THE PRESIDENT: I call upon the Defendant Arthur Seyss-Inquart.ARTHUR SEYSS-INQUART (Defendant): Mr. President, in my final words I want to make one more contribution in my power toward clearing up the matters which have been treated here, by explaining the personal motives and considerations for my actions.
I have little to say concerning the Austrian question. I regard the Anschluss, apart from later events, as an exclusively German domestic affair. For every Austrian the Anschluss was a goal in itself and never, even remotely, a preparatory step for a war of aggression. The idea of the Anschluss was much too important a goal for that; indeed, it was the outstanding goal of the German people. "To the German people I make a report of the greatest success of my life". I believed these words of the FŁhrer when he spoke on 15 March 1938 in the Hofburg in Vienna. Moreover, they were true. When on 11 March 1938 at about 8 o'clock in the evening and after the complete breakdown of every other political and state authority, I followed the way prescribed by Berlin, the reason was that the unjustified opposition to the carrying out of orderly elections had opened the doors to radical action, practically as well as psychologically. I asked myself whether I had the right to oppose these methods after my plan had apparently not been practicable. However, since this procedure appeared justified, I felt it my duty to lend such aid as I could under the circumstances. I am convinced that it is due mainly to my aid that this fundamental revolution, particularly during the night of 12 March, took place so quietly and without bloodshed, although strong hatred was pent up in the hearts of the Austrian Nationalsocialists.
(Video starts here) "I was in favor of the unity of all Germans, no matter what form of government Germany had. I believe that the Prosecution is utilizing documents of the period following the Anschluss in order to deduce my plans for annexation and aggression. These are documents and remarks regarding the Danube area and Czechoslovakia dated later than 10ctober 1938 and after the Munich Agreement and regarding the Vistula area later than 1 September 1939, after the outbreak of war. I admit these statements and in the meantime their correctness has been confirmed. As long as the Danube area was incorporated in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy its development was beneficial to all" and the German element did not display any imperialistic activity, but only furthered and contributed to culture and industry. Ever since this area was broken up by the integral success of the nationalistic principle, it has never achieved peace. Remembering this, I thought of reorganizing a common Lebensraum, which, as I openly declared, should give as the most essential requirement such a social order to all, namely, Germans, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians and Romanians, as would make life worth living for every individual. I also thought of Czechoslovakia with this in mind, recalling the co-ordination of languages in Moravia, which I myself had witnessed.
If I spoke of the Vistula area after 1 September 1939 as a German area of destiny, this was out of my endeavor to prevent dangers for the future, which had become obvious through the outbreak of war and which have today become a terrible reality to every German. These statements can no more serve as evidence of the intention to wage a war of aggression than the decision of Teheran concerning the German eastern territories.
Then the war broke out, which I immediately recognized then and afterwards as a life-and-death struggle for the German people. To the demand for an unconditional surrender I could only oppose an unconditional no and my unconditional service to my country. I believe in the words of Rathenau: "Courageous nations can be broken, but never bent".
In connection with the Netherlands, I should like to say only the following with reference to the charge that I interfered in the administration for political purposes. Nobody in the Netherlands was forced into any political allegiance or limited in his freedom or property if he harbored anti-German ideas during the occupation, as long as he did not engage in hostile activity.
I have already explained that I had serious humane and legal scruples against the evacuation of the Jews. Today I must say to myself that there appears to be a fundamental justification for large scale and permanent evacuations, for such evacuations are today affecting more than 10 million Germans who have been settled in their homes for many centuries.
After the middle of 1944, saboteurs and terrorists were shot by the Police on the basis of a direct FŁhrer order, if their activity was proved. During this time I only heard of shootings of this kind, never of shootings of hostages in the actual sense. The Dutch patriots who lost their lives during the occupation are today rightly considered fallen heroes. Does it not put this heroism on a lower plane to represent them exclusively as the victims of a crime, thus implying that their conduct would not have been so hazardous at all if the occupying power had conducted itself in a proper manner? They all stood in a voluntary and active connection with the resistance movement. They share the fate of frontline soldiers: the bullet hits the man who is active in a danger zone.
Could I have been the friend of the Dutch, the overwhelming majority of whom were against my people, which, in turn, was fighting for its existence? Besides, I have only regretted that I did not come to the country as a friend. But I was neither a hangman nor, of my own will, a plunderer, as the Soviet Prosecution contends. My conscience is untroubled to the extent that the biological condition of the Dutch people during the period of my full responsibility, that is, up to the middle of 1944, was better than in the First World War, when it was neither occupied nor blockaded. This is evidenced by the statistics of marriages and births and by the mortality and illness figures. This is certainly also to be attributed to the effects of a number of measures instituted by me, for example, an extensive health insurance, contributions to married couples and children, graduation of the income tax according to social position et cetera. Finally, I did not carry out the order to destroy the country, which was issued to me and on my own initiative I put an end to the occupation for defense purposes when resistance in Holland had become senseless.
I have two more statements regarding Austria.
If the Germans in Austria wish their common destiny with the Germans in the Reich to become a reality inwardly and outwardly, then no authoritarian obstacles ought to be opposed to this wish and no room given for interference by non-German forces in this decision. Otherwise, the whole German people would follow the most radical trend towards an Anschluss without considering how the rest of the political program of such a movement might be constituted.
Secondly, on the question of the effectiveness of provisions of international law during a war: From the point of view of her own interests Germany cannot desire any war. She must even see to it that no weapons are forced into her hands. The other nations do not want a war, either, but that possibility is never absolutely out of the question unless nations abhor it. It is therefore wrong to try to minimize a future war and reduce the defensive forces in the nations by creating the impression that a future world war could in some way be kept within the framework of the Hague Conventions on Land Warfare, or some other international agreement.
And now I probably still owe an explanation regarding my attitude to Adolf Hitler. Since he saw the measure of all things only in himself, did he prove himself incapable of fulfilling a decisive task for the German people, indeed, for Europe itself, or was he a man who struggled, although in vain, even to the point of committing unimaginable excesses, against the course of an inexorable fate? To me he remains the man who made Greater Germany a fact in German history. I served this man. And now? I cannot today cry Crucify him,' since yesterday I cried 'Hosanna.
Finally I thank my defense counsel for the care and circumspection he has employed in my defense.
My last word is the principle by which I have always acted and to which I will adhere to my last breath: I believe in Germany.
See also: Verdict Seyss-Inquart