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-Eighth Day: Friday, 24th May, 1946
(Part 2 of 11)

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

[Page 364]

Q. The majority of the Viennese Jews, witness, were - as you yourself know - deported from Vienna. In 1940, when you were Gauleiter in Vienna, or later on, did you ever receive a directive from Hitler to the effect that you yourself should carry out this deportation of the Jews from Vienna, or that you should participate in the deportation?

A. I never received any such directive. The only directive which I received in connection with the deportation of the Jewish population from Vienna was a question from Hitler asking about the number of Jews living in Vienna at the time. That number, which I had forgotten, was recalled to my memory by a document put to me by the prosecution. According to that document, I reported to Hitler that 60,000 Jews were then living in Vienna. That figure probably comes from the Registration Office. In former times, about 190,000 Jews, all told, lived in Vienna. That, I believe, was the highest figure reached. When I came to Vienna, there were still 60,000 Jews left. The deportation of the Jews was a measure carried out directly on orders from Hitler by the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) or Himmler, and there also existed in Vienna an office of the RSHA, or a foreign branch office under Himmler-Heydrich, which carried out these measures.

Q. Who was in charge of that office?

A. The head of that office was - that I found out now, I did not know it at the time - a man by the name of Brunner.

Q. An SS Sturmfuehrer?

A. An SS Sturmfuehrer, Dr. Brunner.

Q. The one, who, a few days ago, is supposed to have been condemned to death? Did you know that?

[Page 365]

A. I heard it yesterday.

Q. Did you ever issue any orders to this Brunner who was an SS leader, or any kind of instructions?

A. It was entirely impossible for me to stop the deportation of the Jews, or to have any influence thereon. Once, as early as 1940, I told the chief of my local food supply department that he should see to it that departing Jewish people should be provided with sufficient food. Frequently, when Jews wrote to me requesting to be exempted from deportation, I charged my adjutant, or some assistant, to intervene with Brunner, so that possibly an exception might be made for these persons. More I could not do. But I have to admit frankly, here and now, that I was of the opinion that this deportation was really in the interests of Jewry, for the reasons which I have already stated in connection with the events of 1938.

Q. Did the SS, which in Vienna, too, was charged with the evacuation of the Jews, send continuous reports as to how and to what extent this evacuation of the Jews was carried out?

A. No. I am, therefore, also not in a position to state how long the deportation of the Jews took and whether the entire 60,000 were dragged out of Vienna, or if only one part of them was carried off.

Q. Did not the newspapers in Vienna report anything at all about these deportations of the Jews, about the extent of the deportations, and the abuses taking place in this connection?

A. No.

Q. Nothing? But, witness, I must put a document to you which has been submitted by the prosecution. It is Document 3048-PS, an excerpt from the Viennese edition of the Volkischer Beobachter, on a speech which you, witness, made on 15th September, 1942, in Vienna, and in which the sentence occurs (I quote from the newspaper):

"Every Jew who works in Europe is a danger to European culture. If I were to be accused of having deported tens of thousands of Jews from this city, once the European metropolis of Jewry, to the Eastern ghetto, I would have to reply, 'I see in that an active contribution to European culture.'"
Thus runs the quotation from your speech, which otherwise contains no anti-Semitic declarations on your part. Considering your previous statements, witness, I am compelled to ask you: Did you make that speech, and how did you come to make it, despite your basic attitude which you have previously described to us?

A. First, I want to say that I did make that speech. The quotation is correct. I said that. I must stand by what I have said. Although the plan of the deportation of the Jews was Hitler's plan, and I was not charged with its execution, I did utter those words, which I now sincerely regret, but I must say that I identified myself morally with that action only out of a feeling of misplaced loyalty to the Fuehrer That I have done and that I can no longer undo. If I am to explain how I came to do this, I can only reply that at that time, I was already "between the Devil and the deep sea." I believe it will become clear from my later statements, that from a certain moment on, I had Hitler against me, the Party Chancellery against me, and very many members of the Party itself against me. Constantly I heard from officials of the Party Chancellery, who told it to the Gauleiter of Vienna, and from statements made in Hitler's entourage that one was under the impression - and that this could be clearly recognized from my attitude and my actions - that I was no longer expressing myself publicly in the usual anti-Semitic manner, or in other ways, either; and I just have no excuse at all. But it may, perhaps serve as an explanation, that I was trying to extricate myself from this painful situation by speaking in a manner which I can no longer justify to myself.

Q. Witness, I should like to ask you, in this connection - you have just spoken of the painful situation in which you found yourself in Vienna. Is it true that Hitler himself, on various occasions, reproached you personally and severely on the grounds that your attitude in Vienna had not been sufficiently energetic, that

[Page 366]

you had become too slack and too complaisant, and demanded that you should concern yourself more with the interests of the Party, and that you should adopt far stricter methods? And what, witness, did you then do?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, I assume that you realize that you are putting questions in the most leading form, that you are putting questions which suggest the answer to the defendant, and such questions cannot possibly carry the answers to such questions cannot possibly carry the weight which answers given to questions not in a leading form would carry.

Q. Witness, did Hitler personally reproach you for your behaviour in Vienna and what attitude did you adopt?

I believe that is not a suggestive question.

THE PRESIDENT: I think it is. I should have thought it is a leading question. He says he was in a very difficult situation. You could ask him if he would explain what was the difficulty of the situation.


Q. Good! Then will you answer this question, witness?

A. I could not, in any case, have accepted the question in the form in which you previously presented it.

The difference between Hitler and myself arose primarily over an art exhibition and the breach between Hitler and myself, in 1943, was in the beginning, the result of differences of opinion over the cultural policy. In 1943, I was ordered to the Berghof where Hitler, in the presence of Bormann, criticized me violently on account of my cultural work, and insisted that I was leading a cultural opposition in Germany. And further, in the course of the conversation, he said that I was mobilising the spiritual forces of Vienna and Austria, and the spiritual forces of the young people against him in cultural spheres. He said he knew it very well indeed. He had read some of my speeches, primarily the Dusseldorf speech. He had discovered that I had authorized in Weimar and in Vienna, art exhibitions of a decadent nature, and he told me the alternatives, either I must end this kind of oppositional work immediately - when everything would remain as in the past - or he would stop all Government subsidies for Vienna. This scene made a frightful impression on me, for it represented to me, a breach of Hitler's promised word, since he had granted me absolute freedom of action when appointing me to the Vienna mission. I then recognized that he nourished an icy hatred against me, and that behind these statements on cultural policies something else was concealed. Whether he was dissatisfied in every detail with the way I conducted my office in Vienna at the time, I do not know. He rarely expressed himself directly about such matters. I could only find out one or two things from his entourage. I then - and that led to the complete and final break between Hitler and myself - a few weeks after I had received this order, if I may call it so, strangely received an invitation for myself and my wife to spend some time on the Berghof. At that time I ingenuously believed that Hitler wished to bridge the gap between us and to let me know, in one way or another, that he had gone too far. In any case, at the end of a three days' visit - I cut my stay short - I discovered that this was a fundamental error on my part. Here I will limit myself to a few points only. I had intended, and I also carried out my intention, that I would mention at least three points during my visit. One was the policy towards Russia, the second was the Jewish question, and the third was Hitler's attitude to Vienna.

I must state, to begin with, that Bormann had issued a decree addressed to me, and probably to all the other Gauleiter, prohibiting any intervention on our part in the Jewish question. That is to say, we could not intervene against Hitler in favour of any Jew or half Jew. That too was stated in the decree. I have to mention this, since it makes matters clearer. On the first evening of my stay at the Berghof, on what appeared to me a propitious occasion, I told Hitler that I was of the opinion that a free and autonomous Ukraine would serve the Reich better

[Page 367]

than an Ukraine ruled by violence by Herr Koch. That was all I said, nothing more, nothing less. Knowing Hitler as I did, it was extremely difficult even to hazard such a remark. Hitler answered comparatively quietly, but rather sharply at the same time. On the same evening, or possibly the next one, the Jewish question was broached according to a plan I made with my wife. Since I was forbidden to mention these things, even in conversation, my wife gave the Fuehrer a description of an experience she had had in Holland. She had witnessed one night, from the bedroom of her hotel, the deportation of Jewish women by the Gestapo. We were both of the opinion that this experience during her journey, and the description of it, might possibly result in a change of Hitler's attitude toward the entire Jewish question, and in his treatment of the Jews. My wife gave a very graphic description, a description such as we can now read in the papers. Hitler was silent. All the other witnesses to this conversation, including my own father-in-law, Professor Hoffman, were also silent. The silence was icy, and after a short time, Hitler merely said, "This is pure sentimentality." That was all. No further conversation took place that evening. Hitler retired earlier than usual. I was under the impression that a perfectly untenable situation had new arisen. Then the men of Hitler's entourage told my father-in-law that from now on I would have to fear for my safety. I endeavoured to get away from the Berghof as quickly as possible without letting matters come to an open break, but I did not succeed.

Then Goebbels arrived on the next evening, and there, in my presence, and without my starting it, the subject of Vienna was broached. I was naturally compelled to protest against the statements which Goebbels at first made about the Viennese. Then the Fuehrer began, with incredible and unlimited hatred, to speak against the population of Vienna. I have to admit, here and now, that even if the population of Vienna are cursing me today, I have always felt very friendly toward them. I have felt closely attached to that population. I will not say more than that Joseph Weinheber was one of my closest friends. During that discussion, I, as was my duty, and according to my feelings, spoke in favour of the people under my leadership in Vienna.

At 4 o'clock in the morning, among other things, Hitler suddenly said something which I should now like to repeat for historical reasons. He said, "Vienna should never have been admitted into the Union of Greater Germany." Hitler never loved Vienna. He hated its population. I believed that he had a liking for the city, because he appreciated the architectural design of the buildings in the Ringstrasse. But everybody who knows Vienna, knows that the true Vienna is architecturally Gothic, and that the buildings in the Ringstrasse are not really representative.

Q. Defendant, I consider that this subject has little to do with the Indictment - Please adhere to the Indictment.

A. I shall now conclude. I only want to say that so total a break resulted from that discussion, or rather, explosion of Hitler's, that in the same night, at about 4.30 a.m., I took my leave, and left Berghof a few hours later. Since then, I had no further conversations with Hitler. I must now refer to something else in this connection. Reich Marshal Goering in the witness box, mentioned a letter of mine which Hitler had shown him, and Herr von Ribbentrop has stated here that he was present at a conversation during which Himmler suggested to Hitler that I should be indicted before the People's Court, which meant in reality that I should be hanged. I must add one thing more: what Goering said about this letter is mainly true. I wrote in a proper manner about family relations in that letter. I also wrote one sentence, to the effect that I considered war with America a disaster.

Q. When was that letter written?

A. 1943, shortly after my stay at the Berghof. That statement contained nothing special, since Hitler even without -

[Page 368]

THE PRESIDENT: He has not given the date of his stay at the Berghof yet. What was the year?

DR. SAUTER: He has said 1943, Mr. President. He has just said 1943.

THE PRESIDENT: There are twelve months in 1943.


Q. I believe you ought to give us the month.

A. I believe that the conversation on the Berghof was in the spring, and that the letter, though I cannot tell you precisely when, was written in the summer.

Q. Summer of 1943?

A. Yes, 1943, but I could not say precisely when the letter was written. It was correct, it was written by hand; no woman secretary read it. It went by courier to the Head of State.

Q. To Hitler personally?

A. To Hitler. It is also possible that it was addressed care of Bormann. I cannot remember exactly. It went by courier, and that letter contained nothing else but the clarification required for replying to questions put to me in the circular which Goering mentioned in his statement. That letter caused Hitler to have an absolute loathing for me; and at about the same tune, a file was started against me in the RSHA, the Reich Security Main Office. That was due to the fact that I had described, in a small circle of political leaders - of high-ranking political leaders - the foreign political situation such as I saw it, as I was accustomed to do from the days of my youth. One of these leaders was an SS intelligence officer; he reported what I said, and then the file was started. The material was compiled in order to use it eventually to bring me to trial. That it never came to a trial I owe solely and exclusively to the circumstance that both in the Army and at home, my comrades from the Youth Leadership stood solidly behind me, and any proceedings against me would have led to trouble. After 20th July, 1944, my situation became very precarious. My friends in the Army, therefore, placed a company of handpicked men at my disposal. They were under the orders of an adjutant of the former General Fromm. The company was directly subordinate to me. It took over the protection of my person and remained with me to the end.

Q. Was that company of the Wehrmacht which you have just mentioned, placed at your disposal in place of the police protection previously afforded you?

A. Yes.

Q. Witness, I have to refer once more to your Vienna speech of 79th December, 1942. In that speech you speak of the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews to the Eastern ghetto. You did not speak about the extermination or the murder of the Jews. When did you discover that Hitler's plan aimed at extermination or destruction?

A. Counsel for the defence, if I, at that time, had known anything about the destruction, i.e., the extermination of the Jews, I would not be sitting here today. As far as I can recall, I heard about an extermination of the Jews for the first time through the following incident:

Dr. Ross came to see me.

Q. Who?

A. Dr. Colin Ross came to Vienna in 1944 and told me that he had received information, via the foreign Press, that mass murders of Jews had been perpetrated on a large scale in the East. I then attempted to find out all I could. What I did discover was that in the Warthe-Gau executions of Jews were carried out in gas vans. These shootings in the East -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Sauter, what was the Gau that he spoke of? The Warthe-Gau?

DR. SAUTER: The Warthe-Gau, My Lord.

THE WITNESS: The Warthe-Gau.

[Page 369]

DR. SAUTER: That is a Gau, a district on the Polish border. That is an area in the East of Germany - W-a-r-t-h-e-g-a-u-and the West of Poland, near Silesia.


Please, witness, will you continue briefly.

A. The executions, the shootings, on Russian territory, mentioned in the documents submitted in the course of the cross-examination in the Kaltenbrunner case, were not known to me at that time. But at a later date - it was before 1944 - I also heard about shootings in the ghettoes of the Russian area, and connected this up with developments on the front, since I thought of possible armed risings in the ghettoes. I knew nothing of the organized annihilation which has been described to us in the Trial.

Q. Then, if I have heard you correctly, you were informed about these events for the first time in 1944, by your friend, Dr. Colin Ross, who knew it from reports in the foreign papers?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you still remember the month?

A. That I cannot be sure of.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.