The Alfred Rosenberg's diary
Museum staff first surveyed Kempner’s collection in August 1997 and made a detailed report of the documents they had been able to examine. After a dispute regarding the estate was resolved almost two years later, Museum staff returned to reassess the collection in July 1999. They discovered that many documents had been removed from Kempner’s home.
Some of the missing documents were located in 2001, when Kempner’s home was emptied and items were found that had not been there when the Museum took possession of the collection. Still more documents were located in 2003 in another private home.
None of these collections of documents included the diary of Alfred Rosenberg, an influential Nazi ideologue. The author of The Myth of the Twentieth Century (1930), which embodies a dichotomist worldview pitting the “Aryan” and Jewish “races” against each other, Rosenberg reached the apex of his political career when Hitler appointed him Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories in July 1941. During the war years, he operated the most successful Nazi organization involved in the looting of artworks, books, and archival materials in German-occupied Europe.
After the war, Rosenberg was found guilty by the International Military Tribunal on counts of conspiracy to commit aggressive warfare, crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. He was hanged on October 16, 1946.
It was well known in academic circles that Rosenberg had kept a diary. The US National Archives has sections of the original diary and copies of other sections. Excerpts have been published in German. In articles, Kempner quoted from parts of the diary that no one else had ever seen. However, the diary was not among any of the Kempner document caches that Museum staff had seen.
Following clues about its location, the Museum worked for more than a decade to locate the diary. In early 2013, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in Wilmington, Delaware, located the diary with an individual in upstate New York. HSI special agents later seized it. As a piece of evidence gathered for the Nuremberg trials, the diary belongs to the US government, which has deposited it with the Museum.
The Museum’s senior advisor on archives, Henry Mayer, said he feels a sense of fulfillment after years of searching for the diary. “To have it in safe hands, that is a great victory,” he said. As part of the Museum’s collections, the diary would be accessible to scholars and the public. While Museum scholars have yet to fully study its contents, Mayer said, “It does give details that one would never know about the politics within the top leadership of the Nazi party and the state.”
The Alfred Rosenberg's diary online
The Museum’s acquisition of the diary enables its contents to be made available online for the first time. This expanded access will provide new insight into the politics of Nazi leaders and the mindset and behaviors of perpetrators, helping us understand how the Holocaust happened.
View scans of individual pages of the diary alongside a transcript of the original German.
Please note: The transcript comprises the German text of Alfred Rosenberg’s diary entries from 1936 to 1944. It does not include his entries from 1934 to 1935, held at the National Archives and Records Administration, or related documents, annotations, or references to already published portions of the diary. Deletions and emphases in the transcript resemble the original; square brackets enclose transcriber comments on legibility and style. The transcript has not been finalized for spelling ambiguities (especially regarding names) and other peculiarities of the original.
The Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, in cooperation with the Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich, is preparing a comprehensive, annotated, and contextualized German-language print edition of Alfred Rosenberg’s diary entries from 1934 to 1944; publication is expected in fall 2014. An English-language edition is under consideration.
The Alfred Rosenberg's diary