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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and worthwhile read
Wow - Talk about a different slant on modern history. An excellent read and a fascinating subject matter. For anyone interested in 20th Century mythology and modern history this is well worth a look.
Published on 20 Aug. 2010 by Chris L

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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars HIMMLER'S Crusade
The word Crusade infers to me the combination of effort of hundreds, if not thousands of individuals to a common purpose -for example to rid the World of Malaria or Aids could become a modern day crusade.

The Book entitled 'Himmler's Crusade' appears to be nothing of the sort. Yes, Himmler at one time was very interested in race research and encouraged various...
Published on 17 Jun. 2007 by Semper Veritas


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and worthwhile read, 20 Aug. 2010
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Chris L (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Himmler's Crusade (Hardcover)
Wow - Talk about a different slant on modern history. An excellent read and a fascinating subject matter. For anyone interested in 20th Century mythology and modern history this is well worth a look.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Account of History, 24 Oct. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Himmler's Crusade (Hardcover)
This is a brilliant and incredibly well researched book analyzing a little known, but powerfully important, part of Nazi history. I picked the book to read because it received such a stellar review by Michael Burleigh, the most renowned international authority on the Third Reich. Immediately, I was entranced by every aspect of Hale’s account of an SS-sponsored expedition to Tibet in 1938-39. Hale goes way beyond doing a comprehensive book study of the subject. He actually conducted his own expedition to Tibet, retracing the steps that the SS-sponsored expedition leaders took and interviewing individuals who were either part of the expedition or who were associated with it. For example, throughout the book Hale provides astonishing information from his interviews with Bruno Beger, an anthropologist and SS member who would later be brought to trial and imprisoned for selecting over 100 inmates for “study” at Auschwitz (all of whom were gassed). I would recommend Hale’s book for anyone interested in the origins and perpetuation of Nazism. Himmler’s Crusade is already a classic in the field.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sunday Times Review, 13 Aug. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Himmler's Crusade (Hardcover)
As the Indiana Jones films showed, Nazis, new age mumbo-jumbo and exotic locations are a formula that works. Christopher Hale’s gripping and well-researched tale of an SS-sponsored scientific mission to Tibet in 1938-39 has the whole shebang: mad occult beliefs, mountains, strange characters called Bruno or Ernst and stomach-churning concentration camp experiments to round things off.
In 1935, the Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler founded an organisation called Ancestral Heritage to uncover the hidden past of an imaginary Aryan race he and his Führer regarded as the noblest and most vital force in human history. That fact that there had never been an Aryan race — a philological category (the Indo-Germanic language group) had been construed into a “people” — was no impediment to someone who also believed Aryans had been unleashed on the world after divine thunderbolts shattered the primordial ice in which they were imprisoned. Himmler was also pretty keen to find gold in the river Isar or a red horse with a white mane, but that need not detain us.
Ancestral Heritage became a magnet for cranks (one senior figure was interested in establishing whether Tibetan women hid magical stones in their vaginas) and ambitious young scientists who were moving too slowly up the academic career ladder — notwithstanding the number of Jews that Nazi scholars and students had thrown off it to make their ascent quicker.
The claim that Sanskrit underlay most modern languages focused 19th-century minds on the general area of northern India and Tibet as the ancestral home of the mythical Aryans. Hence one of the scientific missions Himmler sponsored was a multitasked expedition to Tibet under the leadership of ornithologist Ernst Schäfer. An expert on rare Tibetan birds, Schäfer was a fanatical hunter who liked smearing the blood of exotic kills on his craggy features. This enthusiasm, manifest in boyhood when Schäfer killed rats in the cellar with a catapult, was undiminished by the fact that while on a duck-shoot in 1937 he managed to trip over, inadvertently blowing his young bride Hertha’s brains out.
Schäfer recruited an anthropologist, Bruno Beger, to measure noses and skulls and to make face-masks; a geographer who specialised in the earth’s geomagnetism; and a botanist who was also handy with a film camera. Once they had conned their way into Tibet, past the British — who thought they were spies — there were some comic moments.
Their mules were decorated with fluttering swastika pennants — superfluous in a society where that symbol of good fortune is ubiquitous. The first attempt at making a gypsum mask failed when the poor Tibetan subject had an epileptic seizure and nearly choked to death inside the white plaster blob that sat on his shuddering shoulders. When Schäfer decided to commemorate the death of his wife by going onto a ridge to fire a symbolic shot, he forgot to remove the cleaning brush so the breech exploded, throwing him off his feet and burning his face with gunpowder. All sorts of rare creatures, whether eagles or animals that look like rugs with horns, paid for that indignity as the mad explorer blasted anything with a pulse.
The ulterior purpose of the expedition echoed the ancient historian Tacitus’s treatise Germania, in which he ascribed to the primitive German tribesmen virtues his Roman contemporaries had long lost. The Nazi scientists sought to show that the Tibetan theocracy had destroyed the vitality of an earlier warrior culture, as Christianity had supposedly had an emasculating effect on the ancient pagan Germans. To clinch the point, the team dwelt on homosexuality among Buddhist clergy — precisely the aspersion they were using in Germany against Catholic monks and nuns they were persecuting. Anti-Catholicism was as pervasive as racism among the Nazi leadership, although Hale is possibly unaware that this was more inspired by mainstream liberal Protestant theology than by Himmler’s idiosyncratic neo-paganism.
On returning to Germany, Schäfer was feted by Himmler and appointed head of an institute for Central Asian research in Munich. His career was not blighted by the fact that, when on an overnight sleeper to Berlin in June 1942, Schäfer had tried to strangle the man who shared his compartment.
Munich meant proximity to the more lethal aspects of Ancestral Heritage, since the camp in suburban Dachau was where its scientists conducted experiments on human beings on behalf of the German armed forces. The man who filmed the Tibet expedition was soon recording people turning blue in freezing water or choking in decompression chambers used to solve high-altitude problems for the Luftwaffe. The expedition’s erstwhile anthropologist was subsequently deployed acquiring the skeletons and skulls of prisoners in Auschwitz for an anatomical institute in Strasbourg.
So Hale’s book is a slippery-slope sort of story. Whether it will deter those who lap up books of a new age variety that draw on the same swamp as the Nazis seems over-optimistic, but Hale is certainly to be commended for immersing himself in it for so long.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars HIMMLER'S Crusade, 17 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Himmler's Crusade (Hardcover)
The word Crusade infers to me the combination of effort of hundreds, if not thousands of individuals to a common purpose -for example to rid the World of Malaria or Aids could become a modern day crusade.

The Book entitled 'Himmler's Crusade' appears to be nothing of the sort. Yes, Himmler at one time was very interested in race research and encouraged various Doctors and other Scientists in projects, as the book describes. However, although Himmler was in a position to authorise and facilitate such research, it was not his prime concern for the War years that his activities are chiefly known for. Thus the expeditions of a few Germans to Tibet around 1938 is hardly part of a Crusade

The involvement of Himmler in the story is somewhat peripheral - a bit like writing a book indicating Adolf Hitler had a great interest in German postage stamps -because after he came to power, they bore his image.

This is a book that describes those expeditions to Tibet pre -war and some of the research made during the war on the bodies of dead concentration inmates that had been passed to medical institutes. It is factual and descriptive - but may disappoint some readers who are expecting some Himmler revelation.
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Himmler's Crusade
Himmler's Crusade by Chris Hale (Hardcover - 4 Aug. 2003)
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