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How bicycle pedals financed Nazi pseudoscholarship

SEATTLE, Washington - I'm currently reading The Master Plan by Heather Pringle, a book about the Ahnenerbe, a racial-studies institute founded by Himmler in 1935 that was eventually folded into the SS.

The Ahnenerbe did a lot of archaeological digging and rune-studying to attempt to prove that Aryans/Nordics performed much of the civilization-founding around the world. Hitler was not too gung-ho on this stuff and Himmler needed to scratch about for some additional funding.

He found a nice source of revenue for the Ahnenerbe - selling reflective bicycle pedals. Himmler got word that Anton Loibl, a former chauffeur for Hitler, had recently developed a reflective pedal. Some other guy had recently developed a similar pedal and applied for a patent. Himmler acted quickly: he buried the other guy's patent application, greased the skids for a patent application by Loibl, and got a traffic law passed that required the pedal on all new bicycles.

Well-financed expeditions around the world soon followed.