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Hitler's Holy Relics

Hitler's Holy Relics

A True Story of Nazi Plunder and the Race to Recover the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire

From Paris to Stalingrad, the Nazis systematically plundered all manner of art and antiquities. But the first and most valuable treasures they looted were the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. In Hitler’s Holy Relics, bestselling author Sidney Kirkpatrick tells the riveting and never-before-told true story of how an American college professor turned Army sleuth recovered these cherished symbols of Hitler’s Thousand-Year Reich before they could become a rallying point in the creation of a Fourth and equally unholy Reich.

Anticipating the Allied invasion of Nazi Germany, Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler had ordered a top-secret bunker carved deep into the bedrock beneath Nürnberg castle. Inside the well-guarded chamber was a specially constructed vault that held the plundered treasures Hitler valued the most: the Spear of Destiny (reputed to have been used to pierce Christ’s side while he was on the cross) and the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, ancient artifacts steeped in medieval mysticism and coveted by world rulers from Charlemagne to Napoleon. But as Allied bombers rained devastation upon Nürnberg and the U.S. Seventh Army prepared to invade the city Hitler called “the soul of the Nazi Party,” five of the most precious relics, all central to the coronation ceremony of a would-be Holy Roman Emperor, vanished from the vault. Who took them? And why? The mystery remained unsolved for months after the war’s end, until the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, ordered Lieutenant Walter Horn, a German-born art historian on leave from U.C. Berkeley, to hunt down the missing treasures.

To accomplish his mission, Horn must revisit the now-rubble-strewn landscape of his youth and delve into the ancient legends and arcane mysticism surrounding the antiquities that Hitler had looted in his quest for world domination. Horn searches for clues in the burnt remains of Himmler’s private castle and follows the trail of neo-Nazi “Teutonic  Knights” charged with protecting a vast hidden  fortune in plundered gold and other treasure. Along  the way, Horn has to confront his own demons:  how members of his family and former academic  colleagues subverted scholarly research to help  legitimize Hitler’s theories of Aryan supremacy  and the Master Race. What Horn discovers on his  investigative odyssey is so explosive that his final  report will remain secret for decades.

Drawing on unpublished interrogation and  intelligence reports, as well as on diaries, letters,  journals, and interviews in the United States and Germany, Kirkpatrick tells this riveting and disturbing story with cinematic detail and reveals— for the first time—how a failed Vienna art student, obsessed with the occult and dreams of his own grandeur, nearly succeeded in creating a Holy Reich rooted in a twisted reinvention of medieval and Church history.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416597803 | 
  • May 2010
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Author Sidney Kirkpatrick discusses his favorite movies and travel destinations

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1
BLACKSMITH’S ALLEY


February 23, 1945

Every morning, like clockwork, Allied bombers would darken the skies over Namur, Belgium. In this last winter of World War II, hundreds and sometimes a thousand planes, flying in vast air armadas known as bomber streams, would thunder overhead for an hour or more at a time, leaving miles-long vapor trails that hung in the air long after the aircraft had vanished and the bombardiers had released their lethal cargo over targets in Germany and Eastern Europe.

The arrival of the bomber streams terrified the captured German soldiers at the U.S. Army detention... see more

About the Author

Sidney Kirkpatrick
Photograph © Nick Kirkpatrick

Sidney Kirkpatrick

Sidney Kirkpatrick is an award-winning filmmaker and international best-selling author. His critically acclaimed non-fiction books include A CAST OF KILLERS, TURNING THE TIDE, LORDS OF SIPAN, EDGAR CAYCE: AN AMERICAN PROPHET, and THE REVENGE OF THOMAS EAKINS. His documentary film, MY FATHER THE PRESIDENT, about Theodore Roosevelt as seen through the eyes of his daughter, Ethel Roosevelt Derby, was a winner at the American Film Festival. HBO, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the A & E Television Networks have all featured his work. Biographical profiles of Kirkpatrick have appeared in The New York Times, Time magazine, The New Yorker, and Playboy.  He is a graduate of Hampshire College and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He lives in Stony Brook, New York.

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