The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Witness, how did you then meet Hitler and how did
you happen to join the Party?

A. I must say that I did not become a National
Socialist because of anti-Semitism, but because of
Socialism. I met Hitler as early as 1925. He had just
left Landsberg-on-Lech, his imprisonment was ended and
he came to Weimar and spoke there.

It was on that occasion that I was presented to him.
The programme for the national community which he
developed appealed to me so enormously because in it I
found, on a large scale, something I had experienced in
a small way in the camaraderie of my youth
organization. He appeared to me to be the man who would
show our generation the way into the future. I believed
that through him there could be opened to this younger
generation the prospect of work, of an existence, of
happiness. And in him I saw the man who would liberate
us from the shackles of Versailles. I am convinced that
without the Treaty of Versailles the rise to power of
Hitler would never have happened. That treaty led to

Q. Witness, when did you then become a member of the

A. I became a member of the Party in 1925. I joined the
SA at the same time, with all my comrades.

Q. You were eighteen at the time?

A. Yes.

Q. Why did you join the SA?

A. The SA furnished the protection for the meetings and
we simply continued in the SA, as part of the Party,
the activities which we had carried out before in our
youth organization.

Q. In 1926, Witness, that is when you were nineteen
years old, there was a Party rally in Weimar?

A. Yes.

Q. As far as I know, you talked to Hitler personally on
that occasion; is that correct?

A. Yes. I was to have talked personally to Hitler one
year earlier. On this occasion there was another
meeting. He was making speeches at mass meetings in
Weimar, and he came back to Weimar again during that
same year to speak before a smaller circle. Together
with Rudolf Hess he paid a visit to the home of my
parents and on that occasion he suggested that I should
study in Munich.

Q. Why?

A. He thought I ought to know the Party at its very
core and he thought would [sic] become acquainted with
the Party work in that way. But I want to say here that
at that time I did not have any intention of becoming a
politician. Nevertheless, I was very much interested,
of course, in getting acquainted with the movement at
the place where it had been founded.

Q. You went, then, to Munich, and studied there?

A. Yes, I then went to Munich. At first I did not
concern myself with the Party. I was occupied with the
study of Germanistics, history, and the history of art;
I wrote and I came into contact with many people in
Munich who were not actually National Socialists but
who belonged, shall I say, to the periphery of the
National Socialist movement. At that time I lived in
the house of my friend, the publisher Bruckmann -

                                             [Page 329]

Q. Then in 1929 you became the head of the university
movement. I think you were elected, not nominated, to
that post?

A. The situation at the beginning was this: I attended
Party meetings in Munich; in Bruckmann's house I met
Hitler and Rosenberg, and many other men, who later
played a role in Germany. And at the university I
joined the university group of the National Socialist
German Students' League.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go on.


Q. Go on, Herr von Schirach, you have just told us that
you joined this university group in Munich. Will you
please continue?

A. Yes, and I also started to take an active part in
this group. I spoke there before my comrades, at first
about my own work in the literary field, and then I
began to give lectures to the students also about the
National Socialist movement. I organized Hitler student
meetings among the students in Munich, and then I was
elected a member of the General Students Committee, the
ASTA, and through this activity among the students I
came more and more into contact with the Party
leadership. In 1929, the man holding the post then
known as Reich Leader of the National Socialist
Students' Union retired, and the question arose of who
should be given the leadership of all the university
groups. At that time Rudolf Hess, on behalf of the
Fuehrer questioned all university groups of the
National Socialist university movement and the majority
of all these groups cast their vote for me to head the
National Socialist Students' Union. Thus it came about
that I am the only Party leader who was elected into
the Party leadership. That was something which had
never before occurred in the history of the Party.

Q. You mean by that, that though others were nominated,
you alone were elected?

A. I was elected, and then I was confirmed in office.

Q. And if I am right, you were elected at the students'
meeting at Graz in 1931.

A. That is not correct. That is wrong. I am now talking
only of the National Socialist university movement. I
will come back to this point later.

Now I was the National Socialist university movement
leader, and I reorganised this movement. I began my
work as a speaker. In 1931 I was -

THE PRESIDENT: Surely it is sufficient that he became
the leader. It really does not very much matter to us
whether he was elected or not.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, I am making every effort all
the time to shorten this speech. But perhaps I may ask
just one more question with reference to this subject.


Q. Witness, then you were, in fact, so far as I know,
elected to the presidency by the general student
meeting of Austrian and German students, comprising all
parties, and elected, I think, unanimously. Is that

A. It is not correct.

Q. Then explain briefly, Herr von Schirach.

A. That is not correct. At the meeting of the German
students' organization in 1931, at which all German
students and all Austrian students and Sudeten-German
students were represented, one of my colleagues, whom I
suggested as leader, was unanimously elected head of
the entire student group. This was a very important
affair for the youth and for the Party. Two years
before the seizure of power the entire academic youth
had unanimously given their vote to a National
Socialist. After this students' rally at Graz, I had
with Hitler a -

THE PRESIDENT: I think this would be a convenient time
to adjourn.

DR. SAUTER: Very well.

(A recess was taken.)

                                             [Page 330]


Q. Witness, before the recess we had stopped at the
fact that in 1929 you had been elected the leader of
the academic youth. Two years later, Hitler made you
Reich Youth Leader. How did that appointment come

A. After the student meeting at Graz in 1931, the
success of which was very surprising to Hitler, I had a
conference with him. In the course of that meeting
Hitler mentioned a conversation we had had previously.
At that time he had asked me how it came about that the
National Socialist youth movement was developing so
quickly, whereas the other National Socialist
organizations lagged behind in their development.

I told him at that time that one cannot lead youth
organizations as an appendix of a political party;
youth has to be led by youth, and I developed for him
the idea of a youth State, that idea which had come to
me from experience in the school community, the school
State. And thereupon - then in 1931 Hitler asked me
whether I would like to assume the leadership of the
National Socialist Youth organization. This included
the Hitler Youth and the National Socialist Pupils'
organization, which also was in existence at that time.
Several individuals had already tried their hand at the
leadership of these organizations; the former SA leader
Pfeffer, the Reichsleiter Buch, actually without any
too good results.

I agreed, and became then Reich Youth Leader of the
NSDAP, temporarily A member of the staff of the highest
SA leader Roehm In that position, as Reich Youth Leader
of the NSDAP on the staff of Roehm, I had the rank of
an SA Gruppenfuehrer and kept that rank also when, half
a year later, I became independent in my position. That
explains also the fact that I am an SA
Obergruppenfuehrer. I obtained that rank many years
later, honoria causa. However, I did not possess an SA
uniform - even after 1933.

Q. Then in 1931 you became Reich Youth Leader of the

A. Yes.

Q. That, of course, was a Party office?

A. Yes.

Q. Then in 1932 you became Reichsleiter. At that time
you were 25 years old. How did that come about?

A. I have already said that I had expressed the opinion
to Hitler that youth could not be the appendix of
another organization, but had to be independent; it had
to lead itself; it had to become independent; and it
was in fulfilment of a promise which Hitler had already
given me that, half a year later, I became an
independent Reichsleiter.

Q. Independent Reichsleiter, so that you were
subordinate directly to the Party leader Hitler?

A. Yes.

Q. With what material means was that youth organization
created at that time?

A. Youth itself supplied the funds.

Q. And how were those funds obtained? By collections?

A. The boys and girls paid membership fees. A part of
these membership fees were kept at the so-called
district leadership offices, which corresponded to the
Gauleitung in the Party or to the SA-Gruppenfuehrung in
the SA. Another part went to the Reich Youth Leaders.
The Hitler Youth financed its organization itself.

Q. Then, I am interested in the following: Did the
Hitler Youth, which you created and which was given
Hitler's name, get its importance only after the
seizure of power and only by the seizure of power, or
what was the previous size of this youth organization
which you created?

A. Before the seizure of power in 1933, the Hitler
Youth was already the largest youth movement of
Germany. I should like to add here that the individual
National Socialist youth organizations which I found
when I took over my office as Reich Youth Leader, were
combined by me into one large unified

                                             [Page 331]

youth movement. This youth movement was the strongest
youth movement of Germany, long before we came to

On 2nd October, 1932, the Hitler Youth held a meeting
at Potsdam. At that meeting more than 100,000 youths
from all over the Reich met, without the Party
providing a single pfennig. The funds were contributed
by the young people themselves. Solely from the number
of the participants, it can be seen that that was the
largest youth movement.

Q. That was, then, several months before the seizure of
power, and there were more than 100,000 participants at
that rally at Potsdam?

A. Yes.

Q. The prosecution has made the accusation, witness,
that later, after the seizure of power - I believe in
February 1933 - you took over the Reich Committee of
German Youth Organizations. Is that correct, and
against whom was that action directed?

A. That is correct. The Reich Committee of Youth
Organizations was practically no more than a
statistical office which was subordinate to the Reich
Minister of the Interior. That office was managed by a
retired general, General Vogt, who later became one of
my ablest assistants. The taking over of that Reich
Committee was a revolutionary act, a measure which
youth carried out for youth, for from that day on dates
the realization of the thought of the youth State
within the State. I cannot say any more about that.

Q. The prosecution further accuses you, witness, of
having dissolved the so-called "Grossdeutsche Bund" in
1933, that is, after the seizure of power. What was the
"Grossdeutsche Bund," and why did you dissolve it?

A. The "Grossdeutsche Bund" was a youth organization,
or rather a union of youth organizations, with
pan-German tendencies.

I am surprised, therefore, that the prosecution has
made the dissolution of that organization an accusation
at all.

Q. Many members of this "Grossdeutsche Bund" were
National Socialists. There was no very essential
difference between some of the youth groups associated
in that organization and the Hitler Youth. Is that

A. I wanted youth to be united, and the "Grossdeutsche
Bund" wanted to continue a certain separate existence.
I objected to that, and there was heated public
controversy between Admiral von Trotha, the leader of
the "Grossdeutsche Bund," and me, and in the end the
"Grossdeutsche Bund" was co-ordinated into our youth
organization. I do not recall exactly whether I banned
the organization formally; I know only that the members
came to me, and that between Admiral von Trotha and me
a discussion took place, a reconciliation. Admiral von
Trotha, until his death, was one of the warmest
sponsors of my work.

Q. How did the suppression of the Marxist youth
organizations come about?

A. I believe that the suppression of the Marxist youth
organizations, if I remember correctly, came about in
connection with the suppression of trade unions. I have
no longer any exact documents regarding that. But at
any rate, from the legal point of view, I was not
authorized in 1933 to order a suppression of that kind.
The Minister of the Interior would have had to do that.
I had the right to ban youth organizations, de jure,
only after 1st December, 1936. That the Marxist youth
organizations had to disappear was something
self-evident for me, and in speaking about this
suppression order as such, I can only say that the
German Worker Youth found the realization of its
socialistic ideas, not under the Marxist governments of
the Weimar Republic, but in the community of the Hitler

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