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In 1938, on the eve of war, a Nazi expedition set out through British India on a mission sponsored by Himmler himself. Its aim was to trace the origins of the Aryan race, high in the sacred mountains of Tibet. The expedition was led by two complex individuals - Ernst Schäfer, a swashbuckling, gun-toting naturalist for whom Nazism promised a short-cut to personal glory, and Bruno Beger, an anthropologist whose racial theories were taken to their logical conclusion in Auschwitz.
Schäfer and Beger soon found themselves battling hostility from the British, being manipulated by the Tibetans and struggling with the primitive conditions in the holy city of Lhasa. Every detail of the expedition was recorded in diaries, letters and secret reports. It was also documented in thousands of extraordinary photographs (some of which are reproduced here for the first time in decades) and on film.
Despite this abundant documentation, the full story of Schäfer's ill-fated expedition has never been told. This encounter between the British and the Nazis so close to the Second World War forms a 'picture in little' of the conflict to come. HIMMLER'S CRUSADE explores the ideological roots of the Nazis' obsession with racial theory and the occult. Using the wealth of primary material as well as his own interviews with Bruno Beger, Christopher Hale has written a fascinating and thought-provoking book that brilliantly evokes this little-known prelude to the unimaginable horror of war.