Today I’d like to direct your attention to this book review by Will Banyan of Jim Marrs’s Our Occulted History (2013) at Conspiracy Archive. I have only read about half the book myself, it being too terrible to put up with since it lacks any of the delusional goofiness of better fringe books. The review offers an excellent and extremely thorough evaluation of Marrs’s slipshod scholarship, poorly-reasoned arguments, and dearth of factual evidence in support of his claims that the ancient astronaut theory is true and that the New World Order is covering up our alien heritage. Thankfully, a full year after publication it appears that his book was a commercial failure (or at least not enough of a success to have garnered much popular attention), but a good debunking is always in order.
Let’s stipulate right now that Will Banyan is not a dedicated skeptic, or an expert in ancient history. Instead, he is a self-described New World Order researcher who prefers to see the New World Order as less of an organized and unified plan than overlapping principles of moneyed elites. He writes primarily for such fringe history stalwarts as Nexus magazine and Paranoia magazine. However, he is also openly critical of the poor research methods of many fringe theorists, and unlike them is capable of doing a literature review. His review of Marrs should be read in full, and below I have a few points to build on.
In the review, Banyan presents an interesting quotation from an editorial lamenting the influence of Chariots of the Gods published in Science back in the 1970s (the exact date isn’t given) but which has a surprising prescience:
The top sellers at campus bookstores have included such books as Chariots of the Gods, Gods from Outer Space…and others like them… The popularity of pseudoscience books at universities should be a source of concern to academic people particularly scientists….It is not pleasant to contemplate a situation in which our future leaders are steeped in fantasy and exposed to a putdown of science without effective response.
Those college students are, of course, now today’s leaders, and we have seen a shocking turn toward anti-science positions in government since the last generation of leaders gave way to the current crop who grew up amid the fringe history and New Age milieu of the 1970s. The editorial immediately reminded me of last week’s House of Representatives Science Committee hearing on astrobiology, which prompted questions about whether Ancient Aliens is telling the truth.
Another interesting factoid from Marrs’s book (which opens, blasphemously, with a quotation from “The Call of Cthulhu”!), as given by the reviewer: Marrs attempts to discredit Dr. Michael Heiser’s criticism of Zecharia Sitchin’s claims by asserting in print, sourced only to an anonymous internet comment by a person naming herself “Christie,” that Heiser’s colleagues are “government funded,” are using incorrect databases (?) to translate material, and are therefore carrying out government orders to deny alien intervention. Marrs implies this is evidence Heiser is part of a conspiracy.
I really appreciated Banyan’s efforts to trace back Marrs claims about the Dropa Stones. It’s the kind of research I love (as regular readers know): Marrs in Occulted History cites his claims only to himself, in his earlier book Alien Agenda. There, Marrs attributed the same claims to Erich von Däniken’s Gods from Outer Space, where in turn von Däniken attributed the claims to his “helpful friend,” the Soviet science fiction writer Alexander Kazantsev—whose work, regular readers will remember, peppers the gonzo pseudo-history of Peter Kolosimo’s Not of This World. He is most famous for having proposed that the Tunguska Event was caused by an exploding alien spacecraft. He also carried on a correspondence with Jacques Vallée in which he expressed his upset that the Soviet Union rejected the ancient astronaut theory as anti-science in 1968. (Frankly, Vallée’s journals are very strange, alternately reflecting a martyr complex and a warranted skepticism about why Kazantsev makes claims about Soviet UFO interest that never seem to be backed by facts…)
If you’ve followed my occasional discussion of Jim Marrs, you know that I’ve pointed to his strange racial claims, particularly his paranoia that Barack Obama and the Chinese are conspiring to destroy white America. I, too, have noted that Marrs makes disturbing references to gold-hungry Jews who control world finance. Banyan similarly finds a shocking streak of anti-Semitic material running through Marrs’s book, particularly his adoption of the anti-Jewish talking point that Ashkenazi Jews are not actual Chosen People because they only converted to Judaism in the eighth century; therefore, opposition to them is not anti-Semitism because they are not Semites. Marrs adopts the anti-Semitic talking point wholesale: “These people were never connected to the Hebrews or Palestine, although they were originators of Zionism, a political movement that began in nineteenth century Russia for the purpose of securing a Jewish ‘homeland’ in the Middle East.” In Occulted History, Marrs concludes that Ashkenazi Jews control Hollywood and the media and are pushing a globalist agenda because of a hunger for gold inherited from their “Annunaki ancestor Nimrod.” (This seems to refer back to the anti-Catholic conspiracy tract The Two Babylons.) According to Marrs, America’s wars of the past decades were selected to target countries like Afghanistan and Iraq that were “free of Rothschild-dominated Western banks” in order to enforce a Jewish financial agenda.
According to Banyan, Marrs doubles down on his stupidity by speculating that Hitler (!) was part of the conspiracy because he may have had Jewish and Rothschild (!!) blood. Also secret Jews: The Habsburgs. Here I had to return to Marrs’s book for myself because regular readers will remember that outside of fringe history, my other area of interest is the Habsburg Monarchy, and I rarely get the chance to combine the two.
Marrs claims (and just try to follow this) that in 1908 the Emperor Franz Joseph (reigned 1848-1916) “self-published” (!) five copies of a secret family a history that stated that the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (crowned in 1155) had a sickly son named Albrecht by his wife Margaret and then took a Jewish wife in secret by whom he had Albrecht II. Swapping the two Albrechts after Albrecht I was assassinated, this latter Albrecht gave rise to Albrecht III and Albrecht IV, whose line eventually yielded the Habsburg emperor Maximilian (and presumably the other Habsburg emperors of whom Marrs is unaware). Therefore, “the Habsburgs and the Rothschilds share the same Jewish ancestor. This part of Habsburg history was carefully hidden…” Franz Joseph’s desire to reveal this information was limited just to the immediate imperial family, but secret Rothschild knowledge of this connection helped convince the Rothschilds to support “German regimes.” Apparently a single Jewish ancestor can change your bloodline and influence your political allegiances for at least 750 years (1155-1908).
So important is this to Marrs that he has posted this section of his book on his website and calls it “essential reading to (sic) understanding how the Zionists could control Hitler and his Nazis as well as other monarchs.” That understanding, he says, comes from the revelations of David Icke.
I can’t make heads or tails of this, and not just because of its blatant recycling of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The book in question, An Ehren Und An Siegen Reich, was printed in 1908 to celebrate Franz Joseph’s diamond jubilee and was a reprint (with updates) of the 1898 edition created for his golden jubilee. In fact, it remained steadily in print from 1898 to the end of the Empire. It was not “self-published,” nor did the emperor write it himself as Marrs seems to think. It was not limited to five copies, as Baynard quickly noted in cataloging how many U.S. libraries hold this “unique” volume that Marrs claims was a Habsburg family secret. Marrs seems never to have consulted the book, and his chapter notes say he gained all his information from interviews with other conspiracy theorists, particularly ufologist Jim Delittoso.
Marrs makes much of the title, which he gives in English as “Toward an Honorable and Victorious Reich” to better link it to Hitler’s Third Reich, but the line is actually half a sentence from an 1813 German patriotic song, “Des Deutschen Vaterland,” by Ernst Moritz Arndt. “Reich” is better translated as “Empire” or “land” in this context, where the relevant lines read (in translation): “Certainly it (the fatherland) must be Austria, a land of victories and honors.” Hitler, it should be remembered, hated the Habsburgs vehemently and wanted to appropriate their Germanic glamor and prestige for himself. That’s why he stole the Habsburg treasures when he annexed Austria, all the better to cast himself as the true German emperor.
Frederick I did not have a wife named Margaret. His two wives were Adelheid of Vohburg and Beatrice of Burgundy. None of his children was named Albrecht. Marrs appears to be referring to Albrecht I, King of Germany (an uncrowned Holy Roman Emperor), but this Albrecht was born in 1255—a century after Frederick’s reign! Albrecht I was the son of Rudolf I, the Duke of Austria, and as Marrs claims was in fact assassinated—but in 1298. Marrs does not explain whether his other Albrechts were supposed to be dukes of Austria or Holy Roman Emperors. The next Albrecht to reign in Austria was Albrecht II, Duke of Austria in 1330 (son of Albrecht I), while the next Albrecht to reign as King of Germany didn’t do so until the 1400s.
How any of this matters is beyond me, since the House of Habsburg’s male line went extinct a century before Franz Joseph was born, and the Habsburg lands passed to the new house of Habsburg-Lorraine through the female line of Maria Theresa, according to the Pragmatic Sanction of Emperor Charles VI. So far as I can tell, Marrs traces Jewish-alien bloodline lineage through the male line (though Judaism does not), so I’m not sure how this fits into his Jewish-alien conspiracy. Marrs himself spends no time on the matter; having established an alleged Habsburg-Rothschild Jewish cabal he merrily skips ahead to speculating that this “cabal” of “blue bloods” feels it has the right to rule over others and may have done so since the Pleistocene.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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