Saturday, September 27, 2008

Himmler's Crusade: The True Story of the 1938 Nazi Expedition to Tibet

n 1935, the Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler founded an organisation called Ancestral Heritage to uncover the hidden past of an imaginary Aryan race he and his Führer regarded as the noblest and most vital force in human history. Aryans had been unleashed on the world after divine thunderbolts shattered the primordial ice in which they were imprisoned. Himmler was also pretty keen to find gold in the river Isar or a red horse with a white mane, but that need not detain us.
Sanskrit underlay most modern languages focused 19th-century minds on the general area of northern India and Tibet as the ancestral home of the mythical Aryans. Hence one of the scientific missions Himmler sponsored was a multitasked expedition to Tibet under the leadership of ornithologist Ernst Schäfer. Schäfer recruited an anthropologist, Bruno Beger, to measure noses and skulls and to make face-masks; a geographer who specialised in the earth's geomagnetism; and someone handy with a film camera.

Himmler's Crusade by Christopher Hale

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