Arthur Seyß-Inquart

Arthur Seyss-Inquart or Arthur Seyss-Inquart ( Stannern , Moravia , Austro – Hungarian Empire , 22 of July of 1892 – Nuremberg , 16 of October of 1946 ) was a political Austrian and the last Austrian Chancellor before the annexation ( Anschluss ) of Austria to the Nazi Germany in March 1938, provided largely by himself from office. Later, on 29 May 1940 he was appointed Reichskommissar (Reich commissary) for the occupied territories of the Netherlands, becoming leader of the German occupation of this country until the end of the war, in 1945. He served until 7 May 1945. Once captured by the Allied forces, he was one of the defendants in the Nuremberg trials and, as a result, ended up hanging on 16 October 1946.


Early years and political career

He was born in 1892 in Stonařov (in German, Stannern ), Moravia (then part of the Austro – Hungarian Empire ) in a family of German wealthy from the region of the Sudetenland . 1 He grew up in Olomouc , in an atmosphere of moderate German nationalism and more intense Catholicism. 1

In 1907, the family moved to Vienna , where Arthur later began his studies at the University of Vienna . In 1911, he met his wife, Gertrud Maschka . The couple ended up marrying in 1916 and would have three children: Ingeborg Caroline Auguste, Richard and Dorothea. Nevertheless, at the beginning of World War I , Seyss-Inquart enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army and fought in the fronts of Russia , Rumania and Italy ; For all his participation in combat was decorated 1 on numerous occasions. During a permit in Vienna, in 1917, he finished his studies and graduated as doctor in Jurisprudence . After the end of the Great War, around 1921, he practiced law in the capital of the new republic. 1

During the First Austrian Republic , he established ties and contacts with the Patriotic Front and in 1933, as a prestigious lawyer, he was invited to join the cabinet of the Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss . After the assassination of this one (happened only one year later), in 1937 was named member of the Council of State under the new government of Kurt von Schuschnigg . Initially, he was not a member of the Austrian National Socialist Party ( Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei , DNSAP) despite the sympathy of Seyss-Inquart for his ideology, especially with regard to his Pangerman ideology ) and his actions. However, at the beginning of 1938, without being affiliated, he had already become a respectable figure within the National Socialist movement. 2Relatively moderate, he was known for his tolerance of Jews, their desire to maintain broad autonomy after the Austro-German union and political preference for the moderate middle class itself-which pertenecía-. 1

Austrian Chancellor and Anschluss

Main article: Anschluss

The 15 of February of 1938 he was appointed interior minister government headed by Kurt von Schuschnigg , after the meeting that he had with Adolf Hitler about the persecution of the Austrian Nazis; Under threat of military action, Schuschnigg had to yield to the German leader and integrated the Austrian Nazis into the government, handing over several government portfolios.

The intention of Von Schuschnigg was to call a plebiscite on the union with Germany, 3 but German pressure continued and on March 11 , in view of a possible German invasion, Schuschnigg resigned from his post and Seyss-Inquart was proposed new Austrian chancellor, Even with the indifference of the President of the Republic, Wilhelm Miklas , before all that was happening. At first Hitler had weighed the possibility of an independent Austria but under a government loyal to Germany . On the night of March 11, Seyß-Inquart tried to reject his appointment as chancellor and to keep von Schuschnigg. 3

Nevertheless, Seyß-Inquart did not put an end to the expansionist intentions of the Nazis, and the following day, 12 March , he sent a telegram to Berlin inviting the German troops to enter Austria. After their entry into Austrian territory, German troops were received with a warm welcome from most Austrians, just as Hitler did during his triumphant entry into Vienna.

On March 13 the annexation ( Anschluss ) to the Third Reich was consummated and Austria became the German province of Ostmark . The disappearance of the Austrian state also meant the disappearance of the office of Chancellor: the day of the German annexation, Seyss-Inquart joined the NSDAP Socialist German Workers (NSDAP) and had already made a day day before when entering the SS ( Of which in 1941 it would become one of its main leaders). 4

The government of Ostmark

From the 15 of March of 1938 to the 30 of April of 1939 , Seyss-Inquart was appointed by Hitler as head of government of the territory Ostmark , under the title of Reich Governor ( Reichsstatthalter ). The Austrian government was downsized in May of 1938 and was under the supervision of the Reich Commissar for the Reunification of Austria with the German Reich, Josef Burckel , with the intention to proceed with the liquidation of the last remnants of the Austrian institutions. As Governor of the Reich of Austria, Seyss-Inquart carried out the confiscation of Jewish assets and the arrest of political opponents (both Communists and Social-Democrats as well as Austro-Fascists of the former regime), whom he quickly sent to concentration camps.

With the enactment of the ” Law Ostmark ” the 1 of maypole of 1939 , the government was dissolved and was finally annexed Austria. After the outbreak of the Second World War , Seyss-Inquart he was appointed Secretary of State of the General Government in occupied Polish territories , held the post since late October of 1939 until the spring of 1940 .

Reich Commissioner for the Netherlands

The 29 of May of 1940 was named Reichskommissar for the occupied territories of Holland , that had been conquered a few weeks. He remained in charge of the civil administration of the country, responding only to Hitler . 5 Supervised the politicization of cultural groups (including the “Chess Players Club”) through the Nederlandsche Kultuurkamer ( Dutch Chamber of Culture) and established a series of politicized associations through the creation of economic collaboration and the defense of Interests. From the outset he relied on the NSB and even allowed him to set up his own paramilitary militia, Landwacht , which acted as an auxiliary police force. However, at the end of 1941 other political formations were banned and some pre-war administration officials were arrested and locked up in Sint-Michielsgestel Prison .

From July of 1944 , after the Normandy invasion , most of Seyss-Inquart powers gradually went by the military commander in the Low Countries and the Gestapo , although its figure should continue considering.

Seyss-Inquart and repression

It introduced measures to combat growing Dutch resistance . For example, when in March 1943 one took place general strike in the cities of Amsterdam , Arnhem and Hilversum , in response were carried out numerous summary trials special by a court martial. Until the end of the war, Seyss-Inquart allowed the total execution of around eight hundred people, although some sources put this number in more than one thousand five hundred, including the arbitrary execution of people and the death of political prisoners who were on the verge of Be released. For example, the case of the execution of seventy seventeen Dutch people in reprisal for the joint attack of the Dutch resistance to the SS and the head of the Gestapo in the Netherlands , Hanns Albin Rauter .

In addition, two small concentration camps were established : the Herzogenbusch Field , next to Vught , the Amersfoort Concentration Camp , next to the homonymous locality , and the Transit Field and Westerbork internment . In addition to these, there were other camps that were under the control of the Wehrmacht , the police or under the direct administration of Seyss-lnquart. In all, during the whole war some five hundred and thirty thousand Dutch civilians were sent to Germany as forced laborers. Seyss-Inquart, knowing the enormous impact it would have on the population, made an unsuccessful attempt to send only young people between 21 and 23 years old: In 1944 he rejected the demands of sending two hundred and fifty thousand more Dutch, sending only twelve thousand. Seyss-Inquart was also an anti-Semitic activist from his earliest days: within a few months of his arrival in Holland he took steps to eliminate Jews from government and administrative institutions, the press, and to hold important positions in the industrial sectors. At the beginning of 1941 the intensification of anti- Semitic measures grew and approximately one hundred and forty thousand Jews were registered and concentrated in a newly created ghetto in Amsterdam ; A transit camp was set up in Westerbork to select groups to be sent to Germany .

Months later six hundred Jews were sent to the concentration camps of Buchenwald and Mauthausen ; The Dutch Jews would soon be sent to the Auschwitz extermination camp . Of the one hundred and forty thousand Jews registered in the Dutch census of the pre-war period , only thirty thousand survived the war.

The “Dutch famine”

Main article: Dutch famine of 1944

When the allies advanced on the Netherlands in the autumn of 1944 , the Nazi regime attempted to carry out a policy of ” scorched earth ” and some dikes and ports were destroyed. The Reichskommissar , however, shared the opinion of the Minister of Armaments Albert Speer on the futility of these measures and on some occasions prevented them from taking place. 4 But on the other hand, it did not prevent many infrastructures from being destroyed and numerous fields of crops were flooded, which would have catastrophic consequences. For when in September 1944 the Germans destroyed the embankments to flood a large part of the fertile land, they not only destroyed indispensable channels of communication but ended the last vital resource for the survival of the Dutch civilians: agricultural production . Towards the end of the so-called ” Winter of Hunger “, in April 1945 , Seyss-Inquart continued to refuse to allow allied aviation to send food to the hungry Dutch population; Although he was aware that the war was lost, he still refused to surrender. This led the American general Walter Bedell Smith to say that “to continue resisting surrender would end up being shot” , to which Seyss-Inquart replied that “that was indifferent . 6

The end of the War

When Hitler committed suicide on 30 of April of 1945 , the Reichskommissar joined the new German government of Admiral Karl Doenitz as Foreign Minister . He was named as such in Hitler’s testament, in recognition of the fidelity he had shown and his efforts to facilitate the Anschluss with Austria . However, given the isolation of the German territories at the end of the war, he did not hold office and did not have the time to do so because the Dönitz administration lasted only a few weeks. He continued as Reichskommissar to 7 of maypole of 1945 , when, after a meeting with Karl Doenitz , was arrested in Hamburg by two soldiers from the British Royal Fusiliers, he attempted to cross a bridge over the Elbe ; One of them was a German Jew who had escaped from Nazi Germany to the United Kingdom before the war. 7

Trials of Nuremberg

Once arrested, he was taken into custody and would be one of the 24 Nazi leaders to be tried during the Nuremberg Trials . Seyss-Inquart was charged with charges of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, commencing a war of aggression , war crimes and crimes against humanity . During the process, it was defended by the lawyer Gustav Steinbauer . The International Military Tribunal meeting in Nuremberg to try the crimes committed by the Nazi leaders found him guilty and was sentenced to death by hanging.

The 16 of October of 1946 , at the age of 54 years, was hanged as a dozen other Nazi leaders who had also been sentenced to death. Before his execution, he had returned to the Catholic creed , receiving absolution after being confessed by the chaplain of the Nuremberg Prison .


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e Pauley, 1979 , p. 293.
  2. Back to top↑ Avalon Project – Nuremberg Judgment: Seyss-Inquart
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b Pauley, 1979 , p. 294.
  4. ↑ Jump to:a b Judgment: Seyss-Inquart , in The Avalon Project .
  5. Back to top↑ Donovan Nuremberg Trials Collection. OSS Research and Analysis Branch Biographical Sketch on Seyss-Inquart . Cornell University Law Library . Accessed April 28, 2011 .
  6. Back to top↑ United States Amy in World War II: Civil affairs: soldiers become governors
  7. Back to top↑ The Flash (A Fortnightly Edition Published by The Royal Welch Fusiliers), December 10 , 1945 , in Cover.