Indology and "the disastrous ideology of the 'pure Aryan race'"

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Thu Jan 18 18:08:27 UTC 2007

Dear Peter, and anyone interested,

There's a good description of the Ahnenerbe and the surrounding historical 
events and people in the book "The Occult Establishment" by James Webb 
(pp.321-4).  His companion book "The Occult Underground" is also excellent 
as a survey of various secret cults and individual "illuminati" mainly in 
the 19 and 20 centuries.  Webb writes well, and his research is thorough, 
including original use of archival sources, diaries and letters in several 
languages.  His work is refreshing in that it gives a good account not 
only of British and American movements and characters, but also of German, 
Polish and Russian participants.

Webb offers extracts from the diary of Wolfram Sievers as examples of the 
day-to-day events of the Ahnenerbe (p.323).  Interestingly, " 4:00 
[on 6 Jan 1944, Sievers] visited Professor Wuest at the university [of 
Munich] to talk about the Ahnenerbe publishing firm and their Sven Hedin 
Institute for Asian Exploration."

Later in "Establishment", Webb mentions Eliade, H. Zimmer, J. W. Hauer and 
others of the extended circle of Jung and the Eranos Conferences from 
about 1930.  Amongst them, Gustav Heyer and Baron Schrenk-Notzing were 
both active figures in Munich occult circles (p.395), though a link with 
the Ahnenerbe -- whose archives were destroyed -- is not established. 
There can be little doubt that Hauer, however, was convinced by NS 
anti-semitic, blood-and-soil, and other creeds, and considered Hitler "the 
genius of our people."

I mention Webb's books because it's my experience that they aren't as well 
known as they deserve to be.


On Wed, 10 Jan 2007, Peter Wyzlic wrote:

> Am 09.01.2007 um 23:35 schrieb George Thompson:
>> The example that I offer comes not from an Indologist, let me say, but 
>> nevertheless from a well-known classicist and historian, Franz Altheim.
>> When I was a graduate student at the Univ. of California at Berkeley, I 
>> frequently visited the library's room where little-used or duplicate books 
>> were withdrawn from circulation and offered for sale.  That is how I 
>> acquired many valuable books and papers, like H. Oldenberg's Rgveda Noten, 
>> vol 1, as well as his "Zur Geschichte der altindischen Prosa."   I also 
>> acquired Altheim's *Die Krise der Alten Welt im 3. Jahrhundert n. zw. und 
>> ihre Ursachen: Bildteil von E. Trautmann-Nehring: Dritter Band: Goetter und 
>> Kaiser* 1943.
>> This book was a curiosity which sat on the library's sale shelf for many 
>> months.  It seems that no one was willing to touch it.  As a result, every 
>> few months its price was cut in half, so that I eventually bought it for 
>> one dollar.
>> The book was published by "Ahnenerbe-Stiftung Verlag, Berlin-Dahlem, 1943" 
>> -- a rather ominous title, given the date of publication.  But what makes 
>> this book good evidence of complicity or consent is that it was preceded by 
>> the following Gleitwort:
>> "Ein Volk lebt so lange gluecklich in Gegenwart und Zukunft, als es sich 
>> seiner Vergangenheit und der Groesse seiner Ahnen bewisst ist."  Signed by 
>> Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuehrer.
>> Was it common that books published in Germany during the war years would 
>> have had a Gleitwort from the likes of Himmler?  Is there any evidence that 
>> any Indological books published in Germany from that period may have had 
>> such a stamp of approval?
> I would say, that the "Ahnenerbe-Stiftung Verlag" as the publication unit of 
> the "Ahnenerbe" was special in several regards. The "Ahnenerbe" was 
> originally an association funded by the SS (in the mid-thirties), later it 
> became directly a department of or in the SS. Its leading figure was Himmler 
> himself, the chief executive and scholarly directors belonged also to the SS. 
> At the onset, it was a playground for certain un-academic theories that 
> Himmler wanted to support in some way (mainly the prehistorical symbol 
> theories of Herman Wirth and the so-called "Welt-Eis-Lehre", a cosmogonical 
> theory by the Austrian Hanns Hörbiger). Later in the thirties, the first 
> director Herman Wirth was replaced by the indologist Walther Wüst; and under 
> Wüst the organisation took a more "scholarly" turn. One objective was to gain 
> a foothold in the universities or, generally, in the academic world (mainly 
> directed against similar activities of Alfred Rosenberg). This involved 
> funding of research projects. And in this context one has to see the 
> publication of Franz Altheim. It is the output of a project for which he got 
> financial support from the Ahnenerbe (or the SS if you like). Detailed 
> background information on Altheim's involvement can be found in a monograph 
> by V. Loseman (based not only on published but also on unpublished archive 
> materials):
> Losemann, Volker: Nationalsozialismus und Antike : Studien zur Entwicklung 
> des Faches Alte Geschichte 1933 - 1945 / Volker Losemann. - Hamburg : 
> Hoffmann und Campe, 1977. - 283 p. - (Historische Perspektiven ; 7). - ISBN 
> 3-455-09219-5
> Short version of the original Ph.D. thesis: Losemann, Volker: Antike und 
> Nationalsozialismus, Marburg, Univ., Diss., 1975
> So far I know, Walther Wüst was the only indologist who was a member the 
> Ahnenerbe. Its main focus was at first Germanic folklore (under the 
> perspective of H. Wirth's symbol theories), later under Wüst cultural or 
> university politics (infiltration into the university system, taking over of 
> scholarly journals etc.). After the breakout of the war the Ahnenerbe became 
> even more sinister; a natural sciences department was build under the label 
> "kriegswissenschaftliche Zweckforschung". Medical doctors who belonged to 
> this department were involved in experiments with human beings (e.g. S. 
> Rascher in Dachau). On this see the recent publication of Heather Pringle: 
> The master plan : Himmler's scholars and the Holocaust / Heather Pringle. - 
> London : Fourth Estate, 2006. - xii, 463 p. : ill. - ISBN 0-00-714812-7
> Gerd Simon, a scholar in German studies from Tübingen, has announced for 2007 
> or 2008 a monograph on Walther Wüst and his role. According to the 
> announcement the title will be:
> Mit Akribie und Bluff ins Zentrum der Macht : Walther Wüst und das 
> 'Etymologische und vergleichende Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen' / Gerd Simon 
> unter Mitwirkung von Dieter M. Walther Back. ISBN 3-932613-05-8
> (Due in 2008, according to the list of publications: 
> All the best
> Peter Wyzlic
> --
> Peter Wyzlic
> pwyzlic at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list