Heinrich Himmler read the “Germania” of Tacitus in the fall of 1924, and got very enthusiastic about the purity and nobility of the ancient tribes. He wrote, “Thus shall we be again, or at least some among us.”
(To listen to the podcast, click here.)
Five years later, Hitler made Himmler head of the Waffen-SS, which, by 1933, he’d expanded to 50,000 from 270 members. Interested in racial purity, he wanted tall, blond, physically fit men, and let it be known that attractive single women ready to have Nazi babies would be set up with suitable fathers.
Just as the Germanic tribes described by Tacitus had exempted elite men from monogamy, Himmler wanted to reward Nazi heroes with several fair-haired, blue-eyed lovelies, ideally trained in languages and chess.
The Reichsfuhrer himself had a blond but doughy wife, as well as a sexier “little bunny” on the side, both of whom bore his children.
Dark, near-sighted and lacking abs, Himmler fell far short of his own genetic ideal. One provincial governor said, “If I looked like Himmler, I wouldn’t even mention the word ‘race.’”
I spoke with Christopher Krebs, author of “A Most Dangerous Book,” on the following topics:
1. German Tribes
2. Rediscovery of Tacitus
3. Ideological Readings
4. Nordic Warriors
5. Ethnic Cleansing
To buy this book in North America, click here.
(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)