1938–39 German expedition to Tibet
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- 1 Origins
- 2 Objectives
- 3 Designations
- 4 Funding
- 5 Members
- 6 Background
- 7 Expedition details
- 8 Communications with Germany
- 9 Results of the Research
- 10 Return Home
- 11 Nanga Parbat expedition
- 12 See also
- 13 Footnotes
- 14 References
The Reichsführer-SS Himmler was attempting to avail himself of the reputation of Ernst Schäfer for Nazi propaganda and asked about his future plans. Ernst Schäfer responded he wanted to lead another expedition to Tibet. Ernst Schäfer wished his expedition to be under the patronage of the cultural department of the foreign affairs or of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft ("German Research Foundation") as indicated by his requests. Himmler was fascinated by Asian mysticism and therefore wished to send such an expedition under the auspices of the SS Ahnenerbe (SS Ancestral Heritage Society), and desired that Schäfer perform research based on Hanns Hörbiger’s pseudo-scientific theory of "Glacial Cosmogony" promoted by the Ahnenerbe. Schäfer had scientific objectives, and he therefore refused to include Edmund Kiss, an adept of this theory, in his team, and requested 12 conditions to obtain scientific freedom. Wolfram Sievers from the Ahnenerbe therefore expressed criticism concerning the objectives of the expedition, so that Ahnenerbe would not sponsor it. Himmler accepted the expedition to be organized on the condition that all its members become SS. In order to succeed in his expedition, Schäfer had to compromise.
In Geheimnis Tibet, Schäfer himself states that the primary objective for the expedition was the creation of a complete scientific record of Tibet, through a synthesis of geology, botany, zoology, and ethnology, referred to in the German science of the day as "holism."
Researcher Roger Croston quoting The New York Times of 1939 (stating "The expedition is bringing back valuable zoological and botanical collections"), Schäfer, and research results describes the objective of the expedition as "The primary aim of this expedition was an holistic creation of a complete biological record of Tibet alongside a synthesis of inter-relating natural sciences with regard to geography, cartography, geology, earth magnetics, climate, plants, animals and mankind."
Reacting to Dr Isrun Engelhardt’s conclusions that the Schäfer Expedition was "purely scientific" and her claim that the historical context of Germany in the 1930s makes the expedition's goals appear as somehow sinister, British writer Christopher Hale observes that "while the idea of ‘Nazi botany’ or ‘Nazi ornithology’ is probably absurd, other sciences are not so innocent – and Schäfer’s small expedition represented a cross-section of German science in the 1930s." To Hale, this has considerable significance as "under the Third Reich anthropology and medicine were cold-bloodedly exploited to support and enact a murderous creed."
Hale also recalls the existence of a secret warning issued by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to German newspapers in 1940 saying that "the chief task of the Tibet expedition," was "of a political and military nature" and "had not so much to with the solution of scientific questions," adding that "details could not be revealed."
However, Croston agrees with Engelhardt and states that the expedition "was planned as a scientific mission […] but it was caught up in the politics of the time. […] Schaefer’s vehement refusal to accept Himmler’s plans led, eventually, to the expedition not being sponsored by Himmler’s SS or its organisations 'because it would lie outside the scope of his work'."
Chinese journalist Ren Yanshi, quoting the Austrian weekly Wochenpresse, writes that the first major task of the expedition was "to investigate the possibility of establishing the region as a base for attacking the British troops stationed in India" while its second major assignment was "to verify Heinrich Himmler's Nazi racial theory that a group of pure-blooded Aryans had settled in Tibet."
According to American journalist Karl E. Meyer, one of the expedition's aims was to prepare maps and survey passes "for possible use of Tibet as a staging ground for guerrilla assaults on British India."
While preparing the expedition, Ernst Schäfer used the term "Schaefer Expedition 1938/1939" on his letterhead and to apply for sponsorship from businessmen.
However, the official name had to be changed on order of the "Ahnenerbe" to "German Tibet-Expedition Ernst Schaefer" (in big letters), "under the patronage of the Reichsführer-SS Himmler and in connection with the Ahnenerbe" (in small letters).
However, after the German Consul-General in Calcutta criticised in his report to the German Foreign Office the letterhead, "arguing that the prescribed letterhead was counter-productive and immediately generated mistrust among the British", Schäfer "ordered a new, discreet letterhead in Antiqua font, which read "Deutsche Tibet Expedition Ernst Schäfer." During the expedition Schäfer used only the letterhead "Deutsche Tibet Expedition Ernst Schäfer." or his original "Schaefer Expedition" paper. The letterhead "German Tibet-Expedition Ernst Schäfer [in large print], under the patronage of the Reichsfuehrer-SS Himmler and in connection with the ‘Ahnenerbe’ [in small print]" was only used prior to the expedition’s departure.
British writer Christopher Hale claims that one cannot infer that Schäfer was independent of the SS and was able to do "pure science" simply from the special letterhead that he got printed for the expedition: to all intents and purposes, the expedition remained under Himmler’s patronage and Schäfer had no interest in losing his support.
In its time, the expedition was also commonly referred to in German newspapers and academic journals as the SS Tibet Expedition as it had Heinrich Himmler as its patron and all five members were officers in the SS. The "SS-Tibet-Expedition" designation was used by Ernst Schäfer himself in the Atlantis Journal.
In the "Register of the Heinrich Himmler Papers", 1914–1944, archived at Stanford University's Hoover institution, the folder containing the material pertaining to the expedition has for its title 'The SS-Tibet-Expedition, 1939.
"SS Tibet Expedition" is the title used in a 1946 report by US military intelligence in Western Europe.
According to Christopher Hale, as Ernst Schäfer was demanding more than sixty thousand Reichsmarks for his expedition and the coffers of the SS were depleted at the time, he was forced to raise the funds himself.
According to researcher Isrun Engelhardt, the expedition was not funded by the Ahnenerbe. Ernst Schäfer raised the funds by himself, 80% of which came from Public Relations and Advertising Council of German Industry (Werberat der deutschen Wirtschaft) as well as large German business enterprises, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and Brooke Dolan II. Himmler's personal friends sponsored only the flight back to Germany.
According to the United States Forces, the expedition's funding was provided by various public and private contributors, with the return flight to Germany paid for by the SS. The cost of equipping the expedition was RM 65,000, and the expedition itself cost another RM 65,000, excluding the flight back, which was financed by the SS.
- Werberat der Deutschen Wirtschaft (Propaganda Council for German Economy) - RM 40.000
- Illustrierter and Voelkischer Beobachter - RM 40,000 (Eher Publishing House, later claimed sponsorship of the expedition.)
- I.G. Farbenindustrie (through Filchner, Tibet explorer) - RM 35,000
- Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (German Research Society) - RM 10,000
- Reichsforschungsdienst (Reich Research Service) - RM 6,000
- Phoenix Rubber Works, Harburg (plant owned by Schaefer's father) - RM 3,000
- Hecker, head of Ilseder Huette - RM 2,000
- Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia - $1,000
- Varying amounts from several smaller firms and associations
Ernst Schäfer was a member of the SS when he showed up at the German consulate in Chung-King in 1935. Schäfer had just returned from a trip through parts of Asia, mainly India and China, in which the other two heads of the expedition had abandoned him in fear of native tribes. Schäfer turned the expedition from a complete failure into a great success, and the SS took note, sending him a letter informing him of a promotion to SS-Untersturmführer and summoning him back to Germany from Philadelphia where he was organizing the collection from his voyage. In June 1936, Schäfer met with Himmler, who consequently informed Sievers and Galke to start organizing an expedition to Tibet.
Schäfer recruited young, fit men who would be well suited for an arduous journey At age 24, Karl Wienert (an assistant of Wilhelm Filchner, a famous explorer) was the team’s geologist. Also age 24, Edmund Geer was selected as the technical leader to organize the expedition. A relatively old teammate at the age of 38 was Ernst Krause (not to be confused with the German biologist of the same name), who was to double as a filmmaker and entomologist. Bruno Beger was a 26-year-old Rassekunde expert and student of Hans F.K. Günther's who was to be the team’s anthropologist.
The official plan of the expedition, according to Italian philosopher and essayist Claudio Mutti, included research on the landforms, climate, geography, and culture of the region, and contacting the local authorities for the establishment of representation in the country.
There have been allegations that one of the expedition's purposes was to determine whether Tibet was the cradle of the "Aryan race". The taking of cranial measurements and making of facial casts of local people by anthropologist Bruno Beger did little to dissipate the allegations.
According to Claudio Mutti, the group of five researchers intended to contact the Regent of Tibet and visit the sacred cities of Lhasa and Shigatse. Even with wartime difficulties the group was able to contact the Tibetan authorities and people. They returned to Germany with a complete edition of the Tibetan sacred text the Kangyur (108 volumes), examples of Mandala, other ancient texts, and one alleged document regarding the "Aryan race". These documents were kept in Ahnenerbe archives.
There exist some photos of Schäfer and colleagues with Tibetan dignitaries and the Chinese representative in Lhasa in a room decorated with black and white SS banners, Swastika and Tibetan flags. Others show Schäfer with the Potala Palace in the background, and other group members undertaking research in the Tibetan mountains.
In July 1937 the team suffered a setback when Japan invaded Manchuria in China, ruining Schäfer’s plans to use the Yangtze River to reach Tibet. Schäfer flew to London to seek permission to travel through India, but was turned down by the British government who feared an imminent war with Germany.
Another problem in the preparations for the Tibetan expedition occurred during a duck hunting accident on November 9, 1937 when Schäfer, his wife of four months, and two servants were in a rowboat. A sudden wave caused Schäfer to drop his gun which broke in two and discharged, mortally wounding his wife. Despite subsequent emotional problems, Schäfer was back to work on the expedition in eight weeks.
In a move that lost the Ahnenerbe’s support, Schäfer asked Himmler for permission to simply arrive in India and try to force his way into Tibet. Himmler agreed with this plan, and set about furthering it by contacting influential people, including Germany’s foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. On April 21, 1938 the team departed from Genoa, Italy on their way to Ceylon where they would then travel to Calcutta, British India.
The day before the team left Europe the Völkischer Beobachter ran an article on the expedition, alerting British officials of their intentions. Schäfer and Himmler were both enraged: Schäfer complained to the SS headquarters and Himmler in turn wrote to Admiral Barry Domvile. Domvile was a Nazi supporter and former head of British naval intelligence who gave the letter to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who allowed the SS team to enter Sikkim, a region bordering Tibet.
Journey through Sikkim
In Sikkim’s capital of Gangtok, the team assembled a 50-mule caravan and searched for porters and Tibetan interpreters. Here, the British official, Sir Basil Gould, observed them, describing Schäfer as "interesting, forceful, volatile, scholarly, vain to the point of childishness, disregardful of social convention," and noted that he was determined to enter Tibet regardless of permission.
The team began their journey June 21, 1938, traveling through the Teesta River valley and then heading north. Krause worked light traps to capture insects, Wienert toured the hills making measurements, Geer collected bird species and Beger offered locals medical help in exchange for allowing him to take measurements of them.
In August 1938, a high official of the Rajah Tering, a member of the Sikkimese royal family living in Tibet, entered the team’s camp. Although Beger wished to ask the guest’s permission to measure him, he was dissuaded by the Tibetan porters who encouraged him to wait for Schäfer to return from a hunting trip. Schäfer met with the official, and presented him with mule-loads of gifts.
In December 1938 the Tibetan council of ministers invited Schäfer and his team to Tibet, but forbade them from killing any animals during their stay, citing religious concerns. After a supply trip back to Gangtok, Schäfer learned he had been promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer, and the rest of the team had been promoted to SS-Obersturmführer.
Trip To Lhasa
During the trip to Tibet’s highlands, Beger began making facial casts of local people, including his personal servant, a Nepalese Sherpa named Passang. During the first casting, paste got into one of Passang’s nostrils and he panicked, tearing at the mask. Schäfer threatened the employment of the porters who had seen the incident, if they told anyone. However, most of the Tibetans had a much more friendly and light-hearted attitude, and a solid amount of photographic and film footage remains of smiling and laughing Tibetans undergoing facial and skull feature measurements.
On January 19, 1939, the team reached Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Schäfer proceeded to pay his respects to the Tibetan ministers and a nobleman. He also gave out Nazi pennants, explaining the shared symbol’s reverence in Germany. His permission to remain in Lhasa was extended, and he was permitted to photograph and film the region. The team spent two months in Lhasa, collecting information on agriculture, culture, and religion.
As the arrival of the expedition had been announced in advance, its members, according to Bruno Beger's testimony, were welcome everywhere in Tibet and provided with all the things they needed for their trip and sojourn. In Lhasa itself, they got into close touch with government officials and other noteworthy people.
Schäfer met the Regent of Tibet, Reting Rinpoche, on several occasions. During one of their meetings, the Regent asked him point blank whether his country would be willing to sell weapons to Tibet.
Trip to Gyantse and Shigatse
In March 1939, the expedition left Lhasa, heading for Gyantse and escorted by a Tibetan official. After exploring the ruins of the ancient deserted capital city of Jalung Phodrang, they reached Shigatse, the city of the panchen lamas, in April. They received a warm welcome from the locals, with thousands coming out to greet them. In a 1946 "Final Interrogation Report by American Intelligence", Schäfer claims to have met "the pro-German regent of Shigatse" (the 9th Panchen Lama had died in 1937 and the 10th was not to arrive before 1951). In May, the expedition returned to Gyantse where negotiations were held with local British officials about the trip back to India and transport of the expeditions’s gear and collections.
Communications with Germany
Throughout his stay in Lhasa, Ernst Schäfer remained in touch with Germany through mail and the Chinese Legation’s radio. Himmler is reported to have followed the expedition enthusiastically, writing several letters to Schäfer and even broadcasting Christmas greeting to him via shortwave.
Results of the Research
The Germans collected anything they could: thousands of artifacts, a huge number of plants and animals, including live specimens. They sent back specimens of three breeds of Tibetan dogs, rare feline species, wolves, badgers, foxes, animal and bird skins.
The expedition members collected a huge quantity of plants, in particular hundreds of varieties of barley, wheat, oats. The seeds were later stored in the SS-Institute for Plant Genetics in Lannach near Graz, Austria, a research centre run by SS botanist Heinz Brücker. Brücher entertained hopes of using both the Tibet collection and that of the Vavilov Institute in the Eastern territories to select crop plants able to withstand the climate of Eastern Europe – considered at the time as part of the Nazi Lebensraum or "living space" – with a view to reaching autarky.
Wienert took four sets of geomagnetic data. Krause studied Tibetan wasps. Schäfer observed Tibetan rituals, including sky burials (he even bought some human skulls). They took stills and film footage of local culture, notably the spectacular New Year celebrations when tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Lhasa. Bruno Beger recorded the measurements of 376 people and took casts of the heads, faces, hands and ears of 17 more, as well as fingerprints and hand prints from another 350. To carry out his research, he posed as a medicine man to win the favour of Tibetan aristocrats, dispensing drugs and tending to monks with sexually transmitted diseases.
Schäfer kept meticulous notes on the religious and cultural customs of the Tibetans, from their various colorful Buddhist festivals to Tibetan attitudes towards marriage, rape, menstruation, childbirth, homosexuality and masturbation. In his account of Tibetan homosexuality he describes the various positions taken by older lamas with younger boys and then goes on to explain how homosexuality played an important role in the higher politics of Tibet. There are pages of careful observation of Himalayan people engaged in a variety of intimate acts.
Schäfer presented the results of the expedition on 25 July 1939 at the Himalaya Club Calcutta.
After Schäfer read a letter from his father who reported to him about the imminent threat of war, and urged him to return to Germany as quickly as possible, Schäfer decided to return to Germany. According to Engelhardt:
|“||From Calcutta the expedition ﬁrst took a British Airways seaplane to Baghdad, which developed engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency water landing in Karachi. In Baghdad they were fortunate to be able to continue their ﬂight to Athens on a Lufthansa JU 52. They learned a few hours later that their previous British Airways seaplane had sunk oﬀ Alexandria. A surprise awaited them in Athens, where they boarded a special new aircraft that was placed at their disposal by the German government for their safe return home.||”|
After being given two complimentary letters – one to Hitler and the other to Himmler, Schäfer and his companions left Lhasa in August 1939.  They also took with them two presents for Hitler consisting of a Lhama dress and a hunting dog, as well as a copy of the Tibetan "Bible", the 120-volume Kangyur. They headed south to Calcutta, boarding a seaplane at the mouth of the Hooghly River and beginning the journey home. According to Trimondis at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, they were greeted on the runway by an ecstatic Heinrich Himmler. who presented Schäfer with the SS skull ring and dagger of honor.
When grilled by US military intelligence in February 1946, Schäfer stated that after his return, he had a meeting with Himmler in which he outlined his plans to launch another expedition to Tibet in case of war. The idea was to win Tibet over to the German side and organize a resistance movement there. The project never took off.
After returning to Germany, Wienert, Krause and Geer went back to civilian life and were heard of no more. Beger worked together with August Hirt at the Reichsuniversität Straßburg. His assignment, which he carried out, was to provide the Nazi physician with a selection of detainees of diverse ethnic types from Auschwitz in order to serve Hirt's racial experiments.
1943 also saw the release of the film Geheimnis Tibet put together from the various rolls brought back from Tibet. It premiered on January 16, during the inauguration of the Sven Hedin Institute, with the Swedish explorer himself in attendance.
Because of the war, Schäfer’s writings about the trip were not published until 1950, under the title "Festival of the White Gauze Scarves: A research expedition through Tibet to Lhasa, the holy city of the god realm."
All through the expedition, Beger kept a travel diary which was published in book form 60 years later, Mit der deutschen Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer 1938/39 nach Lhasa (Wiesbaden, 1998). Only 50 copies of it exist.
Nanga Parbat expedition
The Schäfer expedition to Tibet (May 1938 - August 1939) is often confused with the Nanga Parbat expedition (May 1939 - August 1939). While the former is a mainly anthropological affair, the latter is essentially a mountaineering expedition. Although slightly overlapping, the dates are different, too.
In May 1939, Harrer was selected by the German Himalayan Foundation to take part in a new expedition to the Nanga Parbat, one of the highest Indian mountains, under the leadership of Peter Aufschnaiter. Their goal was to discover new ways to make the ascent of the North-western face. In August 1939, their mission accomplished, the team left for Karachi, where a vessel was supposed to have recovered them.
The group were captured by British forces under the command of Major General Alan Van Dyke in October 1939 and escaped from jail. Harrer was later recaptured and escaped from his captors again. Harrer arrived with Aufschnaiter in Tibet on May 17, 1944, and was introduced to the Dalai Lama in 1949, staying in the country until China reasserted its control over it in 1951. Some evidence of this expedition is kept in the National Archives of Washington D.C..
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- (French) Detlev Rose, L'expédition allemande au Tibet de 1938-39. Voyage scientifique ou quête de traces à motivation idéologique ?, in Synergies européennes - Bruxelles-Munich-Tübingen, novembre 2006 (article tiré de la revue Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, No 3-2006).
- Isrun Engelhardt, The Ernst-Schaefer-Tibet-Expedition (1938-1939) : new light on the political history of Tibet in the first half of the 20th century in McKay Alex (ed.)
- Ernst Schäfer, Geheimnis Tibet. München: Bruckmann 1943, 7-16, see also Engelhardt, Isrun, Nazis of Tibet: A Twentieth Century Myth. In: Monica Esposito (ed.), Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Paris: École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), coll. Études thématiques 22, vol. I, 2008, p.76.
- Roger Croston, Is the Space Buddha a Counterfeit?, 24 Oct. 2012.
- Christopher Hale (2003): "Dr Isrun Engelhardt has concluded that the Schäfer Expedition was ‘purely scientific’. It is only because of the historical context of Germany in the 1930s, she argues, that we view its goals as somehow sinister."
- Christopher Hale, Himmler’s Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003, p. 200.
- Ren Yanshi, Nazi Author's Seven Years in Tibet (article first published in March 1998 in Beijing Review), Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the State of Israel, April 14, 2008.
- Karl E. Meyer, Nazi Trespassers in Tibet, The New York Times, 7 July 1999: "Schäfer's team filmed and measured Tibetans, but also prepared maps and surveyed passes for possible use of Tibet as a staging ground for guerrilla assaults on British India."
- Detlev Rose, L'expédition allemande au Tibet de 1938-39. Voyage scientifique ou quête de traces à motivation idéologique ?, in Synergies européennes - Bruxelles-Munich-Tübingen, novembre 2006 (article taken from the Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart journal, No 3-2006): "Le nom officiel de l’expédition était le suivant : « Expédition allemande Ernst Schäfer au Tibet » (= « Deutsche Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer »).
- Isrun Engelhardt, The Ernst-Schaefer-Tibet-Expedition (1938-1939) : new light on the political history of Tibet in the first half of the 20th century , in McKay Alex (ed.), Tibet and Her Neighbours : A History 2003, Edition Hansjörg Mayer (London), ISBN 3-88375-718-7: "The expedition’s name, however, had to be changed on the order of the 'Ahnenerbe' to 'German Tibet-Expedition Ernst Schaefer' (in big letters), under the patronage of the Reichsführer-SS Himmler and in connection with the Ahnenerbe (in small letters)."
- This designation is also used by the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Historic photographs of Sikkim ‘Who is behind the camera?’
- »Tibet in 1938–1939: The Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet«, Engelhardt 2007, p.17 and Note 38 p.250.
- The Nazis of Tibet: A Twentieth Century Myth, Isrun Engelhardt, in: Monica Esposito (ed.), »Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th Centuries.« Paris: École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), coll. Études thématiques 22, vol. I, 2008, pp. 77–78.
- Christopher Hale (2003): "He was careful to remove that second line when he arrived in Gangtok in British India. [...] Some German historians have concluded from this that Schäfer was independent of the SS and was thus able to do 'pure science'. This was not the case. Himmler remained the expedition's patron and Schäfer clearly had no interest in losing his support."
- Konrad von Rauch, Die Erste Deutsche SS-Tibet-Expedition, in Der Biologe 8, 1939, S. 113-127.
- "an article by Ernst Schaefer from the magazine Atlantis date October 1939. This article had the sub-heading 'von Dr Ernst Schaefer Leiter der SS-Tibet-Expedition' ", (Ofcom, Broadcast Bulletin, Issue number 85 - 21/05/07, Fairness and Privacy Cases, Not Upheld, Complaint by Mr Roger Croston on behalf of Dr Bruno Beger Secret History: The Nazi Expedition, Channel 4, 12 July 2004).
- "Probably the best known expedition was the SS Tibet expedition, undertaken in 1943" (Mechtild Rössler, Geography and Area Planning under National Socialism, in Margit Szöllösi-Janze (ed.), Science in the Third Reich, Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers, 2001, 289 p., pp. 59-79, p.71.
- "SS-Tibet-Expedition Schäfer 1938-1939" (Suzanne Heim, Geschichte der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus, 2002, p. 131)
- Peter Levenda, Unholy alliance: a history of Nazi involvement with the occult, 2nd edition, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, 423 p., p. 192: "the efforts and adventures of the SS-Tibet expedition."
- Online Archive of California (OAC).
- The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer, United States Forces - European Theater Military Intelligence Service Center, APO 757 Final Interrogation Report (OI-FIR) No. 32, Feb. 12, 1946: "A new Tibetan expedition, to be called the SS Tibet Expedition, was then in preparation."
- Christopher Hale, Himmler's Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003, 422 p.: "the coffers of the SS were much depleted (Schäfer was demanding more than sixty thousand Reichsmarks [...] Schäfer was now faced with a formidable task: he would have to raise the funds himself."
- Isrun Engelhardt, The Ernst-Schaefer-Tibet-Expedition (1938-1939) : new light on the political history of Tibet in the first half of the 20th century in McKay Alex (ed.), Tibet and Her Neighbours : A History 2003, Edition Hansjörg Mayer (London), ISBN 3-88375-718-7,
Schaefer, in order to obtain the scientific freedom he needed, asked for the acceptance of twelve conditions, all of which were granted by Himmler himself. However, Sievers, the head of the "Ahnenerbe", declared in January 1938, "The task of the expedition in the meantime had diverged too far from the targets of the Reichsführer-SS and does not serve his ideas of cultural studies." Thus, in the end, the expedition was not sponsored by the "Ahnenerbe"
- Isrun Engelhardt (2003)
- The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer, United States Forces - European Theater, Military Intelligence Service Center, APO 757 Final Interrogation Report (OI-FIR) No. 32, Feb. 12, 1946.
- Pringle, Heather, The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust, Hyperion, 2006.
- Ernst Schäfer, Forschungsraum Innerasien, in Asienberichte. Vierteljahresschrift für asiatische Geschichte und Kultur, No 21, April 1944, pp. 3-6: "the geology, flora, wildlife and people (of Tibet) were the objects of our expedition."
- (French) Claudio Mutti, Les SS au Tibet, in Claudiomutti.com, Octobre 10, 2005: "Le but officiel de l'expédition était d'étudier la région tibétaine du point de vue anthropologique, géographique, zoologique et botanique. Mais pour Himmler il importait aussi d'établir le contact avec l'abbé Reting, devenu Régent du pays en 1934, un an après la mort du treizième Dalaï-lama.
- John J. Reilly, Review of Christopher Hale's book, Himmler's Crusade, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003.
- Claudio Mutti, Les SS au Tibet, Claudiomutti.com, 10 October 10, 2005.
- John J. Reilly, Review of Christopher Hale's book, Himmler's Crusade, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003.
- Dr. Bruno Beger, The Status of Independence of Tibet in 1938/39 according to the travel reports (memoirs), Tibet.com, 1996: "The arrival of our expedition had been announced beforehand in advance, and for this reason we were welcome and well-received everywhere and provided with the necessary things on our way through the Chumbi Valley, then from Gyantse to Lhasa and from there via Samye across the Yarlung Valley to Shigatse and back again to Gangtok via Gyantse. In Lhasa itself we were received in a very friendly way and got into close contact with government officials and other influential people of the country."
- John J. Reilly, Review of Christopher Hale's Himmler's Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Origins of the Aryan Race, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003: "The Regent granted Schäfer long interviews at short notice, a most unusual practice, during one of which he asked point blank whether Germany would be interested in selling arms to Tibet."
- Christopher Hale, Himmler's Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (NJ), 2003, 422 p.: "When the German Tibet Expedition arrived in Shigatse, thousands came out to greet them."
- The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer: "In any event he claims to have been told by the pro-German regent of Shigatse" [...].
- Alex McKay, The History of Tibet: 1895-1959, the encounter with modernity, RoutledgeCurzon, 2003, 737 p., p. 32: "As with the Dalai Lama, Regents were appointed at Shigatse during the periods between ruling Panchen Lamas."
- John J. Reilly, Review of Christopher Hale's "Himmler's Crusade. The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Origins of the Aryan Race": "Not that mail was Schäfer’s only means of communication: the Chinese legation let him use their radio."
- The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer: "Himmler followed the expedition with enthusiasm and wrote several letters to Schaefer [...]. Himmler promoted Schaefer to SS Hauptsturmfuehrer, and on Christmas 1938 broadcast special Christmas greetings to him via shortwave.
- Kathy Brewis, Quest of the Nazis, The Sunday Times, July 20, 2003.
- Thomas Wieland, Autarky and Lebensraum. The political agenda of academic plant breeding in Nazi Germany, Host, Journal of Science and Technology, vol. 3, automne 2009: "Due to the growing interest of breeders in wild-type plants, in 1939, geneticist Fritz von Wettstein(1895–1945) argued for an institute for crop plant research to be established by the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. About the same time, members of Himmler’s research and teaching community Das Ahnenerbe also developed the idea of founding an institute. Its objective should be to analyze the wild-type plants compiled during the 1938 expedition of the SS to Tibet […]. The SS-Institute in Lannach was set up and directed by Heinz Brücher (1915–1991), who, in June 1943, joined a task force established by the SS to rob the assortments of wild and cultivated plants from the Vavilov institutes in the occupied territories. Drawing upon these assortments as well as on those of the 1938 SS Tibet expedition, Brücher wanted to start "breeding cold and drought resistant crop plants for the Eastern territory".
- Peter Levenda, Unholy alliance: a history of Nazi involvement with the occult, 2nd edition, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002, 423 p., p. 194.
- Engelhardt Isrun, Tibet in 1938–1939: The Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet, pp. 55–57, 2007, in Tibet in 1938-1939: Photographs from the Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet, Edited by Isrun Engelhardt,1-932476-30-X.
- Engelhardt Isrun (2003), p. 57.
- Victor and Victoria Trimondi, The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Part II – 12. Fascist occultism and its close relationship to Buddhist Tantrism: "Upon his return in August 1939, the scientist was presented with the SS skull ring and dagger of honor in recognition."
- Joseph Cummins, History's great untold stories, National Geographic, 2006, 367 p., p. 333.
- Pringle (2006), p. 254.
- John J. Reilly (2003): "The SS wanted racial classifications of its prisoners, so Beger was sent to Auschwitz to select interesting subjects (...). He made the familiar measurements of the living subjects. Soon after the measurements were taken, these people were gassed and pickled. The idea was to reduce them to skeletons for a large collection that could be systematically compared with the measurements taken from living bodies."
- (French) Victor Trimondi and Victoria Trimondi, Le film SS « Le secret du Tibet », Online Magazine, 2003.
- (French) Detlev Rose (2006): "Bruno BEGER, Mit der deutschen Tibetexpedition Ernst Schäfer 1938/39 nach Lhasa, Wiesbaden, 1998, page 6. Ce livre récapitule les notes du journal de voyage de Beger, réadaptées pour publication. Il n’a été tiré qu’à une cinquantaine d’exemplaires."
- This SS unit also climbed Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus and raised a Swastika flag on the summit in 1942 during the Eastern Front Campaign. It has been suggested that Himmler ordered the Elbrus expedition because it was sacred to the Aryan Gods in ancient Persian cults.
- See the July 1955 edition of National Geographic: "We left our native Austria in 1939 as members of the German Nanga Parbat Expedition".
- Heinrich Harrer, Seven years in Tibet, translated from the German by Richard Graves; with an introduction by Peter Fleming; foreword by the Dalai Lama, E. P. Dutton, 1954, ISBN 0-87477-888-3.
- Pringle, Heather (2006). The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust. Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6886-5.
- Hale, Christopher (2003). Himmler’s Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race. Hoboken, N. J.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 200. ISBN 0-471-26292-7.
- Schellenberg, Walter (1956). The Schellenberg Memoirs. London: Andre Deutsch.
- Levenda, Peter (2003). Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. pp. 191–202. ISBN 0-8264-1409-5.
- The Activities of Dr. Ernst Schaefer, United States Forces - European Theater, Military Intelligence Service Center, APO 757 Final Interrogation Report (OI-FIR) No. 32, Feb. 12, 1946.
- Michael H. Kater, Das "Ahnenerbe" der SS 1935-1945; ein Beitrag zur Kulturpolitik des Dritten Reiches, Stuttgart, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1974 (paperback edition 2001, Oldenbourg Verlag, 2001, ISBN 3-486-56529-X)
- (French) Detlev Rose, L'expédition allemande au Tibet de 1938-39. Voyage scientifique ou quête de traces à motivation idéologique ?, in Synergies européennes - Bruxelles-Munich-Tübingen, novembre 2006 (article originating from Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart, No 3-2006)."
- Peter Mierau, Nationalsozialistische Expeditionspolitik. Deutsche Asien-Expeditionen 1933–1945, Múnich, 2006 (contains an account of Schäfer's expeditions).
- Isrun Engelhardt, «Tibetan Triangle. German, Tibetan and British relations in the context of E. Schäfer's expedition, 1938-1939», in Asiatische Studien, LVIII.1, 2004.
- Isrun Engelhardt, «Tibet in 1938-1939 : Photographs from the Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet», Serindia, Chicago, 2007. Online: «Tibet in 1938–1939: The Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet», pp. 11–61.
- Isrun Engelhardt, «Mishandled Mail : The Strange Case of the Reting Regent's Letters to Hitler», in Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies 2003, Oxford.
- Isrun Engelhardt, «The Nazis of Tibet : A twentieth century myth», in Monica Esposito, Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Ecole française d'Extrême Orient, coll. «Etudes thématiques», 2008.
- Wolfgang Kaufmann, "Das Dritte Reich und Tibet. Die Heimat des 'östlichen Hakenkreuzes' im Blickfeld der Nationalsozialisten", Ludwigsfelder Verlagshaus 2009 (962 p.).