Monday 10 June 2013

Smuggled Alfred Rosenberg Diary Found in US

Some 400 pages from the diary of Alfred Rosenberg have surfaced in an upstate New York home. The diary vanished after the Nuremberg trials, and a US prosecutor, Robert Kempner, was long suspected of smuggling the diary back to the U.S. It has now been found in papers held by Kempner's former secretary, who by 1999 had moved into the New York state home of an academic named Herbert Richardson. Early this year, the Holocaust museum and an agent from Homeland Security Investigation tracked the diary to Richardson, who was living near Buffalo. "A government official said more details will be announced at the news conference". Like, I guess, when it is being returned to Germany?

'Long-lost Nazi diary surfaces, offers details on Hitler, looting of Jewish art', June 10, 2013

See also:
Rachel Scheier, 'Nuremberg Lawyer's Lost Papers Recovered Holocaust Experts Are Studying Records Left By The Lansdowne Man. They Had Vanished', Philadelphia Inquirer August 27, 1999.

Vignette: Alfred Rosenberg.

UPDATE 11th June 2013
Blimey, talk about the lunatics taking over the asylum. Here's a right couple. Tompa and Houghton again (of course).  The first writes this: "Repatriate all Nazi Artifacts to Germany?", [Tuesday, June 11, 2013]:
Archaeo-blogger Paul Barford has suggested that Nazi artifacts should be repatriated back to Germany.  Presumably, such a rule could take in a huge amount of material, including many "battlefield souvenirs."  But why does Barford once again only pick on Americans to do the repatriating?  If  he is really serious about this proposal, I think he should press it first in his native Poland. Sure, Poland suffered grievously from Nazi aggression, but should that factor be considered at all as part of the mix? 
Well, I am glad this person is on the other side, it'd be a disaster to have him on ours. Where, oh where, did I even hint that I think "all Nazi artefacts" should go back to Germany? (I do not). Where do I say that only Americans should be doing whatever-it-is-Tompa-says-I-say-should-be-done? Again, I do nothing of the kind, as any fool can see.

What I am talking about is a document important for GERMAN, not US history, that was misappropriated during (or rather, one hopes, after) the controversial Nuremberg Trials by a US prosecutor, smuggled (that's the word ICE use) into the US and then kept clandestinely by three successive "owners". The object should never have gone to the US in private hands, and does not belong there. It should go back to one of many public collections in Germany devoted to collecting documents covering the events of the 1930s and 1940s. That is the rightful place of such an artefact. The document has no direct connection with US history at all. 

Frankly, I think Tompa's comment on Poland is both highly insulting (we suffered more than mere "German aggression") as well as exhibiting extreme ignorance of the geographical shift which took place in 1945. Nazi material is on and in Polish soil not because anyone wanted to take it there for collection, but because a huge chunk of what is now Poland was in Nazi Germany 1933-1945 and the rest was added by force in September 1939, and remained in the Großdeutsches Reich until May 1945.

If one thought it could not get any worse, just look what Arthur Houghton adds as a comment (June 11, 2013 at 9:16 AM ) This really takes the biscuit as an example of US chauvinism and shows exactly what we are up against:  
Only those small people of with low ethical values would even raise the issue. What is seized in war should remain seized, and to want to divest the Holocaust Museum of such an important material as the Rosenberg diaries -- and to return them to Germany! -- is to raise the issue of cultural or, worse, ethnic bigotry. If the individual involved even voices the matter again, he will need to apologize, and apologize and apologize. I suspect he will be made to never forget his grievous mistake.
First of all I really do not see why my "size", of whatever part of the body Mr Houghton is interested in, has anything to do with it, and whether my raising the issue of where smuggled documents should go has anything to do with my "ethical values". I suppose for Mr H. "high ethical values" are connected with how much one loves the USA, or something like that.

As far as the documents go, they were not "seized in war" (and anyway according to the Hague Convention, as I presume his ardent publisher will be able to confirm, fall outside the legal definition of 'war booty'). According to ICE and the Department of Justice, it seems a US official treated them as his own private property and smuggled them out of Europe.

Telling is the indignation that somebody should want to - quote -  "divest the Holocaust Museum of such an important material as the Rosenberg diaries". Which 'Holocaust Museum" has Mr Houghton in mind? Could it be that, as far as Mr Houghton is concerned, there is only one Holocaust museum in the whole wide world, or at least just one that should be allowed to collect every scrap of important material? And where is "that" museum situated? In the place where these things happened?  In the country where Rosenberg lived and wrote? Is the diary only of import as a "Holocaust" document? Or is it thousands of kilometres away in a foreign land across the Atlantic?

The suggestion that it is in some way a "mistake" and "cultural or, worse, ethnic bigotry" to suggest that something of importance to German history smuggled out of post-War Germany should go back there, is simply incomprehensible to me. Maybe Mr Houghton would care to explain it. Such an explanation might go some way to understanding the warped minds of collectors. Is he not falling into the trap of cultural nationalism? (I doubt he actually is capable of explaining it, from past experience one may safely assume that he will dodge the question claiming that "only *** people would raise such a question" and leave it there ).

Perhaps somebody should explain to Messrs Tompa and Houghton that the USA is not the navel of the world, Washington is not really Welthaupstadt, that other nations have histories and have the right to access, preserve and display documents concerning it. It seems to me that this is something that goes right over the heads of uncomprehending US collectors.

PS Mr Kempner was buried in Berlin. Maybe his papers should go back too.

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