928. The orders were issued in 1941, were they not? Do you remember Order Number 42, for the Occupied Netherlands Territory? A. Well, yes, it was the so-called “Call For Duty.” I mean, the order for “Call for Duty.” Q. That was issued in 1941. A. Well, but '41, it applied merely for work in the Netherlands, and only perhaps '43, I think it was extended to apply for work in the Reich. Q. Do you remember Decree Number 48, issued in the year 1942? A. Well, not from memory. Q. With respect to the obligation to perform labor, and with respect to the restriction on changes of employment? A. Yes, such a decree I did order. Q. Now, in 1945, by virtue of these decrees of 1941 and 1942, all men within this age group were ordered to appear on the streets with a certain amount of equipment, and be prepared to leave their homes an(] take up work somewhere else. A. In 1945, that was different already. Q. Well, when was this order issued if it wasn’t in '45? A. Well, there was a decree in 1945, but the whole thing was somewhat difrerent. Q. Well, I am talking about the orders, based on your decrees, which ordered all these men in this age group, out on the streets as of a certain hour; ordered the inhabitants, women and children, to stay in their houses; and further, that all the doors to the houses were to remain open; and that if any man were to be found in their houses, failing to report on the street, they would be punished. Do you recall that order? A. Well, I believe that those were the orders of the Armed Forces. Q. Yes, based on your decrees of 1941 and '42, and put in operation while you were the Governor there. A. Yes, well, yes, it was based on Decree 41; but the entire execution or administration of the ]am, was strictly, a function of [Page 545] the military, forces, and these great actions made no reference to my orders. Q. They rriade specific reference to your orders. Do you remember what they looked like? Do you remember the posters that were put up on the streets in Holland? A. Yes, I think that was about the middle of January, and may I say this right now: The big actions of the military forces, to draw the people subject to military service out of Holland, bad already passed, that is, it was already settled. Q. They weren’t being drawn out for military security reasons, they were being taken out for work in Germany. A. The order was that all men of military age were supposed to be removed from Holland and brought into the Reich, so that they, would do work there. Q. And do you remember the last line of that order? It said, “Anybody who tried to escape or who refused to obey, would be shot.” A. Well, in a state of emergency, and in a state of Martial Law, if somebody resists the order of the occupying forces, then that would be penalized by the death penalty.