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The Master Plan Himmler's Scholars And the…
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The Master Plan Himmler's Scholars And the Holocaust (2006)

by Heather Pringle

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A semi-popular account of the Ahnenerbe, Himmler’s lethal racialist think tank, what Pringle does well is to link Himmler’s own cultural and racial obsessions to the course of myth-making (one hates to dignify the whole fraudulent enterprise as research) conducted by the agency. This is particularly in the pre-war period, when the Ahnenerbe looked nothing so much as a deranged mirror image of the National Geographic Society.

Somewhat less satisfactory is the accounting of the agency's wartime activities, when there was less emphasis on collecting supposed lost Aryan wisdom (though such activities never totally ceased) and more on providing intelligence for the SS killing teams out in the field. Though one imagines this is due to key documentation being lost or destroyed, not to mention that while there were participants who tried to justify their pre-war work as real science, activities such as the collection of human specimens and lethal lab experiments were (of course) hushed-up. It’s probably amazing that we know as much about these atrocities as we do.

As for the denouement of it all, in the process of examining the post-war fates of the participants Pringle wonders why so many of the actual scientists who were sucked into Himmler’s racialist enterprise didn’t recoil. This seems to be a particular reaction to Pringle’s encounter with Bruno Beger, the resident anthropologist on the 1939 expedition to Tibet, and a largely unrepentant believer in the Nazi racialist thinking of the time.

Part of the answer, as Michael Allen observed in "The Business of Genocide," is that there may well be a moral blind spot in the disinterested pose often found in the scientific and technological endeavor, which can slide into amorality. When combined with the ideological commitment that held the Nazi party together (and which Pringle probably doesn’t play up enough) and the sheer self-centered ambition of so many who joined the SS, it’s not a surprise one wound up with a lethal combination. ( )
1 vote Shrike58 | Aug 9, 2011 |
A duty read - a witness to evil. The book details some of the history of the Ahnenerbe, a Nazi-SS organization for "scientific" research. The first half of the book looks at some hilarious stuff the organization did; it could be lifted from the screen of an Indiana Jones movie. They looked for evidence of ancient Aryan empires in Tibet and in the centre of Scandinavia, all in an effort to prove that Aryans, who effectively never existed, were the smarter-than-the-average bear race destined to dominate the world. The Ahnenerbe looked for ways to define "Aryaness" and "Jewishness". The place was overrun with bozos, judging by the book. In the second half of the book, the humour ends. These same bozos subjected Jewish victims to medical experiments with chemicals, cold, and disease, killing most of their victims, usually in agony. Some eighty Jews were killed so that their bones could be studied to define Jewishness. Many of the "scientists" of the Ahnenerbe reached high SS rank, as they were favourites of Himmler. Sadly, virtually none of these murders and their assistants were brought to justice after the war. Some prospered. The memories of the National Socialist regime of Hitler have dimmed. We should never forget the evils that were perpetrated in his name, and by tens-hundreds of thousands of willing Germans and Austrians. This book is a little bit of their witness.
It could, however, have been better written. It is very loose in structure and tends to drift off every now and then until the author is seized with indignation at the evil of the Ahnenerbe staffers. ( )
  RobertP | Jul 27, 2009 |
Exhaustively researched, this study of the German Ahnenerbe, Himmler's think tank created to support some of the more ludicrous Nazi ideology with archaeological or sociological study is a fascinating look at science gone wrong. Imagine what these scholars could have accomplished had they sought to advance learning rather than bend it to political ends. ( )
  Meggo | Dec 26, 2006 |
Showing 4 of 4
A sweeping history of the Nazi research institute, The Ahnenerbe. The Master Plan is at once horrifying, transfixing, and monumentally important to understanding how the Holocaust progressed from fantasy to reality.
 
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Epigraph
The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.
-FRANCISCO GOYA

He Marveled at how the past could be
refigured to suit the present, at how fragile reality
truly was when you started to twist it.

-ALAN FURST
Dedication
TO GEOFF AND MY BROTHER ALEX
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786868864, Hardcover)

A groundbreaking history of the Nazi research institute whose work helped lead to the extermination of millions

In 1935, Heinrich Himmler established a Nazi research institute called The Ahnenerbe, whose mission was to send teams of scholars around the world to search for proof of Ancient Aryan conquests. But history was not their most important focus. Rather, the Ahnenerbe was an essential part of Himmler's master plan for the Final Solution. The findings of the institute were used to convince armies of SS men that they were entitled to slaughter Jews and other groups. And Himmler also hoped to use the research as a blueprint for the breeding of a new Europe in a racially purer mold.

The Master Plan is a groundbreaking expos of the work of German scientists and scholars who allowed their research to be warped to justify extermination, and who directly participated in the slaughter -- many of whom resumed their academic positions at war's end. It is based on Heather Pringle's extensive original research, including previously ignored archival material and unpublished photographs, and interviews with living members of the institute and their survivors. A sweeping history told with the drama of fiction, The Master Plan is at once horrifying, transfixing, and monumentally important to our comprehension of how something as unimaginable as the Holocaust could have progressed from fantasy to reality.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 1935, Heinrich Himmler established a Nazi research institute called The Ahnenerbe, whose mission was to search around the world for proof of ancient Aryan conquests. But history was not their most important focus--rather, the Ahnenerbe was an essential part of the plan for the Final Solution. The findings were used to convince armies of SS men that they were entitled to slaughter Jews and other groups. Himmler also hoped to use the research as a blueprint for the breeding of a new Europe in a racially purer mold. This book, based on original research, including previously ignored archival material and interviews with living members of the institute, is an expose of the work of German scientists and scholars who allowed their research to be warped to justify extermination, and who directly participated in the slaughter--many of whom resumed their academic positions at war's end.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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