by Olav Phillips
Ahnenerbe’ s 1938 Tibet Expedition.
History, as we know it, is a pervasively malleable thing and as time has shown us
history has often used as an ideological tool to support a philosophical or political
agenda. World history is ripe with examples of historical tampering such as the near
deletion of World War Two Japanese aggression in modern Japanese text books, or
the downplaying of our own aggression such as the bombing of Dresden or the use
of nuclear devices in combat. In the United States we have removed historic
references to our own atrocities like the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments or covered
up government projects such as Operation Midnight Climax and the LSD
experimentation done in San Francisco. But perhaps the most interesting and
sinister use of revisionism belongs to the Warrior Historians of the Third Reich, the
So who are the Ahnenerbe and what exactly did they do? More importantly how
was Ahnenerbe research leveraged by the Nazi political machine to create a broader
mythology. A mythology, which when leveraged by the Nazi propaganda machine
galvanized the German people behind the sinister beliefs of the upper tier Nazi
Our story starts in January of 1929 which Henrich Himmler, leader of the fledgling
Schutzstaffel or SS. At the time of its creation the SS number some 300 individuals,
but Himmler quickly realized that to fully realize his vision of the SS he needed to
establish a powerful Nordic mythos which would propel the SS from a bodyguard of
around 300 to a power political engine of nearly 10,000 members by 1931. To
achieve his fully realized agenda and aggressively recruit he knew that the SS must
be transformed into an elite organization of Nordic men and women with some sort
of historical precedent. It was a precedent derived from theosophy and the deeply
occult advisors to the then German leaders.
An example of this can clearly be seen later in Leni Rienfenstahl’s Nazi epic Triumph
of the Will, which portrayed the SS as knights riding into the Nuremberg rally on
horse back sporting chainmail armor and shields sporting the swastika. Banners
fluttering in the wind as the volk or German people stand besides these modern
Nazi nights. It was an image which forever reinforcing the vision of the SS as the
knights of the Third Reich.
But we need to get back to our story. As an avid student of history Himmler
fundamentally knew he needed to establish a divine providence in order to
perpetuate this myth and chose to do this by fashioning the SS after his
mythological interpretation of the Teutonic Knights, but that required reeducation
and research, it also required historic precedent. So in in 1931 Himmler tasked SS-
Obergrupenfuher Ruchard Darre to form the “Race and Settlement Office of the SS.”
The formation of this office resulted in new SS recruits being trained, or re-
educated, by Darre’s office and their senior officers as well as a publication called
“SS-Leitheft” which again reinforced this mythos of the SS has modern Nordic
Teutonic Knights protecting the motherland and most importantly the volk or
The project and Darre’s contribution was seen as highly successful, and in 1935
Himmler again met with Darre as well as Herman Wirth, who at the time was seen
as one of Nazi Germany’s pre-emanate pre-historians as well several other “racial”
experts with the intent to form a think tank to provide ongoing research and
support of the Nazi’s racial superiority and well as supporting the constructed
history and pre-history of the German people.
What came out of that meeting was the “Deutsches Ahnenerbe—Studiengesellschaft
für Geistesurgeschichte” or translated as “German Ancestral Heritage—Society for
the Study of the History of Primeval Ideas.” Long title, but short story was this as
the very think tank and research arm the SS needed to perpetuate their philosophy
and contrived history.
Wirth was given the role of president of the organization with Wolfram Sievers as
the General Secretary functioning as the head of Ahnenerbe operations. A
operational portfolio which was as vast as it was damaging, especially long term.
Sievers, Wirth and later Dr. Walther Wurst, former dean of Ludwig Maximillians
University, set about to fashion the Ahnenerbe as a research organization and filled
it largely with academics which pedigree was used to reinforce the legitimacy of the
Ahnenerbe findings, no matter how insane it was because at the end of the day those
findings were legitimized by the state. So it was presented and staffed as a
legitimate SS research organization, which sought to prove the racial claims of the
Third Reich and they did it with PhD’s and experts, which is a pretty scary notion. It
is historical manipulation on a mass scale and implemented by the very academics
who were supposed to be in search of actual history, but instead leveraged their
skills to perpetuate an ideology.
Ok so you mentioned the Ahenerbe was a research group, so what kinds of things
did they research?
Financed by a SS budget line (which was massive to say the least), and beholden
only to Henrich Himmler directly, the Ahnenerbe began to spread out across the
world in search of scientific proof of Aryan superiority, which also including some
interesting side trips in search of historical Christian relics and other strangeness.
What follows is a partial list of some of the Ahnenerbe research excursions:
Karelia: In 1935 Himmler commissioned an expedition lead by Yrjo Von Gronhagen
to journey through the Karelia area of Finland in search of Nordic pagan practices
including the use of witches and sorcerers in hopes of not only using their skills to
perpetuate the thousand year Reich but also to foresee the outcomes of battles. The
expedition got underway in June of 1938 and results in the capturing of a ritual
performed by a soothsayer named Miron-Aku who was convinced to perform a
ritual on camera. Miron-Aku then proceeded to contact the ancient ancestors to
divine future events after informing the Ahnenerbe team they were expected.
Ahnenerbe Expedition to Antartica
Bohuslan: In August of 1936 a new expedition was commissioned under the control
of Wurst but managed by Sievers to explore ancient petroglyphs of the Bohuslan
region of Sweden. On the island of Rugen, Wurth believed he found symbols
representing an ancient archaic Aryan alphabet, and he interpreted the symbols to
represent “the Son of God” due in part to a petroglyph of a man with raised arms.
This was taken to show that ancient Aryan’s mastered, even early on a alphabet and
demonstrated their advanced intellectual superiority.
Val Camonica: In 1937 the Ahnenerbe expedition lead by Dr. Franz Altheim, a
lecturer at the University of Frankfurt, journeyed to Val Camonica, again in search
of petroglyphs which they believe to show that Rome and by proxy the Romans
were of Nordic decent.
Middle East: In 1938 base don his perceived success at Val Camonia, Altheim lead
an expedition that moved throughout the Middle East in search of evidence of war
fought between the Nordic Roman Empire and the Semetic peoples of the area. This
expedition took Altheim from Romania to Istanbul, Athens, Lebanon, Iraq and
eventually ending in Saudi Arabia.
New Swabia: In 1938 through 1939 the Ahnenerbe were again out in search of pre-
historic archeological finds. This time in Antarctica, and lead by noted explorer
Capt. Alfred Ritscher. The Antarctic expedition was partially to explore the Antarctic
contentment but the team also had a secondary objective of locating the lost
continent of Atlantis which some had hypothesized resided in Antarctica. What is
notable about this expedition is that it also laid the ground work for the Nazi
Antarctic survival mythos and the ideas around Base 211. Some readers may
remember that a site of which was supposedly found during the expedition and later
extended by elements of the Navy and Army to serve as Base 211 or a hidden long
term fortress from which the dying (at that point) Third Reich could continue their
Ahnenerbe in Greece
Germany: Starting early on in the history of the Ahnenerbe several major
operations were undertaken a little closer to home in both the Murg valley where
Ahnenerbe teams excavated a ancient fortress as well as the burial mounds in
Tumulus. Perhaps their largest discovery came in Jura Mountains where R.R.
Schmidt discovered the use of red ochre pigment used by Cro-Magnon artists.
Additionally they found other artifacts such as pendants, spears and a wooly
mammoth skeleton, which Dr. Assien Bohmers interpreted to show that the site had
been used by the earliest Cro-Magnon in the world who were not only amazing
artists but also the predecessors to the Aryans.
Meanwhile in France two separate Ahnenerbe team members were dispatched to
recover the Bayeux Tapestry which purported to show long lost Germanic heroes
defeating their enemies. The mission was a failure but again demonstrates the
Ahnenerbe’s interest in all things Heroic and Germanic.
Tibet: Perhaps one of the most famous Ahnenerbe missions was one lead by Dr.
Ernst Schafer, a zoologist by training. Schafer lead the expedition in 1938 to journey
to Tibet and show a clear link between the Tibetans and the mythological Germanic
heroes especially interesting to the Ahnenerbe scholars because of the Tibetan use
of the Swastika. The mission was also tasked with finding the mystical cities of
Shambala and Agarti and to make contact with their mythical populations to secure
their support and gain access to the high tech weaponry they were believed to
possess. More modern appraisals of the mission have also pointed to Schafer
performing scouting for a base from which the Nazi’s could harass or attack India. It
is also believed that Schafer brought back a group of Tibetan monks who took up
residence in Berlin and were later found after the occupation having committed
Poland: Shortly after the invasion of Poland, Sievers secured an Ahnenerbe mission
to Poland to retrieve the Viet Stoss altar as well as the general looting of the
museums in Krakow and other major cities in search of records of Germanic
Crimea: In July of 1942 Dr. Herbert Jankuhn was sent to the Crimea to loot several
museums in search of Germanic and Gothic artifacts denoting Germanic ancestry.
After conferring with the local Einsatzkommando unit, the museums were located
and with the cover of the 5 th SS Panzer unit Jankuhn was able to enter the museum,
only to find that the artifacts had been relocated.
This represents just a fraction of the missions carried out by the Ahnenerbe over the
course of their existence, and serves as a snapshot into the minds of the Ahnenerbe
program managers and their selection criteria. Most notably the ongoing scientific
justification for the Nazi mythos, and by proxy the justification for their ongoing
programs of atrocity based on that mythos.
Even while these explorations, and others, were underway including missions to
locate Atlantis and Ultima Thule in both the Antarctic, the Arctic as well as
Scandinavia another more sinister pattern was also starting to emerge.
Its long been known that many members of the Nazi regime were occultists, and by
proxy many of their decisions were driven by their firm belief in things like the
occult and theosophy but what is not generally known is their dedicated programs
to recover, for some unknown purpose, Christian religious artifacts.
A case in point is the mission of Otto Rahn. Rahn, who while studying at the
University of Giessen as a medievalist, came into contact with a professor named
Baron von Gall. That contact lead Rahn to become fascinated with the Cathar Heresy
and the Massacre at Monsegur where in the final battle of the Albigensian Crusade
the crusader forces defeated the last Cathar stronghold and slaughtered all if its
Rahn, fascinated by the Cathar heresy and the Albigensian Crusade began to do
research and at some point became convinced that the Holy Grail was to be found in
Pyrenees region of southern France and was somehow related to the Heresy. Aided
by Wolfram Von Eschenbach’s Perzival as well as Antonin Gadall, Rahn sought to
link the Cathars, who he believed to be the guards of the Holy Grail, which he also
believed to have been housed at the castle of Montsegur, to Druids who had
apparently converted to Gnostic Manichaeism.
Rahn held firmly to the belief that the Druids in Britain formed the foundation of the
later Celtic Christian Church and that in culture of the medieval Cathars there was a
strong resemblance to the beliefs of the ancient Druids. He equated the Druidic
priests to the Cathar Parfaits and believed strongly that the Cathar Mystery School
was being preserved by the Troubadours, a type of the travelling poet and
entertainer of the medieval courts of France.
He researching the Grail mystery Rahn has developed the idea that the Cathers, as
the Grail Guardians, had hidden the Grail at Monsegur, and as impending defeat
approached had moved it to some other location in Languedoc region by sending
small teams of men over the walls to repel down the sides of the fortress with the
Grail in hand.
Shortly after the publications of his books, Otto Rahn’s research came to the
attention of Himmler who requested an audience and later convinced Rahn to join
the SS as a non-commissioned officer. Rahn’s joining the SS gave Himmler the
ability, through the Ahnenerbe, to bankroll Rahn’s research.
Rahn’s quest took him from Southern France to Iceland and all points in-between.
But at some point during his research and travels Rahn became disillusioned with
the SS, the Ahnenerbe and Himmler’s questions and eventually sought to leave the
SS. This repudiation of the SS and Ahnenerbe lead to Rahn being punished, and sent
to be a guard at Dachau until his eventual dismissal from the SS in 1939. Shortly
after which he was found frozen to death in the Tyrolean Mountains.
At the time, Rahn’s death was ruled suicide but many have hypothesized that Rahn
had been privy to some sort of larger Nazi plan and was murdered to close the loop.
Rumors still abound, despite his denial, that he actually did discover the Holy Grail
and transferred it to the SS / Himmler and was then washed out and murdered to
bury the secret. According to this theory, the Grail, Spear of Destiny and the Ark on
the Covenant were taken into protective custody by the United States Government
at the end of the war having been recovered during previous Ahnenerbe
The larger question that needs to now be taken on is Himmler and by proxy the
Nazi’s interest in Christian artifacts. Why would an organization that is
fundamentally occult search out and stockpile artifacts of a competing religion? On
the surface it seems like a very simple equation. The Nazi’s who sought total
societal domination were seeking to suppress a non-state sponsored occult
practices but at the same time the Nazi party enjoyed some level of support, as well
as ongoing support, by the Catholic Church. So we face a conundrum – why would a
fundamentally occult state fund operations to recover Christian artifacts?
For the answer to this we must look again look at the Ahnenerbe and the SS as a
organization as a whole. For example, shortly after looting the “Spear of Destiny”
from an Austrian museum, looted by elite SS commandos, it has been reported by
various authors that the spear was presented to Hitler by Himmler and at that point
early in the Nazi odyssey that the Nazi’s started to overtake vast chunks of Western
Europe. It was also reported that while rebuilding Wewelsburg Castle there was a
design on the books for a main hall whose design was inspired to be the earth bound
representation of the Spear of Destiny and by leveraging that design invoking the
spears power of the SS and its conquests.
The Nazi party, or at least the leaders, obviously believed that these objects contain
some sort of ritual power, which they could leverage for continued success. In the
case of the Spear of Destiny its, believed it was carried during early SS engagements
during World War 2. But that path is clear that the Nazi’s were after religious
artifacts, they were deep occultists, and they believed at multiple levels of the power
those objects wielded.
There is also another option. In conspiracy theory many times we seek as
researchers to establish links to a Lucifarian agenda. In some ways it seems to be a
catchall for the bad, we as humans cant believe that we would do such things to each
other so we evoke a kind of evasion tactic and blame the Devil/Lucifer. In this case
though, especially given the obvious occult agenda it might be a situation where
these very same artifacts captured by the Ahnenerbe could have been used in occult
rites to summon or to invoke. At some level that would make sense, its
uncomfortable but it would answer a lot of unknowns about why.
The investigations by the Ahnenerbe to establish the Aryan/Nazi mythos make
sense. The leadership had so much invested in this type of propaganda and used
Ahnenerbe findings to bolster their claims. It’s the obsession with Christian artifacts
that is puzzling, and can really only be attributable to some larger occult agenda that
was in play. The higher echelon certainly believed in the occult agenda and
attempted to leverage it throughout their reign of power not only to inspire the volk
as they put it but also in their daily dealings. So it really does make sense that if they
could find these Christian artifacts they would utilize them in their occult dealings
as well as leveraging the power, which they are purported to contain.
One final note on the Ahnenerbe, which is also very interesting. When the Germans
were defeated a great many things and people went missing. Priceless artifacts,
paintings, money and people disappeared through the ratlines. Billions of dollars
disappeared into banks, and it is believed a massive loot of gold was dumped into a
lake in northern Germany.
One thing that did not go missing is the Ahnenerbe research archive. As Germany
was falling in those final days, soldiers were sent to round up documents and
preserve them and prevent them from being destroyed. While they didn’t gather all
the documents, and I’m sure some were inevitably destroyed, someone somewhere
placed a great significance on the preservation of the Ahnenerbe archives. Some of
which can be found today in the United States Archive, if you know where to look.
What’s missing we’ll never know but what is there is significant. Their protection
and presence adds a interesting final note on the Ahnenerbe.
Why would a fringe occult organization have such significant information as to be
protected at that level? We can only wonder what they really did find, and what is
suppressed. Did they succeed in tracking down the Holy Grail, the Ark, or the Spear
of Destiny? Possibly, and just as the closing to Raiders of the Lost Ark are those
items stored in a warehouse somewhere – probably. It makes you wonder.