The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th May to 24th May, 1946

One Hundred and Thirty-Seventh Day: Thursday, 23rd May, 1946
(Part 2 of 10)

[DR. SAUTER continues his direct examination of Baldur von Schirach]

[Page 324]

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 Youth."

[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 German

[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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