The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust

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9780007148134: The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust

Now in paperback, the groundbreaking history of the Nazi research institute whose work helped lead to the extermination of millions

For those who thought the zealous Nazi archaeologists in Raiders of the Lost Ark were a screenwriter's fabrication, journalist Heather Pringle has the chilling, real story. In 1935, Heinrich Himmler--chief of the SS and architect of the death camps--founded the Ahnenerbe, a research institute that manufactured archaeological evidence to support the notion of Aryan superiority. His team of adventurers, mystics, and reputable scholars was charged with traveling the globe to compile "proof" that a race of blondhaired, blue-eyed conquerors had dominated the world in prehistoric times. The identification of their descendants and the eradication of all others became the cornerstone of the Nazi agenda.

Drawing on Pringle's extensive original research, including interviews with surviving members of the Ahnenerbe, The Master Plan is a page-turning story of delusion and excess, of scientific and political abuse on a global scale.

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About the Author:

Heather Pringle is the author of The Mummy Congress. Her work as a journalist has appeared in Science, Geo, New Scientist, and Discover, where she is currently a contributing editor. She has lectured across the United States and Canada--from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. She lives in British Columbia.

From Publishers Weekly:

Considering the thousands of volumes covering every aspect of the Nazis, it's becoming increasingly difficult to say anything new about their dreadful era. Nevertheless, Pringle (The Mummy Congress), a contributing editor to Discover magazine, gamely steps up to the plate—and has produced a fascinating volume detailing the Nazis' crackpot theories about prehistory and the Indiana Jones–style lengths they went to prove them. Employing a team of researchers, Pringle investigates Heinrich Himmler's private think tank, the Ahnenerbe, which dispatched scholars to the most inhospitable and distant parts of the world to discover evidence of ancient Aryan conquests and the Germans' racial superiority. Some believed their own bizarre garbage; others perverted the facts for personal advancement or prostituted their reputations for the greater glory of Hitler. While it would be otherwise easy to laugh off the Ahnenerbe's ludicrous theories, Pringle argues that the institute provided the "academic" justification for the Holocaust and assembles a powerful body of evidence to that effect. Though one may wonder just how central the Ahnenerbe actually was to Hitler's thinking, when Pringle meets one of the most sinister of Himmler's scholars, his pride about the institute's "research" is distinctly disquieting. This is first-rate popular history—supported by an immense amount of scholarly apparatus in a range of languages. (Feb. 15)
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