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Balder von Schirach : Nazi Germany

Balder von Schirach : Nazi Germany

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Baldur von Schirach, the eldest of four children, was born in Berlin on 9th March, 1907. his father, Carl Bailer-Norris von Schirach, was an army officer who resigned in 1908 to become a theatre director in Weimar and then in Vienna. His mother, Emma Tillou, had been born in the United States and had two signers of the Declaration of Independence among her ancestors. His great-grandfather was a Union Army officer who lost his leg at Bull Run.

According to Ian Kershaw, the author of Hitler 1889-1936 (1998): "Baldur von Schirach... came from a highly cultured bourgeois family, based in Weimar - Germany's literary capital - where his father had been a highly regarded director of the Court Theatre... he spoke excellent English; his American mother, with imperfect command of the language of her adopted country, had spoken only English to him in his childhood, so that at the age of six he spoke, so he later said, not a word of German."

After the First World War, his father lost his job and his brother committed suicide, despairing at the block on his officer's career as a consequence of the Versailles Treaty. His biographer, Louis L. Snyder, has commented: "Baldur von Schirach grew up in a milieu of music, theater, and literature and early showed talent for poetry. A romantic and sentimental lad, somewhat plump in physique, he longed for adventure. He joined the Young German League at the age of ten and took much joy in its hikes, camp life, and singing sessions."

Von Schirach later admitted that he developed anti-Semite views at seventeen after reading a book called The International Jew by Henry Ford. He later recalled: "We saw in Henry Ford the representative of success, also the exponent of a progressive social policy. In the poverty-stricken and wretched Germany of the time, youth looked toward America, and apart from the great benefactor, Herbert Hoover, it was Henry Ford who to us represented America."

Von Schirach was also inspired by The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century by Houston Stewart Chamberlain. He was especially impressed by the following passage: "Certain anthropologists would fain teach us that all races are equally gifted; we point to history and answer: that is a lie! The races of mankind are markedly different in the nature and also in the extent of their gifts, and the Germanic races belong to the most highly gifted group, the group usually termed Aryan... Physically and mentally the Aryans are pre-eminent among all peoples; for that reason they are by right ... the lords of the world."

In 1924 Von Schirach went to Munich where he studied art history and Germanic folk-lore. He heard Adolf Hitler speak in March 1925. He purchased Mein Kampf which he claimed he read in a single evening. In May, aged eighteen, he joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and served in the Sturm Abteilung unit. He became known as the party's poet laureate. In one poem he described Hitler as "Germany's greatest son" and "a genius grazing the stars". In another he claimed "in him rest the roots of our world".

Hitler appreciated Von Schirach's poetry and referred to him as "a true follower and a dependable lad" and advised him to move to Munich. In 1929 Hitler appointed Von Schirach as head of the National Socialist Students' Union and gave him the task of bringing the entire university system under Nazi control. Satisfied with his work Hitler promoted him to the post of Reich youth leader of the Nazi Party, a post in which he proved himself to be a master organizer. The following year he directed a massive youth demonstration in Potsdam, at which more than 100,000 youngsters marched past the Führer for seven hours.

Von Schirach married Henriette Hoffman, the daughter of Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's official photographer, in Munich on 31st March 1932. Hitler and Ernst Roehm both acted as best men. Over the next ten years Henriette gave birth to four children: Angelika Benedicta, Klaus, Robert, and Richard.

On 1st June, 1933 Baldur von Schirach was made leader of the Hitler Youth. His main objective was to re-educate German youth in the spirit of National Socialism. As Louis L. Snyder has pointed out: "Von Schirach would permit no opposition to his plans. As early as February 1933 he had led a surprise raid of fifty boys on the office of the rival Central Committee of Youth Organizations and confiscated its records." Von Schirach wrote prayers that praised Hitler and had to be read by members of the various Nazi youth organizations before they had their meals.

Cate Haste, the author of Nazi Women (2001) has argued: "The leadership immediately set about organizing youth into a coherent body of loyal supporters. Under Baldur von Schirach, himself only twenty-five at the time, the organization was to net all young people from ages ten to eighteen to be schooled in Nazi ideology and trained to be the future valuable members of the Reich. From the start, the Nazis pitched their appeal as the party of youth, building a New Germany.... Hitler intended to inspire youth with a mission, appealing to their idealism and hope."

At the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, described as the Rally of Youth, Adolf Hitler told Germany's young people: "Regardless of what we create and do, we shall pass away, but in Germany you will live on. And I know it cannot be otherwise for you are the flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood, and your young minds are filled with the same will that dominates us... And when the great columns of our movement march through Germany today, I know that you will join these columns. And we know that Germany is before us, within us and behind us."

Herman Rauschning claimed Hitler told him: "In my great educative work I am beginning with the young. We older ones are used up. Yes, we are old already. We are rotten to the marrow. We have no unrestrained instincts left. We are cowardly and sentimental. We are bearing the burden of a humiliating past, and have in our blood the dull recollection of serfdom and servility. But my magnificent youngsters! Are there finer ones anywhere in the world? Look at these young men and boys! What material! With them I can make a new world.... My teaching is hard. Weakness has to be knocked out of them. In my Ordensburgen a youth will grow up before which the world will shrink back. A violently active dominating, intrepid, brutal youth - that is what I am after. Youth must be all those things. It must be indifferent to pain. There must be no weakness or tenderness in it. I want to see once more in its eyes the gleam of pride and independence of the beast of prey. Strong and handsome must my young men be. I will have them fully trained in all physical exercises. I intend to have an athletic youth - that is the first and the chief thing. In this way I shall eradicate the thousands of years of human domestication. Then I shall have in front of me the pure and noble natural material. With that I can create the new order."

In 1936 Hitler banned all youth organizations other than the Hitler Youth and decreed that all German boys aged 15 and 18. He called on Baldur von Schirach "to project National Socialism through German youth into enternity." Von Schirach carried out a massive drive by von Schirach to recruit all ten-year-olds. For boys aged between 10 and 14 years Von Schirach set up the Jungvolk. The boys had to learn semaphore, arms drill, and take part in two-day cross-country hikes. They also had to learn Nazi dogma and once they passed the necessary tests they were given a special dagger marked "Blood and Honour". The main objective of the organization was to provide Adolf Hitler with loyal supporters. Reluctant parents could be imprisoned; before then, they might be threatened with losing their jobs.

By 1938 there were 8,000 full-time leaders of the Hitler Youth. There were also 720,000 part-time leaders, often schoolteachers, who had been trained in National Socialist principles. One teacher, who was hostile to Hitler, wrote to a friend: "In the schools it is not the teacher, but the pupils, who exercise authority. Party functionaries train their children to be spies and agent provocateurs. The youth organizations, particularly the Hitler Youth, have been accorded powers of control which enable every boy and girl to exercise authority backed up by threats. Children have been deliberately taken away from parents who refused to acknowledge their belief in National Socialism. The refusal of parents to 'allow their children to join the youth organization' is regarded as an adequate reason for taking the children away."

Pictures of Baldur von Schirach were second only to Hitler's in displays throughout Germany and were used more widely than those of either Hermann Goering or Rudolf Hess. However, this gave him powerful enemies and they started a campaign of vilification against him. According to his biographer: "Jokes about his effeminate behaviour, especially concerning his preference for a 'girlish' bedroom in white, became a national pastime. He was ridiculed as a transplanted Berliner in Bavarian leather breeches."

Bernhard Rust, the Education Minister, complained: "There is, indeed, twofold evidence to show that something was wrong with education. In the first place, the high level of popular enlightenment had failed to protect the German people against the poisonous effects of Marxist teaching and other false doctrines... The attainment of high intellectual standards will certainly continue to be urged upon the young people; but they will be taught at the same time that their achievements must be of benefit to the national community to which they belong. As a consequence of the demand thus clearly formulated by the Nuremberg Laws, Jewish teachers and Jewish pupils have had to quit German schools, and schools of their own have been provided by and for them as far as possible. In this way, the natural race instincts of German boys and girls are preserved; and the young people are made aware of their duty to maintain their racial purity and to bequeath it to succeeding generations." Baldur von Schirach responded to this by producing his book, Revolution in Education (1938).

In 1940 Von Schirach joined the German Army and won the Iron Cross in France. In July 1941 Hitler appointed him as the Gauleiter of Vienna. Over the next few years Von Schirach was responsible for moving Jews to Poland. On 25th July, 1942, Von Schirach made a speech defending the deportation of thousands of Jews to the ghettoes of the east as "a contribution to European culture".

Von Schirach was captured by Allied troops at the end of the Second World War. At the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial Schirach 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. Along with Albert Speer Von Schirach denounced Adolf Hitler before the tribunal. He was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to 20 years in Spandau Prison.

On 20 July 1949, whilst Von Schirach was imprisoned, Henriette von Schirach filed for divorce. The divorce was granted a year later in July 1950. She continued to campaign for his release but he remained in prison until September 1966.

Baldur von Schirach died in Kröv on 8th August, 1974.

That is the greatest thing about him,

That he is not only our leader and a great hero,

But himself, upright, firm and simple,

In him the roots of our world.

And his soul touches the stars

And yet he remains a man like you and me.

Führer, my Führer given me by God,

Protect and preserve my life for long.

You rescued Germany from its deepest need.

I thank you for my daily bread.

Stay for a long time with me, leave me not.

Führer, my Führer, my faith, my light

Hail my Führer.

For Nazis, the key to the future of the Thousand Year Reich was the allegiance of youth. Hitler professed particular concern for children. He made a point of being filmed with them - at the Berghof, where he played the role of "Uncle Adolf" to the offspring of other leaders, looking unusually at ease as he chatted to them and cuddled them on his knee. It is a chilling picture. With children - and dogs - Hitler appeared relaxed. Other, more formal, photo-opportunities show him surrounded by uniformed young girls and boys, laughing as they look up adoringly at him. It was another aspect of stage-management of the leader cult.

The boys' Hitler Youth movement was set up in 1926 and the League of German Girls - the BDM (Bund Deutscher Madel) - established in 1932. As soon as the Nazis came to power, they set about eliminating all other rival youth organizations, just as they Nazified the rest of German life. Within a short time, the Catholic Youth organization was the only group left with a rival claim to young people's loyalty. All existing religious political and other youth groups were taken over, disbanded or banned. In one year the Hitler Youth movement, including girls, had climbed from a membership of 108,000 to more than three and a half million.

The leadership immediately set about organizing youth into a coherent body of loyal supporters. From the start, the Nazis pitched their appeal as the party of youth, building a New Germany. The leadership was fairly young itself, compared with the elderly, whiskery leaders of the Weimar Republic. Hitler was only forty-three in 1933, and his associates were even younger - Heinrich Himmler was thirty-two, Joseph Goebbels thirty-five and Hermann Goring forty. Hitler intended to inspire youth with a mission, appealing to their idealism and hope."

Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Baldur von Schirach, IMT, Nuremberg Germany, 1945-1946

Hess Rudolf 1894-1987, Ribbentrop Joachim von 1893-1946, Schirach Baldur von 1907-1974, World War 1939-1945, Nuremberg (Germany)--history, Nazis--Germany--history--20th century, Nuremberg Trial of major German war criminals 1945-1946, German military personal of World War II, Hitler Youth, Nazi leaders, Foreign ministers--Germany--Nazi party,


"Flash bulbs were not in use during courtroom hours- except when we were before the time and permission was given. Here is a very close shot of Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and in the rear, Baldur von Schirach." - Ray D'Addario Rudolf Hess was a Nazi official acting as Adolf Hitler's Deputy in the Nazi Party. Baldur Benedikt von Schirach was a Nazi youth leader later convicted of being a war criminal. Schirach was the head of the Hitler-Jugend (HJ, Hitler Youth) and Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter ("Reich Governor") of Vienna. Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945.


20th Century, Nuremberg Germany, 1945-1946


The Robert H. Jackson Center


Ray D'Addario, U.S. Army Pictorial Service, World War II


This Digital Image may be used for educational fair use purposes only. Prior written permission is required for other use.

A crime against peace, in international law, is "planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing".

Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack or individual attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population.

Baldur von Schirach

In the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, the world was faced with a challenge—how to hold individually accountable those German leaders who were responsible for the commission of monstrous crimes against humanity and international peace. The International Military Tribunal (IMT) held in Nuremberg, Germany, attempted to face this immense challenge. On October 18, 1945, the chief prosecutors of the IMT brought charges against 24 leading German officials, among them Baldur von Schirach.

Baldur von Schirach (1907–1974) was leader of the Hitler Youth (1933–1945), and Reich Governor and Nazi party Gauleiter (district leader) in Vienna, Austria (1940–1945). In the latter position his responsibilities included deporting Jews from Vienna to ghettos and camps in occupied Poland.

Schirach was found guilty on count four (crimes against humanity) and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. He was released in 1966.

Defendants Karl Doenitz (left), Erich Raeder (center), and Baldur von Schirach under guard in the defendants' dock at Nuremberg. - Harry S. Truman Library

The J. Paul Getty Museum

(Recto, print) lower left, white type: "Baldur von Schirach/Reichsjugendfuhrer" (Verso, print) upper right, typed print: "122" center right, typed print: "Nachdruck verboten" center, typed print: "Photo-Hoffmann Munchen. Amalienstr. 25" lower right, typed print: "Echt/Photographie"


(Recto, print), lower center, black ink: "Baldur von Schirach"

Object Type:
Object Description

Side profile of Baldur von Schirach, the leader of the Hitler Youth.


Volker Kahmen & Georg Heusch, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

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Betraying the Youth

For Justice Robert Jackson, one of the purposes of the Nuremberg trials was to show the world exactly what the Nazis had done. The “undeniable proof of incredible events” 1 provided by the prosecutors during the trials would spell out the details. Some Germans claimed that only after hearing the evidence in the trials did they fully understand the crimes their nation had committed.

Alfons Heck (see readings, Joining the Hitler Youth and Models of Obedience in Chapter 6), who became a high-ranking Hitler Youth leader during the war, was captured in Germany by the Allies in March 1945. When his captors confronted him with evidence of atrocities committed by Germans, he refused to believe it:

I was forced to look at documentary footage of concentration camps and death camps. And it was the first time that I was shown the atrocities committed by our nation. We looked at this, and I said to my friends, “What do they take us for? This stuff is staged!” And one of us began to snicker, and our captors became so incensed that they started yelling at us, “You Goddamned Nazi bastards! Do you think this is a comedy? This is what you have done!”

German soldiers are forced by the Allies after World War II to watch a film about the atrocities at German concentration camps.

When Heck was released by the Allies in 1946, he went to Nuremberg. He said that what he learned there made him begin to believe what his captors had told him.

It was almost a year before I was able to accept the veracity of the films that I had seen. And it occurred at the war crimes trials in Nuremberg in 1946. . . . While I listened on the loudspeakers outside, I heard the full evidence of the accusations directed at the 22 top Nazis who were on trial. One of them was my leader, the former leader of the Hitler Youth, Baldur von Schirach. He was the principal reason why I came to Nuremberg. I wanted to know what he had to say, in particular, in regard to the activities of the Hitler Youth. Von Schirach told the Court, “It was my guilt that I have trained youth for a man who became a murderer a million times over.”

Baldur von Schirach received twenty years for crimes against humanity. That, in turn, implicated me too in the count [accusation] of mass murder because I had served Hitler as fanatically as von Schirach. I had an overwhelming sense of betrayal in Nuremberg and I recognized that the man I had adored was, in fact, the biggest monster in human history . . .

The experience of the Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany constitutes a massive case of child abuse. Out of millions of basically innocent children, Hitler and his regime succeeded in creating potential monsters.

Could it happen again today? Of course it can. Children are like empty vessels: you can fill them with good you can fill them with evil you can fill them with compassion. So the story of the Hitler Youth can be repeated. 2

Baldur Von Schirach, Head Of German Youth

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Original cation reads: Baldur von Schirach, once head of the "Hitler Jugend", (Hitler Youth Movement) on the stand in his own defense before the International Military Tribunal trials, in Nuremberg, Germany.

Baldur von Sirach was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment.

About This Photograph

Event History The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg indicted several Nazi groups and organizations which it declared to be criminal, in addition to the 21 individual leaders of the Third Reich that appeared in the defendants dock. These organizations included the Reich Cabinet, the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party, the Elite Guard (SS), the Security Service (SD,) the Secret State Police (Gestapo), the Stormtroopers (SA), and the General Staff and High Command of the German Armed Forces.

The idea behind this novel and controversial proposal was the desire to deal with two problems: (a) finding a legal basis for punishing German crimes committed before the war, and (b) developing a procedure for dealing with the hundreds of thousands of members of the SS and other Nazi organizations implicated in German atrocities. The prosecutors felt that in these organizations there were so many war criminals that individual trials were impossible and that the perpetrators could only be punished on the basis of their proven membership in a criminal organization.

The tribunal, in accordance with its charter, ordered that notices of the impending trials be disseminated throughout Germany. Announcements were published in the German press, broadcast over the radio and posted in internment and POW camps where many of those affected were being held. The response to the trial notices was overwhelming. The deluge of letters, affidavits and applications to be heard in support of the Nazi organizations presented the tribunal with staggering logistical problems. In response, the judges on March 12, 1946 announced their decision to appoint a commissioner charged with the responsibility of reviewing the submissions and hearing witnesses. He was to report to the tribunal the results of his examinations. The judges also gave permission to defense counsel to visit the camps to select witnesses to testify about the accused organizations.

Lt. Col. Airey Neave, a highly decorated British officer, was named commissioner. On May 20, 1946 he began to hear witnesses, but quickly found that there were too many for him to cope with alone. As a result, several assistant commissioners, one each from the US, the USSR and France, were appointed. Over the life of the commission (May 20-August 12, 1946), 101 witnesses were heard in person and hundreds of thousands of affidavits, submitted on behalf of the various Nazi organizations, were reviewed.

The hearings were held in a large room at the Nuremberg courthouse that was dominated by an elevated platform, where the commissioner or his assistant sat. Next to him was the court reporter. In front and to the left of the court reporter were the representatives of the prosecution and defense, and on the right, at the front was the witness. Commission sessions usually lasted about three hours and were held in the morning and again in the afternoon. The single interpreter, who sat to the right and in front of the commissioner, was responsible for the consecutive interpretation from English to German and from German to English, the only two languages used in the proceedings. (The Russian prosecutor was usually accompanied by his personal interpreter.) A second interpreter (who was expected to relieve the one on duty at the break), usually sat behind the interpreter on duty. (There were a total of three interpreters, working two days on and one day off.) In the rear of the room were seats for perhaps twenty visitors.

Examination of the witnesses was handled by lawyers designated to defend the organizations or, on occasion, by the lawyers of the individual defendants before the tribunal. Cross examination was generally handled by Robert Kempner, one of the American assistant prosecutors and Mervyn Griffith-Jones of the UK, and less frequently by Col. Yuri Pokrovsky of the USSR and Henri Monneray of France. The witnesses heard by the commission ranged from the top to the bottom of the hierarchical ladder, from Gauleiter, deputy minister and field marshal to local officials. Among the more prominent witnesses were: Dr. Helmut Knochen, head of the SD in France Dieter Wilisceny, deputy to Adolf Eichmann, SS Dr. Franz Schlegelberger, State Secretary/Deputy Minister of Justice Walter Schellenberg, Chief, SS Foreign Intelligence and General Field Marshalls Gerd von Rundstedt and Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb.

After receiving the six reports submitted by the commission, the tribunal issued its judgement on September 30 and October 1, 1946. While the leadership corps of the Nazi Party, the Gestapo, SD and the SS were all found guilty, the SA, Reich Cabinet and General Staff and the High Command were found not guilty.

[Source, Schwab, Gerald, "The Trial of Nazi Organizations as Part of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal," (unpublished article, June 14, 2002)].

The Vienna Philharmonic reveals its Nazi past

An Austrian cultural icon, the Vienna Philharmonic, has revealed new details of its history during the holocaust. Mysteries surrounding Jewish musicians, Nazi collaborators and a "ring of honor" have been solved.

Fans wait years to subscribe to its concerts. Tickets to the hugely popular New Year's concert are in such demand that they are sold under a lottery system. It is watched by 50 million on a world-wide television broadcast

For years, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra "tried to maintain strict control over the brand," said Fritz Truempi, one of three historians commissioned to investigate the orchestra's war years, in an interview with DW.

As the Vienna Philharmonic is independent of the state, it maintained that it was not obligated to a follow a trend set by Austrian art galleries, museums and the Academy of Sciences, all of which have delved into - and published - the missing parts of their past

Politicians, however, particularly Harald Walser of the Austrian Green Party, began demanding an independent commission to research the Vienna Philharmonic's past. The results were be published on the 75th anniversary of the Anschluss, or annexation to Germany. "In the end the political pressure became such that it was the best solution to open up," Truempi said.

A trio of historians have now shed new light on the fate of Jewish musicians and the extent of Nazi penetration in the orchestra itself. They have also solved a mystery surrounding a "ring of honor" given to a convicted Nazi war criminal.

Facing the music

Historian Oliver Rathkolb is an expert on 20th century European history - particularly Austria's

"We were able to find new documents in a cellar, which normally contained archived music," said Oliver Rathkolb, one of the historians commissioned by the orchestra, on Austrian radio. "It was an orchestra member who directed us to it."

Among the facts dragged up from that cellar deep under the Vienna Opera House are new details on the fate of Jewish members of the orchestra. Historian Bernadette Mayrhofer writes that, as Nazis came to power, thirteen members of the orchestra were expelled in 1938, either because they were Jewish or married to Jews. The stories of each of these artists, now posted on the orchestra's web site, make for chilling reading.

Five musicians were murdered in concentration camps. Another was killed as Nazis raided his apartment. None of those who managed to escape the holocaust ever returned to the orchestra. For the Nazis who had played music alongside them, however, the story was different.

Ring of honor

Records reveal that in 1942, 60 of the 123 active musicians were members of the Nazi party - a much higher percentage than the broader Austrian population at that time and higher than previous estimates. One of those musicians, trumpeter Helmut Wobisch, was also a member of Hitler's notorious Waffen SS. He was sacked in 1945 but resumed his career a few years later, going on to become orchestra manager and, it is now known, to become a key player in a shameful post-war event.

Von Schirach was convicted in 1946 during the Nuremberg trials

During the war, the orchestra presented its highest award, the ring of honor, to the Nazi governor of Vienna, Baldur von Schirach - a man responsible for the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews. At the end of the war, von Schirach was tried and convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Baldur von Schirach lost the ring, but his son revealed that, upon his release from prison in the 1960's, his father received a replacement from a previously unidentified orchestra member. Historians now say the giver of that ring was Helmut Wobisch, the trumpeter and former Nazi who commissioned a replica and gave it to von Schirach. The historians emphasize that Wobisch appears to have acted alone - and not on behalf of the orchestra.

Not even the orchestra's signature event, the world famous New Year's concert, can be de-coupled from the Nazi years. It had its origins in this time and, according to Oliver Rathkob, was "part of the propaganda-through-entertainment" strategy of the Nazi regime.

Historians say that their work remains unfinished. They were given just two months to prepare the report, which was released this week on the orchestra's website. They say they will keep digging and publishing.

"The most important thing is to keep a… lifeline to survivors of this period, to remind people, this is not just a paper history, but also part of our history," said Oliver Rathkolb.

DW recommends

Watch the video: Ariadne von Schirach on Knowledge, Courage and Books (July 2022).


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