Alfred Rosenberg was born in 1893 in Reval in the Russian Empire and studied architecture in the Riga Polytechnical Institute where he obtained his diploma in 1917. In his youth he read with avid interest the works of Kant and the German Idealists, as well as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wagner and Houston Stewart Chamberlain. But it was his discovery of Indian philosophy that served as the deepest spiritual inspiration of his life. As he comments on the primacy of the contemplative life in Indian thought, “How far we are here from all greed for power and money, from all rapacity and intolerance, all pettiness and arrogance.”
In 1918, Rosenberg emigrated to Germany, at first Berlin and then Munich, where he met Dietrich Eckart and contributed to his magazine Auf gut Deutsch. It was through Eckart that Rosenberg met Hitler. Rosenberg had already in January 1919 joined the NSDAP, that is, before Hitler, who joined only in October of that year. However, Rosenberg was not very close to Hitler as a political aide, and was more or less restricted to the editorial office of the newspaper Völkischer Beobachter (Nationalist Observer) to which he contributed several articles. The Völkischer Beobachter was the name given to the Münchener Beobachter when the latter was acquired by the Thule Society in August 1919. In December 1920, the paper was bought by the NSDAP and edited by Dietrich Eckart until his death in 1923, when Rosenberg assumed an editorial position.
Influenced both by his reading of anti-Semitic authors and by his first-hand experience of the involvement of the Jews in the Russian Revolution, Rosenberg turned his mind to the Jewish question already during the end of the first World War. In 1919, he composed the present classic study of the Jews. In 1929, he instituted a ‘Kampfbund fur deutsche Kultur’ (Militant League for German Culture) which lasted until 1934. The members and supporters of this society included the publishers Hugo Bruckmann and Julius Lehmann and leaders of the Wagner Society such as Winifred Wagner, Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s widow, Eva, and Richard Wagner’s friend, Baron Hans von Wolzogen. The society’s main aim was to combat modernism in its manifold forms as Expressionist art, Bauhaus architecture and atonal music. In 1930, Rosenberg became a National Socialist member of parliament and published his cultural history Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, which he designed as a continuation of Chamberlain’s Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (1899). In 1933, after Hitler’s accession to power, Rosenberg was named leader of the foreign political department of the NSDAP but he did not exert much influence in this position. In 1934, he was placed in charge of the intellectual and philosophical education of the NSDAP.
During the war, in July 1940, there was established the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (the Rosenberg Task Force) which was responsible for the collection of art materials that were considered as belonging rightly to Germany’s European Reich. In 1941, after the invasion of the USSR, Rosenberg obtained a ministerial appointment, as Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, though he ran into regular conflicts with the brutal Gauleiter Erich Koch who was made Reichskommissar of the Ukraine. At the end of the war, in May 1945, Rosenberg was captured by Allied troops and tried at Nuremberg. Unlike Albert Speer, he did not plead guilty and refused to distance himself from National Socialism itself – even though he had clearly been opposed to many of its leading personalities, especially Goebbels, Bormann and Himmler, who had had greater influence on Hitler and consequently greater executive power in the Reich. Rosenberg was found guilty by the Nuremberg Tribunal and hanged on 16 October 1946.
The depth of Rosenberg’s understanding of the dangers of a Jewish rule of European society is evident already in his first major work on the Jews, The Track of the Jew through the Ages. Focussing on the defects of the Jewish mind itself as the source of these dangers, Rosenberg outlines, in the first part of this work, the formation of the Jewish mind from the earliest times to the present. In the second part, he surveys the history of Jewish involvement in European politics, especially in Portugal, France, Germany and Russia and also examines the contribution of the Masonic societies, from the 18th century onwards, to the revolutionary movements that brought about the fateful emancipation of the European Jews. In the last part, he analyses more carefully the special characteristics and limitations of the Jewish intellect and proposes his own solution to the Jewish question.
Rosenberg begins by pointing out that the Jewish diaspora antedated the Babylonian Exile of the 6th century B.C. The Jews, who are essentially marked by financial talents and ambitions, had been tempted by commercial possibilities to disperse throughout the Mediterranean and North Africa long before they began to move eastwards after the Exile. What is significant about their earliest commercial activities is that they were invariably marked by usury and deception, while in mediaeval Spain and Portugal they flourished on slave-trade as well. By lending money to princes for their military adventures as well as for their private luxuries, the Jews acquired a significant power at the courts that resulted in the acquisition of preferential rights and privileges. It was the rise of this ill-gained Jewish power that drove the local populations into the anti-Semitic agitations and persecutions that finally erupted in many European countries. Guilds of craftsmen that were, up until the 13th and 14th centuries, open to the Jews began to close their doors and the Jews were soon forced to live in ghettos for their own safety to avoid the periodic outbursts of anti-Semitic violence. Attempts on the part of governments to forbid usury and to force the Jews to take up manual labour came to nothing since the Jews always found ways of getting round these laws. (The ghetto which came to characterise the Jewish existence in later times was indeed originally formed by the desire of the Jews themselves for cultural separation from their host peoples. It is interesting that the burnings of Jewish books that began in the 13th century were in fact initiated by Jews themselves who opposed the “heretical” writings of Moses Maimonides.)
At first they are accepted by their host nations with little reserve, then they begin their inborn exploitative usurious business to hold princes and populace under their control and finally they suffer anti-Semitic persecutions or expulsions. In France, the presence of the Jews in the land can be detected from as early as the 6th century but it was especially under Charlemagne and the Carolingians that they achieved a high status in France as commercial agents. As in most countries, their worldly ambitions knew no bounds and, in the 9th century, Bishop Agobert of Lyons undertook a long and arduous official campaign against their commercial cunning and arrogant mistreatment of Christian slaves. But he found that the Jews had protection in high places and his efforts bore little fruit. It was not until the beginning of the 14th century that popular agitations succeeded in driving them out of Lyons. In central France, the economic situation after the Crusades was extremely favourable to the usurious activity of the Jews and they exploited it to the utmost – until they were driven out in the late 14th century.
Although the Jews formed from earliest times an international network that aided Jews in different countries through mutual contacts, the rise of Masonry in the early 18th century helped them operate more effectively and clandestinely through the various lodges of Europe. At first the Jews were not accepted in the Masonic lodges on account of the prevailing aversion to them. But, gradually, movements like the Martinist in the 18th century began to accept Jews in large numbers and lodges that were primarily Jewish too began to be established.
The anti-royalist and anti-clerical aims of the Masons are clear in the part played by them in the French Revolution. Rosenberg points particularly to the role of the Jew Cagliostro in initiating the calamity. Later, when the Revolutionary Army decided to expand its ideas in other parts of Europe through military expeditions, it was aided by the fact that there were Masons among the German generals as well who allowed the French to conquer German territory with little difficulty. Rosenberg explains the conquests of Napoleon too as being due largely to Masonic support, a support that was withdrawn when he decided to use Masonry for his purposes rather than let it use him for theirs.In the 19th century the development of Jewish lodges proceeded steadily until Masonry became identical with Jewish ideas of revolution.
Soon there sprung up revolutionary nationalistic movements all over Europe such as Young Germany and Young Italy and Young Europe. After the Paris Commune of 1871, the revolutionary movements fostered by Masonry gradually transformed themselves into socialist and communist ones. Marx and his colleagues saw to it that the socialist movement would not be a purely workers’ movement but one always led by Jewish intellectuals such as Trotsky, Kuhn and Leviné. At the same time, the core of the anti-European conspiracy was crystallised in such exclusively Jewish societies as the B’nai B’rith Order founded in New York in 1843 and the synagogues themselves.
Zionism was the culmination of this Jewish ambition and it achieved its great victory in 1917 when Britain conquered Jerusalem from the Turks. It is not surprising then that, when the Jews realised that the British Empire served the Zionist internationalist dream more effectively than the German imperial one, they decided to back the English against the Germans in the first World War. The horror of a total Jewish rule over European society was first realised in the Russian Revolution, when the Jewish Bolsheviks took over the reins of government from more moderate elements and established a Jewish Russian government. Rosenberg had in fact witnessed at first hand the Jewish control of the Soviet state when he travelled in 1917 and early 1918 from St. Petersburg to the Crimea. As he reveals:
“In the name of fraternity and peace the Bolshevists lured to themselves unthinking hordes and set to work immediately with a raging hatred against everything “bourgeois” and soon with a systematic slaughter and civil war, if this one-sided massacre can be called that. The entire Russian intelligentsia, which had for decades striven for the Russian people and had gone to the gallows or were exiled for its welfare, were simply killed wherever they could be got hold of … The workers and soldiers were pushed to such a degree that there was no return for them any more, they became the will-less creatures of the tenacious Jewish rule which had burned all bridges behind it.”