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Dr. Alfred Rosenberg:
The “scribe of the new gospel” of Darwinism
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INTRODUCTION

Alfred Rosenberg (January 12, 1893 – October 16, 1946) was a major ideological leader in the Nazi party, especially at its inception. Rosenberg was “the father of Nazi ideology and the author of the book that had a profound effect on Hitler, namely, Der Mythos des 20 Jahrhunderts (The Myth of the Twentieth Century) published in 1930.1 This influential racist anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic book also had an influence on early Nazi party policy. Rosenberg also contributed to the book Germany’s Renewal, a volume Hitler recommended that all party members read.2

Through his writings, Rosenberg became the “scribe of the new gospel,” the philosophy of Nazism based on social Darwinism.3 This philosophy was racist, anti-Semitic, pan-German, militaristic and pseudo-religious. He was called the Nazi theorist of the Holocaust.4

As editor, and later publisher, of the main German newspaper that Hitler read daily, Völkischer Beobachter (“People’s Observer”), Rosenberg played a major role in shaping the thinking of millions of Germans.5 His influence was so great that he became the “cultural leader” of the Third Reich.6 He was also, some claim, the author of the designation “The Third Reich” for Hitler’s government that was envisioned to last a thousand years. In the end, it lasted only a dozen years. Hitler recognized that he must have a philosophic basis for his programme, and for this he turned to one of his earliest allies, Rosenberg.7 Rosenberg’s ideology was

ultimately related to race (racism, Nordicism, racial soul, ethnicity, blood-and-honor, etc.—terms which he used largely interchangeably). Certainly his contributions to the idea of anti-Semitism, to the National Socialist concept of the state, to anti-universalism and to Germanic or Germanicized religion are closely allied to his pervasive ideology of race.8

Furthermore, he often covered the topic of

racial admixture (adulteration), cross-breeding and miscegenation (most frequently referred to by him as racial shame, disgrace, and infamy). Essentially, Rosenberg believed Nordic racial purity spearheaded the battle of white Europe against racial destruction (“blood poisoning”); it was vital, he admonished, that racial purity be considered a principle not only of domestic, but also of foreign policy. For Rosenberg this was not the responsibility of Germany alone.9

For example, in his 1927 book, Zukunftsweg einer deutschen Aussenpolitik (The Future Course of German Foreign Policy), Rosenberg formulated a crude method for guaranteeing worldwide racial purity.

In the early 1940s the Holocaust became one of Hitler’s main objectives for Germany. On March 1, 1942, he signed a decree on Germany’s “systematic spiritual struggle against Jews, Freemasons, and their allies” ostensibly because these groups were all opponents of the goals of National Socialism.10 This “necessary war mission” decree ruled that not only Jews, Freemasons, and their allies but also the ideological opponents of National Socialism must be annihilated. Furthermore the Nazi directive stated that these groups were

the authors of the war presently directed against the Reich. The systematic spiritual struggle against these powers is a necessary war mission. I have therefore instructed Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg to carry out this mission in conjunction with the chief of the high command of the Wehrmacht. His operational staff for the occupied territories is authorized to search for relevant materials in libraries, archives, lodges, and other ideological or cultural institutions of all types, and to have this material confiscated for the ideological work of the Nazi Party and subsequent research work at the National Socialist Academy.11

Presumably, this project, which Rosenberg had a mission to carry out, would aid Hitler and his academic supporters who were going to “research” the confiscated material to find evidence to support their goal of exterminating those regarded as inferior races.

Rosenberg’s life goal, which he partly fulfilled, was “to become the custodian of the party ideology and the author of his magnum opus which would provide National Socialism with a definitive theory of history as a function of race.12 Rosenberg believed, in contrast to the biblical account and historical Christian teaching, that God created separate human races, and that the Aryan race was superior to all others. Historian Raymond Feely concluded that as early as 1940, “Outside of Mein Kampf, Herr Rosenberg’s [The]Myth of the Twentieth Century is in one sense the most important treatise in the Third Reich.”13 It has been translated into English and is kept in print by many of the white supremacist groups existing today.

Next to Mein Kampf, this two-volume work became the most important book of National Socialism and sold close to two million copies.14 How much The Myth of the Twentieth Century was actually read and understood, though, is unknown. Historian Paul Roland claimed that the massive book, with its hundreds of footnotes, has the distinction of being one of the most unread bestselling books in history—nonetheless, it still had a seminal influence on early Nazi ideology.15

The Myth of the Twentieth Century also “made a direct and deep impression on Hitler” at least during the early period of the Nazi movement.16 Dutch claimed that Rosenberg “imported into Hitler’s original program…the doctrine of racial value, that is the superiority of German Aryan blood.”17 Professor Richard Evans documented that Rosenberg, more than anyone else “turned Hitler’s attention toward the threat of…a Jewish conspiracy. …through Rosenberg, Russian anti-Semitism, with its extreme conspiracy theories and its exterminating thrust, found its way into Nazi ideology in the early 1920s.”18

Hitler was happy to learn that The Myth of the Twentieth Century was given a large boost in sales when the German Cardinal von Faulhaber of Munich condemned the book and placed it on the Catholic index as a heretical work.19 After its formal condemnation, its sales picked up considerably. Its flaws were such the even Hitler ridiculed parts of it to his insiders.

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Rosenberg’s importance is further illustrated by his inclusion among the ten people regarded at the Nuremberg Trials as most responsible for the Holocaust still living at the end of the war. Called “the theorist of the party,” he “gathered together the confused ideas of Hitler and clarified them.” The result was that Hitler built on “Rosenberg’s ideas and allow[ed] himself to be influenced by Rosenberg in all his decisions.”20 According to a former insider, Rosenberg’s role changed when, for various reasons, he lost some of his Nazi status after 1940.

Rosenberg also actively promoted other racist authors, giving them both more credibility and sales. One example was Professor Hans Weinert, who discussed racial policy designed to foster evolutionary progress in his book on the origin of human races. He concluded that the path to higher levels of evolution included eugenics and a prohibition against racial mixing.21

Professor Weinert’s views on the evolution of human races were largely well received by the Nazi movement as shown by the official National Socialist Racial Policy Office publication listing Weinert’s books, including Die Rassen der Menschheit (The Races of Mankind), as valuable books on racial theory. The Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte, edited by Alfred Rosenberg, included an article by Heinz Brücher on Weinert’s work promoting one of Weinert’s books on race and human evolution.22

THE THESIS OF ROSENBERG’S BOOK

The theme of Rosenberg’s book was not only blood purity, anti-Semitism and the rejection of Christianity but the importance of the domination of society by “those who are racially superior.”23 The book outwardly appeared to be very scholarly bolstered by its detailed erudition documented by hundreds of footnotes, some longer than an entire page. And, not surprisingly Rosenberg’s major target

was the Jews. His monumental, consistent, and practically unqualified anti-Semitism requires a separate chapter [in his book]. In addition, Rosenberg was outspoken in his frequent derogatory references to Negroes (referred to him usually as “Niggers”). He normally discussed them in connection with the problems of miscegenation, and often deliberately equated Negroes with Jews.24

Furthermore, Rosenberg judged

European history as the struggle of the German people against the debilitating influences of Judaism and the Roman Catholic Church, and he pillaged literary and historical sources for material to support his thesis. He was enabled more readily to do this by adopting a purely subjective concept of race. …what he strongly approved of was, ipso facto, Germanic; what he profoundly rejected was, in accordance with the same definition, Jewish.25

The Myth of the Twentieth Century was inspired by Rosenberg’s “intellectual mentor,” Stewart Chamberlain, and also by Arthur de Gobineau who wrote An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, as well as Friedrich Nietzsche who preached the superman superiority theory. According to James Whisker, Professor of Political Science at West Virginia University, the theme of Rosenberg’s book was to reinterpret all of history in terms of race conflicts.26

Both Chamberlain and Rosenberg “believed that humankind was divided absolutely into superior and inferior beings.”27 Furthermore, the superior race must not commit “racial pollution” by “sexually intermixing with inferior beings.”28 Rosenberg concluded the biological genes that produced a superior culture and political system were unique to Nordic men. He wrote that the “German people are not marked by original sin, but by original nobility.”29 His racism, he stressed, was based on Darwinism and the best science of the day supported by the leading German scientists.30

As was true of many Nazis, Rosenberg was influenced by Arthur de Gobineau. Gobineau was a major proponent of White supremacy theory. In his

most influential work, the four-volume, mid-1850s Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines (Essay on the Inequality of Human Races), de Gobineau declared the superiority of the white race over others. He argued that the white race would prosper only if it did not become contaminated by mixing with other races. This belief eventually became one of the major principles of Nazi philosophy.31

RACISM AT THE CORE OF ROSENBERG’S NAZI IDEOLOGY

In his introduction to Rosenberg’s book, to document the book’s importance to Nazism, Professor Peel wrote that Nazi

orthodoxy was never as monolithic nor as all-embracing as that of Marx and Lenin. There was, of course, agreement on the major issues—that World Jewry was the irreconcilable enemy of all Aryan civilization and culture and especially of Germany.32

Although Rosenberg’s beliefs about Darwin were mixed, he openly supported Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” and “superior race” ideologies. The fact is, the Nazis

combined their racial theories with the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin to justify their treatment of the Jews. The Germans, as the strongest and fittest, were destined to rule, while the weak and racially adulterated Jews were doomed to extinction.33

Rosenberg stressed the Darwinian idea that “life arises out of struggle, out of death.”34 He openly “denied absolutely” creation ex nihilo for several reasons, including the fact that he thought “a creationist view” of origins was “an Asian-Jewish idea, passing from Paul (Saul) through the Roman Catholic Church to Luther.”35 Rosenberg also taught that Jews were sons of the “Jewish Jehovah” who was a “swindler, a promoter of lies and a murderer.”36

In short, the major ideas that inspired Rosenberg to compose his new “German Bible” were anti-Semitism, rejection of Christianity and the right of “those who are racially superior” to dominate the racially inferior.37 For all of these reasons, he aggressively attacked the Judeo-Christian idea of creation. A major factor for the success of Rosenberg’s ideas and Nazi politics in Germany was that they appealed to professors, students and civil servants. It was this ideology that drove Hitler to commit his crimes against humanity.38

Rosenberg and others believed that the Jews and other inferior races must be eradicated for another reason: they spread pathogens such as bacteria.39 As evidence of this claim they turned to the German public health research that

studied the medical data concerning typhus epidemics through the prism of race as a biological reality rather than as a social construct. Noting the prevalence of typhus outbreaks among the impoverished and overcrowded populations of urban Jews in Eastern Europe, they mistook correlation for causality, ignored the obvious environmental factors, and attributed the spread of typhus to alleged Jewish cultural and genetic defects.40

For example, in one 1940 article about “spotted fever and ethnic identity,” the German head of the public health department in Nazi-occupied Poland, Dr. Jost Walbaum, proclaimed that

“The Jews are overwhelmingly the carriers and disseminators of the infection. Spotted fever endures most persistently in the regions heavily populated by Jews, with their low cultural level, their uncleanliness, and the infestation of lice unavoidably connected with this.” One of his associates, Dr. Erich Weizenegger, similarly argued: “The sickness occurs…especially among the Jewish population. This is caused by the fact that the Jew totally lacks any concept of hygiene.”41

This “lack” they assumed, was presumably caused by genetic racial defects. It is also ironic in view of the Jewish law on hygiene given in Leviticus.

ROSENBERG AS AN ANTI-CATHOLIC

Rosenberg was “almost as violent an anti-Catholic as he was anti-Jewish and only relatively less anti-Protestant. He is, in fact, anti-Christian.”42 The Myth of the Twentieth Century openly assaulted “Christianity and all that it stands for.”43 His hatred of the Catholic Church “was exceeded only by his hatred of Jews.”44 This was true because the core of Rosenberg’s racial philosophy of the “absolute value of pure blood and race” brought him in “direct collision with Christian theology.”45 Roland wrote that few Germans

dared to speak out publicly against the [Nazi] regime, but certain members of the clergy, both Protestant and Catholic, criticized the Nazis from the pulpit when it became clear that they intended to supplant Christianity with a new pagan religion. The Christian cross was to be replaced with the swastika, and pictures of saints were to be removed from all chapels, churches and cathedrals.46

Another reason Rosenberg hated Catholicism was because of what he regarded as their

“abusive,” “Jesuitic-Roman” system which consistently preached and practiced the “spineless” Roman principles of love and non-heroic, non-Germanic pity and compassion. In the name of the Church, love and pity had undermined the honor and hero-oriented subjective conception of the Germanic people. According to Rosenberg, the Church had, with the help of all possible alliances, extirpated all that was free, proud, and honor-loving, cleverly falsifying the Nordic tribal system, customs and independence.47

A third reason for Rosenberg’s anti-Christian view was the Catholic Church’s opposition to the Nazi goal of breeding a superior race just as humans breed horses. For example

in 1939, when Hitler instructed the SS to embark on a discreet, but widespread, campaign for elimination of the incurably sick and insane, public opinion in Germany was by no means ready for it. The counterattack, led by the Bishop of Muenster, slowed up the euthanasia program and, even if it did not stop it, drove it further underground, thus showing how effective resistance could be achieved by the Churches on an issue attracting the support of their flocks.48

Lastly, the Nazis’ goal was to replace the Bible with Mein Kampf. All of these goals alienated many Christians, for example, Martin Niemöller (1892 –1984), a Lutheran Pastor. He was a submarine commander in the First World War, and initially welcomed the new Nazi government. He soon became “disillusioned by their plans for a state-controlled Reich Church and by the rabidly anti-Christian sentiments expressed by Alfred Rosenberg and other members of Hitler’s inner circle.”49

Rosenberg concluded that Christianity would soon die in Germany:

When Hermann Goering asked Rosenberg on August 22, 1939, “Do you believe that Christianity is approaching its end and that a new form [of religion] designed by us will arise?” Rosenberg answered: “Indeed! The religious value system has already ceased to be recognized.”50

One major result of applying Rosenberg’s ideas was

the incoherence, imprecision and irrationality of the [Nazi] ideology itself…defeated all efforts to drive out what remained of the humane and Christian values of earlier centuries. When professor Walter Frank exclaimed at Tuebingen in 1936 that “all German history…must be seen as only the prehistory of National-Socialism,” this could only have the impact of rhetoric.… Nazi biologists, avid for promotion, might measure the long skulls of their prehistortoric ancestors, but there would be others who knew that the size of the human head could be affected by rickets, as well as by race. The Nazis…[treated] as dogma their simplified and distorted version of theories put forward in the nineteenth century by such pioneers as Darwin.51

ROSENBERG’S END

After being convicted by the Allies at the Nuremberg Trials for crimes against humanity, Rosenberg was hanged on October 16, 1946. A major factor in his guilty verdict was that as Minister of Eastern Occupied Territories during the war, he carried out Nazi policy in the areas where most of the atrocities occurred. His book, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, and his anti-Semitic activities were also contributing factors. A witness to his execution called him the “arch-priest of Nazi culture in foreign lands.”52 Rosenberg hid forty-seven crates of Nazi records in a Bavarian barn that contained “an almost unbelievable admission of systemic killings, lootings, etc.”53 These detailed records of war crimes were important in the decision to hang him and the other Nazis on trial for war crimes.

SUMMARY

Alfred Rosenberg was a leading Nazi whose writings, primarily his best selling book, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, were responsible for influencing many people in Nazi Germany—from those high in the Nazi heirarchy to the wider audience who read his works—to murder so-called inferior races. He also was a vehement anti-Catholic and influenced not only the Jewish Holocaust, but also the Christian Holocaust in Poland and other nations. For these reasons, he was executed by the Allies after World War II.

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1 Oswald Dutch, Hitler’s 12 Apostles (New York: Robert M. McBride & Company, 1940), 80–81; Joachim C. Fest, The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership (New York: Pantheon, 1970), 164.

2Richard Weikart, Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009), 14.

3 Fest, The Face of the Third Reich, 163.

4 Fritz Nova, Alfred Rosenberg: Nazi Theorist of the Holocaust (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1986).

5 James Biser Whisker, The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg: Origins of the National Socialist Myth (Torrance: The Noontide Press, 1990).

6 Paul Douglass, God among the Germans (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1935), 30.

7 Arthur Duncan-Jones, The Struggle for Religious Freedom in Germany (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938), 24.

8 Nova, Alfred Rosenberg, 31.

9 Nova, Alfred Rosenberg, 31.

10 Max Domarus, The Essential Hitler: Speeches and Commentary (Wauconda: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2007), 403.

11 Cited in Domarus, The Essential Hitler, 403.

12 Peter Peel, “Preface,” in Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century (Torrance: The Noontide Press, 1982), v.

13 Raymond T. Feely, Nazism versus Religion (New York: The Paulist Press, 1940), 26.

14 Feely, Nazism versus Religion, 167.

15Paul Roland, The Illustrated History of the Nazis (Edison: Chartwell Books, 2009), 57.

16 Dutch, Hitler’s 12 Apostles, 85.

17 Dutch, Hitler’s 12 Apostles, 26.

18 Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (New York: The Penguin Press 2004), 178.

19Adolf Hitler, Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941–1944, trans. Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens; intro. H.R. Trevor-Roper, “The Mind of Adolf Hitler” (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953), 342.

20 Dutch, Hitler’s 12 Apostles, 82.

21 Hans Weinert, Entstehung der Menschenrassen, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart: Fredinand Enke Verlag, 1942), 314–315.

22 Heinz Brücher, “Lebenskunde,” Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte (1937), 8:190–192.

23 Dutch, Hitler’s 12 Apostles, 83.

24 Nova, Alfred Rosenberg, 31.

25 Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenberg and Nazi Ideology (New York: Dodd and Meade, 1972), 12.

26 Whisker, The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, 190–191.

27 Whisker, The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, 191.

28 Whisker, The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, 191.

29 Cited in Fest, The Face of the Third Reich, 168.

30 Whisker, The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, 202.

31John Grabowski, Josef Mengele (Farmington Hills: Lucent Books, 2004), 20.

32 Peel, “Preface,” in Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, xv.

33 Mitchell Geoffrey Bard, ed., The Complete History of the Holocaust (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2001), 34.

34 Douglass, God among the Germans, 45.

35 Whisker, The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, 98, 136.

36 Whisker, The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, 28.

37 Dutch, Hitler’s 12 Apostles, 83.

38 Whisker, The Philosophy of Alfred Rosenberg, 181.

39 Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race.

40 Christopher R. Browning, Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp (New York: W.W. Norton, 2010), 122.

41 Browning, Remembering Survival, 122.

42 Peel, “Preface,” in Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, xv.

43 Fest, The Face of the Third Reich, 168.

44 Nova, Alfred Rosenberg, 22.

45 Douglass, God among the Germans, 36, 38.

46Roland, The Illustrated History of the Nazis, 115.

47 Nova, Alfred Rosenberg, 21.

48 Browning, Remembering Survival, 144.

49Roland, The Illustrated History of the Nazis, 115.

50 Nova, Alfred Rosenberg, 23.

51 Browning, Remembering Survival, 150.

52 Kingsbury Smith, “The Nuremberg Trials: The Execution of Nazi War Criminals,” International News Service (October 16, 1946): 1.

53 Bard, ed., The Complete History of the Holocaust, 371.