Wolfram Sievers (10 July 1905 – 2 June 1948) was Reichsgeschäftsführer, or managing director, of the Ahnenerbe from 1935 to 1945.
The Ahnenerbe was a think tank that operated in Nazi Germany between 1935 and 1945. It was an appendage of the Schutzstaffel (SS) and had been established by Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the SS. It was devoted to the task of promoting the racial doctrines espoused by Adolf Hitler and his governing Nazi Party, specifically by supporting the idea that the modern Germans descended from an ancient Aryan race which was biologically superior to other racial groups. The group comprised scholars and scientists from a broad range of academic disciplines.
Sievers was born in 1905 in Hildesheim in the Province of Hanover (now in Lower Saxony), the son of a Protestant church musician. It is reported that he was musically gifted, that he played the harpsichord, organ, and piano, and loved German baroque music. He was expelled from school for being active in the Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund and went on to study history, philosophy, and religious studies at Stuttgart's Technical University while working as a salesman. A member of the Bündische Jugend, he became active in the Artamanen-Gesellschaft ("Artaman League"), a nationalist back-to-the-land movement.
The Province of Hanover was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1868 to 1946.
Lower Saxony is a German state (Land) situated in northwestern Germany. It is the second-largest state by land area, with 47,624 km2 (18,388 sq mi), and fourth-largest in population among the 16 Länder federated as the Federal Republic of Germany. In rural areas, Northern Low Saxon and Saterland Frisian are still spoken, but the number of speakers is declining.
Sievers joined the NSDAP in 1929. In 1933 he headed the Externsteine-Stiftung ("Externsteine Foundation"), which had been founded by Heinrich Himmler to study the Externsteine in the Teutoburger Wald. In 1935, having joined the SS that year, Sievers was appointed Reichsgeschäftsführer, or General Secretary, of the Ahnenerbe , by Himmler. He was the actual director of Ahnenerbe operations and was to rise to the rank of SS-Standartenführer by the end of the war.
The Externsteine[ˈɛkstɐnʃtaɪnə] is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg in the Lippe district of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills.
Standartenführer was a Nazi Party (NSDAP) paramilitary rank that was used in several NSDAP organizations, such as the SA, SS, NSKK and the NSFK. First founded as a title in 1925, in 1928 the rank became one of the first commissioned NSDAP ranks and was bestowed upon those SA and SS officers who commanded units known as Standarten which were regiment-sized formations of between three hundred and five hundred men.
In 1943 Sievers became director of the Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung (Institute for Military Scientific Research), which conducted extensive experiments using human subjects. He also assisted in assembling a collection of skulls and skeletons for August Hirt's study at the Reichsuniversität Straßburg as a part of which 112 Jewish prisoners were selected and killed, after being photographed and their anthropological measurements taken.
August Hirt was an anatomist with Swiss and German nationality who served as a chairman at the Reich University in Strasbourg during World War II. He performed experiments with mustard gas on inmates at the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp and played a lead role in the murders of 86 people at Natzweiler-Struthof for the Jewish skeleton collection. The skeletons of his victims were meant to become specimens at the Institute of anatomy in Strasbourg, but completion of the project was stopped by the progress of the war. He was an SS-Hauptsturmführer (captain) and in 1944, an SS-Sturmbannführer (major).
The Reichsuniversität Straßburg (RUS) was founded 1941 by the National Socialists in Alsace, annexed to Nazi Germany, while the regular University of Strasbourg had moved to Clermont-Ferrand since 1940. The purpose was to create a continuity to the German character of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Universität - as the University of Strasbourg was named from 1872 to 1918. In 1941, it was to the fore of German invaders to propagate the „pure German knowledge“ of national socialistic character in the annexed Alsace-Lorraine. When the Allies arrived in Alsace in 1944, the Reichsuniversität was first transferred to Tübingen and then dissolved.
The Jewish skeleton collection was an attempt by the Nazis to create an anthropological display to showcase the alleged racial inferiority of the "Jewish race" and to emphasize the Jews' status as Untermenschen ("sub-humans"), in contrast to the German race, which the Nazis considered to be Aryan Übermenschen. The collection was to be housed at the Anatomy Institute at the Reich University of Strasbourg in the annexed region of Alsace, where the initial preparation of the corpses was performed.
Sievers was tried during the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg following the end of World War II, where he was dubbed "the Nazi Bluebeard" by journalist William L. Shirer because of his "thick, ink-black beard".The Institute for Military Scientific Research had been set up as part of the Ahnenerbe, and the prosecution at Nuremberg laid the responsibility for the experiments on humans which had been conducted under its auspices on the Ahnenerbe. Sievers, as its highest administrative officer, was accused of actively aiding and promoting the criminal experiments.
William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist and war correspondent. He wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany that has been read by many and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years. Originally a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the International News Service, Shirer was the first reporter hired by Edward R. Murrow for what would become a CBS radio team of journalists known as "Murrow's Boys". He became known for his broadcasts from Berlin, from the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II (1940). With Murrow, he organized the first broadcast world news roundup, a format still followed by news broadcasts.
Sievers was charged with being a member of an organization declared criminal by the International Military Tribunal (the SS), and was implicated in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In his defense, he alleged that as early as 1933, he had been a member of an anti-Nazi resistance movement which planned to assassinate Hitler and Himmler, and that he had obtained his appointment as Manager of the Ahnenerbe so as to get close to Himmler and observe his movements. He further claimed that he remained in the post on the advice of his resistance leader to gather vital information which would assist in the overthrow of the Nazi regime.
Sievers was sentenced to death on 20 August 1947 for crimes against humanity, and hanged on 2 June 1948, at Landsberg prison in Bavaria.
The Geheime Staatspolizei, abbreviated Gestapo, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.
Karl Brandt was a German physician and Schutzstaffel (SS) officer in Nazi Germany. Trained in surgery, Brandt joined the Nazi Party in 1932 and became Adolf Hitler's escort doctor in August 1934. A member of Hitler's inner circle at the Berghof, he was selected by Philipp Bouhler, the head of Hitler's Chancellery, to administer the Aktion T4 euthanasia program. Brandt was later appointed the Reich Commissioner of Sanitation and Health. Accused of involvement in human experimentation and other war crimes, Brandt was indicted in late 1946 and faced trial before a U.S. military tribunal along with 22 others in United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al. He was convicted, sentenced to death, and later hanged on 2 June 1948.
Wilhelm Frick was a prominent German politician of the Nazi Party (NSDAP), who served as Reich Minister of the Interior in the Hitler Cabinet from 1933 to 1943 and as the last governor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. After World War II, he was tried and convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials and executed by hanging.
The Doctors' trial was the first of 12 trials for war crimes of German doctors that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany, after the end of World War II. These trials were held before US military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg trials", formally the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).
Rudolf Hermann Brandt was a German SS officer from 1933–45 and a civil servant. A lawyer by profession, Brandt was the Personal Administrative Officer to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler and a defendant at the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg for his part in securing the 86 victims of the Jewish skeleton collection, an attempt to create an anthropological display of plaster body casts and skeletal remains of Jews. He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and executed in 1948.
The United States of America vs. Friedrich Flick, et al. or Flick trial was the fifth of twelve Nazi war crimes trials held by United States authorities in their occupation zone in Germany (Nuremberg) after World War II. It was the first of three trials of leading industrialists of Nazi Germany; the two others were the IG Farben Trial and the Krupp Trial.
The RuSHA trial against the SS racial policies of genocide was the eighth of the twelve trials held in Nuremberg by the U.S. authorities for Nazi war crimes after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts in their occupation zone in Germany, not before the International Military Tribunal, although they took place in the same rooms, at the Palace of Justice. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).
Karl Franz Gebhardt was a German medical doctor and a war criminal during World War II. He served as Medical Superintendent of the Hohenlychen Sanatorium, Consulting Surgeon of the Waffen-SS, Chief Surgeon in the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police, and personal physician to Heinrich Himmler.
Waldemar Hoven was a Nazi and a physician at Buchenwald concentration camp.
Sigmund Rascher was a German SS doctor. He conducted deadly experiments on humans about high altitude, freezing and blood coagulation under the patronage of SS leader Heinrich Himmler, to whom his wife Karoline "Nini" Diehl had direct connections. When police investigations uncovered that the couple defrauded the public with their supernatural fertility by 'hiring' and kidnapping babies, she and Rascher were arrested in April 1944. He was accused of financial irregularities, murder of his former lab assistant, and scientific fraud, and brought to Buchenwald and Dachau before being executed. After his death, the Nuremberg Trials judged his experiments as inhumane and criminal.
The SS Main Office (SS-HA) was the central command office of the Schutzstaffel (SS) in Nazi Germany until 1940.
Herman Reinecke was a German general and war criminal during the Nazi era. As head of the General Office of the Armed Forces in the OKW during World War II, he was responsible for the creation and implementation of the POW policy that resulted in the deaths of approx. 3.3 million Soviet prisoners of war. Reinecke was tried and convicted to life imprisonment at the High Command Trial.
The Freundeskreis der Wirtschaft, or Circle of Friends of the Economy was a group of German industrialists whose aim was to strengthen the ties between the Nazi Party and business and industry. The group was formed and co-ordinated by Wilhelm Keppler, one of Adolf Hitler's close economic advisors.
The 1938-1939 German Expedition to Tibet was a German scientific expedition from April 1938 to August 1939, led by German zoologist and SS officer Ernst Schäfer.
August Franz Frank was a German SS functionary in the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office, generally known by its German initials WVHA. The WVHA was, among other things, responsible for the administration of the Nazi concentration camps. After the war, the higher WVHA officials, including Frank, were tried and convicted of crimes against humanity.
Josef Altstötter was a high-ranking official in the German Ministry of Justice under the Nazi Regime. Following World War II, he was tried by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal as a defendant in the Judges' Trial, where he was acquitted of the most serious charges, but was found guilty of a lesser charge of membership in a criminal organization.
Rudolf Creutz was an Austrian Nazi and a high-ranking member of the SS during World War II. He was involved in the implementation of racial resettlement programs in the Occupied Territories and was convicted of war crimes by the Allies in 1948.
Anton Loibl GmbH was a company owned by the SS which was a funding source for the Ahnenerbe research branch and the Lebensborn eugenics programme. It was created to market a bicycle reflector invented by Anton Loibl, a chauffeur for Hitler. It employed slave labour.
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