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Alfred Rosenberg (Tallinn, Russian Empire, January 12, 1893 – Nuremberg, Germany, October 16, 1946) was a German politician, collaborator of Adolf Hitler, main ideologist of Nazism and responsible politician of the territories occupied by Germany during the Second World War in Eastern Europe.
He is considered one of the main authors of key Nazi ideological concepts, including his racial theory, militant anti-Semitism, the idea of the Lebensraum, the repeal of the Versailles Treaty and the opposition to modern art called «degenerate». He is also known for his tenacious rejection of Christianity, and for the central role he played in promoting what he called “positive Christianity,” a sectarian ideology that sought a transition from Christianity to a new Nazi faith that denied the roots Hebrews of Christian beliefs.
He was tried in Nuremberg, sentenced to death and hanged as a war criminal.
Coming from a family of Baltic Germans, he started his architectural career in 1910 at the Polytechnic School of Riga (which later became the University of Latvia). As a result of the evolution of the First World War, the Russian authorities decided to evacuate in 1915 the Polytechnic School, including professors, to Moscow, where he followed engineering studies at the Technical High School of Moscow, which culminated in 1917.
Since his youth he defended the idea of ”racial purity” of ethnic Germans. This thought led him to reject the Bolsheviks; for this reason, during the October Revolution, Rosenberg supported the Russian counterrevolutionaries on the Baltic coasts. After the failure of these and the triumph of the Estonian and Latvian nationalists, he emigrated to Germany in 1918, along with Max Scheubner-Richter, who became a sort of mentor to Rosenberg and his ideology. He arrived in Munich and contributed with Dietrich Eckart to the publication of the Völkischer Beobachter (Observer of the Town). By this time, Rosenberg was a convinced anti-Semite, strongly influenced by Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s book, The Foundations of the 19th Century, one of the key protonazi books of the “racial theory” of Nazism. He was also an anti-Bolshevik, as a result of his family’s exile.
Ascent in the Nazi hierarchy
Rosenberg was one of the first members of the German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiter Partei or DAP, later the Nazi Party), when he became a member in January 1919 with the number 625; Adolf Hitler would not register until September 1919. Rosenberg had also been a member of the Thule Society, along with Dietrich Eckart. After the Völkischer Beobachter became the official newspaper of the Nazi Party in December 1920, Rosenberg was its editor from 1923, an activity he carried out until December 1938. Rosenberg was a leading member of the “Aufbau Vereinigung ‘” ( “Organization of Reconstruction”, a conspiracy group of German emigres from Russia who had a critical influence on early Nazi politics.) Rosenberg was in his youth very influenced by Houston Stewart Chamberlain in the reformulated racist doctrines of the concept of “Übermensch” ( the superman, by Friedrich Nietzsche) and in Gobineau.
In 1929, Rosenberg founded the “Struggle Front for German Culture”, as a promoter of racism in favor of his “racial theory”, where influenced by H.S. Chamberlain and the Count of Gobineau extolled the “racial superiority” of the Aryan peoples, whom Rosenberg claimed to have been an “Indo-European people who generated the great cultures of classical antiquity (Greece, Rome, Persia) and whose” superior descendants ” “It would be the people of Nordic Europe.” Rosenberg was already antimaterialist and anti-Marxist, concepts that with great wisdom dominated and at the same time he hated.He began in later years to take an interest in the occult, a doctrine he would never separate from again. this time travels to France, Belgium and Holland.
Subsequently, Rosenberg formed the “Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question”, dedicated to identifying and attacking Jewish influence in German culture, and also to record the history of Judaism from a strongly anti-Semitic perspective. In 1930, he was appointed deputy in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic by the Nazi Party and published his book on racial theory, The Myth of the Twentieth Century (Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts), which dealt with central issues in the National Socialist ideology, such as the “Jewish question”. Rosenberg had pretended that his book was a sequel to the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, extolling ethnic Germans as a “superior race” among the Aryans, and by extension, superior throughout the world.
Despite having sold more than a million copies until 1945, the influence of The myth of the twentieth century within Nazism (apart from providing an intellectual cover) remains doubtful. Often, it is claimed that it was a book officially venerated in Nazism, but that very few actually read it beyond the first chapter or even many Nazi militants found it incomprehensible, Hitler called it “things [that] nobody he can understand »and disapproved of his pseudo-religious tone while other Nazi leaders such as Goering, Himmler, or Goebbels, did not hide derogatory or mocking comments on Rosenberg’s text. Hitler himself declared that the myth of the twentieth century was a text that “did not contain the official ideology of Nazism” and gave no indication of having read it in its entirety.
In 1933, after the rise of Nazism to power, Rosenberg was promoted to Head of the Foreign Service of the Nazi Party. From this position he appropriated the works of art and other belongings belonging to museums and private collections of German Jews. That same year assumes the position of Reichsleiter, while his ideas mold the Laws of Nuremberg that initiate the frank persecution of Jews in Germany. In 1939, Rosemberg came into contact with Quisling, a former Norwegian army officer who also held ideas of “Aryan racial superiority” and craved Nazi support for a similar political project in his homeland.
Rosenberg’s attitude towards Soviet Bolshevism would have influenced Hitler, whom he convinced of the communist threat and the supposed fragility of the Soviet political structure. The “Judeo-Bolshevism” was accepted as an objective for German expansionism since the early 1920s, but Rosenberg’s avowed hatred of religions in general (including Christianity) caused his racial postulates not to be massively disseminated by the Nazi propaganda, so as not to lose the support of the conservative Christians of Germany. Despite this, Rosenberg did not abandon his anti-Christian convictions and promoted them whenever possible, placing special emphasis on denouncing the “malevolent and cosmopolitan roots of the Christian faith, attacking Catholicism as a” Judaizing stronghold “and censuring Protestantism for not having created a “German national faith” at the time of the Protestant Reformation.
After the Battle of France and at the request of Hitler, Rosenberg was in charge of searching on French soil all kinds of material related to the ideas and political theories that underpinned his belief in the “superior race”.
In Eastern Europe
In 1941, Hitler named Rosenberg as head of the “Ministry of Occupied Territories of the East.” This delighted Rosenberg with the policies that would be used against the “degenerate Aryans,” as he called the Slavs in general. Thus, once the German invasion of the USSR began, Rosenberg planned to stimulate anti-communism among the peoples of Ukraine, the Baltic, and the Caucasus to “incorporate” such ethnic groups into the “Anti-Bolshevik Crusade” of Hitler, for which Rosenberg He considered it advisable to advise Hitler to use a “moderate” (though never humanitarian) policy towards these ethnic groups.
Rosenberg’s wishes were based on considering that the Soviet Union could collapse in a political rather than military way, and it would be enough to stimulate the anti-Soviet spirit of the “degenerated and submitted to the USSR” peoples in an adequate manner. Such ideas did not please Hitler or Himmler, who insisted on the exploitation and enslavement of non-German peoples as “the only policy” to follow.
Thus, throughout 1942 Rosenberg tried to cultivate allies within occupied Ukraine between the nationalists of UPA and UNUN of Ukraine, to help the German war effort, while postulating to maintain the most severe repression against the Poles and Czechs as well as the extermination of Jews on Ukrainian soil. Such a “pro-Slavic” policy was strongly criticized by Himmler and his subordinates as Erich Koch, who insisted on treating all Slavs as untermensch or “subhumans”, without distinction. The same failed result was Rosenberg’s attempts to win the aid of the Baltic peoples to the Reich, while Himmler and Koch demanded that the economic exploitation of the Reichskommissariat Ostland had priority over Rosenberg’s activities.
By failing his attempts to impose his policies in Ukraine and Belarus, and renewing the thrust of the Soviet counter-offensives in mid-1943, Rosenberg worked to promote the collaboration of Slavic volunteers for combat service within the Wehrmacht because of the military emergencies, but Hitler completely refused to support such a project. In fact, the “Eastern Ministry” entrusted to Rosenberg increasingly lost its raison d’être throughout 1944 while the SS was the true political leader of occupied Eastern Europe, but Rosenberg was not dismissed by Hitler but simply marginalized of any relevant decision.
Lost his influence on Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg escaped to Holstein in May 1945, but was stopped by the US Military Police while hiding in a hospital to recover from injuries. Later, he was tried in Nuremberg for having promoted the extermination operations against the Jews and Slavs in Eastern Europe, whereupon Rosenberg first tried to justify his racist philosophy and then denied knowing Hitler’s plans for the extermination of Jews (although his direct assistants attended the Wannsee Conference in 1942).
Rosenberg was sentenced to death on October 1, 1946 for crimes against humanity, and executed by hanging on October 16, 1946.
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