The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 2000/10/08

I now turn to another point of the Indictment, to the
question of the concentration camps. The prosecution has
connected the defendant with concentration camps, not in the
Indictment, but during the presentation of evidence, and the
witness Alois Hoellriegel, who was questioned here, was
asked in the witness box whether Schirach had ever been in
the Mauthausen concentration camp. To this I should like to
remark that the defendant von Schirach mentioned his visit
to Mauthausen at his interrogation by the American
prosecution before the beginning of the trial; it would,
therefore, not have been necessary to have this visit
confirmed again by the witness Hoellriegel. He visited the
Mauthausen concentration camp in the year 1942, not in 1944,
as the witness Marsalek erroneously stated; the correct
year, 1942, has been confirmed by the witness

                                                   [Page 83]

Hoellriegel, and also by the witnesses Hopken and Wieshofer,
from whom we heard that neither after 1942 nor at any other
time did Schirach visit other concentration camps. The visit
to Mauthausen in 1942 cannot implicate the defendant
Schirach in the sense of having known, approved and
supported all the conditions and atrocities in concentration
camps. In 1942 he saw nothing in Mauthausen which might have
indicated such crimes. There were no gas chambers and the
like in 1942. At that time mass executions did not take
place at Mauthausen. The statements of the defendant von
Schirach concerning his impression of this camp appear to be
quite plausible, because the testimony of numerous witnesses
who have been heard during the course of this trial has
confirmed again and again that on the occasion of such
official visits, which had been announced previously,
everything was carefully prepared in order to show to the
visitors only that which the authorities wished them to see.
Ill-treatment and torture were concealed during such
official visits in the same manner as arbitrary executions
or cruel experiments. This was the case at Mauthausen in
1942 and certainly also at Dachau in 1935, where Schirach
and the other visitors were shown only orderly conditions,
which at a superficial glance appeared to be almost better
than in some ordinary prisons.

As a result, Schirach only knew that since 1933 there were
several concentration camps in Germany to which, in his
opinion, incorrigible habitual criminals and political
prisoners were confined. However, even today Schirach cannot
believe that the mere knowledge of the existence of
concentration camps is in itself a punishable crime, since
he at no time did anything whatsoever to promote
concentration camps, never expressed his approval of them,
never sent anybody to a concentration camp, and would also
never have been able to make any changes in this institution
or to prevent the existence of concentration camps.
Schirach's influence was always too small for that. As Reich
Youth Leader, he, of course, had nothing to do with
concentration camps in the first place, and it was lucky for
Schirach that in his entire Vienna Gau district there was
not a single concentration camp.

His entire relations with concentration camps were therefore
limited to repeated attempts to have people released from
them, and it is significant, after all, that he used his
presence in the concentration camp Mauthausen - the only
time he was there - to exert his influence in obtaining the
release of inhabitants of Vienna who were imprisoned there.

May it please the Tribunal, I do not want to go again into
many details which have played a larger or smaller part in
the presentation of evidence in the case of von Schirach. In
the interest of saving time I shall not deal more
specifically with his alleged connection with Rosenberg or
Streicher, nor with his alleged collaboration in the slave
labour programme in connection with which not even the
slightest participation of the defendant Schirach could be
proved; nor with a telephone conversation which has been
used by the prosecution and which allegedly took place
between one of the Viennese officials and an SS Colonel (SS
Standartenfuehrer) regarding the compulsory work of the
Jews, about which von Schirach knew nothing at all.

But I should like to insert a short remark about one subject
which was dealt with particularly in connection with the
case of Rosenberg, that is, a short explanation concerning
the "Hay" action by which thousands of children in the
Eastern combat zone were collected and brought partly to
Poland and partly to Germany. The apparent aim of this
operation, as far as von Schirach could see from the
documents presented here, was to gather the children who
were in the zone of operations, that is, immediately behind
the front, and wandering around without their parents, and
give them professional training and work so that they should
be saved from physical and moral neglect.

The defendant von Schirach doubts whether that could be
viewed as a crime against humanity or as a war crime. But it
is certain that the defendant von

                                                   [Page 84]

Schirach did not know anything of that affair at the time.
He was not then the competent authority to deal with it.
That entire affair was handled by Army Group Centre,
together with the Ministry for the Eastern Territories, and
it is quite credible that the Eastern Ministry, as well as
Army Group Centre, did not approach the Gauleiter of Vienna
in order to get his approval of that action, or even to
notify him about it.

The only thing which, a considerable time later, came to the
attention of the defendant von Schirach, and which possibly
has any connection with that "Hay" action; was an incidental
report by the then Reich Youth Leader Axmann that so-and-so
many thousand youths were brought to the Junkers works at
Dessau as apprentices.

The defendant von Schirach stressed the importance of
clearing up this matter, because he had been Reich Youth
Leader previously and he wants to' make it quite clear that
also after leaving that office he would of course not have
done anything which he considered to be against the
interests of youth.

May I add another remark here concerning the letter which
the defendant von Schirach sent to Reichsleiter Bormann
after the murder of Heydrich, in which he suggested reprisal
measures to Bormann in the form of a terror attack upon an
English centre of culture? That letter was actually sent by
the defendant to Bormann. He acknowledges it. I have to
point out at the very beginning that fortunately the
suggestion remained a suggestion, and it was never carried
out. The defendant, however, has told us that at that time
he was very upset by the assassination of Heydrich, and it
was clear to him that a revolt of the population in Bohemia
would necessarily lead to a catastrophe for the German
armies in Russia, and in his capacity as Gauleiter of Vienna
he had considered it his duty to undertake something to
protect the rear of the German army fighting in Russia. And
that explains that teletype to Bormann of the year 1942
(Document 3877), which, as I have already pointed out,
fortunately was not acted upon.

May I then, if the Tribunal please, continue on the middle
of Page 26? I shall not deal in detail with the Adolf Hitler
Schools which were founded by Schirach, nor with the fifth
column which was somehow, quite wrongly, connected with the
Hitler Youth, although nothing definite could be charged to
the defendant. I shall no longer dwell either on the
repeated efforts on behalf of peace by the defendant
Schirach and his friend Dr. Colin Ross, neither shall I
discuss the merits of the defendant with reference to the
evacuation of millions of children from bomb-endangered
districts during the war into the more peaceful zones of
rural areas, thus saving their lives and health.

The defendant von Schirach has already talked about all
these affairs in detail himself, and I should therefore like
to refer to his own statements, which you will consider in
your judgement. As counsel for the defendant von Schirach, I
shall discuss only one more problem here, namely Schirach's
opinion and attitude concerning the Jewish question.

Schirach has admitted here on the witness stand that he has
been a convinced National Socialist and thus also an anti-
Semite from his earliest youth. He has also made clear to us
what he understood by anti-Semitism during those years. He
thought of the exclusion of the Jews from civil service and
of the limitation of Jewish influence in cultural life and
perhaps also in economic life, up to a certain extent. But
that was all which in his opinion should be undertaken
against the Jews, and this was in accordance with the
suggestion which he had already made as leader of the
students' organization for the introduction of a quota
system for students. The defendant's decree concerning the
treatment of Jewish youth is, for example, also important in
establishing his attitude (Schirach Document Book No. 136).
This is a decree in which he expressly orders that Jewish
youth organizations should have the right and the

                                                   [Page 85]

to practise freely within the limitations imposed upon them.
It says that they were not to be disturbed in their own

  "In its youth the Jewish community will today take that
  secluded but internally unrestrained special position
  which at some future time the entire Jewish community
  will be given in the German State and in German economy."

Those are the actual words of that decree. Obviously
Schirach was not at all thinking about pogroms, bloody
persecutions of the Jews, and the like; he rather believed
at that time that the anti-Semitic movement had already
reached its aim by the anti-Jewish legislative measures of
the years 1933-34; with this he believed the Jewish
influence, as far as it seemed unhealthy to him, was
removed. He was therefore surprised and very disquieted when
the Nuremberg Laws were issued in 1935 which formulated a
policy of complete exclusion of the Jewish population and
carried it out with barbaric severity. Schirach in no way
took part in the planning of these laws; he has nothing
whatsoever to do with their content and their formulation.
That has been proved here.

When, on 10th November, 1938, he heard about the pogrom
against the Jews and about the brutal excesses which were
staged by Goebbels and his fanatic clique, his indignation
became known throughout the entire youth movement. The
evidence has proved this also. We have heard from the
witness Lauterbacher how Schirach reacted to the report of
these excesses: he immediately called his assistants
together and gave them the strictest orders that the Hitler
Youth had to be kept out of such actions under all
circumstances. Also he at once had the officers of the
Hitler Youth in all German cities notified by telephone to
the same effect, and he warned every subordinate that he
would hold him personally responsible if any excesses should
occur in the Hitler Youth.

But even after November, 1938, Schirach never thought of the
possibility that Hitler was thinking about the extermination
of the Jews. On the contrary, he only heard it said that the
Jews should be evacuated from Germany into other States,
that they should be transported to Poland, and that they
should be settled there at the worst in ghettoes, but
probably in a closed settlement area. When Schirach, in
July, 1940; received Hitler's order to take over the Gau of
Vienna, Hitler himself also talked to him along the same
lines, namely that he, Hitler, would have the Jews brought
from Vienna into the Government General; and ever today
Schirach has no doubt that Hitler himself was not thinking
about the so-called "final solution" of the Jewish question
at that time (1940) in terms of the extermination of the
Jews. We learn from the Hoszbach minutes and other evidence
of these trials that already in 1937 Hitler was planning the
evacuation t o Poland, but that he decided on the
extermination of the Jewish people only in the year 1941 or

Schirach had nothing at all to do with the evacuation of the
Jews from Vienna as is alleged by the prosecution; the
execution of this measure was exclusively in the hands of
the Reich Security Office and the Vienna branch of this
office, and it is known that the Vienna SS Gruppenfuehrer
Brunner has been sentenced to death because of it. The only
order which Schirach received and carried out concerning the
Viennese Jews was to report to Hitler in 1940 how many Jews
were still left in Vienna and he rendered this report in a
letter of December, 1940, where he gave the figure of the
Viennese Jews for 1940 as 60,000. As is known, Minister
Lammers answered this letter from the defendant Schirach
with a letter dated 3rd December, 1940 (PS-1950), which
shows with all clarity that it was not Schirach who ordered
the evacuation of the Viennese Jews into the Government
General but Hitler himself, and that it was also not
Schirach who carried out this measure but the Reichsfuehrer
SS Himmler, who delegated this task to his Vienna office. It
must therefore be stated here categorically that Schirach is
in no way responsible for the deportation of the Jews from
Vienna; he did not carry out this programme and he did not
start it; when he came to Vienna

                                                   [Page 86]

in the summer of 1940 as Gauleiter, the larger part of the
Viennese Jews had already voluntarily emigrated or had been
forcibly evacuated from Vienna, a fact which was also
confirmed by the defendant Seyss-Inquart. The remaining
60,000 Jews who were still there at the beginning of
Schirach's time in Vienna were deported from there by the SS
without his participation and without his responsibility.

In spite of this, Schirach made the well-known Viennese
speech of September, 1942, in which he stated that every Jew
working in Europe was a danger to European culture. Schirach
furthermore said in this speech that if one wanted to
reproach him now with the fact that he had deported tens of
thousands of Jews into the Eastern ghetto from this city,
which had once been the metropolis of Judaism, then he had
to answer that he considered that an active contribution to
European culture. That is how this passage reads. Schirach
has openly and courageously admitted that he actually
expressed himself in this manner at that time, and he has
contritely stated here:

  "I cannot take back this wicked statement; I must take
  the responsibility for it. I spoke these words which I
  sincerely regret."

Should the Tribunal see in these words a legally punishable
crime against humanity, Schirach must make atonement for
this single anti-Semitic remark which can be attributed to
him, though they are merely words and did not have any
harmful result. Schirach's attitude here does not exempt the
Tribunal from its duty to verify carefully what Schirach
actually did; furthermore, under what circumstances he made
this single remark, and finally whether Schirach also made
any other spiteful remarks against the Jews or committed any
malicious acts against the Jewish race as a whole.

The fundamental question is: what did Schirach really do?
The reply to it, emerging from the revelations of this
trial, can only be: apart from the fact that he made this
isolated anti-Semitic remark in his speech in Vienna in
September, 1942, he has not committed any crime against the
Jews. He had no competence in the question of the
deportation of the Vienna Jews, he did not participate in it
at all, and having too little power he could not prevent it
in any case. It is just as the prosecution incidentally
stated: He boastfully attributed to himself an action which
in reality he had never committed and, in view of his entire
attitude, he never could have committed.

What, however, prompted Schirach to make this remark in his
Vienna speech? How did he come to attribute a deed to
himself and charge himself with an action which he had
obviously never committed? Here, too, the answer is given by
the results of the evidence in the trial, evidence which
demonstrates what a very difficult position Schirach had in
Vienna. Without giving any reason, Hitler dismissed him as
Reich Youth Leader, presumably because he no longer trusted
him. From year to year Hitler's fear was growing that the
young people stood behind Schirach and that Schirach would
eventually be alienated from him (Hitler) to the same degree
as he was isolated from the people by the black wall of his
SS. Hitler possibly saw in his Youth Leader the
personification of the coming generation which would think
in international terms, whose feelings would be humane and
who would feel themselves more and more bound to those
perceptions of true morality which Hitler had long ago
thrown overboard for himself and his national leadership
because they had long since ceased to be concepts of true
morality for him but mere slogans of a meaningless
propaganda. This feeling of Hitler's might have been the
deeper reason why he dismissed Schirach as Youth Leader
suddenly in the summer of 1940, without any word of
explanation, and appointed him to the especially difficult
position of Gauleiter in Vienna, the city which he (Hitler)
hated from the bottom of his heart, even whilst he spoke of
his "Austrian Fatherland".

In Vienna Schirach's position was extremely complicated.
Wherever he went he was shadowed and spied upon, his
administrative activity there was sharply

                                                   [Page 87]

criticized, he was reproached for hardly looking after the
interests of the Party in Vienna at all, for almost never
being seen at Party meetings and for not making any
political speeches. I refer in this connection to the
affidavit of Maria Hopken, Schirach Document Book No. 3. The
Berlin Party Chancellery received any complaints the Vienna
Party members made about their new Gauleiter with
satisfaction, and this fact alone might explain the
unfortunate speech Schirach made in September, 1942, which
was diametrically opposed to the attitude he had always
maintained concerning the Jewish question. After the
interrogation of the witness Gustav Hopken here in this
courtroom there can be no doubt as to how the Vienna speech
came about, for it reveals that Schirach had then expressly
charged his press agent Gunther Kaufmann to emphasize this
particular point when telephoning his report of the Vienna
speech to the German News Agency in Berlin, because he,
Schirach - I quote - "had to make a concession to Bormann in
this respect", a point stressed by Schirach himself, in the
course of his interrogation, with the statement that out of
false loyalty he had morally identified himself with these
acts of Hitler and Himmler. This ugly speech which Schirach
made in September, 1942 is, however, in another sense a very
valuable point in favour of Schirach: in the course thereof
Schirach speaks of a "transfer of the Jews to the ghettoes
of the East ". Had Schirach known at that time that the
Viennese Jews were to be sent away in order to be murdered
in an extermination camp, he would in view of the purpose of
this speech doubtless not have spoken of an Eastern ghetto
to which the Jews had been sent, but he would have reported
the extermination of the Viennese Jews; but even at that
time, in the autumn of 1942, he never had the slightest
suspicion that Hitler wanted to murder the Jews. That he
would never have approved and never accepted his anti-
Semitism at no time went so far.

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