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 3 of 10)

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

[Page 328]


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 dictatorship.

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

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 correct?

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 about?

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 NSDAP?

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 power.

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 correct?

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 Youth.

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