Abstract

On January 2, 1940 Heinrich Himmler’s SS Ancestral Inheritance established a so-called Kulturkommission, then sent 14 working groups into South Tyrol, Italy. Special, over-proportional emphasis was put on collecting the full range of the Volkskunde canon and conducting dialect studies, by professionally trained folklorists, dialectologists, photographers, and filmmakers. For the Nazi "scholars"--many of whom were SS--the underlying assumption was that these were survivals of ancient Germanic traditions and language. Arguably, it is one of the largest folklore/linguistic field investigations in history. This present study addresses one particular aspect of this enormous undertaking: the underlying ideology, the search for Nordic sources in South Tyrol. The project has not been overlooked in Germany and Austria, but there seems to be little or no knowledge of it outside the German world.

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