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The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust [Hardcover]

Heather Pringle
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Product Description

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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From Booklist

As Pringle relates, in 1935 Heinrich Himmler and a small group of associates founded an elite Nazi research institute, the Ahnenerbe. Its purpose was to unearth evidence of the accomplishments of Germany's ancestors as far back as the Stone Age and to convey these findings to the German public through magazine articles, books, museum shows, and scientific conferences. In reality, Pringle points out, the organization "was in the business of myth-making," distorting the truth and churning out carefully tailored evidence to support the ideas of Adolf Hitler. Himmler, head of the Gestapo and the SS, housed the institute in one of Berlin's grand villas and equipped it with laboratories, libraries, and workshops. Pringle examined the microfilm collection of captured German documents at the National Archives and Records Administration in Maryland, the original Ahnenerbe files in Berlin, and 27 other German archives, as well as archives in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Poland, and Britain, and library collections in Iceland and Russia. The result of this copious research is another almost unbelievable chapter in the sordid history of the Holocaust. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


'Do we really need yet another book on the Nazis? The answer, it turns out, is yes. Heather Pringle's engrossing book, "The Master Plan", explores a little-known corner of Nazi history: the story of the Ahnenerbe. Pringle's eye for detail means that "The Master Plan" is rich in such bizarre characters, ridiculous theories and colourful anecdotes. Massively researched and engagingly written.' Daily Telegraph 'Pringle has delved diligently on her own account into this murky corner of Nazi history. Her conclusions are grim, and her message is deeply disturbing. I closed the book with the nagging feeling that what Churchill called in a famous speech Nazism's "perverted science" may still be with us today.' Nigel Jones, Sunday Times 'The real strength of Pringle's book lies in her close description of the few major overseas expeditions mounted by the Ahnenerbe. This is virgin territory, where she has been able to dig up a good deal of new material. The stories have that Indiana Jones ring to them.' Literary Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Heather Pringle is a journalist and author who has written on archaeology and ancient cultures in numerous magazines including Discover, National Geographic Traveler, New Scientist, Science and Geo. In January 2002, she won the American Association for the Advancement of Science award for Magazine Journalism. She is the author of three books, including 'The Mummy Congress'. She lives in Vancouver, Canada. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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