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Max von Scheubner-Richter and Alfred Rosenberg

Ludwig Maximilian Scheubner-Richter and Alfred Rosenberg were Baltic Germans, Scheubner-Richter from Latvia, Rosenberg from Estonia and the son of a wealthy German merchant.

In 1905 Latvia was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and Scheubner-Richter at age 21 fought against an attempt at revolution in Latvia that year. The revolutionaries saw themselves as fighting against Latvia's German landowners and against tsarist rule. Scheubner-Richter joined one of the private armies that fought for the status-quo, and he married the daughter of a manufacturer whose factory he had guarded – adding his wife's family name, Scheubner, to his family name, Richter.

Both Scheubner-Richter and Rosenberg were educated at tsarist institutions. Rosenberg, nine years younger, studied architecture at the Riga Technical Institute and engineering at Moscow University, completing his Ph.D. studies in 1917.

During the Great War of 1914-18, Scheubner-Richter served as a German vice council in Turkey, where he became familiar with the mass killings of Armenians under Turkish rule. He then went to Russia and was involved in anti-Bolshevik activities. Rosenberg also sided with those hostile to the Soviet regime that took power in November 1917. And by 1918, well before the anti-Bolshevik forces were defeated in Russia's civil war, the two were in Germany – a terrible year for the Germans. Meanwhile, Scheubner-Richterr had become a mentor Rosenberg.

In 1921, at the age of 28, Rosenberg joined Hitler's political party. Scheubner-Richter was closer to Hitler, providing him with a lengthy plan to seize power – the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923 – Hitler apparently believing that Scheubner-Richter, five years older than he, was a man of political experience and street-wise. In a march with Hitler that confronted the government forces against the coup, Scheubner-Richter was shot and killed instantly. His arm had been linked with Hitler's and his fall brought Hitler down with him, dislocating Hitler's shoulder.

Hitler went to prison, and he put Scheubner-Richter's friend, Rosenberg, at the head of his political party. Hitler believed that in his absence Rosenberg was his best choice because Rosenberg was weak and lazy – not popular or hungry for power enough to threaten his leadership.

In 1929, the National Socialists put Rosenberg at the head of the Militant League for German Culture. Then he headed the Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question. In 1930, Rosenberg became a deputy for the National Socialists in Germany's parliament. In 1933, after Hitler became chancellor, Rosenberg was named leader of the party's foreign political office. And in 1934, at the age of 41, he was deputized by Hitler as party leader responsible for education.

Rosenberg wrote a book, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, said to be second in influence to Hitler's Mein Kampf. In it he joined those who thought they knew what God was doing: he claimed that God created racial differences – rather than racial differences having developed after His creation. Struggling in a field in which he had no formal training, Rosenberg dabbled in history, relying more on presumption than researching questions inspired by doubt. And Dr. Rosenberg was not shy about expressing grand conclusions about historical development. He proposed that migrating Aryans had founded various ancient civilizations and that these civilizations declined or fell because of Aryan inter-marriage with lesser races. Rosenberg saw invasions of the Roman empire by Germans as "saving" a civilization that had been corrupted by Christianity. Christianity, he pointed out, was Jewish in origin.

Rosenberg failed to explain the corrupt rule of the Germanic Carolingian kings and countless other instances of failure concerning moral sensibilities among Europeans of Germanic ancestry up to and including incidents during World War I.

Rosenberg seemed to borrow from Schopenhauer when he wrote of the energetic will to power that belonged to the "Aryan race." Rosenberg, but not Schopenhauer, implied that this will to power contributed to morality – as if the conquests and enslavement by nomadic Aryan Greeks of farming communities was necessarily a moral act.

Rosenberg believed that the "higher races" should rule over the lower races and not interbreed with them. Cross-breeding, he claimed, destroyed God's divine plan of racial differences. He wrote of the need to purify "race soul" by eliminating non-Aryan elements in much the same ruthless and uncompromising way in which a surgeon would cut a cancer from a diseased body.

According to Rosenberg, modern culture had been corrupted by Semitic influences. Rather than championing freedom as some have claimed, he was the champion of freedom only for those Aryans who agreed with him and his leader, Hitler. Ranking Jews as an inferior and polluting breed, he made the Jews a target enemy, and movements needed a target enemy. Everything blameworthy was being blamed on the Jews.

Rosenberg sided with Hitler's brand of social engineering He postured morally by declaring modern art degenerate. Germans who were pure Aryans, he implied, had an innate moral sensibility.

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