Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Seyss-Inquart, Arthur (1892–1946)

Leading Austrian Nazi and Reich commissioner in Holland from 1940 to 1945. Born in Stannern, Moravia, on 22 July 1892, Arthur Seyss-Inquart studied law at the University of Vienna before joining the Austro-Hungarian army. During World War I, he saw action and was badly wounded. After the war he became a lawyer in Vienna, where he developed right-wing views. A strong advocate of Anschluss (union with Germany) in the 1930s, Seyss-Inquart was regarded as the leader of the small Austrian Nazi organization. Publicly he sought to achieve reconciliation with the government headed by Kurt von Schuschnigg, but behind the scenes he eagerly undermined the Austrian state. Seyss-Inquart became state councillor in May 1937, and in February 1938, following pressure by Adolf Hitler, Schuschnigg appointed Seyss-Inquart the minister of the interior. When Schuschnigg announced a plebiscite on the issue of Anschluss, the German government pressured him to resign on 13 March 1938 in favor of Seyss-Inquart as chancellor. Shortly thereafter, Hitler's German followers took control.

Seyss-Inquart then became the Reich representative in the former Austria and minister without portfolio in Hitler's cabinet. When Germany conquered Poland in September 1939, Seyss-Inquart served as deputy governor there under Hans Frank. Displeased with the atrocities committed by Schutzstaffel (SS) forces and unable to exert any influence over policies, he asked for a new appointment.

In May 1940, Seyss-Inquart became Reich commissioner of the newly occupied Netherlands. He tried to come to terms with the Dutch and have them carry out a nazification program. But instead of achieving collaboration, Seyss-Inquart found himself dealing with the Dutch Nazi movement. In Seyss-Inquart's view, Dutch Nazi leader Anton Mussert's followers were unsuited for German occupation policy. They were only a small minority with no real support from the Dutch population and no administrative experience. Therefore, Seyss-Inquart preferred to work with the traditional elites. He sought to resign his post, but Hitler refused his request, believing that Seyss-Inquart's moderate approach would achieve the desired results. Seyss-Inquart was nominally responsible for recruitment of Dutch workers to be relocated in the Reich, the deportation of Jews to the extermination camps, and German exploitation of the Dutch economy, but he never managed to restrain the SS from interfering in the Netherlands.

Seyss-Inquart was charged with war crimes and tried at Nuremberg. He was found guilty and hanged on 16 October 1946.

Martin Moll


Further Reading
Hirschfeld, Gerhard. Nazi Rule and Dutch Collaboration: The Netherlands under German Occupation, 1940–1945. New York: Berg, 1988.; Pauley, Bruce F. Hitler and the Forgotten Nazis: A History of Austrian National Socialism. London: Macmillan, 1981.
 

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