Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 1 Oct 2013
Full Title: Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts: Himmler's Black Knights and the Occult Origins of the SS
The fictional archeologist Indiana Jones, in Hollywood films, raced against his Nazi counterparts in the recovery of ancient artifacts. While such stories were entirely written for entertainment purposes only, the inspirations were very real. Heinrich Himmler was a believer of the occult, and he sponsored such research expeditions to discover the link between the contemporary Germans and the super race of Nordic-Germanic lore. In Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts, author Bill Yenne explored how his beliefs shaped the Schutzstaffel, or SS, organization, whose dark influence brought misery to Germany and conquered lands during the European War.
Yenne began with Guido List, Adolf Lanz, and others whose writings on Nordic-Germanic mysticism affected some of the rising political figures of the WW2-era, including both Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler. As the pseudo-religion took on its shape and legitimacy, the author effectively linked how Himmler's beliefs, exercised through his second-only-to-Hitler authority in Nazi Germany, influenced various facets of German society including scientific research, treatment of non-Aryans, and even child rearing. Within the SS organization, Himmler's beliefs led to structures such as the Wewelsburg castle which, with its own rendition of the "Round Table" and niches to store the rings of deceased SS men, seemed to be more fitting for the Middle Ages than in modern Germany. The author's point of view was clearly biased against Himmler, as Yenne repeatedly ridiculed Himmler's physical appearance for example, but nevertheless he produced an interesting work looking into some of the path less trodden when studying Nazi Germany. Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts would do poorly when placed alone, but it would make an interesting complement to other more traditional biographies of Heinrich Himmler.
After reading this book, I, for one, would probably wonder a bit more about the historical inspirations that brought about "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", "Seven Years in Tibet", and other such Hollywood films.
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945