ListMoto - Ahnenerbe

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(German: [ˈʔaːnənˌʔɛʁbə], ancestral heritage) was a project in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
to research the archaeological and cultural history of the Aryan
race. Founded on July 1, 1935, as the Study Society for Primordial Intellectual history, German Ancestral Heritage (Studiengesellschaft für Geistesurgeschichte‚ Deutsches Ahnenerbe), by Heinrich Himmler, Herman Wirth, and 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. In 1937 the project was renamed the Research and Teaching Community of the Ancestral Heritage (Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft des Ahnenerbe).

Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer-SS
and founder of the Ahnenerbe


1 History and development

1.1 Institutes

2 Expeditions

2.1 Karelia 2.2 Bohuslän 2.3 Italy 2.4 Western Eurasia 2.5 New Swabia 2.6 Germany

2.6.1 Hedeby 2.6.2 Baden-Württemberg 2.6.3 Mauern

2.7 France

2.7.1 Bayeux Tapestry

2.8 Tibet 2.9 Poland 2.10 Crimea 2.11 Ukraine

3 Cancelled expeditions

3.1 Bolivia 3.2 Iran 3.3 Canary Islands 3.4 Iceland

4 Other Ahnenerbe

4.1 Master Plan East 4.2 Failed seizure of Tacitus
manuscript 4.3 Headquarters relocation

5 Financing 6 Medical experiments

6.1 Dachau 6.2 Skulls

7 Post–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[edit]


In January 1929, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
was appointed the leader of the fledgling Schutzstaffel
(SS). He launched a massive recruitment campaign that expanded the SS from fewer than 300 members in 1929 to 10,000 in 1931.[1] 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 by senior RuSHA
graduates using the periodical SS-Leitheft. 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.[2] 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 regarding Atlantis
and their influence on "Böttcherstrasse architecture" in a speech at the Reichsparteitag.[2] In March 1937, the Ahnenerbe
was given a new statute, implementing the 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.[2] Walther Wüst
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.[1] 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.[1] 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 the RuSHA
to Himmlers's personal staff.[2] Wirth and Wilhelm Teudt
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 "unscientific" Ahnenerbe.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] 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, Ahnenerbe
established Germanische Leitstelle
Germanische Leitstelle
and Germanischer Wissenschaftseinsatz.[2] 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 from Alfred Rosenberg's rival Reichsbund für Deutsche Vorgeschichte (de).[2] 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.[2] The organization was incorporated into the Allgemeine SS
Allgemeine SS
(General SS) in January 1939. Institutes[edit] Main article: List of Ahnenerbe
institutes The 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 basis that Hanns Hörbiger's Welteislehre could be used to provide accurate long-range weather forecasts,[3] 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. Expeditions[edit] Karelia[edit] 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[d] future events." The team also recorded information on Finnish saunas. Bohuslän[edit]

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 the Ahnenerbe. 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
Wolfram Sievers
to be the managing director of the expedition, likely because of Wirth’s earlier troubles balancing finances.[1][page needed] 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.”[1][page needed] 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 Lauvøylandet. Italy[edit]

Camunic runes in Val Camonica

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 Germany
claiming that they had found traces of Nordic runes on the rocks, supposedly confirming that ancient Rome was founded by Nordic incomers. Also, an expedition to Sardinia
was planned in the 1930s, but the reasons for it still remain unknown.[4] Western Eurasia[edit] In 1938, Franz Altheim and his research partner Erika Trautmann requested the Ahnenerbe
sponsor their expedition from Central Europe through Western Asia
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 Trautmann's.[1][page needed] 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 Istanbul, 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
Kingdom of Iraq
was being courted for an alliance with Germany,[1][page needed] 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 Babylon. Through Baghdad, the team went north to Assur
where they met Sheikh Adjil el Yawar, a leader of the Shammar 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.[1][page needed] 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. New Swabia[edit] 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
Alfred Ritscher
(1879–63). Germany[edit] Hedeby[edit] Excavations that had been ongoing at Hedeby
since 1930 were formally put under the aegis of Ahnenerbe
in 1938 by Jankuhn.[5] Baden-Württemberg[edit] In 1937/8, Gustav Riek led an excavation at the Heuneburg
on the Danube
in 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.[6]:24–5[7] A private expedition by Richard Anders and Wiligut into the Murg Valley of northwestern Baden-Württemberg
had nothing to do with the Ahnenerbe. Mauern[edit] 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 Cro-Magnons. 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.[1][page needed] France[edit] At the Parisian Institute for Human Paleontology, Bohmers met with Abbé 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.[1][page needed] First, however, Bohmers took a quick trip to 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.[1][page needed] Bayeux Tapestry[edit] The 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 of the 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
French Resistance
in the historic area.[citation needed] Tibet[edit] Main article: 1939 German expedition to Tibet

Beger conducting anthropometric studies in Sikkim

In 1937, Himmler decided that he could increase the Ahnenerbe’s visibility by investigating Hans F. K. Günther’s claims that early Aryans had conquered much of Asia, including attacks against China
and Japan
in approximately 2000 BC, and that Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
was himself an Aryan
offshoot of the Nordic race. Walther Wüst
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.[citation needed] However, according to contemporary research Hitler himself was not interested in Buddhism or Tibet.[8] Poland[edit]

The altar of Veit Stoss

See also: World War II
World War II
looting of Poland After the invasion of Poland
in 1939, Wolfram Sievers
Wolfram Sievers
wrote to Himmler stressing the need to appropriate exhibits from numerous museums.[9] The Reich Main Security Office
Reich Main Security Office
Standartenführer Franz Six
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.[1][page needed] 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,[1][page needed] but Göring had already sent a team of his own men, commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer Kajetan Mühlmann
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
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[10] to be shipped to 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.[1][page needed][11] Eduard Paul Tratz of the Ahnenerbe
also removed some exhibits from the State Zoological Museum in Warsaw
to the Haus der Natur, the museum in Salzburg
of which he was founder and director .[12] Crimea[edit] 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 Berlin. 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
Otto Ohlendorf
gave Jankuhn information about the Crimean museums.[13] 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 on 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
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.[1][page needed] Ukraine[edit] In June 1943, 27-year-old Untersturmführer Heinz Brücher, who held a 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 expedition. 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 in Argentina
and Trinidad.[14] Cancelled expeditions[edit] Bolivia[edit]

The Gateway to the Sun in Tiwanaku.

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.[15] 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 glowing mass. Arthur Posnansky
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 also explore 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 Poland
caused the expedition to be postponed indefinitely. Iran[edit] 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.[1] 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. Canary Islands[edit] Early travelers to the Canary Islands
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 time, the Canary Islands
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. Iceland[edit] 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.[1] 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.[1] 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.[16] Kress’s Grammar of Icelandic was eventually published in East Germany
in 1955. Kress also later worked for the East German Staatssicherheit
(Stasi). Other Ahnenerbe
activities[edit] Master Plan East[edit] After being appointed Commissioner for the Strengthening of the German Race, Himmler set to work with Konrad Meyer
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 the Crimean Goths who had settled there and were believed to be Aryan
ancestors of the Germans.[1] 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 Ahnenerbe
and headed by Schäfer. A station was then set up near the Austrian town of 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 by 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
South Tyrol
Option Agreement). Himmler presented Master Plan East to Hitler and received approval in July 1942. 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,[17] 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.[1] 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[edit] The 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 was deposed.[18][19] Headquarters relocation[edit] On July 29, 1943, the 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 Oberkirchberg near Ulm
while the staff was moved to the tiny village of Waischenfeld near Bayreuth, 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 isolation.[1] Financing[edit] Financially, 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.[2] One of the largest donations, approximately 50,000 Reichsmark, came from Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank
boardmember Emil Georg von Stauß associates, including BMW
and Daimler-Benz.[1] 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.[2] 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.[1] Medical experiments[edit]

The cadaver of Berlin
dairy merchant Menachem Taffel. Deported to 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.[20] Sievers had founded the organization on the orders of Himmler, who appointed him director with two divisions headed by Sigmund Rascher
Sigmund Rascher
and August Hirt, and funded by the Waffen-SS. Dachau[edit] Sigmund Rascher
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.[1] 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.[21][22] 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.[23] Similar experiments were conducted from July to September 1944, as the 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 the non- Ahnenerbe
Wilhelm Beiglboeck, who ultimately carried out the experiments. Skulls[edit] 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.[24] 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.”[25]

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[edit] Trials[edit]

Wolfram Sievers

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
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 from Friedrich Hielscher on April 15, 1947.[1][page needed] 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.[1][page needed] 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 a professor-in-reserve.[1][page needed] 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 began in 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.[1][page needed]

Influence[edit] Many of the ideas inherited or developed by the Ahnenerbe
remain 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 origins of Tiwanaku
upon subsequent writers such as H.S. Bellamy, Denis Saurat and, later, Graham Hancock.[26] In popular culture[edit] The Ahnenerbe
formed the basis for the depiction in the Indiana Jones franchise of Nazis searching for religious artifacts.[27][28] The Ahnenerbe
is frequently referenced in The Laundry series of novels by 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 roughly contemporaneous Thule Society, or the historically unverified Vril
society. The Tibetan expedition is alluded to in the Choose Your Own Adventure book, The Secret Treasure of Tibet, in which one character who was in Tibet during World War II
World War II
mentions encountering Germans who were looking for Siling-La, a location in Tibet with mystical properties. In Wolfenstein, there is a fictionalized in-game version of the Ahnenerbe
called the SS Paranormal Division. See also[edit]

Deutsche Physik
Deutsche Physik
and Deutsche Mathematik List of Ahnenerbe
institutes Nazi mysticism Reich Research Council Thule Society


^ 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 1401383866 . ^ 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 978-3-534-25919-9  ^ 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 [The SS ‘Ahnenerbe’ 1935–1945] (in German), Munich . ^ Esposito, Monica (2008). Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th Centuries. École française d'Extrême-Orient. pp. 71–72. ISBN 978-2-85539-658-3.  ^ Sievers (September 4, 1939), To Himmler , BA (ehem BDC) Ahnenerbe: Paulsen, Peter (October 8, 1902). ^ "In mu Archeologiczne Warszawa", Instytucje [Institutions] (in Polish), PL: Culture . ^ 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 Sievers, Ahnenerbe , BA (ehem. BDC). ^ Heim, Susanne (2002), Autarkie und Ostexpansion. Pflanzenzucht und Agrarforschung im Nationalsozialismus [Autarchy and East expansion] (in German), Göttingen . ^ Kiss, Edmund, Das Sonnentor von Tihuanaku (in German), pp. 106–7 . ^ 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) [February 17, 1943], "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, 2016. 


Hale, Christopher (2007). Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan
Race. Secaucus: Castle Books. ISBN 978-0-7858-2254-7.  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.

External links[edit]

"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 English), dora films, 2014 .

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Early timeline Adolf Hitler's rise to power Machtergreifung Re-armament Nazi Germany Night of the Long Knives Nuremberg Rally Anti-Comintern Pact Kristallnacht World War II Tripartite Pact The Holocaust Nuremberg trials Denazification Consequences


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Related topics

Esoteric Nazism Far-right politics German resistance Glossary of Nazi Germany Nazi salute Neo-Nazism Social Darwinism Stormfront Swastika Völkisch movement Zweites Buch


v t e

National Socialist German Workers' Party


Anton Drexler
Anton Drexler
(1919–1921) Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
(1921–1945) Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann

Related articles

and World War I Stab-in-the-back myth Weimar Republic Treaty of Versailles Occupation of the Ruhr Politischer Arbeiter-Zirkel German Workers' Party Thule Society National Socialist Program Nuremberg Rally Ranks and insignia Sturmabteilung
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Party offices

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Chancellery Amt Rosenberg


Völkischer Beobachter Das Schwarze Korps Das Reich Innviertler Heimatblatt Arbeitertum Der Angriff


Gottfried Feder Dietrich Eckart Alfred Rosenberg Joseph Goebbels Heinrich Himmler Reinhard Heydrich Hermann Göring Gregor Strasser Otto Strasser Albert Speer Rudolf Hess Ernst Kaltenbrunner Adolf Eichmann Joachim von Ribbentrop Houston Stewart Chamberlain Hans Frank Rudolf Höss Richard Walther Darré Baldur von Schirach Artur Axmann Ernst Röhm Wilhelm Frick Josef Mengele Ernst Hanfstaengl Julius Streicher Hermann Esser


Black Front (Strasserism) / German Social Union Deutsche Rechtspartei (through entryism) / Deutsche Reichspartei / National Democratic Party of Germany Socialist Reich Party

v t e



Allgemeine SS Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) Waffen-SS


Reichsführer-SS SS and police leader SS personnel SS commands


Julius Schreck Joseph Berchtold Erhard Heiden Heinrich Himmler Karl Hanke

Main departments

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Ranks, uniforms and insignia

Uniforms and insignia of the SS Ranks and insignia of the Waffen-SS Ranks and insignia of the Orpo Corps colours of the Waffen-SS

v t e

Heinrich Himmler

Reichsführer-SS Chief of German Police Minister of the Interior


Himmler's service record Ideology of the SS Personal Staff Reichsführer-SS Freundeskreis Reichsführer-SS
("Circle of Friends of the Reichsführer-SS") Adolf Hitler Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
(Chief of the RSHA) Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
(successor as Chief of the RSHA) Karl Wolff
Karl Wolff
(Chief of Personal Staff) Hedwig Potthast
Hedwig Potthast
(secretary) Rudolf Brandt
Rudolf Brandt
(Personal Administrative Officer to RFSS) Hermann Gauch
Hermann Gauch
(adjutant) Werner Grothmann
Werner Grothmann
(aide-de-camp) Heinz Macher (second personal assistant) Walter Schellenberg
Walter Schellenberg
(personal aide) Karl Maria Wiligut (occultist)


Schutzstaffel Gestapo Ahnenerbe Lebensborn Reich Central Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion

Responsibility for the Holocaust

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Margarete Himmler
Margarete Himmler
(wife) Gudrun Burwitz
Gudrun Burwitz
(daughter) Hedwig Potthast
Hedwig Potthast
(mistress) Gebhard Ludwig (older brother) Ernst (younger brother) Katrin Himmler (great-niece) Heinz Kokott (brother-in-law) Richard Wendler
Richard Wendler


Operation Himmler Army Group Oberrhein Army Group Vistula Operation Nordwind

Failed assassins

Václav Morávek Claus von Stauffenberg Henning von Tresckow


Erhard Heiden
Erhard Heiden
(predecessor as Reichsführer-SS) Karl Hanke
Karl Hanke
(successor as Reichsführer-SS) Falk Zipperer (closest friend) Karl Gebhardt
Karl Gebhardt
(personal physician) Felix Kersten (personal masseur) Hugo Blaschke (dentist) Sidney Excell
Sidney Excell
(man who arrested Himmler)

Authority control