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Atlantis was a fictional island used within an allegory by Plato, where it represents a naval power that had conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa, and was engaged in a war with Ancient Athens. In Plato's story, Athens successfully repels the Atlantean invasion, after which Atlanta loses favor with the gods and submerges into the Atlantic Ocean, never to be seen again.

Although seemingly used as fiction by Plato, several authors and philosophers, such as Francis Bacon, Thomas More, and Ignatius Donnelly, have interpreted Plato's account of Atlantis as historical tradition. In recent years, Atlantis has been viewed variously as a lost continent, a lost island, or a lost civilization, with much pseudoscientific speculation. While most historians accept that Atlantis was used as a fictional enemy by Plato, there is debate as to what inspired its use, given the Plato had borrowed some of his other allegories and metaphors from older traditions, while others insist that Plato had invented Atlantis as pure fiction.

Beginning as early as the 16th century, there has been speculation that linked the Mayan civilizations with the lost empire of Atlantis, while others, beginning with Sir Thomas More, described Atlantis as an imaginary land set in the New World, establishing a connection between the Americas and utopian societies, and this theme was continued by Sir Francis Bacon, who placed Atlantis in America. Eventually, this led to the belief that the Mayan and Aztec ruins were the remnants of Atlantis.

In 1882, Ignatius Donnelly argued that all known ancient civilizations were descended from Atlantis, which he viewed as a more advanced culture, even that the biblical Garden of Eden was in Atlantis, and that Atlantis was destroyed in the Great Flood of Noah's time. The Russian mystic, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, claimed that her work, The Secret Doctrine, was originally dictated in Atlantis. Edgar Cayce also spoke often of Atlantis.



Feature Article

Nazi Ideology and the Legend of Atlantis


Nearly everyone is familiar with the legend of Atlantis, although there may be some argument about whether it was supposed to have been a city, an island or a continent, but many are unaware of the role it played in Nazi Germany.

The first written record of Atlantis appeared in the writings of Plato, and Plato's contemporaries were divided over whether he was serious when he wrote of Atlantis, but his references to Atlantis were usually rejected and sometimes parodied by later authors.

Over the years, however, there were many who took the legend seriously. Among these were Olaus Rudbeck and Jean-Sylvain Bailly, who argued that Sweden was originally populated by survivors of Atlantis. Rudbeck believed that Swedish was the original language of Adam.

Others included Helena Blavatsky, a Russian of German ancestry, who established the Theosophical Society in 1875. She subscribed to the theory that the human race had evolved from root races, the fourth of which were the Atlanteans, who were succeeded by the Aryan race, which developed separately from the Semitic races, and was the most highly evolved.

The Atlantis-Nordic connection was revived in the early 1900s by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf schools, and the head of the Theosophical Esoteric Society for Germany and Austria. Steiner claimed that the early inhabitants of Atlantis possessed highly evolved psychic powers that allowed them to communicate telepathically, and in images rather than words. He speculated that the Aryan race had evolved from a small portion of the Atlantean population

Julius Evola, an Italian philosopher, believed similarly, that a race of Nordic people, who were originally semi-immaterial and soft-boned, had founded Atlantis, as well as the higher cultures of people in the East and West. Although Evola described himself as anti-fascist, he shared, and helped to develop, the racial beliefs of Mussolini's National Fascist Party and, when Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943, Evola moved to Germany, where he was employed as a researcher by the SS Ahnenerbe for the remainder of World War II.

In order to get a civilized people, who had lived among Jewish neighbors for generations, to accept the policies he was determined to enact, it was necessary for Adolf Hitler to adopt a national story of origins that portrayed the Aryan people as being superior to the Semitic races.

The association of Atlantis with the Aryans as a superior, more highly evolved race, became the history that was used to justify Hitler's policies of discrimination, then extermination, of the Jewish people, in what became known as The Holocaust.

In 1928, Edmund Kiss, a German archaeologist and writer, had traveled to the ruins at Tiwanaku in Bolivia, later publishing a book suggesting that the ruins had been constructed by prehistoric Nordic Thulians more than seventeen thousand years previous. Later, as a member of the SS, Kiss was asked by Himmler to revisit Tiwanaku with a team of researchers from the SS Ahnenerbe, but the trip was later cancelled.

Heinrich Himmler, a leading member of the Nazi Party, and one of the most powerful people in Nazi Germany, became fascinated with Madame Blavatsky, who had written that survivors of Atlantis, who possessed highly evolved psychic powers, had taken refuge in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.

Founded by Himmler in 1935, the Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society sought to prove that the German people were direct descendants of the Atlanteans, an original perfect race. Also known as the SS Ahnenerbe, the department had fifty research branches, known as institutes, and operated a large publishing facility. Its institutes included research into Celtic studies, musicology, crystal skulls, and Norse gods, but also carried out live experiments on human beings in the concentration camps. The Ahnenerbe also sent researchers to different geographical areas of the world in order to search for evidence of Atlantis.

The SS Ahnenerbe advanced the idea that ancient Germans were not descendants of the Jewish people, but that they had evolved from the people of Atlantis.

Alfred Rosenberg, an early member of the Nazi Party, became the author of several key Nazi ideological creeds, including its racial theories. He also viewed Christianity as being transitional to a new Nazi faith. Rosenberg argued that the highly evolved race of Atlantis and the Jewish people were engaged in an eternal struggle, and that the German people were survivors from Atlantis who came to Germany after the destruction of their home. He viewed the German people as being a separate race.

Atlantis was used to validate the Nazi program of genocide against the Jewish people, as being the imperfect ones who were not from Atlantis, using this as a political tool, if nothing else, to justify that which could not otherwise be justified.

At Nuremberg, Rosenberg was tried, sentenced to death, and hanged as a war criminal. Arrested by British troops, Heinrich Himmler committed suicide on May 23, 1945. Edmund Kiss was excused at the Nuremberg Trials on the grounds that he was just an archaeologist, and released, after which he continued to write of Atlantis.

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