A band of neo-Nazis with ties to Iran's clerical fascist mullahocracy is believed to be seeking its support for a truly bizarre scheme--an archeological expedition in search of ancient lost cities in a remote region of Brazil. The neo-Nazis are said to claim that the area, in the state of Matto Grasso, was once home to an advanced "Aryan" race.
Their venture illuminates Nazism's occult roots--and neo-Nazi links to a present-day regime that many rightwing radicals increasingly regard as a center and symbol of anti-Western struggle.
The proposed expedition also serves as a disturbing reminder of the violent legacy and dangerous appeal of a tangled collection of quasi-spiritual and pseudo-academic theories and beliefs.
As if to further highlight historical parallels, the expedition reportedly plans to follow in the footsteps of Nazi archaeologists and SS officers who explored parts of Matto Grosso during the Second World War. That expedition is thought to have been inspired by earlier German expeditions, including one in the 1920s and one in the early 1900s that was organized and paid for by the Krupp armaments company.
The deranged German fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, is known to have been obsessed with occult theories concerning the purported existence of a vast, underground tunnel network reaching from the region and other Brazilian and South American areas to a mythical utopia thought to lie beneath the Himalayan mountains of Tibet.
Belief in the subterranean city-state, known as Agarta or Shambhala, is based on Tibetan Buddhist traditions that also inspired the 1933 novel "Lost Horizon" by British author James Hilton. The book and subsequent film adaptations described a hidden earthly paradise called Shangri-La.
Crazy as it seems, Hitler's Nazis supposedly sought to make contact with Agarta by finding an entrance to the tunnel system leading to it. In addition to the Brazilian expedition, they sent seven expeditions to Tibet, the most famous of which is now best known through the feature film Seven Years in Tibet that was particularly popular among followers of "New Age" philosophy.
Though it might not be hooked on lost tunnels or subterranean cities, the new Nazi expedition is apparently based on another lunatic fringe notion with disturbing New Age appeal--that a "master race" of Atlanteans once dominated the world and left evidence of their civilization in Tibet, Egypt, and South America. Hence, the neo-Nazi interest in lost cities.
The Atlantis theory comes from Ariosophy, a so-called Aryan centered philosophy that influenced Nazism. The founder of Ariosophy, Adolf Josef Lanz, who called himself Lanz von Liebenfels, was a professional Austrian anti-Semite and former monk who advocated forced sterilization of "inferior races." His doctrine, also known as Theozoology, or Ario-Christianity, was an offshoot of a kind of New Age religion of its day, called Theosophy.
A cult-like, 19th century mystical movement, Theosophy was founded by a notorious Russian-born adventuress, author, and phony medium, Helena Blavatsky, and her spiritualist lover, an American lawyer named Henry Olcott. A racist and an anti-Semite who incorporated the swastika in her movement's seal, Blavatsky argued that humanity had descended from a series of seven "Root Races," identifyng the fifth and supposedly superior one the Aryan race, which, she claimed, came from Atlantis. Some modern humans, such as indigenous Africans and Australians, she argued, were actually semi- or sub-human.
Her ideas influenced, among others, Savitri Devi (born Maximiani Portas), a French woman who emigrated to India during he 1930s, where she blended a philosophy of white supremacy and Hinduism and became a fanatic Hitler admirer, living out the war years in anticipation of a Nazi victory. In the 1960s, she emerged as a cult figure for neo-Nazis--"Hitler's guru," in the words of the German-Canadian Holocaust-denying publisher Ernest Zundel. Zundel, who republished and distributed Devi's out-of-print, 1958 book, "The Lightning and the Sun," is involved in the neo-Nazi-Iranian axis, which is itself the brainchild of an aging Nazi convert to Islam, the mysterious Swiss banker and ex-journalist, Ahmed Huber.
A quest for Shambhala (Agarta) led Blavatsky to South America. She claimed to have partially explored the secret, subterranean tunnels connecting the continent with Asia by entering the passages in Peru and Brazil. The story has become a staple of neo-Nazi Internet sites and books about so-called ancient mysteries, including works produced and published by Zundel and allegedly financed by Huber, whose home boasts portraits of Hitler and Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.
Back to Iran. The Islamist regime of Iran's Hitler-admiring President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as previously reported, has supported, encouraged and provided safe haven for numerous neo-Nazi groups, while sponsoring international events aimed at denying and ridiculing the Holocaust, and threatening to destroy Israel and drive the United States from the Middle East.
The Iranian-neo-Nazi axis recalls the wartime penetration of Iran by Gestapo and German military intelligence officers and the pro-Nazi leanings of Iran's monarch at the time, Reza Pahlavi. (In contrast with Reza Shah, his son, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown by Khomeini, was a US ally and friend of Israel and Iran's Jewish community.)
Persians have long used the term Aryan to describe the Indo-European origins of their language. Starting in the early 19th century, German romanticists popularized the notion of an "Aryan" Indo-Nordic race. They promoted study of Sanskrit, a classical language of India, and liturgical language of Hinduism and Buddhism, in opposition to Hebrew and other Semitic languages, and a theory of Asia, not the Middle East, as the cradle of civilization.
The idea for Persia's 1935 name change to Iran--"Land of the Aryans"--was supposedly suggested by Tehran's ambassador to Germany, who came under the influence of Hitler's trusted banker, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht.