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Myth Hunters - S02E10

History . Biography . Documentary

When an ambitious young scientist was sent on a quest by Himmler to find the lost people of Atlantis, little did he know it would become an expedition embroiled in political intrigue and lost integrity. Ernst Schaefer was one of the great explorers and scientists during the interwar years. By 1937, he had led two American-backed expeditions to the Himalayas to study geology and ornithology, his great specialism. But he was desperate for a third trip. The trouble was, with Nazism on the rise, American money could not be found. Schaefer managed to raise 80% of his funds from German companies, but he still needed more. Then he received a summons from Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS. Himmler said that he would back Schaefer on two conditions. The first was that the expedition would add anthropology to its list of sciences. Himmler revealed that he was convinced that Tibet contained the remnants of a long lost race - the "Hyberboreans." Referred to by the German philosopher Nietzsche, these were said to be an Aryan people with remarkable skills. They had been the people of Atlantis - a people, legend said, that had created the first civilisation of all. All other civilisations - the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Chinese, even the Incas, had learned from these Hyperboreans. Plato had written that Atlantis had disappeared beneath the waves and despite many explorers, no one had ever found it, though there have always been several candidates. Himmler's point was that Atlantis may be lost, but its people lived on in the Himalayas. Schaefer's task, Himmler said, was to find these Hyperboreans and prove that the Germans were their direct descendants. Himmler's second stipulation was that all members of the expedition would become members of the SS. Schaefer agreed to both demands. Propelled by the Nazi Party, it would be an expedition that would lead him ultimately into a tale of mountain madness, greed and sacrifice.

Episode Title: The Nazi Hunt for Atlantis
Airs: 2014-06-22 at 10:00 pm