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Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts: Himmler's Black Knights and the Occult Origins of the SS    by Bill Yenne order for
Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts
by Bill Yenne
Order:  USA  Can
Zenith Press, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

At the center of this history is the rather unlikely figure of a squeamish, self-conscious, diminutive, bespectacled individual who became one of the most feared men in all of Nazi Germany.

This book offers a fascinating look at Heinrich Himmler, his rise to power and the formation of the Schutzstaffel (SS), the protective squadron that he fashioned out of a few hundred members in 1929. A black uniformed unit with its signature and feared double lightning bolt insignia, the SS represented the very essence of Nazism.

Dubbed the Black Knights, this handpicked special class of warriors was defined by race and blood. According to the author, these were the most racially Germanic of Germans. In Himmler's mind, they were Germany's tangible link with the primordial warriors who were both supermen and gods, and with a future ruling class that would last for a thousand years.

Yenne writes that although Hitler was the charismatic madman who brought Nazism to power, it was Himmler, hiding in the shadows, who took the philosophies that were at the roots of Nazism and methodically shaped and codified them.

Himmler was described by General Heinrich Hossbach, as Hitler's evil spirit - cold calculating and ambitious. The general went on to say that the head of the SS was undoubtedly the most purposeful and most unscrupulous figure in the Third Reich.

As Hitler brought the Nazi Party to power politically, it was Himmler who crafted the state religion, complete with the trappings of creed and ritual, which elevated one race to superhuman status.

German folklore, mythology and his own occult beliefs were combined by Hitler's witch doctor with what he also gleaned from fragments of other traditions, from sources as diverse as 10th century Saxon warlords, 19th century spiritualism, and 20th century fringe archeology.

As many people realize, the detested symbol of Nazism, the swastika (although Hitler claimed he invented it) was reminiscent of a symbol used globally for centuries by the Buddhists in India and the Navajo in Arizona.

This infusion of the occult and mythological elements gave film makers like Steven Spielberg something to focus upon in movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Although these film storylines were built around the Nazis' perceived quest for otherworldly powers that would lead their armies to victory and they provided entertainment for millions of people, there was really nothing amusing about this Nazi fascination with the occult, especially when one realizes that this fixation inevitably leads to the grim reality of the death camps.

Bill Yenne's compelling text is accompanied by over eighty photos that trace this incredible story of Himmler's Black Knights and the occult origins of the SS.

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