- uploaded: Dec 10, 2008
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In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler\\\\\\\'s Germany presented a glittering surface sheen of technological modernity. At the annual Nuremberg rallies, fleets of sleek bombers roared over the upturned faces of the Nazi Party faithful. A system of autobahns carried traffic at speed the length and breadth of the Reich. In Berlin in 1936, a magnificent stadium housed the Olympic Games.
Nevertheless, beneath the tread of marching feet and the rumble of tanks on Nuremberg\\\\\\\'s Zeppelin Field, there pulsed the rhythms of a different and much older set of beliefs, a philosophy that animated the Nazi Party\\\\\\\'s early ideologues and, crucially, the man who stood behind Hitler himself -- Heinrich Himmler, chief of the SS.
These beliefs were technological. They were a curious mixture of ancient Teutonic myth, Eastern mysticism and late 19th-century anthropology. Whether Adolf Hitler took them wholly seriously is open to debate. Nevertheless, Heinrich Himmler certainly did. They lay at the heart of the SS Empire he created that became the most dreaded arm of the Nazi state. They were also the mainspring behind a Nazi expedition to secure the secrets of a lost super-race in the mountains of Tibet.
The expedition to Tibet
In 1938, the Tibetans were putting out feelers to Germany, and to Germany\\\\\\\'s allies, the Japanese, as counterbalances to the influence in the region of Britain and China. In that year, the Ahnenerbe mounted an expedition to Tibet led by Ernst SchÃ¤fer, a German hunter and biologist who had made two previous expeditions to that part of the world. He would later publish his report of the expedition as Festival of the White Gauze Scarves: A research expedition through Tibet to Lhasa, the holy city of the god realm (1950).
One of the members of the Nazi expedition was the anthropologist Bruno Beger, a supporter of the theory that Tibet was home to the descendants of a \\\\\\\'northern race\\\\\\\'. Beger\\\\\\\'s role was to undertake a scientific investigation of the Tibetan people. During the expedition, he examined the skulls of more than 300 inhabitants of Tibet and Sikkim, and logged their other physical features in minute detail.
He concluded that, in anthropological terms, the Tibetans represented a staging post between the Mongol and European races, with the European racial element manifesting itself most strongly among the Tibetan aristocracy. He believed that, after the final victory of the Third Reich, the Tibetans could play an important role in the region, serving as an allied race in a world dominated by Germany and Japan.