Document Analyst's Report

During October I completed the analysis for Baldur von Schirach's defense documents and worked through the corresponding part of the trial transcript, and started work on the defense documents of Fritz Sauckel, who led the labor procurement operation during the war. Schirach's defense included some surprising material.

Fighting words? The prosecution tried to portray Schirach's Hitler Youth program as a premilitary organization preparing boys to fight wars of conquest, which would make Schirach complicit in planning and waging wars of aggression (the tribunal did not agree). Considerable attention was given to the Hitler Youth songs as militaristic propaganda. Schirach himself stated that he objected to one song and had it rewritten. Schirach's version included these lines: "We shall march on . . . / For today we are heard by Germany / and tomorrow by the entire world." The prosecution cited the other version, which ends: "Today Germany belongs to us, / Tomorrow the whole world." The latter version clearly provided the key line for the song written for the musical and movie Cabaret, where a Hitler Youth member sings "Tomorrow belongs to me," which conveys both the appeal of the movement and its dangers.

The mandate: When Hitler appointed Schirach as governor of Vienna in 1940, his instructions were clear: "Vienna had to become a German city." The removal of Vienna's Jews came first. The Czechs were to follow. For that operation Schirach was found guilty of crimes against humanity.

Himmler's needs: On March 28, 1945 Himmler met with a group of provincial leaders in Vienna. After a review of the grim military situation, he was asked what should be done with the foreign workers, POWs, and Hungarian Jews who had been used to build fortifications, with one leader (Uiberreither) suggesting that they be released to the Allies. Himmler answered, "No, I need the Jews; I shall give Ziereis [the commandant of Mauthausen] the order that . . . all Jews . . . be taken back to Mauthausen." They were "to be cared for in an especially good way," with the best food available. Uiberreither noted with considerable understatement, "all this seemed very strange to us." (He didn't know that Himmler was secretly trying to reach a settlement with the Allies to end the war and needed something to offer.) "Himmler smiled, acted very mysteriously and said only that everything had a good reason; some day one could use pawns."

Speaking truth to power: In the middle of the war Schirach and his wife Henny visited the Netherlands, and Henny witnessed the round-up of a group of Jewish women. She was upset by the event. Schirach knew that as a government officer he could not raise the issue with Hitler, but his wife was not an official and she believed that Hitler might change the policy. When they visited Hitler in 1943, she told Hitler about it at supper. "There was an icy silence," Schirach testified, and then Hitler said, "Those are sentimentalities." The Schirachs were advised to leave the next day for their safety. At that point, Schirach said, "politically speaking, I was a dead man."

Matt Seccombe, 31 October 2023