I came across the book History’s Great Untold Stories earlier today and inside was one chapter that spoke about the Nazi interests and expeditions to Tibet during the late 1930’s. It centered around one German in particular, Ernst Schäfer (pictured to the right). Ernst, a German zoologist, had already been to Tibet twice before his third expedition to Tibet in 1938. Both in 1931–32 and 1934–36, for sport and zoological research. The third expedition was sent with the blessings of Heinrich Himmler, commander of the SS and the second most powerful Nazi in Germany next to Hitler. It was also sponsored by the Ahnenerbe, the German Bureau for the Study of Ancestral Heritage.
Nazi leaders such as Heinrich Himmler believed that Tibet might harbor the last of the original Aryan tribes, the legendary forefathers of the German race, whose leaders possessed supernatural powers that the Nazis could use to conquer the world. When the Nazi expedition reached Tibet they searched for any trace of an Aryan/Nordic race within the Tibet. Many Tibetans were examined by the expedition members and they took record with photographs, face plasters, body measurements and also cultural/environmental observations. The sighting of swastika on Tibetan religious objects was proof to some Nazis of the Aryan link. Others also took note of how similar the Alp’s mountainous environment was to that of Tibet‘s.
Nazi researchers and scientists had seen pictures of Tibetan nobles and described them as possessing very Nordic features which had them believe that they were mixed descendants of the Aryan race they had been seeking. Tibet was seen to these Nazis as once a proud warrior nation that had been dominated and weakened by a religion from the outside (Buddhism) and “bastardized” through intermixing with non-Aryans. Thus this was foreshadowing of future Nazi actions and beliefs for the justification of their genocide of the Jews and other “non Aryan” peoples to prevent sharing the same fate of Tibet.
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