The Eastern Origins of Nazi "History" - Intro to Himmler's Crusade by Christopher Hale
As one digs deeper looking for answers to the genocide that took place in Nazi Germany, they begin to uncover a set of strange beliefs and justifications for their actions. Through out the 19th century there had been an obsession with many aspects of the Far East, their culture, their religion, their rituals, and especially their history. Many at the time in Europe took the Eastern "origin" stories of mankind to have displaced the Judeo-Christian Bible. Hence, there was a whole set of adventurists, scientists, and thinkers who pursued such lands as the ancient Tibet. It was said that there in Tibet was one of the last linkages to a long lost breed of super-humans, those who were responsible for creating culture and civilization throughout the world. A race of white giants that lived in the north beyond the Himalayas. It is this Eastern occult history that the Nazis connected their beliefs about race superiority to, giving them their own history and origin story. Himmler's crusade was one that took place in search of establishing these ties between the ancient white giants and the German people through a form of Darwinian race science and anthropology.
The introduction to this book lays out in detail an obsession with the Far East, with occultism, with lost histories, with race science, and with a missing lost race of white giants that was present in Europe and America in the 1800's, reaching that fever pitch with SS Reichsfuhrer Himmler's obsession to establish a racial history of the Nazis. The focus is on the hard to access land of Tibet, a land veiled by the Himalayas, and therefore a clear historical tie back to previous ages - less corrupted by outside influences. It was there that a link between modern day Germans and the long lost race of Aryan giants was to be found.
As usual with these type of posts, I do not, in any way support, or endorse any of their beliefs. This is, again, part of my research into the power of belief systems, and my interest in the motivations for the horrible events in the 20th century.
The SS and Uncovering the Mythology of the Aryans
Hale returns (from the prelude) in the book's introduction to the explorer Ernest Schafer. In 1939 Schafer and others had made an eight month long trip to Tibet, spending time in the city of Lhasa taking countless photos and videos, as well as bringing back many holy books and artifacts. 1 Not long after their return to Nazi Germany, Hitler began the war with the invasion of Poland. Why in the world would the Nazis, at the height of their power, be sending adventurers and scientists to far away Tibet? "Few historians have even troubled to ask the question. But the true story of this little expedition, told for the first time in this book, reveals that it was a summit of German imperial and racial fantasy."
Hidden away beyond the Himalayas, Tibet in the 19th century was a place closed to foreigners. Its capital Lhasa was known as the "Forbidden City." Yet there were some European adventurers who snuck in, returning to Europe with incredible tales "... which quickly transformed Tibet into the quintessence of the forbidden and exotic." By the 1930's, though, it had become more accessible to outsiders. Someone from today would be shocked to have ridden into Lhasa and seen both the swastika and SS flags hanging in public, blowing in the wind. This was not because the Nazis had brought them there, but because the Nazis adopted these symbols from the Tibetans. "One was a swastika, an ancient symbol of good fortune which represented the Wheel of Life in Tibet but since 1933 had been the national flag of Nazi Germany. The other showed a double thunderbolt - the unmistakable and chilling insignia of Heinrich Himmler's SS." 2
Himmler's SS played many roles in 1930's Germany. One of which, though, was to be a type of elite educated priesthood of the Aryan Reich. Part of this was to train and teach its members Aryan history. "The SS would also be a university for Hitler's New Order. As he refined the instruments of terror and control, the Reichsfuhrer was ever more in thrall to a bewildering multitude of peculiar intellectual hobbies and scientific fads. Himmler sent archaeologists to search for the remains of an ancient Germanic super race. He was fascinated by the lost kingdom of Atlantis and a cranky idea called the 'World Ice Theory.'" Himmler had created a quasi-religious center for this new priesthood. He turned a castle in Westphalia called "Wewelsburg Castle" as his hub in which he could enact his strange beliefs and occult rituals. [The castle imitating something like the Vatican for Catholics, in my opinion.] "Himmler used ritual and myth to inculcate master consciousness in elite members of the SS." In Himmler there was some disturbing mix of occult myth and Darwinian science. 3
A specific unit dedicated to furthering these ideas was named the "Ahnenerbe". Himmler commissioned many archaeologists of the time to uncover their long lost history and give some meat to it. "Scientists were set to work to prove that a cosmic battle between fire and ice had brought forth a race of supermen in the distant past. Anthropologists collected the skulls and skeletons of Aryans and made meticulous measurements in search of far-flung ancestors or cousins, and scientific expeditions were dispatched to unearth the remnants of long-lost Aryan races, from whom all pure Germans descended." Why would they want to find these long lost traces around the world of their ancestral Aryan race? Well, as part of their occult history, they also believed that culture itself was a result of the higher race, flowing from Atlantis and seeding around the world. Therefore, wherever there was proper "culture," there was a justification to claim this land as Nazi land. 4
One of the colleagues that accompanied Schafer on the journey to Tibet was Bruno Beger, an anthropologist. He was there to find a link in the appearance of the Tibetans and the long lost ancient Aryan race. There he measured and studied the facial features of the Tibetan nobility, finding a connection. Later in 1943, Beger fully showed his true colors. "In June 1943 Beger undertook another journey in pursuit of Aryan ancestors who had proved to be rather elusive in Tibet. His destination was the Auschwitz concentration camp. Here he made a selection of more than a hundred Jew and prisoners from central Asia. He measured their skulls and bodies and had face masks made. When Beger left Auschwitz and returned to Berlin, every one of the men and women he had worked on were gassed. Their corpses delivered to SS Dr. August Hirt, an old friend of Beger, to become part of a university anatomical collection." 5
The footage that Schafer, Beger, and the other adventurers took while in Tibet was later turned into a documentary of sorts called "Secret Tibet," or "Geheimnis Tibet," which you can see here. 6 One of the main points of the movie was to show people that the Tibetans had been corrupted by a religion, imported from outside, Buddhism. In the movie it is referred to as "Lamaism" as a derogatory term. "Schafer uses the film to tell his German audience about the history of Tibet, and he makes on point over and over again: Tibet, once a warrior nation, allowed itself to be corrupted and weakened by a religion, and that religion is, of course, Buddhism." This was part of a larger view of Judaism, Catholicism, and Buddhism as forces seeking to dominate the world that would harm the German Reich. 7
Schafer's point was that this warrior people had been corrupted, only leaving vestiges left for him to trace back. It was the influence of outside religion that had corrupted them, gave its leaders false powers, and took a large chunk of the men out of the working force. If Germany too let the influence of Christianity and Judaism affect it, then the Reich too would fall into decay just as the Tibetans had. 8 The Tibetan kings of old had practiced their native religion of "Bon," before it was replaced by Buddhism and their decline and downfall. 9
Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement
A key figure who helped popularize such beliefs about an ancient race of giants in the Tibetan Himalayas was none other than a Russian adventurist born in the 1830's, Helena Blavatsky. Having grown up in a part of Russia which was in contact with many people from the Far East, including experiencing Eastern religious and Tibetans from her youth, she had been hearing similar stories as mentioned in this post all her life. Her grandfather was part of an occultist group and she became very familiar with his library of works. 10 Later on in the 1870's she became part of the Spiritualist Movement in New York City, founding a pilgrimage spot of sorts with a defunct lawyer and civil war officer. "With Olcott's canny assistance, H.P.B. conjured up instead one of the greatest inventions of the nineteenth century - the guru. The elite of America's East Coast soon flocked to hear words of wisdom from this exotic female magus. ... The mysteries of Egypt and Asia were fervently discussed and H.P.B. turned her spirit guides into Spiritual Masters who were teachers, sages, adepts, and brothers rather than mere ghosts. Her home became known as the Lamasery. Thus was born the Theosophical Movement."
Within this movement, Blavatsky began to produce works of occult belief that patchworked together various ideas and doctrines, providing a more uniform history and story. 11 Her first work, Isis Unveiled [The "Veil of Isis" was considered by Blavatsky to be the range of Himalayas which protected the way to Tibet] detailed the existence of a secret brotherhood who were taught secret Eastern occult rituals by a sage. In fact, "She spiced her recipe by claiming that Isis Unveiled had been dictated to her by a tall Hindu who came every day as she sat down to write." Later Olcott and Blavatsky attempt to make the journey to India. "Her mahatmas, first dreamt up in New York, reached full maturity in India. She could now imagine their complete history - a history that began in Tibet, or at least the imaginary Tiber of her childhood. Now she called her Masters the 'Brotherhood of the Snowy Range' ..." 12
The result of this journey, regardless of the adventures she claimed to have had on the way to Tibet were true or not, was her work The Secret Doctrine. "... The Secret Doctrine, with its swastika-decorated cover, was a fifteen-hundred-page, two-volume account of human origin and destiny. It was a turbid cocktail of bogus Tibetan wisdom and evolutionary science, but its grand scheme of seven rounds, seven root races and seven sub-races had an enormous impact."
Blavatsky's History of Humanity as a Foundation for Nazi Doctrine
I am going to quote this part of the book where Hale describes the ideas from The Secret Doctrine in full here.
"This, in brief, is the message Blavatsky brought back from her Great White Brotherhood. Humans had evolved through a series of evolutionary stages each of which had fashioned different races. Several hundred million years ago, the first of these races inhabited the Imperishable Sacred Land. They were boneless, formless, spiritual essences called the Self-born - and were extinguished when their imperishable kingdom sank beneath the ocean. Next up were the Hyperboreans who, like their predecessors, had no bodily form and resided at the North Pole. Reproduction was a matter of spiritual rebirth. True sexual reproduction came much later with the appearance, eighteen million years ago, of the Third Race on a vast Pacific continent called Lemuria. The Lemurians are the villains in Blavatsky's varn because they mated with lesser breeds, so Blavatsky has them destroyed in a cataclysm of fire and flood. Lemuria, too, sank beneath the waves.
Eight hundred and fifty thousand years ago, the Fourth Race appeared on an island continent in the Atlantic Ocean. 13 This was the fabled lost continent of Atlantis first described by Plato. The Atlantans were, literally, giants. They were highly developed spiritually but also invented electrical power and powered flight. They built enormous temples and pyramids. Over time, however, they became immoral and misused their great size and skills. The Atlantic began to rise, submerging their kingdom. And so Atlantis joined the other lost continents on the now rather crowded ocean floor. All was not lost, however. An elite priesthood escaped the destruction of Atlantis, fled to the Gobi Desert and then into the Himalayas. Here they took refuge in the lost Tibetan kingdom of Shambhala. By now a new race had emerged in northern Asia - the Aryans. From their stronghold in Shambhala, the surviving Atlanteans passed on their wisdom to the Aryans, who began to spread south and west across the globe producing a Sixth Sub Race of Anglo-Saxon stock." 14
Occultism and its Influence in Germany
Even after Blavatsky had been debunked, her work The Secret Doctrine continued to exert influence. Since the mid 1800's German scholars had been working to undermine the Biblical accounts of creation and human history. By the 1930's, The Secret Doctrine played its part in filling in the void left behind. "...after 1933, theosophy would become even more popular as Germans were encouraged to turn away from Christianity and embrace faiths that were considered to be more Aryan. For many, The Secret Doctrine appeared to reconcile science and belief, nature and myth, and in Germany it catalyzed a much older intellectual tradition."
Even going back to the early 1800's, "scholars" [like with much of the history they were creating for themselves] claimed that they could tell through the study of Sanskrit that civilization originated in India, holding that both Greek and Latin take their roots from it. 15 "In On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians, published in 1808, Schlegel argued that Sanskrit was the language of the elites and had first been spoken by a race of cultured warriors in northern India. Driven by the noblest of motives, these masterful northerners had conquered and civilized the world. They had founded colonies from Egypt, where they seeded the civilization of the Pharaohs, all the way to Scandinavia. The proof was in their words: Indian and European tongues had all 'spring from some common source.' Schlegel gave a name to his masterful northerners: Aryans. Because of their association with the north, either in India or Europe they also came to be called Nordics."
"Aryans were soon being called Indo-Germans and given the status of Wagnerian heroes: they were youthful, tall, blond, generous, brave and creative." Hence in the later 1800's Pan-German movements flourished, seeking to unite the scattered German people. The Jews, though, had no heritage with them. They were a manipulative and fluid people. 16 By the late 1800's, these sentiments took the form of art and culture, spawning a slew of German Nationalist and Anti-Semitic work. Add to this movement the birth of Darwinian science and anthropology, and you have quite a movement rolling down hill. Names such as Richard Wagner, Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and Ernst Haeckel all joined in the movement with their work.
"From England came Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, filtered through the cult of Indo-German race theory and transformed by German biologists like Ernst Haeckel into a scientific justification of Indo-German superiority. Scientists denounced the horror of miscegenation. If civilization was the gift of blood, then it followed that it could be poisoned by the blood of lesser races. The mingling of unequal blood lines was to be prevented at all costs." Throughout the 1800's German Imperialism to Africa and Asia sought to verify the Aryan history through their exploitation of those peoples. 17 "... Science and occultism lay happily side by side in a fetid embrace." By the early 1900's secret societies, groups, and movements will filled with this type of occultist belief and science.
The "Justification" For Genocide
Hale ends the introduction with a summary paragraph, making the observation that this side of Nazi history cannot be left untold. These theories, myths, and occult beliefs were a critical part of what drove the Nazi machine. "These were the same 'theories' that had preoccupied leading figures in the Third Reich like Heinrich Himmler and Rudolf Hess. Both men had been involved in occult societies in the early 1920s and their memberships overlapped with those of the embryonic Nazi party. Their interest in Social Darwinism and pseudoscientific ideas about lost polar civilizations seemed, at first sight, to be marginal to the realities of the Third Reich and the annihilation of the European Jewry and gypsies. It became clear, however, that this bogus history of an Aryan Master Race had both energized and apparently ennobled the racial thinking that led to what historians have called the 'Racial State' of Nazi Germany. Myth is never harmless." 18
1 - Hale, Christopher. Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race. (Edison, NJ. Castle Books, 2006). Pg. 8.
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