History of Nazi Germany to be revised as diaries of Hitler confidante Alfred Rosenberg are tracked down in US

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Rosenberg, who played a key role in the Holocaust, was hanged for crimes against humanity in 1946

History’s account of the Third Reich and the extermination of millions of Jews in the Holocaust may have to undergo some late revisions upon the surfacing in America of 400 pages of the long-lost diaries of Alfred Rosenberg, a close confidant of Adolf Hitler and an architect of the Nazi genocide dubbed “the Final Solution”.

After years of dead ends, researchers have tracked the papers down to a home near Buffalo in New York. They will be formally unveiled this week by the US government in conjunction with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, based in Washington.

According to a preliminary analysis, the writings both reveal new details of the internal machinations of the Nazi command and challenge some standing theories about the period.

Known to Second World War scholars simply as the Rosenberg diaries, their pages promise a priceless window into the private ruminations of their author, who was hanged after his conviction at the Nuremberg trials. Having been convicted of crimes against humanity, he was one of a dozen senior Nazi officials executed in October 1946.

The pages that have reportedly now been retrieved span the years between 1936 and the winter of 1944. Most of the passages are written in Rosenberg’s own handwriting, some on official Nazi stationery.

Scholarly debate about the pages, which include discussion of the planning for the mass extermination of Jews and other East Europeans, and their historical significance, is sure to be lively. “The documentation is of considerable importance for the study of the Nazi era, including the history of the Holocaust,” a first assessment of them prepared by the Holocaust Memorial Museum and seen by the Reuters news agency concludes.

The museum also signals controversy ahead. “A cursory content analysis indicates that the material sheds new light on a number of important issues relating to the Third Reich’s policy,” it says. “The diary will be an important source of information to historians that complements, and in part contradicts, already known documentation.”

Described in the pages are meetings between Rosenberg and Hitler as well as other top figures in the Reich, such as Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goering. They reportedly also speak to tensions at the top of the Reich, for example when Rudolf Hess fled to Britain in 1941 and with regard to the looting of art and cultural artefacts throughout Europe, a programme of organised theft largely supervised by Rosenberg himself. 

After being introduced as key evidence in the Nuremberg trials at the end of 1945, the Rosenberg diaries mysteriously vanished. It was long assumed they had been spirited out of Germany and to America by one of the prosecutors, Robert Kempner, who himself had fled the Nazis in the 1930s and had become an American.

After Kempner died in 1993, legal disputes over his papers raged for nearly 10 years between his children, his former secretary, the Holocaust museum and a local debris removal firm. Although thousands of historical documents were eventually recovered, when officials arrived to retrieve them from his home in 1999, they discovered that many thousands of pages were missing and the diary itself remained elusive.

Early this year, the Holocaust museum and an agent from Homeland Security Investigations attempted to find the missing diary pages. It appears they had been in the hands of Kempner’s former secretary who moved with them to the home of an academic near Buffalo. 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all