1 - Ancestry, blood and nature -
The Mystical Origins of National Socialism
As noted by the British authority on the history of the Third Reich, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Austria in the late 1800s was the product of three major political changes:
The German Confederation had
been created by the Congress of Vienna to replace the Holy Roman Empire, and
lasted from 1815 to 1866; it consisted of a union of 39 German states, with
35 monarchies and four free cities. Its main organ was a central Diet under
the presidency of Austria. However, the establishment of the confederation
failed to meet the aspirations of German nationalists, who had hoped for a
consolidation of these small monarchies into a politically unified Greater
The war notwithstanding, Bismarck considered Austria a potential future ally and so avoided unnecessarily weakening the state, settling for the annexation of Hanover, Hesse, Nassau, Frankfurt and Schleswig-Holstein. (These moderate peace terms were to facilitate the Austro-German alliance of 1879.) The war resulted in the destruction of the German Confederation, and its replacement with the North German Confederation under the sole leadership of Prussia.
The defeat of Austria was an additional blow to German nationalism: Austrian
Germans found themselves isolated within the Habsburg Empire, with its
multitude of national and ethnic groups. A look at the political divisions
within the empire will give some idea of the extent of its multiculturalism.
As noted by the American historian Steven W. Sowards,
However, according to Norman Davies, the Ausgleich only served to make matters worse:
The Ausgleich resulted in aspirations towards autonomy among a number of
groups within the Austro-Hungarian Empire; the empire as a whole was home to
eleven major nationalities: Magyars, Germans, Czechs, Poles, Ruthenians,
Slovaks, Serbs, Romanians, Croats, Slovenes and Italians. The largest and
most restless minority consisted of about 6.5 million Czechs living in
Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia. However, their desires for autonomy
were constantly frustrated by the Hungarian determination to preserve the
political structure established by the Ausgleich.
According to Goodrick-Clarke:
He goes on:
The idealized, romantic image of a rural, quasi-medieval Germany suffered
under the program of rapid modernization and industrialization undertaken
by the Second Reich. For many, who saw their traditional communities
destroyed by the spread of towns and industries, the foundations of their
mystical unity had become threatened. In addition, these anti-modernist
sentiments resulted in the rejection of both liberalism and rationalism,
while paradoxically hijacking the scientific concepts of anthropology,
linguistics and Darwinist evolution to 'prove' the superiority of the German
Racial thinking facilitated the rise of political anti-Semitism, itself so closely linked to the strains of modernization. Feelings of conservative anger at the disruptive consequences of economic change could find release in the vilification of the Jews, who were blamed for the collapse of traditional values and institutions.
that the Jews were not just a religious community but biologically different
from other races. (7)
The word volkisch is not easy to translate into English, containing as it does elements of both nationalism and a profound sense of the importance of folklore. The main principles of volkisch thought were the importance of living naturally (including a vegetarian diet); an awareness of the wisdom of one's ancestors, expressed through the appreciation of prehistoric monuments; and an understanding of astrology and cosmic cycles.
(As more than one commentator has noted, there is a distinct
and rather sinister similarity between these principles and those of the
modern New Age movement.)
The Vereine were particularly popular
amongst young people and intellectuals; such was their popularity, in fact,
that an unsettled Austrian government dissolved the Germanenbund in 1889,
although it re-emerged in 1894 as the Bund der Germanen. Goodrick-Clarke
estimates that by 1900, as many as 150,000 people were influenced by
Volkisch ideology was propagated through a number of racist publications, one of the most virulent of which was the satirical illustrated monthly Der Scherer, published in Innsbruck by Georg von Schonerer (1842-1921), a leader in the movement, whom Davidson describes as 'anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, and often ludicrous'. (9)
The anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic articles in Der Scherer were accompanied by drawings of fat priests and big-nosed Jews, the latter a prototype of the Jewish stereotype that would be later used in National Socialist propaganda.
In one picture, a Jew and a priest are sitting on a mound of writhing people, who represent the Volk, while another shows the Devil in Hell, with a sign saying:
Jews were consistently attacked from two directions: volkisch anticlerical groups linked them with the reactionary Church, while clerical anti-Semites linked them with volkisch heathenism.
Jews were therefore seen as,
As we shall
see later, these views would survive Nazism, and have extended their
pernicious influence through various right-wing groups active today. One
Catholic paper, Die Tiroler Post, wrote in 1906 that the goal of the Jew was
world domination, while another, the Linzer Post, defended anti-Semitism as
no more than healthy self-preservation. In the same year, the volkisch Deutsche Tiroler Stimmen called for the extermination of the Jewish race.
Jahn, a purveyor of volkisch ideology, advocated German national unity, identity and romantic ritual.
These groups advocated kleindeutsch (or 'little German') nationalism, which called for the incorporation of German Austria into the Bismarckian Reich. As Goodrick-Clarke notes,
Georg von Schonerer's involvement with Pan-Germanism transformed it from a
nebulous 'cult of Prussophilia' into a genuine revolutionary movement.
Following his election to the Reichsrat in 1873, Schonerer followed a
progressive Left agenda for about five years, before making demands for a
German Austria without the Habsburgs and politically united with the German
Reich. Schonerer's Pan-Germanism was not characterised merely by national
unity, political democracy and social reform: its essential characteristic
was racism, 'that is, the idea that blood was the sole criterion of all
civil rights'. (14)
The association of Catholicism with Slavdom and the Austrian state could further be emphasised, Schonerer believed, by a movement for Protestant conversion; this was the origin of the slogan 'Los von Rom' ('Away from Rome'). The movement claimed approximately 30,000 Protestant conversions in Bohemia, Styria, Carinthia and Vienna between 1899 and 1910, (17) although it was not at all popular among either the volkisch leagues or the Pan-Germans, who saw it as 'a variation of old-time clericalism'. (18)
For that matter, the Protestant
Church itself was rather dissatisfied with Los von Rom, and felt that its
profound connection of religion with politics would make religious people
uneasy. By the same token, those who were politically motivated felt
religion itself to be irrelevant.
This could only exacerbate the growing German-Slav conflict within the empire, and was one of the main factors in the emergence of the racist doctrine of Ariosophy, which we will discuss later.
In 1853-55, Arthur de Gobineau had written an
essay on the inequality of races, in which he had made claims for the
superiority of the Nordic-Aryan race, and warned of its eventual submergence
by non-Aryans. This notion, along with the ideas about biological struggle
of Social Darwinism, was taken up at the turn of the twentieth century by
German propagandists who claimed that Germans could defend their race and
culture only by remaining racially pure. (19)
This 'struggle for dominance' was to have a profound effect upon the
development of German anti-Semitism in the early years of the twentieth
century. Hitler would later express his own anti-Semitism in these
biological terms, in order to deprive Jews of all human attributes. On one
occasion in 1942, for instance, Hitler said:
Only when we have eliminated the Jews
will we regain our health. (21)
The first is dualism, which can, according to Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, be defined thus:
The second tenet concerns the evil of matter:
Hermeticism derives from Hermes Trismegistus ('the thrice-greatest Hermes'), the name given by the Greeks to the Egyptian god Thoth, the god of wisdom and of literature.
To the Greeks, this 'scribe of the gods' was author of
all sacred books, which they called 'Hermetic'. The ancient wisdom of
is said to reside in 42 books, the surviving fragments of which are known as
the Hermetica. The books of Hermes were written on papyrus and kept in the
great library of Alexandria. When the library was destroyed by fire, most of
this wisdom was forever lost; however, some fragments were saved and,
according to legend, buried in a secret desert location by initiates.
The Tabula Smaragdina or Emerald Tablet is said to contain the most comprehensive summation of Egyptian philosophy, and was of central importance to the alchemists, who believed that it was encoded with the mystical secrets of the Universe. Hermes Trismegistus is said to have been the greatest philosopher, king and priest, and was also a somewhat prolific writer, being credited with 36,525 books on the principles of nature.
A composite of the Egyptian god Thoth and
the Greek god Hermes, both of whom were associated with the spirits of the
dead, Hermes Trismegistus was the personification of universal wisdom.
However, it is likely that the writings attributed to him were actually the
anonymous works of early Christians.
The primary document of Cabalism is the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation),
which was possibly written in the third century by Rabbi Akiba, who was
martyred by the Romans. According to the Sefer Yetzirah, God created the
world by means of 32 secret paths: the ten sephirot (or emanations by which
reality is structured) and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
parents, Baron von Hahn, a soldier and member of the lesser Russian-German
nobility, and Madame von Hahn, a romantic novelist and descendant of the
noble house of Dolgorouky, led a somewhat unsettled life: the baron's
regiment was constantly on the move. Madame von Hahn died in 1842, when
Helena was eleven, an event which seems to have contributed to her
waywardness and powerful sense of individuality.
For the next 25 years, she wandered through Europe, Asia and the Americas. Although she may have had an allowance from her father, she also supported herself in a variety of ways, including as a bareback rider in a circus, a piano teacher in London and Paris, and also as an assistant to the famous medium Daniel Dunglas Home.
This is pretty much
all that is known with any certainty about this period in her life: the rest
is a confusing jumble of rumor, contradiction and legend, much of which
originated with Blavatsky herself.
Apparent financial difficulties forced Olcott to take up farming in Ohio, at which he seems to have excelled, gaining a position as Agricultural Editor of the New York Tribune, until the outbreak of the Civil War, in which he fought as a signals officer in the Union Army. When the war ended, Olcott headed to New York to study for the Bar, and established a law practice there in the late 1860s. (26)
of a fair degree of success in his profession, Olcott seems to have been
rather dissatisfied with his lot: his marriage was not happy, and eventually
he divorced his wife. In search of some form of intellectual diversion, he
became interested in Spiritualism.
On 14 October 1874, Olcott
met Blavatsky at the Eddy farmhouse during one of his many visits there.
Blavatsky had been intrigued by the articles she had read in the Daily
Graphic, and had decided to cultivate Olcott's friendship.
Its effect - the book sold widely - was to soothe the minds of
those whose religious faith had been undermined by scientific rationalism,
in particular the
theories on evolution and natural selection of Charles
Darwin. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the book was fiercely attacked in scholarly
circles both for intellectual incompetence and out-and-out plagiarism, with
one critic identifying more than 2,000 unacknowledged quotations. (27)
however, extremely unlikely that a single white woman with a considerable
weight problem and no mountaineering experience could have made the arduous
trip up the Himalayas, succeeded in finding these 'Hidden Masters', and done
so without being spotted by the numerous Chinese, Russian and British
patrols that were in the area at that time. (29)
We shall have a good deal more to say on the Great White
Brotherhood in Chapter Five, but for now let us return to Madame Blavatsky.
1882, they moved the society's headquarters to Adyar, near Madras. The new
headquarters included a shrine room in which the Hidden Masters would
manifest in physical form. However, while Blavatsky and Olcott were away
touring Europe, Emma Coulomb and her husband, who had managed the household
but been dismissed after repeatedly attempting to secure financial loans
from the society's wealthy members, decided to take their revenge by
publishing letters said by them to have been written by Blavatsky and which
contained instructions on how to operate the secret panels in the shrine
room, through which the 'Masters' appeared.
The Secret Doctrine is allegedly a vast commentary on a fantastically old (several million years) manuscript called The Stanzas of Dzyan, written in the Atlantean language Senzar, and seen by Blavatsky in a monastery hidden far beneath the Himalayas.
The Stanzas tell how the Earth was colonized by
from the Moon. Humanity as we know it is descended from these remote
ancestors via a series of so-called 'root races'.
The Universe experienced a fall from
divine grace through the first four rounds, and will rise again through the
last three, until it is redeemed in ultimate, divine unity, before the
process begins again. (We would perhaps be well advised to resist the
temptation to compare this scheme with the similar-sounding Big Bang/Big
Crunch theory of universal evolution proposed by modern physicists: there is
little else in the Stanzas that orthodox science would find palatable.)
The first root race were completely non-corporeal Astral beings who lived in an invisible land; the second race were the Hyperboreans, who lived on a lost polar continent (we will examine the important concept of Hyperborea in detail in the next chapter); the third root race were the Lemurians, fifteen-foot-tall brown-skinned hermaphrodites with four arms, who had the misfortune to occupy the lowest point in the seven-stage cycle of humanity. For this reason, the Lemurians, who lived on a now-sunken continent in the Indian Ocean, suffered a Fall from divine grace: after dividing into two distinct sexes, they began to breed with beautiful but inferior races, this miscegenation resulting in the birth of soulless monsters.
The fourth root race were the Atlanteans, who possessed highly advanced psychic powers and mediumistic skills. Gigantic like the Lemurians and physically powerful, the Atlanteans built huge cities on their mid-Atlantic continent. Their technology was also highly advanced, and was based on the application of a universal electro-spiritual force known as Fohat - similar, it seems, to the vril force (see Chapter Four).
Unfortunately for the Atlanteans, although they were intelligent and powerful, they were also possessed of a childlike innocence that made them vulnerable to the attentions of an evil entity that corrupted them and caused them to turn to the use of black magic.
This was to result in a catastrophic war that led to the destruction of Atlantis. (30)
The fifth root race, from which we today are descended, was the Aryan
Of equal importance to the cosmic scheme were hierarchy and elitism. As mentioned earlier, the Hidden Masters or Mahatmas of Tibet, such as Master Morya and Koot Hoomi, were enlightened beings who had decided to remain on Earth to guide the rest of humanity towards spiritual wisdom. This concept, along with Blavatsky's own claim to hidden occult knowledge, is clearly based on the value of authority and hierarchy. Indeed, this value is illustrated by the fate of the Lemurians, whose miscegenation caused their Fall from divine grace.
The only section of that society to remain pure was the elite
priesthood, which eventually retired to
the wondrous city of Shambhala in
what is now the Gobi Desert (more of which in Chapter Four) and which is
linked with the Hidden Masters of Tibet. (31)
However, for many people in Europe and America, scientific rationalism, rapid industrialization and urbanization presented another threat to their long-established way of life. As an antidote to the fears and uncertainties of modern life, Theosophy was particularly readily accepted in Germany and Austria.
As Goodrick-Clarke notes, it was well suited to the German protest movement known as Lebensreform (life reform).
Interest in Theosophy increased in Germany with the founding of the German Theosophical Society on 22 July 1884 at Elberfeld. Blavatsky and Olcott were staying there at the home of Marie Gebhard (1832-1892), a devotee of occultism who had corresponded frequently with the famous French occultist and magician Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant) (c. 1810-1875).
Its first president was Wilhelm Hubbe-Schleiden, then a senior civil servant at the Colonial Office in Hamburg. Hubbe-Schleiden, who had travelled extensively throughout the world and was a keen advocate of German colonial expansion abroad, was instrumental in gathering the isolated Theosophists scattered throughout Germany into a consolidated German branch of the society. Hubbe-Schleiden also did much to increase occult interest in Germany through the founding in 1886 of his periodical Die Sphinx, a scholarly blend of psychical research, the paranormal, archaeology and Christian mysticism from a scientific viewpoint.
As such it was firmly
Theosophical in tone, and included contributions from scientists, historians
and philosophers. (33)
So impressed was Blavatsky with
him that she appointed him acting president of the Theosophical Society
while she and Olcott travelled to Germany to start the branch there.
Hartmann remained there until 1885, when the Theosophists left India
following the Coulomb scandal.
The Theosophical Publishing House produced a large number of
occult magazines and book series, in competition with other publishers such
as Karl Rohm, Johannes Baum and Max Altmann who had turned their attention
to this potentially lucrative field.
In fact, it was in Vienna that the seeds of Germanic occult racism were most liberally sown. The public disquiet at economic change, scientific rationalism and rapid industrialization and the threat they appeared to pose to traditional 'natural' ways of life was palliated not only by occultist notions of the centrality and importance of humanity within the wider cosmos (of the essential meaningfulness of existence), but also by the volkisch ideology that assured Germans of the value and importance of their cultural identity.
This combination of culture
and spirituality was expressed most forcefully through the doctrine of Ariosophy, which originated in Vienna.
(As with the
philosophy of Nietszche, Blavatsky's ideas were hijacked and warped by
German occultists and it should be remembered that neither of these two
would have advocated the violence and suffering that would later be
perpetrated by the Nazis: indeed, Nietszche disavowed anti-Semitism and
called German nationalism an 'abyss of stupidity'.)
A journalist by trade, List also wrote novels about the ancient Teutons and the cult of Wotan, whose hierarchy he came to call the Armanenschaft, a name derived from his spurious interpretation of a Teutonic myth. According to the Roman author Tacitus in his Germania, the Teutons believed that their people were descended from the god Tuisco and his son, Mannus. Mannus had three sons, after whom the ancient German tribes were named: Ingaevones, Hermiones and Istaevones.
With no scholarly evidence to
back him up, List decided that these names referred to the agricultural,
intellectual and military estates within the Germanic nation. The word Armanenschaft derived from List's Germanisation of
intellectual or priestly estate, to 'Armanen'. List claimed that the
profoundly wise Armanenschaft was the governing body of the ancient society.(36)
By 1902, as a result of a
period of enforced inactivity following a cataract operation that left him
blind for eleven months, List had devoted much thought to the nature of the
proto-Aryan language he believed was encoded in the ancient runes.
The Eddas were composed of songs, manuals of poetry and works of history telling the story of the ancient Teutonic pantheon of gods and the numerous secondary divinities who were their cohorts.
In fact, we have almost no record of the myths and beliefs of the ancestors of the Germans and Anglo-Saxons. According to conventional studies of mythology:
In the Eddas, Wotan (whose name derives from the word in all Germanic languages meaning fury, and which in modern German is wuten, to rage) was the god of war, whom dead heroes met in Valhalla.
It was Wotan who gained an understanding of the runes after being wounded by a spear and hanging from a tree for nine nights, and who related the eighteen runic spells that held the secrets of immortality, invincibility in battle, healing abilities and control of the elements. In Norse legend, the runes are not only a system of writing but also possess an inherent magical power.
Goodrick-Clarke describes List as 'the pioneer of volkisch rune occultism', (38) since he was the first to link the runes of a certain written series with Wotan's runic spells.
The central tenet of Wotanism was the cyclical nature of the Universe, which proceeded through a series of transformations: 'birth', 'being', 'death' and 'rebirth'. This cyclical cosmology was a primal law and represented the presence of God in Nature.
Since Man was part of the cosmos, he was bound by its laws and thus required to live in harmony with the natural world.
List also utilized Theosophical concepts in his development of Wotanism, in particular those of Max Ferdinand Sebaldt von Werth who wrote extensively on Aryan sexuality and racial purity. Sebaldt believed that the Universe was whisked into being by the god Mundelfori, and that its fundamental nature was one of the interaction of opposites, such as matter and spirit, and male and female. Aryan superiority could therefore only be achieved through a union of racially 'pure opposites'.
In September 1903, List published an
article in the Viennese occult periodical Die Gnosis that drew heavily on
this idea, referring to ancient Aryan cosmology and sexuality. The phases of
this cosmology were illustrated with variations on the swastika, the Hindu
symbol of the Sun, that List appropriated and corrupted to denote the
unconquerable and racially pure Germanic hero.(41)
List identified the four rounds of fire, air, water and earth with,
These realms lie at the centre of the Nordic creation myth. At the dawn of time, there was nothing but a vast, yawning abyss. Niflheim, a realm of clouds and shadows, formed to the north of the abyss, while to the south formed the land of fire called Muspilheim. When Ymir, the first living being and the father of all the giants, was slain in battle, his body was raised from the sea and formed the earth, Midgard. (43)
According to List, the Ario-Germans were the fifth race in the
present round, the preceding four corresponding to the mythical Teutonic
years earlier, Liebenfels had established the racist periodical Ostara
(named after the pagan goddess of spring) that called repeatedly for the
restoration of the 'blond race' as the dominant force in the world. This
could only be achieved through racial purity, the forced sterilization or
extermination of inferior races, and the destruction of socialism, democracy
and feminism. (45)
As Goodrick-Clarke notes, Liebenfels had been drawn since childhood to,
also included holy orders, which perhaps naturally resulted in an intense
interest in the Order of the Knights Templar. This interest was fuelled by
the medieval Grail Romances, which were at the time enjoying a widespread
popularity due to their treatment by Richard Wagner in his operas. To Liebenfels and many of his contemporaries, such romances were significant in
their painting of the Grail Knights as searchers after sublime and eternal
values: this view provided a powerful antidote to the hated modern world
with its rampant industrialization and materialism.
According to Goodrick-Clarke:
At this point, it is worth looking very briefly at the history of the Knights Templar and how their rise and fall influenced Liebenfels's Weltanschauung (world view). The Order of the Knights Templar became one of the most powerful monastic societies in twelfth-century Europe, and came to symbolize the Christian struggle against the infidel.
In AD 1118, a knight from Champagne named Hugh of Payens persuaded King Baldwin I of Boulogne (whose elder brother, Godfrey, had captured Jerusalem nineteen years before) to install Payens and eight other French noblemen in a wing of the royal palace, the former mosque al-Aqsa, near the site where King Solomon's Temple had allegedly once stood in the Holy Land.
The Order later comprised three classes: the knights, all of noble birth; the sergeants, drawn from the bourgeoisie, who were grooms and stewards; and the clerics, who were chaplains and performed non-military tasks. (48) Choosing the name Militia Templi (Soldiers of the Temple), (49) they vowed to defend the mysteries of the Christian faith and Christians travelling to the holy places. The Order initially derived its power from St Bernard of Clairvaux, head of the Cistercian Order, and from Pope Honorius II, who officially recognized the Templars as a separate Order in 1128. (50)
It is believed that the Templars
took their inspiration from the Hospitallers, who protected Catholic
pilgrims in Palestine and pledged themselves to a life of chastity and
The Templars honored their vow of poverty for the first nine years of their existence, relying on donations from the pious even for their clothes.
Their battle standard was a red eight-pointed cross on a black-and-white background; their battle cry was 'Vive Dieu, Saint Amour' ('God Lives, Saint Love'), and their motto was,
Over the next century and a half, the Templars amassed a truly staggering amount of wealth, property (with over seven thousand estates in Europe) and power, and had branches throughout Europe and the Middle East, all run from their headquarters in Paris.
This led to jealous rivalries, and during the
Crusades rumors began to circulate that the Templars were not the pious
Christian knights many believed them to be. Attention was focused on their
secret rituals, which their enemies claimed were centered upon their worship
of Allah; others suspected them of actually worshipping the demon Baphomet,
practicing horrendous black magic rites involving sodomy, bestiality and
human sacrifice, of despising the Pope and the Catholic Church, and various
It has also been suggested that a Templar named Geoffroy de Gonneville received a message from de Molay shortly before his
death and took it to a group of Templars meeting in Dalmatia. The message
stated that the Order would be revived in 600 years' time. Before
disbanding, the Templars at this meeting allegedly created the Order of the
Rose-Croix, or Rosicrucians.(54)
He described the Order as
an 'Aryan mutual-aid association founded to foster racial consciousness
through genealogical and heraldic research, beauty-contests, and the
foundation of racist Utopias in the underdeveloped parts of the world'. (56)
Using the Old and
New Testaments as departure points, Liebenfels divided his book into two
sections, the first dealing with the origin of humanity in a race of
beast-men (Anthropozoa) spawned by Adam. In his warped and bizarre view of
antiquity, Liebenfels utilized new scientific discoveries such as radiation
and radio communication, which at that time had a powerful hold on the
As Goodrick-Clarke notes, (57) Liebenfels based this declaration in part on the work of the zoologist Wilhelm Bolsche (1861-1939), who in turn seems to have been inspired by Theosophy. At any rate, Liebenfels believed that the only way for Germans to reclaim their ancient godhood was through the enforced sterilization and castration of 'inferior races', to prevent the pollution of pure Aryan blood. (58)
The second section of Liebenfels's book concerned the life of Christ (whose powers were once again electrical in nature) and the redemption of the Aryan people, who had been corrupted by the promiscuous activities of the other races of Earth. This idea of the Aryan struggle against the pernicious vices of other races in effect replaced the traditional Judaeo-Christian concept of the struggle between good and evil.
Liebenfels argued for the most extreme measures in the pursuit of Aryan re-deification: since the poor and underprivileged in society were identified with the progeny of the inferior races, they would have to be either exterminated (by incineration as a sacrifice to God), deported or used as slave labour. This constituted the inversion of traditional Judaeo-Christian compassion for the poor, weak and handicapped in the new form of Social Darwinism, with its central tenet of survival of the fittest at the expense of the weakest.
methods of ensuring the survival of pure-blooded Aryans proposed by Liebenfels would, of course, become hideous reality in the Third Reich.
Many came to
believe that the time for scholarly theorizing was past, that the time for
direct action had come.
These groups were known as the Reichshammerbund
and the Germanenorden (Order of Germans). Born on 28 October 1852, Fritsch,
the son of Saxon peasants, had trained as a milling engineer, and had edited
the Kleine Muhlen-Journal (Small-Mills Journal). In common with other
activists of the time, his anti-Semitism arose principally from a fear of
rapid industrialization, technology and mass production, driven by
international Jewish influence, and the threat it posed to small tradesmen
As Goodrick-Clarke notes, Fritsch's,
In addition, the merging of the two parties in 1894 as the Deutsch-Soziale Reformpartei resulted in a significant reduction in anti-Semitism in favor of 'an appeal to more conservative and middle-class economic interests'. (60) At this time, in the mid-1860s, racist writers such as the French aristocrat Comte Vacher de Lapouge and the Germanized Englishman Houston Stewart Chamberlain were influenced by biology and zoology, and were concentrating more on 'scientific' studies of race (although they were, of course, nothing of the kind).
It was these writers who identified the Jews as the greatest threat to the supremacy of the Aryan race, and attempted to back up their ideas with reference to physical characteristics such as hair and eye coloring, and the shape of the skull. (61) For de Lapouge, Jews were more pernicious than any other race because they had insinuated themselves so completely into European society, (62) while Chamberlain in particular did much to popularize mystical racism in Germany.
According to Stanley G. Payne:
In order to fulfill his ambition to create a powerful anti-Semitic movement
outside the ineffectual parliament, Fritsch founded a periodical called the
Hammer in January 1902. By 1905, its readership had reached 3,000. These
readers formed themselves into Hammer-Gemeinden (Hammer-Groups), changing
their name in 1908 to Deutsche Erneuerungs-Gemeinde (German Renewal Groups).
'[T]heir membership was interested in anti-capitalist forms of land reform
designed to invigorate the peasantry, the garden city movement, and
Germanenorden lodges were established throughout Northern and Eastern Germany that year, and called for the rebirth of a racially pure Germany from which the 'parasitic' Jews would be deported. By July, lodges had been established at Breslau, Dresden, Konigsberg, Berlin and Hamburg. By the end of 1912, the Germanenorden claimed 316 brothers. (67)
The main purpose of
these lodges was to monitor Jewish activities; in addition, lodge members
aided each other in business dealings and other matters.
Ariosophy also inspired the emblems used by the Order.
According to Goodrick-Clarke:
The initiation rituals of the Germanenorden were somewhat bizarre, to say the least. Initiation would take place in the ceremonial room of the lodge, where the blindfolded novice would encounter the Master, two Knights in white robes and horned helmets, the Treasurer and Secretary with white Masonic sashes, and the Herald, who stood at the centre of the room.
Upon commencement of the ceremony, the brothers sang the Pilgrims' Chorus from Wagner's Tannhauser, while the brothers made the sign of the swastika. The novice was then informed of the Order's world-view, and the Bard lit the sacred flame in the grove of the Grail.
With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Germanenorden began to suffer problems, both with membership and finance. Many members of the Order were killed in action, and the Order's chief, Hermann Pohl, feared that the war would ultimately result in its destruction.
At that time, Pohl's leadership abilities were coming under attack from several high-ranking members who were becoming tired of the emphasis he placed on ritual and ceremony of the type indicated above. On 8 October 1916, representatives of the Berlin lodge suggested that Pohl should be relieved of his position, to which Pohl responded by declaring the formation of a breakaway order, the Germanenorden Walvater of the Holy Grail.
The original Order was then headed
by General-major Erwin von Heimerdinger. (71)
Grand Master Eberhard von Brockhusen believed that the Order would benefit from a constitution, which he succeeded in establishing in 1921,
In the post-war period, the Germanenorden's verbal violence was transformed into murderous activities against public figures. The new Republic was, of course, despised as a symbol of defeat, and it was the Germanenorden that ordered the assassination of Matthias Erzberger, the former Reich Finance Minister and head of the German delegation to Compiegne (one of the so-called 'November criminals') (73) who had signed the armistice.
killers, Heinrich Schulz and Heinrich Tillessen, had settled in Regensburg
in 1920, where they met Lorenz Mesch, the local leader of the Germanenorden.
Since they had become interested in volkisch ideology after the end of the
war, and were heavily influenced by its propaganda, the Order chose them to
assassinate Erzberger, which they did in August 1921.
When Rudolf von Sebottendorff joined Hermann Pohl's breakaway Germanenorden Walvater in
1917, the seed of
the legendary Thule Society was sown.
Although the 'lost continent' of Atlantis
was held for centuries to have existed in the Atlantic Ocean 'beyond the
Pillars of Hercules' (according to Plato in two of his dialogues, the Timaeus and Critias), this view was challenged in the late seventeenth
century by the Swedish writer Olaus Rudbeck (1630-1702) who claimed that the
lost civilizations, which had conquered North Africa and much of Europe 9,000
years before, had actually been centered in Sweden.
According to Bailly,
when the Earth was younger, its interior heat was much greater, and
consequently the North Polar regions must have enjoyed a temperate climate
in remote antiquity. Combining this idea with his belief that such climates
are the most conducive to science and civilization, Bailly identified
Rudbeck's Atlanteans with the Hyperboreans of classical legend. The placing
of this high civilization in the far north resulted in the Nordic physique
(tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed) being seen as the ultimate human ideal.
As Joscelyn Godwin observes in his study of Polar mythology, Arktos (1993),
As we have seen, in 1907, Liebenfels founded the ritualistic and virulently racist Order of the New Templars, which had the dubious distinction of serving as the prototype for Heinrich Himmler's SS (Schutzstaffel). Liebenfels was an avid student of Madame Blavatsky, who developed the notion that humanity was descended from a series of 'Root Races' that had degenerated throughout the millennia from a pure spiritual nature to the crude and barbarous beings of the present.
According to Blavatsky, the
origin of the anthropoid apes could be explained as the result of bestiality
committed by the Third Root Race of humanity with monsters. Liebenfels in
effect hijacked this concept and twisted it in the most appalling way,
claiming that the non-Aryan races were the result of bestiality committed by
the original Aryans after their departure from the paradise of their
northern homeland, a lost continent he called Arktogaa (from the Greek,
meaning 'northern earth').
The Germanenorden was still active
during the First World War, publishing a newsletter and placing
advertisements in newspapers inviting men and women 'of pure Aryan descent'
to join its ranks. It was in response to one of these advertisements that
Rudolph von Sebottendorff met the leader of the Germanenorden,
It was Nauhaus who suggested that the name of the order be changed from Germanenorden to Thule Gesellschaft (Thule Society), in order, according to Goodrick-Clarke, to 'spare it the unwelcome attentions of socialist and pro-Republican elements'. (75)
The ceremonial foundation of the Thule Society took place on 17 August 1918.
The society met at the
fashionable Hotel Vierjahreszeiten in Munich, in rooms decorated with the
Thule emblem: a long dagger, its blade surrounded by oak leaves,
superimposed on a shining, curved-armed swastika.
The Thule Society continued to meet at the Hotel Vierjahreszeiten, while Sebottendorff extended its influence from the upper and middle classes to the working classes via the use of popular journalism.
He achieved this by
purchasing for 5,000 marks a minor weekly newspaper, published in Munich and
called the Beobachter, in 1918. Renaming the paper the Munchener Beobachter
und Sportblatt, Sebottendorff added sports features to attract a more
youthful, working-class readership for the anti-Semitic editorials that had
been carried over from the paper's previous proprietor, Franz Eher. (In
1920, the Munchener Beobachter und Sportblatt became the Volkischer
Beobachter, which would later be the official newspaper of the Nazi Party.)
The hostages included Walter Nauhaus,
Countess Hella von Westarp (secretary of the society) and Prince Gustav von Thurn und Taxis (who had many relatives in the
royal families of Europe).
Four days later, on 30 April, the hostages were shot in the cellar of the
Gymnasium as a reprisal for the killing of Red prisoners at Starnberg. The
killing of the Thule Society members had the effect of catalysing a violent
popular uprising in Munich that, with the aid of White troops entering the
city on 1 May, ensured the demise of the Communist Republic.
At the instigation of Anton Drexler, the workers' ring became the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers' Party) (DAP) on 5 January 1919. In February 1920, the DAP was transformed into the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP).
By that time, the party had already been infiltrated by an army spy whose orders had been to monitor its activities. Instead, he supported it, drafted new regulations for the committee, and soon became its President.
His name was Adolf Hitler.
environment, in which people's loyalties were divided between France and
Germany, Gorsleben was exposed to Pan-German nationalism and succeeded in
tracing his ancestry back to a fourteenth-century noble family in Thuringia.
He formed associations with right-wing figures such as Julius Streicher, who would later edit the Nazi organ Der Stunner, and Lorenz
Mesch, the Germanenorden chief who had been instrumental in the
assassination of Erzberger.
He reiterated the volkisch notion that racial mixing was not only detrimental to the superior partner but also that a female could be tainted merely by intercourse with a racial inferior, and that all subsequent offspring, even if conceived with a racial equal, would likewise be tainted. (78)
With regard to the Eddas, Gorsleben believed that the Scandinavian runes contained an inherent magical power that provided those who understood their significance with a spiritual conduit through which could flow the force that drives the Universe itself.
the most powerful was the asterisk-like hagall rune, since within it could
be found hidden all the other runes. In addition, Gorsleben was perhaps the
first occultist to promote the magical significance of crystals, which he
considered to be three-dimensional projections of the runes. According to
this theory, the spirit of every human individual can be correlated to a
specific type of crystal that can be apprehended through the faculty of
Bulow also took over the running of Gorsleben's periodical, and changed
its name from Arische Freiheit to Hag All All Hag, and then Hagal.
Hagal also included material on the ancestral clairvoyant memories of
Wiligut, which were felt to be of extreme significance to an understanding
of the ancient occult heritage of the Germanic people.
In his paper Der eigene Weg (established 1924) and his book series
Marhy-Runen-Bucherei (begun in 1931), Marby emphasized the health benefits
gained from meditation on the runes. He was denounced as an anti-Nazi by the
Third Reich in 1936, and sent first to Welzheim concentration camp, and then
to Flossenburg and Dachau, and was only freed when the camps were liberated
by the Allies in April 1945.(80)
In Marby's opinion, the
Universe was awash with cosmic rays, which could be both received and
transmitted by human beings. In addition, the beneficial influences of these
rays could be increased by adopting certain physical postures in imitation
of rune-forms (a practice with an obvious similarity to yoga).
Kummer was denounced by Wiligut, who considered their methods disreputable.
By 1925, Lomer had added astrology to his occult interests, resulting in a synthesis of pagan Germanic mysticism with astrology.
As Goodrick-Clarke observes:
The defining element in the occultism practiced in Germany and Austria in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the perceived evil and corruption of the modern world, particularly that of the despised Weimar Republic with its stench of defeat, weakness and decadence. For people like List, Liebenfels, Sebottendorff and their followers, the future of humanity lay not in industrialization, urbanization and international finance (which they saw as causing the destruction of traditional, rural ways of life and the brutalization of their ancestral homelands) but in the resurgence of ancient Aryan culture and the maintenance of racial purity.
For the Aryans were heirs to a fabulous mystical legacy stretching far into prehistory, all the way back to the lost realms of Atlantis, Lemuria, Hyperborea and Ultima Thule. From out of the mists of time shone this lost Golden Age of giants and god-men endowed with fantastic, superhuman abilities but who had been subsumed through miscegenation with inferior races - and were now gone.
The volkisch occultists hoped, through their activities, to forge a magical and
cultural link with these lost times, and through racial segregation and
later genocide re-establish the global hegemony of the Aryan Superman.
We are about to enter the strange realm of crypto-history, which will require us to travel far from Germany in the inter-war years - indeed, far from the orthodox view of humanity's entire history. In this way, we shall be able to identify the mythological origins of volkisch occultism in the legends of the lost Aryan homeland.
In the following chapter, we will find ourselves traversing the icy fastness of the far North, as well as an ancient sea in what is now the Gobi Desert.
We shall also reacquaint
ourselves with Madame Blavatsky and her theories of the Root Races of
humanity; and, by the end of the chapter, we will have examined the origins,
mystical significance and ultimate corruption of the swastika, at which
point we will have prepared ourselves for the harrowing journey into the
nightmarish world of Nazi occultism itself.