Rosenberg, Alfred

Education and early political career

Alfred Ernst Rosenberg was born January 12th, 1893, in Reval, the present-day Tallinin, the Estonian capital, at the time part of Czarist Russia. His parents were Baltic Germans. His father was a wealthy salesman from a Latvian family of Huguenots, his mother was of Estonian lineage and originated from Reval.

Rosenberg studied architecture at the Polytechnical Institute in Riga where he was a member of a pro-German group of students. He continued his studies at Moscow University, graduating in 1917. In Moscow, he was a witness to the communist revolution. He supported the counter revolutionaries and became a rabid anti-communist. After the establishment of the new governemnt in Moscow, he immediately returned to Reval. From Estonia, independent meanwhile, Rosenberg left for Germany via Paris in Novembver 1918. Like so many other emigrants from Russia, he settled down in Munich. His stay in Moscow at the time of the revolution would have a profound impact on the development of his ideological ideas with his loathing of Russia in general and of communism in particular being a few central subjects.

In January 1919, Rosenberg became one of the first members of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (D.A.P., German Workers Party), an extreme rightwing splinterparty, based in Munich which focused mainly on rebuilding Germany’s military strength after the lost First World War. Adolf Hitler (Bio Hitler), at the time a completely unknown local politician would join the D.A.P. in October 1919. Like the other later well known Nazis like Rudolf Hess (Bio Hess) and Hans Frank (Bio Frank), Rosenberg was a member of the Thule-Gesellschaft, an anti-Semitic, rightwing extremist organisation that actively resisted the communist city council of Munich. On February 24th, 1920, partly with members of the D.A.P. and under the direction of Hitler, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartie (N.S.D.A.P. or National socialist German Workers Party) was established. Not surprisingly, Rosenberg also joined the new party. He received member number 625. In 1921 Rosenberg became editor and in 1923 Schriftleiter (editor in chief) of the partyorgan Völkische Beobachter (People’s Observer).

On November 9th, 1923, Rosenberg participated in the failed Bierhalleputsch. This made him one of the Alte Kämpfer (Old warriors) of the movement. Later he would be awarded the Blutorden for this, a decoration especially instituted for these veteran warriors. The putsch was an attempt by Hitler to violently overthrow the Bavarian govenrment. A number of Bavarian officials were having a meeeting in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich and Hitler barged in with his SA raiders. The officials were arrested and unrest erupted in the streets of Munich. In the Residenzstrasse, this led to a firefight where Hitler and his followers were arrested. Hitler would spend a year in Landsberg prison. The N.S.D.A.P. was banned.

During his imprisonment, Hitler named Rosenberg the leader of the movement during his forced absence. Rosenberg established the Grossdeutsche Volksgemeinschaft (Greater German People’s Association), a replacement of the N.S.D.A.P., which would exist until the re-establishment of the N.S.D.A.P. in 1925. Later on Hitler remarked in private that his choice of Rosenberg had been a tactical one. He considered Rosenberg a man of a weak personality lacking initiative. The last thing Hitler wanted was a temporary leader who was popular and striving for power; after all, a person like that was likely not to give up his position easily after Hitler’s release. Whatever it was, Rosenberg frequently visited Hitler in prison and later claimed he had helped him to write Mein Kampf. How much of the contents of the book can be attributed to Rosenberg remains unclear but his ideas have shaped the politician Hitler in large measure.

Little is known about Alfred Rosenberg’s private life. In 1915, he married Hilda Leesmann, an ethic Estonian. He divorced her in 1923 and in 1925 he married Hedwig Kramer. This marriage would last until his death. They had two children: a son who died at an early age and in 1930 a daughter Irene. She has always refused all contact with those wanting to speak to her about her father.


Alte Kämpfer
“Old fighters”. German soldiers with experience on the war front. Sometimes used within the NSDAP for those who had been fighting for the same cause before. Soldiers with battle experience were considered heroes by recruits and the home front, especially towards the end of the war.
“Blood Order”. German decoration awarded in 1934 to those members of the NSDAP who had participated in the Bierhalleputsch of 1923.
Political ideology originating from the work of Karl Marx “Das Kapital” written in 1848 as a reaction to the so-called class struggle between the proletariat (labourers) and the bourgeoisie. According to Marx the proletariat would take over power from the well-to-do classes though a revolution. The communist movement aspires an ideal situation where the means of production and the means of consumption are common property of all citizens. This should end poverty and inequality (communis = common).
Mein Kampf
“My Struggle”. Book written by Adolf Hitler, outlining the principles of National Socialism.
Coup, often involving the use of violence.
Usually sudden and violent reversal of existing (political) the political set-up and situations.

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Reval at the time of Rosenberg’s childhood

Postage stamp of 1935 in memory of the putsch of November 9th, 1923
(Source: Public Domain)

The Blood Order


Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Article by:
Robert Jan Noks
Published on:
Last edit on:
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