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The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust Hardcover – Feb 15 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 463 pages
  • Publisher: Disney Books (Little Brown) (Feb. 15 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786868864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786868865
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 3.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #495,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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

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By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 21 2007
Format: Paperback
Pringle's probe into the behind-the-scene's operations of Nazidom proves one thing: the assylum was definitely being run by crackpots who were more obsessed with fantasy than influenced by reality. Nowhere in this account did the so-called blueprint for establishing an Aryan nation ever make sense. Himmler's ludicrous attempts to form the Abnerebe agency to establish the historical roots of Germanic superiority as proof of world dominance utterly failed. The cast of scientists and anthropologists working for him were either as deluded as he was or outright charlatans bent on exploiting the Reich to further their own careers. Pringle does a very effective job in profiling many of these dubious characters like Altheim, Sievers, Wirth, and Beger who pursued all kinds of theories as to the proof of Germanic descendancy. Some of their ill-fated searches took them into surrounding countries looking for archaeological evidence of a Master Race lying dormant in some hidden corner of the globe. The story takes a real sinister twist, when Himmler commissions, through the Abnerebe organization, biological experiments on Jews from the Auschwitz camp. Overall, a very informative and intelligent study on some of the creepier aspects of Nazism.
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Format: Hardcover
The book "The Master Plan : Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust" by Heather Pringle contains some rare and scholarly research.
Considering the tons of paper covering every aspect of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, it should be increasingly difficult to say anything new about their horrid era, but the author shows much. There are also some gaping holes about new discoveries.
For example, Master Plan front cover shows instruction regarding the swastika symbol, yet the book's interior seems unaware of recent discoveries regarding the swastika.
Originally, the swastika could point left or right and was usually flat on one side as if drawn within a square. Eventually, new uses tended to point the swastika to the right and also turned it 45 degrees to the horizontal, to highlight the swastika' "S" shapes. Although the swastika was an ancient symbol, Professor Curry discovered that it was also used sometimes by German National Socialists to represent "S" letters for their "socialism." Curry changed the way that people view the symbol of the horrid National Socialist German Workers' Party. The leader of the German National Socialists altered his own signature to use the same stylized "S" letter for "socialist" and similar alphabetic symbolism still shows on Volkswagens. http://rexcurry.net/book1a1contents-swastika.html There may be a reason for such oversights.
One reason for such oversights is that many authors make the mistake of overuse of the common shorthand term for the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The overuse is so bad that it causes them to overlook more mundane explanations for the behavior of German socialists.
Dr.
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2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
The book "The Master Plan : Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust" by Heather Pringle contains some rare and scholarly research.
Considering the tons of paper covering every aspect of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, it should be increasingly difficult to say anything new about their horrid era, but the author shows much. There are also some gaping holes about new discoveries.
For example, Master Plan front cover shows instruction regarding the swastika symbol, yet the book's interior seems unaware of recent discoveries regarding the swastika.
Originally, the swastika could point left or right and was usually flat on one side as if drawn within a square. Eventually, new uses tended to point the swastika to the right and also turned it 45 degrees to the horizontal, to highlight the swastika' "S" shapes. Although the swastika was an ancient symbol, Professor Curry discovered that it was also used sometimes by German National Socialists to represent "S" letters for their "socialism." Curry changed the way that people view the symbol of the horrid National Socialist German Workers' Party. The leader of the German National Socialists altered his own signature to use the same stylized "S" letter for "socialist" and similar alphabetic symbolism still shows on Volkswagens. http://rexcurry.net/book1a1contents-swastika.html There may be a reason for such oversights.
One reason for such oversights is that many authors make the mistake of overuse of the common shorthand term for the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The overuse is so bad that it causes them to overlook more mundane explanations for the behavior of German socialists.
Dr.
Read more ›
2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
The book "The Master Plan : Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust" by Heather Pringle contains some rare and scholarly research.
Considering the tons of paper covering every aspect of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, it should be increasingly difficult to say anything new about their horrid era, but the author shows much. There are also some gaping holes about new discoveries.
For example, Master Plan front cover shows instruction regarding the swastika symbol, yet the book's interior seems unaware of recent discoveries regarding the swastika.
Originally, the swastika could point left or right and was usually flat on one side as if drawn within a square. Eventually, new uses tended to point the swastika to the right and also turned it 45 degrees to the horizontal, to highlight the swastika' "S" shapes. Although the swastika was an ancient symbol, Professor Curry discovered that it was also used sometimes by German National Socialists to represent "S" letters for their "socialism." Curry changed the way that people view the symbol of the horrid National Socialist German Workers' Party. The leader of the German National Socialists altered his own signature to use the same stylized "S" letter for "socialist" and similar alphabetic symbolism still shows on Volkswagens. [...] There may be a reason for such oversights.
One reason for such oversights is that many authors make the mistake of overuse of the common shorthand term for the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The overuse is so bad that it causes them to overlook more mundane explanations for the behavior of German socialists.
Dr. Curry also showed that many modern myths about swastikas use the false belief that German socialists called their symbol a "swastika.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa24cad68) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3c37900) out of 5 stars Read this one July 7 2006
By S. M. H. Klauber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
There are two recent books that touch on this subject. Ms. Pringle's and Christpher Hale's "Himmler's Crusade". Hale's book is about the expedition to Tibet, which also occupies a large part of this book. Even so, go with this one. Ms. Pringle is an excellent researcher and writes very well. She avoids veering off and making mistakes about military affairs, a major weakness in Hale's book. In addition, this book goes beyond the Tibet expedition (a fascinating subject) and takes up additional matters regarding the group set up by the SS to examine racial-biological-political issues. If you have an interest in Himmler or the SS, you won't be sorry you read this book.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3c37b34) out of 5 stars Real-Life Nazis out of Indiana Jones Movies June 13 2006
By Ken McCormick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Heather Pringle has done the world a service by producing a well-written account of the "science" produced by scholars working for the SS. The book is fascinating. Like all good history, it contains lessons for the modern world: 1. It is dangerous to mix politics and science, and 2. Even "smart" people can convince themselves of almost anything, especially if it will win them credit with powerful people. Unfortunately, as one looks around the world, the same willingness to ignore facts for the sake of ideology is still rampant. I wish more people would read Ms. Pringle's book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa15127e0) out of 5 stars Some Useful Information July 22 2012
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A largely anecdotal account of the SS Ahnenherbe research project. Driven by the ideological fixations of Heinrich Himmler and other prominent Nazis, the Ahnenherbe was founded to validate the Nazi idea of Aryan supremacy by tracing Aryan supremacy thoughout human history and prehistory. This effort involved some truly strange ideas and unusual, to say the least, efforts. Examples include an expedition to Tibet to look for Aryan conquerors of Inner Asia and ethnomusicological investigations in Finland to recover lost Aryan religion. Some of the work of the Annenherbe was bound up with even stranger ideas such as the World Ice theory and Himmler's delusional search for ancient super weapons. Pringle also discusses the involvement of the Ahnenherbe in Nazi efforts to find a system for racial classification and the horrible crimes of the Holocaust.

Pringle, an experienced science journalist, clearly did a significant amount of archival research for this book and some of the information is novel. Written well, this book is a useful introduction to the bizarre Nazi ideology. Pringle, however, is not a historian and this book has some significant shortcomings. This is not a systematic history. The later chapters on expansion of Ahnenherbe activities and involvement in the Holocaust don't provide the necessary context on the huge expansion of the SS during WWII. Nor were the individuals described by Pringle an aberration. The SS successfully recruited a substantial number of well educated and talented individuals. Similarly, understanding the Nazi racial ideology requires some context about 19th and early 20th century racism. While many of the ideas pursued by the Ahnenherbe were bizarre, they are easier to understand in context. The idea that you could recover crucial features of vanished prehistoric cultures by studying folk traditions was pursued by prominent mainstream scholars well into the 1960s. The idea that all civilizations have a single origin (diffusionism) was a legitimate 19th century scientific idea and not necessarily associated with racism (eg, Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki). Pringle also makes some minor factual errors.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1311bf4) out of 5 stars ......and then there was the Finnish connection Oct. 27 2009
By Kiwi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Here's a review of the book from the website of Helsinki paper, Helsingen Sanomat. Review written by Pirkko Kotirinta and with a distinctly Finnish flavor.... thought I'd repost as it provides a slightly different look at the book.
Himmler was excited over Finnish Kantele .....Book reveals hushed-up cultural cooperation

Finnish anthropologist Yrjö von Grönhagen met German SS leader Heinrich Himmler in 1937 at Himmler's home, along with German music researcher Fritz Bose. The scientists were led into Himmler's study, and they were surprised at what they saw. Hanging on the wall of the study was a copy of a photograph that had recently been taken by Grönhagen, of Timo Lipitsä, a Karelian runonlaulaja, or "poem singer". The photo, which had been given to Himmler a year earlier, hung over Himmler's desk as if it were an icon. Von Grönhagen (1911-2003) and Bose (1909-1975) brought new gifts from Karelia. The Nazi leader was especially enthusiastic about the kantele, a traditional Finnish stringed instrument. Bose played for him, and the kantele was given to Himmler, who immediately ordered ten more for the SS.

Does this sound familiar in any way? The information is from a book by author Heather Pringle, The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust, which was recently translated into Finnish. The work by a respected Canadian writer of popular science touches upon Finland and the other Nordic Countries, especially the rock paintings in Sweden's Bohuslän Province, while describing in detail the activities of the Third Reich's Ahnenerbe research institute. The book is the most thorough account of the foreign expeditions of Ahnenerbe.

Ahnenerbe, or Deutches Ahnenerbe, Studiengesellschaft für Geistesurgeschichte ("Study society for primordial intellectual history, German Ancestral Heritage"), was established in 1935 for the stated purpose of studying the legacy of Germany's Aryan forefathers. Its real purpose was to create myths. According to Pringle, its leading researchers dedicated themselves to falsifying the truth, and to churing out carefully tailored information to support the racial doctrines of Adolf Hitler. Pringle tells of the most imaginative arguments used to prove the glorious past of the Aryans. In addition to Northern Europe, expeditions were conducted in Tibet, Iraq, Greece, Libya, and Croatia. When the Second World War broke out, Ahnenerbe's work was co-opted for the war effort, and for solving "the Jewish problem". Especially chilling is the chapter on a skeleton collection, which tells about the mustard gas experiments by anatomist August Hirt (1898-1945) and his work for the establishment of a collection of Jewish skeletons.

Pringle met Bruno Berger (1911-2004), an expert in race research, who took part in the Tibet expedition of Ernst Schäfer, and also took part in the establishment of the skeleton collection, for which he was sentenced as a war criminal. During their three-hour meeting in 2002 Berger never showed any pity or sympathy toward the 86 Jews whom he was sending to the gas chambers. Ahnenerbe was interested in Finland and Karelia in the early phase of its activities - specifically through the activities of Yrjö von Grönhagen, who was born in St. Petersburg. The young aristocrat, who studied at the Sorbonne, had decided to travel on foot from Paris to Helsinki, and to practice "practical sociology" on the way, by collecting greetings in his diary from people whom he met on the way. During his hike, Grönhagen made it to Germany. For him Germany immediately seemed familiar, because Grönhagen spoke the language, and hated communists.

A Frankfurt newspaper published Grönhagen's article on the Kalevala, and soon a meeting with Himmler was arranged. Himmler also wrote a greeting into his travel diary: "Germans and Finns always remember that they once had the same fathers." It is from this common foundation that the young anthropologist soon got a job in Ahnenerbe, where he rose to the leadership of the recently established Indo-Germanic-Finnish Research Institute in two years, at the age of 26. Grönhagen and Fritz Bose made a research expedition into Russian Karelia in 1936, taking along the illustrator Ola Forssell. Grönhagen returned to Karelia again in 1937 and 1938, alone both times. On the first trip, Bose had a brand-new AEG tape recorder with him, with a sound quality that was far superior to previous recording devices. Finnish researcher Risto Blomster says that this was "apparently for the first time in the history of the world" that a tape recorder was used for collecting folk traditions. Tape recorders became more commonplace in the 1940s.

Grönhagen was among the directors of Ahnenerbe only for a few months. The new chairman of the institute, Dr. Walter Büst dropped him as incompetent. The focus of research moved from the north to the east, partly because Hitler preferred to emphasise the assumed connections between Aryan culture and ancient high cultures. The intense interest that Himmler felt toward the Nordic region as a target of research irritated Hitler: "It is bad enough that the Romans built magnificent buildings while our forefathers were still living in clay huts; now Himmler is starting to dig up these clay hut villages, and gets excited about every fragment of a clay pot, and every stone axe that he happens to find", Hitler once said to Albert Speer.

Personally (and this is my own comment, not from the Helsingin Sanomat review), I find it interesting that, while there's so much criticism of the Nazi's and their "racial cleansing" and all the rest of it, very few readers and reviewers seem to realise that much of the Nazi's medical / eugenics theory and practice originated or was taken from from medical theory and practice in the USA in the 1920's. Much of what went on in the USA in the 1920's was almost as barbaric as anything that happened in Nazi Germany, the only difference being the industrial scale with which the Germans applied the theory during the war years.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1378b64) out of 5 stars Highly recommended April 25 2006
By N. Perz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
While everyone knows something of the Nazi medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners, I did not appreciate the extent to which other areas of science were twisted and corrupted to serve Nazi ideology. It's sad to see the extent to which presumably intelligent people, professionals in their field, abandoned all the rigors of logic and the scientific method to satisfy their own preconceptions. "The Master Plan" is a fresh perspective on the Nazi abuse of science (especially archeology) in the furtherance of their favored (and, for the most part, bizarre) racial and historical theories. This is the only study of the Ahnenerbe (the elite Nazi research institute created by Himmler) that I've ever seen. The writing is a touch dry but the subject matter is compelling. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the Nazi period.


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