In 1921, Hitler became the leader of the German Workers’ Party. With this new sense of power, he developed his race-based politics, in which he stressed that German people were superior beings. After the devastation of the Great War, Germany was made responsible and was forced to pay for all the damages. This pushed its citizens to abject poverty and as the anger festered, some welcomed this radical discourse with open arms.
With his intense and charismatic personality, Hitler managed to charm a wide majority of Germans through his nationalistic ideas, and in 1933 he was elected Chancellor of Germany. Nationalism was the best device to unite a country living in misery. Propaganda soon became the nazi party’s best weapon: the German film industry was at its peak under Joseph Goebbels leadership; education was reformed, and children were exclusively taught German history, traditions, and folklore. Literature, especially fairy and folk tales, became Hitler’s best tool to promote their supremacy as a country. However, he needed more evidence to support his theories, so in 1937 he incorporated the Ahnenerbe institute to his official government departments and named it “The Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society.”
This group of pseudo-archaeologists and scientists devoted their time, energy, and Germany’s public funds to organize expensive expeditions that intended to prove their racial superiority. This was just the tip of the iceberg, some of them really believed in the existence of an Aryan race with supernatural powers that had lost its powers by mixing with inferior races.In this quest for evidence, this institution organized, dispatched, and proposed some of the most bizarre expeditions that, of course, didn’t prove anything and resulted in a waste of time and money. Here are some of the most peculiar expeditions the Nazi party sponsored to prove that the origins of civilization could be traced back to the first Aryan people:
Based on ancient Greek manuscripts and myths, the nazis believed that Atlantis was a real place where some of the first Aryans had settled after the rearrangement of the continents and the shift of the poles.
They carried out many expeditions to the Antarctic, South America, and to countries like Sweden, Scotland, and Greenland. On December, 1938 Captain Alfred Rischer led the expedition to the Antarctic and upon their return they boasted they’d seen relics and vestiges of their ancestors. Obviously no evidence or proof was provided to back up their lavish claims.
The swastika is an ancient symbol that has different meanings for some religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. In general, it’s a symbol of good luck, faith, or well-being. As brilliant as the Nazis were, the moment they saw the representations of the swastika in Buddhist ancient objects, they assumed it could only mean that this ancient Aryan civilization was also present in this part of the globe. In response to this far fetched idea, a group of researchers and explorers took off to the Tibet in April 1938. They crafted exhaustive reports and carried out countless studies regarding religion, archeology, and sociology to prove that their culture was as millenary as theirs.
Holy Grail and the Spear of Destiny
This is perhaps the most outlandish and famous quest orchestrated by the nazis and the one that inspired Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones series. Driven by this obsession of superiority, they wanted to prove that Jesus himself was Aryan rather than from Jewish descent. This drove them to scour the world in search for Christian relics that would provide them with supernatural powers to conquer the world.
As it is well-known, the Holy Grail refers to the chalice used by Christ in the Last Supper. Likewise, the Spear of Destiny, or the Holy Spear, was the spear with which Longinus, a Roman soldier, stabbed Jesus to make sure he was dead. Led by Heinrich Himmler, an important head of the SS, this quest carried out expeditions to many spots of the world like Italy, France, Spain, Palestine, and other places near the Holy Land.
In this quest to find the last remaining traces of the Aryan race, archaeologist Edmund Kiss organized an expedition to Bolivia. He claimed there were huge similarities between the architectural styles of ancient Europe and those of Andean cultures. He went even as far as to stay that the Aryan people had conquered the natives and built the city of Tiwanaku.
Unfortunately, with the outbreak of the Second World War, this expedition was postponed indefinitely. In reality, Kiss had never visited the region, and all his theories were beautifully written down in a series of novels that the Nazis had taken as scientific fact.