So concludes Juergen Matthas, director for applied research at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. As the point man at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum assigned to read the recently acquired diaries belonging to Rosenberg, he’s become familiar with the daily writings of one of the Nazi Party’s influential figures.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement turned over the handwritten notes to the museum last month. The 400 pages had been in the possession of German-Jewish researcher and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Kempner, but went missing following Kempner’s death in 1993. An agent from Homeland Security Investigations, a division of ICE, located the loose-leaf pages at the home of academic Herbert Richardson near Buffalo, N.Y.
According to Matthas, Rosenberg’s diary reads like an agenda of what happened in the day-to-day events spanning 1936 to 1944. 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,” states Matthas. “It’s just a non-private document that deals with business affairs.”
His writing “ranges from the very cryptic to the more descriptive” Matthas goes on. “He just doesn’t really like diary writing. He sometimes says, ‘I even don’t have time or desire to write a diary.’”
Rosenberg, the pages show, “absolutely does” believe in Nazism. “That is consistent from his first writings,” contends Matthas. But there’s very little in the way of anti-Semitic references in the 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, Rosenberg was the last person to be with Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess before he flew out of Germany in 1941.
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 his work to come out in English.
John Morton, director of ICE, calls 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” says Morton.
In accepting the diary last month, museum director Sara Bloomfield states that “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 for conspiracy to commit aggressive warfare, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was hanged Oct. 16, 1946.