The Oera Linda Book

OERA LINDACurious old books and manuscripts are a favorite topic here at Wondercabinet, even (or perhaps especially) when they carry unsavory histories or dubious provenance. Today’s example comes to us from Friesland, a province in the northwest Netherlands sometimes referred to as the German Bight. In 1867, a man named Cornelis Over de Linden brought the book to a provincial librarian named Eelco Verwijs, claiming it had come down to him via his grandfather. Whatever the case, it appeared to be written in authentic Old Frisian, a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries. Contained within was an amazing compendium of  history, mythology, and religious writings purportedly based on sources as old as 2194 BC. Almost immediately, questions about its authenticity were raised and the debate continues to this very day, with the vast majority of scholars considering it a 19th-century creation. Nevertheless, Heinrich Himmler believed so strongly in the book’s genuineness that he founded his infamous Ahnenerbe institute (thereafter tasked with providing “academic” support for Nazi claims about the great antiquity and historical primacy of the Aryan race) almost entirely on its merits. Thanks to its mention of Atlantis and other esoteric subjects, the Oera Linda Book continues to this day to be the source of a whole range of unorthodox ideas and occult beliefs.