WASHINGTON – Locked away for years at a home in Lewiston, the diary of a top aide to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler went online Tuesday to be read by anyone fluent in German.
The U.S. Holocaust Museum published images of some of the diary’s pages, along with a complete text in German, on its website as it officially took possession of 400 pages of the diary of Alfred Rosenberg, one of Nazism’s leading theorists.
Federal agents recovered the diary this spring from the home of Herbert Richardson, a former academic living in Lewiston, but it took until Tuesday to complete the legal work allowing the Holocaust Museum to acquire the diary and begin publishing its contents. An English version is under consideration.
“The museum encourages people to think about why the Holocaust happened and how it was possible in such an advanced society,” said Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the Holocaust Museum. “The Rosenberg diary will add to our understanding of the ideas that animated the extremist ideology of Nazism.”
Rosenberg was one of the twisted minds behind that ideology, concocting the party’s infamous racial “ladder” that put Aryans at the top and Jews and blacks at the bottom.
So far, though, researchers have not found any great new revelations about Rosenberg in his long-lost diary, said Juergen Mattaeus, director of the museum’s applied research scholars.
Instead, the diary traces Rosenberg as he spouts his Nazi philosophy and details slipping away from Hitler’s inner circle after 1942.
“You see his disillusionment, his frustration,” Mattaeus said. “But he always blames individuals. He never blames the Nazi system.”
For years, authorities didn’t know whom to blame for the diary’s disappearance. Kept in secret for decades by Nuremberg prosecutor Robert M.W. Kempner even though he had no right to do so, the diary later disappeared.
Last year, though, federal investigators got a tip from the sister of Kempner’s late legal secretary that she had given Rosenberg’s diary to “a friend” for safekeeping.
That friend turned out to be Richardson, who runs a small academic publishing house – and who had earlier been found to be in possession of some of Kempner’s other records.
Working with Lewiston police and a private investigator, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confiscated the diary from Richardson’s home.
The U.S. attorney who oversaw the investigation refused to shed any light on whether Richardson still might face charges regarding his possession of the diary.
“We don’t make any comments regarding any investigation that’s pending, but as of now no charges have been filed,” said Charles M. Oberly III, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, whose office specializes in tracking down historical artifacts. “I just can’t make any comment as to what may or may not occur in the future.”