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Seyss-Inquart, Arthur (1892-1946)
As a lawyer in Vienna, Seyss-Inquart was active in nationalist circles, and while initially not anti-Semitic, he became increasingly attracted to National Socialism. Seyss-Inquart was held in esteem by the Austrian chancellor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, who appointed him to the Council of State and as mediator between himself and the extreme right. In the Nazi party in Austria, Seyss-Inquart was not considered a reliable member; he was, however, highly regarded by Adolf Hitler, who pressured Schuschnigg into appointing Seyss-Inquart as Austrian Minister of the Interior and of Public Security (February 16, 1938).
Activities in Austria and Poland
Following the resignation of Schuschnigg, on Hitler's ultimatum, Seyss-Inquart was appointed chancellor (March 11, 1938); he immediately invited the German armed forces to enter Austria. In return, Hitler appointed him Reich Commissioner of Ostmark, as Austria was now called. Heinrich Himmler accorded him the rank of SS-Obergruppenfuehrer. About a year later (May 1, 1939), Seyss-Inquart was appointed Minister without Portfolio in the Central German Government. In October 1939, he was appointed deputy governor-general in Poland. There, he was responsible for examining the territory to be used for the Lublin Reservation.
Activities in the Netherlands
On May 19, 1940, Hitler appointed Seyss-Inquart as Reich Commissioner of the Occupied Netherlands, with instructions to endeavour to create friendship between the Dutch and the Germans. Hitler hoped that the man who had helped in the annexation of Austria would succeed in the same way in the Netherlands. Indeed, in the first months Seyss-Inquart acted with restraint, creating the impression that the Germans would not make life difficult for the Dutch. However, it quickly became clear to him that apart from the small, organised minority in the Dutch National Socialist Movement (Nationaal Socialistische Beweging), the Dutch rejected the efforts of the Germans to win them over. In time, the Germans began to take draconian steps against the Dutch. The acts against the Jews, which began in late 1940 and intensified in February 1941, contributed in particular to the anti-German climate, and in reaction the Amsterdam dock workers went on strike. Seyss-Inquart reacted sharply. He took an active role in the anti-Jewish legislation, the pillage of Jewish property, and the dispatch of the Jews to the extermination camps, rather than allowing the local SS to deal exclusively with the "Final Solution." Power Struggles. In the power struggles between himself and the representatives of Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Eichmann, Seyss-Inquart was aided by two friends who were related to him: Dr. Friedrich Wimmer, Generalkommissar of administration and justice; and Dr. Hans Fischboeck, Generalkommissar of finance and the economy. In the last months of the war, Seyss-Inquart began negotiations with the Allied armies in an attempt to ease the suffering of the Dutch population.
The Nuremberg Trial
Seyss-Inquart was one of the war criminals indicted for crimes against humanity; at the Nuremberg Trial, he was sentenced to death. In all his activity, Seyss-Inquart remained loyal to Hitler, and Hitler praised him highly on a number of occasions. A collection of his speeches, "Vier Jahre in den Niederlanden: Gesammelte Reden," was published in Amsterdam in 1944.
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