Birthday: July 22, 1892
Nationality: Austrian, Czech
Died At Age: 54
Sun Sign: Cancer
Born Country: Czech Republic
Born in: Stonařov, Czechia
Notorious As: War Criminal
Spouse/Ex-: Gertrud Maschka
father: Emíl Seyss-Inquart
mother: Augusta Hirenbach
children: Dorothea Seyss-Inquart, Ingeborg Seyss-Inquart, Richard Seyss-Inquart
Died on: October 16, 1946
place of death: Nuremberg
education: University of Vienna
Who was Arthur Seyss-Inquart?
Arthur Seyss-Inquart was an Austrian politician affiliated with the Austrian National Socialist party and later the Nazi Party. He was appointed the Chancellor of Austria two days before the country’s annexation by Nazi Germany. Originally from the village of Stannern, Seyss-Inquart relocated to Vienna with his family. Later, he attended the University of Vienna, pursuing a degree in law. At the advent of World War I, he joined the Austro-Hungarian Army and received several military accolades for his actions on the battlefield. After the war, he set up a successful law practice and eventually joined politics. He rapidly rose through the ranks to become a leading figure in the Austrian National Socialist Party. In March 1938, he replaced Kurt Schuschnigg as the Austrian Chancellor. Following the German invasion, Austria was turned into the German province of Ostmark, and Seyss-Inquart became its governor. During his tenure as the Reichskommissar of the occupied Netherlands, a position to which he was appointed in May 1940, he unleashed a reign of terror that caused the extermination of a vast majority of Dutch Jews. Following the end of World War II, Seyss-Inquart was executed after being convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on July 22, 1892, in Stannern, Margraviate of Moravia, Austria-Hungary (now Stonařov, Vysočina Region, Czech Republic), Seyss-Inquart was the youngest of six children of Emil Seyss-Inquart and Augusta Hirenbach.
His father was a school principal. In 1907, his family came to live in Vienna. He later enrolled at the University of Vienna and obtained his law degree in 1917, while he was recovering from the wounds received during World War I.
In 1911, Seyss-Inquart became acquainted with Gertrud Maschka. They exchanged wedding vows in December 1916. Their three children were Ingeborg Carolina Augusta Seyss-Inquart (born 18 September 1917), Richard Seyss-Inquart (born 22 August 1921), and Dorothea Seyss-Inquart (born 7 May 1928).
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When the First World War broke out, Arthur Seyss-Inquart joined the Austro-Hungarian Army and served with the Tyrolean Kaiserjäger in Russia, Romania, and Italy. He received several military honours for bravery.
Legal Career & Early Years in Politics
Following the conclusion of World War I, Seyss-Inquart opened a law practice in 1921. In the next few years, his business became quite successful, and he had become friends with some of the most powerful men in the country.
In the initial years of the Austrian First Republic, he was associated with the Fatherland Front and was offered a position in the cabinet of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss in 1933.
Dollfuss was murdered in 1934, and Seyss-Inquart started serving as a State Councillor under Kurt Schuschnigg in 1937. It was during this period that he developed a near-fanatic devotion towards Heinrich Himmler's concepts of racial purity. After becoming a member of the Austrian National Socialist Party, he quickly became a leading figure in their ranks.
Schuschnigg made Seyss-Inquart the Austrian Minister of the Interior in February 1938 after Adolf Hitler warned him of military consequences if Austria failed to comply with the German “request”.
Confronted by the impending German invasion, Schuschnigg resigned in favour of Seyss-Inquart, who assumed the office of the Chancellor of Austria on March 11, 1938.
On March 13, 1938, Germany annexed Austria, which became a province of the former country, named Ostmark. Afterwards, Seyss-Inquart became a member of the Nazi Party and was subsequently appointed as the first Reichsstatthalter/Governor of the new province. He held the position from March 15, 1938, to May 1, 1939.
After the German invasion of Poland in late 1939, Seyss-Inquart was made the administrative chief for Southern Poland. However, it was only after the General Government was formed that he assumed office, serving as a deputy under the Governor-General Hans Frank. He completely supported the severe policies that Frank implemented. He also knew about the Abwehr's murder of Polish intellectuals.
Reign of Terror in the Netherlands
After Germany occupied the Low Countries during World War II, Seyss-Inquart became Reichskommissar of the Occupied Netherlands in May 1940. He subsequently established a close economic relationship with Germany and took all steps to protect the interests of the Reich.
The Dutch had a derogative name for him, “Zes en een kwart" (six and a quarter), which was a pun on his name as well as a reference to the fact that he had a limp.
He introduced several brutal measures to counter resistance. The Germans operated three concentration camps in the Netherlands. Over 500,000 Dutch civilians were forced to work for the Germans. Nearly half of them were made to go to Germany to work in the factories.
A staunch anti-Semite, his actions led to the deaths of approximately 110,000 out of 140,000 registered Dutch Jews.
Trial & Execution
Arthur Seyss-Inquart became the Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs on April 30, 1945, a position he held until his arrest on the Elbe Bridge at Hamburg by two members of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
At the Nuremberg trials, he was found guilty on the charges of planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity, and was sentenced to death.
Before his execution, he was accepted back into the Catholic Church and granted absolution in the sacrament of confession from prison chaplain Father Bruno Spitzl.
Seyss-Inquart was executed by hanging at the Nuremberg prison on October 16, 1946. His body was subsequently cremated at the Ostfriedhof in Munich alongside those of nine other men who were executed along with him. Their ashes were dispersed into the river Isar.