Deep inside the Brazilian Amazon there’s a curious site: A swastika-bearing cross marking a Nazi grave, inscribed: “Joseph Greiner died here of fever on Jan. 2, 1936, in the service of German research.”
Who was Joseph Greiner, and what exactly was that “research”? The answer takes us deep into the twisted minds of the Nazis — and into the jungle.
Initially, journalist Jens Glüsing says, the Nazi expedition into the rainforest had “the usual scientific pretensions,” studying topography and collecting animal bones and indigenous people’s jewelry. But as the Nazi party was gaining power in Germany, the Berlin-based zoologist and SS member leading the expedition sold Himmler on the idea of curbing American power in South America by setting up a Nazi colony in the heart of the jungle.
But the Amazon’s no picnic. The master race, including foreman Joseph Greiner, soon discovered that its immune systems were no match for those of the natives. And besides, France’s Vichy government had already started collaborating with the Nazis and controlling French Guiana, so they decided to let the French deal with it. They put up a swastika (see photo here) and went back to wreaking havoc in Europe, instead.