The long-lost diary of an elite Nazi leader who had the ear of Adolf Hitler found a new home in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., this week.
The 425-page, handwritten diary once belonged to Alfred Rosenberg, an important Nazi ideologue who spoke out about the Aryan struggle against Jews, looted European art treasures and was eventually charged with overseeing conquered territories during Germany's push into the Soviet Union, reports The Washington Post.
The existence of the document has long been known, according to LiveScience. The journal was used as evidence in the Nuremberg war crime trials following WWII, and helped lead to Rosenberg's conviction and execution in 1946. After the trials ended, Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Kempner brought the pages back with him to the United States. The diary vanished from Kempner's estate sometime in the 1990s, before the Holocaust Museum was able to secure permission to exhibit it, LiveScience reports.
It would be many years before the diary resurfaced, this time in the hands of Herbert Richardson, a former professor and Kempner secretary living in Lewiston, N.Y., The New York Times reports. Its discovery this June marked the culmination of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is tasked with tracking down lost and stolen cultural property, according to the Times.
"One of the enduring mysteries of the Second World War is what happened to the Rosenberg diary," ICE director John Morton said after securing the documents. "We have solved that mystery."
The diary was officially turned over to Holocaust Museum officials on Tuesday. Museum Director Sara Bloomfield told National Public Radio she hoped the diary "will contribute to our understanding of the nature and power of those ideas and, of course, the catastrophic consequences of them."
The Holocaust Museum has already posted scans of the diary's pages on its website alongside transcripts of the text in German.
"The Rosenberg diary will add to our understanding of the ideas that animated the extremist ideology of Nazism," Bloomfield said in a statement. "We are grateful to our partners at ICE who helped us secure this important piece of history, a significant addition in our urgent efforts to rescue the evidence of the Holocaust." Jurgen Matthaus, director of applied research at the museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, cautioned against expecting any "shattering revelations" about the Third Reich's Final Solution plans, however.
“There’s a lot of surprising material,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “This is not the smoking gun. This is not the silver bullet. This is more a piece of a huge puzzle with many pieces that all need to be brought together.”