Everyone raves about doing research on the Internet. It's supposed to be easy, which is true; fast, also true; and accurate -- but there's the rub. What is the sound of two "facts" rubbing against each other when they differ? The shriek of a frustrated researcher. Are books better sources? Usually, if carefully chosen -- but again, not always.
Recently I decided to do some research on Neo-Nazis for the last two Nola O'Grady books. Someone needs to poke a little fun at these vestigial dorks, so why not me? For this purpose I have created a group called The Golden Tentacle, cf. Miguel Serrano's El Dorado Cordon, and my intrepid band is in league with, of course, the psychic squid from alternate Venus. (Yes, it's complicated.) Anyway, I started doing some mostly unpleasant reading, which led me back in time to the roots of Nazi ideas, that is, to the situation in Germany in the 1920s, as the Nazi Party was forming, and other interesting topics. (Okay, we all know that Kit can find any subject interesting except maybe golf.)
A confession: I am badly hampered in this project because I don't know German. I'm restricted to English and French sources, and for a change, the French are in some ways worse than the English, especially when it comes to Nazi "occultism." Yes, there are online translators. Their results are often laughable.
At this point I ran into the Contradictory Information problem. Part of this arises from the heavy firebombing of German cities during WWII. A lot of documentary evidence went up in flames, especially as it applies to the minor figures of Nazi history. We know a lot about the likes of Goebbels and Hitler, but much less about the men who scurried around following their lethal orders. When they realized they'd lost, the Nazis themselves destroyed a lot of information, both written and physical, as when they blew up parts of the death camps. Finally, a lot of the surviving paper data has been hoarded by the Russians until just recently.
Another big problem comes from the sheer amount of utter nonsense that's been written about the supposedly "occult" or "demonic" ideas that allegedly "dominated" the Nazi ideology. Bullshit, nine-tenths of it, but it's made a lot of money for unscrupulous authors who claim to be writing non-fiction. The worst is perhaps Trevor Ravenscroft and his SPEAR OF DESTINY, but there are many others. Don't believe a word of it, is my advice. What the Internet's done is taken this vast confused body of information, speculation, cross-referencing, and outright lies from books and mixed it up yet once again. The gullible have websites about Nazi magic, hidden military bases, flying saucers, Thule, Atlantis, various lost cities in the Far East, Holocaust deniers, nd other fictions. Each website seems to cite the others in an endless loop.
Here's an example. Since I'm also interested in the Cathar heresies of the Occitan in the Middle Ages, I decided to get more information about Otto Rahn, a middlebrow medievalist who wrote a couple of interesting if romanticized books on the Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade against them. He was recruited into Himmler's "Aryan culture" arm of the SS, so the two lines of research crossed. Sources agree when he was born and when he died, 1904-1939. When did he join the SS and how? I've gotten two different dates and three different versions of how. Did he commit suicide or die in an accident? The first is very likely but some say the second. Since he died in March of '39, why wasn't he buried until '40? No one seems to know, but the nutcases think he was reanimated by a Nazi zombie program.
A modern writer, who I shall leave nameless, has written a whole book claiming Rahn was the "inspiration" for the Indiana Jones movie about the Grail. This book's adverts are decorated with a picture of a man who has to be 50 or so while Rahn died at 35. (Unless this is a snapshot of the zombie.) Rahn's work had next to nothing to do with the stuff going on in the film, but Nazi! Secret! Stuff! still sells. (Rahn's discussion of the Grail centers around textual analysis of Wolfram von Eschenbach's PARSIFAL. His grail is NOT the cup of Joseph of Arimethea.)
It's all enough to make the casual researcher gibber hopelessly.