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Nuremberg Trial Judgements: Baldur von Schirach

Von Schirach is indicted under Counts One and Four. He joined the Nazi Party and the SA in 1925. In 1929 he became the Leader of the National Socialist Students Union. In 1931 he was made Reichs Youth Leader of the Nazi Party with control over all Nazi youth organisations including the Hitler Jugend. In 1933, after the Nazis had obtained control of the Government, von Schirach was made Leader of Youth in the German Reich, originally a position within the Ministry of the Interior, but, after 1st December, 1936, an office in the Reich Cabinet. In 1940, von Schirach resigned as head of the Hitler Jugend and Leader of Youth in the German Reich, but retained his position as Reichsleiter with control over Youth Education. In 1940 he was appointed Gauleiter of Vienna, Reichs Governor of Vienna, and Reichs Defence Commissioner for that territory.

Crimes against Peace

After the Nazis had come to power von Schirach, utilising both physical violence and official pressure, either drove out of existence or took over all youth groups which competed with the Hitler Jugend. A Hitler decree of 1st December, 1936, incorporated all German youth within the Hitler Jugend. By the time formal conscription was introduced in 1940. 97 per cent. of those eligible were already members.

Von Schirach used the Hitler Jugend to educate German Youth " in the spirit of National Socialism " and subjected them to an intensive programme of Nazi propaganda. He established the Hitler Jugend as a source of replacements for the Nazi Party formations. In October1938, he entered into an agreement with Himmler under which members of the Hitler Jugend who met SS standards would be considered as the primary source of replacements for the SS.

Von Schirach also used the Hitler Jugend for pre-military training. Special units were set up whose primary purpose was training specialists for the various branches of the service. On 11th August, 1939, he entered into an agreement with Keitel under which the Hitler Jugend agreed to carry out its pre-military activities under standards laid down by the Wehrmacht and the Wehrmacht agreed to train 30,000 Hitler Jugend instructors each year. The Hitler Jugend placed particular emphasis on the military spirit and its training programme stressed the importance of return of the colonies, the necessity for Lebensraum and the noble destiny of German youth to die for Hitler.

Despite the warlike nature of the activities of the Hitler Jugend, however, it does not appear that von Schirach was involved in the development of Hitler's plan for territorial expansion by means of aggressive war, or that he participated in the planning or preparation of any of the wars of aggression.

Crimes against Humanity

In July, 1940, von Schirach was appointed Gauleiter of Vienna. At the same time he was appointed Reichs Governor for Vienna and Reichs Defence Commissioner originally for Military District 17, including the Gaus of Vienna, Upper Danube and Lower Danube and, after 17th November, 1942, for the Gau of Vienna alone. As Reichs Defence Commissioner, he had control of the civilian war economy. As Reichs Governor he was head of the municipal administration of the city of Vienna, and, under the supervision of the Minister of the Interior in charge of the governmental administration of the Reich in Vienna.

Von Schirach is not charged with the commission of war crimes in Vienna, only with the commission of crimes against humanity. As has already been seen, Austria was occupied pursuant to a common plan of aggression. Its occupation is, therefore, a " crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal," as that term is used in Article 6 (c) of the Charter. As a result, " murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and ether inhumane acts " and " persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds " in connection with this occupation constitute a crime against humanity under that Article.

As Gauleiter of Vienna, von Schirach came under the Sauckel decree dated 6th April, 1942, making the Gauleiters Sauckel's plenipotentiaries for manpower with authority to supervise the utilisation and treatment of manpower within their Gaus. Sauckel's directives provided that the forced labourers were to be fed, sheltered and treated so as to exploit them to the highest possible degree at the lowest possible expense.

When von Schirach became Gauleiter of Vienna the deportation of the Jews had already been begun, and Only 60,000 out of Vienna's original 190,000 Jews remained. On 2nd October, 1940, he attended a conference at Hitler's office and told Frank that he had 50,000 Jews in Vienna which the General Government would have to take over from him. On 3rd December, 1940, von Schirach received a letter from Lammers stating that after the receipt of the reports made by von Schirach, Hitler had decided to deport the 60,000 Jews still remaining in Vienna to the General Government because of the housing shortage in Vienna. The deportation of the Jews from Vienna was then begun and continued until the early fall of 1942. On 15th September, 1942, von Schirach made a speech in which he defended his action in having driven " tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of Jews into the Ghetto of the East " as " contributing to European culture."

While the Jews were being deported from Vienna reports, addressed to him in his official capacity, were received in von Schirach's office from the office of the Chief of the Security Police and SD which contained a description of the activities of Einsatzgruppen in exterminating Jews. Many of these reports were initialled by one of von Schirach's principal deputies. On 30th June, 1944, von Schirach's office also received a letter from Kaltenbrunner informing him that a shipment of 12,000 Jews was on its way to Vienna for essential war work and that all those who were incapable of work would have to be kept in readiness for " special action."

The Tribunal finds that von Schirach, while he did not originate the policy of deporting Jews from Vienna, participated in this deportation after he had become Gauleiter of Vienna. He knew that the best the Jews could hope for was a miserable existence in the Ghettoes of the East. Bulletins describing the Jewish extermination were in his office.

While Gauleiter of Vienna, von Schirach continued to function as Reichsleiter for Youth Education and in this capacity he was informed of the Hitler Jugend's participation in the plan put into effect in the fall of 1944 under which 50,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 20 were evacuated into Germany from areas recaptured by the Soviet forces and used as apprentices in German industry and as auxiliaries in units of the German armed forces. In the summer of 1942, von Schirach telegraphed Bormann urging that a bombing attack on an English cultural town be carried out in retaliation for the assassination of Heydrich which, he claimed, had been Planned by the British.


The Tribunal finds that von Schirach is not guilty on Count One. He is guilty under Count Four.

Sources: The Avalon Project