Under the influence of Haushofer, Hitler authorized Frederick Hielscher, in 1935, to establish the Ahnenerbe (Bureau for the Study of Ancestral Heritage), with Colonel Wolfram von Sievers as its head. Among other functions, Hitler charged it with researching Germanic runes and the origins of the swastika, and locating the source of the Aryan race. Tibet was the most promising candidate.
Alexander Csoma de Körös (Körösi Csoma Sandor) (1784-1842) was a Hungarian scholar obsessed with the quest to find the origins of the Hungarian people. Based on the linguistic affinities between Hungarian and the Turkic languages, he felt that the origins of the Hungarian people were in “the land of the Yugurs (Uighurs)” in East Turkistan (Xinjiang, Sinkiang). He believed that if he could reach Lhasa, he would find there the keys for locating his homeland.
Hungarian, Finnish, the Turkic languages, Mongolian, and Manchu belong to the Ural-Altaic family of languages, also known as the Turanian family, after the Persian word Turan for Turkestan. From 1909, the Turks had a pan-Turanian movement spearheaded by a society known as the Young Turks. The Hungarian Turanian Society soon followed in 1910 and the Turanian Alliance of Hungary in 1920. Some scholars believe that the Japanese and Korean languages also belong to the Turanian family. Thus, the Turanian National Alliance was founded in Japan in 1921 and the Japanese Turanian Society in the early 1930s. Haushofer was undoubtedly aware of these movements, which sought the origins of the Turanian race in Central Asia. It fit in well with the Thule Society’s search for the origins of the Aryan race there as well. His interest in Tibetan culture added weight to the candidacy of Tibet as the key to finding a common origin for the Aryan and Turanian races and for gaining the power of vril that its spiritual leaders possessed.
Haushofer was not the only influence on the Ahnenerbe’s interest in Tibet. Hielscher was a friend of Sven Hedin, the Swedish explorer who had led expeditions to Tibet in 1893, 1899-1902, and 1905-1908, and an expedition to Mongolia in 1927-1930. A favorite of the Nazis, Hitler invited him to give the opening address at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Hedin engaged in pro-Nazi publishing activities in Sweden and made numerous diplomatic missions to Germany between 1939 and 1943.
In 1937, Himmler made the Ahnenerbe an official organization attached to the SS (Germ. Schutzstaffel, Protection Squad) and appointed Professor Walther Wüst, chairman of the Sanskrit Department at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, as its new director. The Ahnenerbe had a Tibet Institut (Tibet Institute), which was renamed the Sven Hedin Institut für Innerasien und Expeditionen (Sven Hedin Institute for Inner Asia and Expeditions) in 1943.