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 Eighty-First Day: Thursday, 18th July, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

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THE MARSHAL: May it please the Tribunal, the defendants Hess, von Ribbentrop and Fritzsche are absent.

DR. SAUTER (counsel for the defendant von Schirach): May it please the Tribunal, yesterday at the end of my statement I dealt with the charge of the prosecution that the defendant von Schirach had trained and educated the youth of the Third Reich in a military sense, that he had prepared them for the waging of aggressive wars and had participated in a conspiracy against the peace. Now I continue on Page 15 of my brief, and I turn to a further accusation which has been made by the prosecution against defendant von Schirach.

Since the prosecution could not prove that the defendant von Schirach had ever promoted Hitler's war policy before the war, he is now charged with having had various connections with the SS and SA, and especially with the fact that the SS, the SA, and the Leadership Corps of the Party obtained their recruits from the Hitler Youth. This last fact is quite correct, but proves nothing as to Schirach's attitude towards Hitler's war policy and is equally pointless as regards the question of his participation in Hitler's war conspiracy. For if 90 to 95 per cent or more of German youth belonged to the Hitler Youth movement, then it was only natural that the Party as well as its formations should draw their young recruits from year to year to an ever-growing extent from the Hitler Youth. Practically no other youth was available.

But if the prosecution refers to the agreement between the Reich Youth Leadership and the Reichsfuehrer SS, dated October, 1938, concerning the patrol service of the Hitler Youth, which has been submitted to your Honours as Document 2396-PS, it cannot draw any inference therefrom, for patrol service in the Hitler Youth was only an institution designed to control and supervise the discipline of the Hitler Youth members when they appeared in public.

It was, therefore, a kind of organisational police which was employed by the Hitler Youth movement to control its own members and control them alone. In order, however, to guard against difficulties with the regular police, an arrangement by agreement with the Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler was necessary because the latter was the chief of the whole police organization in Germany and could have made difficulties for the institution of the HJ patrol service. This was the only object of the agreement of October, 1938, which in reality had just as little to do with providing new blood for the SS as with the conduct of and the preparation for war. Moreover, it can clearly be seen how hard Schirach resisted the gaining of any influence by the Party over the Hitler Youth from the fact that in 1938 he protested very sharply against having the education of the Hitler Youth during their last two years, namely from 16 to 18 years, taken over by the SA. He emphatically rejected this plan and through a personal visit to Hitler succeeded in having the Fuehrer decree in question not carried out in practice.

As for his attitude toward the SS, we know from the testimony of the witness Gustav Hopken who was heard here on 28th May, 1946, and from the affidavit of the witness Maria Hopken Schirach Document Book No. 3, that Schirach always feared he was being shadowed and spied upon by the SS in Vienna. He always had an uncomfortable feeling because, at the beginning of his activity in

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Vienna, a permanent deputy had been appointed for him in his capacity as Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter) and Reich Defence Commissioner in the person of a higher SS leader, a certain Dr. Delbrugge, who, as Schirach knew, was directly associated with the Reichsfuehrer SS. It was the same man who, as has been proved, proposed to Hitler in 1943 that Schirach should be imprisoned for defeatism and brought before the People's Court, which meant in practice that had Himmler urged it Schirach would have been hanged. These facts alone are already proof of the real relationship between the defendant von Schirach and the SS, and it is then comprehensible why Schirach finally refused even the so- called "protection" by the police force assigned to him and preferred to entrust his personal protection to a unit of the Wehrmacht which was not subordinate to the order of Himmler. (See affidavit of Maria Hopken in Schirach Document Book No. 3.)

Another accusation which has been made against the defendant von Schirach concerns his attitude towards the Church question. His attitude corresponds to that indicated by him during the present proceedings. To be sure, this issue is given a comparatively minor part in the Indictment, but it nevertheless appears to be of considerable importance as far as the judgement of Schirach's personality is concerned.

Schirach himself, as well as his wife, always remained members of the Church. To the foreign critic this circumstance may perhaps appear an unimportant detail, but we Germans know what pressure was exerted upon ranking Party officials in such matters and how few in his position ventured to resist such pressure. Schirach was one of those few. He was that high-ranking Party Leader who constantly and invariably acted with extreme severity when he learnt of hostile interference and outrages against the Church on the part of the Hitler Youth. He has, indeed, been reproached for the fact that various songs were sung by the Hitler Youth which contained offensive remarks about religious institutions, but in this respect Schirach could, with a good conscience, confirm on his oath that he was to a certain extent unaware of those songs, which is quite conceivable where an organization of seven or eight million members is involved. Moreover, I certain songs now considered objectionable date back to the Middle Ages and have figured in the song-book of the "Wandervogel"; a former youth organization which the prosecution surely does not propose to condemn. Schirach has, however, especially pointed out that in the years 1933 to 1936 several million youths from an entirely different spiritual environment joined the Hitler Youth and that in the first revolutionary years, that is, in the period of storm and stress of the movement, it was quite impossible to hear of and prevent all outrages of this sort. Whenever Schirach heard of such things he intervened and repressed abuses of that kind, which naturally represented excesses on the part of isolated elements only and cannot compromise the Youth organization as a whole.

It is Schirach's conviction that the examination of evidence leaves no doubt as to his conciliatory behaviour in the matter of the Church, and that he strove to establish a proper relation of mutual respect between the Church on the one hand and the Third Reich, and more especially the Reich Youth Leadership, on the other hand, embracing a careful observation of their respective rights and competences. At his own request, Schirach was permitted by the Reich Minister of the Interior to take part in conducting the concordat negotiations with the Catholic Church in 1934, because he hoped to achieve an agreement with the Catholic Church more easily by his personal co-operation. He honestly endeavoured to find a formula for the settlement of the youth question on which agreement with the Catholic Church could be possible. His moderation and good will in this respect were frankly acknowledged by the representatives of the Catholic Church at that time. But everything was ultimately frustrated by Hitler's opposition and the complications created, particularly for these negotiations, by the events of 30th June, 1934, the so-called Roehm Putsch.

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With the Protestant Church on the other hand, Schirach achieved an agreement with the Reich Bishop, Dr. Miller, so that the incorporation of the Protestant youth groups into the Hitler Youth was not attained by constraint but by mutual agreement, and therefore, not by the breaking up of these associations by the State or Party as the prosecution assumes, but upon the initiative of the Protestant ecclesiastical head and in complete agreement with him. It must be pointed out here that it was always Schirach's policy that no restrictions were to be imposed on Church services for youth by the youth leadership, either then or later. On the contrary, as he himself has testified and as was confirmed by the witness Lauterbacher, Schirach emphatically stated in 1937 that he would leave it to the Churches to educate the younger generation according to the spirit of their faith and at the same time he ordered that, as a principle, no Hitler Youth duty was to be arranged on Sundays during the time of Church services. He gave strict orders to the unit leaders of the Hitler Youth not to arrange any duties which might interfere with Church services. However, in individual cases such interference did occur and religious authorities made complaints about it, as cross-examination revealed, but the defendant Schirach cannot be blamed for this, nor does it alter the fact that he had good intentions.

During the trial not a single case could be shown in which he stirred up feeling against the Church or made anti- religious statements; on the contrary, at numerous rallies, as revealed to the Tribunal in the von Schirach Document Book, he not only repeatedly denied the accusation that the Hitler Youth were enemies of the Church or atheists, but he always particularly impressed upon the leaders and members of the Hitler Youth the necessity of fulfilling their obligation toward God; he would not tolerate anyone in the Hitler Youth who did not believe in God ; every true teacher, he told them, would have to be one who inculcated religious feeling, it being the basis of all educational activities; Hitler Youth duties and religious convictions could very well be associated with each other and exist side by side; the Hitler Youth leader was to cause no conflicts of conscience whatsoever to his adherents. Leave from duty was to be granted to Hitler Youth members for religious services, rites, etc. That was von Schirach's point of view.

Whoever gives such instructions to his deputies, and repeats them over and over again, can demand that he should not be judged as an enemy of the Church and as an enemy of religious life. Incidentally, it is interesting in this connection to note what such a reliable judge as Nevile Henderson, in his oft-quoted book, Failure of a Mission, wrote about a speech which he heard Schirach deliver at the 1937 Reich Party Rally, parts of which have been submitted in Schirach's document book. Henderson, who, as Ambassador in Berlin, knew German conditions intimately, evidently expected that Baldur von Schirach would speak against the Church at the Reich Party Rally and would influence the young people in the spirit of enmity to the Church, as was often done by other leaders of the Party. Henderson writes, and I quote two sentences:

"That day; however, it was von Schirach's speech which impressed me most, although it was quite short .... One part of this speech surprised me when, addressing the boys, he said, 'I do not know if you are Protestants or Catholics, but that you believe in God, that I do know'."
And Henderson added:
"I had been under the impression that all references to religion were discouraged among the Hitler Youth, and this seemed to me to refute that imputation."
What Schirach really thought with regard to religion and in what sense he influenced youth is indicated not only by the declaration of his opinion, which he made on the occasion of his speech to the teachers of the Adolf Hitler Schools at Ordensburg Sonthofen, that Christ was the greatest leader in the history of the world, but also similarly the small book submitted to you in evidence,

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entitled, Christmas Gift of the War Welfare Service. This book, which was sent to the front in large numbers, was dedicated by Schirach to the soldiers at the front who came from the Hitler Youth movement, in 1944, at a time when radicalism in all spheres of German life could hardly be extended further.

Here also Schirach was an exception: you will find no swastika, no picture of Hitler, no SA song in the book of Reich Leader von Schirach, but among other things a distinctly Christian poem from Schirach's own pen, then a picture of a Madonna, and beside it a reproduction of a painting by van Gogh who, as is generally known, was strictly taboo in the Third Reich. Instead of inflammatory words, we find an exhortation to a Christian way of thinking and a copy of the Wessobrunner Gebet, known as the oldest Christian prayer in the German language. Bormann was enraged by the pamphlet, but Schirach remained firm and refused to withdraw the little book or alter it in any way.

The defendant von Schirach has been charged with having once undertaken a hostile act against the Church and with having thereby taken part in the persecution of the Church. From a letter by Minister Lammers of 14th March, 7941 (Document R- 146), it appears that Schirach had proposed to keep confiscated property at the disposal of the Gaue, and not to hand it over to the Reich. This case alone is no justification at all for connecting the defendant von Schirach in some way or other with the persecution of the Church. The case mentioned by the prosecution does not concern Church property at all, but confiscated property of a Prince Schwarzenberg in his Vienna palace. This affair therefore never had anything to do with the Church. This is also confirmed unequivocally by Minister Lammers's letter of 14th March, 1941 (R-146), which mentions only, I quote, "a confiscation of the property (of persons) hostile to the people and the State", whereas Bormann's far-reaching personal intention becomes apparent and betrays his hostile attitude towards the Church when Bormann speaks about "Church properties (monastic possessions and so forth)" in his accompanying letter of 20th March, 1941, referring to this case. Moreover, the confiscation of Prince Schwarzenberg's property was not caused, pronounced nor carried out by Schirach. Schirach had nothing to do with the confiscation as such; Schirach, however, agreeing with the other Gauleiter of the Austrian NSDAP, at their request personally applied to Hitler and requested that such confiscated property should not be taken to the Reich and not be used on behalf of the Reich, but that it should remain in Vienna. This proposal was crowned with success. Hitler complied with his request, the result of Schirach's efforts being that when the confiscation was rescinded later on, it enabled the property to be returned to the legitimate owner, whereas it would otherwise have been lost to him.

By acting thus, Schirach no doubt rendered a service to the Gau of Vienna and to the person who was the owner of the seized property. This case therefore cannot be construed as a charge against the defendant von Schirach; on the contrary, it speaks in his favour just as in the other case where, circumventing Bormann, he intervened on behalf of Austrian nuns and as a result brought about the discontinuance in one day of the whole project of confiscating Church and monastic property in the whole Reich by a direct order from Hitler.

If the prosecution further intends to charge the defendant von Schirach with the fact that the Vienna authorities subordinate to him intended to move an Adolf Hitler School into the monastery of Nuremberg in 1941, it must on the other hand be pointed out that, even prior to the requisitioning of this monastery, entirely independently of von Schirach, the Vienna Police and several Vienna courts had noted the occurrence of large-scale criminal offences in this monastery, and, furthermore, that the confiscation of part of the monastery seemed entirely justified to the defendant von Schirach, as the very spacious rooms of this religious establishment were not required for monastic purposes.

It must finally be pointed out that the monastery, as can be seen from documents submitted, did not file any protest with the Reich Minister of the Interior against

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the decision to confiscate, and thereby recognized the confiscation as just, although it had been expressly informed in the confiscation decree of the possibility of lodging a complaint. Moreover, the confiscated quarters were afterwards not used for the establishment of an Adolf Hitler School but for the Museum of Historical Art (thus for no Party establishment), which again testifies to the fact that the confiscation decree had in no way been issued because of a hostile attitude on the part of Schirach towards the Church. Had it been Schirach's object to attack the monastery because it was an ecclesiastical institution, he would also have confiscated the rooms used for religious ceremonies. He, however, strictly forbade their confiscation.

Moreover, when appraising this case, attention should be paid to the fact that the justification of the confiscation decree of 22nd February, 1941, contained one remarkable reservation. The decree restricts itself to justifying the confiscation by the fact that on the one hand Vienna badly needed rooms and on the' other hand the confiscated rooms were superfluous for the purposes of the monastery. Not a single word mentions or even suggests that criminal offences had taken place in the monastery, as recorded in a police report of 23rd January, 1941, which is submitted to the Court. If this confiscation had been the result of a hostile attitude of Schirach to the Church, we could have been sure that somehow or other reference would have been made to these criminal offences to justify the confiscation. At Schirach's instigation, a monthly rent was paid to the clergy who had occupied some of the confiscated rooms, for which payment there existed no official obligation whatever.

Defendant von Schirach's further behaviour does not reveal any hostile attitude towards the Church, particularly if one considers, when judging this behaviour, that during these years even a Reichsleiter was under strong pressure by the Reich Chancellery and by Bormann, and that at that time a considerable amount of courage was necessary to resist this pressure and carry on a policy in opposition to the official Berlin policy.

The witness Wieshofer of Vienna, who had the opportunity of watching Schirach's activities, confirmed before the Tribunal that also in Vienna Schirach strove to establish correct relations with the Church, that he was always willing to listen to complaints of the Cardinal of Vienna and took severe measures against the excesses of individual members of the Hitler Youth or Hitler Youth Leaders. In Vienna he thus carried out a policy towards the Church quite different from that which his radical predecessor Burckel had favoured, and it is beyond doubt that ecclesiastical circles in Vienna and the whole of the Viennese population appreciated Schirach's attitude towards the Church. This is also confirmed by the witness Gustav Hopken, who was examined here and who, by order of Schirach, held regular conferences with a Vienna theologian, the dean, Professor Ens, in order to be able to inform the defendant Schirach of the wishes of the Church and the differences which had arisen with ecclesiastical authorities. As he did not wish to expose himself to the most serious danger, Schirach could not do anything more under the prevailing political circumstances, which are described in the affidavit of Maria Hopken, Document Book von Schirach No. 3.

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