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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th May to 24th May, 1946

One Hundred and Thirty-Eighth Day: Friday, 24th May, 1946
(Part 3 of 11)

[DR. SAUTER continues his direct examination of Baldur von Schirach]

[Page 369]

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 you?

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 possible.


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 about.

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 correct.

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 particularly.

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 "no."

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 following:

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 all.

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 persecution.


Witness, how many concentration camps did you know anything about?

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

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