I don’t know about you, but I am fascinated by history, especially obscure things that the average person may not find so fascinating. The diary of a chief Nazi party leader and aide to Adolf Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg, was put on display at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC after being missing for more than 17 years. I am not big on my Holocaust history, as much of a history enthusiast as I am. So, I know very little about the diary and how it came up missing. Over the years, bits and pieces of the diary were found in different places, like with a treasure hunt, but the bulk of the missing pages remained lost.
But based on some light reading I’ve done over the past few months, I developed an interest in this topic and have been expanding my knowledge. Evidently, this diary was key evidence in the Nuremberg Trials. In short, the Nuremberg Trials was a name given to represent two separate trials at which war criminals were of Nazi Germany stood trial for a number of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
As I’m getting acquainted with this saga, it’s proving to be an interesting story. The diary was the transcript of discussions and interviews facilitated between the defendants and the prison psychologist, Dr. Gustave Gilbert. The Nazi characters all were uniquely troubled.
At some unknown point, the diary disappeared and only was recovered following an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security. The last known person to have it was Robert Kempner, a prosecutor from the criminal trial. The diary was recovered from an associate of Mr. Kempner. Although copies and transcripts of the diary were published, the original pages had been lost, except for a few pages.
I know that a lot of people wonder what’s the big deal, and why we should be concerned with the diary after all of these years. I think it’s a big deal for two reasons. Number one, history is always significant. There are always compelling reasons to revisit anything that shaped history. But more importantly, the pages of this diary provide a glimpse into the minds of the extremist philosophies and ideologies of the 20th Century German Nazi party, much of which have similarities to ideologies of other groups that are adversaries of the United States, including those ideologies of Al-Qeda, Hezbollah, and Muslim Brotherhood. Perhaps gaining a better understanding of why the Nazis did what they did, why they thought the way in which they thought, it could help us possibly prevent attacks by extremists or better predict them and develop better contingency plans to minimize any impact such attacks could have. The diary details specificity about the leadership of the Nazi party that otherwise might never be made known.
I only wish the investigation was not over. The diary was found in the possession of an associate of the last know person to have it. I’d want to know how he got it. What was this person doing with and how did he come to acquire it? As far as the official investigation goes, it’s all over and we’ll probably never know the answer to this question.
Meanwhile, a digital scan of the diary in its entirety may be viewed at the museum, as well as online, in both English and German.