The ChurchinHistory Information Centre
‘CHURCHinHISTORY’ endeavours to make information regarding the involvement of the Church in history more easily available.
For over half a century, Communists asserted that the Catholic Church was a supporter of Hitler. This intense and slanderous propaganda was not without some success. It established in many minds a vague feeling that Catholic culture provided a fertile soil for Nazism and that the Church did little to prevent its development. Some may even believe that the Church encouraged Hitler's movement, and various anti-Catholic sects are trying to keep this myth alive. In order to refute these accusations it is necessary to examine the roots of this evil creed.
Nazism did not appear suddenly from the pen of Adolf Hitler. It was preceded by several philosophical, political and cultural movements, which had been growing for many years. They were: eugenics, occultism, the Volkischer Movement, Pan-Germanism, anti-Catholicism, German anti-Semitism, Russian anti-Semitism, Wagnerian drama and the Thurle Society. Hitler emerged onto the scene of history just as these forces had coalesced, and when a gifted leader could transform them into a political programme. As they developed, they influenced and entwined with one another, but for clarity they will be considered here separately.
In 1798 Malthus, an English scientist, published ‘An Essay on The Principles of Population’. He claimed that if the living standards of the poor were improved, while famine, disease and wars were reduced, the population would increase faster than food supplies, so causing a social and economic catastrophe. Such thinking did much to discourage social reform in the 19th century. Some years later, another Englishman, Charles Darwin, propounded the theory of evolution based on the principle of ‘natural selection’.
In 1869 Francis Galton, an English psychologist who had rejected Christianity ((DJK 12)), published ‘Hereditary Genius’, in which he claimed that intelligence was inherited. His ‘Enquiries into the Human Faculty’ of 1883, transferred this theory to whole races. He wrote that the inferiority of the Negroes made him ‘Ashamed of my own species’. ((RH 113)). Galton called his new science ‘Eugenics’.
By this he meant the science of improving the human stock by giving ‘the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable.’ ((DJK ix)). Towards the end of his life, he supported state action to prevent the birth of ‘degenerates’ ((DJK 91)). His own marriage was childless due, he thought, to his venereal disease ((DJK 9-12)).
Yet another Englishman, Herbert Spencer, argued that nature used ‘Survival of the fittest’ as her way of perfecting humanity, and considered most racial mixing to be bad for the human race. Darwin agreed that ‘Survival of the fittest’ was a better term than his own ‘natural selection’. From these theories a school of thought called ‘Social Darwinism’ developed.
During this same period, Joseph Gobineau published ‘Essays on The Inequality of The Human Races’. He wrote of an aristocratic Aryan race, ‘A branch of the white race which had originally possessed the monopoly of beauty, intelligence and strength.’ ((MDB 139)). According to Gobineau, these Aryans ‘had been mainly responsible for building civilisations.’ ((MDB 142-4)). The Negro and the Yellow peoples had produced nothing. Even the Chinese civilisation had been created by a small band of Aryans from India ((MDB 142-4)). The Aryan inheritance in Europe was now in danger of being swamped by inferior non-Aryans, which he identified as the less intelligent, irresponsible poor. Although he tried to avoid provoking Christian society he doubted whether Adam was more than the ancestor of the white race ((MDB 99)). He included the Jews within the white race, but considered their general effect to be degenerate ((MDB 138)). He held 'the glorious noble race of Brahmins’ in great admiration ((MDB 139)). ‘The caste system of the Brahmins, not the classless society of Marx, was to him harmonious.’ ((MDB 122)). His views were generally ignored in his own country of France, but ‘Gobineau Associations’ were formed In Germany.
c. The Volkischer and Pan-German Movements
Although German speakers ruled the Austrian Empire, demographic trends and the occupation of Bosnia in 1873 led to fears amongst the German minority ((NGC 8)). When moves towards democracy were made, the privileged position of their language and culture came under threat. Volkisch groups were formed to promote German national consciousness by means of folk festivals, choral singing, sports events and mountaineering clubs. As cultural activities these had a positive influence. But stress on Germanic superiority, and the introduction of volkischer rituals, led to governmental restrictions so as to prevent racial clashes ((NGC 9)).
The Liberal Party, which was anti-Catholic, advocated centralism and German domination ((MH 167)), but the Church supported the rights of non-Germans to equality. This brought Her into conflict, not only with the Liberals, but also with many of the Volkisch groups. The Volkisch Movement became increasingly anti-Catholic. The word ‘Volkisch’ came to signify a sense of nationalism and racial purity combined with a romantic notion of the collective genius of the common people ((DLN 46)).
The German speaking Catholic Party in Austria proposed decentralisation and social reform, and in 1879 formed a coalition administration with the parties representing the non-German minorities ((MH 167)). Equality was granted for the use of non-German languages, but talk of universal male suffrage led to riots, splits within the army and fear of civil war.
Some Volkisch leaders realised that the move towards democracy could not be held back indefinitely, so advocated the breaking-up of the Empire with the German speaking areas forming a union (Anschluss) with Germany. George Ritter von Schoenerer established the Pan-German Movement to achieve this. To justify the claim for union on cultural, historical and racial criteria, he stressed the ‘spiritual’ union of all German people. Bismarck's attempt between 1871-1888 to subjugate the Catholic Church in Germany (The Kulturkampf), deepened the antagonism between Pan-Germans and Catholics. Schoenerer saw the religious divide as a major obstacle to his Pan-German vision, so launched the ‘Los Von Rom’ (Away From Rome) movement in 1898. This persuaded 30,000 Catholics, mainly in the ethnic border districts, to become Protestants ((NGC 12 and 40)). Being a political act, symbolising loyalty to the German race and a rejection of the multl-racial policy of the Catholics ((NGC 40)), these ‘converts’ were of little use to the Protestant churches ((NGC 12)).
d. The Occult
During the 19th Century there was a rejection of Christianity throughout Europe. Materialism became popular and was expressed politically by Marxism. A small minority of ex-Christians, sensing a spiritual vacuum, rejected materialism and saw industrial society as being ugly and threatening. For these, occultism had an appeal. Many people understand the word ‘occult’ to signify Satanism, but it has a much wider meaning. It includes belief in the pagan religions of the East, pre-Christian European religions and myths, and sometimes merely a romantic love of nature. Today many would call it `New Age`. When occult ideas manifest themselves in political and social projects they were often referred to as ‘illuminated’ ((JW 13 and 14)).
During the 1800s an Interest in occult subjects had been awakened by occult fictional writings ((NGC 19)). So when Madame Blavatsky, a Russian living it Britain and America, founded the Theosophical Society in 1875, she found an existing audience. At first the Society encouraged the revival of beliefs connected with the ancient Egyptian god Isis ((NGC 18)), but Hindu and Buddhist concepts later came to dominate. One of the Society's objects in 1878 was, ‘To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions, and sciences.' ((CCM 32)).
When Blavatsky and her assistant Col. Olcott went to India during 1877, she made every effort to impress Hindus that their occult religion was superior to Christianity. ‘The Theosophical Society must be looked on as the earliest neo-Hindu sect to carry on propaganda outside India’. It ‘played a very big part in the Hindu revival ...’ ((RCZ 249)). ‘Blavatsky combined Hindu and Buddhist ideas with modern scientific speculations.’ ((RCZ 249)). When in 1891, Annie Besant became President of the Society, she moved to India and helped to found the Central Hindu College at Benares, to provide a modern English education combined with Brahminism ((CCM 102)). Alarmed at Catholic progress, she toured the south giving anti-Catholic lectures and distributing leaflets. ‘She was received at Madras like a goddess; the Prime Minister of the Rajah of Mysore had prostrated himself before her as before the Incarnation of the goddess Sarasvati, the goddess of science, wife of Brahma.’ ((CCM 102)).
At the same time, Col. Olcott was preaching against Catholic schools in Ceylon (Now Sri-Lanka) and urging the building of Buddhist ones. By 1910 there were 445, including 206 directly controlled by the Theosophists. This compared with 436 Catholic and 891 Protestant schools ((CCM 102)).
Social Darwinism questioned the Judeo-Christian belief that all racial groups, being descended from Adam, had a common ancestry and therefore a shared humanity. According to Blavatsky, several races had evolved separately. A wise Lamurian race, possessing psychic powers, had established an advanced civilisation. But, due to interbreeding with a less evolved race, the present human race had been produced and the Lamurian powers and wisdom were lost. She claimed to have learnt this from a remnant priesthood of mahatmas, who were living secretly in Asia ((NGC 18-22)).
It has since been shown that she often copied her teachings, published during 1877 in 'Isis Unveiled', verbatim from fifty standard occult works in the library of Col. H.S.Olcott ((NCE Vol. 14 page 74)). They consisted of anti-Christian and pagan legends ((JW 160)). She could not have spent long periods in Tibet, prior to 1877, as she claimed. ((NCE Vol. 14 page 74)).
Theosophy stressed man's meaningful relationship with the cosmos, and its ingredients included Gnosticism, the hermitic tradition, alchemy, magic and the neo-platonic cabbala. Also included were karma, reincarnation, elitism, yoga, hierarchy, racialism, electric forces and rays. It adhered to dualism which taught that the world was evil, but man could attain gnosis (knowledge) of a higher reality. It taught the Hindu belief that the world passes through cycles within cycles throughout all eternity ((RCZ 223 and CCM 71)). So Theosophy was a rejection of the basic Judeo-Christian belief; that the world had been created ‘good' by an intelligent personal God, who was separate from his creation. It also denied that evil had entered the world when the first humans rebelled against God's authority. Theosophy was a revival of the esoteric (secret) wisdom of the East ((NGC 18-22)). Other occult groups flourished during this time, such as the Rosacrucians, and often influenced one another.
Blavatsky's principal book ‘The Secret Doctrine’ embodied the idea of the occult destiny of each particular race, and her Society was originally called the ‘Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj’. The ‘Arya Samaj’ was a Hindu revivalist body, which interpreted Hindu scriptures in a most fantastic manner and attacked Islam and Christianity ((RCZ 248-9)). A New York branch was formed in 1883 and called ‘The Aryan Theosophist of New York.’ The word ‘Aryan’ is Sanskrit for ‘noble’, and was used as a term to denote the ancient Indo-European race ((JW 278-9)).
During these same years a wide network of ‘Lebensreform’ (life reform) groups, dedicated to a love of nature, had spread throughout Germany ((NGC 21-22)). Mainly composed of middle class people repelled by the ugliness of urban living, they followed such interests as herbal and natural medicine, vegetarianism, nudism and the founding of rural communities. Theosophy provided many of these groups with a philosophical ‘rationale’, and thereby spread rapidly in Germany ((NGC 22-3)). Between 1880 and 1910 there was an upsurge of occultism, with peaks of publishing between 1906-1912 ((NGC 26-8)) and the mid-1920s ((JW 26)). Rudolf Steiner was the leader of German Theosophy until he broke away to farm the occult Anthroposophical Society in 1912 ((NCE Vol. 13 page 688 and J W 67)). In 1919 the Catholic Church condemned the new society ((NCE Vol. 1 pages 615-6)).
A branch of the Theosophical Society was founded in Vienna by Friedrich Eckstein ((JW 43)), and this circle came to be greatly influenced by Richard Wagner's book ‘Religion and Art’ ((JW44)).
Theosophy tended to splinter, and many occultists became grouped around Guido von List. At the age of 14 he had sworn to build a temple to the pagan god Wotan ((NGC 34)). He adopted Theosophy in 1913 ((NGC 71)) and from it developed Arisophy ((NGC 30 and 136)). This was a belief in a quasi-monist, pan-psychic energy which, being identical with god, animated the entire universe, but found its most perfect manifestation in the blond haired, blue-eyed Aryan. List also emphasised the importance of palmistry, astrology, heraldry, and cabbalism. He loved nature and utterly condemned the entire industrial-urban complex ((NGC 35 and 83)). He was the first popular writer to combine Volkisch ideology with occultism and theosophy ((NGC 33 and 51)), and saw eugenics as essential to Aryan superiority ((NGC 51)). The ideas of List filtered into volkisch thought in both Germany and Austria ((JW 280)). He loathed Catholicism and had strong sympathies with the 'Los von Rom' movement ((NGC 37 and 68)) and officially left the Church ((NGC 40)). He welcomed the war of 1914 as holy and the start of a new pagan age, when all Catholic priests would be exterminated ((NGC 86-87)). He opposed democracy ((NGC 82)), prepared a plan for a new German Empire and called for the ruthless subjugation of non-Aryans by race laws ((NGC 63)).
From 1925-9 List worked with Herbert Reichstein who specialised in graphology, yoga, and dream interpretation. In 1932, Reichstein hailed Hitler as an instrument of god who would establish occult culture and doctrine ((NGC 174-5)). In 1933 Reichstein produced the ‘Aryan Review’ to struggle against Judah, Rome and Freemasonry ((NGC 175)).
Other members of this group included the astrologer Wilhelm Wulff, who was consulted by Himmler in the last weeks of the war ((NGC 165)), and F.Wehrmann, an expert on Nordic history, runology, astrology, numerology, karma and volk. He formed the ‘Swastika Circle’ to save the heroic Aryans by exterminating inferior races ((NGC 165)). List's most important follower, however, was Lanz von Liebenfeld, who used Theosophy to develop Theozoology. As a child he had been obsessed by legends, and in 1893, at the age of 19, entered a Cistercian monastery ((NGC 91)). But he exhibited occult beliefs and renounced his vows in 1899 ((NGC 92)). He then accused the Cistercians of having abandoned Christianity by not being racist. He was the author of three anti-clerical books ((NGC 92)) and joined the Pan-Germans ((NGC 13)).
These writings of Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfeld provided the ‘scientific’ basis for merging theosophical occultism with volkisch demands, so forming volkischer racism. The theosophical belief in wise hereditary racial elites, and its rejection of the Christian doctrine of racial equality, provided the justification for refusing to grant equality to non-Germans in Austria.
Archaeology, according to List and Lanz, proved that a wise pagan occult German civilisation had once existed with Wotan as its god. It had preserved its vitality by practising a strict eugenic code of ‘survival of the fittest’ ((NGC68)). List claimed that the Catholic gospel of love and charity, compassion and racial equality, had destroyed this German civilisation. It had undermined the strict eugenics of ‘the old Aryan sexual morality,’ while diocesan boundaries had blurred the traditional ethnic ‘Gaue’ in order to confuse the Germans ((NGC 68-9)). In this way the Germans had become subservient to Roman Catholicism ((NGC 68-70)), and by interbreeding with inferior races, had diluted their superior Aryan physical, mental and spiritual qualities. Both List and Lanz had been greatly influenced by the teachings of Gobineau and Blavatsky.
Between 1908-1914 Lanz used his publication ‘Ostara’ to spread and develop the teachings of Blavatsky and Annie Besant. These included belief in five root races, Lemuria, Atlantis, The Third Eye, and pre-historical Assyrian monsters. An examination of Lanz's writings has shown ‘. . .a completely amazing identity with those of the spiritual Theosophists.’ ((JW 282)).‘Men had not evolved from apes, apes had evolved from men.’ ((JW 282)), so ‘Ostara’ urged the Aryans to exterminate the ape-men ((LP 28)). Blavatsky had recognised the ‘unfruitfulness’ of the mixing of races ((JW 282)).
List taught that intelligent Aryan ‘god-men’ had interbred with soulless apes ((NGC 102)) and so produced the mixed races. He claimed that the Germans had retained the highest proportion of Aryan blood ((NGC 94)). He demanded the extermination of the lower classes of Germans by sterilization, and fulminated against Christian compassion for the weak ((NGC 97)). For inferior races he proposed deportation to Africa, enslavement or incineration as a sacrifice to god ((NGC 97 and 122)). According to his astrological predictions the Aryans were about to break free from being controlled by the inferior races and classes ((NGC 102-4)). The coming ‘Age of Aquarius’, would see the purification of Aryan blood which had been contaminated by its mixing with that of ape-men ((JW 281)). List was in touch with Blavatsky and Besant and, ‘His racism is peculiarly important because it shows the transition between the general possibilities implicit in Madame Blavatsky's “Secret Doctrine” and their practical application’ ((JW 281)).
Houston Stewart Chamberlain, an Englishman who became a naturalised German, also combined eugenics with the thinking of the volkisch and occult movements, and in 1899 published ‘The Foundations of The Nineteenth Century.’ It became extremely popular in Germany, with the Kaiser ordering it to be read by all army officers. It held the German race to be the purest form of the Aryan and saw the Jews and Negroes as degenerate. The book viewed Aryans, in a semi-mystical way, as being responsible for all the great cultures which had eventually declined due to intermixing with lower races. This book, more than any other, prepared the German mind for Nazi ideology.
Mathilde von Kemnitz, believed in the occult conspiracy theory ((JW 305)), and was also greatly influenced by Blavatsky's teachings ((JW 306)). She declared Christianity to be a non-Aryan importation from the Orient((JW 306)). She also attacked ‘the conspiracy of the Jesuits’ and preached her own religion of ‘German God-Knowledge’. Mathilde accompanied General Ludendorff when he visited Hitler in prison ((JW 306-7)). During 1924 she spoke on religion to the Nazi Party Congress, explaining that the communal life of the Volk was an expression of the ‘Holy ideas of the Cosmos’ ((JW 306)). After marrying Ludendorff in 1926, she interested him in numerology and freemasonic magic squares ((JW 306)).
Following their achievement of power, the Nazis suppressed most independent thought, but prior to 1941 occult groups were not strictly controlled. In that year Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess flew to Britain. The German public was told that his defection was due to his interest in astrology and mysticism. Soon afterwards, all non-Nazi occult writers were imprisoned ((JW 311)).
e. German Anti-Semitism
The Jewish minority was feared and envied throughout central Europe because of its extensive ownership of industry. Employees condemned Jews as greedy when wage demands were not met. Gentile businessmen claimed that by acting secretly together, Jews destroyed their Gentile rivals. Patriots encouraging a rebirth of their national cultures saw the Jews as supporters of materialistic internationalism. Jews were accused of using their economic power to manipulate the media by controlling advertising revenue. The middle classes and religious congregations were outraged by the high profile of Jews in the Communist revolutionary movement. Similar rivalries involving class, culture, religion, language and business methods, had plagued Europe with Gentile-Jewish antagonisms for generations. But the Christian and Jewish belief in the basic unity and equality of the human race, had acted as a curb on emotions.
Volkischer adherents and Pan-Germans, having absorbed non-Christian occult beliefs, saw themselves as a racial Aryan elite. They therefore claimed a right from nature to dominate inferior races which, in their eyes, had evolved from a separate origin rather than from Adam.
They considered the Jew to be a form of sub-man, who had achieved economic power through organizing cunning secret societies rather than through ability. They feared that the Jews would gain control of the Slavonic races and use them to enslave the Germans. In their eyes the Soviet Union, after 1918, was controlled by Jewish Bolsheviks (Extreme Communists) preparing to crush Germany. Prior to the late 1920s these groups had little real political power as, ‘The Anti-Semites had become fragmented into a multitude of tiny groups and sects with esoteric or neopagan names . . .’ ((LP 28)). But for many Germans, even outside the Volkisch and Pan-German movements, the need to oppose what they saw as excessive Jewish economic, cultural and political power, was a consideration in their thinking.
f. Russian Anti-Semitism
As early as 1877 Madam Blavatsky, writing under the name of ‘Radda Bai’, gained a wide following in her native land ((JW 162)), although it was the Anthroposophy form of occultism which had made the biggest headway there ((JW 164)). Blavatsky's greatest hatred was directed at the Jesuits. She never tired of inveighing against ‘that crafty, learned, conscienceless, terrible soul of Jesuitism . . .the hidden enemy that would-be reformers must encounter and overcome’. ((JW 227)). She wrote of the Pope being a: ‘poor weak instrument’ in their hands ((JW 227)), and: ‘they may appear as Protestants or Catholics, democrats or aristocrats, infidels or brigands, according to the special mission with which they are entrusted . . . Their spies are everywhere’. ((JW 227)).
But in 1888 the Theosophical Society published an anti-Jewish book, ‘The Hebrew Talisman’, and Blavatsky began to preach that there was also a Jewish conspiracy to subvert the world ((JW 229-233)). One of her personal friends and a fellow Theosophist, Yuliana Glinka, was on the payroll of the Russian Secret Service in Paris. In 1895 she sent a memorandum to her superior entitled ‘The Secret of The Jews’ ((JW 233)). It called for vigilant action to thwart the Jewish attempt to use the liberal intelligentsia, the capitalists and the socialists to destroy the Christian world and Russia in particular ((JW 237)). ‘It was drawn from the vast mystical and occult production of the times’. ((LP 104-5)).
The Tzar was being urged by his Ministers to introduce social reforms and some form of democracy. But those opposed to reform found a way to influence him against these new ideas. The Royal couple were desperate to have a son and were prepared to listen to all sorts of ‘mystics’ and ‘healers’ ((JW 170)). By introducing such people, who were able to gain the trust of the Tzar and his wife, anti-democratic politicians were able to use them to warn the Tzar against the dangers of democracy and ‘political weakness’. ((JW 171)).
From the turn of the Century the Russian intelligentsia and Court had been greatly attracted by the occult ((JW 16-7)). Badmaev, who was a friend of Blavatsky, specialised in herbal Oriental medicine. His friend Rasputin became well known and ‘was part of a broad spectrum of irrationalist opinion and his opponents shared many of the assumptions of his supporters.’ Rasputin's daughter married a Theosophist ((JW 171)). Occultists were sometimes described as ‘irrationalists’ because they rejected rationalism. The Orthodox Church, not possessing the discipline of the Catholic Church, became infiltrated by occult mysticism ((JW 172-3)). The Tzar was soon surrounded by occult Jew haters ((JW 259-261)).
It was in this atmosphere that Glinka's superior, an opponent of social reform, considered her memorandum. This memorandum appears to have been the inspiration for the concoction of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’. These Protocols purported to be a captured Jewish plan to overthrow the Tzar and establish a Jewish dictatorship. It was very cleverly written to show how every proposal to modernise Russia and institute reforms was part of this conspiracy. There is some uncertainty as to how the Protocol document entered Russia. Some believe that Glinka herself took it there ((JW 217 and 239-241)). Alturnative research points to a ‘Madam K’, known to have frequented French occult circles, having passed it to her ‘lover’. This was Sergius Nilus, who published the Protocols in Russia ((HB 367)). At one time he was training to be an Orthodox priest but, when close to ordination, was suddenly refused and left the monastery in disgrace ((HB368)).
In 1905 the Tzar ordered the Protocols to be distributed but, when a police enquiry showed them to be forgeries, he ordered their withdrawal from circulation ((LP 103-4)). By then, however, they had come to be widely believed by both Christians and Occultists. The fear and suspicion of the Jews thereby engendered, led to a fanatical anti-Semitism permeating all sections of Russian life. There was an extraordinarily large number of Jews amongst those who established the Anti-Christian Soviet dictatorship ((EJ Vol. 5 pages 794 and 797)), so for many this vindicated the reliability of the Protocols.
The senior Orthodox military chaplain ordered his priests to discredit the Protocols ((HB 369)), but army officers promoted them during the Civil War as a means of motivating their troops to fight the Soviet forces ((HB 369)). So with the victory of the Soviets, thousands of anti-Semitic anti-Communists fled to the West.
Many leaders of occult thought were attracted to Munich because of the opportunity to work on the newly founded nationalist and occultist publications ((JW 295)). The reason why Munich had become a magnet for right-wing occultists is explained in Chapter 5. The arrival of these intellectual occult refugees, including Grigori Bostunitsch and Alfred Rosenberg, had a great impact. ‘In Germany their effect was much the same as that of alcohol on certain drugs: they potentiated an already powerful mixture.’ ((JW 267)). When the Protocols were translated into German they gained wide circulation. Hitler's thinking was ‘permeated by the Protocols.’ ((HB xxiii)). Grigori Bostunitsch, a leading Russian occultist ((JW 266-7)), ‘. . . came straight from the ranks of the illuminated Russian intellegentsia’ ((JW 166)). He had lectured to the armies of General Denikin, and pervaded a very ‘occult’ brand of anti-Semitism ((JW266)). ‘Illuminates, who actually believed in the conspiracy, were essential to the propagation of the myth’. ((JW 266)).
On escaping from Russia, ‘he spent time in Bulgarian Theosophical circles,’ ((JW 267)) before moving to Vienna and Munich where he joined the Anthroposophists ((JW 267)). Later he turned against them ((JW 267)) and became a follower of List while working for Rosenberg's news agency ((NGC170)). Subsequently he joined the SS, where he was known as Schwartz-Bostunitch ((JW 266)), being appointed an honorary professor in 1942 and an SS colonel ((NGC 170)). Another Theosophist who became a Nazi intellectual was Artur Dinter ((MK 187 and 377)).
Alfred Rosenberg (1893-1946) brought together in one book the multiple strands of nationalist and occult thought. He had been born an Estonian so, despite his Germanic name, was a citizen of the Russian Empire. Whilst at High School he joined an anti-Semitic organisation ((JW 293-4)) and commenced reading the works of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. He also became preoccupied with the teachings of Schopenhauer and Indian philosophy ((JW 296)). Moving to Moscow he was captivated by the Protocols ((JW 296)).
On arriving in Munich in December 1918, he made close friends of Dietrich Eckart and Gottfried Feder. After joining the Thurle Society, he became a member of the Nazi party. Hitler appointed Rosenberg as party leader while he himself was in prison.
‘The Myth of the Twentieth Century’, which he had started to write while in Russia, was published in 1930. It was the most important Nazi text next to ‘Mein Kampf’, and sold half a million copies by 1940 ((WLS 149)).
By ‘Myth’ he meant ‘The guiding spirit of the age’ ((JW 314)). It was the history of the Aryans as seen through occult eyes. He taught Blavatsky's doctrine of the Aryans coming from the third root race on Atlantis ((JW 315)). He considered all the opponents of the Catholic Church during Her 1900 year existence to have been ‘heroes of Nordic philosophy’ ((JW 316)). For Rosenberg materialism and individualism were about to be submerged in the all-embracing Volk ((JW 314)). In January 1934, Hitler appointed him official philosopher of the Nazi party ((JW 314)). He was sentenced to death by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal in 1946.
g. The Wagnerian Bayreuth Cult
Richard Wagner's compositions of epic German musical dramas, such as ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ and ‘Parsifal’, were more than pieces of music to entertain. They appealed to the soul by depicting the themes of heroism, despair, hope, tragedy, treachery, love and destruction. This was achieved by music, drama, poetry and art.
When twelve years of age, at the moment of receiving the Eucharist during his Lutheran ceremony of Confirmation, Wagner rejected Christianity((JC 18-19)). After the death of his wife in 1866, he lived with Cosima Bulow. But when she produced a third child by him, her husband divorced her ((JC 229)). Cosima had been one of three illegitimate children brought up by several people, while her father lived with another woman. So, although baptised a Catholic, she had no example of Catholic family life. She had a Protestant marriage service with Wagner, and officially left the Catholic Church the following year ((JC 239)). They became great admirers of Gobineau's racial theories and spent much time with him ((JC 249 and 268)). In 1908 Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who held similar beliefs, became their son-in-law and moved close to them ((JC 280)). He later joined the Nazi party ((BM 119)).
The views of Gobineau and Chamberlain blended well with the fervent German nationalism of the Wagners. Two other personal friends, who greatly influenced the religious thinking of Wagner, were Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Nietzche was strongly anti-Christian ((BM 97)), while Schopenhauer believed in the Buddhist concepts of the transmigration of souls, reincarnation and Nirvana ((BM 56 and 226)).
Wagner blended these ideas, with his own mystic belief in the German Volk and Reich ((JC 219)), into a new religion of his own ((BM 257)). He aimed to see the German race rejuvenated through drama and music, and believed the human race had degenerated through eating meat and absorbing animal blood ((BM 104)). He saw vegetarianism as the way to regeneration. He rejected existing churches because they were not vegetarian, and the Christian God, because he was of Jewish origin. He wanted a religion based on the faith, hope and love produced by fellow-suffering ((BM 270)). His hatred of the Jews was intense, likening them to ‘a swarm of flies in the wound of a horse’ ((BM 269)), and wrote that their annihilation was both desirable and necessary ((BM 265)). He considered Negroes as inferior to the white races ((BM 269)).
Wagner hated the Jesuits ((BM 82)) and detested Munich because he decided it was overrun by the Jesuits and the Jews ((JC 215)). He supported Bismarck's persecution of the Catholic Church in Prussia.
His powerful operas and musical dramas drew their inspiration from the sagas and epic poems of pagan Norse and German history, such as the Edda. Wagner preached a religious message combining pagan, Buddhist and Schopenhauen racial regeneration. Although his ‘Parsifal’ opera was full of Christian symbolism, it was in essence a Buddhist message of redemption as a painful process of self-enlightenment, with the hope of eventual freedom from pain and sorrow in Nirvana ((BM 266)). Only a sense of duty and honour called a man to remain alive and thereby suffer ((BM 265-7)). Wagner desired pagan freedom from Christianity ((BM 193-4)). Wahnfeld House and a special theatre were constructed in the medieval atmosphere of Bayreuth, Franconia.
It was in the heart of Germany ((GRM 140-2)). The house and theatre were dedicated to Wagnerian festivals and Germany. This Bayreuth circle saw themselves as a great ‘Grail Brotherhood’, and Wahnfeld as the spiritual centre and shrine of a new religion ((BM 270)). After Wagner's death in 1883, Cosima and her son Siegfried continued the festivals.
They died in 1930 and the estate went to Siegfried's English wife, Winifred. She had been an early admirer of Hitler, entertaining him just prior to his unsuccessful Munich putsch of 1923 ((JC 283)), and sending him presents while he was in prison. ‘Mein Kampf’ was probably written on paper she provided ((JC 283)). Hitler was a life-long devotee of Wagnerian dramas with their depiction of heroic Germans sometimes going down to cataclysmic defeat.
h. The Thurle Society
Following the 1914-18 war, the Austrian Empire was broken up by the Allies. The main German speaking area became the separate state of Austria, and the German Sudetenland was incorporated into the newly-formed Czecho-Slovakia. The Allies had forbidden the union of Austria and Germany, although this was now demanded by all Austrian political parties. Schoenerer Pan-Germanism remained small but its 20,000 members, including many school- teachers, exerted a strong Influence on Austrian thinking. Volkisch ideas also continued to command wide support in Germany.
So by the 1920s large sections of German opinion had been influenced, to varying degrees, by Volkisch, Pan-German, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, eugenic and occult ideas. By then, a wide variety of clubs, associations and publications existed with each emphasising different aspects and combinations of these interests. In many respects the ideas complemented one another and it was common for individuals to follow more than one train of thought.
During 1911 and 1912, a masonic type ‘Germanenorder’, was founded by List Society members and others ((NGC 45, 126-7 and LP 28)). Under the control of the ‘Wotan Lodge’, its ritual was based on German pagan traditions and it aimed to usher in an Aryan Germanic religious revival ((NGC 127-128)). It was anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic. Membership was restricted to those ‘racially pure’ (with blond hair, blue eyes and a pale skin.
In 1916 Rudolf von Sebottendorff a great admirer of List and Lanz, established a lodge in Bavaria ((NGC 123)). For political reasons, it operated under the name of the Thurle Society ((NGC 144)), and was not officially established till August 1918 ((JW 297)). While not a mass organisation, it became influential due to the leadership qualities of its membership. It consisted mainly of lawyers, judges, university professors, aristocrats, industrialists, doctors, scientists and rich businessmen ((NGC 149)). ‘It was to be covertly linked to the beginnings of the Nazi party’ ((LP 28)). Sebottendorff's main interests were astrology combined with the theories of List and Lanz. These led him to the conclusion that the German mission was to give the world a new species for the ‘new astrological eon’. ((JW 297)).
In October 1918, Sebottcndorff entrusted Karl Harrer with the task of gaining influence amongst the working class ((NGC 150)). Harrer formed a “Worker's Ring” with Adolf Drexler, a Union organiser. From this small ‘Ring’ the Deutschen Arbeiterpartie (German Workers' Party) was founded in January 1919, to be known as DAP.
There was a profusion of small parties at the time, but the party's background enabled it to invite prominent Thurle speakers such as Dietrich Eckart, Gottfried Feder and Friedrich Krone, to assist in its growth ((DO 13, NGC 149 and JW 298)).
In November 1918, the Socialists with the support of the Communist led Peasant's League (BMBB), took power in Bavaria. But five months later Anarchists, then Communists, seized power in Munich and proclaimed Soviet Republics ((GP 70 and HSW 58)). Thurle smuggled its sympathisers out of Munich to join forces opposed to the revolution, while at the same time organising an uprising within the city itself ((NGC 147-9)). Thurle and other Volkisch armed militias regained Munich in May 1919 and helped to restore order ((WS 33)).
In September of the same year, Hitler was sent by the army to spy on the DAP ((NGC 150 and DO 14)). It had few adherents and, following his discharge from the army, Hitler became its 54th member and the 7th man on its committee ((AH 204)). Opposing all outside control of the party, he ousted Harrar ((AH 332)) the key Thurle leader, and soon became leader himself. The following year the party's name was changed to National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), which became known as Nazi party.
Gustav von Kahr had become the virtual dictator of Bavaria. With the support of the local army and police, he refused to arrest the leaders of armed nationalist bands or to ban the ‘Volkischer Beobachter’ ((WLS 65-66)). Kahr, was an extreme right-wing Monarchist plotting a revolution, but was hesitant. It was his indecisiveness, which prompted Hitler and Ludendorff to organise their Putsch of November 1923. The Church opposed Kahr's anti-Communist and ultra-conservative virtual dictatorship. ‘Catholics were the first to attack the demented von Kahr, whose behaviour foreshadowed that of Hitler’. ((NP 49)). But, when Hitler and his associates attempted to seize power, Cardinal Faulhaber urged Kahr to crush them ((PDS 235)). Although, eventually, a more moderate government was installed, the militias, collectively known as ‘Freekorp’, retained great influence ((NGC 149)).
In 1918, Thurle had purchased the ‘Munich Beobachter and Sportsblatt’, and used it as the mouthpiece of the ‘German Socialist Party’. This very small party was organised by Thurle member H.G.Grassinger ((NGC 147)). Julius Streicher, the notorious hater of Catholics and Jews, promoted and led its activities in the Franconian area of Bavaria ((GP 9)). In December 1920 this paper became, under the shortened title ‘Volkischer Beobachter’, the official organ of the Nazi Party, which it remained till 1945 ((NGC 147)).
Stretcher also co-operated with Rudolf Gorsleben, a follower of List and a Thurle member, to produce ‘Der Sturmer’ ((NGC 156)). This was the most obscene anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish paper In Germany. Gorsleben also had his own occult newspaper advocating a racially pure humanity ((NGC 156)). Gorsleben founded, with the assistance of Ludendorff's wife ((NGC 159)), and in the spirit of Wagner, the Edda Society to promote theosophy and the old Aryan religion ((NGC 156)). ‘The Edda’, an ancient book of Nordic poems, was treated as a ‘Nordic Bible’ ((JW 327)). In the Edda Society, Wotan was worshipped as the war god and lord of dead heroes in Valhalla ((NGC 49)). This Society later declared its adherence to the Nazi Party ((NGC 160)).
Thurle member Rudolf Hess believed in Anthroposophy and had a tendency to mysticism. He became Hitler's second in command, a position he held until 1941 ((JW 307-8)). Another Thurle member, Karl Wiligut, became Himmler's advisor on mythological subjects and was for six years head of pre-historical research within the S.S. He designed the Totenkopfring worn by the S.S. and other rituals depicting elite racial purity and territorial conquest ((NGC 177)). Himmler was himself an enthusiast for the occult ((NGC 178)) and a believer in reincarnation ((OW 319)). He was also a keen member of the Artamenen Bund, which aimed to settle colonists on land so that they could escape from urban civilisation ((JW 318-9)).
Thurle and DAP member, F. Krohn, built up a library of 2500 Volkischer books for use by Nazi party members ((NGC 151)). Hitler avidly read these between 1919-1921 ((JW 303)). In 1924 Thurle member Gottfried Feder ((OW 304)) was praised by Hitler in ‘Mein Kampf’ ((AH 190)) and he formulated the Nazi Party's programme ((JW 309)). The two members of Thurle who exerted the greatest influence on Hitler and Nazism were Dietrich Eckart and Alfred Rosenberg. Their contributions to Nazism are detailed in other sections of this publication. When Thurle dissolved itself in 1925 there was a flow of more members into the new Nazi movement ((NGC 220-1)).
Adolf Hitler was born in 1889 and received Catholic instruction at his Austrian village school. In 1900 his family moved to Linz, close to the Czech border. Czech immigrants were moving into Linz, so Volkischer feeling ran high.
Hitler was scathingly critical of the priest who visited the secondary school to give religious teaching. Several of the teachers were Pan-Germans, particularly the history professor who belonged to several nationalist organisations ((NGC 193)) and was later a member of the Nazi SS ((WLS 14)).
Hitler later wrote: ‘To learn history means to seek and find the forces which are the cause leading to those effects which we subsequently perceive as historical events. . . . to retain the essential, to forget the non-essential. Perhaps it affected my whole later life that good fortune sent me a history teacher who was one of the few to observe this principle in teaching and examining. Dr. Leopold Potsch, my professor at the Realschule in Linz, embodied this requirement to an ideal degree. . . . his dazzling eloquence not only held us spell-bound but actually carried us away. Even today, I think back with gentle emotion on this grey-haired man who, by the fire of his narratives, sometimes made us forget the present; who, as if by enchantment, carried us into past times and, out of the millennial veils of mist, moulded dry historical memories into living reality. On such occasions we sat there, often aflame with enthusiasm, and sometimes even moved to tears.’ ((AH 13)). Hitler supported the nationalist ideas of Schoenerer's anti-Catholic Pan-Germanism and, despite warnings, he sung the German rather than the Austrian national anthem ((AH 10-12)). So at school Hitler was already identifying himself with pagan anti-Catholic forces.
On moving to Vienna, he became an avid reader of Lanz von Liebenfeld's ‘Ostara’ ((NGC 99)). ‘This occult manichaean comic-book type publication, peopled by blonds and darks, heroes and sub-men, Aryans and Tschandalen’ ((NGC 194-8)), was read widely. An edition in 1907 sold 100,000 copies ((NGC 113)). By ‘Aryans’, Lanz was referring to the original Vedic Aryans of India, who had considered themselves to be a chosen people ((R 70)). In the Buddhism of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where Theosophy had established itself, ‘Aryan’ designated one who was noble, distinguished, of high birth, good, pure and of noble education ((RCZ 292)). ‘Tschandale’ was Lanz's translation of the Sanskrit term ‘candala’. It denoted the lowest caste of untouchables according to the Hindu codes of Manu ((NGC 100)). Lanz identified the Tschandale as the mongrelized racially inferior and lower classes of modern times ((NGC 242)), that favoured democracy, free competition and materialism ((JW 281)). Hinduism discouraged inter-racial marriages and Manu did not justify marriages between ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ castes. Any offspring were added to the numbers of the ‘untouchables’.
It is very unlikely that Hitler read the scholarly works of Chamberlain, Galton, Nietzsche and Gobineau. He imbibed their ideas from publications such as ‘Ostara’, the Volkischer press, general conversations and Wagnerian dramas. Although he showed some interest in the List Society, there is no evidence of him taking part in occult rituals ((NGC 201)). He was interested in folklore and inspiring legends, but not in academic debates regarding their survival in customs and place names ((NGC 200)). Hitler was a practical man, thinking of politics and the future.
Historians agree that Thurle member Dietrich Eckart had a determining influence on Hitler's thinking at this time ((NGC 156, 220 and JW 304)). Hitler acknowledged this influence in the closing words of his: ‘Mein Kampf’. ((AH 627 and NGC 46)). Eckart was a mystic rather than a politician. He was a drug addict, a woman hater, an alcoholic, an anti-Semite, an anti-Catholic, a Volkischer playwright and an admirer of Schopenhauer because of his adoption of the Hindu doctrine of ‘Maya’: that the world is illusion ((JW 183-5)).
As early as 1919, Eckart had declaimed that volkisch opinion needed a leader from the working class who would put fear into the rabble. He would not have to have brains, but would know how to talk and also be a bachelor to attract the women ((WLS 39)). Eckart saw Hitler, who was 21 years younger than himself, as this man ((WLS 38)). He helped Hitler to improve his speech, lent him books and introduced him to a wide circle of wealthy friends and agitators, such as Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg ((WLS 39)). He was one of those responsible for editing ‘Mein Kampf’ and correcting Hitler's poor grammar.
Hitler, a wily politician, aiming to achieve power by the democratic process, avoided anti-Christian utterances in his public speeches. He stressed such issues as unemployment, economic revival and German humiliation. General Ludendorff, who had been virtual dictator of Germany during the war, broke from Hitler over this very tactic.
Ludendorff launched persistent and bitter attacks against the Catholic Church, while Hitler tried to avoid the subject of religion. Challenged by Ludendorff, Hitler privately admitted; “I entirely agree with His Excellency . . . but I need, for the building up of a great political movement, the Catholics of Bavaria just as the Protestants of Prussia, the rest can come later”. ((GP 148)). Hitler claimed he wished to see a spiritual revival and would respect the freedom of the churches. He maintained that he was merely opposed to Catholic political parties.
Yet the mass rallies with their symbolism of German blood, strength and joy, supplied the occult desire for ritual. And the semi-religious belief in a race of Aryan god-men, the needful extermination of inferiors, and the glorious future for an eugenically bred and purified Aryan people, obsessed Hitler as it did other Nazi leaders ((NGC 203)). It was such a vision that motivated the inner core of Nazi activists while being toned down for the general public.
Hitler venerated Nietzsche ((WLS 100)), who had rejected Christian linearism (i.e. The belief that the world is moving towards fulfilment) and saw the eternal cosmos as affirming itself in periodic recurrence ((NCE Vol. 7 page 25)). He was also greatly influenced by Hegel ((WLS 110)), viewed Chamberlain as a prophet ((WLS 103)), and repeatedly said ‘Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner.’ ((WLS 101)). James Webb wrote ‘. . . one of the most telling arguments for classing the early Nazi movement as “Illuminated” (i.e. by occult understanding), is the constellation of ideas that presided over its birth.' ((JW 283)).
Hitler wrote ‘Mein Kampf’ while he was in prison and it was published in 1924. He did not owe his ideas to any one predecessor. “. . . the section of Mein Kampf, which sets out Hitler's Ideas on racial issues, are couched in historical rather than biological-mystical terms . . . Hitler was a self-taught man and his system was his own, concocted piecemeal from the leavings of others, filtered at third or fourth-hand through the cheap pamphlet and leaflet literature of Viennese politics. . .”. ((AHDCW xxxix)). When we read his words we hear echoes of Blavatsky, Gobineau, Chamberlain (praised on page 245), List, Lanz and many others.
His basic concepts were the belief in Aryan blood and the need to use eugenics to further the betterment of mankind. ‘All human culture, all the results of art, science, and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan ... he alone was the founder of all higher humanity, therefore representing the prototype of all that we understand by the word “man”’. ((AH 263)).
‘Aryan races . . . assisted by the multitude of lower-type beings standing at their disposal as helpers, develop the intellectual and organisational capacities dormant within them . . . they create cultures . . . In the end, however, the conquerors transgress against the principle of blood purity . . . they begin to mix with subjugated inhabitants and thus end their own existence . . .’ ((AH 265)). ‘If they perish, the beauty of this earth will sink into the grave with them.’ ((AH 262)).
He compared what he considered to be the high culture of the mainly Germanic population of North America, with that of South America, where the Spanish had mixed with the aborigines on a large scale ((AH 260)). ‘True genius is always inborn and never cultivated, let alone learned.’ ((AH 266)). He believed the Germanic races, in which Hitler included the English and Scandinavians, possessed the greatest proportion of Aryan blood’. . . . today in our German national body we still possess great unmixed stocks of Nordic-Germanic people whom we may consider the most precious treasure for our future’. He saw the highest task of the state to be the ‘promotion of the most noble elements of our nationality, indeed of all mankind, which still remain intact’. ((AH 361)).
‘The folkish (Volkisch) state . . . must set race in the centre of all life. . . . it must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. It must see to it that only the healthy beget children . . .there is only one disgrace: despite one's own sickness and deficiencies, to bring children into the world ...’. The state ‘must declare unfit for propagation all who are in any way visibly sick or who have inherited a disease ...’ ((AH 367)).
‘A prevention of the faculty and opportunity to procreate on the part of the physically degenerate and mentally sick, over a period of only six hundred years . . .would lead to a recovery which today seems scarcely conceivable.’ ((AH 368)). He also called for financial help for the healthy ((AH 367)). This policy would not only provide the Germans with a great future but all humanity ((AH 368)).
He called for a ‘ . . . nobler age in which men no longer are concerned with breeding dogs, horses, and cats, but in elevating man himself . .’ ((AH 368-9)). ‘Blood, sin and desecration of the race are the original sin in this world and the end of a humanity which surrenders to it.’ ((AH 226)). He bemoaned that the best elements, by volunteering for the most hazardous work in the war, had been killed, while the worst elements “exhibiting baseness, treachery, cowardice”, had turned their back and preserved themselves ((AH 472-4)). The war ‘… robbed our people of millions of its noblest blood-bearers ...’ ((AH 592)).
It is sometimes said that Hitler drew inspiration from the Austrian Christian Social Party, which he mentioned in his book ((AH 109)). But a distinction must be made here. He admired the strategy of gaining a wide following, by advocating social reforms, while maintaining good relations with the Church ((AH 109)). He also praised its leader as ranking among the greatest of minds of the German people ((AH 91 and 111)). But Hitler rejected all the basic principles of the Christian Social Party, particularly as it was committed to following the social teachings of the Church and co-operating with non-Germans ((AH 109-110)). Hitler further condemned it for making the ‘mistake’ of not basing its opposition to excessive Jewish influence on racialism ((AH 110)).
It has been suggested that Hitler's childhood experiences of Catholic liturgy, such as seeing a swastika sign over the door of an old monastery, inspired the pageantry of his rallies and his use of the swastika symbol. But there are far more likely sources to have inspired Nazi symbolism. The pageantry at rallies was more akin to triumphant, militant, Wagnerian dramas than the quiet chanting within a monastery. It should also be remembered that it was Wagnerian devotees, not Catholic monks, who were involved in arranging these displays. It was the viciously anti-Catholic Julius Stretcher, who was responsible for organizing the Nuremberg rallies ((RLB 31)).
The word ‘Swastika’ is derived from the sanskrit word, ‘Svastika’. Throughout history many religions, including Christianity and Judaism, have used this symbol, but its most frequent adoption in modern times has been by occultists. Blavatsky used the swastika extensively, incorporating it into the seal of The Theosophy Society ((NGC 20, JW 262 and CCM 39)). In 1891 Ernst Krause called attention to the swastika as a particularly Aryan symbol ((JW 262)). The first German publication at this time to sport the Theosophical Swastika on its cover was ‘Lotusbluthen’ (Lotus Blossoms). This was also in 1891 ((NGC 25)). The Theosophical publication for English children at that time was entitled ‘Lotus Journal’ ((CCM 39)). In 1875 List had used the swastika as the centrepiece of a personal pagan rite ((NGC 35)), and later claimed it was a holy Aryan and German symbol of the old religion ((NGC 52 and 71)). Alfred Schuler, a member of the occult ‘Munich Cosmics’, taught during 1897 that the sacredness of the blood was symbolised by the swastika ((JW 280-2)).
List established the ‘Templar Order’ with pagan liturgies and codes, where members had to be ‘racially pure’ so as to qualify for pursuing a new crusade ((NGC 108)). Several priories were established in castles from which ‘Ostara’ was published ((NGC 118)), and the swastika flag flown ((NGC 109)). List Society members used the swastika on gravestones in place of the Christian cross ((NGC 65)). Both List and Lanz ‘. . . used the swastika as a leading symbol in their illuminated anti-Semitism.’((JW 262)).
When Pan-German leaders formed, ‘The German Volkischer League for Defence and Defiance’, in February 1919, it used the swastika as its emblem. This League gained 200,000 members before being dissolved by the government in 1922 ((DLN 46)). Ungern-Sternberg, a prominent occultist, born in Estonia ((JW 198)), was an army commander during the Russian civil war and during 1920 established himself in Mongolia. He called for the extirpation of all Jews ((JW 201)), and restored the ‘Living Buddha’, who recognised Ungern-Sternberg as the reincarnated ‘God of War’. The postage stamps issued by this occult mystic for his new state bore the swastika ((JW 263)).
When the local organizer of the Thurle sponsored ‘German Socialist Party’ in Franconia, Julius Streicher, formed his ‘Storm Troops’ (the SA), they wore a swastika armband ((GP 25)). The parent body of Thurle, the ‘Germanenorden’, displayed a swastika on the cover of its newsletter and on other of its items ((NGC 129)). The emblem of Thurle itself was a swastika with dagger ((NGC Plate 24)). Sebottendorff exhorted its members to fight ‘Until the swastika rises victorious out of the icy darkness.’ ((NGC 145)).
A dentist, Friedrich Krone, had been a member of the Germanenorden from 1913 and became a member of the Thurle. In May 1919, he proposed the swastika as a suitable symbol for the Nazi party ((NGC 151)). Most suggestions had incorporated a swastika ((AH 451)). Although the swastikas of List and the Thurle were right-handed, those of the German Theosophical Society and the Germanenorden were left-handed. Krone preferred a left-handed form because of its Buddhist interpretation of good fortune, but Hitler persuaded the party committee to adopt the right-handed version with straight arms ((NGC 151)). Krone and Hitler designed the colour scheme of a black swastika in a white circle on a red background. It was first displayed at a party meeting on the 20th of May 1920 ((NGC 15 and AH 451-2)). Hitler explained: “As National Socialists, we see . . . in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man . . .” ((AH 452)).
The Influence of occult ideas may be seen in other ways. List claimed that the word ‘Gau’ specified the Pre-Christian true ethnic provinces of Germany ((NGC 69)). When in power, Hitler abolished traditional state boundaries and named the new administrative unit a ‘Gau’, ruled by a ‘Gauleiter’. This was to show that a new start had been made of a thousand year pagan civilisation. List had also related how the medieval emperor Barbarossa would awake and unleash a wave of Teutonic fury across the world, prior to the establishment of German world rule ((NGC 87)). When Hitler unleashed his massive blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union in 1941, it was code-named ‘Barbarossa’.
List's plans for a new Pan-German empire were very detailed. They ‘. . . bear an uncanny resemblance to the Nuremberg racial laws of the 1930s and the Nazi vision of the future.’ ((NGC 63-4)). List based his structure of society on the cabbalistic “Tree of Life”, and ‘the similarities with Himmler's plans for an SS order-state are striking.’ ((NGC 64)). The Totenkopfring design of the SS was full of occult symbolism ((NGC Plate 32)).
It is very clear that Nazi symbolism was firmly based on occult tradition and not of Christian inspiration.