Long-Lost “Rosenberg Diary” Recovered
A close confidant of Adolf Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg was one of the most influential members of the “Third Reich” and of the Nazi Party. His tome The Myth of the Twentieth Century articulated the philosophical underpinnings of National Socialist ideology. Rosenberg served as head of the Nazi Party’s foreign affairs department and as the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, which included the Baltic States, Ukraine, and parts of Belorussia. As Reich Minister, Rosenberg played a significant role in the mass murder of the Jewish people in the Occupied Eastern Territories, as well as the deportation of civilians to forced labor camps to support the German war effort. Rosenberg also established and headed an organization, Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, the mission of which was to loot cultural property from all over Europe.
Rosenberg was a defendant at the International Military Tribunal, held at Nuremberg, Germany from 1945 – 1946. He was found guilty on all four counts of the indictment for conspiracy to commit aggressive warfare, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Rosenberg was hanged on October 16, 1946.
Rosenberg was privy to much of the planning for the Nazi racial state, the mass murder of the Jewish people and other civilians, the planning and conduct of the Second World War, and the occupation of Soviet territory. His diary entries are a potential wealth of information, hitherto unknown, regarding the history of this period.
Allied forces advancing through Germany seized documents, books, and other records of strategic or tactical importance. After the surrender of Germany in May 1945, governmental authority for Germany was placed into Allied hands. This authority included ownership of all documents created by the defeated German government or captured by Allied forces. To prepare for war crimes trials after the cessation of hostilities, agencies of the United States Government examined and selected relevant documents as potential evidence.
Among the documents seized by Allied forces was the Rosenberg Diary. On August 10, 1945, the Records Subsection of the Documents Unit of the War Crimes Branch, United States Army, received from the Berlin Documents Control Center, the “…private papers of Alfred Rosenberg, former Reichsminister for the Occupied Eastern Territories.” Among these papers, according to the receipt prepared on August 15, 1945, were “Handwritten diary notes” from the years 1934 – 1944. These included notes, dated 1941, “dealing in the early part of (Apr 41) with the conspiracy to dominate Russia and preparations for this occupation (conferences with HITLER and others).”
Dr. Robert M.W. Kempner was a German lawyer who fled Germany for the United States during the war. At the conclusion of the war, Dr. Kempner served as the Deputy Chief Counsel and was the Chief Prosecutor in the “Ministries Case” in the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. In this role, Dr. Kempner had access to seized Nazi documents in his official capacity as an employee of the United States Government. At the conclusion of the Nuremberg Tribunals, Dr. Kempner returned to the United States and lived in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. Contrary to law and proper procedure, Dr. Kempner removed various documents, including the Rosenberg Diary, from United States government facilities in Nuremberg and retained them until his death in 1993.
In November, 2012, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware and Homeland Security Investigations agents received information from an art security specialist, who was working for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,as to the Rosenberg Diary. The Rosenberg Diary was subsequently located and seized pursuant to a warrant issued by the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.
United States Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III said, “This seizure is the result of the joint efforts of this office and Homeland Security Investigations. The discovery and return of this long-lost, important historical document to the government of the United States is a significant achievement. Although it is a reminder of a dark time, the Rosenberg Diary is important to our understanding of history. Our hope is that it will provide valuable insight to historians.”
“Thanks to the tireless investigative work of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, and years of perseverance by both the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the long-lost Rosenberg Diary has been recovered, not in Germany but in the United States. This important record of the crimes of the Third Reich and the Holocaust is now preserved for all to see, study and learn from,” said ICE Director John Morton. “The work of combating the international theft of cultural heritage is a key part of our work, and no matter how long these items may appear to be lost to history, that hard but important work will continue.”
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is thrilled to have recovered the diary of Alfred Rosenberg, a leading Nazi ideologue. As we build the collection of record on the Holocaust, having material that documents the actions of both perpetrators and victims is crucial to helping scholars understand how and why the Holocaust happened," said Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. "The story of this diary demonstrates how much material remains to be collected and why rescuing this evidence is such an important Museum priority."
This case was investigated by David L. Hall and Jamie McCall, Assistant United States Attorneys. For further information, contact Assistant United States Attorney David L. Hall at (302) 573-6118.