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Old September 13th, 2018 #1
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Default Reichminister for the East - Alfred Rosenberg

Reichminister for the East - Alfred Rosenberg

I had made arrangements for the celebration of a memorial day for Niedersachsen (Lower
Saxony), putting particular emphasis on the figure of Heinrich der Löwe (Henry the Lion). In spite of the
fact that the Führer considered him a rebel, he still gave him a most fitting resting place in the cathedral
at Brunswick, which was declared a national shrine. Here he saw, correcting a former, somewhat one sided,
attitude, the two of them enter into history: Barbarossa and the Lion. I had never gainsaid their
place in history, and I venerated the Hohenstaufen; but the old problem of German history, Italian
campaigns or an eastern policy, never left me in peace. Had not Germany once reached as far as Lake
Peipus? Time after time, the Niedersachsen pushed ahead against that East which they had once settled
in the wake of the retreating Goths, the Burgundians, Vandals and Slavs. Was it right to set the entire
national power on Gero's trail? I, for one, never shied away from airing my opinions on this subject, not
even when the identical question came up in a different form: colonial versus eastern policy? Hadn't the
Bauares founded the Ostmark (Eastern Territory)? Was not that the proper precedent? Was it right to
permit the intrusion of the Lithuanian wedge between Prussia and Livonia that prevented all peasant
migration? In any case, the power of Germandom had decreased, and the East had advanced as a result
of the First World War. And today Russia reaches, temporarily at least, as far west as the Elbe and
beyond Weimar. That could not have happened to a German realm reaching from Aachen to Lake
Occasionally R. W. Darré called on me. In its day I had considered his first book an excellent
contribution to the universal nationalistic trend toward a re-routing on the land after the lopsided growth of the
cities. In his book he traced German history back to the Germanic peasantry. Thereupon Hitler called upon
Darré to join the leadership as head of the so-called agrarian-political apparatus. In Munich I had met Darré
only casually. Once I accompanied him on a visit to the half-paralyzed Prince Henckel-Donnersmarck. He told
me then that my ideas in the Myth concerning the formation of a new nobility had interested him particularly,
since he himself was just about to finish a book on the subject. I always considered Darré a very valuable
addition to the party. This he certainly was, in spite of the way he was criticized later on. In 1933, Darré and
Himmler (who had been graduated from an agricultural college) became very close. The peasant leaders usually
joined the S.S., and Darré took over the management of the Race and Settlement Office, which he built up to a
remarkable degree of efficiency. As Darré told me later on, this alliance was a very practical one. When I
answered him that, as far as I was concerned, I could only stand by my own opinion, even if that should mean
my being entirely alone, he was a trifle embarrassed. And no doubt he thought of this conversation later, when
he was pushed out of office by Himmler. The peasant leaders belonged to the S.S., and any outside attempt to
disentangle them from it was hopeless in view of the police powers the S.S. possessed.
Darré considered this a breach of faith on Himmler's part, and this was obviously the cause of his distrust. He
felt himself constantly watched, probably because he rightly feared that Himmler would try to encircle him
ever closer to prevent any possibility of independent action on his part. Here Bormann helped along, as I
learned later; but even completely unbiased observers considered the later Darré to be a man who had lost his
balance. When I began to make my plans for future research within the framework of the high school as a task
for my waning years, Darré, who had been sent on leave, visited me. We discussed several problems still very
much in their preliminary stages. Darré planned to write a history of agrarian law from its Germanic
beginnings, and also spoke about other plans that gave evidence of his great knowledge and initiative. I
received Darré, who at one time had spoken so coolly about spiritual comradeship, very amiably. After he left
Berlin to live in a small house in the Schorfheide, I did not speak to him again until he was forced to move into
the Bunker Tower in the Tiergarten because he had to undergo a difficult operation. We both deplored the
conversion of the party into a spiritual dictatorship under the incompetent head of the Party Office; something
that would necessarily have to provoke opposition. In other words, he also diagnosed a central illness, of which
there had been certain symptoms even as early as 1939, but which only the coming of the war made dangerous
for all we had fought for through twenty years. Bormann's deplorable round-robin letters, his narrow-minded
attitude in connection with the appointment of Gauleiter and their assistants, his invariably radical stand on
questions of policy, and so on, were considered by both of us to be fatal for the future. As for his own
elimination from active duty, Darré stated quite calmly that, just as he had formerly accepted the positive side
of the system, he would now have to accept the negative side, too, even though it hurt him personally. That he
was hurt was obvious.
When I was appointed Minister for the East, I suggested Sauckel, the Gauleiter of Thuringia,
as Reich Commissioner for the Ukraine. Unfortunately, this proposal was rejected, to the disadvantage of
the Reich. Instead the Führer accepted Koch, who had been suggested by Göring. The Führer esteemed
Sauckel particularly highly, and wanted to keep him available for a better appointment.
When I began to prepare the eastern territories ministry for a possible war, Doctor Todt begged me to
institute a special office for technical problems. Nor did he, in doing so, think of prerogatives. He simply wanted to
have really competent technicians working in the East. Early in July, 1941, he spent an afternoon at my office where
all pertinent problems were satisfactorily solved. He admitted without question the desirability of a central
administrative office. I, in turn, asked him to assign some capable men to my central office in Berlin, where they
could handle his technical problems in accord with his special wishes. Todt figured that men, who for years would
be active in the East, would be valuable for work in the Reich itself later on. Speer, however, wanted a more rigid
organization and, adorned with all the laurels of advance publicity, managed to coax the Führer into removing the
technical department from the jurisdiction of the eastern administration. This would not let the others -- middle-class
minds gone berserk -- rest until they had been given their own little authority over other subdivisions of the eastern
administration, which should, by right, have been strictly
unified. When I became Minister for the East, I asked Doctor Meyer to act as my permanent representative. He
accepted the post immediately, and worked hard to get an insight into the new problems. That he could not
forever maintain this position as the vice-leader of a supreme Reich authority, since he remained at the same
time a subordinate, made his work difficult at times. But he remained just as loyal and decent throughout the
years as he had been in the beginning. I wish we had had similar little Gauleiter everywhere! When the last few
days of the war were upon us, we took leave of each other. He went out to help defend his Gau. In Mondorf I
heard that he was dead. Killed? A suicide? That man was a genuine National Socialist -- not Bormann -- not
The fact that the Führer had assigned me to the leadership of our eastern policy displeased
Himmler and Bormann considerably. And since nothing could be done about it directly, they tried indirectly.
The Führer, who up to then had accepted my ideas without reservation, suddenly assumed a much changed
attitude when he referred to a memorandum which, according to him, gave to the entire eastern problem a
wholly different aspect than the opinions held by some of our gentlemen, meaning me. The mysterious
memorandum, which was mentioned again later, I never saw. This, then, is how my difficult fight for a more
generous treatment of the fateful problem of the East began. Step by step the most urgent matters were taken
care of, but much that was important was neglected. Precious, irreplaceable time was lost. But Martin Bormann
harshly upheld the interests of the Reich against the soft Rosenberg who might have had more sympathy for the
Slavic people than would be advantageous to eastern policies in war times, and Himmler reinforced this attitude
by insisting upon exclusive authority in combating the partisans.
The demands I made in my speech of June 20, 1941, on our eastern policies, were turned down.
Himmler, Koch, and Bormann swaggered all over the place. And when volunteer battalions were recruited from
among the eastern people, Himmler moved heaven and earth to get them under his command. This was easy
with the Estonians and the Letts, since they were considered Germanic peoples. But when it came to the others,
formerly so despised as Asiatics, there was a great to-do at the Leader's Headquarters about deposing the
general of these volunteers with whom I was on very friendly terms. As for the Cossacks, they were acceptable,
at least as far as their use in the Balkans went. The Russian General Vlassov, maligned and spat upon for two
years, whose appointment I had endorsed since 1942, suddenly became popular toward the end of 1944, when
Himmler, without informing me, began to influence Hitler in his favor. This was bound to offend all the other
brave non-Russian combatants in the East. Himmler knew nothing about the East; what he gradually learned
from me about Berger was superficial, and even when he realized that my ideas were right, he still wanted to be
the one to translate them into actuality, no matter how. Sometimes without, sometimes with, the aid of Vlassov,
depending upon how it suited his sickly mania for power. Not as a strong personality, not as a brilliant thinker,
but always as an insidious traducer and Jesuitic trickster.
In June, 1943, I invited two Gauleiter to accompany me on a trip to the Ukraine. They were
wide-eyed when, from my special train, they saw the vast spaces of the East. Everything there simply burst out
of the accustomed dimensions: the wheat fields, the Tauric steppe, the cherry orchards. They heard the reports
of the district commissioners on the immense improvements made in the fields of agriculture and handicraft,
and the worries and wishes of the local population. They listened to the blustering of Reich Commissioner
Koch, who more than once displayed his peacock-like vanity. Then we visited Ascania Kova, the tree and bird
sanctuary in the steppe, the work of the German colonist Falz-Fein. Shortly thereafter we were in the Crimea,
in its magnificent Botanical Gardens, and in the peaceful mood of the evening drank some of the sweet wine of
the country. We visited Livadia, and slept where it had once been Schinkel's artistic dream to build a castle
above the Black Sea. We passed through Simeis where, twenty-six years ago, I had spent a summer, and
looked down on the Black Sea from the Baider Gate.
In 1944, when the Army Group Middle anticipated a backward shift of the front, and the
population in this space seemed in danger, General Kluge asked the Ministry for the East to remove the
children of ten to fourteen in time to guarantee their safety. I, he said, was the one who would handle this task
loyally. But when the same proposal reached me from other sources, I declined because I did not wish to lay
myself open to the charge of having deported helpless children. However, when I was pressed
still more urgently, and realized that at least a partial evacuation was inevitable, I agreed to do the work,
provided that the children were properly cared for by a number of White Ruthenian women, and that it was
made possible for them to communicate with their parents, and so on. Five thousand children came to Dessau,
where I assured myself they were given adequate care. The older ones decently clothed, the younger ones either
in schools under Russian teachers, or in outdoor kindergartens. A White Ruthenian woman thanked me with
tears in her eyes. For the older boys the Junkers Airplane Works had prepared drawings with Russian texts,
giving the German names, in transliteration, of all the tools in use. The relationship between these boys and the
German workers was excellent, in contrast to that with the Italians who had been there before. When I returned
to Berlin I told the head of the youth department of the Ministry for the East, who had taken over the
supervision of this work: It would be nice if our own boys could be trained like this; but they must practice
shooting instead!
I had never considered it possible that Gauleiter Koch would someday play a role in more than a
very limited territory, certainly not a role that would actually reach over into the field of world politics. Koch
had become a National Socialist at the time of the French invasion of the Ruhr. He came from Barmen-
Elberfeld, the twin cities with the 150 sects, became a railroad official, and participated in the passive resistance
against the Poincaré French. Around 1928, Hitler appointed Koch Gauleiter for East Prussia. What he did there
I do not really know. After the Machtübernahme there were rumors about the harsh methods he employed, but
also favorable reports about his display of initiative in the economic field. In any case, it was East Prussia that
was the first Gau to report the complete elimination of unemployment. The few times I talked to Koch he
impressed me as being a carefree old Nazi, given to a bit of bragging and somewhat loudmouthed, but rather
kind. But later I had a few experiences that made me distrustful of Koch's judgment and character. In 1933 and
thereafter, Bolshevik polemics against the National Socialists were, understandably, extraordinarily vicious and
were countered by us in kind. Koch, however, assumed a markedly different attitude, probably because he
wanted to call attention to himself. His spiritual mentor at that time was a writer by the name of Weber-Krohse,
a so-called landscape-politician. That is, he wanted to handle all politics in relationship to the great plain in the
East, of which Poland as well as Eastern Germany is a part. A contributing factor was the influence of Möller
van den Bruck, an admirer of the so-called eastern spirit. Koch published a few articles on the subject, and
Weber called on me a few times at my office. In the most comradely way I pointed out to him that these
theories were completely untenable, that very little was generally known about the East, and I requested him to
inform Koch accordingly. For a long time after that I paid no more attention to these things, but Koch published
his collected articles in a book entitled Aufbau des Ostens (Development of the East). In it he preached the unity
of great spaces, expressed his trust in the youth of Dostoyevsky and Johann Huss, and called the youth of Soviet
Russia, the Orient of German youth. Koch became more and more a conceited braggart. But he was a favorite of
Göring, who had a high regard for Koch's economic talents. When the problem of administering the eastern
territories became acute, Koch's name popped up. He was backed by Göring, who considered him an expert,
and recommended by Bormann. I realized even then that Koch was dangerous because he was erratic, and
because he was resolved not to let Berlin interfere. In the beginning I was anxious to keep Koch out of the
Balticum, and succeeded in doing so;
then I intended to use him in Russia proper, and to get somebody else for the important Ukraine. I had counted
on Sauckel or Backe. As I learned later, Koch had not only worked on Göring, but had also begged Backe and
Funk for their support. He pointed out how successful he had been in East Prussia with the raising of pigs, and
promised to extend this plan on a large scale over all of Russia, and thus make it a vast source of meat supplies
for the Reich. So Göring won the argument in our conference of July 16, 1941, and Koch became Reich
Commissioner for the Ukraine. He was told about my opposition, a fact which considerably embittered the little
would-be great man. I still do not know definitely whether the memorandum concerning the Ukraine had a
decisive influence on Hitler, or whether it merely caused my opponents, accustomed to pay heed to Hitler's
moods, to redouble their efforts against me; and probably I will never know. In any case Koch, who had only
recently called the Soviet youth the Orient of our own youth, was now the most rabid advocate of necessary
harshness on the part of the Reich, and the rejection of a centralized government and economic-cultural
autonomy for the Ukraine. I tried no fewer than eight times to induce Hitler to change this course. Twice he
gave me an argument that was also bandied about by Koch: Once before, in 1918, he said, Germany had met
the Ukraine half-way. The result had been the murder of the German General, Field Marshal von Eichhorn, by
Ukrainian nationalists. He maintained that it would be dangerous in the midst of a war to permit political
centralization. I answered briefly that I considered the report about von Eichhorn's murder false. The State
Archives at Potsdam had enabled me to find out what had really happened. The documents available showed
beyond doubt that von Eichhorn had been murdered by a Russian social revolutionary named Donskoi, aided
by two Jews who escaped arrest. Donskoi was executed in August, 1918. Through Bormann I informed the
Führer accordingly, but never knew whether Bormann passed on the report to him. Nor could the entire matter
have been considered a political argument, anyway. Koch and a small circle surrounding him constantly
sneered at the backwardness of the Slavs, and so on. This provoked me into issuing an order to the effect that
all boastful talk about superior lordliness was to be stopped, and that a decent and just attitude toward the
Ukrainians was to be observed. I also issued comprehensive instructions on the reorganisation of the local
school system. But to each one of these Koch managed to add a twist of his own to establish his independence.
Upon the occasion of my first visit, in 1942, he started a row with some of my assistants. In 1943, he constantly
horned in on conversations with Field Marshals Kleist and Manstein, and insisted upon coming along when I
inspected factories and offices, and so on, always because of the fear bordering on mania that he might be
looked upon as one of the inspected rather than as one of the inspectors. A little man, he would pace up and
down, hands in pockets, strides as long as possible, and gabble about the things he had done, how Riecke had
interfered with his grandiose pig-raising plans, and so on, and so forth. He barked at a general commissioner,
and refused to shake hands with a mere district commissioner when he was promoted. Koch was a foil for
Bormann, who twice refused to answer when I asked him whether the Reich Commissioners had behind my
back submitted memoranda on my activities. Himmler also opposed me constantly. Accomplishments of the
usually extremely capable territorial commissioners and agricultural leaders were credited to Koch's energy
when they were really due to the common sense of the lesser officials who were in constant touch with the
people. As I heard in 1945, Hitler once spoke about Koch's trustworthy eyes. In other words, Koch's cheap
performances at the Führer Headquarters had always been effective. I wonder whether the Führer eventually
recognized the fallacy of his attitude. The very capable District Commissioner, Schmerbeck, later got, again
through Bormann, a large construction job in connection
with the defense of Holland. He executed the task well, but Bormann took the credit. My last chance to speak to
Hitler was in November, 1943, but Schmerbeck was ushered into his presence, for Bormann's glorification, as
late as the end of 1944. Telling me about his conversation, he said that the Führer expressed his great
appreciation and, pointing to the Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross) and to the Kriegsverdienstkreuz (War Merit
Cross), said he noticed that Schmerbeck already had been decorated. Schmerbeck: I received this decoration
from Reich Minister Rosenberg. Only because he had followed my instructions, he added, had he been able to
achieve success in the Ukraine. If he had listened to Koch, he would probably have been slain by the people.
The Führer was silent for a while, obviously a trifle embarrassed, and then spoke about something else. It was
really a rather painful tragedy that I was forced to tangle with this person who had been pushed into the
foreground, while others in the background, themselves irresponsible, secured the protection of the Chief of
State for this puffed-up mannequin. Mine was a fight for a large-scale conception of the eastern problem; my
goal, the incorporation of the peoples of Eastern Europe into the fate of the whole continent, a constant fight
against the primitivity of others. I note in passing that as late as the end of 1944, the Führer replaced Löhse,
who suffered from an ailment that was partly real, partly political, by Koch. Lammers told me about it, hinting
that I was not to interfere. Then Koch assembled all administrative leaders in Riga and, leaning his heavy jowls
on his hand, said: I am accustomed to have my orders obeyed. Anyone who forgets this, I'll break. He followed
this up with his usual tirades, even though it was by then quite obvious that there was nothing more to be done
than supervise the evacuation. I told Lammers about this meeting, and added a few well-chosen words of my
own. If anyone should have obeyed Bormann's order “Be victorious or die!” it was this loud-mouthed Gauleiter
of East Prussia. When the battle raged in the streets of venerable old Königsberg, he was in Pillau. Yet when the
commander capitulated, along with the remainder of his division, Bormann -- obviously at Koch's instigation --
decreed that the general be condemned to death by hanging for cowardice. The Gauleiter had been completely
taken by surprise, since he was at a different sector of the front. The assistant Gauleiter and the Kreisleiter were
engaged in the life and death struggle for Königsberg. In the meantime, Koch boarded a fully loaded steamer in
Pillau, and left his Gau post-haste. I know that he later was in Flensburg and thence fled to parts unknown. I did
not see him. And since then I have heard nothing about him.
In the beginning Hitler seemed not disinclined to accept my proposals that the East be ruled with
three-quarters psychology and only one-quarter force. But later he got entangled in other ideas, and lost all that
feeling for space which he still had when I was appointed: The comprehension that the East was a continent in
itself, in connection with which I was to counsel and help him. In 1944, I read Coulaincourt's Memoirs of
Napoleon, and was amazed to find that his attitude toward Russia was similar to mine. Coulaincourt warned
Napoleon about the Russian winter, but Napoleon declared that by that time the war would be over.
Coulaincourt said Alexander would not conclude a peace treaty. Napoleon replied that none of them understood
politics, and he himself knew better. Once he was in Moscow, the Czar would soon enough make peace. In
both cases, luck went against them before Moscow. Just as Napoleon had refused to call upon the Russian
peasants to revolt, so Hitler, applauded by his confidants, rejected my proposals regarding the political and
cultural autonomy of all the peoples of Eastern Europe and their induction into the life of the Continent.


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