Alfred Rosenberg, a close confidant of Adolf Hitler, loved to be praised by the fuehrer and completely believed in and was committed to the cause of creating a superior race that included a world without Jews. Those are some of the conclusions Juergen Matthas, director for applied research at the Center For Advanced Holocaust Studies, has reached as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum point man assigned to read the recently acquired Rosenberg diaries.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) turned over the handwritten notes to the museum Dec. 17. The 400 pages had been in the possession of German-Jewish researcher and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Kempner. But the diary was not found following Kempner’s death in 1993. The handwritten loose-leaf pages eventually were located last year by an agent from Homeland Security Investigations at the home of academic Herbert Richardson of Buffalo, N.Y.
According to Matthas, Rosenberg’s diary reads like an agenda without elaborating about what happened. The only time the writing is descriptive is when “he notes anything positive from Hitler to him, every tap on the back, any acknowledgement. He looks for confirmation. He looks for approval.”
Otherwise, there is very little personal material included. Rosenberg rarely mentions his family or his life unconnected to his work. “This is not a personal diary. It’s just a nonprivate document that deals with business affairs.”
His writing “ranges from the very cryptic to the more descriptive,” Matthas said. “He just doesn’t really like diary writing. He sometimes says ’I even don’t have time or desire to write a diary.’ ”
Rosenberg “absolutely does” believe in the Nazis philosophy. “That is consistent from his first writings.” However, Matthas said, there are very few anti-Semitic references inthe diary. “That’s a little difficult to explain” as he was “obsessed with that, just not in the diary. He talks about it all the time in his speeches. He probably didn’t see the need for it.”
According to the diary, which covers events from 1936 to 1944, Rosenberg wasthe last person to be with Deputy Feuhrer Rudolf Hess before he flew out of Germany in 1941 to Scotland for what he hoped would be peace talks. (Instead, he was arrested.) Matthas is working to incorporate historical data and references from Rosenberg’s speeches with the text of the diary and hopes to have his work, which is being written in German, completed by the end of this year. After that, he expects it to come out in English.
John Morton, director of ICE, called Rosenberg’s writings “no ordinary diary of the time.” Instead, it “is the unvarnished account of a Nazi leader, his thoughts, his philosophies, his interactions with other Nazi leaders.”
“Reading Rosenberg’s diary is to stare into the mind of a dark soul, a man untroubled by the isolation and violent extermination of Jews and others he considered undesirable, a man consumed with racial and ethnic superiority,” Morton said.
While accepting the diary last month, museum director Sara Bloomfield noted, “The museum encourages people to think about why the Holocaust happened and how it was possible in such an advanced society. The Rosenberg diary will add to our understanding of the ideas that animated the extremist ideology of Nazism.”
Rosenberg, who was born in Russia in 1893, was found guilty at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany of conspiracy to commit
aggressive warfare, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was hanged Oct. 16, 1946.