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« Tuna 4 / 2019

A Few Words about Alfred Rosenberg’s Political Diary

This article focuses primarily on the diary published in 2015, and on Rosenberg’s activity in the field of foreign policy, relying on other sources. In the spring of 1941, Hitler assigned him the task of presenting proposals for policy to be implemented in the parts of the Soviet Union that were to be occupied. A memorandum presented on 2 April and numerous other documents suggested that the Ostgebiete be divided up into six regions and that different policies should be implemented in regard to different nationalities. Rosenberg insisted: we have to turn half of our enemies into friends, and he considered the creation of a strong Ukrainian state to be particularly important as a counterbalance to Russia. The Crimea and part of southeastern Ukraine were meant to develop into an area settled by Germans. Rosenberg’s plans envisaged the Germanisation of the Baltic lands – Ostland – and their future incorporation into Germany. Half of the Estonians, somewhat less Latvians, and even fewer Lithuanians were considered racially suitable for Germanisation. The remainder of the populations of these nationalities were to be deported to Russian territories with the aim of forcing Slavs to move further east. Rosenberg also recommended using Germans living in the Volga region for Germanising the Baltic lands, along with representatives of other northern peoples, for instance Dutch, Scandinavians, and after the end of the war even the English. Rosenberg and Hitler reached an agreement that Russian would be taught in schools in the Baltic lands in addition to German because Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians were supposed to fill a leading role in Russian territories in the future. The final decision on the policy that was to be implemented in occupied territories was made at a meeting between Hitler, Keitel, Rosenberg, Bormann and Lammers on 16 July. Some of Rosenberg’s proposals were approved but Hitler ruled out the creation of a Ukrainian state and reiterated that only Germans would be allowed to bear arms. They placed their stakes on force and a policy of violence. Hitler gave Himmler special authorisation for exercising police authority, authorised Göring to exploit economic resources, and Sauckel to use manpower. Under such conditions, Rosenberg, who was appointed Minister of State for the occupied eastern territories on 17 July 1941, did not have practical authority, and his protests regarding the brutal actions of Koch, the State Commissar for Ukraine, and in relation to other questions were ignored. At the end of 1942, Rosenberg composed a memorandum together with Field Marshal Kluge and other military leaders on the need to temper occupation policy, stressing that the favour of the local population is needed during the war and also after the conclusion of peace, but Hitler did not even read it. When the front reached the vicinity of Narva in January of 1944, Rosenberg submitted a proposal to Hitler to evacuate the Estonians and Latvians, as the nationalities that were considered the most valuable in the eastern territories, to Germany well in advance. The German Ministry of Internal Affairs was prepared to receive 1.5 million people. Hitler consented to this idea as well, although he would allow this course of action to be implemented only as a last resort. As is known, Hitler did not want to abandon any territory anywhere that was in his possession and ultimately, the German forces withdrew in a hurry, so that they were unable to organise any mass evacuation, and for the most part, the planned destruction work was not carried out.