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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
16th July to 27th July 1946

One Hundred and Eightieth Day: Wednesday, 17th July, 1946
(Part 6 of 6)

[Page 73]

DR. SIEMERS: Continued:

Of further importance for consideration of these questions is the fact that Schirach as a matter of principle refused to permit young people to be trained by active army officers or former army officers, because he considered these persons entirely unsuitable to educate young people in that spirit which he envisaged as the goal of his activity. Moreover, neither Schirach nor any of his closer associates were officers before the war, and the same holds true of the overwhelming majority of the high or low ranking HJ leaders subordinate to him.

All these facts are firmly established through the testimony of the defendant Schirach himself and through depositions made by the witnesses Lauterbacher, Gustav Hopken and Maria Hopken during their examination. For many years these witnesses were Schirach's closest collaborators; they are thoroughly familiar with his views and principles and they unanimously confirmed that it is entirely out of the question to speak of a military, or even a pre-military training of the Hitler Youth.

May I add one remark here, gentlemen?

I have just mentioned as a witness the name Lauterbacher. The prosecution, during their cross-examination made the attempt to impugn the credibility of the witness Lauterbacher by asking him, during his interrogation on 27th May, 1946, how many people he had hanged publicly, and furthermore by charging that he had ordered that four or five hundred prisoners from the penitentiary in Hameln should be poisoned or executed by shooting. In this connection the American Prosecutor has submitted seven affidavits under Exhibit USA 874, amongst them one by a certain Josef Kramer, who, in fact, made the assertion in his affidavit that the witness Lauterbacher, who represented Schirach, in his function as Gauleiter of Hanover, had given him the order for the murder of the prisoners.

[Page 74]

During the Court's session of 27th May, 1946, I protested against the use of that affidavit by Kramer and I showed to you, gentlemen, a newspaper article, according to which the witness Kramer on 2nd May, 1946, had been condemned to seven years' imprisonment by the court of the 5th British division. Several days ago I submitted as evidence a report of the Rhein-Neckar Zeitung of 6th July, 1946, which states that the witness Hartmann Lauterbacher in the meantime had been acquitted by the Supreme British Military Court in Hanover. From that it can be seen that the doubts which the prosecution cast upon the credibility of the witness Lauterbacher and which they based on the affidavit of this Kramer were unfounded.

May I then continue my presentation, on Page 8?

With reference to the pre-military training of the HJ it has also been repeatedly emphasized in rebuttal that the Hitler Youth wore a uniform. That is correct, but it proves nothing. For the youth organizations of other countries, too, are accustomed, as is known, to wear some sort of a uniform, without anybody for this reason terming them military or semi-military organizations, and Schirach and several of his associates have informed me that in many democratic countries, which certainly do not contemplate war, much less a war of aggression, the male youth is trained in handling actual military weapons and that every year contests are held in shooting with military rifles.

Why was it that Schirach introduced a uniform for the Hitler Youth, and indeed not only for the boys but also for the girls? We have heard the answer to this from several witnesses. Schirach, I may quote here, saw in the uniform of the boys and in the uniform costume of the girls the "dress of socialism", the "dress of comradeship". Schirach wrote that the child of the rich industrialist was to wear the same clothes as the child of the miner, the son of the millionaire the same clothes as the son of an unemployed man. The uniform of The Hitler Youth was to be, as Schirach already wrote in 1934 in his book The Hitler Youth, the expression of an attitude, which did not inquire as to class and property, but only as to effort and achievement. The uniform of The Hitler Youth was for Schirach, as expressed further in this same book of his, "not the sign of any militarism, but the emblem of the idea of The Hitler Youth, namely the idea of the classless society", in the spirit of the election slogan which he gave The Hitler Youth in 1933: "Through Socialism to the Nation". Schirach remained faithful to the principle expressed in the quotations as long as he was Youth Leader. Thus he wrote in the official publication of The Hitler Youth in 1937:

"The uniform is not the expression of a martial attitude, but the dress of comradeship; it extinguishes class difference and again makes the child of the most insignificant worker socially acceptable today; the young generation in our new Germany must be united in an indissoluble community."
Schirach had this comradeship and this Socialism in mind when, in 1934, he described, in his book The Hitler Youth, his idea of this Socialism, and I quote again:
"Socialism does not mean to take the fruits of his work away from someone in order to give everybody something produced by the work of one. Everyone is to work, but everyone is also to reap the fruits of his work. Also one person will not be allowed to get rich through the suffering and want of thousands of others. Whoever exploits his workers and spoliates the community in order to fill his cash-box is an enemy of the German people."
That ends the quotation describing the attitude of von Schirach at that time.

Schirach has pointed out again and again in his numerous writings, articles and speeches, which have been collected in the document book and have been submitted to the Tribunal, that, to use his expression, he did not desire any "pseudo-military drill which would only spoil the joy of the young people in the movement".

[Page 75]

The training of the young people in shooting with small calibre rifles was part of the training in all sports activities and corresponded to the inclination of the male youth, which is particularly interested in the sport of shooting in all countries. But this training played a very minor role in volume and importance as compared with the greater aims which Schirach pursued in The Hitler Youth movement, and about which not only Schirach but the examined witnesses give as clear a testimony as expressed in the writings and speeches of the defendant. These aims of the Hitler Youth education are to be listed here briefly as they have been demonstrated by the presentation of evidence; Schirach is naturally not being accused in connection with these other aims of The Hitler Youth education, but one must consider and evaluate them nevertheless if one is to obtain a total picture of his personality, his activity and his plans.

Apart from the already mentioned education of youth in terms of comradeship and of Socialism in the sense of overcoming class distinction, Schirach had, as he explained here, primarily four aims in mind: First the training of youth in the various types of sports and in connection with it the hygienic care of youth, which branch of youth education occupied a very large part of the training of The Hitler Youth, and the fact that German youth obtained unexpectedly such great success at the Olympic Games in 1936 was to a certain degree due to the activity of The Hitler Youth leadership in co-operation with the sports leader of the Reich, von Tschammer and Osten.

Another aim was the further professional training and advancement of the working youth and the improvement of the position of adolescent wage-earners through youth legislation, particularly by prohibition of night work, by reducing working hours, by granting paid vacations, by prohibition of child labour, by raising the protected age of adolescents, etc. Vocational advanced training was promoted so vigorously that finally over one million boys and girls entered professional competitions annually, and from year to year the average standard of achievement rose very considerably.

A third primary aim of youth education was the promotion of love of nature through hiking trips. Thousands of youth hostels were built in the course of those years on Schirach's initiative, namely through The Hitler Youth movement's own funds, in order to get the young people out of the large cities with their temptations and vices and return them to rural life, to show them the beauties of the homeland and also to give a country holiday to even the poorest child.

But Schirach dedicated his greatest attention to a fourth goal of youth education namely, co-operation with the youth of other nations, and this activity especially is a particularly suitable test of the question whether one can accuse the defendant von Schirach of having taken part in the planning of wars of aggression and of having committed crimes against the peace. Schirach has told us here on the witness stand that again and again, in summer and in winter of every year, foreign youth groups were the guests of the German youth. It is shown by the documents in von Schirach's document book, for instance, that already in the year 1936, no less than 200,000 foreign youths stayed in German youth hostels, and, vice versa, year after year German youth delegations went abroad, especially to England and France, in order to enable young people to get acquainted with and to learn respect for each other. Those very endeavours of Schirach, which would be absolutely incompatible with the intention to prepare wars of aggression, received unreserved recognition abroad before the war. In one of the special numbers of The Hitler Youth magazine Wille and Macht (Will and Power) of 1937, dedicated to this task of understanding, which was also published in French and circulated very widely in France and which is quoted here only as an example, the French Prime Minister Chautemps - I have the evidence in the document book - declared his willingness, as chief of the French Government, to promote these peaceful meetings.

[Page 76]

"I wish," he wrote, "that the young men of both nations could live every year side by side by the thousand and in this way learn to know, to understand and to respect each other."
And further:
"Our two nations know that an understanding between them would be one of the most valuable factors for world peace; therefore it is the duty of all those on both sides of the frontier who have a clear view and human feeling to work for the understanding and rapprochement of both nations. But no one could do it more sincerely and more enthusiastically than the leaders of our wonderful youth, of the French and of the German youth. If they could understand how to unite this youth, they would hold in their hands the future of European and human culture."
The mayor of Versailles of that time wrote in the same spirit to Schirach, ending his appeal in the monthly organ of The Hitler Youth with the words:
"The education of youth in this spirit is one of the most important tasks of the politicians of both our countries."
The French Ambassador Francois Poncet recognized Schirach's efforts no less heartily in the same publication under the title "Youth as a Bridge" and concluded his lengthy article with the words:
"French participation enriches German soil. German influence fertilises the French spirit .... May this exchange develop further. May also the generations which will at some time benefit from it contribute to bringing the two halves of Charlemagne's empire closer and to create between them those relations of mutual respect, harmony and of good comradeship for which both nations are deeply longing, because their instinct tells them that the welfare of European culture depends on it and because they know for certain when they look into themselves that they have many more reasons to respect and admire each other than to hate each other."
And Schirach himself answered in the next issue of his monthly publication, which also appeared in French, with an enthusiastic article under the title "Salute to France". In it he writes for instance:
"The rapprochement of our two peoples is a European task of such urgent necessity that youth has no time to lose in order to work for its achievement." Schirach continues: "Youth is the best ambassador of the world; it is disinterested, frank and without the eternal distrust of which diplomats can frequently not be cured because to a certain extent it is their professional disease. However, there must be no propagandistic intentions hidden behind youth exchange." And he concludes: "I consider it now my task to bring about an exchange of views between German and French youth, which must not, on the German side, consist of nice statements from me, but of many personal conversations of thousands of young Germans with just as many young Frenchmen. One must believe in youth because it, above all, can carry out a true understanding."
At the end Schirach calls attention to the fact that all higher youth leaders of the German youth movement had a short time previously expressed their respect, in the name of the young generation of Germany, to the French Unknown Soldier by placing a wreath under the Arc de Triomphe, and he concludes with the words:
"The dead of the great war died while carrying out their patriotic duty and nobly devoting themselves to the ideal of liberty, but Germans as well as French were always full of respect for the gallant foe. If the dead respected each other, then the living should try to shake hands. If the returned combat veterans of both nations could become comrades, why should the sons and grandsons not become friends?"
These, gentlemen of the Tribunal, are the words of the same Baldur von Schirach whom the prosecution tries to brand as a deliberate partner in a Hitlerian conspiracy for war. The prosecution wants to make a war criminal out of this

[Page 77]

untiring prophet of international understanding and of peace, who is charged with having militarised youth and prepared it bodily and psychologically for wars of aggression and of having worked against the peace. So far, the prosecution has not been able to furnish evidence to this effect.

Schirach has written various doctrinal books for youth, which were used against him in the Trial Brief; he had published a quantity of essays on the most varied problems of youth education; his innumerable speeches, addressed to youth, have been published; his orders and instructions to youth are available to you and the prosecution in collected form. It must, however, be conceded that amongst all these documents which contain his utterances made during the time when he was active as Reich Youth Leader, not a single item is to be found in which he made inflammatory remarks in favour of war or preached attacks against other countries.

The prosecution has stated in this very connection that he has referred to "Lebensraum" in his book The Hitler Youth which I have repeatedly referred to and by so doing adopted as his own a slogan of the Hitlerite policy of aggression. This claim is incorrect, for the whole book The Hitler Youth does not, any more than any other speech and writing of Schirach, contain this word at all. True, he has referred at two points to "Eastern Space", in his book The Hitler Youth published in 1936, but he quite obviously did not by this term in any way refer to Polish or Soviet-Russian territories, but to the Eastern provinces of the former German Empire, that is to say, to territories which formerly belonged to Germany but were known to be very thinly populated and well suited for the settlement of German surplus population.

Nowhere has Schirach, as I may state in conclusion with regard to this topic, at any time up to the outbreak of the Second World War expressed the idea that he might wish Germany to conquer foreign territories; neither has he ever uttered the odious slogans of the German "Master Race" or the "Sub-humanity" of other nations; on the contrary, he always was in favour of the preservation of peace with the neighbouring nations and always favoured the peaceful settlement of any conflicts that cropped up out of inevitable clashes of interests. Gentlemen of the Tribunal, had Hitler possessed but a fraction of the love of peace which his Youth Leader preached time and again, then perhaps this war would have been spared us Germans and the whole world.

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 18th July, at 1000 hours.)

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