Alfred Rosenberg, left, with Adolf Hitler
WILMINGTON, DEL - Federal officials and representatives from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington have confirmed that a long-lost diary kept by a close confidant of Adolph Hitler has been recovered, after being located in Niagara County, nearly 70 years after it disappeared.
At a news conference Thursday morning they revealed that the "Rosenberg Diary" -- one of the most sought after pieces of missing World War II history, was recovered on April 5th in Lewiston.
However, they would not identify the person from whom it was seized, or state why they would not identify that person.
The diary, according to officials, contains references to-among other things--plans to conduct the holocaust and mass extermination of Jews.
According to Reuters, the diary was found to be in the possession of Herbert Richardson, an 80 year-old Canadian, who operates an academic publishing house in a non-descript building on Portage Road in Lewiston.
Richardson has not returned phone calls from Two on Your Side seeking comment.
A seizure warrant, a copy of which was obtained by WGRZ-TV, does not disclose the location of where the diary was found either.
Read the Rosenberg Diary Seizure Warrant.
The recovery of the Rosenberg Diary came after an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
According to HSI, "The "Rosenberg Diary" was written by Alfred Rosenberg, one of the most notorious members of the Third Reich and of the Nazi Party during World War II. Rosenberg was privy to much of the planning for the Nazi racial state, mass murder of the Jewish people, planning and conduct of World War II and the occupation of Soviet territory. As such, his diary entries could provide historians with a potential wealth of previously unknown information regarding the history of this period."
Rosenberg was a defendant at the Nuremberg Trials, during which he was convicted for conspiracy to commit aggressive warfare, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Rosenberg was hanged Oct. 16, 1946.
However, the diaries he kept, used as key evidence in his prosecution, vanished.
Officials stated publicly Thursday what had long been assumed -- that the diaries had been spirited out of Germany and to America by one of the Nuremberg prosecutors, Robert Kempner.
According to HSI: Allied forces advancing through Germany seized documents, books, and other records of strategic or tactical importance. After the surrender of Germany in May 1945, governmental authority for Germany was placed into allied hands. This authority included ownership of all documents created by the defeated German government or captured by allied forces. To prepare for war crimes trials after the cessation of hostilities, agencies of the U.S. government examined and selected relevant documents as potential evidence.
Among the documents seized by allied forces was the Rosenberg Diary.
At the conclusion of the Nuremberg Tribunals, Kempner returned to the United States and lived in Lansdowne, Pa. Contrary to law and proper procedure, Kempner removed various documents, including the Rosenberg Diary, from U.S. government facilities in Nuremberg and retained them until his death in 1993."
The recovery of the diary was announced Thursday by ICE Director John Morton; U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III, District of Delaware; and Henry Mayer, senior advisor on archives at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
"This important record of the crimes of the Third Reich and the Holocaust is now preserved for all to see, study and learn from. Combating the international theft of cultural heritage is a key part of our work, and no matter how long these items may appear to be lost to history, work will continue," said Morton.
Morton added that, "we believe that what we have recovered is the original (diary). We also believe there are no copies, and therefore, this document is truly one of a kind," before stating, "reading the diary is like looking into the mind of a dark soul."
"The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is thrilled to have recovered the diary of Alfred Rosenberg, a leading Nazi ideologue," said U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. "As we build the collection of record on the Holocaust, having material that documents the actions of both perpetrators and victims is crucial to helping scholars understand how and why the Holocaust happened. The story of this diary demonstrates how much material remains to be collected and why rescuing this evidence is such an important museum priority."
The Odyssey of the Rosenberg Diary:
While it has widely been reported that the Rosenberg Diary was in the possession of Richardson, who in 1999 was found to be in possession of several other papers once kept by Kempner, federal authorities have yet to confirm that.
And while they were careful not to even mention his name on Thursday, they made several veiled references to a person who has many markers of being Richardson, while divulging details of the search for the diary which began in earnest 17 years ago, three years after Kempner died at the age of 93.
"In March of 1996, on the 50th Anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials, two of Kempner's former legal secretaries approached the Holocaust Museum," said Henry Mayer, the museum's senior advisor on archives.
"They urged us to approach Mr. Kempner's two surviving children and urge them to turn over all his personal papers the Holocaust Museum, and they eventually agreed."
Mayer said that in 1997, a team of museum librarians, historians, and archivists visited the house and found a cache of documents related to the Third Reich.
"There was an unfortunate lapse, and we were not allowed to re-enter the home until two years later, after some legal issues had been resolved," Mayer said.
According to Mayer, when the team received notification that they could re-enter the home in 1999, they returned to find "much of the collection we observed in 1997 to be gone."
Mayer says soon thereafter, they were informed that a truck had arrived with one of the legal secretaries and her "friend" from "Upstate New York" who had removed the collection.
(It was reported in 1999 by the Philadelphia Inquirer that Richardson persuaded Kempner's former legal secretary, Margot Lipton, who had been allowed to live in Kempner's home following his death, to sign over legal decision-making power to him and move to an assisted-living facility in Lewiston before persuading her to move Kempner's estate in November 1998)
"We went to Lewiston, NY to the home of a 'former academic' and after a bit of, how you might say, 'negotiating' we were allowed to retrieve the material," Mayer said. "But the story didn't stop there."
Mayer says that in 2001, the museum was tipped to the existence of several more Kempner documents, in a storage locker in Amherst.
"These turned out to be materials not shown to us before," said Mayer, who went on to explain that those documents were eventually retrieved by the museum under court order.
Still, the Rosenberg Diary remained elusive.
"Throughout this time we still searched for the long lost diary but it never appeared," Mayer said.
"After retrieving the material from Amherst, the sister of Kempner's legal secretary recalled hearing that her sister gave the Rosenberg Diary to a 'friend' for safe keeping," said Mayer.
"We tried along with the Department of Justice all legal manner to obtain the diary," Mayer said.
According to Mayer, in 2012 the museum hired Robert Wittman, a retired FBI agent turned private investigator, noted for his success in recovering stolen artwork, in its effort to track down the Rosenberg Diary.
"It was determined to be in the hands of of Kempner's secretary's 'friend'," said Mayer. "Subsequently, we convinced this 'friend' that it belonged to the Holocaust Museum, and we were able to retrieve it on April 5th of 2013."
The U.S Attorney for Delaware, whose office was involved in the recovery, would not comment on whether anyone will face criminal charges.
"We won't speak to whether a crime was committed," said Morton. "But we are confident the documents belong to the United States, and want to ensure that record is clear from here forward."
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 on Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Scott May. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2