US recovers Holocaust kingpin's diary

2013-06-13 19:25


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Delaware - US officials and the National Holocaust Museum announced on Thursday the recovery of the long-lost diary of a top Nazi war criminal that experts say could shed new light on the Holocaust.

The Rosenberg Diary, kept by Alfred Rosenberg, a confidant of Adolf Hitler whose racist theories underpinned Nazi Germany's annihilation of six million Jews, had been missing since the Nuremberg war crimes trials ended in 1946.

"Having material that documents the actions of both perpetrators and victims is crucial to helping scholars understand how and why the Holocaust happened," said Sarah Bloomfield, director of the National Holocaust Museum in Washington.

"The story of this diary demonstrates how much material remains to be collected and why rescuing this evidence is such an important Museum priority," said Bloomfield in a statement.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, a key player in finding the loose-leaf diary, said it had initially been taken by a Nuremberg prosecutor, Robert Kempner, "contrary to law and proper procedure."

Kempner, a German lawyer who fled to the United States during World War II and settled in Pennsylvania, held on to the diary, which covers a 10-year period from 1934, until his death in 1993, ICE said.

It remained missing until November 2012 when the US Attorney's office in Delaware and Department of Homeland Security special agents got a tip from an art security specialist working with the Holocaust museum.

"The Rosenberg Diary was subsequently located and seized pursuant to a warrant issued by the US District Court for the District of Delaware," ICE said, giving no details.

In his role as the Nazis' chief racial theorist, Rosenberg was instrumental in developing and promoting the notion of a German "master race" superior to other Europeans and, above all, to non-Europeans and Jews.

Born in 1893 into an ethnic German family in what is today Estonia, Rosenberg, who loathed Christianity and "degenerate" modern art, doubled as Hitler's point man in occupied eastern Europe and Russia throughout the war.

He was also tasked by Hitler to oversee the systematic plundering of countless works of art throughout occupied Europe, many of which remain missing to this day.

Captured by Allied troops at the end of the 1939 to 1945 war, Rosenberg was convicted at Nuremberg of war crimes, crimes against humanity, initiating and waging wars of aggression, and conspiracy to commit crimes against peace.

He was executed with several other convicted Nazi kingpins, Hermann Goering having cheated the hangman by committing suicide in his jail cell the night before, on 16 October 1946. He was 53.

"Rosenberg was dull and sunken-cheeked... His complexion was pasty-brown, but he did not appear nervous and walked with a steady step to and up the gallows," reported US journalist Howard Smith from the scene that day.

"Apart from giving his name and replying 'no' to a question as to whether he had anything to say, he did not utter a word.

"Ninety seconds after, he was swinging from the end of a hangman's rope. His was the swiftest execution of the 10."

Read more on:    us  |  holocaust

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