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Adolf Hitler once argued that National Socialism represented “a cool and highly reasoned approach to reality based on the greatest of scientific knowledge and its spiritual expression.” If there are any people foolish enough still to fall for that, they will not enjoy this book. While the enthusiasm of some Nazi leaders, most notoriously Himmler, for the occult has been a staple of pop culture and the more disreputable corners of historical “investigation” for years, Eric Kurlander’s book, Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, shows that many others felt much the same way.

Kurlander depicts a Third Reich in which, despite uneven and often ambiguous efforts to rein them in, seers, magicians, and psychics flourished. Buddha was drafted into the master race, parapsychology “so long as it comported with ‘Nordic-Germanic feeling’” was recognized as legitimate, and the grounds were laid for an “Ario-Germanic” national religion as a syncretic (it wouldn’t all be Wotan) “substitute for Christianity.” Meanwhile, charlatan-historians and charlatan-folklorists hunted for proof that large swathes of Europe were part of an ancestral German homeland, charlatan-archeologists searched for evidence of “the Nordic origins of Asian civilization,” charlatan-doctors worked on monstrous human experiments, and charlatan-scientists struggled to develop weapons designed to draw on mysterious untapped electromagnetic forces. This arsenal was intended to include death rays, sound weapons, and anti-gravity devices — an absurdity and a waste made all the more grotesque by the contrast with the remarkably sophisticated technology successfully deployed by Germany during the war.

 
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Category: Weird Desk