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Schemm, whose parents ran a shoemaker's shop, first went to a Volksschule for five years and then as of 1905 to a teachers' college. In 1915 he got married; in 1917 a son was born. He taught school beginning in 1910, first in Wülfersreuth, then as of 1911 in Neufang and from 1920 at the Altstadtschule ("Old Town School"), which was later named the Hans-Schemm-Schule, in Bayreuth. During the First World War he worked at a military epidemic hospital in Bayreuth where he became infected with tuberculosis.
On the basis of his background in bio-chemistry, Schemm became head of a bacteriological-chemical laboratory in Thale (Hubertusbad). After it closed in 1921 for financial reasons, Schemm returned to the classroom until 1928.
Schemm's interactions with Nazi groups had begun by 1923. On September 30 of that year he first met Adolf Hitler. With Hitler's quick confidence, Shemm became an assessor in the Bayreuth Völkischer Bund in 1924; and in the following year he organized the Bayreuth Nazi Ortsgruppe ("Local Group") and the Nazi Gau of Upper Franconia (Oberfranken).
- "We are revolutionary, we want to overthrow the present state ... On our enemies, we shall take revenge, and indeed bloody revenge."
- "We are not objective – we are German!"
- " ... that a Jew should dangle from every lamppost."
As party leader for Bavaria, Schemm was responsible for preparing the party members and candidates for the election campaigns. In 1929 under Schemm's management the Munich Nazis won 9 seats, and Schemm became the faction leader. The presence of the Nazi representatives in the parliament was controversial.
Schemm also took on the role of publicist in the late 20s: for a brief period he took over the leadership of several Nazi newspapers (Streiter, Weckruf and Nationale Zeitung). In April 1929, Schemm founded his own newspaper; and in August of the same year appeared in the Nationalsozialistische Lehrerzeitung ("National Socialist Teachers' Newspaper"), the National Socialist Teachers League's (NSLB) journalistic organ. On 1 October 1930 came the first edition of the weekly newspaper Kampf für deutsche Freiheit und Kultur ("Struggle for German Freedom and Culture"), which was published by Schemm, and whose circulation rose from 3,000 in the beginning to 20,000 by 1932.
In 1931, Schemm founded the Bayreuth National Socialist Cultural Publishing House (Nationalsozialistischer Kulturverlag Bayreuth), which beginning on 1 October 1932 published the daily newspaper Das Fränkische Volk (circulation: 10,000)
In 1930, Schemm became a member of the German national parliament, the Reichstag.
In 1933, the Gau of Upper Franconia, led by Schlemm, was united with the Gau of Upper Palatinate-Lower Bavaria (Oberpfalz-Niederbayern) to form the Gau Bayerische Ostmark. Schemm kept his job as Gauleiter. Furthermore he became an SA Gruppenführer. On 16 March 1933, the Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter) Franz Ritter von Epp appointed Schemm to be the provisional Culture Minister. Hitler then appointed him on 13 April 1933 the "Leader of Cultural and Educational Affairs of Bavaria".
In 1933, Schemm became an honorary citizen of Bayreuth.
In March 1935 Schemm was seriously injured in an aircraft crash. Although Hitler personally ordered Berlin Professor Ferdinand Sauerbruch to fly to Bayreuth, Schemm, however, succumbed to his injuries on March 5 before the professor's arrival. His successor as Gauleiter was Fritz Wächtler.
The Nazis posthumously honored Schemm as a publicist and educator by naming multiple schools, streets, and halls after him.
- Der rote Krieg. Mutter oder Genossin, 1931