Sixty-seven years after it mysteriously disappeared after the Nuremberg Trials, the diary of a member of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle recently turned up in the home of a scholar who lives near Niagara Falls.
A raid by federal agents found the writings of Alfred Rosenberg, an early member of the Nazi Party who became a leading theoretician of the Third Reich, at the home of Herbert Richardson.
Late last month the diary went on exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, which now owns the documents. Members of the media photograph some pages of the diary, above, at the museum’s display.
“The Rosenberg diary will add to our understanding of the ideas that animated the extremist ideology of Nazis,” museum director Sara Bloomfield said in a statement. “The museum encourages people to think about why the Holocaust happened and how it was possible in such an advanced society.”
Rosenberg, convicted at the Nuremberg Trials of crimes against humanity, was hanged on Oct. 16, 1946. His handwritten diary, which was used as evidence during the trials, went missing after the war. It had been taken, illegally, by German-born attorney Robert Kempner, who served on the prosecutorial staff at the tribunal; he kept the diary at his home in Lansdowne, Pa., until his death in 1993.
Richardson, an academic publisher and former professor who had worked for Kempner, took possession of the papers; the Holocaust Memorial Museum worked out an agreement with Kempner’s heirs to take ownership of the diary.
A tip led to the diary’s discovery last spring at Richardson’s home in western New York.
The museum has posted scans of the diary pages on its website (ushmm.org), with accompanying German transcripts. An English translation is not available yet.
The writings chronicle Rosenberg’s meetings with Hitler, political infighting inside the Nazi hierarchy, bombing raids on Germany, and other topics.
“The finding and return of the Rosenberg dairy is one more small but significant step towards a full and complete understanding of the deprived mind-set of those responsible for the mass killing of Jewish people and ethnic groups during World War II,” said U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III.
Rosenberg formed the “Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question,” which formulated the Nazis’ anti-Semitic philosophy; wrote “The Myth of the Twentieth Century,” which dealt with the so-called Jewish Question; formed a task force that looted European art treasures; and served as a planner of the invasions of Norway and the Soviet Union.