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Hitler's Holy Relics: A True Story of Nazi Plunder and the Race to Recover the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire Paperback – May 10, 2011
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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From Publishers Weekly
In this fast-paced history, Kirkpatrick (A Cast of Killers) describes the efforts of German-born Walter Horn, a U.S. Army first lieutenant and art historian, to locate the missing crown, orb, scepter, imperial sword, and ceremonial sword of the Holy Roman Empire in Europe at the end of WWII. The objects, along with the Holy Lance of Longinus and many other artifacts, had been stolen by the Nazis from Austria after the Anschluss in 1938 and, conceivably, could have been used by Nazis to motivate Germans in the creation of a Fourth Reich. Through research, investigation, and amateur detective work, Horn explored the continuing threats inherent in Nazi mythology while successfully solving the core mystery of the disappearance of the crown jewels. Definitely speculative in the suggestion that a mysterious new order of Teutonic Knights might exist for malevolent political purposes, Horn's story is an interesting footnote to the history of WWII. 24 pages of b&w photos; 2 maps. (May 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Even before WWII began, Allied intelligence services knew that Hitler and several other top Nazis had a fascination with the occult and placed strong symbolic value on and even endowed some historical relics with mystical powers. During the course of the war, Nazi officials confiscated a gigantic number of artistic treasures and artifacts. Many of these were stored in vast underground bunkers placed across Germany. As the Third Reich collapsed in early 1945, Walter Horn, a prominent German-born art historian in civilian life, had the role of interrogating captured German soldiers for an intelligence unit of the U.S. Third Army. A seemingly routine questioning of a POW revealed the existence of one of these bunkers in Nürnberg. Horn filed his report, and to his surprise, he was put in charge of a search team whose goal was to locate some priceless artifacts missing from the bunker, including the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. Kirkpatrick chronicles the search effort in a fast-moving account filled with surprising twists, turns, and revelations. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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A young American lieutenant is sitting in Belgium, interrogating German POW's. One comes in and, very willing to please, offers to tell him a story. The story concerns the Nazi appropriation of the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire and their hidden location in Nurnberg. What are the odds that the American lieutenant would be: a former German citizen, fluent in the language; a Ph.D. in art history who studied under Erwin Panofsky and, before the war, was a member of the UC-Berkeley faculty? And when the report of the jewels' existence and sequestration was sent up the chain of command, where it was likely to be lost in an endless bureaucratic shuffle . . . what are the odds that the pertinent senior commander would be George S. Patton, Jr., who would not only know the nature of the materials themselves but also appreciate the myth/ritual/political uses to which such individuals as Hitler and Himmler might put them?
The book then explores the search for the jewels and accompanying materials (including the lance tip reputed to have been used to pierce the side of the crucified Christ), a story that occupies a few weeks of calendar time but involves a long list of complex details, interrogations, side trips and cultural analysis.
The book is nicely illustrated, carefully documented and beautifully written. A combination of true crime and compelling popular history, this is a book for WWII buffs, art historians, crime readers and everyone who appreciates a compelling, fascinating story. The account of Himmler's castle, the details of its `renovation' and the dark purposes for which it was intended is itself worth the price of the book.
Don't miss this one.
If Horn was like an Indiana Jones that did not come out in the pages very well. The Otto Rahn story was more Indy like. I believe if you are new to the Nazi plunder and the number of stories, legends, and myths regarding the Crown jewels then this book is a must. If you are a seasoned student, researcher, or professional it falls short. I would have like to have seen Kirkpatrick write further on Himmler's link to the Teutonic knighthood, deeper symbolism explanation, and how and why an International cabal help bring the Third Reich into existence. Another valuable piece would have been of Patton's interests in the Crown jewels too. Often times such historical events are engineered to cause global changes that most people remain unaware of and simply accept it as they go. I would find a companion or sequel to this book as I suggested in this paragraph more helpful and give further clarity.
For the casual World War 2 reader or researcher, I think they will like the way this book reads. It almost is like a screen play. I do recommend this book if you don't know much about the looting, plundering, and recovery of Nazi booty from the war. I found myself asking more questions than I had answers from the book.
Overall, Kirkpatrick's snapshot approach is a thumb's up. But if you are a dedicated researcher or history buff you will need to continue to seek answers.
This is a fascinating story on several levels. The descriptions of the last few months of World War II and the immediate post war period in Germany are vivid and give a good picture of what the ordinary civilians in Nurnberg and elsewhere suffered through. Horn's painstaking search for the jewels is as intriguing as any detective story. Most of all, I appreciated the vast amount of information provided on the Nazis' use of mythological and religious imagery and their distortions of history and religion to justify their crimes.