Recovered Nazi diary may provide new insight into Holocaust history

Jun 14, 2013

A long-lost diary kept by a former leader of the Nazi Party and recovered recently in Lewiston is now in the hands of federal authorities.

For decades, historians had sought out the lost writings of Alfred Rosenberg, a close confidant of Adolf Hitler and a highly influential figure in the Third Reich.

Rosenberg served as the head of the Nazi party's foreign affairs department and as the rights minister for the occupied Eastern territories. He was one of the Nazis' principle racial theorists and his ideology was used to justify the German persecution and killings of millions of Jews.

Rosenberg kept the diary from 1934 to 1944. Authorities believe at some point, it was smuggled into the U.S. by a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials. After changing hands several times and an extensive search spanning well over a decade, agents in Delaware tracked the diary down and negotiated its removal.

The diary was tracked to Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, then Amherst, New York, and eventually Lewiston, where it reportedly ended up the the possession of Herbert Richardson, who runs a small publishing house.

"We went up to Lewiston, New York, to visit the home of a former academic who was up there. They showed us the material that had been removed from the Lansdowne home and after a bit of negotiation, shall we say, we were allowed to remove this material," says Henry Mayer, senior advisor on archives at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement  Director Morton says the dairy's 400 pages are a first-hand account into the horrors of the Holocaust.

"It is the unvarnished account of a Nazi leader, his thoughts, his philosophies, [and] 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 deemed undesirable, a man consumed with visions of racial and ethnic superiority," Morton says, speaking on a conference call Thursday.

Following the war, Rosenberg was tried at Nuremberg, Germany, found guilty of war crimes, and sentenced to death by hanging.

After it's translated and studied, the diary will eventually wind up in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Historians say it will provide invaluable insight and possibly new information on a dark period of human history.