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Herbert Jankuhn

2.1 Soviet expedition

Herbert Jankuhn (born 8 August 1905 in Angerburg,

East Prussia 30 April 1990 in Gttingen) was a German
archaeologist and supporter of the Nazi Party. He undertook a series of investigations on behalf of the Ahnenerbe
before going on to be one of post-war Germanys leading
archaeology academics.

Following the capture of Crimea Jankuhn was sent there

by Himmler to lead a team of archaeologists whose job
was to prove that the area was the cradle of the Goths.[6]
Setting out on 21 July 1942, Jankuhn was accompanied
by Bronze Age expert Karl Kersten and Russian-speaking
archaeologist Baron Wolf von Seefeld.[3] Jankuhn hoped
to raid the areas museums for their treasures but found
that these had all been shipped to the Caucasus during
the invasion and so went there via 5th SS Panzer Division
Wiking command at Starobesheve.[7] Travelling with the
Division as they battled to Maykop Jankuhn reached the
city on 9 August only to receive a telegram from Wolfram
Sievers telling him that Himmler wanted Jankuhn to investigate a possible Gothic residence in Mangup Kale after Ludolf von Alvensleben had told Himmler of its existence. Unwilling to miss out on the treasures he had come
for, Jankuhn sent Kersten to investigate and continued his
search in the Caucasus.[8]

Early years

Jankuhn was born in East Prussia where his schoolteacher

father was involved in local nationalist politics, publishing a pamphlet entitled Is There a Prussian Lithuania?.
He followed his fathers beliefs in a Greater Germany and
also became a devotee of the Teutonic Knights, a passion which both reinforced his political beliefs and convinced him to follow a career in archaeology.[1] His rst
major work was at the Viking settlement at Haithabu,
where he directed the excavations. Whilst in this post
he met Reichsfhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler, who was impressed by Jankuhns work and provided signicant funds
to the operation.[1] As a professor of archaeology he also
worked at the University of Kiel and the University of

Arriving at Maikop museum on 26 August, Jankuhn took

a number of ancient Greek, Stone Age and Scythian artefacts, believing the latter to be (like the Goths) ancestors of the modern Germans, although his search for anything Gothic proved fruitless.[9] Faced with the problem
of transporting the goods to Germany, Jankuhn was aided
by Dr. Werner Braune, the head of the Einsatzkommando
11b and himself an amateur archaeologist, who put
his men at Jankuhns disposal.[9] The remainder of the
Crimean expedition, which failed in its main objectives
of providing evidence of a Gothic empire in the region
2 Under the Nazis
and recovering the Kerch Gothic crown of the Crimea
that had been exhibited in Berlin before Operation BarThe two would become close and within a few months barossa, was largely left in the hands of Kersten.[10]
of the meeting Jankuhn had joined both the Schutzstael
and the Ahnenerbe; eventually in 1940 he was appointed Jankuhn spent the remainder of the war with the Viking
head of the latter bodys excavation and archaeology Division as an intelligence ocer and was with them in
department.[3] He was also a member of the Nazi Party 1945 when they made a swift retreat from the Eastern
itself.[2] Himmler respected Jankuhns theories and en- Front in order to surrender to the US Army in Bavaria,
at the hands of the Red Army
dorsed his view that the bog people were actually anti- fearing that their treatment
social elements in ancient Germanic society, in particular homosexuals and deserters, put to death for their supposed crimes.[4] It has even been argued that Jankuhns
research in this area helped to convince Himmler to crack 3 Post-war
down on homosexuality.[5]
Jankuhn spent three years in an internment camp and
was barred from university lecturing by the denazication
courts. As such he continued his earlier work on Haithabu
only through grants and published the ndings privately,
whilst also giving guest lectures.[12] His work lead to the-

Jankuhn supervised digs across Germany and also spent

time in both Norway and France after their respective
falls, both touring their major archaeological sites and secretly investigating attitudes towards the occupying Nazis
on behalf of the Sicherheitsdienst.[3]

ories on the impact of the development of such emporia

(trade ports) that was considered highly innovative in its
He returned to university life in 1956 as a lecturer at the
University of Gttingen and within ten years had risen to
be dean of the philosophy faculty and a widely respected
academic in Germany.[12] Elsewhere this was less the case
as was noted in 1968 when he oered to give a lecture at
the University of Bergen and was refused permission. His
disrespect of Norways historic sites as an SS ocer and
his dismissive attitudes towards the work of famed Norwegian archaeologist Anton Wilhelm Brgger meant that
he was, in the words of Anders Hagen, not welcome.[12]
Politically he remained a supporter of a Greater Germany
until the end and also argued that only SS concentration camp guards, rather than the SS as a whole, should
be held responsible for the Holocaust.[14] Following his
death in 1990 an obituary appeared in the Nouvelle Droite
magazine Nouvelle Ecole in which Alain de Benoist, the
journals editor and the head of far right Groupement
de recherche et d'tudes pour la civilisation europenne,
acknowledged Jankuhn as one of the sponsors of the


[1] Heather Pringle, The Master Plan: Himmlers Scholars

and the Holocaust, Hyperion, 2006, p. 221
[2] Harald Kleinschmidt, People on the Move: Attitudes Toward and Perceptions of Migration in Medieval and Modern Europe, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003, p. 262
[3] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 222
[4] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 7
[5] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 189
[6] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 12
[7] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 223
[8] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 224
[9] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 225
[10] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 235
[11] Pringle, The Master Plan, pp. 311-312
[12] Pringle, The Master Plan, p. 312
[13] Ian Hodder, Archaeological Theory in Europe: The Last
Three Decades, Routledge, 1991, pp. 190-191
[14] Pringle, The Master Plan, pp. 312-313
[15] Maurice Olender, Race and Erudition, Harvard University
Press, 2009, p. 63


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