Ahnenerbe was founded on July 1st, 1935 by Heinrich Himmler, Richard Walther Darré (Reichsminister of Food and Agriculture, believe it or not) and one Herman Wirth. Initially it was an independent organization, but in 1939 it was incorporated into the SS system.
Obviously, it were not his agricultural duties that made Dr. Darré to become one of the founders of Ahnenerbe. On 1 January 1932, Reichsführer-SS Himmler promoted him to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer (two-star general) and appointed him chief of the newly established SS Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA).
The infamous RuSHA (not to be confused with RSHA – Main Security Office of the Third Reich established seven years later) was charged with implemented racial policies of the SS (and subsequently the government of the Nazi Germany).
Among its other duties, RuSHA was responsible for a “proper” racial education of SS members. In other words, for brainwashing the latter with genuinely outrageous racial beliefs and dogmas of the Nazis.
To make these beliefs more respectable and, yes, believable, RuSHA (and personally Dr. Darré) needed at least some scientific proof of the validity of the latter. Consequently, he was the primary customer of Ahnenerbe “research”.
However, it was the third founder of Ahnenerbe – Dr. Herman Wirth – that created the legend of a mysterious, mystical and occult Ahnenerbe organization.
Herman Wirth was a Dutch-German historian and scholar of ancient religions and symbols (and a committed Nazi) which made him an ideal candidate as the co-founder and research director of Ahnenerbe.
What made him a bad candidate for this position, were his lavish spending habits (which already bankrupted one organization) and his deep belief in Atlantis and similar occult staff.
Himmler was seriously involved in the occult (his quest for the Holy Grail and for the Codex Aesinas and his activities at Wewelsburg Castle prove it beyond the reasonable doubt).
However, for him Ahnenerbe had one and only one purpose – provide solid scientific proof for the Nazi racial beliefs and dogmas. Which left no room for extravagant occult theories of Dr. Wirth.
And, of course, money was always an issue – in mid-thirties Himmler had access to only very limited funds. So after Herman Wirth made a fatal mistake by enraging Hitler himself with his a speech at the Reichsparteitag (Nazi party congress), SS Reichsführer decided that he had enough and promptly deposed Wirth as president of the Ahnenerbe.
He replaced Wirth with Walther Wüst – a genuine scientist (Indo-Europeanist and Vedicist) from the University of Munich. The key reason for choosing Wirth was the rare ability of the latter to simplify science for the “common man” (i.e. the members of the SS).
Ahnenerbe was a huge organization – it ultimately included over thirty (!) institutes that conducted research in such diverse areas as history, philology, culture, linguistics, jurisprudence, folklore, philosophy, architecture, landscape, biology, geology, entomology, astronomy, botany, genetics, speleology, medicine and military technologies.
It organized an impressive number of scientific expeditions – to then-Finnish Karelia, Germany (Jutland Peninsula, Baden-Württemberg and Mauern caves in Franconia), France, Sweden, Tibet, Poland, then-Russian Crimea (where Himmler intended to set up a huge German colony), Ukraine and even to New Swabia in Antarctica.
Contrary to a very popular misconception, there was nothing mysterious (or occult) about their expeditions to Tibet or Antarctica (or any other places for that matter). In Tibet, Ahnenerbe team had three objectives – purely scientific, propaganda and military.
The scientific objective was to develop a complete (“holistic’) scientific record of Tibet, through a synthesis of geology, botany, zoology, and ethnology. The propaganda objective was to find the proof for Nazi racial theory that a group of pure-blooded Aryans once had settled in Tibet. The military objective was to investigate the possibility of establishing the region as a base for attacking the British troops stationed in India.
The main purpose of the New Swabia expedition was to find an area in Antarctica for a German whaling station, as a way to increase Germany’s production of fat (and thus radically decrease its dependence on imports).
Whale oil was then the most important raw material for the production of margarine and soap in Germany and the country was the second largest purchaser of Norwegian whale oil, importing some 200,000 metric tons annually. Another goal was to scout possible locations for a German naval base – to establish control over the coast of South America.
While scientific and military results of these expeditions were mixed, propaganda ones were a dismal failure. Expeditions uncovered precisely zero proof for Nazi racial theories. For a very simple reason of course – there was no such proof in the first place, because these theories were a total bunk.
Although Ahnenerbe initially was not a criminal organization (and for the most part managed to stay that way), it eventually did get involved in criminal activities (like many other organizations in Nazi Germany).
In 1943, Wolfram Sievers (managing director of Ahennerbe since 1935), was appointed director of the Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung (Institute for Military Scientific Research).
The institute (established on Himmler’s orders) conducted extensive experiments in Dachau concentration camp using human subjects in such deadly environments as vacuum chambers, freezing water and the like.
It was also involved in assembling the so-called “Jewish skeleton collection” by murdering eighty-six Jewish men and women as well as in experiments with gunshot wounds and mustard gas.
Not surprisingly, after the war (at the so-called Doctors’ Trial) Sievers was found guilty of crimes against humanity (mass murder, actually) and executed by hanging on June 2, 1948, at Landsberg Prison.
His assistant Sigmund Rascher was arrested by the Gestapo, tried by the infamous People’s Court, found guilty of theft, murder of his former lab assistant, and scientific fraud and executed by firing squad on 26 April 1945 in Dachau – three days before the camp was liberated by Americans. Who would have hanged him anyway.
Another his associate – August Hirt – performed experiments with mustard gas on inmates at the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp and played a lead role in the murders of 86 people at Natzweiler-Struthof for the Jewish skeleton collection – committed suicide on June 2nd, 1945 thus escaping trial for his crimes.
As all other SS organizations, Ahnenerbe ceased to exist after the demise of the Third Reich and unconditional surrender of German Armed Forces. Like Himmler’s quest for the Holy Grail and his other occult activities (with possible exception of what was going on in Wewelsburg castle), Ahnenerbe project was a colossal waste of money, time, manpower and other precious resources.
Which contributed to the defeat in World War II and to the ultimate demise of the Third Reich.
However, the idea of an SS research institute was actually not a bad one. But it should have focused on an entirely different objective (ironically related to one of the racial objectives of the SS and of the Nazi Party).
This objective was to develop the “nation of Gods”. In other words, to re-create the “Godlike race” that according to (erroneous) Nazi beliefs once existed in mythical places such as Atlantis, Hyperborea, etc.
While it is obviously impossible to transform Homo Sapiens into Gods, it is possible to make humans radically more efficient by making them uncover, activate and use their full creative and productive potential.
Currently we use about 5% of this potential (if that). Consequently, increasing this efficiency to 50% (which is very much possible) will transform us into beings that some might consider “Godlike”.
The “transformation tools” have been developed millennia ago (by Western and Eastern monks, hermits, mystics and the like)… and have nothing to do with eugenics, selective breeding and other bio-nonsense. These tools involve meditation, physical exercise, prayer and similar techniques.
Had Himmler and the SS concentrated on this objective (rather than on their insane racial dogmas) – and pursued the corresponding “secret knowledge and skills” (instead of something that simply never existed), the outcome of World War II (and the fate of Nazi Germany) could have been very different.