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 2 of 10)

[DR. SAUTER continues.]

[Page 82]

I now turn to another point of the Indictment, to the question of the concentration camps. The prosecution has connected the defendant with concentration camps, not in the Indictment, but during the presentation of evidence, and the witness Alois Hoellriegel, who was questioned here, was asked in the witness box whether Schirach had ever been in the Mauthausen concentration camp. To this I should like to remark that the defendant von Schirach mentioned his visit to Mauthausen at his interrogation by the American prosecution before the beginning of the trial; it would, therefore, not have been necessary to have this visit confirmed again by the witness Hoellriegel. He visited the Mauthausen concentration camp in the year 1942, not in 1944, as the witness Marsalek erroneously stated; the correct year, 1942, has been confirmed by the witness

[Page 83]

Hoellriegel, and also by the witnesses Hopken and Wieshofer, from whom we heard that neither after 1942 nor at any other time did Schirach visit other concentration camps. The visit to Mauthausen in 1942 cannot implicate the defendant Schirach in the sense of having known, approved and supported all the conditions and atrocities in concentration camps. In 1942 he saw nothing in Mauthausen which might have indicated such crimes. There were no gas chambers and the like in 1942. At that time mass executions did not take place at Mauthausen. The statements of the defendant von Schirach concerning his impression of this camp appear to be quite plausible, because the testimony of numerous witnesses who have been heard during the course of this trial has confirmed again and again that on the occasion of such official visits, which had been announced previously, everything was carefully prepared in order to show to the visitors only that which the authorities wished them to see. Ill-treatment and torture were concealed during such official visits in the same manner as arbitrary executions or cruel experiments. This was the case at Mauthausen in 1942 and certainly also at Dachau in 1935, where Schirach and the other visitors were shown only orderly conditions, which at a superficial glance appeared to be almost better than in some ordinary prisons.

As a result, Schirach only knew that since 1933 there were several concentration camps in Germany to which, in his opinion, incorrigible habitual criminals and political prisoners were confined. However, even today Schirach cannot believe that the mere knowledge of the existence of concentration camps is in itself a punishable crime, since he at no time did anything whatsoever to promote concentration camps, never expressed his approval of them, never sent anybody to a concentration camp, and would also never have been able to make any changes in this institution or to prevent the existence of concentration camps. Schirach's influence was always too small for that. As Reich Youth Leader, he, of course, had nothing to do with concentration camps in the first place, and it was lucky for Schirach that in his entire Vienna Gau district there was not a single concentration camp.

His entire relations with concentration camps were therefore limited to repeated attempts to have people released from them, and it is significant, after all, that he used his presence in the concentration camp Mauthausen - the only time he was there - to exert his influence in obtaining the release of inhabitants of Vienna who were imprisoned there.

May it please the Tribunal, I do not want to go again into many details which have played a larger or smaller part in the presentation of evidence in the case of von Schirach. In the interest of saving time I shall not deal more specifically with his alleged connection with Rosenberg or Streicher, nor with his alleged collaboration in the slave labour programme in connection with which not even the slightest participation of the defendant Schirach could be proved; nor with a telephone conversation which has been used by the prosecution and which allegedly took place between one of the Viennese officials and an SS Colonel (SS Standartenfuehrer) regarding the compulsory work of the Jews, about which von Schirach knew nothing at all.

But I should like to insert a short remark about one subject which was dealt with particularly in connection with the case of Rosenberg, that is, a short explanation concerning the "Hay" action by which thousands of children in the Eastern combat zone were collected and brought partly to Poland and partly to Germany. The apparent aim of this operation, as far as von Schirach could see from the documents presented here, was to gather the children who were in the zone of operations, that is, immediately behind the front, and wandering around without their parents, and give them professional training and work so that they should be saved from physical and moral neglect.

The defendant von Schirach doubts whether that could be viewed as a crime against humanity or as a war crime. But it is certain that the defendant von

[Page 84]

Schirach did not know anything of that affair at the time. He was not then the competent authority to deal with it. That entire affair was handled by Army Group Centre, together with the Ministry for the Eastern Territories, and it is quite credible that the Eastern Ministry, as well as Army Group Centre, did not approach the Gauleiter of Vienna in order to get his approval of that action, or even to notify him about it.

The only thing which, a considerable time later, came to the attention of the defendant von Schirach, and which possibly has any connection with that "Hay" action; was an incidental report by the then Reich Youth Leader Axmann that so-and-so many thousand youths were brought to the Junkers works at Dessau as apprentices.

The defendant von Schirach stressed the importance of clearing up this matter, because he had been Reich Youth Leader previously and he wants to' make it quite clear that also after leaving that office he would of course not have done anything which he considered to be against the interests of youth.

May I add another remark here concerning the letter which the defendant von Schirach sent to Reichsleiter Bormann after the murder of Heydrich, in which he suggested reprisal measures to Bormann in the form of a terror attack upon an English centre of culture? That letter was actually sent by the defendant to Bormann. He acknowledges it. I have to point out at the very beginning that fortunately the suggestion remained a suggestion, and it was never carried out. The defendant, however, has told us that at that time he was very upset by the assassination of Heydrich, and it was clear to him that a revolt of the population in Bohemia would necessarily lead to a catastrophe for the German armies in Russia, and in his capacity as Gauleiter of Vienna he had considered it his duty to undertake something to protect the rear of the German army fighting in Russia. And that explains that teletype to Bormann of the year 1942 (Document 3877), which, as I have already pointed out, fortunately was not acted upon.

May I then, if the Tribunal please, continue on the middle of Page 26? I shall not deal in detail with the Adolf Hitler Schools which were founded by Schirach, nor with the fifth column which was somehow, quite wrongly, connected with the Hitler Youth, although nothing definite could be charged to the defendant. I shall no longer dwell either on the repeated efforts on behalf of peace by the defendant Schirach and his friend Dr. Colin Ross, neither shall I discuss the merits of the defendant with reference to the evacuation of millions of children from bomb-endangered districts during the war into the more peaceful zones of rural areas, thus saving their lives and health.

The defendant von Schirach has already talked about all these affairs in detail himself, and I should therefore like to refer to his own statements, which you will consider in your judgement. As counsel for the defendant von Schirach, I shall discuss only one more problem here, namely Schirach's opinion and attitude concerning the Jewish question.

Schirach has admitted here on the witness stand that he has been a convinced National Socialist and thus also an anti- Semite from his earliest youth. He has also made clear to us what he understood by anti-Semitism during those years. He thought of the exclusion of the Jews from civil service and of the limitation of Jewish influence in cultural life and perhaps also in economic life, up to a certain extent. But that was all which in his opinion should be undertaken against the Jews, and this was in accordance with the suggestion which he had already made as leader of the students' organization for the introduction of a quota system for students. The defendant's decree concerning the treatment of Jewish youth is, for example, also important in establishing his attitude (Schirach Document Book No. 136). This is a decree in which he expressly orders that Jewish youth organizations should have the right and the opportunity

[Page 85]

to practise freely within the limitations imposed upon them. It says that they were not to be disturbed in their own life.
"In its youth the Jewish community will today take that secluded but internally unrestrained special position which at some future time the entire Jewish community will be given in the German State and in German economy."
Those are the actual words of that decree. Obviously Schirach was not at all thinking about pogroms, bloody persecutions of the Jews, and the like; he rather believed at that time that the anti-Semitic movement had already reached its aim by the anti-Jewish legislative measures of the years 1933-34; with this he believed the Jewish influence, as far as it seemed unhealthy to him, was removed. He was therefore surprised and very disquieted when the Nuremberg Laws were issued in 1935 which formulated a policy of complete exclusion of the Jewish population and carried it out with barbaric severity. Schirach in no way took part in the planning of these laws; he has nothing whatsoever to do with their content and their formulation. That has been proved here.

When, on 10th November, 1938, he heard about the pogrom against the Jews and about the brutal excesses which were staged by Goebbels and his fanatic clique, his indignation became known throughout the entire youth movement. The evidence has proved this also. We have heard from the witness Lauterbacher how Schirach reacted to the report of these excesses: he immediately called his assistants together and gave them the strictest orders that the Hitler Youth had to be kept out of such actions under all circumstances. Also he at once had the officers of the Hitler Youth in all German cities notified by telephone to the same effect, and he warned every subordinate that he would hold him personally responsible if any excesses should occur in the Hitler Youth.

But even after November, 1938, Schirach never thought of the possibility that Hitler was thinking about the extermination of the Jews. On the contrary, he only heard it said that the Jews should be evacuated from Germany into other States, that they should be transported to Poland, and that they should be settled there at the worst in ghettoes, but probably in a closed settlement area. When Schirach, in July, 1940; received Hitler's order to take over the Gau of Vienna, Hitler himself also talked to him along the same lines, namely that he, Hitler, would have the Jews brought from Vienna into the Government General; and ever today Schirach has no doubt that Hitler himself was not thinking about the so-called "final solution" of the Jewish question at that time (1940) in terms of the extermination of the Jews. We learn from the Hoszbach minutes and other evidence of these trials that already in 1937 Hitler was planning the evacuation t o Poland, but that he decided on the extermination of the Jewish people only in the year 1941 or 1942.

Schirach had nothing at all to do with the evacuation of the Jews from Vienna as is alleged by the prosecution; the execution of this measure was exclusively in the hands of the Reich Security Office and the Vienna branch of this office, and it is known that the Vienna SS Gruppenfuehrer Brunner has been sentenced to death because of it. The only order which Schirach received and carried out concerning the Viennese Jews was to report to Hitler in 1940 how many Jews were still left in Vienna and he rendered this report in a letter of December, 1940, where he gave the figure of the Viennese Jews for 1940 as 60,000. As is known, Minister Lammers answered this letter from the defendant Schirach with a letter dated 3rd December, 1940 (PS-1950), which shows with all clarity that it was not Schirach who ordered the evacuation of the Viennese Jews into the Government General but Hitler himself, and that it was also not Schirach who carried out this measure but the Reichsfuehrer SS Himmler, who delegated this task to his Vienna office. It must therefore be stated here categorically that Schirach is in no way responsible for the deportation of the Jews from Vienna; he did not carry out this programme and he did not start it; when he came to Vienna

[Page 86]

in the summer of 1940 as Gauleiter, the larger part of the Viennese Jews had already voluntarily emigrated or had been forcibly evacuated from Vienna, a fact which was also confirmed by the defendant Seyss-Inquart. The remaining 60,000 Jews who were still there at the beginning of Schirach's time in Vienna were deported from there by the SS without his participation and without his responsibility.

In spite of this, Schirach made the well-known Viennese speech of September, 1942, in which he stated that every Jew working in Europe was a danger to European culture. Schirach furthermore said in this speech that if one wanted to reproach him now with the fact that he had deported tens of thousands of Jews into the Eastern ghetto from this city, which had once been the metropolis of Judaism, then he had to answer that he considered that an active contribution to European culture. That is how this passage reads. Schirach has openly and courageously admitted that he actually expressed himself in this manner at that time, and he has contritely stated here:

"I cannot take back this wicked statement; I must take the responsibility for it. I spoke these words which I sincerely regret."
Should the Tribunal see in these words a legally punishable crime against humanity, Schirach must make atonement for this single anti-Semitic remark which can be attributed to him, though they are merely words and did not have any harmful result. Schirach's attitude here does not exempt the Tribunal from its duty to verify carefully what Schirach actually did; furthermore, under what circumstances he made this single remark, and finally whether Schirach also made any other spiteful remarks against the Jews or committed any malicious acts against the Jewish race as a whole.

The fundamental question is: what did Schirach really do? The reply to it, emerging from the revelations of this trial, can only be: apart from the fact that he made this isolated anti-Semitic remark in his speech in Vienna in September, 1942, he has not committed any crime against the Jews. He had no competence in the question of the deportation of the Vienna Jews, he did not participate in it at all, and having too little power he could not prevent it in any case. It is just as the prosecution incidentally stated: He boastfully attributed to himself an action which in reality he had never committed and, in view of his entire attitude, he never could have committed.

What, however, prompted Schirach to make this remark in his Vienna speech? How did he come to attribute a deed to himself and charge himself with an action which he had obviously never committed? Here, too, the answer is given by the results of the evidence in the trial, evidence which demonstrates what a very difficult position Schirach had in Vienna. Without giving any reason, Hitler dismissed him as Reich Youth Leader, presumably because he no longer trusted him. From year to year Hitler's fear was growing that the young people stood behind Schirach and that Schirach would eventually be alienated from him (Hitler) to the same degree as he was isolated from the people by the black wall of his SS. Hitler possibly saw in his Youth Leader the personification of the coming generation which would think in international terms, whose feelings would be humane and who would feel themselves more and more bound to those perceptions of true morality which Hitler had long ago thrown overboard for himself and his national leadership because they had long since ceased to be concepts of true morality for him but mere slogans of a meaningless propaganda. This feeling of Hitler's might have been the deeper reason why he dismissed Schirach as Youth Leader suddenly in the summer of 1940, without any word of explanation, and appointed him to the especially difficult position of Gauleiter in Vienna, the city which he (Hitler) hated from the bottom of his heart, even whilst he spoke of his "Austrian Fatherland".

In Vienna Schirach's position was extremely complicated. Wherever he went he was shadowed and spied upon, his administrative activity there was sharply

[Page 87]

criticized, he was reproached for hardly looking after the interests of the Party in Vienna at all, for almost never being seen at Party meetings and for not making any political speeches. I refer in this connection to the affidavit of Maria Hopken, Schirach Document Book No. 3. The Berlin Party Chancellery received any complaints the Vienna Party members made about their new Gauleiter with satisfaction, and this fact alone might explain the unfortunate speech Schirach made in September, 1942, which was diametrically opposed to the attitude he had always maintained concerning the Jewish question. After the interrogation of the witness Gustav Hopken here in this courtroom there can be no doubt as to how the Vienna speech came about, for it reveals that Schirach had then expressly charged his press agent Gunther Kaufmann to emphasize this particular point when telephoning his report of the Vienna speech to the German News Agency in Berlin, because he, Schirach - I quote - "had to make a concession to Bormann in this respect", a point stressed by Schirach himself, in the course of his interrogation, with the statement that out of false loyalty he had morally identified himself with these acts of Hitler and Himmler. This ugly speech which Schirach made in September, 1942 is, however, in another sense a very valuable point in favour of Schirach: in the course thereof Schirach speaks of a "transfer of the Jews to the ghettoes of the East ". Had Schirach known at that time that the Viennese Jews were to be sent away in order to be murdered in an extermination camp, he would in view of the purpose of this speech doubtless not have spoken of an Eastern ghetto to which the Jews had been sent, but he would have reported the extermination of the Viennese Jews; but even at that time, in the autumn of 1942, he never had the slightest suspicion that Hitler wanted to murder the Jews. That he would never have approved and never accepted his anti- Semitism at no time went so far.

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