Alfred Rosenberg was arguably the leading ideologist of the Nazi Party. A close ally of Adolf Hitler, Rosenberg provided the Nazi Party with its anti-Semitic and racial ideologies using what Hitler had written in ‘Mein Kampf’ as the basis for his ideas. While Hitler expounded his own ideas, there is little doubt that he was influenced by some of Rosenberg’s beliefs.
Rosenberg was born into a wealthy Baltic German family on January 12th 1893. He was an academically gifted youngster. Once he had finished his schooling, Rosenberg studied architecture and engineering as specialist subjects in Riga and Moscow. In 1917, he was awarded a Ph.D. The Russian Revolution changed his family’s life. They supported the Whites and as a result of the success of the Reds, the Rosenberg’s left where they lived in Estonia and moved to Germany in 1918. Rosenberg developed a deep hatred for Communism and all things communist as a result of this experience. Rosenberg also believed that the Jews were in part responsible for the success of the Reds as Leon Trotsky was a Jew. As a result, by the time he reached Munich to start a new life, he hated communism and was also a virulent anti-Semite.
In the aftermath of World War One, Munich was the centre of the anti-Semitic and anti-communist German Workers Party. Rosenberg joined this party in January 1919 ten months before Hitler did and before it changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party. Rosenberg became one of the first editors of the ‘Völkischer Beobacter’, effectively the Nazi’s newspaper. The position was perfect to allow Rosenberg to publish his beliefs and theories and the newspaper became notorious for its virulent anti-Semitism.
Rosenberg became the temporary leader of the Nazi Party following the imprisonment of Hitler after the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler later claimed that this appointment was because he knew that Rosenberg was weak and that he would not make a good party leader and would immediately cede the position to Hitler on his release.
Rosenberg spent the next years involving himself in party beliefs. He specifically concerned himself on the “Jewish Question”. He released a book titled “The Myth of the Twentieth Century”, which sold in great numbers and made Rosenberg wealthy. However, many bought it because they felt they had to – to show their support for the party’s ideologist. But even Hitler believed that it was incomprehensible and full of nonsense.
Rosenberg also knitted together the “Jewish Question” with Communism to create “Jewish-Bolshevism”. To what extent he influenced Hitler over the latter’s hatred of both the Jews and Communism will never be known. Hitler almost certainly had such views before he met Rosenberg but the latter ‘polished’ them. There is little doubt that they discussed and analysed the issue and whatever Hitler did conclude obviously affected his later foreign policy judgements with regards to Nazi Germany and the USSR.
In January 1934, Rosenberg was appointed the Nazi Party’s chief racial theorist. His task was simple – to ‘prove’ the racial theories promulgated by Hitler. Rosenberg had to ‘prove’ Aryan superiority and that the Germans were the ‘Master Race’. He also put the Jews and Blacks at the bottom of his racial ladder. Czechs and Poles were described by Rosenberg as “valueless” and that both should receive “no considerations”. Poles in particular were referred to as “subhuman”. Rosenberg also believed in the purity of blood and believed that Germans who did not marry Germans diluted their blood and weakened the characteristics of being German.
As for all senior Nazis, World War Two completely changed the life of Rosenberg. In 1941, he was appointed Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Two men who worked for him – his deputy Alfred Meyer and Georg Leibbrandt – attended the Wannsee Conference. Here the ‘Final Solution’ was discussed and planned. It seems untenable that neither Meyer nor Leibbrandt told Rosenberg about what was discussed at Wannsee. Rosenberg claimed at the Nuremberg Trials that he knew nothing about the Holocaust – something the judges simply did not believe.
After his capture, Rosenberg was accused of various crimes: crimes against peace, planning and initiating war, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was put on trial in Nuremberg with other captured senior Nazis. While in prison Rosenberg wrote that National Socialism was “the noblest idea to which a German could devote the strength he had been given.”
He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to be hanged.
Alfred Rosenberg was executed on October 16th 1946.