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Artur Axmann

Axmann in Nuremberg, October 16, 1947
Axmann in Nuremberg, October 16, 1947.

Artur Axmann (February 18, 1913 - October 24, 1996) was a Nazi official in the Hitler Youth.

Early life

Axmann was born in Hagen on February 18. He studied law and in 1928, founded the first Hitler Youth group in Westphalia.

Nazi career

In 1932, he was called to be a Reichs Leader (Reichsleiter) of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or NSDAP) to carry out a reorganization of Nazi youth cells and in 1933, became Chief of the Social Office of the Reich Youth Leadership. Axmann gained a place for the Hitler Youth in the direction of state vocational training and succeeded in raising the status of Hitler Youth agricultural work. He was on active service on the western front until May 1940. In August of the same year he succeeded Baldur von Schirach as Reich Youth Leader (Reichsjugendführer) of the Nazi Party. In 1941, he was severely wounded on the eastern front, losing an arm. On 4 January 1944, he received the German Order, the highest decoration the Nazi party could bestow.

During the last weeks of the war, Axmann commanded units of the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) which were incorporated into the Home Guard (Volksturm). His units consisted mostly of children and adolescents. They primarily fought in the Battle of Seelow Heights (Seelower Höhen) which was a part of the larger Battle for Berlin (Endkampf um Berlin). Many of the young people fighting for Axmann died without any military training or equipment.

During Hitler's last days, Axmann was among those present in the Führerbunker. On May 1, 1945, after Hitler's suicide on 30 April, Axmann escaped from the bunker together with Martin Bormann and Dr. Ludwig Stumpfegger. Ultimately he was separated from Bormann and Stumpfegger. He avoided capture by Soviet troops and disappeared. Axmann, presumed dead, lived under the alias of "Erich Siewert" for several months.

Axmann was arrested in December 1945 when a Nazi underground movement which he had been organizing was uncovered. A Nuremberg de-Nazification court sentenced him in May 1949 to a prison sentence of three years and three months as a 'major offender'.

Post-Nazi life

After his release, Axmann worked as a sales representative in Gelsenkirchen and Berlin. On 19 August 1958, a West Berlin de-Nazification court fined the former Hitler Youth leader 35,000 marks (approximately 3,000 pounds, or $23,876.97 USD), about half the value of his property in Berlin. The court found him guilty of indoctrinating German youth with National Socialism right until the end of the Third Reich, but concluded that he had been a Nazi from inner conviction rather than base motives. During his trial, Axmann told the court that he had heard the shot with which Hitler committed suicide. He also said that he had seen the body of Martin Bormann lying on a bridge in Berlin, however, those bodies where not found till 1972.

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