Activities in AustriaSeyss-Inquart participated in the last stages of the Nazi intrigue which preceeded the German occupation of Austria and was made Chancellor of Austria as a result of German threats of invasion.
On 12 March 1938, Seyss-Inquart met Hitler at Linz and made a speech welcoming the German forces and advocating the reunion of Germany and Austria. On 13 March, he obtained the page of a law providing that Austria should become a province of Germany and succeeded Miklas as President of Austria when the latter resigned rather than sign the law. Seyss-Inquart's title was changed to Reich Governor of Austria on 15 March 1938, and on the same day he was given the title of a general in the SS. He was made a Reich Minister without Portfolio on 1 May 1939.
On 11 March 1939, he visited the Slovakian Cabinet in Bratislava and induced them to declare their independence in a way which fitted in closely with Hitler's offensive against the independence of Czechoslovakia.
As Reich Governor of Austria, Seyss-Inquart instituted a program of confiscating Jewish property. Under his regime Jews were forced to emigrate, were sent to concentration camps and were subjected to pogroms. At the end of his regime he co-operated with the Security Police and the SD in the deportation of Jews from Austria to the East. While he was Governor of Austria, political opponents of the Nazis were sent to concentration camps by the Gestapo, mistreated and often killed.
Criminal activities in Poland and the NetherlandsIn September 1939, Seyss-Inquart was appointed Chief of Civil Administration of southern Poland. On 12 October 1939, Seyss-Inquart was made Deputy Governor General of the Government General of Poland under Frank. On 18 May 1940, Seyss-Inquart was appointed Reich Commissioner of the Occupied Netherlands. In these positions he assumed responsibility for governing territory which had been occupied by aggressive wars and the administration of which was of vital importance in the aggressive war being waged by Germany.
As Deputy Governor General of the Government General of Poland, Seyss-Inquart was a supporter of the harsh occupation policies which were put in effect. In November 1939, while on an inspection tour through the Government General, Seyss-Inquart stated that Poland was to be so administered as to explot its economic resources for the benefit of Germany. Seyss-Inquart also advocated the persecution of Jews and was informed of the beginning of the AB Action which involved the murder of many Polish intellectuals.
As Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Netherlands, Seyss-Inquart was ruthless in applying terrorism to suppress all opposition to the German occupation, a program which he described as "annihilating" his opponents. In collaboration with the local Higher SS and Police Leaders he was involved in the shooting of hostages for offenses against the occupation authorities and sending to concentration camps all suspected opponents of occupation policies, including priests and educators. Many of the Dutch police were forced to participate in these programs by threats of reprisal against their families. Dutch courts were also forced to participate in this program, but when they indicated their reluctance to give sentences of imprisonment because so many prisoners were in fact killed, a greater emphasis was placed on the use of summary police courts.
Seyss-Inquart carried out the economic administration of the Netherlands without regard for rules of the Hague Convention which he described as obsolete. Instead, a policy was adopted for the maximum utilization of the economic potential of the Netherlands and executed with small regard for its effect on the inhabitants. There was widespread pillage of public and private property which was given a shadow of legality by Seyss-Inquart's regulations and assisted by manipulations of the financial institutions of the Netherlands under his control.
As Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands, Seyss-Inquart immediately began sending forced laborers to Germany. Until 1942, labor service in Germany was theoretically voluntary, but was actually coerced by strong economic and governmental pressure. In 1942 Seyss-Inquart formally decreed compulsory labor service and utilized the services of the Security Police and SD to prevent evasion of his order. During the occupation over 500,000 people were sent from the Netherlands to the Reich as laborers and only a very small proportion were actually volunteers.
One of Seyss-Inquart's first steps as Reich Commissioner of the Netherlands was to put a series of laws into effect imposing economic discriminations against the Jews. This was followed by decrees requiring their registration, decrees compelling them to reside in ghettos and to wear the star of David, sporadic arrests and detention in concentration camps and finally, at the suggestion of Heydrich, the mass deportation of almost 120,000 of Holland's 140,000 Jews to Auschwitz and the "final solution". Seyss-Inquart admits knowing that they were gong to Auschwitz, but claims that he heard from people who had been to Auschwitz that the Jews were comparativeIy well-off there and that he thought that they were being held there for resettlement after the war. In the light of the evidence and on account of his official position it is impossible to believe this claim.
Seyss-Inquart contends that he was not responsible for many of the crimes committed in the occupation of the Netherlands because they were either ordered from the Reich, committed by the Army, over which he had no control, or by the German Higher SS and Police Leader who, he claims, reported directly to Himnler. It is true that some of the excesses were the responsibility of the Army, and that the Higher SS and Police Leader, although he was at the disposal of Seyss-Inquart, could always report directly to Himmler. It is also true that in certain cases Seyss-Inquart opposed the extreme measures used by these other agencies, as when he was largely successful in preventing the Army from carrying out a scorched earth policy and urged the Higher SS and Police Leaders to reduce the number of hostages to be shot. But the fact remains that Seyss-Inquart was a knowing and voluntary participant in War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity which were committed in the occupation of the Netherlands.
The Tribunal finds that Seyss-Inquart is guilty under Counts Two, Three and Four. Seyss-Inquart is not guilty on Count One.
See also: Final statement Seyss-Inquart
Explanation of the four Counts of the Indictment:
- Conspiracy to wage a war of aggression or crimes against peace
- waging of a war of aggression
- war crimes
- crimes against humanity