The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. In any case, it would be in 1944?

A. That again I cannot say. But I believe I should explain
something more about it. I asked myself, what can one do to
prevent it? And I still ask myself, day after day, what did
I do to prevent it? I can only answer, practically nothing,
as from 1943 I was politically dead. Beyond what I had
attempted in 1943 on the Berghof, I could do nothing at all.

Q. Nothing?

A. Nothing.

Q. Witness, I should in this connection like to ask you
quite an important question. You admitted yesterday that you
had become an anti-Semite in your very early youth. You have
heard the testimony of Hoess, the Auschwitz commander, who
informed us that in that camp alone, I believe, 2,500,000 to
3,000,000 innocent people, mostly Jews, had been done to
death. What, today, does the name of "Auschwitz" convey to

A. It is the greatest, the most devilish mass murder known
to history. But that murder was not committed by Hoess;
Hoess was merely the executioner. The murder was ordered by
Adolf Hitler, as is obvious from his last will and
testament. The will is genuine. I have held the photostat
copy of that, will in my hands. He and Himmler jointly
committed that crime which, for all time, will be a stain on
the pages of our history. It is a crime which fills every
German with shame.

The youth of Germany is guiltless. Our youth was
anti-Semitically inclined, but it did not call for the
extermination of Jewry. It neither realised nor imagined
that Hitler had carried out this extermination by the daily
murder of thousands of innocent people. The youth of Germany
who, today, stand perplexed among the ruins of their native
land, knew nothing of these crimes, nor did they desire
them. They are innocent of all that Hitler has done to the
Jewish and to the German people. I should like to say the
following in connection with Hoess case. I had educated this
generation in faith and loyalty to Hitler. The Youth
Organization which I built up, bore his name. I believed
that I was serving a Leader who would make our people, and
the youth of our country, great and happy and free. Millions
of young people believed this, together with me, and saw
their ultimate ideal in National Socialism. Many died for
it. Before God, before the German nation, and before my
German people, I alone bear the guilt of having trained our
young people for a man whom I for many long years had
considered unimpeachable, both as a leader and as Head of
the State - of having created for him a generation who saw
him as I did. The guilt is mine that I educated the youth of
Germany for a man who murdered millions. That I believed in
this man is my own, my own personal guilt. I was responsible
for the youth of the country, I was placed in authority over
the young people, and the guilt is mine

                                                  [Page 370]

alone. The younger generation is guiltless. It grew up in an
anti-Semitic State, ruled by anti-Semitic laws. Our youth
was bound by these laws, and saw nothing criminal in racial
politics. But if anti-Semitism and racial laws could lead to
an Auschwitz, then Auschwitz must mark the end of racial
politics, and the death of anti-Semitism. Hitler is dead. I
never betrayed him, I never tried to overthrow him, I
remained true to my oath as an officer, a Youth Leader, and
an official. I was no blind collaborator of his, neither was
I an opportunist. I was a convinced National-Socialist from
my earliest days - as such I was an anti-Semite. Hitler's
racial policy was a crime which led to disaster for
5,000,000 Jews, and for all the Germans. The younger
generation bears no guilt. But he who, after Auschwitz,
still clings to racial politics, is a criminal.

That is what I consider my duty to state in connection with
the Hoess case.

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, is this perhaps a convenient
moment to break off?

THE PRESIDENT: How long is the defendant's examination going
to continue, Dr. Sauter?

DR. SAUTER: I believe it will take about one hour.

THE PRESIDENT: I did not hear that.

DR. SAUTER: I believe it will take about one more hour, an
hour at the most. Did you hear me, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I hear you now. We have been hearing you
for a very long time now.


(A recess was taken.) .

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, after this declaration by
defendant von Schirach, I would gladly dispense with all
further questions, but the prosecution has brought definite
accusations against this defendant and I fear that, if he
does not voice an opinion on the subject, these accusations
will be tacitly accepted. I shall try to be as brief as


Q. Witness, you have just described the impressions you had
gathered from evidence given in this court room. Have you
yourself ever visited a concentration camp?

A. Yes.

Q. When, and for what reason?

A. As the witness Hoellriegel has testified before this
Tribunal, I visited Mauthausen concentration camp in 1942.
The testimony given by another witness, Marsalek, to the
effect that this visit took place in 1944, is incorrect. I
also mentioned it when I was interned, in June, 1945, in the
course of my preliminary interrogation in Nuremberg.

Q. Prior to Hollriegel's testimony?

A. Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: The translation came through "interned in
June, 1940." Is that right?


Q. 1945, Herr von Schirach, not 1940?

A. Yes. I went into voluntary internment in 1945.

Q. Then you can confidently state that you visited
Mauthausen in 1942?

A. Yes.

Q. For what reason and how -

A. There had been a session -

Q. Just one moment -

THE PRESIDENT: What does he mean by "voluntary internment"?

                                                  [Page 371]

DR. SAUTER: The defendant von Schirach was, at that time,
living in the Tyrol under an assumed name, and in the place
where he lived - perhaps defendant von Schirach can himself,
but very briefly, tell us how this voluntary internment came

A. I was then still at liberty, and I sent a letter, through
my adjutant, to the local American Commander, stating that I
should like to surrender voluntarily, in order to be tried
by an Allied court. That was in June, 1945. The CIC officer,
who later discovered where I lived, told me that I might
have stayed there a good time longer. I personally am
convinced that I could have remained in hiding there or
elsewhere, for years, as long as I wished.

Q. Herr von Schirach, we shall now revert to your visit to
Mauthausen, which you said with certainty and under oath,
took place in 1942. Is this right?

A. I believe the date given by witness Hoellriegel is

I quite definitely know that the date given by Marsalek is
not correct.

Q. Then it was not in 1944?

A. Probably 1942. I therefore confirm Hollriegel's
testimony. There was a meeting at Linz, at which various
departments of the Ostmark participated. There were
conferences on economic and agrarian problems, and later in
the afternoon we went to Mauthausen concentration camp, at
the request of Gauleiter Eigruber. At the time, I was rather
surprised that the Gauleiter was even in a position to
invite us there. I assumed that he had previously been in
touch with the SS offices, and that the reason for
Eigruber's invitation was that he wished to erect an arms
factory, or something of the kind there; at any rate, though
I can no longer remember exactly, it was somehow connected
with the completion of the Steyer Works.

Q. Who showed you round and what did you see?

A. We were shown round by the Camp Commandant.

Q. Whose name was?

A. His name, as has already been mentioned here, was
Ziehreiss, or something of the kind.

Q. SS Leader?

A. SS Camp Commandant, and I should now like to give you my
first impressions. The camp area was very large. I
immediately asked how many internees there were. I believe I
was told 15,000 or 20,000; at any rate, the figure varied
between 15,000 and 20,000. I asked what kind of internees
were imprisoned there, and received the reply I was always
given whenever I inquired about concentration camps, namely
- that two-thirds of the inmates were dangerous criminals
collected from the prisons and penitentiaries and brought to
work in the camp. The remaining third was allegedly composed
of political prisoners, and of people guilty of high treason
and betrayal of their country, who were treated with
exceptional severity during the war.

Q. Did you, in this camp, convince yourself as to the nature
of the treatment meted out to the prisoners, the food
situation, etc.?

A. I witnessed one food distribution and gained the
impression that, for camp conditions, the food ration was
both normal and adequate. I then visited the large quarry,
once famous and now notorious, from which the quarried stone
had been taken during centuries for building in Vienna.
There was no work going on at the quarry, since the working
day had come to an end, but I did, visit the works where the
stone was cut. I saw a building with an exceptionally well
equipped dental clinic. This clinic was shown to the because
I had questioned Ziehreiss about the medical assistance
afforded in the camp. I would add that, during this visit, I
asked precisely the same questions which I had been wont to
ask during all my visits to the camps of the Youth
Organizations, i.e., questions pertaining to medical aid,
the number of people in the camp, living conditions, etc. I
was then taken to a large room in which music was being
played by the prisoners. They had gathered together quite a
large symphony orchestra, and I was told that

                                                  [Page 372]

on holiday evenings they could amuse themselves, each man
according to his own tastes. In this case, for instance, the
prisoners who wished to enjoy music, assembled in that room.
A tenor was singing on that occasion, I remember that

I then inquired about the death-rate, and was shown a room
with three corpses in it. I cannot tell you here and now,
under oath, whether I saw any crematorium or not. Marsalek
has testified to that effect. I would not, however, have
been surprised if there had been a crematorium or a cemetery
in so large a place, so far removed from the city. That
would be a matter of course.

Q. Herr von Schirach, during this official visit under the
guidance of Camp Commandant Ziehreiss, did you discover
anything at all about any ill-treatment or atrocities, or of
the tortures which were allegedly inflicted in the camp? You
can answer the question briefly - possibly with "yes" or

A. Had that been the case, I would of course have
endeavoured to do something about it. But I was under the
impression that everything was in order. I looked at the
inmates, for instance, and I remember seeing, among others,
the famous long-distance runner, Peltzer, who was accused of
being a sexual pervert. He had been punished because he had,
on innumerable occasions, freely committed sexual offences
against youths in his charge in a country school. I asked
Ziehreiss, "How does one ever get out of these concentration
camps? Do you release people regularly? " In reply he had
four or five inmates brought to me who, he said, were to be
released the very next day. He asked them in my presence,
"Have you packed everything and have you prepared everything
for your release?" to which, beaming with joy, they
answered, "yes."

Q. Witness, can you remember whether on this occasion you
also asked Camp Commander Ziehreiss whether political
prisoners from your Vienna district, i.e., from the city of
Vienna, were interned in the camp? And did you then have a
group of political prisoners from Vienna brought before you?

A. You have already put this question to me during an
interview, and I can only tell you the following, under
oath: I cannot remember, but you may take it for granted
that, on an occasion of this kind, I would certainly ask
about prisoners from my own Gau. But I cannot remember it.
Herr Marsalek mentioned it in his testimony, and I consider
it highly probable. I should, in connection with this visit,
like to add the following: I have always been rather
hampered in my recollections of Mauthausen -

Q. What hampered you?

A. After May, 1945, I heard innumerable radio reports on
Mauthausen and other concentration camps, and I read
everything I could lay my hands on in the way of written
reports about Mauthausen, everything that appeared in the
Press, and I always pondered on the question, "Did you see
anything there which might point to a mass destruction of
human beings?" I was, for instance, reading the other day
about running belts for the conveyance of corpses. I did not
see them.

I must also add that I visited Dachau; I must not forget
that. In 1935, together with the entire Munich Party
Leadership Group, I paid a visit to Dachau. This visit was a
result of the objections against existing security measures
expressed by certain political leaders to Deputy of the
Fuehrer Hess, who, in turn, passed these objections on to
Himmler who subsequently sent out an invitation to inspect
Dachau. I believe that there were, at that time, 800 or
1,000 internees at Dachau.

I did not participate in the entire official visit, for I
was conversing with some of the Gauleiter who were being
shown round the camp. I saw quite excellent living quarters
at Dachau, and, because the subject interested me, I was
shown the building which housed the camp library. I also saw
that the camp possessed excellent medical facilities. Then -
and I believe this fact is worth mentioning - I spoke with
many Gau- and Reichsleiter, about the impression they had
formed of Dachau. All impressions gained were to the effect
that all doubts as to Himmler's security measures were
definitely dispersed, and everybody said that the internees

                                                  [Page 373]

in the camp were, on the whole, far better treated than they
would have been in a State prison. Such was my impression of
Dachau in 1935, and I must say that ever since that visit,
my mind was far more at ease regarding conditions in the
concentration camps. In conclusion, I feel I must add the

Up to the moment of the final collapse, I firmly believed
that we had 20,000 people in Mauthausen camp, 10,000 at
Oranienburg and Dachau, some thousands at two more large
camps, whose existence was known to me, and one of which I
had visited, and possibly 10,000 more at Buchenwald, near
Weimar, a camp I knew by name, but which I had never
visited. I therefore concluded that we had roughly, 50,000
people in the German camps, of whom two-thirds were habitual
criminals, convicts and sexual perverts, and one-third
political prisoners. And I had arrived at this conclusion,
primarily because I myself have never sent a single soul to
the concentration camps, and nourished the illusion that
others had acted as I did. I could not even imagine, when I
heard of it - immediately after the collapse - that hundreds
of thousands of people in Germany were considered political
offenders. There is something else to be said on the whole
question of the concentration camps.

The poet, Hans Carossa, has deposed an affidavit for me, and
this affidavit contains a passage about a publisher whom I
had liberated from a concentration camp. I wish to mention
this because it is one of many typical cases where one
exerted one's entire influence to have a man freed from a
concentration camp, but then, he never tells you afterwards
how he fared in the camp. In the course of the years, I have
received many letters from people having relatives in the
camps. By establishing, in Vienna, a fixed day on which
audience was granted to anybody from the population who
wished to speak to me, I was able to talk to thousands of
people from every class and standing.

On one such occasion, I was approached by someone requesting
me personally to free some friend or relative in a
concentration camp. In cases like that, I usually wrote a
letter to the Reich Security Main Office, at first to Herr
Heydrich, and later to Herr Kaltenbrunner, and after some
time, I would be informed that the internee in question had
or had not been released, according to the gravity of the
charges brought against him. But the internees released
never told me their experiences in the camp. One never saw
anybody who had been ill-treated in the camps, and that is
why I myself, and many others in Germany with me, were never
able to visualize conditions in the concentration camps at

DR. SAUTER: Mr. President, this affidavit of the poet Hans
Carossa, just mentioned by the defendant, is Document No.
3-A. I repeat, 3-A of the Schirach Document Book. It is a
sworn affidavit by the poet Carossa, and I ask the Tribunal
to put the entire contents of the documents into the
evidence. In the last paragraph, mention is made of the case
about which the defendant has just been speaking, i.e.-the
liberation of a publisher named Suhrkamp from a
concentration camp.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you got the page of it?

DR. SAUTER: Page 25 of the Document Book, Document No. 3-A,
Hans Corossa. The remainder of this document deals with the
humane impression Dr. Corossa received of the defendant, and
with von Schirach's solicitude for the victims of political


Witness, how many concentration camps did you know anything

A. I have just enumerated them: Oranienburg, Dachau,
Buchenwald and Mauthausen.

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