Historians, political scientists and philosophers have studied Nazism
with a specific focus on its religious and pseudo-religious
aspects. It has been debated whether
Nazism would constitute a
political religion, and there has also been research on the
millenarian, messianic, and occult or esoteric aspects of Nazism.
Nazism as political religion
Nazism and occultism
Nazism and Christianity
2 The religious beliefs of leading Nazis
2.1 Adolf Hitler's religious views
2.2 Rudolf Hess
Thule Society and the origins of the Nazi Party
Aryan race and lost lands
3.2 Formation of DAP and NSDAP
Heinrich Himmler and the SS
4.1 Nazi archaeology
4.2 Das Schwarze Korps
4.3 Cultic activities within the SS
4.3.1 The SS-Castle Wewelsburg
4.3.2 SS-Officers in Argentina
4.4 Occultists working for the SS
4.4.1 Karl Maria Wiligut
4.4.2 Otto Rahn
4.4.3 Gregor Schwartz-Bostunitsch
7 Further reading
8 See also
9 External links
Nazism as political religion
Among the writers who alluded before 1980 to the religious aspects of
National Socialism are Aurel Kolnai, Raymond Aron, Albert Camus,
Romano Guardini, Denis de Rougemont, Eric Voegelin, George Mosse,
Klaus Vondung and Friedrich Heer. Voegelin's work on political
religion was first published in German in 1938.
Emilio Gentile and
Roger Griffin, among others, have drawn on his concept. The French
author and philosopher
Albert Camus is mentioned here, since he has
made some remarks about
Nazism as a religion and about
Adolf Hitler in
particular in L'Homme révolté.
Outside a purely academic discourse, public interest mainly concerns
the relationship between
Nazism and Occultism, and between
Christianity. The interest in the first relationship is obvious from
the modern popular myth of Nazi occultism. The persistent idea that
Nazis were directed by occult agencies has been dismissed by
historians as modern cryptohistory. The interest in the second
relationship is obvious from the debate about Adolf Hitler's religious
views--specifically, whether he was a
Christian or not.
Nazism and occultism
There are many works that speculate about National Socialism and
occultism, the most prominent being The Morning of the Magicians
(1960) and The Spear of Destiny (1972). From the perspective of
academic history, however, most of these works are "cryptohistory".
Notable exceptions are Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab (The man who
gave Hitler the ideas) by
Wilfried Daim (1957), Urania's children by
Ellic Howe (1967) and The
Occult Establishment by James Webb
(1976). Aside from these works, historians did not consider the
question until the 1980s. Due to the popular literature on the topic,
"Nazi 'black magic' was regarded as a topic for sensational authors in
pursuit of strong sales." In the 1980s, two Ph.D. theses were
written about the topic.
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke published The Occult
Nazism (1985) based on his thesis, and the German librarian
and historian Ulrich Hunger's thesis on rune-lore in
Nazi Germany (Die
Runenkunde im Dritten Reich) was published in the series Europäische
Hochschulschriften (also 1985).
Goodrick-Clarke's book The
Occult Roots... is not only considered
"without exception" to be the pioneering work on Ariosophy, but
also the "definitive book" on the topic. The term 'Ariosophy'
refers to an esoteric movement in Germany and Austria of the 1900s to
1930s. It clearly falls under Goodrick-Clarke's definition of
occultism, as it obviously drew on the western esoteric tradition.
Ideologically, it was remarkably similar to Nazism. According to
Goodrick-Clarke, the Ariosophists wove occult ideas into the völkisch
ideology that existed in Germany and Austria at the time.
Ariosophy shared the racial awareness of völkisch ideology, but
also drew upon a notion of root races, postulating locations such as
Hyperborea as the original homeland of the Aryan
race (and its "purest" branch, the
Teutons or Germanic peoples). The
Ariosophic writings described a glorious ancient Germanic past, in
which an elitist priesthood "expounded occult-racist doctrines and
ruled over a superior and racially pure society." The downfall of
this imaginary golden age was explained as the result of the
interbreeding between the master race and the untermenschen (lesser
races). The "abstruse ideas and weird cults [of Ariosophy] anticipated
the political doctrines and institutions of the Third Reich"
writes Goodrick-Clarke in the introduction to his book, motivating the
phrase "occult roots of Nazism"; direct influences, however, are
sparse. With the exception of Karl Maria Wiligut, Goodrick-Clarke
has not found evidence that prominent Ariosophists directly influenced
Goodrick-Clarke considers the "Nazi crusade [as] ... essentially
religious". His follow-up book Black Sun:
Aryan Cults, Esoteric
Nazism and the Politics of Identity examined 'ariosophic' ideas after
1945 and 'neo-völkisch movements'.
Nazism and Christianity
German Christians and German Evangelical Church
Nazi Germany had surrendered in World War II, the U.S. Office of
Strategic Services published a report on the Nazi Master Plan of the
Persecution of the
Christian Churches. Historians and theologians
generally agree about the Nazi policy towards religion, that the
objective was to remove explicitly Jewish content from the Bible
(i.e., the Old Testament, the Gospel of Matthew, and the Pauline
Epistles), transforming the
Christian faith into a new religion,
completely cleansed from any Jewish element and conciliate it with
Nazism, Völkisch ideology and Führerprinzip: a religion called
Alfred Rosenberg was influential in the development of Positive
Christianity. In The Myth of the Twentieth Century, he wrote that:
Saint Paul was responsible for the destruction of the racial values
from Greek and Roman culture;
the dogma of hell advanced in the
Middle Ages destroyed the free
original sin and grace are
Oriental ideas that corrupt the purity and
strength of Nordic blood;
Old Testament and the Jewish race are not an exception and one
should return to the Nordic peoples' fables and legends;
Jesus was not Jewish, but had Nordic blood from his
Nazi Party program of 1920 included a statement on religion as
point 24. In this statement, the
Nazi party demands freedom of
religion (for all religious denominations that are not opposed to the
customs and moral sentiments of the Germanic race); the paragraph
proclaims the party's endorsement of Positive Christianity. Historians
have described this statement as "a tactical measure, 'cleverly' left
undefined in order to accommodate a broad range of meanings," and
an "ambiguous phraseology." However,
Richard Steigmann-Gall in The
Holy Reich holds that, on closer examination, "Point 24 readily
provides us with three key ideas in which the
Nazis claimed that their
movement was Christian": the movement's antisemitism, its social
ethic under the phrase Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz (roughly: "public need
before private greed") and its attempt to bridge the confessional
divide between Catholicism and Protestantism in Germany.
This is a topic of some controversy. Conway holds that The Holy Reich
has broken new ground in the examination of the relation between
Nazism and Christianity, despite his view that "
Christianity were incompatible." Conway claims that Steigmann-Gall
"is undeniably right to point out how much
Nazism owed to German
Christian" concepts and only considers his conclusion as
The virulent antisemitism of Martin Luther has been identified as an
inspiration for Nazism. However, according to the theologian Johannes
Wallmann, Luther's views exercised no continual influence in
Germany, and Hans J. Hillerbrand claimed that the focus on
Luther's influence on Nazism's anti-Semitism ignored other factors in
Nazis were aided by theologians, such as Dr. Ernst Bergmann.
Bergmann, in his work, Die 25 Thesen der Deutschreligion (Twenty-five
Points of the German Religion), expounded the theory that the Old
Testament and portions of the New Testament of the Bible were
inaccurate. He proposed that
Jesus was of
Aryan origin, and that Adolf
Hitler was the new messiah.
The religious beliefs of leading Nazis
Within a large movement like Nazism, "it may not be especially
shocking to discover" that individuals could embrace different
ideological systems that would seem to be polar opposites. The
religious beliefs of even the leading
Nazis diverged strongly.
The difficulty for historians lies in the task of evaluating not only
the public, but also the private statements of the Nazi politicians.
Steigmann-Gall, who intended to do this in his study, points to such
Erich Koch (who was not only Gauleiter of East Prussia and
Reichskomissar for the Ukraine, but also the elected praeses of the
East Prussian provincial synod of the Evangelical Church of the
old-Prussian Union) and Bernhard Rust as examples of Nazi
politicians who also professed to be
Christian in private.
Adolf Hitler's religious views
Main article: Adolf Hitler's religious views
Adolf Hitler's religious views
Adolf Hitler's religious views are a difficult case. On the one hand
he had been in contact with Lanz von Liebenfels; on the other hand he
made definite remarks against the völkisch occultism in Mein Kampf
and in public speeches.
Since 1957, when the Austrian psychologist
Wilfried Daim published the
important study on Lanz von Liebenfels, enough evidence exists to
say that Hitler had been exposed to the Ariosophic
Vienna. However, it is not clear to what extent he was influenced by
it. In the research into this question,
Mein Kampf has even been
compared to Liebenfels' Theozoologie in detail. According to an
online article from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the influence of
Gnostic and root race teachings of H.P. Blavatsky,
the founder of Theosophy, and the adaptations of her ideas by her
followers, constituted a popularly unacknowledged but decisive
influence over Hitler's developing mind.
According to Goodrick-Clarke,
Rudolf Hess had been a member of the
Thule Society before attaining prominence in the Nazi party. As
Adolf Hitler's official deputy, Hess had also been attracted to and
influenced by the biodynamic agriculture of
Rudolf Steiner and
Anthroposophy. In the wake of his flight to Scotland, Reinhard
Heydrich, the head of the security police, banned lodge organizations
and esoteric groups on 9 June 1941. When organic farmers and their
supporters – and even nudists – were arrested,
Richard Walther Darré
Richard Walther Darré protested to Himmler and
Heydrich, "despite a letter from Bormann, warning Darré that Hitler
was behind the arrests."
However, the suppression of esoteric organisations began very soon
Nazis acquired governmental power. This also affected
ariosophic authors and organisations: "One of the most important early
Germanic racialists, Lanz von Liebenfels, had his writings banned in
1938 while other occultist racialists were banned as early as
Thule Society and the origins of the Nazi Party
Thule Society, which is remotely connected to the origins of the
Nazi Party, was one of the ariosophic groups of the late 1910s.
Thule Gesellschaft had initially been the name of the
Munich branch of
Germanenorden Walvater of the Holy Grail, a lodge-based
organisation which was built up by
Rudolf von Sebottendorff
Rudolf von Sebottendorff in
1917. For this task he had received about a hundred addresses of
potential members in Bavaria from Hermann Pohl, and from 1918 he was
also supported by Walter Nauhaus. According to an account by
Sebottendorff, the Bavarian province of the
Germanenorden Walvater had
200 members in spring 1918, which had risen to 1500 in autumn 1918, of
these 250 in Munich. Five rooms, capable of accommodating 300
people, were leased from the fashionable Hotel Vierjahreszeiten ('Four
Munich and decorated with the
Thule emblem showing a
dagger superimposed on a swastika. Since the lodge's ceremonial
activities were accompanied by overtly right-wing meetings, the name
Thule Gesellschaft was adopted to arouse less attention from
socialists and pro-Republicans.
Aryan race and lost lands
Thule Society took its name from Thule, an alleged lost land.
Sebottendorff identified Ultima
Thule as Iceland. In the Armanism
of Guido von List, to which Sebottendorff made distinct
references, it was believed that the
Aryan race had originated
from the apocryphal lost continent of
Atlantis and taken refuge in
Atlantis had been deluged and sunk under the
Hyperborea was also mentioned by Guido von List, with direct
references to the theosophic author William Scott-Elliot.
In The Myth of the Twentieth Century, the most important Nazi book
after Mein Kampf,
Alfred Rosenberg referred to
Atlantis as a lost land
or at least to an
Aryan cultural center. Since Rosenberg had
attended meetings of the
Thule Society, he might have been familiar
with the occult speculation about lost lands; however, according to
Lutzhöft (1971), Rosenberg drew on the work of Herman Wirth. The
attribution of the
Urheimat of the
Nordic race to a deluged land was
very appealing at that time.
Formation of DAP and NSDAP
In the autumn of 1918 Sebottendorff attempted to extend the appeal of
Thule Society's nationalist ideology to people from a
working-class background. He entrusted the
Munich sports reporter Karl
Harrer with the formation of a workers' club, called the Deutscher
Arbeiterverein ('German workers' club') or Politischer Arbeiterzirkel
('Political workers' ring'). The most active member of this club
was Anton Drexler. Drexler urged the foundation of a political
party, and on 5 January 1919 the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP, German
Workers' Party) was formally founded. When
Adolf Hitler first
encountered the DAP on 12 September 1919, Sebottendorff had already
Thule Society (in June 1919). By the end of February
1920, Hitler had transformed the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei into the
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP or National
Socialist German Workers’ Party). Apparently, meetings of the
Thule Society continued until 1923. A certain Johannes Hering kept a
diary of these meetings; it mentions the attendance of other Nazi
leaders between 1920 and 1923, but not Hitler.
That the origins of the
Nazi Party can be traced to the lodge
organisation of the
Thule Society is fact. However, there were only
two points in which the NSDAP was a successor to the
One is the use of the swastika. Friedrich Krohn, who was responsible
for the colour scheme of the Nazi flag, had been a member of the Thule
Society and also of the
Germanenorden since 1913. Goodrick-Clarke
concludes that the origins of the Nazi symbol can be traced back
through the emblems of the
Thule Society and the
ultimately to Guido von List, but it is not evident that the
Thulean ideology filtered through the DAP into the NSDAP.
Goodrick-Clarke implies that ariosophical ideas were of no
consequence: "the DAP line was predominantly one of extreme political
and social nationalism, and not based on the Aryan-racist-occult
pattern of the
Thule Society]". Godwin
summarises the differences in outlook which separated the Thule
Society from the direction taken by the Nazis:
"Hitler...had little time for the whole
Thule business, once it had
carried him where he needed to be...he could see the political
worthlessness of paganism [i.e., what Goodrick-Clarke would describe
as the racist-occult complex of Ariosophy] in
Neither did the Führer's plans for his Thousand-year Reich have any
room whatever for the heady love of individual liberty with which the
Thuleans romantically endowed their Nordic ancestors."
The other point in which the NSDAP continued the activities of the
Thule Society is in the publication of the newspaper Völkischer
Beobachter. Originally, the Beobachter ("Observer") had been a minor
weekly newspaper of the eastern suburbs of Munich, published since
1868. After the death of its last publisher in June 1918, the
paper ceased publication, until Sebottendorff bought it one month
later. He renamed it Münchener Beobachter und Sportsblatt
Munich Observer and Sports Paper") and wrote "trenchant
anti-Semitic" editorials for it. After Sebottendorff left Munich,
the paper was converted into a limited liability company. By December
1920, all its shares were in the hands of Anton Drexler, who
transferred the ownership of the paper to Hitler in November 1921.
Its connection with
Nazism has made the
Thule Society a popular
subject of modern cryptohistory. Among other things, it is hinted that
Karl Haushofer and
G. I. Gurdjieff
G. I. Gurdjieff were connected to the Society,
but this theory is completely unsustainable.
In January 1933 Sebottendorff published Bevor Hitler kam: Urkundlich
aus der Frühzeit der Nationalsozialistischen Bewegung ("Before Hitler
Came: Documents from the Early Days of the National Socialist
Movement"). Nazi authorities (Hitler himself?) understandably disliked
the book, which was banned in the following year. Sebottendorff was
arrested but managed to flee to Turkey.
Heinrich Himmler and the SS
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See also: Gottgläubig
Heinrich Himmler: "We believe in a God Almighty who stands above us;
he has created the earth, the Fatherland, and the Volk, and he has
sent us the Führer. Any human being who does not believe in God
should be considered arrogant, megalomaniacal, and stupid and thus not
suited for the SS."
Credited retrospectively with being the founder of "Esoteric
Hitlerism", and certainly a figure of major importance for the
officially sanctioned research and practice of mysticism by a Nazi
Heinrich Himmler who, more than any other
high official in the
Third Reich (including Hitler) was fascinated by
Aryan (i.e., broader than Germanic) racialism. Himmler's capacity
for rational planning was accompanied by an "enthusiasm for the
utopian, the romantic and even the occult."
It also seems that Himmler had an interest in astrology. He consulted
Wilhelm Wulff in the last weeks of the Second World
War. (One detailed but difficult source for this is a book written
by Wulff himself, Tierkreis und Hakenkreuz, published in Germany in
Walter Schellenberg had discovered an astrologer called
Wulf is mentioned in Hugh Trevor-Roper's The Last Days of Hitler.)
In Bramwell's assessment: "Too much can be made of the importance of
bizarre cultism in Himmler's activities...but it did exist, and was
one of the reasons behind the split between Himmler and Darré that
took place in the late 1930s." Although Himmler did not have any
contact with the
Thule Society, he possessed more occult tendencies
than any other Nazi leader. The German journalist and historian
Heinz Höhne, an authority on the SS, explicitly describes Himmler's
views about reincarnation as occultism.
The historic example which Himmler used in practice as the model for
the SS was the Society of Jesus, since Himmler found in the Jesuits
what he perceived to be the core element of any order, the doctrine of
obedience and the cult of the organisation. The evidence for this
largely rests on a statement from
Walter Schellenberg in his memoirs
(Cologne, 1956, p. 39), but Hitler is also said to have called
Himmler "my Ignatius of Loyola". As an order, the SS needed a
coherent doctrine that would set it apart. Himmler attempted to
construct such an ideology, and to this purpose he deduced a
"pseudo-Germanic tradition" from history. However, this attempt
was not entirely successful. Höhne observes that "Himmler's neo-pagan
customs remained primarily a paper exercise".
In a 1936 memorandum, Himmler set forth a list of approved holidays
based on pagan and political precedents and meant to wean SS members
from their reliance on
Christian festivities. The Winter Solstice,
or Yuletide, was the climax of the year. It brought SS folk together
at candlelit banquet tables and around raging bonfires that harked
back to German tribal rites.
Julleuchter (Yule light) was made as a presentation piece
for SS officers to celebrate the winter solstice. It was later given
to all SS members on the same occasion, December 21. Made of unglazed
Julleuchter was decorated with early pagan Germanic
symbols. Himmler said, “I would have every family of a married SS
man to be in possession of a Julleuchter. Even the wife will, when she
has left the myths of the church find something else which her heart
and mind can embrace.”
Only adherents of theories of
Nazi occultism or the few former SS
members who were, after the war, participants in the
Landig Group in
Vienna would claim that the cultic activities within the SS would
amount to its own mystical religion. At the time of his death in 1986,
Rudolf J. Mund was working on a book on the Germanic 'original
race-cult religion', however, what was indoctrinated into the SS is
not known in detail.
In 1935 Himmler, along with Darré, established the Ahnenerbe. At
first independent, it became the ancestral heritage branch of the SS.
Headed by Dr. Hermann Wirth, it was dedicated primarily to
archaeological research, but it was also involved in proving the
superiority of the '
Aryan race' and in occult practices.[citation
A great deal of time and resources were spent on researching or
creating a popularly accepted “historical”, “cultural” and
“scientific” background so the ideas about a “superior” Aryan
race could be publicly accepted. For example, an expedition to Tibet
was organized to search for the origins of the "
Aryan race". To
this end, the expedition leader, Ernst Schäfer, had his
Bruno Beger make face masks and skull and nose
measurements. Another expedition was sent to the Andes.
Bramwell, however, comments that Himmler "is supposed to have sent a
party of SS men to
Tibet in order to search for Shangri-La, an
expedition which is more likely to have had straightforward espionage
as its purpose".
Das Schwarze Korps
The official newspaper of SS was
Das Schwarze Korps
Das Schwarze Korps ("The Black
Corps"), published weekly from 1935 to 1945. In its first issue, the
newspaper published an article on the origins of the Nordic race,
hypothesizing a location near the
North Pole similar to the theory of
Hermann Wirth (but not mentioning Atlantis).
Also in 1935, the SS journal commissioned a Professor of Germanic
History, Heinar Schilling, to prepare a series of articles on ancient
Germanic life. As a result, a book containing these articles and
entitled Germanisches Leben was published by Koehler & Amelung of
Leipzig with the approval of the SS and Reich Government in 1937.
Three chapters dealt with the religion of the German people over three
periods: nature worship and the cult of the ancestors, the sun
religion of the Late Bronze Age, and the cult of the gods.
According to Heinar Schilling, the
Germanic peoples of the Late Bronze
Age had adopted a four-spoke wheel as symbolic of the sun "and this
symbol has been developed into the modern swastika of our own society
[i.e., Nazi Germany] which represents the sun." Under the sign of the
swastika "the light bringers of the
Nordic race overran the lands of
the dark inferior races, and it was no coincidence that the most
powerful expression of the Nordic world was found in the sign of the
swastika". Very little had been preserved of the ancient rites,
Professor Schilling continued, but it was a striking fact "that in
many German Gaue today on Sonnenwendtage (solstice days) burning sun
wheels are rolled from mountain tops down into the valleys below, and
almost everywhere the Sonnenwendfeuer (solstice fires) burn on those
days." He concluded by saying that "The Sun is the All-Highest to the
Children of the Earth".
Cultic activities within the SS
The SS-Castle Wewelsburg
Himmler has been claimed to have considered himself the spiritual
successor or even reincarnation of Heinrich the Fowler, having
established special SS rituals for the old king and having returned
his bones to the crypt at
Quedlinburg Cathedral. Himmler even had his
personal quarters at
Wewelsburg castle decorated in commemoration of
Heinrich the Fowler. The way the SS redesigned the castle referred to
certain characters in the Grail-mythos (see The "SS-School House
Himmler had visited the
Wewelsburg on 3 November 1933 and April 1934;
the SS took official possession of it in August 1934. The
Karl Maria Wiligut (known in the SS under the pseudonym
'Weisthor') accompanied Himmler on his visits to the castle.
Wewelsburg was intended to be a museum and officer's
college for ideological education within the SS, but it was
subsequently placed under the direct control of the office of the
Reichsführer SS (Himmler) in February 1935. The impetus for the
change of the conception most likely came from Wiligut.
SS-Officers in Argentina
There are some accounts of SS officers celebrating solstices,
apparently attempting to recreate a pagan ritual. In his book El
Cuarto Lado del Triangulo (Sudamericana 1995), Professor Ronald Newton
describes a number of occasions when a Sonnenwendfeier occurred in
Argentina. When SS-Sturmbannführer Baron von Thermann (Edmund
Freiherr von Thermann, German WP), the new head of the German
Legation, arrived in December 1933, one of his first public
engagements was to attend the NSDAP Sonnenwendfeier at the house of
Vicente Lopez in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, "a neo-pagan festival
with torches in which the Argentine
Nazis greeted the winter and
summer solstices". At another in December 1937, 500 young people,
Hitler Youth and Hitler Maidens, were taken to a natural
amphitheatre dominating the sea at
Comodoro Rivadavia in the south of
the country. "They lit great pillars of wood, and in the light of the
flickering flames diverse NSDAP orators lectured the children on the
origins of the ceremony and sang the praises of the (Nazis) Fallen for
Liberty. In March 1939 the pupils at the German School in Rosario were
the celebrants on an island in the
Paraná River opposite the city:
Hitler Youth flags, trumpets, a rustic altar straight from Germanic
mythology, young leaders enthroned with solemnity to the accompaniment
of choral singing...the Creole witnesses shook their heads in
incredulity..." In the Chaco in the north of Argentina the first great
event promoted by the
Nazis was the Sonnenwendfeier at Charata on 21
December 1935. Portentous discourses of fire alternated with choral
renderings". Such activities continued in Argentina after the war. Uki
Goñi in his book The Real Odessa (Granta, 2003) describes how Jacques
de Mahieu, a wanted SS war criminal, was "a regular speaker at the
pagan solar solstice celebrations held by fugitive
Nazis in postwar
Occultists working for the SS
Karl Maria Wiligut
Of all the SS personnel,
Karl Maria Wiligut could be best described as
a Nazi occultist. The (first?) biography of him, written by Rudolf J.
Mund, was titled: Himmler's Rasputin (German: Der Rasputin
Himmlers, not translated into English). After his retirement from the
Austrian military, Wiligut had been active in the 'ariosophic' milieu.
Ariosophy was only one of the threads of Esotericism in Germany and
Austria during this time. When he was involuntarily committed to the
Salzburg mental asylum between November 1924 and early 1927, he
received support from several other occultists. Wiligut was
clearly sympathetic to the Nazi Revolution of January 1933. When
he was introduced to Himmler by an old friend who had become an SS
officer, he got the opportunity to join the SS under the pseudonym
'Weisthor'. He was appointed head of the Department for Pre- and
Early history within the Race and Settlement Main Office (Rasse- and
Siedlungshauptamt, RuSHA) of the SS. His bureau could (much more
than the Ahnenerbe) be described as the occult department of the SS:
Wiligut's main duty appears "to have consisted in committing examples
of his ancestral memory to paper." Wiligut's work for the SS also
included the design of the
Totenkopfring (death's head ring) that was
worn by SS members. He is even supposed to have designed a chair
for Himmler; at least, this chair and its covers are offered for sale
on the Internet.
The Fortress of
Montségur from the 16th century. The castle that has
been linked to the legend of the Holy Grail was destroyed in 1244
Otto Rahn had written a book Kreuzzug gegen den Gral "Crusade against
the Grail" in 1933. In May 1935 he joined the Ahnenerbe; in March
1936 he formally joined the SS. "In September 1935 Rahn wrote
excitedly to Weisthor [Karl Maria Wiligut] about the places he was
visiting in his hunt for grail traditions in Germany, asking complete
confidence in the matter with the exception of Himmler." In 1936
Rahn undertook a journey for the SS to Iceland, and in 1937 he
published his travel journal of his quest for the Gnostic-Cathar
tradition across Europe in a book titled Luzifers Hofgesinde
"Lucifer's Servants". From this book he gave at least one reading,
before an "extraordinarily large" audience. An article about this
lecture was published in the Westfälische Landeszeitung "Westphalia
County Paper", which was an official Nazi newspaper.
Rahn's connection of the Cathars with the Holy Grail ultimately leads
Montségur in France, which had been the last remaining fortress of
the Cathars in France during the Middle Ages. According to
eyewitnesses, Nazi archaeologists and military officers were present
at that castle.
Gregor Schwartz-Bostunitsch was a radical author with German-Ukrainian
ancestry. An active agitator against the Bolshevik Revolution, he
fled his native Russia in 1920 and travelled widely in eastern Europe,
making contact with Bulgarian Theosophists and probably with G.I.
Gurdjieff. As a mystical anti-communist, he developed an
unshakeable belief in the Jewish-Masonic world conspiracy portrayed in
the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In 1922 he published his
Freemasonry and the Russian Revolution, and emigrated to
Germany in the same year. He became an enthusiastic convert to
Anthroposophy in 1923, but by 1929 he had repudiated it as yet another
agent of the conspiracy. Meanwhile, he had begun to give lectures
for the Ariosophical Society and was a contributor to Georg
Lomer's originally Theosophical (and later, neopagan) periodical
entitled Asgard: A Fighting Sheet for the Gods of the Homeland. He
also worked for Alfred Rosenberg's news agency during the 1920s before
joining the SS. He lectured widely on conspiracy theories and was
appointed an honorary SS professor in 1942, but was barred from
lecturing in uniform because of his unorthodox views. In 1944 he
was promoted to
SS-Standartenführer on Himmler's recommendation.
^ "Semi-religious beliefs in a race of
Aryan god-men, the needful
extermination of inferiors, and an idealized millennial future of
German world-domination obsessed Hitler, Himmler and many other
high-ranking Nazi leaders." Goodrick-Clarke, 1985, 203
^ Goodrick-Clarke 2004: vi.
Albert Camus 1951, L'Homme révolté (in French), Gallimard, pp.
17f, 222, 227f.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 218
^ Some examples from the discussion on the Internet:
The Straight Dope - was Hitler Christian?
Kevin Davidson, "Was Hitler a Christian?"
Adolf Hitler - Christian, Atheist, or Neither?
Hitler's religious beliefs and fanaticism
Religious Affiliation of Adolf Hitler
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1985)
^ Urania's children and The
Occult Establishment are mentioned
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1985: 225).
^ Goodrick-Clarke 2004: vi.
^ a b As mentioned, preface of the German Edition (2004), written by
H. T. Hakl
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 5
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 4.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 2.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 1.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 177.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 203.
^ "The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the
in Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, Installment No. 1, Posted:
^ Kathleen Harvill-Burton, Le nazisme comme religion. Quatre
théologiens déchiffrent le code religieux nazi (1932-1945), 2006,
^ Bernard Raymond, Une église à croix gammée, L'Age d'homme,
^ Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century
^ a b Steigmannn-Gall 2003: 14.
^ John S. Conway (1968), The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, p. 5
^ a b c Review by John S. Conway, H-Net
^ Wallmann, Johannes. "The Reception of Luther's Writings on the Jews
from the Reformation to the End of the 19th Century", Lutheran
Quarterly, n.s. 1, Spring 1987, 1:72-97
^ Hillerbrand, Hans J. "Martin Luther," Encyclopædia Britannica,
2007. Hillerbrand writes: "His strident pronouncements against the
Jews, especially toward the end of his life, have raised the question
of whether Luther significantly encouraged the development of German
anti-Semitism. Although many scholars have taken this view, this
perspective puts far too much emphasis on Luther and not enough on the
larger peculiarities of German history."
^ McNab 2009, p. 182.
^ Steigmannn-Gall 2003: 1.
^ see: Steigmann-Gall 2003: 122
^ W. Daim: Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab, 1. Edition 1957, 2.
rev. ed. 1985, 3. rev. ed. 1994
^ Harald Strohm, Gnosis und Nationalsozialismus, 1997, p.46-52
^ Jackson Spielvogel and David Redles: Hitler's Racial Ideology:
^ Goodrick-Clarke 2003: 114. Note that Goodrick-Clarke had previously
(1985: 149) maintained that Hess was no more than a guest to whom the
Thule Society extended hospitality during the Bavarian revolution of
^ Bramwell 1985: 175, 177.
^ a b Bramwell 1985: 178.
^ Bramwell 1985: 42.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 135-152 (chapter 11, "Rudolf von Sebottendorff
^ a b Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 142.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 143.
^ a b Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 144.
^ a b Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 145.
^ See: Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 145.
^ See: Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 54.
^ Strohm 1997: 57.
^ a b Hans Jürgen Lutzhöft (1971):Der Nordische Gedanke in
Deutschland 1920-1940. (in German) Stuttgart. Ernst Klett Verlag, p.
^ a b c d e Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 150.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 150, 201.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 201; Johannes Hering, Beiträge zur Geschichte
der Thule-Gesellschaft, typescript dated June 21, 1939, Bundesarchiv,
^ a b Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 151.
^ Godwin 1996: 57.
^ a b c Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 146.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 147; Sebottendorff, Bevor Hitler kam, (in
German) (Munich, 1934), p. 194f
Thule Gesellshaft (sic)
^ Ziegler, Herbert F. (2014). Nazi Germany's New Aristocracy: The SS
Leadership, 1925-1939. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Press. p. 85–87. ISBN 9781400860364. Retrieved 23 January
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 178; Joachim C. Fest, The Face of the Third
Reich (London, 1970); pp.111-24; Bradley F. Smith, Heinrich Himmler: a
Nazi in the making 1900-26 (Stanford, Calif., 1971); Josef Ackermann,
Heinrich Himmler als Ideologie (Göttingen, 1970) (in German)
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 165; Wilhelm Th. H. Wulff, 1968, Tierkreis und
^ a b Bramwell 1985: 90.
^ Hakl 1997:201
^ Höhne 1966: 145
^ Höhne 1966: 135.
^ Höhne 1966: 135; Gerald Reitlinger, The SS (German Edition), p. 64.
^ Höhne 1966: 146.
^ Höhne 1969: 138, 143-5, 156-57.
^ a b Time/Life book "The
Third Reich - The SS"
^ SS Porcelain Allach by Michael Passmore & Tony Oliver 1972
^ Harald Strohm, Gnosis und Nationalsozialismus, 1997, p. 89
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 178
^ See Himmler's Crusade by Christopher Hale.
^ Lutzhöft 1977:115; W. Petersen: Woher kommt die Nordrasse?, in: Das
Schwarze Korps, Year 1, Issue 1, 1/2/1935, p.11.
^ Höhne 1966: 145; Achim Besgen, Der Stille Befehl (in German)
(Munich, 1960), p. 76.
^ a b c d Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 186.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 285
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 182
^ a b c d Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 183.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 177
^ The great Chair of Heinrich Himmler
^ Genuine Leather Covers from Heinrich Himmler's SS-Castle Wewelsburg
^ a b c Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 189.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 189; Rahn to Weisthor, Letter dated 27
September 1935, Bundesarchiv, Koblenz, Himmler Nachlass 19.
^ German: Westfälische Landeszeitung – Rote Erde
^ A copy of this article by a certain Dr. Wolff. Heinrichsdorff,
"Westfälische Landeszeitung", January 9, 1938, is available on the
pages of the Working group of Nazi Memorial centres in
Northrhine-Westphalia  (in German) an English translation can be
found on the internet: NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF A SPEECH BY OTTO RAHN SS;
This article could also be verified by consulting the microform
edition available in some German libraries
^ Strohm 1997, 99; Strohm refers to René Nelli, Die Katharer, p.21
^ a b Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 169.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 169-170.
^ a b c d e Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 170.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 170-171.
^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985: 162.
Anna Bramwell. 1985. Blood and Soil:
Richard Walther Darré
Richard Walther Darré and
Hitler's 'Green Party'. Abbotsbrook, England: The Kensal Press.
Carrie B. Dohe. Race and Religion in Analytical Psychology. London:
Routledge, 2016. ISBN 978-1138888401
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. 1985. The
Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret
Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology: The Ariosophists of
Austria and Germany, 1890-1935. Wellingborough, England: The Aquarian
Press. ISBN 0-85030-402-4. (Several reprints.) Expanded with a
new Preface, 2004, I.B. Tauris & Co. ISBN 1-86064-973-4
———. 2002. Black Sun:
Nazism and the
Politics of Identity. New York University Press.
ISBN 0-8147-3124-4. (Paperback, 2003. ISBN 0-8147-3155-4)
H. T. Hakl. 1997: Nationalsozialismus und Okkultismus. (in German) In:
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke: Die okkulten Wurzeln des
Nationalsozialismus. Graz, Austria: Stocker (German edition of The
Occult Roots of Nazism)
Heinz Höhne. 1966. Der Orden unter dem Totenkopf. Verlag Der Spiegel.
(in German); 1969. The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of
Hitler's SS. Martin Secker & Warburg. (in English)
Richard Steigmann-Gall. 2003: The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of
Christianity, 1919-1945. Cambridge University Press.
Harald Strohm. 1997. Die Gnosis und der Nationalsozialismus. (in
Karla O. Poewe. 2005. New Religions and the Nazis, London: Routledge.
Occult History of the Third Reich
Nazism and religion
Protestant Reich Church
Faith And Thought in
Nazi Germany - Kolnai, Aurel, The War Against the
Occult Roots of
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke - Short article
Magic Realism - A book review by William Main of The
Occult Roots of
Nazism, taken from the December 1994 issue of Fidelity magazine
Nationalsozialismus und Okkultismus? Die Thule-Gesellschaft (in
German) Article on an information page from the Swiss Reformed Church
NARA Research Room: Captured German and Related Records on Microform
in the National Archives: Captured German Records Filmed at Berlin
(American Historical Association, 1960). Microfilm Publication T580.
1,002 rolls, including among, others, files of the
Ahnenerbe and the
Nachlass of Walter Darré.
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