05 September 2018

Henriette von Schirach clashes with Hitler (4)

In this post we will consider two written accounts with second-hand information on the incident which involved Baldur von Schirach and his wife. The accounts are very complementary, because each mentions only one of the protagonists and only one cause of dispute.

Version F. Traudl Junge, 1947 (third-hand)

Gertraud (Traudl) Humps was one of Hitler's secretaries. Professionally they had very little to do, and to Hitler they were female social company as much as they were personnel.

Traudl Humps at the Berghof (not on this occasion)

Her memoirs, which she wrote and typed in 1947, were published in 2002: 
Traudl Junge, Bis zur letzten Stunde. Hitlers Sekretärin erzählt ihr Leben, unter Mitarbeit von Melissa Müller, Claassen Verlag München 2002. The relevant part is pp. 35-215:  Meine Zeit bei Adolf Hitler — aufgezeichnet 1947.

Below is our translation of the Schirach incident. The original German text of our quotations is to be found here.

Once also Hoffmann’s daughter, the wife of Baldur von Schirach, was present. She was a nice natural Viennese, who could talk charmingly. But she had to break off her visit very quickly because during the tea talk she had provoked a very unpleasant situation. I have not myself witnessed the scene, but Hans Junge told me. While Hitler and his guests were sitting by the fireplace she suddenly said: “Mein Führer, the other day I saw in Amsterdam a column of deported Jews. These poor people look terrible, I’m sure they are treated very badly. Do you know this, do you approve it?” A painful silence fell. Shortly afterwards Hitler rose, took leave and withdrew. Next day Schirach's wife drove back to Vienna, and the incident was not mentioned with a single syllable. Apparently she had transgressed her rights as a guest, and had not fulfilled her duty to entertain Hitler. (Bis zur letzten Stunde, 2002, p. 100-101)

This testimony is a little obscure. We know there were three successive clashes, ending in the early hours of 25 June 1943. Traudl describes a 'soft' ending (not unlike the real 'Amsterdam protest' as told by Schirach) and says she heard it from Hans Junge, one of Hitler's orderlies. She also informs us that she had married Junge on 19 June 1943:

  (5th of the photos in the book) and

Fortunately, I was spared the paperwork war and before I knew it, I was 'Frau Junge'. My married happiness lasted exactly four weeks, while we had a holiday by the Boden Lake. After that, my husband went into military service and I returned to Headquarters. (Bis zur letzten Stunde, 2002, p. 116)

It is very unlikely that for Hans and Traudl it was "business as usual" five days after their wedding; almost surely, their four weeks of leave were their honeymoon. The conclusion is, that Hans Junge was nowhere near Hitler on 24-25 June 1943, that he left Hitler's entourage for good (he was killed in 1944) while Traudl Junge did not return before a month had passed. The proper source of Traudl's account of the event remains unknown. (For instance, it may have been the orderly—not Hans—who was on duty.) Anyhow, one thing is beyond doubt: Traudl was not there when it happened, she writes so herself ("I have not myself witnessed the scene"). Nevertheless, in the documentary film Hitler's Henchmen — episode: Baldur von Schirach you can see and hear (some 36' into the movie) Traudl Junge telling the story as if she had been present. 

Version G. Nicolaus von Below, 1980 (second-hand)

Nicolaus von Below was Hitler's Lufwaffe adjutant. The photo below was taken on 20 April 1943, in front of the fireplace were the incident was to take place two months later. The two officers most right in the picture are the adjutants: left von Below (Lufwaffe), right Engel (Army).

Von Below's diaries were destroyed at the end of the war, but he started reconstructing them early on. In the seventies he composed them into a book, that appeared in 1980:
Nicolaus von Below, Als Hitlers adjutant 1937-45, v. Hase & Koehler Verlag Mainz 1980.

The relevant pages are here. We included some text that clarifies how the book came to be and how, before the quarrel, Hitler liked to stay with the Schirachs in Vienna. The incident, which we translate below, is on p.340.

Quarrel Hitler-Schirach
On 24 June [1943], Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi), Baldur von Schirach and his wife came to the Berghof. He had a long and extensive talk with Hitler, the contents of which Hitler told me on one of the following evenings. Schirach had told Hitler unambiguously his conviction that the war needed to be ended one way or another. To this Hitler added: “How does he imagine this. He knows as well as I do that there is no more way out, apart for me putting a bullet in my head.” Hitler was very excited about his talk with Schirach and made it clear that he would have nothing more to do with him. And it was their last meeting indeed.  
Von Below is inaccurate in his date; had he written
On 24 June, Baldur von Schirach and his wife were at the Berghof
he would have been right (if incomplete). Nevertheless, his account is more interesting than the previous one, because his source is Hitler himself. No mention is made of Henriette, and the index of the book, entry v. Schirach, Henriette geb. Hoffmann, does not refer to this page.