National Socialism and the Occult - I - Introduction

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
National Socialism and the Occult - I

Adolf Hitler
Many books have been written about Hitler and many reasons suggested to account for him.
It is said that Germany in the 1930's was economically and spiritually bankrupt, that Hitler and his followers were simple opportunists or petty bureaucrats.
But one explanation tends to contradict another, and when all are combined, they merge into a solution so general that nothing is explained. 
Understandably, then, many people are still not satisfied that the events of the Third Reich have been adequately dealt with by historians.
In all this complicated story, there is one question which cries out for an answer: How is it that the theorists have missed a vital element, even when they themselves provide important clues ?
That element is the occult.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
Many historians have alluded to the National Socialist Party's origins in an occult sect, to the occult leanings of leading National Socialist officials, to the mystical rites of the  Schutzstaffel - SS - and the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth), to the establishment of a bureau devoted exclusively to the occult during World War II.

Hitlerjugend - abbreviated HJ) was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung (SA). It was made up of: the Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth aged 14 to 18; the younger boys' section, Deutsches Jungvolk (German Youth), for those aged 10 to 14; and the girls' section, the Bund Deutscher Mädel (the League of German Girls).

The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP. It began at the end of 1920 as a small, permanent guard unit known as the "Saal-Schutz" (Hall-Protection) made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for Nazi Party meetings in Munich. Later in 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit which had by then been reformed and renamed the "Schutz-Staffel". Under Himmler's leadership (1929–45), it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the largest and most powerful organizations in the Third Reich.

It now seems puzzling that they should not also have given as much consideration to the underlying basis for these odd phenomena as they gave to economic and social factors.
That they did not is, of course, evidence of their own dismissal - quite reasonably - of a what they considered to be pseudo-science 
But this has led, inevitably, to selective blindness.
In order not to be accused of giving credence to irrational beliefs, they have failed to see those beliefs in their proper historical perspective.
Since early studies always influence later ones, the interpretation of the origins of the Third Reich has tended to remain much the same for the past two decades.
All the same, people do seem to have a subliminal awareness that the National Socilaists were involved in occultism.
Some scholars, of course, have been thrown off the scent because Hitler went to great pains to eradicate occultism from Germany almost as soon as he came to power, and on that account, he has been mistakenly identified as an enemy of irrational faith.
On the contrary.
As will be borne out in later chapters, the occult was purged, not because it was abhorrent, but because the National Socilaists took it seriously - so seriously, indeed, that it posed a potential threat.

Heinrich Himmler
The astrologer Wilhelm Wulff, who was put to work by the SS casting horoscopes of nations, groups, and movements, describes, in 'Der Tierkreis und die Swastika' (Zodiac and Swastika), Heinrich Himmler's confession of his own interest in and practice of occultism and his explanation of the purge:
'For us politics means the elimination of all forces except those serving the one constructive idea. In the Third Reich we have to forbid astrology. We cannot permit any astrologers to follow their calling except those who are working for us. In the National Socialist state astrology must remain a privilegium singulorum. It is not for the broad masses'.

Wilhelm Theodor H. Wulff (27 March 1892 - 9 June 1979) was an German-Austrian astrologer and writer. He is best known for the 1973 book 'Der Tierkreis und die Swastika'. The book tells about his time as an astrologer in the Third Reich near the end of World War II. He was Heinrich Himmler's astrologer.

The Third Reich appeared in a new light when compared to modern esoteric cults making claims to paranormal knowledge.

Rudolf Steiner
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff
These cults, from those connected with George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and Rudolf Steiner shared certain features: an authoritarian obedience to a charismatic and Messianic leader; secrecy; loyalty to the group above all other ties; a belief in supernatural possibilities open to the members only; a belief in reincarnation; initiation into superhuman sources of power; literal acceptance of the myth of ancient 'giants' or 'supermen', who handed down an oral tradition to a chosen people and who were guiding us now.
Turning back to that history and its antecedents, we can see unmistakable evidence of a direct relationship between the National Socialism and occultism.
In fact, it is hard not to see it.
Here is the missing link in our understanding of the 'so-called' beasts who proclaimed themselves gods.

Dr. Felix Kersten and
Heinrich Himmler
Konrad Heiden
If it seems too fantastic to believe that one of the most civilized countries in the world should have embraced occultism, here is a highly respected German historian, an exiled former staff member of the liberal newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung, Konrad Heiden, observing, in his introduction to 'Die Memoiren von Dr. Felix Kersten' - (The Memoirs of Dr. Felix Kersten), Heinrich Himmler's masseur, that among the Germans
'the best of them found refuge from the despair of their daily life in a perverse fanaticism called 'the mysticism of a political movement.'
Germany was the perfect place for this development.
In almost no other country were so many miracles performed, so many ghosts conjured, so many illnesses cured by magnetism, so many horoscopes read, between the two World Wars.

Felix Kersten (30 September 1898 Yuryev (Dorpat), Imperial Russia now Tartu, Estonia – 16 April 1960, Stockholm, Sweden) was before and during World War II the personal masseur of Heinrich Himmler.

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a military commander, and a leading member of the NSDAP of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler later appointed him Commander of the Replacement (Home) Army and General Plenipotentiary for the entire Reich's administration 

Konrad Heiden (7 August 1901 – 18 June 1966) was an influential Jewish journalist and historian of the Weimar Republic and Third Reich, most noted for the first influential biographies of German dictator Adolf Hitler. Often, he wrote under the pseudonym "Klaus Bredow."

Heiden was born in Munich, Germany, on 7 August 1901, and graduated from the University of Munich in 1923. At the university, he organized a republican and democratic student body and became a member of the Social Democratic Party.

General Erich Ludendorff
A veritable mania of superstition had seized the country, and all those who made a living by exploiting human stupidity thought the millennium had come. General Erich Ludendorff, who had commanded the German armies in World War I, tried to make gold with the assistance of a swindler boasting the appropriate name of Tausend (meaning 'thousand').
There was scarcely a folly in natural or world history to which the great general did not lend credence; when the German Republic, which he hated so intensely, had the barriers of the railway crossings painted red and white for better visibility, Ludendorff declared that the Jews in the government were doing this because Moses had led the Jews through the desert under these colors.

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (sometimes referred to as von Ludendorff) (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916 his appointment as Quartermaster general made him joint head (with Paul von Hindenburg), and chief engineer behind the management of Germany's effort in World War I until his resignation in October 1918.

Another high-ranking general was convinced that he possessed the secret of the death ray and that he could halt air-planes in their flight, and stop tanks in their tracks.
A steamship company dismissed its managing director because his handwriting had displeased a graphologist.
Motorists avoided a certain road between Hamburg and Bremen because, it was rumored, from milestone number 113 there emanated certain mysterious 'terrestrial rays', which provoked one accident after another.

A miracle worker, who had the faculty of making the dead Bismarck appear during his mass meetings and who healed the sick by application of white cheese, had enough followers to establish a city; another crackpot was almost elected to the Reichstag; and still a third, who also barely missed election, promised to perform the greatest miracle of all, by undoing the German inflation that had depreciated the mark to the value of one trillion paper marks for one gold mark.

Erik Jan Hanussen
Among Hitler's intimates (Erik Jan Hanussen) was a man on whose visiting card appeared the word 'magician' to indicate his profession - and he meant it in all seriousness.

Erik Jan Hanussen, born Hermann Steinschneider (2 June 1889, Vienna – 25 March 1933, Berlin), was an Austrian clairvoyant performer. Acclaimed in his lifetime as a hypnotist, mentalist, occultist, and astrologer, Hanussen was active in Weimar Republic Germany and also at the beginning of the Third Reich. He is said to have instructed Adolf Hitler in performance and the achievement of dramatic effect.

Many were convinced that the course of world history was the sinister result of the ministrations of ancient secret societies - as such they considered not only the Free Masons, but also Jews and the Jesuits.'
Other historians have corroborated that Germany between the two world wars was particularly ripe for these states of mind.
It was a time of alienation and impotence.
World War I had turned everything inside out.
Apart from the physical devastations, the three bugbears of taxation, inflation, and confiscation sapped the strength of the middle class.
The war itself was but a symptom of growing inner turbulence in Europe.
The trouble had, of course, begun much earlier.
In Germany particularly, the gap between an advancing technology and an outmoded social order was great.

German Jews
In the years preceding World War I, the German Jews were in an especially vulnerable position.
The full emancipation of the German Jews, which had come in 1871, brought large numbers of Eastern European Jews to Germany.
They settled in the cities, taking a prominent part in commercial, cultural, and political life.
Likewise, the period from 1857 to 1910 saw a rise in the Jewish population of Vienna of more than 400 percent.
Because of the high value the Jews placed on learning, a disproportionately large number went into the medical and legal professions, trying in that way to gain a modicum of social acceptance.
Some Germans, of course, mistook these professionals for the average Jew. 
Slowly, a new religion evolved for those Germans who felt somehow cheated - a cult of race, based on the supremacy of the Aryans, and the vilification of the Jews.
It was called the völkisch movement, and it enjoyed great popular appeal.
It began a virulent campaign against the 'foreign element'.
A racial theory of history was developed, and it heralded the coming of a new Messiah.
The mystical concepts of Reich and Volk went along with an awakening interest in occultism.
Secret cults sprang up, anti-Semitic and nationalistic.
Two Austrian occultists, Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels and Guido von List, presented a völkisch, anthropological package which attracted a number of wealthy backers.

Ostara - Goddess of Spring
Lanz von Liebenfels
Lanz's Order of New Templars and List's Armanen boasted many influential members.
In 1909, young Adolf Hitler, came across Lanz's magazine, Ostara, and made contact with the occultist - (although there is some evidence that he may have made contact with Liebenfels when he was a boy-chorister in Lambech Abbey).
The occult language and racist theories of this magazine were remarkably similar to Hitler's later utterances.
Membership in occult groups was often interlocking.

Germanen Orden
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
When, in 1912, a new secret cult, the 'Germanen Orden', was born, disciples of both Lanz and List joined.
The 'Germanen Orden' was like the other occult-nationalist groups, but with a difference.
It called for 'courageous men' to 'accomplish the work' of combating the Social Democrats, who had gained ground in the elections of 1912.
Courageous men did not leap forth imediately to join the 'Germanen Orden', but after World War I prospects became brighter.
People were in a state of shock over the German defeat, which had brought with it the collapse of Kaiser Wilhelm II's regime.
Power was suddenly thrust into the hands of a provisional democratic government whose unenviable task it was to accept the consequences of a lost war, reluctantly surrender, and sign a peace treaty.
Extremists of the left and right blamed everything on this government: 
Germany's humiliation, as well as the loss of territory and the the reparations which bore heavily, financially and psychologically, on the people.
It was the end of an era.
The Germans had gone into the war with such high hopes.
The war was to have been a release from care, a cleansing of mounting economic and social problems, a purging and purification.
When the war began, said one German, 'it was as if a nightmare had vanished, as if a door had opened, and an old yearning had been satisfied.'
The idea of war itself had become beautiful.
It was to give people back their lives.
'Peace', as someone pointed out, 'had become insupportable'.
Hitler embodied the alienated man with no family or occupation, to whom the outbreak of World War I was a godsend.
He later confessed:

'For me, as for every German, there now began the greatest and most unforgettable time of my earthly existence.'
When the Germans signed the peace treaty, the army released almost a quarter of a million men to add their numbers to the growing ranks of the unemployed.
Many soldiers were dazed to come home to a fatherland on the edge of anarchy, hungry, and undisciplined.
The new Russian Revolution threatened to spill over into Germany.
In Munich, particularly, Communists stalked the streets, threatening civil war. 
Conservatives and liberals alike were anxious to do anything to stave off communism.
The 'Germanen Orden' was happy to merge its destiny with a Munich group called the 'Thule Gesellschaft', which was meeting regularly to study the occult meaning of the ancient Germanic Runes, and its symbolism.

Rudolf von Sebottendorff
Thule Gesellschaft
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
It was led by an occultist called Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorff.
The 'Thule Gesellschaft' soon became the political arm of the 'Germanen Orden', and quietly set about preparing for a counter-revolution against the communist government of Bavaria.
It formed an umbrella for many of the nationalist groups, and enlisted men against the government, which, it said, had betrayed the German people.
In addition to being anti-Semitism, it preached the coming of a Führer who would do away with hated democracy.
It began to collect weapons, bought a newspaper (Völkisch Beobachter), instigated terrorist activity and stirred up race hatred against the Jews, all the while keeping up the front of being a study group for Germanic antiquity.

Alfred Rosenberg
Thule members who were to play key roles in the formation of the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) were Alfred Rosenberg, Rudolf Hess, Gottfried Feder, Karl Harrer, and Dietrich Eckart.
Not until they found their Führer,  Adolf Hitler, were they able to carry out the programs of Lanz, List, and Sebottendorff.

Order of the New Templars
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016
But all the essential ingredients - the ideology, the rituals, the symbols, the attitudes - of the coming National Socialist Revolution were already present in the 'Germanen Orden' and the 'Thule Gesellschaft', as well as the 'Order of the New Templars' and the 'Armanen'. 
These German occult groups did not appear out of nowhere.
They had historical antecedents.
The new Aryan hero trumpeted by List and Lanz owed his birth to the unholy marriage of early ideas of racial purity and Darwin's concept of evolution, which was consummated in the nineteenth-century Europe where German romantics, in particular, were fascinated with racial theories.
The nineteenth century was remarkable for great change.
In Germany the change was more drastic than in the rest of Europe.
Its people had been more completely under the sway of the past; the Middle Ages had still been dominant in agriculture and industry.
The Thirty Years' War, which began in 1618, had consolidated land holdings into fewer and fewer hands, and the land reforms which followed only served to crush the people lower down on the social scale.
The industrial revolution happened more rapidly in Germany than anywhere else.
Mass migrations of people from country to city severed traditional ties. Scientific discovery brought a sharp decline in religious faith, and there was a search for new values with which to identify.
The state, assuming more and more control, seemed bent on crushing individuality.
The European romantics, wincing at the bitter fruits of modern 'progress', delighted in the exoticisms of the East.
European rule in the Orient, travel, and translations of the Oriental classics helped lift the veils from the faces of the ancient Eastern civilizations.
What the Europeans caught a glimpse of was a kind of serenity which had disappeared from the West and which was very much desired.
So great was the Eastern influence that Victor Hugo observed in 1829: 'In the age of Louis XIV, all the world was Hellenist; now it is orientalist.'
Napoleon's army, entering Egypt in 1798, found the Rosetta Stone, which scholars labored to decipher.
When Champollion solved the riddle, the long-lost tongue of that ancient civilization was loosened and the way opened for the great achievements of the modern science of Egyptology.
German archaeologists went along with the Prussian king's expedition in 1842 and further refined the study.
The Germans also made important contributions to understanding the real nature of Islamic literature and thought.
Persian love poems, called ghazals, had the greatest effect on German poets. 
The most brilliant of the Persian poems were Sufi.
In the Sufi tradition, the poems were interpreted as allegorical and mystical revelations of the divine.
German poet-scholars made use of them to such an extent that Heinrich Heine admonished: 'These poor poets eat too freely of the fruit they steal from the garden groves of Shiraz, and then they vomit ghazals'.
The philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder read Indian philosophy with enthusiasm and managed to inspire the German romantics.
Herder cautioned them not to be frightened by super-natural elements such as gods moving among men or nature personified.
A French version of the 'Upanishads' awakened Arthur Schopenhauer to the wisdom of the East.
His pessimistic view of a demonic 'will', blind, and insatiable, compelling all things to share in its own futile unrest, had a tremendous influence on German thought, falling in with the disappointed mood of the age. 
Schopenhauer's negation of life was soon imitated by like minds.
The cessation of activity, for the sake of eventual purification, had a definite appeal for tired, hopeless people who could now enjoy renunciation.
These German writers began to glorify the Middle Ages as a period of dialogue with God, when men, art, and religion had been unified.
To restore the lost innocence became their aim.
In the mid 1800's, German philologists had theorized that their noble Aryan forebears in India had the same mystical symbols and gods as the ancient Germans.
A French diplomat and Orientalist, Arthur de  Gobineau, made race the determining characteristic in the rise and fall of civilizations.
Gobineau's theory was that the racially pure Aryans were bastardized by alien racial elements, producing, by the process of civilization, a decadent people. 
It was the Semites, he said, hybridized by blacks, who were responsible for the Fall.
Gobineau's work not only gave respectability to the budding anti-Semitism in Germany, it provided a convenient rationale for the economic and social fall of the nobleman.
Even the caste system in India, he claimed, had not been sufficiently stringent to protect the ruling elite from the defiling blood of the dark-skinned races they had subjugated.
His ideas penetrated throughout Germany.
The German romantics could now view themselves as a natural aristocracy replacing the older, outmoded feudal aristocracy, which no longer accorded well with the idea of progress.
After all, the Teutons, whom Gobineau equated with the Aryans, were the superior race.
This idea was eagerly seized on and was buttressed by the growing resentment against the Jews.
In the early nineteenth century, the Jews had begun to move toward equality and citizenship in Germany.
Before then, the mass of them lived in ghettos behind walls, were taxed heavily, and were barred from any work but peddling and petty trade except for a select few, and even then under prohibitions which gave them a bare subsistence.
Even the more fortunate, like the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, at the height of his fame in 1776, reported that to enter Dresden he was forced to pay 'head tax' equivalent to that set for 'a Polish cow'.
After the German emancipation of the Jews, which took several decades to complete, there was a huge influx of Jews from the Eastern European countries.
Life in Germany was more hospitable to them.
But in time, the majority of Germans, scratching out a bare living themselves, began to resent them. 
Gobineau became the prophet for all these 'poor Germans' and provided them with a philosophy which preached the nobility of the Aryan by simple virtue of his birth.
From this eminent source they learned that contamination of race would lead to the certain decline of Germany.
The growing völkisch movement began an active battle against the Jews, the defilers of their blood, reinforced by a scholarly writer who satisfied their desire for academic respectability.
Rightist Pan-German groups also bolstered their ideology by citing the philosophical, historical, and scientific analyses laid out by Houston Stewart Chamberlain, an Englishman in love with German culture.
His two-volume 'Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts', 1899 had a strong appeal.
He told a mass society, at the mercy of the impersonal forces which were crushing it, that the Teutons were indomitable master builders, that in mysticism was freedom, that 'every Mystic is, whether he will or not, a born Anti-Semite', and that Darwin's theory of natural selection justifies the stricture against mingling of the races.
Even before Chamberlain, völkisch thinkers had woven together lessons from history, proving the heroism of the ancient Germanic past.
Many of them were also admirers of the Theosophical Society, which combined
for the first time certain elements into a cohesive system considered by some people to be the beginning of modern occultism.
The Theosophical Society was organized in New York City in 1875 by Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a Russian expatriate countess.
Convinced that she had mediumistic powers, and versed in many languages, she wandered about Europe and the East, and decided at age forty to come to New York to investigate spiritualism.
Her mission, a Society historian observed, was 'to explain its phenomena, expose its frauds, to enlarge its spiritual scope, and to give it the dignity in the world of science which was its due'.
Depleted of
financial resources, if not of energy, she delivered up a syncretic philosophy of Hinduism, Gnosticism, and science, which had a tremendous impact on the intelligentsia of the West.
Her ideas dealt with ancient lost races with secret knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality, the immortal soul perfecting itself through endless rebirths, and mastery of superhuman powers, which could unlock the secrets of the universe. 
Darwin's 'Origin of Species', published in 1859, had widened the chasm between science and religion.
Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky leaped across that chasm with a spiritual concept of evolution.
Men could become divine, she said, by advancing in an evolutionary process which was  part  of  an  elaborate cosmology affecting whole races.
Like most occultists, she believed in the old Gnostic doctrine that there were two worlds, one good and one evil.
In Gnostic thinking, spirit and matter were opposed to each other, matter being an interruption of the order of the cosmos - a fall, and therefore evil. The Gnostics posited three classes: spiritual, or pneumatic, men; animal, or psychic, men; and carnal, or physical, men.
The last were said to be wholly material and could not be saved, their nature being evil; they had not a single spark of the divine in them.
Some aspects of matter, according to the Gnostics, was not the creation of the supreme god but of a demiurge, an inferior divinity.
Within Gnosticism, then, existed the idea that the Jewish god was really responsible for all the evil in the world, and Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky repeated this Gnostic thinking in her book 'Die Geheimlehre' (The Secret Doctrine).
'With the Semite, that stooping man meant the fall of Spirit into matter, and that fall and degradation were apotheosized by him with the result of dragging Deity down to the level of man.... The Aryan views of the symbolism were those of the whole Pagan world; the Semite interpreta- tions emanated from and were pre-eminently those of a small tribe, thus marking its national features and the idiosyncratic defects that charac- terize many of the Jews to this day—gross realism, selfishness, and sensuality.'
She talked of a race of giants that existed in ancient days and argued that the occasional appearance of giants in modern times proved that species tend to revert to the original type.
She held that since the days of the giants, whose descendants the Aryans were, there had been an unbroken succession of semi-immortal 'adepts'.
Because of the flamboyance of her personality, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky became the model for other aspiring occultist leaders.
She had somehow managed to make magic, alchemy and the occult respectable.
With the support of many educated people, her ideas spread.
She brought to the last decades of the nineteenth century a universal palliative for the materialism from which it was suffering.
The völkisch writers made much use of both Theosophy and Darwinism.
Darwin's book had been hailed in Germany with an acclamation in startling contrast to the storm of protest which greeted it elsewhere.
In place of a dogmatic Christian theology preaching a millennium, there came a conviction that  human society was moving blindly toward some ideal  goal. 
The struggle for existence, palpable to every German, justified itself in this evolutionary scheme of nature.
'Origin of Species' sold briskly in Germany.
It was said that although Darwin was English, Darwinism really came into its own in Germany.
As one German scientist pointed out:
'You are still discussing in England whether or not the theory of Darwin can be true.
We have got a long way beyond that stage here.
His theory is now our common starting point'.
To a growing body of anthropological concepts was now fused the idea that the karma of the Aryans was to engage in a race struggle for supremacy.
Germans, the fittest to survive, were destined to become the saviours or redeemers of the human race.
For this, Guido von List preached, they would need 'ein starker Mann von oben' (a strong man from above).
List's study of the origins of Jewish mysticism had taught him the importance of imbuing a people with a Messianic hope.
When the world is changing, and the old knowledge becomes suspect, it is
necessary to herald the coming of a Messiah so that the traditional verities may be adapted to new conditions.
List gave the Germans, in effect, an opportunity to become the competitors of the Jews for the honour of being a 'chosen people'.
His secular Messianic nationalism was taken seriously by many.
The German people were to take their place at the head of all nations, act as their leader, and move them toward civilization.
They were the 'chosen people', and soon a Führer would arise among them who, in turn, would lead the Messianic nation.                  
Just before World War I, then, side by side with an awakening interest in occultism went an interest in racist-nationalism.
Germany's supremacy was 'proved' by the ideas and events of the distant past, when the Teutons lived close to nature, and far from modern artificiality. 
The call of the elemental, the breath of the woodland, the simple poetry of Wanderlust, of joyous roving, asserted themselves.
The folk-tales and folk songs issuing from the lips of peasants became sacred. 
Primitive German institutions and folklore were eagerly studied.
Whereas, for primitive peoples, nature often represented primordial chaos, and therefore the enemy, these neo-primitives idealized nature and anathematized the city as profane, an aberrant discovery of modern man in his wickedness.
Imagination, feeling, and 'will' attributed to Natural Man, were placed above reason, which was held responsible for the psychic disorders of civilized man. 
The irrational was recognized as a source of illumination.
List and his Theosophical friends had a 'secret science' by which they could intuit the past and divine its meaning.
Through extrasensory powers, they could communicate with the 'Geister' (spirits) which hovered around ancient soil.
Innocent and pastoral at first, this movement back to nature and simplicity gradually grew more and more patriotic, more and more 'German', to the exclusion of other races, and more and more anti-Semitic.
Both the occult and the racist-nationalist movements were hostile to many aspects of modernity.
Both promised a millennium (das Tausendjährige Reich).
They saw in the Jew the exemplar of the modern man: urban, alienated from the soil, materialistic.
Occult and the racist-nationalist movements were essentially conservative, in that they harked back to a golden age.
The groups often intertwined.
Under the influence of List and Lanz, whose works they studied, völkisch youth groups pressed for the expulsion of Jews from their organizations, from university life, and from the government.
Admirers and disciples of both men (List and Liebenfels) became agitators for a final solution to the Jewish problem.
Both also hailed the Middle Ages with uncritical admiration.
Whereas the rest of Europe tended to brand that period as an era of darkness from which it had been happy to emerge, and to hold up the Renaissance as worthy of adoration, Germans idealized the Middle Ages as the most illustrious period of their history.
The hierarchic structure of medieval society appealed to their longing for political security.
Their worship of the twelfth-century German Crusaders, the Order of Teutonic Knights, for instance, was based on its mystical hierarchical structure, its secrecy, and its supernatural claims to world domination. Indeed, according to some people, the 'thousand-year conspiracy' of conquest which the Teutonic Knights had threatened did persist into the twentieth century.
The marriage of occultism and nationalism is not as uneasy as it might appear on the surface.
Each represents a nostalgia for a lost paradisical state, and a commitment to restoring that state in some millennial time.
It is natural for people who feel uncertain about the future to look back senti- mentally to a glorified past which they will try to relive.
It is not at all unusual to find such feelings of Weltschmerz (world-weariness) in those periods when reason seems to have failed us, and death and disorder wait to swallow us up.
At such times, an interest in the occult gains ground steadily and tries to reintegrate the shattered cosmos.
This was the climate in Germany before World War I, and the war intensified it.

click below for
Völkisch Occultism

No comments:

Post a Comment