An excerpt from Alfred Rosenberg’s 1946 political testament, describing a form of multiparty National Socialist democracy
On the face of things Alfred Rosenberg might not be considered a typical example of heterodox political thought. Commonly regarded as the theoretician and ‘political philosopher’ of the Hitlerian National Socialist movement, Rosenberg was a deeply ideological man whose worldview and attitudes could be perceived as rigid even by his colleagues and contemporaries within the NSDAP – certainly the Allied authorities at Nuremberg regarded him as a hidebound fanatic, and he was charged as a war criminal. Yet Rosenberg exhibited his own independent streak at times, particularly in his position as Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories and most especially in his post-War Memoirs (published in German as Letzte Aufzeichnungen), written over the course of 1945-1946 while imprisoned as a defendant at the Nuremberg Trials. In his Memoirs Rosenberg is remarkably candid about the faults and failings of the Third Reich and the NSDAP. While he consistently defends National Socialism as a great and noble ideal, he also argues that its misuse and demoralization led Germany to ruin – whether through the excesses and overwhelming reach of the SS police state; the abuse of the justice system; the all-powerful role of the Party; and even the actions of his Führer Adolf Hitler, who Rosenberg contends was a great man undone by hubris. One of the most interesting of these sections is near the book’s conclusion, where Rosenberg criticizes the Reich’s over-authoritarian political system; argues that Hitler’s role as dictatorial Führer was originally intended only as a temporary measure; and sketches out an ideal, democratic, multiparty National Socialist system which he (rather unrealistically) seems to be suggesting would be suitable for Germany once freed from its present state of defeat and Allied occupation. This section of Rosenberg’s Memoirs is reproduced below, from the abridged Ostara Publications translation. I have made some minor revisions to the text to add several untranslated sections from the original German edition.
My Political Testament
Only Hitler Could be Supreme Leader: Next in Line Would Have to Have Been Elected
The leadership of Hitler was the necessary result of a great national awakening, the Führer state an organically sound re-creation of the idea of the Reich.
Leadership is as different from rulership as it is from chaos. Tyrant and masses belong together just as much as do leader and follower. The two are possible only if they are paired, and are held together in a common bond of duty.
The ever greater power given Hitler was a temporary exception, permissible only after a fourteen-year-long test. This was not one of the goals of the National Socialist idea of state.
The first leader had to come into power as Hitler did. All others were to be elected to serve only for a limited period of time.
Thus it was provided, though no Wahlgremium [electoral college] was founded. Before the Ordensrat [Order Council] of sixty-one men from all walks of life, anyone could, and would have to, speak confidently and freely.
Before it every minister would have to defend his measures. It was the National Socialist plan to find a strong personality for every given task, and to give that individual all the authority he needed.
Adolf Hitler later broke this rule which he himself had made when, to all practical intents and purposes, he put the chief of police over the minister for the interior, when he allowed special appointees in ever increasing numbers to break into fields of activity that had been circumscribed by elections, and when he permitted several distinct functions to be concentrated in a single new office. Naturally, these may have been emergency measures, justified in times of revolution and war; but they should never be tolerated as permanent practices. Continue reading