Here is the first complete edition of the Journal of Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946), the main ideologue of the German National Socialist Party, Hitler's traveling companion from 1920. Lost since 1946, the Journal of the Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg has only recently been discovered. For the first time it is presented in a complete and enlarged edition by historians Jürgen Matthâus and Frank Bajohr, both specialists in Holocaust Studies.
Rosenberg's writings thus reveal his major role in the design and implementation of the Holocaust, a role that was long underestimated. Alfred Rosenberg embodies one of the most virulent anti-Semites of the party and his unwavering support for the destruction of the Jews endured until the last moments of Nazi Germany. In addition, he actively organized the looting of works of art, in particular in France ... The merit of this key document is to offer us, through the point of view of one of the men involved in the highest degree in the organization of the Holocaust, a dizzying dive into the heart of the National Socialist regime.
Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946)
An ardent and precocious commitment, followed by a prodigious rise
Rosenberg is known as one of the main ideologues of the Nazi regime. He is one of the first members of the Nazi party. Its accession in January 1919 even precedes that of Hitler, who joined its ranks a few months later. It was then that he got closer to Hitler, of whom he became one of the first traveling companions. His proximity to the latter and his dedication to the party made him experience a meteoric rise. After having been editor-in-chief of the Vôlkischer Beobachter, a national socialist newspaper, he was appointed head of the party by Hitler in 1923 to replace him during his imprisonment following the failed Munich coup.
After the return of the charismatic leader, he occupied multiple functions. Director of research within the NSDAP in 1934, he launched ethnographic and archaeological studies, in search of traces of ancestral Germanic culture, in the purity and vigor of which he wanted to found the German identity. In 1938, he created the Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question, a propaganda body having set itself the mission of revealing and countering the influence of the Jews on German culture. One of its main functions from 1940 on was to orchestrate the confiscation of works of art held by Jews. In particular, he organized the roundup of the Rothschilds collections. He thus participated, according to his 1943 report to Hitler, in the seizure of no less than 20,000 works of art.
However, his friendship with Hitler gradually crumbled during the 1940s. A strong rivalry with Himmler and other Nazi cadres developed against him, and the German-Soviet pact made his fierce anti-communism obsolete for a time. His appointment in 1941 as Reich Minister for the Eastern Occupied Territories marked the beginning of a slow process of marginalization. He is responsible for applying the Generalplan Ost, which is supposed to redesign on a large scale the organization of East European territories according to racial criteria, and to supervise the administration of the conquered countries. However, in practice, his skills are reduced to heartache due to the encroachment of Gëring and Himmler on his prerogatives, two men who have a deep antipathy to him. Hitler, more and more distant from his former traveling companion, ends up signaling his disavowal of Rosenberg and his political views. Isolated, the latter resigned in 1944. Sentenced to death during the Nuremberg trials, he was executed by hanging.
A racialist and anti-Christian theorist
In the 1920s, Rosenberg was one of the main ideologues of the party, alongside Goebbels. He elaborates a hierarchy of races comprising the Aryans and the Norse at its summit and a theory of history, conceived as the theater of a racial confrontation in which the fall of a civilization is explained by the corruption of the Indo-Germanic identity by Semitic elements. In Rosenberg's ideology, anti-Semitism is thus justified by the double need to preserve the purity of the German race, which guarantees its power, and to defend itself, in a fantasy of race war, against Jewish influences. Christianity is considered by Rosenberg as one of the instruments of this influence. Perverted, this religion would have oppressed the Indo-Germanic identity and the dogma of sin would be the cause of a softening of the German will, its loss of confidence and its irresolution.
Thus, Rosenberg works, without much success, for the establishment of a properly German cult drawing its references from an ancestral paganism. However, his rejection of Christianity is not complete. He calls in fact for a “positive Christianity”, remodeled to satisfy the Nazi ideology and its reading of history. In this context, Jesus is presented as a member of the Nordic community opposed to Judaism. Rosenberg's intellectualist approach to National Socialist ideology, which sometimes aroused the perplexity of party members, was not unrelated to his isolation.
Alfred Rosenberg's diary
This is an exceptional document. Few Nazi leaders kept a diary. This is why the one written by Alfred Rosenberg, the chief ideologue of National Socialism, is particularly important. It is the only newspaper of its type not to have been published so far. The manuscript had been presented at the Nuremberg trials - where Rosenberg was tried and sentenced to death. It had since disappeared, kept by one of the judges. Rediscovered last year, its publication is necessary to gain insight into the ideas of Hitler's political inspiration. Alfred Rosenberg had many important functions within the Nazi regime. He was commissioned by the Führer to build the cadres of the Nazi Party. He wrote many widely distributed works and traveled throughout occupied Europe to lecture. He spoke of the Nazi ideology, of the Catholic Church which had to be brought into line - one of his obsessions - of his vision of history, and of course of the Jews, of his obsession with them. In July 1941 Rosenberg was appointed Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. He worked on the ideological implementation of the occupation policy. He was therefore responsible for the horrors that were committed in Eastern Europe.
The journal is fascinating because it allows us to get into Rosenberg's head, to see the development of his thought, of his fanaticism. It shows that the author played an important role in Nazi foreign policy, especially towards the Balkans and the countries
Nordic. He also gives details of the daily life of high-ranking Nazi leaders: Rosenberg was familiar with Hitler, he frequently ate lunch with him. Alfred Rosenberg organized the systematic looting of works of art and cultural heritage
across occupied Europe. He was particularly active in France where 100,000 works were stolen. He proudly recounts this gigantic organized theft in his diary.
The Journal is also important for understanding the situation in occupied France: Rosenberg was obsessed with France, Germany's "hereditary enemy". In this regard, he expresses his joy in making a speech in front of the German officers posted in France gathered in the hemicycle of the National Assembly ....
Jean-Marc Dreyfus. Historian, Senior Lecturer in Manchester. A specialist in the Holocaust, Jean-Marc Dreyfus made himself known in particular through the book co-written with Sarah Gensburger Camps in Paris, Austerlitz, Lévitan, Basssano. For the good understanding of the Journal and the role of Rosenberg in France, Jean-Marc Dreyfus signs the Foreword to the French edition of the journal.
Alfred Rosenberg, Journal 1934-1944. Presented by Jürgen Matthäus and Frank Bajohr. Flammarion, September 2015.