Ahnenerbe-SS or to give it its full title, Ahnenerbe Forschungs und Lehrgemeinschaft (The Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society), was founded by Heinrich Himmler in 1935, but did not become part of the SS until 1940. It was one of the more bizarre aspects of the Nazi regime, as it attempted to give legitimacy to the notion of German supremacy by claiming that they were direct descendants from an original perfect race, the Atlanteans.
When you add this to the Nazi support for Hans Hoerbiger’s crazy cosmology, strange expeditions to Tibet, and SS agents attempting to steal Crystal Skulls in South America, you cannot help wondering how such eccentric activities could have been accepted by the higher echelons of the Nazi establishment. It is contended that the Germans maintained strong links with Tibet and it is reported that when the Russians entered Berlin in 1945 they found many Tibetan corpses in SS uniforms, apparently after committing ritual suicide. This frequently quoted account is more than suspect.
The Ahnenerbe also studied the occult, a matter that has been investigated by a number of writers, including an early work by Herbie Brennan, whose book is complemented by The Occult History of the Third Reich website(a). The same site reviews the place of Atlantis in Nazi thinking(g) as well as an overview of the Ahnenerbe(h).
The quest for the Holy Grail was also high on the Ahnenerbe agenda, which was led by one Otto Rahn. He eventually fell from favour and as punishment was assigned to work in the SS-run Dachau concentration camp(a).
The Ahnenerbe attracted many seeking to avoid military service, as its work was considered essential to the war effort. It had fifty different research branches known as Institutes and also ran a large publishing operation. It had Institutes dealing with Celtic Studies, Musicology and Norse Gods, but its most abhorrent activities were the carrying out of experiments on live humans, mainly from the concentration camps.
The unbelievable ideas, including an Atlantean ancestry for the Nazis that were peddled by the Ahnenerbe are extensively covered in the recent ‘must read’ book, The Master Plan by Heather Pringle. Her fascinating book includes an account of Himmler’s bizarre plan to exploit the mandatory use of bicycle reflectors to fund the activities of the Ahnenerbe!
Incidentally, the reflectors was invented in 1936 by one of Hitler’s chauffeurs, Anton Loibl, who formed a limited company (Anton Loibl GmbH)(e) with the SS(b) which channelled part of the royalty income to the Ahnenerbe, to fund their expeditions around the world seeking evidence for the origins of the Aryan ‘master race’.
However, Pringle also exposes the involvement of the Ahnenerbe in the plundering of museums in occupied countries and, more seriously, the painful and often fatal medical ‘experiments’ carried out on concentration camp inmates.
Film clips, in German, relating to the Anenerbe are available on the Internet(c).
Another site offers further insights into Nazi archaeology(d).