Wolfram Sievers

Wolfram Sievers (10 July 1905 – 2 June 1948) was Reichsgeschäftsführer, or managing director, of the Ahnenerbe from 1935 to 1945.

Wolfram Sievers
Mugshot of Wolfram Sievers, taken by American authorities after his arrest

Early life

Sievers was born in 1905 in Hildesheim in the Province of Hanover (now in Lower Saxony), the son of a Protestant church musician. It is reported that he was musically gifted, that he played the harpsichord, organ, and piano, and loved German baroque music. He was expelled from school for being active in the Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund and went on to study history, philosophy, and religious studies at Stuttgart's Technical University while working as a salesman. A member of the Bündische Jugend, he became active in the Artamanen-Gesellschaft ("Artaman League"), a nationalist back-to-the-land movement.[1]


Sievers joined the NSDAP in 1929. In 1933 he headed the Externsteine-Stiftung ("Externsteine Foundation"), which had been founded by Heinrich Himmler to study the Externsteine in the Teutoburger Wald. In 1935, having joined the SS that year, Sievers was appointed Reichsgeschäftsführer, or General Secretary, of the Ahnenerbe, by Himmler. He was the actual director of Ahnenerbe operations and was to rise to the rank of SS-Standartenführer by the end of the war.

In 1943 Sievers became director of the Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung (Institute for Military Scientific Research), which conducted extensive experiments using human subjects. He also assisted in assembling a collection of skulls and skeletons for August Hirt's study at the Reichsuniversität Straßburg as a part of which 112 Jewish prisoners were selected and killed, after being photographed and their anthropological measurements taken.[2]

Trial and execution

Sievers was tried during the Doctors' Trial at Nuremberg following the end of World War II, where he was dubbed "the Nazi Bluebeard" by journalist William L. Shirer because of his "thick, ink-black beard".[3] The Institute for Military Scientific Research had been set up as part of the Ahnenerbe, and the prosecution at Nuremberg laid the responsibility for the experiments on humans which had been conducted under its auspices on the Ahnenerbe. Sievers, as its highest administrative officer, was accused of actively aiding and promoting the criminal experiments.[4]

Sievers was charged with being a member of an organization declared criminal by the International Military Tribunal (the SS), and was implicated in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In his defense, he alleged that as early as 1933, he had been a member of an anti-Nazi resistance movement which planned to assassinate Hitler and Himmler, and that he had obtained his appointment as Manager of the Ahnenerbe so as to get close to Himmler and observe his movements. He further claimed that he remained in the post on the advice of his resistance leader to gather vital information which would assist in the overthrow of the Nazi regime.[5]

Sievers was sentenced to death on 20 August 1947 for crimes against humanity, and hanged on 2 June 1948, at Landsberg prison in Bavaria.


  1. ^ Lixfeld, Hannjost; James R. Dow (1994). The Nazification of an Academic Discipline: Folklore in the Third Reich. Indiana University Press. pp. 198–199. ISBN 0-253-31821-1.
  2. ^ "Nuremberg - Explore the Nuremberg Trials!". nuremberg.law.harvard.edu.
  3. ^ Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon and Schuster. p. 981.
  4. ^ Epstein, Fritz T., War-Time Activities of the SS-Ahnenerbe (in On the Track of Tyranny: Essays Presented by the Wiener Library to Leonard G. Montefiore, on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. Ayer Publishing. 1971. pp. 79–81.)
  5. ^ McDonald, Gabrielle Kirk; Olivia Swaak-Goldman (2000). Substantive and Procedural Aspects of International Criminal Law: The Experience of International and National Courts. BRILL. p. 1755. ISBN 90-411-1134-4.

External links


The Ahnenerbe (German: [ˈʔaːnənˌʔɛʁbə], ancestral heritage) was a think tank that operated in Nazi Germany between 1935 and 1945. It was an appendage of the Schutzstaffel (SS) and had been established by Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the SS. It was devoted to the task of promoting the racial doctrines espoused by Adolf Hitler and his governing Nazi Party, specifically by supporting the idea that the modern Germans descended from an ancient Aryan race which was biologically superior to other racial groups. The group comprised scholars and scientists from a broad range of academic disciplines.

Hitler came to power in 1933 and over the following years he converted Germany into a one-party state under the control of his Nazi Party and governed by his personal dictatorship. He espoused the idea that modern Germans descended from the ancient Aryans, who he claimed—in contrast to established academic understandings of prehistory—had been responsible for most major developments in human history such as agriculture, art, and writing. His racial theories and claims about prehistory were not accepted by the majority of the world's scholarly community, and a decision was taken to give them greater scholarly backing. The Ahnenerbe was established with the purpose of providing evidence for Nazi racial doctrine and to promote these ideas to the German public through books, articles, exhibits, and conferences. Ahnenerbe scholars interpreted evidence to fit Hitler's beliefs, and some consciously fabricated evidence to do so; many of their ideas are regarded as pseudoscience. The organisation sent out various expeditions to other parts of the world, intent on finding evidence of ancient Aryan expansion.

The Nazi government used the Ahnenerbe's research to justify many of their policies. For instance, the think tank's claim that archaeological evidence indicated that the ancient Aryans lived across eastern Europe was cited in justification of German military expansion into that region. Ahnenerbe research was also cited in justification of the Holocaust, the mass killing of Jews and other groups—including Roma and homosexuals—through extermination camps and other methods. In 1937 the project was renamed the Research and Teaching Community of the Ancestral Heritage (Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft des Ahnenerbe). Some of the group's investigations were placed on hold at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Towards the end of the war, Ahnenerbe members destroyed much of the organisation's paperwork to avoid it incriminating them in forthcoming war crimes tribunals.

Many Ahnenerbe members escaped the de-Nazification policies in West Germany and remained active in the country's archaeological establishment throughout the post-war decades. This stifled scholarly research into the Ahnenerbe, which only intensified after German reunification in 1990. The Ahnenerbe's ideas have remained popular in some neo-Nazi and far-right circles and have also influenced later pseudo-archaeologists.

Doctors' trial

The Doctors' trial (officially United States of America v. Karl Brandt, et al.) was the first of 12 trials for war crimes of German doctors that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Nuremberg, Germany, after the end of World War II. These trials were held before US military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg trials", formally the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).Twenty of the twenty-three defendants were medical doctors (Viktor Brack, Rudolf Brandt, and Wolfram Sievers were Nazi officials), and were accused of having been involved in Nazi human experimentation and mass murder under the guise of euthanasia. Josef Mengele, one of the leading Nazi doctors, had evaded capture.

The judges, heard before Military Tribunal I, were Walter B. Beals (presiding judge) from Washington, Harold L. Sebring from Florida, and Johnson T. Crawford from Oklahoma, with Victor C. Swearingen, a former special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States, as an alternate judge. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor and the chief prosecutor was James M. McHaney. The indictment was filed on 25 October 1946; the trial lasted from 9 December that year until 20 August 1947. Of the 23 defendants, seven were acquitted and seven received death sentences; the remainder received prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

Eduard Paul Tratz

Eduard Paul Tratz (25 September 1888, in Salzburg – 5 January 1977, in Salzburg) was an Austrian zoologist.

Eidgenössische Sammlung

Eidgenössische Sammlung (German; literally "Confederate Collection") was a Swiss political party, founded in 1940 by Robert Tobler as a successor to the recently dissolved National Front.The party demanded an adjustment in Swiss policy to favour the Axis powers. This was particularly important as, after June 1940 the country was surrounded by fascist and Nazi states. It was open in its loyalty towards Nazi Germany.The Eidgenössiche Sammlung was closely supervised by the state because of its origins and so could not develop freely. In 1943 the police finally cracked down on the group and it was outlawed along with all of its sub-organisations as part of a wider government initiative against the National Front and its offshoots.

Faith and Beauty Society

The BDM-Werk Glaube und Schönheit (German for BDM Faith and Beauty Society) was founded in 1938 to serve as a tie-in between the work of the League of German Girls (BDM) and that of the National Socialist Women's League. Membership was voluntary and open to girls aged 17 to 21.

German National Movement in Liechtenstein

The German National Movement in Liechtenstein (German: Volksdeutsche Bewegung in Liechtenstein, VDBL) was a National Socialist party in Liechtenstein that existed between 1938 and 1945.


Hirden (the hird) was a uniformed paramilitary organisation during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, modelled the same way as the German Sturmabteilungen.

Jewish skeleton collection

The Jewish skeleton collection was an attempt by the Nazis to create an anthropological display to showcase the alleged racial inferiority of the "Jewish race" and to emphasize the Jews' status as Untermenschen ("sub-humans"), in contrast to the German race, which the Nazis considered to be Aryan Übermenschen. The collection was to be housed at the Anatomy Institute at the Reich University of Strasbourg in the annexed region of Alsace, where the initial preparation of the corpses was performed.

The collection was sanctioned by Reichsführer of the SS Heinrich Himmler, and designed by and under the direction of August Hirt with Rudolf Brandt and Wolfram Sievers, general manager of the Ahnenerbe, being responsible for procuring and preparing the corpses.

Work by Hans-Joachim Lang published in 2004 revealed the identities and family history of all the victims of this project, based on discovery of the prisoner numbers found at Natzweiler-Struthof in records of those vaccinated against typhus at Auschwitz. The list of names has been placed on a memorial at the cemetery where all were buried, at the facility used to murder them, and at the Anatomical Institute where the corpses were found in 1944.

Liechtenstein Homeland Service

Liechtenstein Homeland Service (German: Liechtensteiner Heimatdienst, LHD) was a political party in Liechtenstein that advocated corporate statism and the abolition of party politics.Established in the autumn of 1933, the party's positions began to radicalize and move toward National Socialist ideas within a few months of existence. By December 1933, this radicalization caused some members (such as co-founder Eugen Schafhauser) to abandon the party.LHD merged with the Christian-Social People's Party (VP) in 1936 to form the Patriotic Union (VU).

National Front (Switzerland)

The National Front was a far-right political party in Switzerland that flourished during the 1930s. At its peak the group had as many as 9,000 members, according to the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland,

and "may have had a membership of 25,000 or so", according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

National Socialist Flyers Corps

The National Socialist Flyers Corps (German: Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps; NSFK) was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party that was founded 15 April 1937 as a successor to the German Air Sports Association; the latter had been active during the years when a German air force was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. The NSFK organization was based closely on the para-military organization of the Sturmabteilung (SA). A similar group was the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK).

During the early years of its existence, the NSFK conducted military aviation training in gliders and private airplanes. Friedrich Christiansen, originally a Generalleutnant then later a Luftwaffe General der Flieger, was NSFK Korpsführer from 15 April 1937 until 26 June 1943, followed by Generaloberst Alfred Keller until 8 May 1945.

National Union (Switzerland)

The National Union (French: Union Nationale) was a French-speaking fascist political party in Switzerland between 1932 and 1939.

The Union was formed in Geneva in 1932 by Georges Oltramare, a lawyer and writer. Noted for his anti-Semitic writing, Oltramare founded the Order Politique Nationale in 1931 but merged it with the Union de Défense Economique the following year to form the National Union. The group continued under Oltramare's leadership until 1940 when he moved to Paris in order to co-operate more closely with the Nazis. Oltramare spent four years as a member of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland representing the National Union.The Union became notorious for a demonstration in Geneva on November 9, 1932 when their march to the city's Salle Communale was counterdemonstrated by the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland. In the resulting trouble the Swiss army opened fire on the Socialists resulting in 13 deaths.

National Unity Party (Canada)

The Parti National Social Chrétien (English: National Social Christian Party) was a Canadian political party formed by Adrien Arcand in February 1934. The party identified with antisemitism, and German leader Adolf Hitler's Nazism. The party was later known, in English, as the Canadian National Socialist Unity Party or National Unity Party.

Nationale Jeugdstorm

The Nationale Jeugdstorm (English: National Youth Storm; NJS) was a Dutch youth movement that existed from 1934 to 1945, organized as the Dutch equivalent of the German Hitlerjugend and as a Nazi counterpart of Scouting Nederland.

Paul Dittel

Paul Dittel (14 January 1907 in Mittweida, Saxony – 1976?) was a German historian and Anglicist who was also an Obersturmbannführer in the Schutzstaffel (SS). He played a central role in the Nazi German policy of confiscating libraries and literary collections from occupied countries.

Within the SS, Dittel was affiliated with the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) intelligence service and he was chief of that body's museum, library and research department. In late 1939 he was one of a number of Ahnenerbe members selected by Wolfram Sievers to travel to Poland in order to raid its museums and collections.In 1943, Dittel succeeded Franz Six as chief of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) office, Amt VII, the "written records" section which had responsibility for ideological research. In this role his activities soon came to focus on the topic of Freemasonry and he was involved in the looting of collections, devoted to this topic. Dittel oversaw the publication of a number of anti-Masonic books from the collection of material that he had gathered as well as the establishment of a Masonic Library. He was also responsible for the development of a special collection of books on occult topics such as theosophy and astrology, a project that had been devised by Ernst Kaltenbrunner and in which Heinrich Himmler took a keen interest.Dittel was imprisoned after World War II. Following his release he moved to Mönchengladbach where he was employed as a clerk until at least 1973.


Sievers is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Any member of the Sievers family

Anthony John "Tony" Sievers, Australian politician

Bryan Sievers, American politician

Christian Sievers (born 1969), German journalist and television presenter

Eduard Sievers (1850-1932), German philologist

Eduard Wilhelm Sievers (1820-1894), German Shakespeare scholar

Emanuel von Sievers (1817-1909), Baltic German aristocrat, senator and grand master of the Russian imperial court

Eric Sievers (born 1957), American professional football player

Frederick William Sievers (1872-1966), American sculptor

Henry Sievers (1874 -?), American assistant printer, trade union activist and liquor store operator

Hugo K. Sievers (1903-1972), Chilean scientist from a Hamburg merchant family

Jacob von Sievers (1731-1808), Baltic German statesman from the Sievers family

Jan-André Sievers (born 1987), German footballer

Jan-Ole Sievers (born 1995), German football goalkeeper

Johann August Carl Sievers (1762–1795), German-born botanist

Jörg Sievers (born 1965), German footballer

Karl-Heinz Sievers (born 1942), German long-distance runner

Kay Sievers, German software engineer and developer of the udev device manager of Linux

Larry "The Wizard" Sievers (born 1945), American folk musician and heavy metal keyboards player

Leroy Sievers (1955-2008), American journalist

Marie von Sievers (1867-1948), he second wife of Rudolf Steiner and one of his closest colleagues

Max Sievers (1887-1944), chairman of the German Freethinkers' League

Morris Sievers (1912-1968), Australian cricketer

Peter von Sievers (1674-1740), Russian admiral

Ralf Sievers (born 1961), former German football player

Roy Sievers (1926–2017), American baseball player

Sampson Sievers (1900-1979), Russian Orthodox Christian elder

Thadeus von Sievers(1853-?), Baltic German general of the Imperial Russian Army

Todd Sievers (born 1980), former American football placekicker

Walther Sievers, German Commander of the III./Infanterie-Regiment 415, Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross received on 19 December 1942

Wilhelm Sievers (1860-1921), German geographer and geologist

Wolfgang Sievers (1913-2007), Australian photographer

Wolfram Sievers (1905-1948), German Holocaust perpetrator and manager of the Ahnenerbe, executed for war crimes

The Immortals (neo-Nazis)

The Immortals (German Die Unsterblichen) was a neo-Nazi organization based in Germany that uses flash mobs to coordinate, gather and demonstrate. The members wear black clothing with white facial masks and carry torches when they march.

Volksdeutsche Bewegung

Volksdeutsche Bewegung (German; literally "Ethnic German Movement") was a Nazi movement in Luxembourg that flourished under the German-occupied Luxembourg during World War II.

Formed by Damian Kratzenberg, a university professor with a German background, the movement only emerged after the invasion and was declared the only legal political movement in Luxembourg by the Nazis. Using the slogan Heim ins Reich (Home to the Reich), their declared aim was the full incorporation of Luxembourg into Nazi Germany. The policy was supported by Nazis who used the Bewegung as means towards this end. The aim was accomplished in August 1942, although the VDB continued to operate and peaked at 84,000 members. Many of these joined when it became clear that membership was necessary to retain employment. A number of leading members also held dual membership of the National Socialist German Workers Party after incorporation. The movement disappeared after the war, and Kratzenberg was executed in 1946.

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