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 4 of 10)

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

[Page 331]

Q. Witness, at first you were Reich Leader of the NSDAP; that was a Party office. Then after the seizure of power, you then became Youth Leader of the German Reich; that was a State office. On the basis of this State or national office, did you also have competence and responsibility for the school system for the elementary schools?

[Page 332]

A. For the school system in Germany, the Reich Minister for Science, Education, and Culture was the only authority. My competence was the education outside the schools, along with the home and the school, as it says in the law of 1st December, 1936. However, I had some schools of my own, the so-called Adolf Hitler Schools, which were not under national supervision. They were the creation of a later period. And during the war, when children were sent into the country - that is, through the organization which took care of evacuating the young people from the big cities, from the areas endangered by bombing - I had, within the camps where these children were housed, a competence for education. But on the whole I have to answer the question about my competence for the school system in Germany in the negative.

Q. This youth which one had to educate outside the schools was called the Hitler Youth, the HJ. Was membership in the Hitler Youth compulsory or voluntary?

A. The membership in the Hitler Youth was voluntary until 1936. In 1936, the law already mentioned concerning the HJ was issued which made all the German youth members of the HJ. The stipulations for the carrying out of that law, however, were issued only in March 1939, and only during the war, in May 1940, was the thought of carrying out a German youth order considered within the Reich Youth Leadership and discussed publicly. May I point out that my then deputy, Lauterbacher, at the time when I was at the front, stated in a public meeting - I believe at Frankfurt in 1940 - that now, after ninety-seven per cent of the youngest age group of youth had volunteered for the Hitler Youth, it would be necessary to draft the remaining three per cent by a youth order.

DR. SAUTER: In this connection, Mr. President, may I refer to two documents of the Document Book Schirach. No. 51 -

THE PRESIDENT: I did not quite understand what the defendant said. He said that the membership was voluntary until 1936, that the HJ Law was then passed, and something to the effect that the execution of the law was not published until 1939. Was that what he said?

DR. SAUTER: Yes, that is correct. Until 1936 - if I may explain that, Mr. President - membership in the Hitler Youth was absolutely voluntary. Then in 1936 the HJ Law was issued, which provided that boys and girls had to belong to the Hitler Youth. But the stipulations for its execution were issued by the defendant only in 1939 so that, in practice, until 1959 the membership was nevertheless on a voluntary basis.

THE PRESIDENT: Is that right, defendant?

THE WITNESS: Yes, that is right.

DR. SAUTER: And these facts which I have just presented, Mr. President, can also be seen from two documents of the Document Book Schirach, No. 51, on Page 91, and No. 52, on Page 92. In the latter document -

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, Dr. Sauter, I accept it from you and from the defendant. I only wanted to understand it. You can go on.

DR. SAUTER: And in the second document, mention is also made of the ninety-seven per cent which the defendant has said had voluntarily joined the HJ, so that now there were only three per cent missing. May I continue?


Q. Witness, what was the attitude of the parents of the children on the question of whether the children should join the HJ or not? What did the parents say?

A. There were, of course, parents who did not like to have their children join the HJ. Whenever I made one of my radio speeches to the parents or to the youth, many hundreds of parents sent me letters. Among these letters, and

[Page 333]

very frequently, there were some in which the parents voiced their objections to the HJ, or expressed their dislike of it. I always considered that a special proof of the confidence which the parents had in me. I should like to say here that never, when parents restrained their children from joining, have I exerted any compulsion or put them under pressure of any kind. In doing that I would have lost all the confidence placed in me by the parents of Germany. That confidence was the basis of my entire educational work.

I believe that on this occasion I have to say also that the concept that any youth organization can be established and carried on, and successfully carried on, by coercing youth, is absolutely false.

Q. Witness, did youngsters who did not join the Hitler Youth suffer any disadvantage for that reason?

A. Youngsters who did not join the Hitler Youth were at a disadvantage in that they could not take part in our camping, in our trips, in our sports meetings. They were in a certain sense outsiders, and there a was a danger that they might become hypochondriacs.

Q. But were there not certain professions in which membership in the HJ was a prerequisite for working in those professions?

A. Of course.

Q. What were the professions?

A. For instance, the profession of teacher. It is quite clear that a teacher cannot educate youth unless he himself knows the life of that youth, and so we demanded that the young teachers, that is those in training to teach, should go through the HJ. The junior teacher had to be familiar with the ways of life of the pupils who were under his supervision.

Q. But there were only a few such professions, whereas for other professions membership in the HJ was not a prerequisite for admission. Or what was the situation?

A. I cannot answer that in detail. I believe that a discussion about that is not even possible, because the entire youth was in the Hitler Youth.

Q. Witness, you know that the prosecution has also accused the defendants of having advocated the Fuehrer principle. Therefore, I ask you: Was the Fuehrer principle also valid in the HJ, and in what form was it carried out in the HJ? I should like to remind you, in connection with this question, of that kind of Fuehrer principle of which we have heard in the testimony.

A. Of course, the HJ was founded on the Fuehrer principle; only the entire form of leadership of youth differed basically from that of other National Socialist organizations. For instance, we had the custom in youth leadership of discussing frankly all questions of interest to us. There were lively debates at our district leader meetings. I myself educated my assistants in a spirit even of contradiction. Of course, once we had debated a measure and I had then given an order or a directive, that ended the debate. The youth leaders - that is the young boy and girl leaders - through years of working together and serving the common purpose, had become a unit of many thousands. They had become friends. It is evident that in a group of that kind the carrying out of orders and directives takes place in ways entirely different from those in a military organization or in any other political organization.

Q. Witness -

A. (Interposing) May I just add one more thing?

A leadership based on natural authority such as we had in the youth organization is something which is not alien to youth at all. Such leadership in the youth organization never degenerates into dictatorship.

Q. Witness, you have been accused of training youth in a military way, and in that connection, the fact has been pointed out that your HJ wore a uniform. Is that correct, and why did the HJ wear a uniform?

A. I have stated my opinion about that in many instances. I believe there are also documents to illustrate it. I have always described the uniform of the

[Page 334]

HJ as the dress of comradeship. The uniform was the symbol of a community without class distinctions. The worker's boy wore the same garb as the son of the university professor. The girl from the wealthy family wore the same garb as the child of the labourer. Hence the uniform. This uniform did not have any military significance whatsoever.

DR. SAUTER: In that connection, Mr. President, may I ask you to take judicial notice of Document No. 55 of the Document Book Schirach, then of Nos. 55 and 117, where the defendant von Schirach, many years ago, expressed in writing the same trends of thought which he is expressing today.

I should only like to ask, Mr. President, for permission to correct an error in Document 55, on Page 98. Rather far down, under the heading, "Page 77," is a quotation from a book by Schirach. There it says: "Even the son of the millionaire has no other power - "

I do not know whether you have found the passage. It is on Page 77 of the book quoted, and Page 98 of the Document Book, No 55. There is a quotation near the bottom of the page: "Even the son of the millionaire has no other power." It should read, "dress," not "power." The German word, "Macht," is an error, and should be the word, "Tracht."

So I ask now to have the word, "Macht," "power," changed to the word "Tracht," "dress."


Q. Witness, I shall continue with the interrogation. You have been accused of having prepared youth for the war, psychologically and educationally. You are alleged to have participated in a conspiracy for that purpose, a conspiracy by which the National Socialist movement acquired total power in Germany, and finally planned and carried out aggressive wars.

What can you say about that?

A. I did not participate in any conspiracy. I cannot consider it participation in a conspiracy if I joined the National Socialist Party. The programme of that party had been approved; it had been published. The Party was authorized to take part in elections. Hitler had not said - he had not said nor had any of his assistants: "I want to assume power by a coup d'etat." Again and again in public he had stated, not once, but a hundred times: "I want to overcome that parliamentary system by legal means, because it is leading us, year by year, deeper into misery." And I myself as the youngest representative of the Reichstag of the Republic told my 60,000 constituents similar things in electoral campaigns.

There was nothing there which could have proved the fact of a conspiracy, nothing which was discussed behind closed doors. What we wanted we acknowledged frankly before the nation, and so far as the printed word is read around the globe, everyone abroad also could have been informed about our aims and purposes.

As far as preparation for war is concerned, I have to state that I did not take part in any conferences or issuing of orders which would indicate preparation for an aggressive war. I believe that can be seen from the proceedings in this Court up to now.

I can only state that I did not participate in a conspiracy. I do not believe either that there was a conspiracy; the thought of conspiracy is in contradiction to the idea of dictatorship. A dictatorship does not conspire; a dictatorship commands.

Q. Witness, what did the leadership of the Hitler Youth do to prepare the youth for war and to train it for warlike purposes?

A. Before I answer that question, I believe I will have to explain briefly the difference between military and pre-military training.

Military training, in my opinion, is training with weapons of war, and training which is conducted by military personnel, that is, by officers, with and

[Page 335]

without weapons of war. Pre-military education - pre-military training - is, in the widest sense, training which comes before the time of military service, a special preparation for military service. We, in the Hitler Youth, were opponents of any military drills for youth. We disliked such drills as opposed to youth. I am not giving my personal opinion here, but the opinion of thousands of my co-workers.

It is a fact that I rejected the "Wehrjugend," the Youth Defence Groups, which had existed in Germany, and did not allow any continuation of "Wehrjugend" work within the HJ. I had always been strongly opposed to any militarism in a youth organization. With all nay high esteem for the profession of an officer, I still do not consider an officer capable of leading youth, because always, in some form or other, he will apply the tone of the barrack square and the forms of military leadership to youth.

That is the reason why I did not have any officers as my assistants in the Hitler Youth. Because of my attitude against using officers as youth leaders, I was severely criticized by the Wehrmacht on occasion. I should like to stress that that criticism did not come from the OKW; Field-Marshal Keitel, especially, had a great deal of understanding for my ideas. However, in the Wehrmacht, now and again, criticism was heard on account of the general attitude of opposition of the Youth Leadership Corps towards having officers used as leaders of a youth organization. The principle of "youth leading youth" was never broken in Germany.

If I am now to answer definitively the question of whether the youth was prepared for the war and whether it was trained in a military sense, I shall have to say, in conclusion, that the main emphasis of all youth work in Germany was on the preparation for life in a competitive world, in the professional schools, in camping, and competitive sports. The physical training, which perhaps in some way could be considered a preparation for military service, took up only a very small part of our time.

I should like to give an example here. A "Gebiet" or district of the Hitler Youth, for instance the "Gebiet" of Hessen-Nassau, which is about the same as a "Gau" in the Party, contributed from its funds in 1939 as follows: For hikes and camping, nine-twentieths; for cultural work, three-twentieths; for sports and physical training, three-twentieths; for the Land Service (Landdienst) and other tasks and for the offices, five-twentieths.

The same area spent, in 1944 - that is, one year before the end of the war - for cultural work, four-twentieths; for sports and defence training, five-twentieths; for "Landdienst " and other tasks, six-twentieths; and for the evacuation of children to the country, five-twentieths.

In that connection I should like to mention briefly that the same area, from 1936 until 1943, made no expenditures for racial-political education; in 1944 there was an entry of twenty marks under the heading of racial-political education for the acquisition of a picture book about hereditary and social diseases. However, in that same district, in one single town, during the same time, 200,000 marks were allowed for visits to the theatres.

The question concerning pre-military or military education cannot be answered by me without describing small calibre shooting practice. Small calibre firing was a sport among the German youth. It was carried out according to the international rules for sport shooting. Small calibre shooting, according to Article 177 of the Treaty of Versailles, was not prohibited. It states expressly in that article of the treaty that hunting, sporting and hiking organizations are forbidden to train their members in the handling and use of war weapons. The small calibre rifle, however, is not a war weapon. For our sport shooting we used a rifle similar to the American 22-calibre. It was used with the 22-calibre Flobert cartridge, short or long.

I should like to say here that our entire marksmanship training and other so-called pre-military training can be found in a manual entitled HJ in the Service. That book was printed and sold not only in Germany, but also was available abroad.

[Page 336]

The British Board of Education in 1938 passed a judgement on that book, which was in the Educational Pamphlet, Number 109 With the permission of the Tribunal I should like to quote briefly what was said about it in this educational pamphlet. I quote in English:
"It cannot fairly be said to be in essence a more militaristic work than any exhaustive and comprehensive manual of boy scout training would be. Some forty pages are, to be sure; devoted to the theory and practice of shooting small calibre rifles and air guns, but there is nothing in them to which exception can reasonably be taken, and the worst that one can say of them is that they may be confidently recommended to the notice of any boy scout wishing to qualify for his marksmanship badge."
As to the intellectual attitude of the Hitler Youth, I can only say that it was definitely not militaristic.

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