When I think of pure Evil in this world, one of the groups of people that comes to mind is the Nazis. This group of men and women took control of Germany and transformed the country. The hate they preached was foul and disgusting. Among the many who stood beside Hitler was his primary henchman – Heinrich Himmler – head of the SS. In Hitler’s Master of the Dark Arts: Himmler’s Black Knights and the Occult Origins of the SS Bill Yenne chronicles Himmler’s rise to power and how Himmler led the Nazis into the Dark Arts.
Through Himmler’s rise to power, Yenne explores the bizarre world of the Nazis’ connection with the occult. Since its creation, the Nazi Party was heavily influenced by the occult. The Party leadership embraced the idea that the Aryan Race was far superior to the other races and they spent vast sums of money exploring the world and science to prove their warped view. This exploration was influenced by an ancient pagan Norse religion combined with nineteenth-century spiritualism. At the head of this exploration was Hitler’s “witch doctor,” Himmler and his SS.
I knew the Nazis were weird, but I did not realize how weird they were until I read this book. They believed some truly bizarre things. For example, some in the Party believed that the Earth was hollow and that the Earth’s surface was actually the concave inner surface of a spherical bubble surrounded by solid rock.
Yenne not only explores the Nazis’ bizarre beliefs, but also their horrible acts. He recounts the experiments the Nazi doctors did on concentration camp prisoners. These experiments were performed for various reasons – to see the effects of experimental medicinal drugs, the effect of extreme heat and cold on the human body, and other more insidious experiments. Yenne explains that these doctors did not feel shame for what they were doing because, like most Nazis, they felt their subjects were subhuman.
Yenne does an excellent job of shining light into a very dark world. As many other authors have shown, Yenne exposes Himmler and his henchmen for what they were – rats who were trying to exterminate entire races of people. Yenne points out a huge irony – Himmler wanted to kill millions of people, but he wanted it done by others (he had a weak stomach). He also was not man enough to to live through his capture and trial – he committed suicide with a cyanide pill.
The book is 320 pages with 32 color and 51 black and white photographs. These photographs include many of Himmler, but also of sites treasured by the Nazis. One of these sites was Haus Wewelsburg, the sacred castle of the SS Order and the spiritual heart of the SS.
This bok is an excellent look at the sinister interior of the Nazi Party and one its leaders.