Author: Bill Yenne
ISBN-10: 0760337780 : ISBN-13: 978-0760337783
Zenith Press

Click Here To Purchase Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts: Himmler's Black Knights and the Occult Origins of the SS

There have been many books written about Himmler’s SS, the organization that began as Hitler’s Schutzstaffel (“protection squad”) and ended up the multi-layered behemoth most responsible for war crimes in Nazi Germany. However, Bill Yenne’s book, Hitler’s Master of the Dark Arts, has a slightly different purpose than most of these: to show the background and origins of Nazi racial philosophy and how these philosophies made the SS tick.

On the positive side, Yenne provides an exhaustive background of the philosophies of supposed Teutonic racial superiority (dating back to the mid-19th century) and an in-depth background of the German philosophers whose belief systems included – among other things -- the embrace of pre-Christian pagan religions (hence the word “occult” in Yenne’s title) and whose philosophies young Heinrich Himmler devoured. Yenne shows how Himmler, determined to turn his belief in “Aryan” superiority into a dogma, promoted archaeological digs and anthropological studies of living Tibetans and created the “Ahnenerbe”, an organization devoted to proving Aryan superiority.

The Ahnerebe’s sub-organizations (there were more than 50) are listed in a sidebar, which gives the reader a clear sense of how doggedly determined Himmler was to “prove” his point. Speaking of sidebars, there are many extremely informative ones scattered throughout the book and, coupled with the plethora of illustrations also included, they make Yenne’s book a visual and illuminating treat (if one can use that term when discussing the history of such an aberrant and abhorrent organization).

On the down side, however, the text is often peppered with somewhat corny suppositions. That Heinrich Himmler believed himself to be the reincarnation of Heinrich I, the first king of Germany is an interesting fact but Yenne should have let it go after stating it once. He doesn’t: he keeps bringing it up throughout the text as if he himself believes it. When discussing Himmler’s marriage, he mentions: “As Himmler might have observed, though, this was actually not his first marriage. His first wedding had occurred 1,022 years earlier in 906, when, in his previous life as Heinrich I, he had married a woman named Hatheburg, whose Saxon father was Count Edwin of Merseburg.” At the end of this sizeable paragraph, which describes the noble lineage of the Heinrich I’s bride, Yenne finally provides his reason for including this information: “Heinrich Himmler was no doubt pleased to lay claim to such a majestic and most Aryan pedigree through his belief in reincarnation.”

A paragraph with a fairly interesting dip back into Himmler’s imagined ancestry, yes, but when the justification for its inclusion rests on phrases such as “As Himmler might have observed” and “Himmler was no doubt pleased” the reader can see that Yenne is no longer stating only facts.

These types of suppositions are located more in the first half of the book, however, and the writing, while occasionally clumsy throughout, also contains some solid information. In spite of the book’s flaws, “Hitler’s Master of the Dark Arts” manages to clearly illustrate the philosophies of the little man behind the pince-nez who orchestrated the Holocaust and his cadre of Black Knights who played it out.

Click Here To Purchase Hitler's Master of the Dark Arts: Himmler's Black Knights and the Occult Origins of the SS