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 9 of 10)

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

[Page 352]

Q. Witness, is it correct that in 1937 you concluded an agreement with the Church to the effect that the Hitler Youth should, on principle, not be on duty on Sundays during church time, so that the children could attend religious services, and furthermore, that on account of this agreement you ran into considerable difficulties?

A. That is correct.

Q. Will you tell us very briefly about that?

A. I do not believe one can say that it was an agreement with the Church. If I remember correctly, I issued a decree based on various letters I had received from clergymen, which to a very great extent took into account the wishes expressed in these letters. I then issued that decree and I gather from many affidavits which have been sent by youth leaders to me recently, that that decree was very carefully obeyed.

Difficulties arose in the Party Chancellery on account of that attitude of mine. Bormann, of course, was an energetic enemy of such a basic concession to the Church, and Hitler himself - I do not know whether it was in connection with this decree, but at any rate, in connection with the regulation of the dispute between the youth leadership and the Church - also reprimanded me once.

[Page 353]

Q. Witness, I have a small book here, entitled, "A Good Year 1944," with the sub-title, "Christmas Gift of the War Welfare Service of Reich Leader von Schirach." I submit that book as Document No. 84 to the Tribunal for judicial notice. On Page 55 is a picture of the Madonna. On Page 54 is a Christian poem written by the defendant, with the title, "Bavarian Christmas Crib." On the lower half of Page 54 there is the famous "Wessobrunner Prayer," the oldest prayer in the German language, dating from the eighth century.

Witness, is it also correct that on account of the Christian content of that book you had difficulties with Reich Leader Bormann, and if so, what were they?

A. That is correct. I had that Christmas gift made for, I believe, 80,000 to 100,000 soldiers, and sent to them at the front as late as 1944. I did not hear anything directly from Bormann; but he suddenly asked for ten copies of that book, and I was informed by people who were near the Fuehrer in his headquarters that he used that book in some way in order to incite Hitler against me.

I should like to add that at all times during my life, at any rate in so far as I wrote poetry, I expressed myself in the same way as I did in this poem. Also, in the collection of poems, The Flag of the Persecuted, which I have not here, unfortunately, but which was distributed among the youth in a very large edition, where my revolutionary poems can be found, there are poems of a Christian content which, however, were not reprinted by the Party Press in the newspapers, and therefore did not become so well known as my other verses. But I should like to express quite clearly that I was an opponent of denominational youth organizations, and I wish to make it just as clear that I was not an opponent of the Christian religion.

Q. Not an opponent?

A. Of course not.

Q. Did you leave the Church?

A. In spite of many hints by Bormann, I never left the Church.

DR. SAUTER: May I, Mr. President, ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of Documents 85 to 93 inclusive, of the Schirach Document Book. All of these are documents from the period when he was Reich Youth Leader, which manifested his attitude toward the Church.

THE WITNESS: May I add something to that?

DR. SAUTER: If you please.

THE WITNESS: As far as my religious attitude is concerned, I always tried to apply the thoughts expressed in Wilhelm Meister's Wanderjehre about religion in general and the place of the Christian religion in particular. I should like to say here that in my work as an educator I was myself mistaken, in so far as I was of the opinion that a positive Christianity existed outside the Church.

However, I never made any anti-Christian statements, and I should like to say here for the first time in public, that in the closest circles of the Hitler Youth I have always expressed a very unequivocal belief in the person and teachings of Christ. Before educators of the Adolf Hitler School - something which the Party Chancellery was never to find out about - I spoke about Christ as the greatest leader in world history, and of the commandment to "Love thy neighbour" as a universal idea of our culture. I believe that there are also several testimonials by youth leaders about that in your possession, Mr. defence counsel.

Q. Yes, I shall refer to that later. I should like to begin a new chapter now. In 1940 you were dismissed as Reich Youth Leader?

A. Yes.

Q. And you were succeeded by Axmann who has already been mentioned. But you remained connected with youth education through what office?

A. Through the office of the Reich Leader of Youth Education.

Q. And in addition to that you received another title, I believe?

A. Yes, I became Deputy of the Fuehrer for the Inspection of the Hitler Youth.

[Page 354]

Q. Was that only a title, or was that some kind of office?

A. That was an office to the extent that the Reichsleiter office was concerned with youth work in the Party sector. The Youth Leader of the German Reich - that was Axmann as my successor - also had a field of activity in the State, and I, too, became competent for that by my appointment as inspector.

Q. How did your dismissal as Reich Youth Leader come about, and why were you called specifically to Vienna as Gauleiter? What can you tell us about that?

A. At the end of the French campaign, in which I participated as an infantryman, I was in Lyons when a wireless message from the Fuehrer's Headquarters was received, and the chief of my company told me that I had to report to the Fuehrer's Headquarters. I went there at once, and at the Fuehrer's Headquarters, which was at that time in the Black Forest, I saw the Fuehrer standing in the open and speaking to Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop. I waited a while, maybe a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, until the conversation had ended and then reported at once to Hitler, and there, outside, before the Casino building where later we all had our meal together, we had a brief conversation, lasting not more than ten minutes. He instructed me to propose to him a successor for the Youth Leadership. He intended me to take over Reich Gau Vienna. I at once suggested my assistant, Axmann, who was not a man who advocated physical or military training but was concerned with social work among the youth, and that was most important to me. He accepted this proposal.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, we need not go through Axmann's qualifications, need we? Is it material to the Tribunal to know what his successor was like?

DR. SAUTER: Axmann? Axmann was successor as Reich Youth Leader.

THE PRESIDENT: What I was asking you was, whether it was material for the Tribunal to know the qualities of Axmann. We have nothing to do with that.


Q. Herr von Schirach, you can be more brief about that point, can you not?

A. Hitler then said that I should keep my job as Reich Leader of Youth Education and that I should assume at the same time the office of the Inspector of Youth and that I should go to Vienna as a successor to Burckel. In Vienna, especially in the cultural field, serious difficulties had arisen, and therefore I was above all to encourage art and institutions of culture, particularly of theatres, art galleries, libraries and so on; and I should also be especially concerned about the working class. I raised the objection that I could only carry out that cultural work independent of Goebbels, and Hitler promised at that time that this independence would be fully safeguarded, but he did not keep that promise later.

And lastly he said that he was sending the Jewish population away from Vienna, that he had already informed Himmler or Heydrich - I do not remember whom he mentioned - of this, or that he intended to do so. Vienna had to become a German city, and in that connection he even spoke of an evacuation of the Czech population.

That concluded that conversation. I received no other instructions for this office, and then we dined together as was usual. I took my leave then, and went to Berlin to talk to my assistants.

Q. Vienna was considered at that time, if I am correctly informed, the most difficult Gau of the Reich; is that right?

A. Vienna was by far the most difficult political problem which we had among the Gaue.

Q. Why?

[Page 355]

A. For the following reasons: I only found out about the details after I had received my mission from Hitler.

In Vienna the population had quietened down after the first wave of enthusiasm over the Anschluss had subsided. Herr Burckel, my predecessor, had brought many officials to Vienna from Germany, and the German system of administration, which in no wise was more practicable or efficient than the Austrian, was introduced there. This resulted in a certain over-organization in the administrative field, and Burckel had started on a Church policy which was more than unsatisfactory. Demonstrations took place under his administration. On one occasion the. palace of the Archbishop was damaged. Theatres and other places of culture were not taken care of as they should have been. Vienna was experiencing a feeling of great disillusion. Before I got there I was informed that if one spoke in the tramcars with a North-German accent the Viennese began to take an unfriendly attitude towards one.

Q. Witness, what duties did you have or what offices did you hold in Vienna?

A. In Vienna I had the office of Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter), which included two administrations, the municipal administration and the national administration. In addition, I was Reich Defence Commissioner for Service Command XVII, but only until 1942. In 1942, the area was subdivided, and each Gauleiter in the Service Command became his own Reich Defence Commissioner.

Q. And then you also were Gauleiter?

A. Yes, I was also Gauleiter, the highest official of the Party.

Q. In other words, you represented: City, State, and Party, all at once - the highest authority of City, State, and Party in Vienna?

A. Yes; now, the situation was such in the administration that there was an official representative to take charge of national affairs, namely the provincial President (Regierungsprasident); for the municipal administration there was another representative, the mayor; in the Party, the Deputy Gauleiter of Vienna had the title of Gauleiter.

I should not like to belittle my responsibility for the Gau by explaining that, and I want to protect the exceptionally efficient Deputy Gauleiter, who was there. I just want to say that in order to clarify my position.

Q. What really was your position as Reich Defence Commissioner, witness? Was it a military position or what was it?

A. It was not a military position at all. The Reich Defence Commissioner was simply the head of the civil administration, in contrast to the situation prevailing during the first World War, where the head of the civil administration was assigned to and subordinated to the commanding general; in this war the Reich Defence Commissioner was co-ordinate with him, not subordinate.

The tasks of the Reich Defence Commissioner - at least, that is how I saw my tasks - were, at certain intervals, to co-ordinate the most pressing problems of food economy, transportation - that is, local and distant transportation, coal supplies and price regulation for the Gaue of Vienna, Upper Danube and Lower Danube, all of which belonged to Service Command XVII.

There were several meetings for that purpose, I believe three all together. In 1942 the reorganisation which I previously mentioned took place. Bormann carried his point against the Reichsmarshal. The Reichsmarshal was of the opinion that the Reich Defence Commissioner had to be Defence Commissioner for the entire Service Command. Bormann wanted each Gauleiter to be Defence Commissioner, and so that lead to the separation. From 1942 on I was only Reich Commissioner for Vienna.

Q. Witness, it seems to me that a decree was issued during that time, and will you please tell me when you were informed about it, namely, a decree by Reichsleiter Bormann, that not more than two Gauleiter could meet.

A. That is not a decree by Bormann; that was an order by Hitler.

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