Before Otto Bene (1884-1973) joined the diplomatic corps he worked for the Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP (Foreign Organisation of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party). In 1934 he was appointed Landesgruppenleiter (national committee leader) for Ireland and Great Britain, but was expelled from England in 1937 because of involvement in undesirable activities. From that moment on he was an alter Kämpfer (member of the Nazi elite). Bene was asked by Von Ribbentrop around 20 May 1940 to assume the post of Vertreter des Auswärtige Amt beim Reichkommissar für besetzten niederländischen Gebiete (Representative of the Auswärtige Amt for Occupied Dutch Territory).
As a foreign affairs delegate and though formally positioned at same level as the four Commissioners-General – reporting directly to Seyss-Inquart – Bene had no clear political influence. During the occupation he spent most of his time writing reports and was – in his own words in 1947 – merely the “eyes and ears of Von Ribbentrop”. Even so, as a staff member of the Auswärtige Amt, Bene still tried to influence the civil administration. In June 1940, in a bid to put pressure on the Dutch authorities in London and Batavia, he drafted a list of Dutch citizens who should be taken hostage. At that time all German nationals in the Dutch East Indies had been interned under pretty dire circumstances. Bene knew about the organisation of the deportation of Jews in the Netherlands down to the minutest detail. He is remembered for describing Auschwitz as ‘Rauschwitz’ in November 1942.