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Baldur von Schirach

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Title: Baldur von Schirach  
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Subject: Albert Speer, Henriette von Schirach, Reichsjugendführer, League of German Girls, Spandau Prison
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Baldur von Schirach

Baldur von Schirach
Flag of the Hitlerjugend Reichsjugendführer
In office
Appointed by Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Post created
Succeeded by Artur Axmann
Gauleiter of Vienna
In office
August 1940 – May 1945
Appointed by Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Josef Bürckel
Succeeded by None
Personal details
Born Baldur Benedikt von Schirach
9 May 1907 (1907-05-09)
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter. (aged 67)
Kröv, Rhineland-Palatinate, Federal Republic of Germany
Political party National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
Spouse(s) Henriette von Schirach
(née Hoffmann; married 1932)
Children 4
Awards Hitler Youth Golden Honour Badge with Diamonds and Rubies

Baldur Benedikt von Schirach (9 May 1907 – 8 August 1974) was a Nazi youth leader later convicted of crimes against humanity. He was the head of the Hitler-Jugend (HJ, the "Hitler Youth") and later Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter ("Reich Governor") of Vienna.


  • Early life 1
  • Military career and the Nazi Party 2
  • Trial and conviction 3
  • In popular culture 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Schirach was born in Berlin, the youngest of four children of theatre director Rittmeister Carl Baily Norris von Schirach (1873–1948) and his American wife Emma Middleton Lynah Tillou (1872–1944). A member of the noble Wendish-origined (West Slavic) Schirach family, 3 of his 4 grandparents were from the United States, chiefly from Pennsylvania.[1] Through his mother, Schirach descended from two signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence.[2] English was the first language he learned at home and he was not able to speak German until the age of five. He had two sisters, Viktoria and Rosalind von Schirach, and a brother, Karl Benedict von Schirach, who committed suicide in 1919 at the age of 19.

On 31 March 1932 von Schirach married 19-year-old Henriette Hoffmann, the daughter of Heinrich Hoffmann, Adolf Hitler's personal photographer and close friend. Von Schirach's family was vehemently opposed to the marriage to Henriette, but Hitler insisted.[3] Gregor Strasser dismissively described Von Schirach as "a young effeminate aristocrat" upon whom Hitler bestowed both Henriette and the Hitler Youth position. Through this relationship, von Schirach became part of Hitler's inner circle. The young couple were welcome guests at Hitler's "Berghof". Henriette von Schirach gave birth to four children: Angelika Benedikta von Schirach (born 1933), Klaus von Schirach (born 1935), Robert von Schirach (1938) and Richard von Schirach (born 1942). The lawyer and best-selling German crime writer Ferdinand von Schirach is his grandson.[4]

He was a published author, contributing to literature journals, and an influential patron of the arts.[5]

Schirach (extreme left) watches as Hitler greets his Chancellery chief Phillip Bouhler in Munich 1938.
Baldur von Schirach with Hitler, Bormann and Göring at the Obersalzberg.

Military career and the Nazi Party

Schirach joined a Wehrjugendgruppe (military cadet group) at the age of 10 and became a member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in 1925. He was soon transferred to Munich and in 1929 became leader of the Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Studentenbund (NSDStB, National Socialist German Students' League). He was named Reichsjugendführer (Youth Leader) of the NSDAP in 1931, and in 1933 he was made head of the Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend) and given an SA rank of Gruppenführer. He was made a state secretary in 1936.

He appeared frequently at rallies, such as the Wehrmacht soldiers, but in the final years of the Second World War, they were recruited as youths of as young as 12 to fight in depleted army units. An entire division, the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, was recruited almost entirely from the Hitler Jugend. It fought in Normandy in 1944, and committed several war crimes.

In July 1939, von Schirach paid Passau a formal visit.[6] In July 1940, when a new play by Hans Baumann was staged there, von Schirach insisted that 2,000 local Hitler Youth were part of that performance.[7]

In 1940 he organised the evacuation of 5 million children from cities threatened by Allied bombing. Later that year, he joined the army and volunteered for service in France, where he was awarded the Iron Cross before being recalled. He served with the 4th (Machine Gun) Company of Infantry Regiment Grossdeutschland in the rank of Gefreiter.[8] During the French Campaign he was promoted to Leutnant and decorated for bravery.[9] Schirach lost control of the Hitler Youth to Artur Axmann, and was appointed Governor (Gauleiter or Reichsstatthalter) of the Reichsgau Vienna,[10] a post in which he remained until the end of the war.

An anti-Semite and an anti-Christian,[11] Schirach was responsible over the next few years for sending Jews from Vienna to German death camps. During his tenure 65,000 Jews were deported. In a speech on 15 September 1942 he said that their deportation was a "contribution to European culture."[10] Later, during the war, von Schirach pleaded for a moderate treatment of the eastern European peoples and criticised the conditions in which Jews were being deported. He fell into disfavour in 1943, but remained at his post.[12]

Schirach was notoriously anxious about air raids. He had the cellars of the Hofburg Palace in the Vienna city centre refurbished and adapted as a bomb shelter, and the lower level of the extensive subterranean Vienna air defence coordination centre in the forests to the west of Vienna held personal facilities for him, as well. The Viennese promptly dubbed this C&C centre Schirach-Bunker.

Baldur von Schirach at the Nuremberg Trials (in second row, second from right)

Trial and conviction

Schirach surrendered in 1945 and was one of the officials put on trial at Nuremberg. At the trial Schirach was one of only two men to denounce Hitler (the other was Albert Speer). He said that he did not know about the extermination camps. He provided evidence that he had protested to Martin Bormann about the inhumane treatment of the Jews. Schirach claimed at the trials that the roots of his anti-semitism could be found in the readings of Henry Ford's The International Jew. He was originally indicted for crimes against peace for his role in building up the Hitler Youth, but was acquitted on that charge. However, he was found guilty on 1 October 1946 of crimes against humanity for his role in the deportation of the Viennese Jews to certain death in German Nazi concentration camps located in Poland. He was sentenced and served 20 years as a prisoner in Spandau Prison, Berlin.

On 20 July 1949 his wife Henriette von Schirach (3 February 1913 – 27 January 1992) divorced him while he was in prison.

He was released on 30 September 1966, and retired quietly to southern Germany. He published his memoirs, Ich glaubte an Hitler ("I believed in Hitler") and died on 8 August 1974 in Kröv.

In popular culture

Baldur von Schirach has been portrayed in film, television and theatre productions:

In fiction, Baldur von Schirach was portrayed in Philip K. Dick's 1962 prize-winning alternate history novel The Man in the High Castle, in a somewhat more sympathetic manner than other Nazi war criminals. The fictionalized account noted his efforts to mitigate racial exterminations of Slavs, and his calling for an end to certain forms of mercy killings and medical experimentation. Upon the death of Reichskanzler Martin Bormann, the Japanese see him as the most preferable successor (although, Joseph Goebbels ultimately prevails). In the novel, Schirach is also said to have been responsible for the completion of "Project Farmland", wherein the Mediterranean Sea was dammed and drained, reclaiming huge areas of farmland, à la Atlantropa.[15]

See also



  1. ^ Michael H. Kater, Hitler Youth, Harvard University Press, 2009, p. 17, ISBN 0674039351
  2. ^ Arthur Middleton and Thomas Heyward, Jr.
  3. ^ The Mind of Adolf Hitler, Walter Charles Langer, New York 1972, pp. 99–100
  4. ^ Ferdinand von Schirach (September 23, 2011). "A Third Reich Past: Why I Cannot Answer Questions about My Grandfather".  
  5. ^ Gerwin Strobl (2007). The swastika and the stage: German theatre and society, 1933–1945. Cambridge University Press. pp. 9–.  
  6. ^ Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 212f
  7. ^ Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 255f
  8. ^ Spaeter, Helmuth "The History of Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland" p.70 (English edition)
  9. ^ Spaeter, Helmuth "The History of Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland" p.137 (English edition)
  10. ^ a b Robert S. Wistrich (7 November 2001). Who's who in Nazi Germany. Psychology Press. p. 122.  
  11. ^ Everette Lemons (4 January 2005). The Third Reich, A Revolution Of Ideological Inhumanity: The Power Of Perception.  
  12. ^ Baldur von Schirach
  13. ^ (2000) (TV)Nuremberg at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ (2006) (TV)Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial at the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ Dick, Philip (1962). The Man in the High Castle. pp. 24, 98, 102.  

Further reading

  • Fest, Joachim C. and Bullock, Michael (trans.) "Baldur von Schrach and the 'Mission of the Younger Generation'" in The Face of the Third Reich New York: Penguin, 1979 (orig. published in German in 1963), pp. 332–354. ISBN 978-0201407143.

External links

  • Timeline of Schirach's life (German)
  • Baldur von Schirach at Find a Grave
  • Baldur von Schirach (Character) at the Internet Movie Database
  • Short biography of Baldur von Schirach
  • ) by Baldur von SchirachRevolution of Education (Revolution der Erziehung
  • ) by Baldur von SchirachThe Hitler Youth – Idea and Character (Die Hitler-Jugend – Idee und Gestalt
  • ), collection of poetryThe Flag of the Persecuted (Die Fahne der Verfolgten
  • ) by Baldur von SchirachGoethe to Us (Goethe an uns
  • ); more poetryThe Lay of the Faithful (Das Lied der Getreuen
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Baldur von Schirach
  • Biography: Baldur von Schirach
  • Interview with David Frost
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