The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. Witness, I would now be interested in knowing
whether possibly principles and directives which you
received from Hitler or from any Party office or from
any governmental quarter, were the formula for your
youth education; or whether, for your youth education,
the principles were derived from the experiences which
you had during your own youth and among the youth
leaders of that time.

A. The latter is correct. Of course, the education of
the Hitler Youth was an education on the basis of the
National Socialist idea. But the specifically
educational ideas did not originate with Hitler, they
also did not originate with other leaders in the Party;
they had their origin in youth itself, they originated
with me and with my assistants.

Q. Perhaps you will be good enough now to explain to
the Tribunal somewhat more in detail how you yourself
arrived at these principles and that type of youth
education, based on your own education, your personal
development, and so forth?

A. I believe that the simplest way for me to do this
would be for me, very briefly, to outline the story of
my youth and describe also, in that connection, the
youth organizations with which I came in contact. I can
in that way save much time for my further statements.

My father was a professional officer in the
Garde-Kurassier Regiment of the Kaiser. I was born in
Berlin, and one year later my father retired and moved
to Weimar, where he took over the management of the
Court Theatre there, which later became the Weimar
National Theatre. Thus I grew up in Weimar, and that
town which, in a certain sense, is the native city of
all Germans, is regarded by me as my personal native
city. My father was well off; our home offered a great
deal of intellectual and artistic stimulation, above
all in the literary and musical field, but apart from
and beyond the educational opportunities of our home,
it was the atmosphere of the town itself, that
atmosphere of the classic and also the post-classic
Weimar, which influenced my development. It was most of
all the genius loci, which early captured my
imagination. It is directly due to those experiences of
my youth that later on I led youth back again, year
after year, to Weimar and to Gothe.

And the first document which is important in this
connection for my case, which is Document 80, will
prove just that. There is a brief reference in that
document to one of the many speeches which I made in
the course of my activities as Youth Leader to the
leaders of the young generation, and in which I
directed the youth to Gothe.

Q. May I interrupt you for a moment, Herr von Schirach?

DR. SAUTER: In this Document 80, Mr. President, there
is - on Page 133 of Schirach's Document Book - a brief
report on a Reich Cultural Convention
(Reichskulturtagung) of the Hitler Youth in Weimar.
This happens to be a report of 1937, but the defendant
has already told you that such cultural conventions of
the Hitler Youth took place every year in Weimar, the
city of Schiller and Gothe. In this report, Document 80
of Document Book Schirach, there is, for instance,
discussion of a speech of the defendant on the
importance of Gothe for the National Socialist
education of youth. It is said, in this connection,
that at that time Schirach stated, and I quote -

THE PRESIDENT: You need not read it to us, Dr. Sauter.
It refers to Gothe, that is all.


Q. In that case, Herr von Schirach, will you continue?

A. It was not only the annual cultural convention but
the annual meeting of the leaders of the Hitler Youth
which took place in Weimar. Apart from that there were
also what we called the "Weimar Festivals of German

                                             [Page 325]

What is important in this connection is that in this
speech I quoted a sentence of Gothe which, to a certain
extent, became the "Leitmotiv" of all my educational
work: "Youth fashions itself afresh from youth."

Even my worst enemy cannot deny the fact that I was at
all times not only the propagandist of National
Socialism, but also the propagandist of Gothe. A
certain Herr Ziemer has submitted a lengthy affidavit
against me in which he quarrels with the youth
education for which I am responsible. I believe that
Herr Ziemer did his work a little too superficially. In
his description of German national education he should
at least have taken into consideration my educational
activities which were designed to guide youth towards
the lifework of Gothe.

I joined my first youth organization when I was ten
years old. I was then just the age of the boys and
girls who later on entered the Jungvolk. That youth
organization which I joined was the so-called "Young
Germany League," "Jung Deutschland Bund," which Graf
von der Goltz had founded, a boy scout organization.
Graf von der Goltz and Haseler, impressed by the
British Boy Scout movement, had formed Pathfinder units
in Germany, and one of these Pathfinder organizations
was the "Jung Deutschland Bund," just mentioned. It
played an important part in the education of German
youth until about 1918 or 1919.

Much more significant in my development, however, was
the time which I spent in a country boarding school
(Waldpadagogium). This was an educational institution
directed by an associate of the well-known educator,
Hermann Lietz. There I was educated in the way which I
later, on an entirely different basis -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, do you think the education
of the defendant himself is in any way material for the
Tribunal to hear? It is the education he imparted which
is the matter that is material. What he imparted, not
his own education.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, the defendant would
nevertheless ask you to allow him these statements,
particularly from the point of view that with them he
wants to show you that the principles according to
which he led youth education came to him not from
Hitler and not from any Party source, but that they
resulted from his own experiences in his own youth. It
is, indeed, of some importance for the Tribunal to
examine the question: According to what principles did
the defendant direct youth education and how did he
arrive at these principles? The defendant is asking
permission to explain that.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Sauter, the defendant has
already taken some considerable time in telling us
about his early youth and his education, and the
Tribunal thinks that it ought to be cut short and that
not much more time ought to be taken up in dealing with
the education of the defendant. As I have pointed out
to you, what is material for us is the education he
imparted to German youth and not the education which he
received himself.

DR. SAUTER: Of course, we shall give your wish
consideration, Mr. President.


Herr yon Schirach, will you please make your statements
as brief as possible?

A. Yes, I can be very brief.

Q. Please go on.

A. Lietz's idea was to give youth an education in which
they would have, in the school, a picture of the State.
The school community was a miniature State, and in this
school community was developed a self-administration of
youth. I only want to point out in passing that he,
too, was carrying farther ideas which long before him
had been developed by Pestalozzi and the great Jean
Jacques. All modern education, of course, goes back
somehow to Rousseau, be it a question of Hermann Lietz
or the Boy Scouts, the Pathfinder movement or the

                                             [Page 326]

Wandervogel movement. At any rate, that idea of
self-administration of youth in a school community gave
me my idea of the self-leadership of youth.

My thought was to attract the younger generation in
school ,to ideas that Frobel had originated eighty
years before. Lietz wanted to work with the youth from
the school.

I may perhaps mention very briefly that when in 1898
Lietz began his educational work, the British Major
Baden-Powell was being surrounded by rebels in a South
African town, and was training youngsters to scout in
the woods and, from this, laid the groundwork for his
own Boy Scout movement: and that in that same year, in
1898, Karl Fischer from Berlin-Steglitz founded the
Wandervogel movement.

Q. Witness, I think that this chapter, which is merely
the historic background, might perhaps, in accordance
with the wish of the President, be terminated now.

If I understand you rightly then, you mean that those
principles which you employed later on as Reich Youth
Leader had become familiar to you in your own youth and
in the youth movement of the time. Is that right?

A. Yes; basically, yes. The basic principles of my
later work originate there.

There is one more point I want to clarify in this
connection. Did this education at that time have any
political or anti-Semitic tendencies and how did you
happen to get into politics?

A. No, that educational work had no political and most
certainly no anti-Semitic tendencies, because Lietz
came from the circles around the Democrat Neumann, from
the Dameschke circle.

Q. But how did you get into politics?

A. In the meantime the revolution had broken out. My
father -

Q. The revolution of 1918-1919?

A. Yes, the revolution of 1918-1919. My father had been
thrown out of his position by the Reds. The National
Assembly in Weimar had convened. The Weimar Republic
had been founded. We had a parliamentary system, we had
a democracy, or what we in Germany thought was a
democracy; I doubt that it was one. It was about 1923.
I was at home at the time. It was a period of general
insecurity, distress and dissatisfaction; many
respected families had become beggars through the
inflation, and the worker and the citizen had lost
their savings. The name "Hitler" made its appearance in
connection with the events of 9th November, 1923. I was
not able at the time to obtain any exact information
about him. These proceedings have, for the first time,
informed me and people of my age what Hitler actually
wanted. At that time I was not a National Socialist.
Together with some people of my age I joined a youth
organization, which had the name "Knappenschaft." It
was in some way connected with the national movement,
but it was not bound to any party. The principles of
that organization were simply comradeship, patriotism,
and self-control. There were about one hundred boys
from my city in it at the time who, in this youth
organization, fought against the shallow tendencies of
youth in the post-war period and against the
slovenliness and types of amusement indulged in by
growing youngsters.

In that circle, as a sixteen-year-old, I first came in
contact with socialism, since here I found youths from
every level, young workers, craftsmen, sons of farmers.
But there were some older ones among us who had already
found their work in life, and some also who had been in
the World War. From discussions with these comrades I
came to grasp for the first time the consequences of
the Versailles Treaty in their entirety. The situation
of the youth at the time was this: The schoolboy had
the prospect, as a working student, of fighting his way
through somehow or other, and then he would in all
probability become a member of the academic
proletariat. The possibility of an academic career
practically did not exist for him at all. The young
worker hardly had the prospect of finding a teaching
position. For him there was nothing other than the grey
misery of

                                             [Page 327]

unemployment. It was a generation whom nobody would
help if it did not help itself.

Q. And so that circle to which you belonged as a
sixteen-year-old boy gradually drifted into the
currents of National Socialism?

A. Yes, and in quite a natural way.

Q. How did it happen?

A. In Central Germany there were disturbances. I need
only mention the name of the Communist bandit leader,
Max Holz, to indicate what conditions were at the time.
And, even after outward calm had come, we still had
such conditions that it was impossible to carry out
national meetings because they were usually broken up
by Communists. There came an appeal to us young people
to furnish protection for these patriotic meetings, and
we did. Some of us were wounded in doing this. One of
us, a certain Garachar, was killed by Communists. In
that manner we made possible a large number of national
meetings which otherwise could not have been held in
the Weimar Republic, National Socialist meetings, too;
and to an increasing degree it was exactly those
meetings that we had to protect, because the Communist
terror was directed against them particularly.

Through this protective activity I met leading National
Socialists - at first as speakers, naturally - not
personally. I heard Graf Reventlow speak, I think I
heard Rosenberg too. I heard Streicher speak and heard
the first oratorical efforts of Sauckel, who soon after
became Gauleiter of the National Socialist Party in
Thuringia -

THE PRESIDENT: What date is he speaking of?

DR. SAUTER: This is the period around 1924, that is, a
year after the Hitler Putsch.

Q. In that way, witness, the circle of which you were
then a member came under National Socialist influences.
Was this also supported with reading, reading of
National Socialist literature?

A. Of course, I do not know what my comrades read, with
the exception of one book which I shall name directly.
I know only what I read myself. I was interested at
that time in the writings of the Bayreuth thinker,
Chamberlain, in The Foundations of the Nineteenth
Century, in the writings of Adolf Bartels, in his
Introduction to World Literature, and History of German
National Literature.

THE PRESIDENT: I have already told you that we do not
want to know the full story of the defendant's
education. He is row giving us a series of the books
which he has read, but we are not interested.

DR. SAUTER: Very well, Mr. President.

A. (Continuing) I shall only say in one sentence that
these were works which had no definite anti-Semitic
tendencies, but through which anti-Semitism ran like a
red thread. The decisive anti-Semitic book which I read
at that time, and the book which influenced my comrades

Q. Please -

A.  - was Henry Ford's book, The International Jew. I
read it and became anti-Semitic. This book made in
those days a great impression on my friends and myself
because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of
success, also the representative of a progressive
social policy. In the poverty-stricken and wretched
Germany of the time, youth looked toward America, and
apart from the great benefactor, Herbert Hoover, it was
Henry Ford who, to us, represented America.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, the Tribunal thinks, as I
have said twice now, that the educational influences on
the defendant are quite irrelevant to us. I do not want
to say it again and, unless you can control the
defendant and keep him to the point, I shall have to
stop his evidence.

                                             [Page 328]

DR. SAUTER: But, Mr. President, is it not of interest
to the Tribunal when judging this defendant and his
personality that they know how the defendant became a
National Socialist and how the defendant became
anti-Semitic? I had thought -

THE PRESIDENT: No, it is not of interest to the Tribunal.

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