Baldur von Schirach

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Baldur von Schirach


In office
1931–1940
Appointed by Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Post created
Succeeded by Artur Axmann

In office
August 1940 – May 1945
Appointed by Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Josef Bürckel
Succeeded by None

Born 9 May 1907 (1907-05-09)
Berlin, then Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 8 August 1974 (1974-08-09) (aged 67)
Kröv, Rhineland-Palatinate, Federal Republic of Germany
Political party National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
Spouse(s) Henriette von Schirach (née Hoffmann) (m. 1932)
Children 4
Profession Leutnant des Heeres and SA-Obergruppenführer

Baldur Benedikt von Schirach (b. 9 May 1907; d. 8 August 1974) was a German politician, youth leader and officer of the SA as well as the Heer in WWII. He was the head of the HitlerJugend (HJ, Hitler Youth) and Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter ("Reich Governor") of Vienna. In 1940, Schirach organised the evacuation of five million children from cities threatened by Allied terror bombing. Von Schirach was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment at the Nuremberg Show Trials in 1946 and was not released until 1966.

Life

Hitler with SA leader Viktor Lutze and Hitlerjugend leader von Schirach in the Berghof great hall (Große Halle), 13 December 1936
Henriette „Henny“ von Schirach

Baldur was born in Weimar, the final of four children of theatre director and retired officer Rittmeister Carl Benno von Schirach Carl Baily Norris von Schirach (1873–1948) and his US-American wife Emma Middleton Lynah, née Tillou (1872–1944). Through his mother, von Schirach claimed descent from two signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence. English was in fact the first language which 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 Benedikt von Schirach who committed suicide in 1919 aged 19 out of dispair after Germany's loss in WWI.

Schirach joined a Wehrjugendgruppe (military cadet group) at the age of ten and became a member of the NSDAP in 1925. He was soon transferred to Munich and in 1929 became leader of the Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund|Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Studentenbund (NSDStB, National Socialist German Students' League). In 1931 he was a Reichsjugendführer (youth leader) in the NSDAP and in 1933 he was made head of the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) and given an SA rank of Gruppenführer. He was made a state secretary in 1936.

In November 1939, he was called up for military service in the army. After training, he served with the 4th (Machine Gun) Company of Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland (de) during the Battle of France as a dispatch runner in the rank of Gefreiter. He was promoted to Leutnant, served as a Zugführer (platoon leader) and was decorated for bravery with the Iron Cross 2nd class, before being recalled to Germany.

In 1940 he organized the evacuation of 5 million children from cities threatened by Allied terror bombing. Von Schirach lost control of the Hitler Youth to Artur Axmann, and was appointed Reich governor (Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter) of the Reichsgau Vienna, a post in which he remained until the end of the war.

Over the next few years, von Schirach was responsible for moving Jews from Vienna to camps in Poland. During his tenure 185,000 Jews were deported from Vienna to Poland, and in a speech on 15 September 1942 he mentioned their deportation as a "contribution to European culture." Later during the war von Schirach pleaded for a moderate treatment of the eastern European peoples and criticized the conditions in which Jews were being deported. He fell into disfavor in 1943, but remained at his post.

After WWII

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 also provided evidence that he had protested to Martin Bormann about the inhumane treatment of the Jews. Also, it was revealed by Schirach at Nuremberg that the roots of his opposition to Jewish supremacism could be found in the readings of Henry Ford's The International Jew. He was found guilty on October 1, 1946, of "crimes against humanity" for his deportation of the Viennese Jews. He was sentenced and served twenty years as a prisoner in Spandau Prison. He was released on 30 September 1966, and retired quietly to southern Germany.

Family

On 31 March 1932 von Schirach married 19-year-old Henriette "Henny" Hoffmann (de), marriage witnesses were Adolf Hitler and Ernst Röhm. She was the daughter of Heinrich Hoffmann from Munich, who was the personal photographer and a close friend to Hitler. Through this relationship von Schirach was part of Hitler's inner circle. The young couple were appreciated guests at Hitler's "Berghof". Henriette von Schirach gave birth to four children:

  • Angelika Benedikta von Schirach (b. 1933); portrait painter ⚭ Günther Knipp, painter
  • Klaus von Schirach (b. 1935); Dr. jur., lawyer in Munich
  • Robert von Schirach (b. 1938; d. 1980 by traffic accident); printing house businessman and author in Munich
  • Richard von Schirach (b. 1942); Dr. phil., sinologist, owner of a consulting and service company, at times working for the People's Republic of China

On 20 July 1949 his wife Henriette applied for divorce, which was granted on 20 July 1950. She was engaged to Karl Eugen Hans-Peter Jacob at the time, ex-husband of Leni Riefenstahl, but the two never married. Henriette and Baldur stayed good friends, she supported him all the years in prison and tried everything in her power to reach a pardon for her ex-husband and father of her children.

Awards and decorations (excerpt)

Writings (selection)

  • Die Feier der neuen Front – Gedichte, Deutscher Volksverlag, München 1929
  • Die Pioniere des Dritten Reiches, Zentralstelle für den deutschen Freiheitskampf, Essen 1933
  • Die Fahne der Verfolgten, 1933 (PDF-Datei)
  • Die Hitlerjugend – Idee und Gestalt, 1934 (PDF-Datei 32 MB)
  • Das Lied der Getreuen, 1938 (PDF-Datei 13 MB)
  • Die Revolution der Erziehung, 1938 (PDF-Datei)
  • Goethe an uns, 1942 (PDF-Datei
  • Ich glaubte an Hitler ("I believed in Hitler"), 1967

Gallery

External links