Grave of Hitler youth leader in Kroev still draws pilgrims and critics

Hitler Youth

The Nazi regime invested much effort in generating support among youth. This image, taken between 1933 and 1945, is from the German Federal Archives; photographer Hamann, via Wikipedia.

Although the National Socialist German Workers Party suffered an overwhelming loss in World War II, the political movement has sympathizers today. In modern times, there is perhaps no other regime that so successfully rendered the individual to the level of a speck of dust—the state was all powerful and blind faith in the Nazi regime was akin to a religion. Youth were a major force in the movement.

Now a story about the grave of Hitler’s one time youth leader Baldur von Schirach is rippling like a small wave across message boards. 

The story gained some attention on social media like Twitter.

Von Schirach is buried in a cemetery in Kroev, Germany, in the Moselle Region famous for its wines. Cemetery space is limited there, and according to an email received by Day on the Day, there is a 25-year limit for a grave. Von Schirach died in 1974, but his grave remains. One website that catalogues graves has a photo of the former Nazi’s headstone.

The email also said “old and new Nazis pilgrimaged [to] his grave” since he was buried. The email detailed another story, however.

A Jewish family sought to extend the agreement for the graves of their grandparents and the family wasn’t able to get permission.

The email asserts there is an “old clique of Nazis in Kroev…or some never understanding the lessons of the past” who will seek permission to extend the agreement for von Schirach’s grave again.

Little is available online, at least in English, but there is one article in a community newspaper about the matter, and obviously the English translation is not very clean.

The email said there is an effort to “get some (if possible international) pressure on the community council.” Kroev, as a tourist destination, would naturally hope to not receive attention for preferential treatment for a Nazi leader.

When von Schirach’s grave agreement was extended around 1999, the email said the identity of the people who acquired the extension “was kept under closed files by the community of Kroev.”

Allegedly von Schirach was friends with two sisters who “were until their deaths strong Nazis.” The sisters, said the email, “provided the caretaking of his grave.”

Von Schirach had a long career within the Nazi party, but falling out of favor, he was appointed the equivalent of the governor of Vienna in 1943. In his Vienna post he had a hand in the removal of at least 65,000 Jews. Various accounts say that when he was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg, he had a change of heart as criminals often do when faced with responsibility for their deeds.  In 1946 he was sentenced to 20 years and he served the sentence out until he died at a small inn in Kroev in 1974.

The email said, “The grave is apparently maintained on behalf of the members of a business or private person, and has been for 39 years.”

Editor’s Note: An address for the mayor of Kroev is included in the email. However, I do not speak German and I am not able to confirm the address. Commenters are welcome to add information in the comments section below; no registration is necessary to do so.

(Filed by Kay B. Day/Feb. 16, 2015)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.

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