The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. SIEMERS: Continued:

The above statements show that the prosecution misjudges the
actual and legal conditions if it wishes to make. Raeder
responsible for political decisions although he had nothing
to do with them, but always worked as an officer only. Just
as little as it could be suggested one hundred and thirty
years ago to bring before a court an admiral of the dictator
Napoleon, so can one not condemn an admiral of the dictator
Hitler. Particularly with dictators - and the prosecution
overlooks this - not only the power and the influence of a
military commander diminishes but his responsibility also
diminish to the same extent; for the dictator has seized all
power and with it all responsibility, all the more so if a
dictator appears with such an extraordinary will and such
immense power as Hitler. The French Prosecutor said in a
particularly pertinent way on 7th February, 1946, before
this Tribunal:

  "Hitler represented the exclusive right to make decisions

The resulting strength and power has been hardly considered
by the prosecution, and, in any case, it has not been taken
into consideration in the presentation of the facts and the
legal conclusions. How great this power is, Gustave Le Bon
shows in his famous book Psychology of the Masses in the
chapter "The Leaders of the Masses".

I quote from it:

  "Within the class of leaders quite a strict division can
  be made. The energetic people with strong wills, but
  without perseverance, belong to the one kind; the people
  with a strong, persevering will belong to the other kind,
  which is much rarer .... The second class of leaders,
  those with a persevering will, exercises a much more
  important influence, in spite of its less brilliant

Hitler belongs to this second class of leaders, who, in
accordance with this quotation, exercised an immense
influence, and who, on the other hand, was unimpressive in
his brown uniform.

Gustave Le Bon continues:

  "The unyielding will which they possess is an exceedingly
  rare and exceedingly powerful attribute which subdues
  everything. One does not always realize what a strong and
  persistent will can achieve. Nothing can resist it,
  neither nature, nor gods, nor men."

In view of these words, one must realize that Raeder could
not resist either.

Accordingly, only the question remains: Can revolt ever be a
soldier's duty - an open mutiny? This question will be
denied by every commander all over the world and likewise by
every other person except in the case of a dictator
commanding the commission of a crime the criminality of
which is recognized by the military commander himself.
Accordingly, Raeder could be made responsible for a military
crime only, but not for a political one, because for the
political crime the dictator himself must answer. Should the
prosecution have come to some other conclusion regarding
Raeder it has only occurred - as I have already emphasized
in my introduction - because, in their misconception of the
actual and juridical facts, they regarded Raeder both as a
politician and a Grand Admiral of the Navy. But he was a
naval man only. He lived for the Navy alone, for the welfare
of the Navy for which he is also now prepared to bear
responsibility to the full extent. He led

                                                   [Page 70]

the Navy in a unified manner, and, aided by his officer
corps, taught it to think decently and to fight
chivalrously, as humanity expects a sailor to do. Because of
the deeds of a Hitler and his National Socialism, the
officers and men of this Navy must not be defamed by their
highest-ranking officer being declared a criminal. From an
historical viewpoint Raeder may be guilty, because he, as
many others within Germany and abroad, did not recognize or
see through Hitler, and did not have the strength to resist
the dynamic force of a Hitler, but such an omission is no
crime. What Raeder did or deft undone in his life was in the
belief that he was acting correctly and that, as a
conscientious officer, he had to act in this way.

Raeder is a highly regarded officer who is not a criminal
and cannot be a criminal since all his life he has lived
honourably and as a Christian. A man who believes in God
does not commit crimes, and a soldier who believes in God is
not a war criminal.

I therefore beg the High Tribunal to acquit completely Grand
Admiral Dr. h. c. Erich Raeder regarding all points of the

THE PRESIDENT: I call on Dr. Sauter for the defendant

DR. SAUTER (for the defendant von Schirach): Gentlemen of
the Tribunal, Baldur von Schirach, who at that time was
Reich Youth Leader, in 1936 welcomed the guests to the
Olympic Games in Berlin with the following words:

  "Youth throws a bridge across all frontiers and seas! I
  call to the Youth of the World and through them, to

And Baldur von Schirach, then Gauleiter of Vienna, said to
Hitler in 1940:

  "Vienna cannot be conquered with bayonets, but only with

Those two utterances are characteristic of the nature of
this defendant. It is the task of the defence to examine the
evidence produced in this trial for the purpose of
ascertaining whether the said Baldur von Schirach, who so
finely expressed himself, really committed those crimes
against law and humanity with which he is charged by the

Schirach is the youngest defendant here. He is also, of all
the defendants, the one who was, by far the youngest when he
joined the Party, which he did when he was not yet 18. That
fact is of some significance in the judging of his case.
When still at school he came under the spell of rising
National Socialism; he was particularly attracted by the
Socialist idea which had, already in his country school,
recognized no difference between the sons of fathers of
different classes and professions; those boys around
Schirach already in the popular movement of the 1920's in
Germany gave promise of the resurgence of our Fatherland
from the aftermath of the defeat in the Great War into a
happy future; and fate willed it that as early as 1925, when
he was seventeen, Schirach came into personal contact with
Hitler at Weimar, Goethe's old town. Hitler's personality
made a great impression on young Schirach, as he himself
admitted; the programme for the National Community
(Volksgemeinschaft) which Hitler had evolved at that time
met with Schirach's wholehearted enthusiasm, because he
thought he saw reproduced therein on a full-size scale that
which he had personally experienced in a small way in the
comradeship of the country school and in his youth
organization. To him and his comrades Hitler appeared as the
man who would open for the younger generation the road into
the future; from him this younger generation also got its
prospects of work, its prospects of a secure existence, its
prospects of a happy life. Thus the young man became a
convinced National Socialist; he became one as a result of
the environment in which he had spent his youth, and which
offered a soil which was only too fertile for the growth of
that ideology which young Schirach embraced because at that
period he held it to be the right one. This environment of
his childhood and a biased reading of political books, which
the young man devoured in his hunger for knowledge, made of
him, while still an inexperienced youth, also an anti-
Semite. It is true that he did not become an anti-Semite in
the sense of those fanatics who ultimately did not recoil

                                                   [Page 71]

horror even from acts of violence and pogroms, nor in the
sense of those fanatics who finally created an Auschwitz and
murdered millions of Jews; but an anti-Semite in that
moderate sense, who would merely restrict Jewish influence
in the government of the State and in cultural life, but for
the rest would leave untouched the freedom and rights of
Jewish fellow-citizens, and who never thought of
exterminating the Jewish people. At least that is the
picture of Hitler's anti-Semitism which young Schirach drew
for himself during those years.

That this was really Schirach's opinion is also
substantiated by the statement which Schirach made here on
the morning of 24th May, 1946, in which he described without
reservation the crimes committed by Hitler as a shameful
blot on our history, as a crime which fills every German
with shame; that statement in which he openly states that
Auschwitz was bound to be the end of each and every racial
and anti-Semitic policy. This statement here in the
courtroom came from the bottom of the heart of the defendant
Schirach; it was the result of the terrible disclosures
which these trials have brought to him, and Schirach made
this statement here openly before the public in order to
bring back the German youth from a wrong road to the highway
of justice and tolerance.

Gentlemen, I would now like to bring to your attention the
more important accusations which have been raised against
Schirach, and the major results which the evidence has shown
as to the individual points:

The defendant Schirach is first of all accused of the fact
that before the seizure of power, that is before the year
1933, he actively promoted the National Socialist Party and
the youth organization affiliated with it, and that he
thereby contributed to the rise of the Party to power. He
had been, as is stated in the Trial Brief, a close and
subordinate follower of Hitler; he had stood in blind
loyalty to Hitler and the latter's National Socialist form
of thought; and he had, as leader of the Student League, led
the students ideologically and politically to National
Socialism and won them over to it.

All this, if your Honours please, is not denied by Schirach
in any way. He has done what he is being accused of in this
respect; this he confesses openly, and for this he naturally
holds himself responsible. The only thing which he denies
with regard to this, and all the more emphatically with
regard to the later period, is the accusation that he
participated in a conspiracy. Schirach himself pointed out
that the Fuehrer-principle and dictatorship in their
character and their theory are absolutely incompatible with
the idea of a conspiracy, and a conspiracy appears to him as
a logical impossibility if many millions of members are to
be included in it and if its existence and aims lie exposed
before the country in question as well as the surrounding
world. We furthermore know from the results of these trials
that Hitler, aside from Bormann and Himmler, did not have
any friend, any adviser, with whom he discussed his plans
and aims; instead, he carried the Fuehrer-principle to the
extreme limit. He took no cognizance of any advisory
meetings or discussions which might have affected his
decisions in any way, but reached his decisions solely by
himself, without even listening to the opinion of those
closest to him. With him there were only orders on his part
and unconditional obedience on the other side. Without
elaborating the matter any further, I will merely point out
that that is how the "conspiracy" actually appeared; and all
of us who have lived through this trial would never have
considered this most radical increase of the Fuehrer-
principle possible had not all defendants and all witnesses
who know about this, in complete agreement and without a
single exception, shown the same picture to us again and

Schirach now is not denying at all that already in his very
early years he came completely under the influence of
Hitler, that he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the
service of this idea, and that at the time, as is stated in
the Indictment quite correctly, he was devoted to Hitler
with unconditional loyalty.

If this was a crime on the part of young Schirach, a crime
which millions of older, more experienced, mature Germans
have committed with him, then you,

                                                   [Page 72]

as judges, may condemn him for this if our law code
furnishes a legal basis for it. This would be a further
disappointment, in addition to the many others which he has
already experienced for years. Schirach knows today that he
gave loyal support unto the end to a man who did not deserve
it, and he also knows today that the ideas for which he was
enthusiastic in his young years, and for which he sacrificed
himself, led in practice to ends which he himself had never

But even the Schirach of today, purged by many bitter
experiences, cannot see anything criminal in that activity
of his younger years carried out in good faith, together
with millions of other Germans, for Hitler and his Party.
For the Party at that time appeared quite legal to him;
Schirach never had any doubt that it also came into power by
legal means. The seizure of power by the Party, the
appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor by Reich President
von Hindenburg, and winning the support of the majority of
the people through the Party in repeated elections and the
like, confirmed for young Schirach again and again the
legality of the movement which he had joined. If today he is
to be punished because he acknowledged this same Hitler as
his Fuehrer, whom millions of Germans and all States of the
world recognized as legal head of the German State, Schirach
could never acknowledge such a decision as being just. In
spite of the severe judgement which he himself has
pronounced in this courtroom about Hitler and had to
pronounce here according to his convictions, he would feel
himself a victim of his political convictions if he were to
be sentenced because, as a young, enthusiastic man, he
joined the National Socialist Party and collaborated in its
construction and seizure of power. At the time he did not
recognize that as a crime but, from his standpoint, he
considered it his patriotic duty.

The second, far more important accusation which has been
raised against the defendant von Schirach is to the effect
that he, as Reich Youth Leader in the years 1932-1940, to
quote the Indictment literally was guilty of "poisoning the
minds of youth with Nazi ideology, and preparing youth for
aggressive war". Schirach has always contested this charge
emphatically, and this charge has not been substantiated by
the results of the evidence either.

The law on the Hitler Youth of 1936 described Schirach's
task as Reich Youth Leader as being: "to educate youth
outside the parental home and outside the school physically,
intellectually and morally for service to the people and to
the national community in the spirit of National Socialism
through the Hitler Youth Movement and its leader", the
defendant von Schirach. This was the programme. This
programme is repeated word for word in the enactment decree
of 1939, which was issued three years later because Schirach
did not want to introduce compulsory membership until the
movement practically included the entire German youth on the
basis of voluntary membership, so that future joining by
compulsion would exist on paper only.

The Hitler Youth programme, as it was formulated by Schirach
in his speeches and writings - and no other programme of the
Hitler Youth exists - does not contain a single word which
would indicate a military education of youth, much less an
education in aggressive warfare. But even in practice the
education of youth, in Schirach's opinion, in no way gives
evidence of a military education of German youth for such a
purpose. In that respect the point was stressed by the
prosecution that the Hitler Youth movement was organized in
various "battalions and divisions". That is correct although
the designations listed by the prosecution are not correct
and although they do not have anything to do with military
formations. But in the last analysis, every youth movement
the world over will show a classification into smaller or
larger units; each of these units naturally needs a name
also, and it must also have a responsible leader. As in
other countries, so also in the German Hitler Youth, the
leader of the unit was designated by some sign of his rank,
be it a leader's cord, stars, or other insignia of rank.
This naturally has nothing to do with the military character
of youth education.

                                                   [Page 73]

From his own familiarity with practices in foreign countries
Schirach knows that foreign youth organizations such as in
Switzerland, as well as in France and in other countries,
also have similar classifications and similar insignia, and
it has never occurred to us so far to regard that as a
reason for considering such foreign youth organizations as
military associations.

It was furthermore stressed that formations of male youth in
Germany were also given training in shooting. That is also
correct but equally proves very little, in the opinion of
Schirach, because in the shooting instruction of the Hitler
youth organization, without exception, small-calibre rifles
were used, in other words, a type of short, light rifle
(Flobertstutzen) which are nowhere in the world considered
as a military weapon and which are not even mentioned in the
enumeration of military weapons in the Versailles Treaty.
The Hitler Youth movement in Germany did not possess a
single military weapon, no infantry rifle and no machine-
gun, no motorized aeroplane, no cannon and no tank,
throughout its whole existence. However, if one wants to
speak about military training then this training ought
primarily to have taken place with military weapons such as
are used in modern warfare. To be sure, as has been
established in the cross-examination of Schirach, in order
to give added importance to his office a certain Dr.
Stellrecht, the technical adviser on instruction in shooting
in the leadership of the Reich Youth Movement, attempted to
ascribe a certain exceptional importance to this particular
branch of youth training in order to make his own office
appear particularly important. Schirach, however, was able
to show without refutation that for this very reason
differences of opinion arose between him and this technical
adviser and therefore he finally parted with Dr. Stellrecht
because he, Schirach, opposed any development which might
have tended towards military training of youth. However,
this very Dr. Stellrecht, who was produced by the
prosecution as a witness against Schirach, nevertheless also
admitted for his part that "not a single boy in Germany was
trained in handling weapons of war" and that "not one boy
was given a military weapon". That is, word for word, the
testimony of Stellrecht.

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