What ‘Really’ Happened: Nazi Yeti Hunters

Words by Jacob von der Lippe
Illustration by Camilla Eustance

1938 was a big year for Hitler. He won Time magazine’s person of the year, invaded Czechoslovakia, doomed the world to the bloodiest conflict in human history, and also decided to hunt down the fucking Abominable Snow Man. Apparently, world domination isn’t enough unless you have some kind of Bond-villain-esque plan to back it up. To be honest, Nazi Yeti shock troops sound exactly like the kind of thing you’d expect from a man who styled himself like Charlie Chaplin’s evil twin.

Most likely stemming from his own receding hairline and clearly sinister moustache, Hitler had what in historical terms we would call an ‘insanity boner’ for determining whether or not the majestic fur and mane of the mythical beast was included in the Aryan genome. Quite seriously, Hitler wanted to back up Charles Darwin by proving the German people were descended from the Yeti, and that it was the missing link between apes and man. Some kind of Master Apes, if you will. (I apologise for that pun.)

So, because all historical evidence points to the Third Reich being the playground of a man who thought naming a nation wide children’s club after himself wasn’t a bit creepy, somebody had to actually go find the goddamn Yeti. That man was Ernst Schäfer, a zoologist, and owner of a mad beard.

Officially, the reason for Schäfer’s expedition to Tibet was given as zoological research, sanctioned by Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and the Ahnenerbe (essentially, the Nazi Ghostbusters). The Ahnenerbe, a society founded by Himmler to scientifically prove Nazi pseudo-history, were quite literally that crazy. Himmler gathered up some of the best and brightest scientific, historical and anthropological minds Germany had to offer, and systematically wasted their time on perpetuating his own warped version of history, kind of like this column.

If we apply conspiracy theory logic, this gross misallocation of money and effort must have meant there was something shady going on. Since the Ahnenerbe had made official inquiries into witchcraft in Finland, demonic rock carvings in Sweden and were known to steal Stone and Iron Age artefacts, it’s entirely possible they were some kind of front for the occult activities of Hitler’s Germany. Basically, Himmler had a system of spiritual and mystical beliefs that make even my theories look legitimate.

It’s probably also worth taking into account that according to Himmler’s beliefs, the Aryan race had conquered much of Asia in “ancient times” (read: “times that never happened”), meaning that even if the expedition failed to bring back any Snow Man, abominable or otherwise, they still might uncover some useful pseudo-data supporting Nazi racial ideology

Because arguing with your boss is never a good idea, Schäfer pretty much just copped the absurdity on his chiselled, Aryan chin. The Yeti hunt set out under the cover of a scientific expedition, fighting not only the harsh climate of the Himalayas, but also the harsh silence during awkward conversations with the local Tibetan people, who the Nazis undoubtedly weirded out in their quest for arcane knowledge. I don’t think “Hey, have you guys seen a big white man-ape around here recently?” works well in pretty much any situation that doesn’t include a hunt for Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Unsurprisingly, Schäfer had no luck finding the Yeti, or, if he did, the Yeti just wasn’t that interested in right wing politics. Pretty understandable – living at the top of a mountain and eating tourists seems pretty left wing – just sayin’. Whether or not we’re dealing with some kind of Abominable Snow Marxist, Schäfer couldn’t go home empty handed. So he did what any respectable member of the Nazi Ghostbusters would do: he started stealing priceless artefacts, including a 1000 year old statue carved out of a meteorite that probably hit and killed the real Yeti. Twelve years later, Ron Perlman would be born, and the mystery of the Yeti solved forever.

Please spay and neuter your mythological entities.