The Atlantis Encyclopedia was published by Frank Joseph in 2005, and since then it has spread a lot of nonsense and confusion among all who are interested in Plato's Atlantis. There are so many mistakes in this book that it is not possible to assume a well-minded but less intelligent author. It is rather likely that Frank Joseph knew exactly what nonsense he was compiling.
One thing is clear: The author Francis (Frank) Joseph Collin once was a well-known Nazi activist. "Frank Joseph" is his pen name. We leave it to the readers to look up his dubious "career" in Wikipedia or other sources. It is absolutely justified to expect racist and other bad motives behind this work.
We will now browse through the lemmata of this encyclopedia and stop here or there to pick up some of the mistakes in this book. The selection of lemmata is made quite arbitrarily without a plan. Omissions are not meant to silence anything – it is only that there are so many mistakes that it would cost a lot of time to discuss them all. Therefore, it is better to show the ludicrousness of the mistakes with some examples than to explain everything in detail.
Aalu. (p. 11) "Ancient Egyptian for 'The Isle of Flame,' descriptive of a large, volcanic island in the Distant West (the Atlantic Ocean). It physically matches Plato's Atlantis virtually detail for detail: mountainous, with canals, luxuriant crops, a palatial city surrounded by great walls decorated with precious metals, etc." – Wrong of course. Aalu is a dated transcription for Aaru or Sekhet-iaru, best known as "the Field of Reeds". It is the Egyptian idea of paradise in the afterlife, and represents the ideas of ancient Egyptians of a good life. These ideas naturally resemble their own Egyptian world with the river Nile and fertile islands in the river delta. But of course, it does not match detail for detail with Plato's Atlantis. The "Field of Reeds" has no geographical location. All geographical indications are theological in nature and refer, for example, to the rising and at the same time to the setting of the sun. – The "Flame Island" is an island in the afterlife, where the souls are subjected to a purifying fire.
Aelian (p. 15) and Elianus (p. 107). – It was overlooked that these two are the same person.
Athanasius Kircher. It is claimed that the caption of the famous map of Athanasius Kircher would translate to: "a map of the island of Atlantis originally made in Egypt after Plato's description" (p. 157). – This is wrong. In truth, it translates to "Site of the island of Atlantis, once swallowed by the sea, description according to the Egyptians and Plato". So, it is a map showing the site of the island rather than its shape and other details, because Plato's description does not tell anything about this.
Medinet Habu. "The text quotes them as saying they came from an island the Egyptians transliterated as 'Netero,' like Plato's Atlantis, a 'sacred isle,' in the Far West after it had been set ablaze by a celestial event identified with the fiery goddess Sekhmet and sank into the sea." (p. 183) – This is wrong, of course. The core of the statement probably makes itself felt in sentences in the texts of Medient Habu in which the power of the Pharaoh over his enemies is described in terms of the power of gods, for example: "The great heat of Sekhmet mingled with their heart, so that their bones burned up in the midst of their bodies. The shooting star was terrible in pursuit of them while the land was glad and rejoicing at the sight of his valorous deed ... Ramses III. Every survivor from his hand fled ... ... ... was a mighty torch hurling flame from the heavens to search out their souls, to devastate their root ..." (Plates 80-83, Inscription of the Year II) – But this is not a celestial event, it is a theopolitical representation, and there is no mention of an island either, certainly not a sinking island.
Oera Linda Bok (p. 210). – There is no mention that this book has long been exposed as forgery.
Orichalcum. It is claimed that "a strict translation of orichalcum renders something approximating 'gleaming copper,' or 'superior copper.'" (p. 214) – This is just wrong. The word oreichalkos literally translates to "mountain ore".
Plato. The sentence "amicus Plato, sed magis amicus veritas" (p. 224) is presented, then translated to "Plato's friend and a powerful friend of truth", and it is claimed that Proclus used this phrase to describe Crantor. – But this is all wrong. First it is wrong Latin, it should be "amica veritas". Then the presented translation is wrong, correct is e.g.: "Plato is my friend, but truth is even more my friend." And the sentence goes back to Aristotle, not to Proclus.
Plato. Two reasons are given why Atlantis is not an invention (p. 225): (1) Plato based his whole body of thought on ruthless pursuit of the truth. (2) Timaeus and Kritias cannot comprise a fictional allegory for Plato's notion of the ideal state, as some critics insist, because the Atlantis he portrays is far from his utopian conception, as developed in The Republic. – Both reasons are not sufficient or even wrong. Though Plato followed a strict program of truth, he nevertheless applied various literary forms in his dialogues, among them analogies and myths, and once even a deceptive myth, the famous Noble Lie. It has to be explained how this is related to Plato's program of truth, before it can be claimed that Atlantis therefore cannot be meant as an invention. – The second reason is completely wrong. The prehistoric Athens of the Atlantis dialogues comes close to Plato's ideal state. Furthermore, Plato did not understand his ideal state as an unrealistic utopia. To the contrary. Plato claimed explicitly in the Republic that he is convinced that such a state existed in the past.
Plato. It is claimed that R. Catesby Taliaferro wrote in the foreword to an edition of Thomas Taylor's translation of the dialogues Timaeus and Kritias (p. 225): It appears to me to be at least as well attested as any other narration in any ancient historian. Indeed, he (Plato) who proclaims that ‘truth is the source of every good both to gods and men’, and the whole of whose works consists in detecting error and exploring certainty, can never be supposed to have willfully deceived mankind by publishing an extravagant romance as matter of fact, with all the precision of historical narrative. – The truth is that these are the words of Thomas Taylor himself, in the introduction to the Critias, but not of Taliaferro.
Rudbeck, Olaus. "Atlantologists have since dismissed Rudbeck's chauvinist belief that Sweden and Atlantis were synonymous." (p. 241) – Rudbeck never was the "chauvinist" as which he is depicted by many. Modern nationalism and chauvinism developed only after Rudbeck's time.
Wegener, Alfred L. "While Wegener was advocating his ideas in the early 20th century, he was no less ridiculed by his scientific contemporaries for insisting that Plato's Atlantis was a victim of the same violent earth changes associated with plate tectonics." (p. 289) – Alfred Wegener did not talk about Atlantis. Therefore, he could not be ridiculed for it.
It is a striking observation that most of the lemmata simply have nothing to do with Atlantis. They are e.g. about ancient civilizations or world mythologies, which are drawn into the question of Plato's Atlantis by ludicrous "arguments".
The lemma "Third Reich" (p. 265 f.) is so error prone that we discuss it as the last lemma and in detail. Frank Joseph is correct that, contrary to popular belief, Atlantis did not play an important role in National Socialism. But he defends this claim with wrong and misleading arguments. So, better we sort this out with some accuracy.
It is wrong to describe the Thule Society as a "mystical club". It was a racist club, but rather not "occult". True it that it was not occupied with Atlantis, but rather with Thule, as the name says, and with Germano-mania. True is also that the Thule Society did not shape Hitler's beliefs, since Hitler and most other leaders of National Socialism simply were not members of the Thule Society.
"The Myth of the 20th Century, Alfred Rosenberg's magnum opus, contains not a single reference to the sunken civilization." – This is just wrong. Rosenberg talks shortly about Atlantis in his book, in order to catch the interest of the supporters of Herman Wirth, but abandons the topic quickly, criticizing Wirth's idea on the topic (matriarchy instead of patriarchy), and finally arguing that it is not of importance for National Socialism whether Atlantis existed or not. So, Rosenberg mentions Atlantis, yes, but only as a mere possibility of no importance which he does not welcome but rather discourages. Besides this, it has to be noted, that Hitler, Goebbels and Göring mocked Rosenberg for his views. Furthermore, Hitler mocked the readers of Rosenberg's book for believing that this book would reflect the "true" National Socialism.
It is correct that the topic of Atlantis appears only very rarely in Hitler's table talks, and without expressing any clear statement, but it has been overlooked that in 1936 Hitler mocked Atlantis searchers in a speech.
"Contrary to portrayals by some television producers, Heinrich Himmler never ordered expeditions to search for surviving populations from Atlantis" – This is not fully correct. Atlantis was never the official topic of an expedition, yes, but some expeditions might be considered Atlantis expeditions with some justification when Himmler sent an Atlantis believer like Edmund Kiss on an expedition. The Tibet expedition was not an Atlantis expedition, since the leader of the expedition managed successfully to avoid Edmund Kiss as a participant (it was still a racist expedition which is bad enough).
"Heinrich Himmler ... nor included the study of Atlantis in the curriculum of his SS corps." – This is true. Chapoutot had demonstrated this. Himmler's Atlantis belief, which (by the way) was only one crazy belief among others, was kept in private.
"No prominent Nazi leader ever described Atlantis as the homeland of the Aryan race." – Himmler had such ideas. But he was alone with them among the Nazi leaders and he kept them in private.
About Albert Herrmann (1886–1945): "Four years after the publication of his popular book, Herrmann used his prestige as a professor of historical geography at Berlin University to stage a large-scale exhibit about Atlantis in the nation's capital. Although the 1938 event attracted favorable notice across the country and outside Germany, it was not sponsored by any Nazi organization." – This is nonsense. There never was such an exhibit, especially not with international attention. Frank Joseph might have confused this with an exhibition in Berlin in 1931 about trance paintings, some of which showed the theme of a submerging island, as Bessmertny reports (p. 147). Or he confused it with the conference of geologists in Frankfurt am Main in 1939 under the misleading title "Atlantis". Misleading, because it was made clear in the introductory statement in short words, that the idea of Atlantis is dead. The geologists' conference chose this title as a chiffre for geological phenomena such as plate tectonics. Numerous exhibitions took place in 1938 in Berlin, as an internet research quickly reveals, but none of them could be described as an Atlantis exhibition. Also searching for Albert Herrmann and Atlantis, nothing about an exhibition can be found. In 1938, Albert Hermann published a book about the silk road, which had absolutely nothing to do with Atlantis. Since Frank Joseph is known to have a loose relationship with truth, we have to conclude that such an Atlantis exhibition never took place.
By the way, it is also very questionable that Pierre Vidal-Naquet describes Albert Herrmann as an "avowed Nazi" who became "more or less the 'Führer' of the German press" (Vidal-Naquet p. 125 (French); p. 121 (English); p. 118 (German)). Wikipedia pumps this up to: "Due to his position within the Nazi Party, [t]he theories carried considerable weight in the German press", with Vidal-Naquet as source. – It is possible that Herrmann was an adherent of National Socialism, but nothing can be found on this question. In his book from 1934 Herrmann is conspicuously silent about National Socialism. And it would be nothing special. But quite extraordinary is the claim of Herrmann being "the 'Führer' of the German press". We assume this means that he was regularly invited by the press as an expert on Atlantis, i.e. an opinion leader. But when browsing the "Deutsches Zeitungsportal" of the "Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek" and other media data bases, we only find a few small articles in this or that newspaper about public lectures he has given here and there. Furthermore, we know from other Atlantis searchers that they were prevented from publishing by National Socialism, some even punished and imprisoned. Herman Wirth, who was first supported by Himmler, was dropped by Himmler and critized by Rosenberg because he argued that matriarchy prevailed in prehistoric times – but the same was believed by Albert Herrmann. It would be strange if Albert Herrman could act with all public attention. On the contrary, there were fierce attacks against Albert Herrmann from "established" science, which determined the prevailing opinion, and against which Albert Herrmann tried in vain to defend himself in a paper in 1935. In an article from 1937, Albert Herrmann continued to pursue his theses on Tunisia, but no longer spoke of Atlantis. – We have to consider another solution to the enigma of how Vidal-Naquet's assessment came about: Not only Frank Joseph but also Pierre Vidal-Naquet had a loose relationship with truth. Many of his claims have turned out to be wrong. And in this case, Vidal-Naquet even does not provide a source. Therefore we have to assume that also Vidal-Naquet's characterization of Albert Herrmann as "the 'Führer' of the German press" is just taken out of thin air. In National Socialism there was only one "Führer of the press", and this was Adolf Hitler, mocking Atlantis searchers in a speech in 1936.
According to Frank Joseph, Albert Herrmann "may have contributed to the production of 'Wo liegt Atlantis?' ("Where is Atlantis?"), a popular film examining possible Atlantean impact on Central America, released in 1933, just after the Nazis assumed power." – This is wrong. The film is precisely called "Auf der Suche nach Atlantis" (In Search of Atlantis) and it was not produced by any Nazi organization nor did it have any Nazi intention. The film is quite a harmless documentary about traveling and sightseeing in Guatemala and Venezuela touching only briefly on the Atlantis hypothesis of the Venezuelan Rafael Requena (1879-1946). The film distances itself from it.
Frank Joseph's list of so-called "Third Reich Atlantologists" is completely wrong insofar these "Atlantologists" were partly no outspoken adherents of National Socialism, partly lived long before National Socialism (e.g. Ernst Moritz Arndt died 1860), partly did not write a single word about Atlantis (e.g. Ernst Moritz Arndt), partly were prosecuted by National Socialism (e.g. Heinrich Pudor, though clearly he was a racist), partly were Jews murdered by National Socialism (Bessmertny murdered 1943), or partly only described existing Atlantis hypotheses of others instead of making up an own one (e.g. Bessmertny 1932).
"Unfortunately, the works of early 20th century German Atlantologists, regardless of their political content, were lost when they were uniformly proscribed by Allied occupation authorities after World War II." – This is utter nonsense. All these works can be acquired in libraries or as antiquarian books or are even available on the internet in digitized versions. Albert Herrmann's book even exists in reprints. Only in the first years after the war the censorship of the Allies was very strict in order to de-nazify Germany.
"Atlantis has always attracted especially broad interest in Germany, as Ignatius Donnelly, the American father of Atlantology, pointed out during the last decade of the 19th century". – Such a word of Donnelly is not known. Nothing can be found. We never encountered such a word. And actually the word's claim is not true because not only Germany but all civilized nations had serious thinkers as well as crackpots who wrote about Atlantis. We have to assume that this word of Donnelly does not exist, as many other claims of Frank Joseph turned out to be not true.
Hint: The most detailed analysis of any possible relationship of Plato's Atlantis and National Socialism can be found in the book "Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis" by Thorwald C. Franke.
The Atlantis Encyclopedia by Frank Joseph is a really bad book, bad in a manyfold sense: First the provided information is bad, i.e. wrong, and since the information is ludicrously wrong we have to assume that this is Fake News by intention, i.e. by bad intention. The information is bad, the intention is bad, and the results are bad, because this book is the source of much nonsense and confusion about Plato's Atlantis.
Alexander Bessmertny, Das Atlantisrätsel – Geschichte und Erklärung der Atlantishypothesen, R. Voigtländers Verlag, Leipzig 1932.
Johann Chapoutot, Le national-socialisme et l'Antiquité, Presses Universitaires de France PUF, Paris 2008.
Thorwald C. Franke, Kritische Geschichte der Meinungen und Hypothesen zu Platons Atlantis – von der Antike über das Mittelalter bis zur Moderne, 2nd edition in two volumes, published by Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2021. First edition was 2016 in one volume. There is no English translation yet.
Frank Joseph, The Atlantis Encyclopedia, with a foreword by Brad Steiger, The Career Press / New Page Books, Franklin Lakes (NJ) 2005.
Pierre Vidal-Naquet, The Atlantis story – A short history of Plato's myth, 2007. French original 2005.