The career of Artur Seyss-Inquart
Niebuhr, Richard William
Rath, R. John
Master of Arts
This thesis is a study of Dr. Artur Seyss-Inquart, one of the key figures in the Nazi hierarchy who aided in the German takeover of Austria and ruled the Netherlands for the Nazis throughout most of World War II. The first chapter deals with Seyss-Inquart's early years, his first associations with politics, and the role he played in the Anschluss. During this time, Seyss-Inquart worked to accomplish his life long dream, the union of Austria and Germany. To this end, he began to associate with Austrian Nazis and achieved a position of importance in the cabinet of the Austrian government of Kurt von Schuschnigg, Using this post, he helped to undermine Schuschnigg's government from within. But throughout these early years, Seyss-Inquart thought himself a patriot, working for the glory of his native land. He was not yet a full-fledged member of the Nazi conspiracy. The second chapter is devoted to Seyss-Inquart's career from the Anschluss to his establishment of the government of occupation in the Netherlands. It was during this time that the first striking changes in his character occurred. No longer was he a patriotic Austrian, working for what he believed to be the good of his country, but a cog in the Nazi machine. After leaving Austria because of the subordination of his position as governor, he was made a Reich Minister without portfolio and a member of the German Reich cabinet. In the fall of 1939, Seyss-Inquart assumed new duties as Hans Prank's deputy governor of the coupled Polish territories. This post was of minor significance, however, and in May, 1940, Seyss-Inquart was appointed head of the civil government of the Netherlands, a position he held until the end of the war. The government he established in Holland was perhaps the smoothest running of any of the Nazi-occupied countries. The final chapter of the thesis discusses the last, years of Seyss-Inquart's career, from the first repressive measures that he decreed against the Jews to his death at Nuremberg. During this time, his personality came almost full circle. The mild-mannered Viennese lawyer had disappeared, and in its place was a man who brutally put down opposition by the Dutch people and railed against the Jews as the enemies of National Socialism. In spite of his often humane efforts towards the conquered people he governed, the Nuremberg tribunal found him guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Fully accepting the responsibility for what he had done, Seyss-Inquart was executed after being pronounced guilty by the tribunal.