The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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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

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

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

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

O. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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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