AHNENERBE (German: , ancestral heritage) was a project in Nazi
Germany to research the archaeological and cultural history of the
Aryan race . Founded on July 1, 1935, by
Heinrich Himmler , Herman
Wirth , and
Richard Walther Darré
Richard Walther Darré , the
Ahnenerbe group later
conducted experiments and launched expeditions in an attempt to prove
that mythological Nordic populations had once ruled the world .
Originally, the official mission of
Ahnenerbe was to find new
evidence of the racial heritage of the
Germanic people ; however, due
to Himmler's obsession with occultism it quickly became his own occult
tool and started using pseudoscience . The group was formerly called
the Study Society for Primordial Intellectual history, German
Ancestral Heritage (Studiengesellschaft für Geistesurgeschichte‚
Deutsches Ahnenerbe), but it was renamed in 1937 as the Research and
Teaching Community of the Ancestral Heritage (Forschungs- und
Lehrgemeinschaft des Ahnenerbe). Heinrich Himmler,
Reichsführer-SS and founder of the
* 1 History and development
* 1.1 Institutes
* 2 Expeditions
* 2.3 Italy
* 2.4 Western Eurasia
* 2.5 New Swabia
* 2.6.3 Mauern
* 2.8 Tibet
* 2.10 Crimea
* 2.11 Ukraine
* 3 Cancelled expeditions
* 3.1 Bolivia
* 4 Other
* 4.1 Master Plan East
* 4.2 Failed seizure of
* 4.3 Headquarters relocation
* 5 Financing
* 6 Medical experiments
* 6.1 Dachau
* 6.2 Skulls
* 7 Post–
World War II
World War II
* 7.1 Trials
* 8 Influence
* 9 In popular culture
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 12 Bibliography
* 13 External links
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT
In January 1929,
Heinrich Himmler was appointed the leader of the
Schutzstaffel (SS). He launched a massive recruitment
campaign that expanded the SS from fewer than 300 members in 1929 to
10,000 in 1931. Once the SS had grown, Himmler began its
transformation into a "racial elite" of young Nordic males. This was
to be accomplished by a new bureaucracy, the Rasse- und
Siedlungshauptamt-SS (Race and Settlement Office of the SS), known as
RuSHA . Himmler appointed SS-
Obergruppenführer Richard Walther Darré
to lead the organisation, which determined if applicants were racially
fit to be in the SS. This brought about a campaign meant to educate
new applicants about their Nordic past through weekly classes taught
RuSHA graduates using the periodical
Starting in 1934, Himmler began financially supporting and visiting
excavations in Germany. This brought him into contact with
archaeologists like Alexander Langsdorff (de),
Hans Schleif , Werner
Buttler (de) and
Wilhelm Unverzagt , director of the Staatliches
Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Berlin. Initially, there were
two departments within the SS engaged in archaeology: the Abteilung
Ausgrabungen of the Persönlicher Stab des Reichsführers der SS and
the Abteilung für Vor- und Frühgeschichte at the RuSHA. The latter
("RA IIIB") was established in 1934 and was supposed to serve as a
"general staff" for all SS activities related to prehistory. It was
responsible for archaeological research and related propaganda and led
by Rolf Höhne, a geologist. Höhne was eventually replaced by Peter
Paulsen, an archaeologist, in October 1937. The department did not
conduct any excavations itself, but was intended to extend the
influence of the SS over other institutions, especially those
responsible for education/research and monument preservation. In fact,
Langsdorff did this in Himmler's personal staff. The department also
tried to make use of pre-history in the training and indoctrination of
SS members. When the
RuSHA was restructured, the department was
dissolved with its responsibilities passing to the Ahnenerbe. The
Abteilung Ausgrabung in Himmler's personal staff was established in
1935 on the initiative of Langsdorff. In March 1937, Höhne joined the
leadership of this department. By 1937, it was responsible for SS
excavations and maintained its own personnel for this activity.
On July 1, 1935, at SS headquarters in
Berlin , Himmler met with five
racial experts representing Darré and with
Herman Wirth , one of
Germany’s most famous but also most controversial prehistorians.
Together they established an organization called the "German Ancestral
Heritage—Society for the Study of the History of Primeval Ideas"
(Deutsches Ahnenerbe—Studiengesellschaft für Geistesurgeschichte),
shortened to its better-known form in 1937. At the meeting they
designated its official goal, “to promote the science of ancient
intellectual history,” and appointed Himmler as its superintendent,
with Wirth serving as its president. Himmler appointed Wolfram Sievers
Generalsekretär (General Secretary) of the Ahnenerbe.
Through 1937, the
Ahnenerbe was essentially engaged in amateur
völkisch research. Financial and academic pressure caused Himmler to
start looking for an alternative to Wirth as early as the spring of
1936. In September, Hitler negatively referred to Wirth's beliefs
Atlantis and their influence on "Böttcherstrasse
architecture" in a speech at the Reichsparteitag.
In March 1937, the
Ahnenerbe was given a new statute, implementing
Führerprinzip and giving Himmler extensive powers. Wirth was
deposed as president and appointed honorary president, a powerless
position. Himmler's position as Kurator was given more power.
Walther Wüst was appointed the new president of the Ahnenerbe. Wüst
was an expert on India and a dean at Ludwig Maximilians University of
Munich , working on the side as a Vertrauensmann for the
Sicherheitsdienst (SD, SS Security Service). Referred to as The
Orientalist by Wolfram Sievers, Wüst had been recruited by him in May
1936 because of his ability to simplify science for the common man.
After being appointed president, Wüst began improving the Ahnenerbe,
moving the offices to a new headquarters that cost 300,000 Reichsmark
in the Dahlem neighborhood of Berlin. He also worked to limit the
influence of “those he deemed scholarly upstarts,” which included
cutting communication with the
RuSHA office of
Karl Maria Wiligut .
The Generalsekretariat led by Sievers was turned into the
institution's Reichsgeschäftsführung. The
Ahnenerbe was renamed
Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft Das
Ahnenerbe e.V.. It was moved from
RuSHA to Himmlers's personal staff.
Wilhelm Teudt lost their departments in
Ahnenerbe in 1938.
In 1939, the statutes were changed again and Wirth was deposed as
honorary president. Himmler's and Wüsts' titles were
switched—Himmler now became president. Next to Wüst, the academic
with most influence in the institution after 1939 was Herbert Jankuhn
, who in 1937 still had categorically rejected cooperation with the
Ahnenerbe was a mix between an SS department and an Eingetragener
Verein . Membership was open to all natural and legal persons. Its
staff were SS members, many also working in other SS positions, and
thus subject to SS jurisdiction.
In late 1936,
Ahnenerbe took over the publication of Teudt's magazine
Germanien, first in cooperation with Teudt, then without him. The
monthly now became the official voice of
Ahnenerbe and was aimed at a
wider audience. From December 1936, the magazine was distributed free
of charge to all SS leaders.
Cooperation with other SS departments was initially limited but
improved after 1937. Contacts with the SD-HA and the editorial team of
the SS weekly Das schwarze Korps intensified.
Ahnenerbe eventually had
the scientific responsibility for the SS-Leithefte and in conjunction
with the SS-HA ,
Germanische Leitstelle and
In 1939, the
Ahnenerbe held its first independent annual convention,
at Kiel. The event's success contributed to the trend that
archaeologists were increasingly turning to the
Ahnenerbe and away
Alfred Rosenberg 's rival Reichsbund für Deutsche Vorgeschichte
In fiscal year 1938/39, the budget for the excavations department was
65,000 Reichsmark, about 12% of the Ahnenerbe's total budget. More
than a third of that went to the
Haithabu activities. Under Jankuhn's
direction four more archaeological departments were set up: in April
1938 the Forschungsstätte für naturwissenschaftliche Vorgeschichte
(a laboratory for analyzing pollen) was established at Dahlem under
the leadership of Rudolf Schütrumpf (de). The Forschungsstätte für
Wurtenforschung at Wilhelmshaven led by Werner Haarnagel (de), the
Forschungsstätte für germanisches Bauwesen led by Martin Rudolph and
the Forschungsstätte für Urgeschichte directed by Assien Bohmers
(de) followed in 1939.
The organization was incorporated into the
Allgemeine SS (General SS)
in January 1939.
List of Ahnenerbe institutes
Ahnenerbe had several different institutes or sections for its
departments of research. Most of these were archeological but others
included the Pflegestätte für Wetterkunde (Meteorology Section)
headed by Obersturmführer Dr
Hans Robert Scultetus , founded on the
Hanns Hörbiger 's
Welteislehre could be used to provide
accurate long-range weather forecasts, and a section devoted to
musicology , whose aim was to determine "the essence" of German music.
It recorded folk music on expeditions to
Finland and the Faroe
Islands, from ethnic Germans of the occupied territories, and in South
Tyrol. The section made sound recordings, transcribed manuscripts and
songbooks, and photographed and filmed instrument use and folk dances.
The lur , a Bronze Age musical instrument, became central to this
research, which concluded that Germanic consonance was in direct
conflict to Jewish atonalism .
In 1935, Himmler contacted a Finnish nobleman and author, Yrjö von
Grönhagen , after seeing one of his articles about the Kalevala
folklore in a Frankfurt newspaper. Grönhagen agreed to lead an
expedition through the
Karelia region of
Finland to record pagan
sorcerers and witches . Because there was uncertainty about whether
the Karelians would allow photography, the Finnish illustrator Ola
Forsell also accompanied the team. Musicologist Fritz Bose (de)
brought along a magnetophon , hoping to record pagan chants.
The team departed on their expedition in June 1936. Their first
success was with a traditional singer, Timo Lipitsä (fi), who knew a
song closely resembling one in the
Kalevala although he was unaware of
the book. Later, in
Tolvajärvi , the team photographed and recorded
Hannes Vornanen playing a traditional Finnish kantele .
One of the team’s final successes was in finding Miron-Aku, a
soothsayer believed to be a witch by locals. Upon meeting the group,
she claimed to have foreseen their arrival. The team persuaded her to
perform a ritual for the camera and tape recorder in which she
summoned the spirits of ancestors and "divine future events." The team
also recorded information on Finnish saunas .
Scan from Wirth's 1931 book Was Heisst Deutsch?
After a slide show on February 19, 1936, of his trip to
Bohuslän , a
region in southwestern Sweden, Wirth convinced Himmler to launch an
expedition to the region, the first official expedition financed by
Bohuslän was known for its massive quantity of
petroglyph rock carvings, which Wirth believed were evidence of an
ancient writing system predating all known systems. Himmler appointed
Wolfram Sievers to be the managing director of the expedition, likely
because of Wirth’s earlier troubles balancing finances.
On August 4, 1936, the expedition set off on a three-month trip,
starting at the German island of
Rügen , then continuing to Backa ,
the first recorded rock-art site in Sweden. Despite the existence of
scenes showing warriors, animals and ships, Wirth focused on the lines
and circles that he thought made up a prehistoric alphabet. While his
studies were largely based on personal belief, rather than objective
scientific research, Wirth made interpretations of the meanings of
ideograms carved in the rock, such as a circle bisected by a vertical
line representing a year and a man standing with raised arms
representing what Wirth called “the Son of God.” His team
proceeded to make casts of what Wirth deemed the most important
carvings and then carried the casts to camp, where they were crated
and sent back to Germany. Once satisfied with their work at the site,
the team set out on a trek through Sweden, eventually reaching the
Norwegian island of
Camunic runes in
In 1937, the
Ahnenerbe sent the archaeologist
Franz Altheim and his
wife, the photographer Erika Trautmann, to
Val Camonica , to study
prehistoric rock inscriptions . The two returned to
that they had found traces of Nordic runes on the rocks, supposedly
confirming that ancient Rome was founded by Nordic incomers. Also, an
Sardinia was planned in the 1930s, but the reasons for
it still remain unknown.
Franz Altheim and his research partner Erika Trautmann
Ahnenerbe sponsor their expedition from Central Europe
Western Asia to study an internal power struggle of the Roman
Empire, which they believed was fought between the Nordic and Semitic
peoples. Eager to credit the vast success of the Roman Empire to
people of a Nordic background, the
Ahnenerbe agreed to match the 4,000
Reichsmark put forward by
Hermann Göring , an old friend of
In August 1938, after spending a few days traveling through remote
hills searching for ruins of Dacian kingdoms, the two researchers
arrived at their first major stop in
Bucharest , the capital of
Romania . There Grigore Florescu, the director of the Municipal
Museum, met with them, and discussed both history and the politics of
the day, including the activities of the
Iron Guard .
After traveling through
Athens , and
Lebanon , the
researchers went to
Damascus . They were not welcomed by the French ,
who ruled Syria as a colony at the time. The newly-sovereign Kingdom
of Iraq was being courted for an alliance with Germany, and Fritz
Grobba , the German envoy to Baghdad, arranged for Altheim and
Trautmann to meet with local researchers and be driven to Parthian and
Persian ruins in southern Iraq, as well as
Through Baghdad, the team went north to
Assur where they met Sheikh
Adjil el Yawar, a leader of the
Bedouin tribe and commander of
the northern Camel Corps. He discussed German politics and his desire
to duplicate the success of Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud who had recently
ascended to power in Saudi Arabia. With his support, the team
traveled to their final major stop, the ruins of
Hatra on the former
border between the Roman and Persian empires.
Main article: New Swabia § German Antarctic Expedition (1938–1939)
The third German Antarctic Expedition took place between 1938 and
1939. It was led by
Alfred Ritscher (1879–63).
Excavations that had been ongoing at
Hedeby since 1930 were formally
put under the aegis of
Ahnenerbe in 1938 by Jankuhn.
Gustav Riek led an excavation at the
Heuneburg on the
Baden-Württemberg , where an ancient fortress had been
discovered much earlier. The
Ahnenerbe thus won out over Hans Reinerth
(de) of the Reichsbund für Deutsche Vorgeschichte (de) who had
competed for the excavation. Riek focused on the burial mound known as
Hohmichele (de) where he found the main burial chamber to have been
plundered in antiquity. In its direct vicinity another grave was
discovered, however, that included rich grave furnishings. Due to the
outbreak of war in 1939 the excavations were discontinued. :24–5
A private expedition by Richard Anders and Wiligut into the Murg
Valley of northwestern
Baden-Württemberg had nothing to do with the
Ahnenerbe also was active in the Mauerner Höhlen (de) (Mauern
caves) in the
Franconian Jura . R.R. Schmidt discovered red ochre, a
common pigment for cave paintings made by the Cro-Magnon .
In autumn 1937, Assien Bohmers (de), a Frisian nationalist who had
applied to the SS Excavations Department earlier that year, took over
the excavation. His team proceeded to find artifacts such as burins ,
ivory pendants, and a woolly mammoth skeleton. They also discovered
Neanderthal remains buried with what appeared to be throwing spears
and javelins, a technology thought to have been developed by the
Bohmers interpreted this to mean that Cro-Magnons had left these
stones in the caves over 70,000 years before, and this was therefore
the oldest Cro-Magnon site in the world. To validate his claims,
Bohmers traveled around Europe speaking with colleagues and organizing
exhibitions, notably in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
At the Parisian Institute for Human Paleontology, Bohmers met with
Henri Breuil , an expert on cave art . Breuil arranged for
Bohmers to visit
Trois Frères , a site whose owners allowed only a
small number of visitors. First, however, Bohmers took a quick trip
London , followed by a tour of several other French points of
interest: La Fond de Gaume (a site featuring Cro-Magnon cave
paintings), Teyat, La Mouthe and the caves of Dordogne. Then Bohmers
moved on to Les Trois-Frères.
Ahnenerbe took great interest in the 900-year-old Bayeux Tapestry
. In June 1941, its staff oversaw the transport of the tapestry from
its home in Bayeux Cathedral to an abbey at
Juaye-Mondaye , and
finally to the Chateau de Sourches. In August 1944, after Paris was
liberated by the Allies , two members of the SS were dispatched to
Paris to retrieve the tapestry, which had been moved into the basement
Louvre . Contrary to Himmler’s orders, however, they chose
not to attempt to enter the Louvre, most likely because of the strong
presence of the
French Resistance in the historic area.
1939 German expedition to Tibet Beger conducting
anthropometric studies in
In 1937, Himmler decided that he could increase the Ahnenerbe’s
visibility by investigating
Hans F. K. Günther
Hans F. K. Günther ’s claims that early
Aryans had conquered much of Asia, including attacks against
Japan in approximately 2000 BC, and that
Gautama Buddha was himself an
Aryan offshoot of the Nordic race.
Walther Wüst later expanded on
this theory, stating in a public speech that Adolf Hitler’s ideology
corresponded with that of the Buddha, since the two shared a common
heritage. However, according to contemporary research Hitler himself
was not interested in Buddhism or Tibet.
The altar of
Veit Stoss See also:
World War II
World War II looting of
After the invasion of
Poland in 1939,
Wolfram Sievers wrote to
Himmler stressing the need to appropriate exhibits from numerous
Reich Main Security Office
Reich Main Security Office Standartenführer Franz Six
oversaw SS-Untersturmführer Peter Paulsen (de), who was commanding a
small team that entered
Kraków to obtain the 15th-century Veit Stoss
altar . Because the Poles had foreseen the German interest in the
altar, they had disassembled it into 32 pieces, which were shipped to
different locations, but Paulsen located each piece, and on October
14, 1939, he returned to
Berlin with the altar in three small trucks
and had it stored in the locked treasury of the
Reichsbank . After
conferring with Hitler, who had not initially been told of the
operation to capture it, it was decided to send the altar to an
underground vault in Nuremberg, for safety.
Reinhard Heydrich , then head of RSHA, sent Paulsen back to Kraków
in order to seize additional museum collections, but Göring had
already sent a team of his own men, commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer
Kajetan Mühlmann under the supervision of
Dagobert Frey , to loot the
museums. Mühlmann agreed to let Paulsen take items of scholarly
interest back to the Ahnenerbe, while keeping artworks for Göring.
During the looting, however,
Hans Frank , the head of the German
General Government in occupied Poland, issued an order dated November
22, 1939, prohibiting the “unapproved export” of Polish items.
Paulsen obeyed the order, but his colleague
Hans Schleif arranged for
five freightcars of loot from the
Warsaw Archaeological Museum to be
Poznań , which was outside Frank’s control. In return,
Schleif was appointed as a trustee for Wartheland . Paulsen later
tried to take credit for the freightcars' contents in his report to
RuSHA, but was reassigned.
Eduard Paul Tratz of the
Ahnenerbe also removed some exhibits from
the State Zoological Museum in
Warsaw to the Haus der Natur, the
Salzburg of which he was founder and director .
After the German Army conquered the Crimea in early July 1942,
Himmler sent Herbert Jankuhn, as well as Karl Kersten (de) and Baron
Wolf von Seefeld, to the region in search of artifacts to follow up
the recent display of the
Kerch “Gothic crown of the Crimea” in
Jankuhn met with senior officers of Einsatzkommando 11, part of
Einsatzgruppe D , while waiting at the field headquarters of the 5th
SS Panzer Division . Commander
Otto Ohlendorf gave Jankuhn information
about the Crimean museums. Traveling with the 5th SS Panzer,
Jankuhn’s team eventually reached
Maykop , where they received a
message from Sievers that Himmler wanted an investigation of Mangup
Kale , an ancient mountain fortress. Jankuhn sent Kersten to follow up
Mangup Kale, while the rest of the team continued trying to secure
artifacts that had not already been taken by the Red Army .
Einsatzkommando 11b’s commander
Werner Braune aided the team.
Jankuhn was ultimately unable to find Gothic artifacts denoting a
German ancestry, even after intelligence about a shipment of 72 crates
of artifacts shipped to a medical warehouse. The area had been ravaged
by the time the team arrived and only 20 crates remained, but they
contained Greek and stone-age artifacts, rather than Gothic.
In June 1943, 27-year-old Untersturmführer
Heinz Brücher , who held
PhD from Tübingen in botany , was tasked with an expedition to
Ukraine and Crimea.
Hauptsturmführer Konrad von Rauch and an
interpreter identified as Steinbrecher were also involved in the
In February 1945, Brücher was ordered to destroy the Ahnenerbe's 18
active research facilities to avoid their capture by advancing Soviet
forces. He refused, and after the war continued his work as a botanist
The Gateway to the Sun in
After winning 20,000 Reichsmark in a writing contest, Edmund Kiss
traveled to Bolivia in 1928 to study the ruins of temples in the Andes
. He claimed that their apparent similarity to ancient European
structures indicated that they had been designed by Nordic migrants
millions of years earlier. He also claimed that his findings
supported the World Ice Theory , which claimed that the universe
originated from a cataclysmic clash between gigantic balls of ice and
Arthur Posnansky had been studying a local site called
Tiwanaku , which he also believed supported the theory.
After contacting Posnansky, Kiss approached Wüst for help planning
an expedition to excavate
Tiwanaku and a nearby site, Siminake. The
team would consist of 20 scientists, who would excavate for a year and
Lake Titicaca , and take aerial photographs of ancient
Incan roads they believed had Nordic roots. By late August 1939, the
expedition was nearly set to embark, but the invasion of
the expedition to be postponed indefinitely.
In 1938, the Ahnenerbe's president, Walther Wüst, proposed a trip to
Iran to study the
Behistun Inscription , which had been created by
order of the Achaemenid
Shah Darius I —who had declared himself to
have been of
Aryan origin in his inscriptions. The inscriptions were
recorded atop steep cliffs using scaffolding that was removed after
the inscriptions were made. Unable to afford the cost of erecting new
scaffolds, Wüst proposed that he, his wife, an amanuensis , an
Iranian student, a photographer, and an experienced mountaineer be
sent with a balloon-mounted camera. The onset of the war however, saw
the trip postponed indefinitely.
Early travelers to the
Canary Islands had described the Guanche
natives as having golden-blond hair and white skin, and mummies had
been found with blond tresses—facts which Wirth believed indicated
that the islands had once been inhabited by Nordics . His colleague
Otto Huth proposed an autumn of 1939 expedition to study the ancient
islanders’ racial origins, artifacts and religious rites. At the
Canary Islands were part of
Francisco Franco ’s Spanish
State (Estado Español). Because Franco refused to side with the Axis
when the war started, however, the trip was cancelled.
Bruno Schweizer had already traveled to
Iceland three times in 1938
when he proposed an
Ahnenerbe expedition with seven others to the
country in order to learn about their ancient farming practices and
architecture, record folksongs and dances, and also collect soil
samples for pollen analysis.
The first setback for the expedition was the ridicule of the
Scandinavian press, publishing stories in February 1939 claiming the
expedition was based on false ideas about Icelandic heritage and
sought old church records which did not even exist. An enraged Himmler
publicly shut down the trip completely, but after calming down he
allowed the planning of the trip to be secretly continued. The final
setback occurred when Himmler’s personal staff was unable to get
enough Icelandic crowns —Iceland’s currency. Not being able to
quickly solve this problem, the trip was rescheduled for the summer of
1940. In May 1940, the British invaded neutral
Iceland , but when the
war had started the expedition had already been shelved.
In 1940, following the British occupation of
Iceland , the
Ahnenerbe-funded Bruno Kress, a German researcher who was in the
country at the time, was rounded up along with other German nationals
present on the island. Kress was interned in Ramsey on the Isle of Man
, but was allowed to correspond with Sievers through letters.
Kress’s Grammar of Icelandic was eventually published in East
Germany in 1955. Kress also later worked for the East German
OTHER AHNENERBE ACTIVITIES
MASTER PLAN EAST
After being appointed Commissioner for the Strengthening of the
German Race, Himmler set to work with
Konrad Meyer on developing a
plan for three large German colonies in the eastern occupied
territories. Leningrad , northern
Poland and the Crimea would be the
focal points of these colonies intended to spread the
Aryan race. The
Crimean colony was called Gotengau, or “Goth district” in honor of
Crimean Goths who had settled there and were believed to be Aryan
ancestors of the Germans .
Himmler estimated Aryanization of the region would take twenty years,
first expelling all the undesirable populations, then re-distributing
the territory to appropriate
Aryan populations. In addition to
changing the demographics of the region, Himmler also intended to
plant oak and beech trees to replicate traditional German forests, as
well as plant new crops brought back from Tibet. To achieve the latter
end, Himmler ordered a new institution set up by the
headed by Schäfer. A station was then set up near the Austrian town
Graz where Schäfer set to work with seven other scientists to
develop new crops for the Reich.
The final piece of the puzzle fell in place after Hitler read a work
Alfred Frauenfeld which suggested resettling inhabitants of South
Tyrol , believed by some to be descendants of the Goths, to the
Crimea. In 1939 the South Tyrolean were ordered by Hitler and Benito
Mussolini to vote on whether they wanted to remain in Italy and accept
assimilation or alternatively emigrate to Germany. Over 80% chose the
latter (for details see:
South Tyrol Option Agreement ). Himmler
presented Master Plan East to Hitler and received approval in July
Full implementation of the plan was not feasible because of the
ongoing war, but a small colony was in fact founded around Himmler’s
field headquarters at Hegewald , near
Kiev . Starting on October 10,
1942, Himmler’s troops deported 10,623 Ukrainians from the area in
cattle cars before bringing in trains of ethnic Germans (volksdeutsche
) from northern Ukraine. The SS authorities gave families needed
supplies as well as land of their own, but also informed them of
quotas of food they needed to produce for the SS.
FAILED SEIZURE OF TACITUS MANUSCRIPT
Ahnenerbe had tried to gain possession of the Codex Aesinas, a
famous mediaeval copy of
Tacitus ' Germania . Although Mussolini had
originally promised it as a gift in 1936, it remained in the
possession of the Count Aurelio Baldeschi Guglielmi Balleani outside
Ancona , from where the
Ahnenerbe tried to obtain it after Mussolini
On July 29, 1943, the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force 's firebombing of Hamburg led
Himmler to order the immediate evacuation of the main Ahnenerbe
headquarters in Berlin. The extensive library was moved to Schloss
Ulm while the staff was moved to the tiny village
of Waischenfeld near
Bavaria . The building selected was
the 17th century Steinhaus. While much of the staff was not ecstatic
about the primitive conditions, Sievers seemed to have embraced the
Ahnenerbe was separate from the NSDAP treasury and
had to find funding from other sources including membership dues and
donations. After 1938, it received funds from the Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft . In addition, a foundation
(Ahnenerbe-Stifterverband) was established, set up with funds from
business leaders. One of the largest donations, approximately 50,000
Reichsmark , came from
Deutsche Bank boardmember Emil Georg von Stauß
Daimler-Benz . The foundation also
received royalties from patents partially held by the SS (see below).
During the war,
Ahnenerbe also received money from other SS
departments and profited from the Arisierung of Jewish property—its
headquarters in Dahlem had been purchased at half its market value. In
1940, another estate in Munich was added.
In 1936, the SS formed a joint company with
Anton Loibl , a machinist
and driving instructor. The SS had heard about reflector pedals for
bicycles, that Loibl and others had been developing. Assuring that
Loibl got the patent himself, Himmler then used his political weight
to ensure the passing of a 1939 law requiring the use of the new
reflective pedals—of which the
Ahnenerbe received a share of the
profits, 77,740 Reichsmark in 1938.
The cadaver of
Berlin dairy merchant Menachem Taffel. Deported
Auschwitz in March 1943 along with his wife and child who were
gassed upon arrival. He was chosen to be an anatomical specimen in the
Jewish skeleton collection , shipped to
Natzweiler-Struthof and killed
in the gas chamber in August 1943
The Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung ("Institute
for Military Scientific Research"), which conducted extensive medical
experiments using human subjects, became attached to the Ahnenerbe
during World War II. It was managed by
Wolfram Sievers . Sievers had
founded the organization on the orders of Himmler, who appointed him
director with two divisions headed by
Sigmund Rascher and August Hirt
, and funded by the
Sigmund Rascher was tasked with helping the
Luftwaffe determine what
was safe for their pilots—because aircraft were being built to fly
higher than ever before. He applied for and received permission from
Himmler to requisition camp prisoners to place in vacuum chambers to
simulate the high altitude conditions that pilots might face.
Rascher was also tasked with discovering how long German airmen would
be able to survive if shot down above freezing water. His victims were
forced to remain out of doors naked in freezing weather for up to 14
hours, or kept in a tank of icewater for 3 hours, their pulse and
internal temperature measured through a series of electrodes. Warming
of the victim was then attempted by different methods, most usually
and successfully by immersion in very hot water, and also less
conventional methods such as placing the subject in bed with women who
would try to sexually stimulate him, a method suggested by Himmler.
Rascher also experimented with the effects of Polygal, a substance
made from beets and apple pectin , on coagulating blood flow to help
with gunshot wounds . Subjects were given a Polygal tablet, and shot
through the neck or chest, or their limbs amputated without
anaesthesia. Rascher published an article on his experience of using
Polygal, without detailing the nature of the human trials, and also
set up a company to manufacture the substance, staffed by prisoners.
Similar experiments were conducted from July to September 1944, as
Ahnenerbe provided space and materials to doctors at Dachau to
undertake “seawater experiments”, chiefly through Sievers. Sievers
is known to have visited Dachau on July 20, to speak with Ploetner and
Wilhelm Beiglboeck , who ultimately carried out the
Walter Greite rose to leadership of the Ahnenerbe’s Applied Nature
Studies division in January 1939, and began taking detailed
measurements of 2,000 Jews at the Vienna emigration office—but
scientists were unable to use the data. On December 10, 1941, Beger
met with Sievers and convinced him of the need for 120 Jewish skulls.
During the later
Nuremberg Trials ,
Friedrich Hielscher testified that
Sievers had initially been repulsed at the idea of expanding the
Ahnenerbe to human experimentation, and that he had “no desire
whatsoever to participate in these.”
Jewish skeleton collection : Beger collaborated with
August Hirt ,
of the Reich University of Strassburg, in creating a Jewish skeleton
collection for research. The bodies of 86 Jewish men and women were
ultimately collected and macerated .
POST–WORLD WAR II
* Wolfram Sievers: In Waischenfeld American troops captured a slew
of documents that would be used in the case against Sievers which
would be a part of the Doctors\' Trial . Sievers was charged for
aiding in the
Jewish skeleton collection and human medical experiments
at Dachau and Natzweiler. In his defense, Sievers claimed he had
helped a resistance group since 1929, which was supported by testimony
Friedrich Hielscher on April 15, 1947. Sievers was nevertheless
found guilty on all four counts on August 21, 1947, and sentenced to
death. He was hanged on June 2, 1948, at
Landsberg Prison .
* Richard Walther Darré: One of the founders of the Ahnenerbe,
Darré was tried in the
Ministries Trial . He received seven years
imprisonment after being found not guilty on more serious charges.
Edmund Kiss : His Bolivia trip having been cancelled, Kiss served
in the armed forces the rest of the war, taking command of SS men at
Wolfschanze near the end. He was interned in the
Darmstadt camp after
the war, but was released in June 1947 due to severe diabetes . His
de-Nazification classification was as a “major offender”. This
allowed him to only take a manual labor job. Following this decision,
Kiss hired a lawyer to protest this decision, a major component of his
case being he had never been a member of the Nazi party. After
somewhat renouncing his past, Kiss was reclassified as a Mitläufer in
1948 and fined 501 DM.
* Walther Wüst: Although the president of the
Ahnenerbe from 1937
until the end of the war, Wüst’s claims that he was unaware of any
medical experiments were acknowledged, and in 1950 he was classified
as a Mitläufer and released, returning to the
University of Munich
University of Munich as
Bruno Beger : In February 1948, Beger was classified as
"exonerated" by a denazification tribunal unaware of his role in the
skeleton collection. In 1960, an investigation into the collection
Ludwigsburg , and Beger was taken into custody on March 30,
1960. He was released four months later, but the investigation
continued until coming to trial on October 27, 1970. Beger claimed
that he was unaware the
Auschwitz prisoners he measured were to be
killed. While two others indicted in the trial were released, Beger
was convicted on April 6, 1971, and sentenced to three years in prison
for being an accomplice in the murder of 86 Jews. Upon appeal however,
his sentence was reduced to three years of probation. Neither of his
colleagues with whom he was tried,
Hans Fleischhacker and
Wolf-Dietrich Wolff, were convicted.
Many of the ideas inherited or developed by the
influential. Canadian author
Heather Pringle has particularly drawn
attention to the influence of
Edmund Kiss ' various 'crackpot
theories' concerning such matters as the World Ice Theory and the
Tiwanaku upon subsequent writers such as H.S. Bellamy,
Denis Saurat and, later,
Graham Hancock .
IN POPULAR CULTURE
Ahnenerbe formed the basis for the depiction in the Indiana Jones
franchise of Nazis searching for religious artifacts.
Ahnenerbe is frequently referenced in The Laundry series of
Charles Stross .
Much misinformation about the
Ahnenerbe has circulated, due in part
to adaptations of the group in fiction, and historically dubious
conspiracy theories that sometimes confuse the
Ahnenerbe with the
Thule Society , or the historically unverified
Vril society .
The Tibetan expedition is alluded to in the Choose Your Own Adventure
The Secret Treasure of Tibet , in which one character who was in
World War II
World War II mentions encountering Germans who were
looking for Siling-La , a location in Tibet with mystical properties.
Deutsche Physik and
List of Ahnenerbe institutes
Reich Research Council
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z AA AB
Pringle, Heather (2006), The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the
Holocaust (Google Book, search inside), Hyperion, p. 307, ISBN
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L Halle, Uta; Mahsarski, Dirk (2013),
"Forschungsstrukturen", in Focke-Museum, Bremen, Graben für Germanien
– Archäologie unterm Hakenkreuz, Wissenschaftliche
Buchgesellschaft, pp. 57–64, ISBN 978-3-534-25919-9
* ^ Gratzer, Walter Bruno (2001). The Undergrowth of Science:
Delusion, Self-deception, and Human Frailty. Oxford University Press.
pp. 235–36. ISBN 978-0-19-860435-8 .
* ^ "XENOI Immagine e parola tra razzismi antichi e moderni".
academia.edu (in Italian).
* ^ Halle, Uta (2013), "Wichtige Ausgrabungen der NS-Zeit", in
Focke-Museum, Bremen, Graben für Germanien – Archäologie unterm
Hakenkreuz, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, pp. 65–73, ISBN
* ^ Hansen, Leif; Krausse, Dirk (February 2017). "Von der Akropolis
zur Polis – Höhepunkte der Heuneburgforschung". Archäologie in
Deutschland (in German). WBG. pp. 24–7.
* ^ Kater, Michael (1997), Das "Ahnenerbe" der SS 1935–1945. Ein
Beitrag zur Kulturpolitik des Dritten Reiches (in German), Munich .
* ^ Esposito, Monica (2008). Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th
Centuries. École française d'Extrême-Orient. pp. 71–72. ISBN
* ^ Sievers (September 4, 1939), To Himmler , BA (ehem BDC)
Ahnenerbe: Paulsen, Peter (October 8, 1902).
* ^ "In mu Archeologiczne Warszawa", Instytucje (in Polish), PL :
* ^ Sievers (May 20, 1940), Aktenvermerk , BA (ehem. BDC)
Ahnenerbe: Paulsen, Peter (October 8, 1902).
* ^ Pringle, Heather (2006), The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars
and the Holocaust, Hyperion, pp. 204–5 .
* ^ Jankuhn, Herbert (August 8, 1905) (September 6, 1942), To
Ahnenerbe , BA (ehem. BDC).
* ^ Heim, Susanne (2002), Autarkie und Ostexpansion. Pflanzenzucht
und Agrarforschung im Nationalsozialismus (in German),
* ^ Kiss, Edmund, Das Sonnentor von Tihuanaku (in German), pp.
* ^ Kreß, Broderick, George, ed., Letters, DE , archived from the
original (MS Word) on December 8, 2004 .
* ^ Mazower, Mark (2008), Hitler's Empire, p. 454 .
* ^ Schama, Simon (1995), Landscape and Memory .
* ^ Krebs, Christopher (2011), "8", A Most Dangerous Book:
Tacitus's Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich, WW Norton
& Co .
* ^ Peter Witte et al., eds., Der Dienstkalender Heinrich Himmlers
1941/32, pp. 390–91.
* ^ Mackowski, Maura Phillips (2006). Testing the Limits: Aviation
Medicine and the Origins of Manned Space Flight. Texas A&M University
Press. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-58544-439-7 .
* ^ Rascher (1949–50) , "To Himmler", Trials of War Criminals
before the Nurenberg Military Tribunals (letter), Case 1: The Medical
Case, 1, Washington, DC, US : Government Printing Office, pp. 249–51
* ^ Michalczyk, John J. (1994). Medicine, Ethics, and the Third
Reich: Historical and Contemporary Issues. Rowman & Littlefield. p.
96. ISBN 978-1-55612-752-6 .
* ^ Sievers, “Tagebuch: 10.12.1941,” BA, NS 21/127.
* ^ Volume II, p. 37
* ^ Pringle, Heather (2006). The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars
and the Holocaust. Fourth Estate, London: p.310
* ^ Fagan, Garrett G. (2006). Archaeological Fantasies: How
Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public.
Psychology Press . p. 159. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
* ^ Mees, Bernard Thomas (2008). The Science of the Swastika.
Central European University Press . p. 201. Retrieved February 6,
* Hale, Christopher (2007). Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition
to Find the Origins of the
Aryan Race. Secaucus: Castle Books. ISBN
* Pringle, Heather (2006). The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and
the Holocaust. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6886-5 .
* Цибулькін В. В., Лисюк І. П.
СС-Аненербе: розсекречені файли. – К.
– Хмельницький: Поділля, 2010. – 288 с.
* "Das Ahnenerbe", Lebendiges Museum Online (in German), Deutsches
Historisches Museum, archived from the original on October 2, 2013 .
* Nazis, Archaeological Institute of America .
* Emmanuel Heyd and Raphael Toledano, The Names of the 86 ("Le Nom
des 86" in french) (in French, German, and