The Telegraph reports:
With its overtones of Indiana Jones and Monty Python, Nazi Quest for the Holy Grail is a documentary whose very title invites a little sniggering. The film draws on a huge cache of documents discovered by the Americans in a cave in central Germany at the end of the Second World War, which suggest that the Nazis, and specifically Heinrich Himmler, were not just evil but barmy with it. Amongst other things, Himmler had sanctioned projects to find the lost city of Atlantis, the Holy Grail and an expedition to find the origins of a supposed Aryan master race in Tibet. All of this came under a broader ideological goal – a metaphorical Holy Grail – of wanting to write into history an ancient civilisation from which the Nazis believed they had descended.
As Christopher Hale, author of the book Himmler’s Crusade and a contributor to the film says, “Himmler had a wide range of what we would now call New Age, or plain wacky interests. One could say his tastes in scientific investigations were Catholic ones – very broad ranging. But nevertheless there were scientists who found refuge within the SS, who were given support by it.”
That support began in 1935 when Himmler founded an organisation called the Ahnenerbe (“Ancestral Heritage”) whose claimed goal was to discover “new evidence of the accomplishments and deeds of Germanic ancestors using exact scientific methods”.
“You could imagine it like a grant funding body,” says Hale. “So you had a bunch of people going to the Ahnenerbe saying, ‘Look, I think Atlantis was in Bolivia.’ This was one of the expeditions that never got off the ground but there was a famous site in Bolivia called Tiwanaku and there was a German archaeologist who believed that this was Atlantis. With an idea like that he’d get support from the Ahnenerbe. So you probably got people tailoring their ideas to what they understood to be Himmler’s interest. And Himmler was certainly interested in very odd ideas. Not only did he believe in Atlantis but he thought that the Nordic or Aryan people came to earth in a shower of ice.”