Secret Stories: Nazi Gospels
120 minutes, now airing on the Military History Channel
As head man of the SS, Heinrich Himmler was not only a chief engineer of the Holocaust and Slav slaughter, he assiduously laid the Reich’s ideological foundations for the future. Born Catholic, Himmler cultivated his taste for pomp and ritual while he shaped a motley, murky pastiche of slanted history and mythology into the template for a Nazi state religion. The almost mindless fervor that drove SS brutality is one indication of how effective his goal of national indoctrination might have been had the Reich lasted. The Military History Channel’s Nazi Gospels unpacks what Himmler wanted dedicated Nazis to believe, where those ideas came from, and how they were distorted and practiced. Himmler relentlessly sought historical evidence to buttress his creed, sending teams of archaeologists to rove the planet; the Holy Grail was on his wish list. He studied, adopted, and warped ancient Teutonic and Hindu myths and insignias to romanticize and aggrandize ersatz Nazi “roots.” And he created traditions and rites for new generations: matching and mating perfect Aryan Fräuleins and SS specimens, Himmler put their offspring into state institutions where they were immersed in his twisted culture. Well-researched and delivered, Nazi Gospels is a thoughtful, disturbing introduction to the dark faith behind Germany’s mass murder.
Originally published in the June 2013 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.