Official memory culture Official memory culture includes accounts about history that are widely acknowledged in society as respectable, thus reliable, sources. In fact, as there has not been much scholarly interest specifically focusing on the esoteric aspects of Nazi Germany, most research dealing with the topic has been conducted outside academia. This suggests that the mythification described above is not a phenomenon confined to the popular parts of the discourse, but is in fact also prevalent within academia as well.
Official memory culture might sound like something static, but there is a lot of dynamic in the discourse. For an extensive account of films on the topic, see Kingsepp However, what is often overseen is that their meanings are — and in fact were already then — open to different interpretations, thus easily leading to misunderstandings and anachronisms cf. There are frequent references to Pseudoreligion, Germanenmystik, Irminen-Glaube and even Runenverehrung, the worship of runes.
A Walpurgisnacht fable: the seductive myth of Nazi occultism. – glucinamchicti.cf
This seems to be the case as late as , when a report from a research project on memory culture in Ostwestfalen-Lippe was published Kerzel Here there is an implication that at least Himmler himself did actually perform some kind of occult workings in the castle. Although not much is known about this, at least there seems to have been something happening — but this is not further elaborated upon. In her chapter in the today most comprehensive and updated academic work available on the topic, Die SS, Himmler, und die Wewelsburg , Daniela Siepe writes about the role of the castle and the Black Sun symbol in contemporary esoteric and rightwing circles.
She states that the latest research shows that except from oath-taking ceremonies, there were no plans for any ritual actions by the SS at the Wewelsburg. The articles in the volume show how official memory culture has changed concerning the idea of an SS cult.
From having been not very different from the dominant representation in popular culture, the image presented today is much less spectacular. Today, the cult is gone. Although the exhibition contains large parts that are in fact dealing with the esoteric aspects of the SS worldview, there is not much mystification left. The title of the extensive accompanying volume Brebeck et al. The mythical is still there, but now referring to the self-image of the SS, not our own post-war conception of them. An explanation, Schulte proposed, might be that the book in fact functioned as a catalyst for a major shift of paradigm concerning the view of the SS in official memory culture.
As scholars we are of course part of the rest of society, and it would be highly mistaken to believe that we are immune to all kinds of influences, including those that we later might rather wish we had been able to avoid.
Although he is not concerned with the SS, the text still deserves to mentioned, as it shows how occultural elements enter academic discourse even in a peer- review journal. Although there is a consensus in most scholarly research that this is an entirely false assumption — especially as it is well documented that Hitler looked upon Norse religion with a certain contempt — this does not seem to bother Sickinger, who instead uses a good number of rather dubious sources to confirm his ideas. There are certain media products that belong to popular history in that they are not officially sanctioned by academia or institutions such as museums, but still express a strong claim for authenticity and accuracy by using an authoritative mode of communication.
They also frequently use references from historians and other authorities, be it academics or laymen that are well known within the field, in order to further establish an image of seriosity. I have already mentioned some authors in the cryptohistory genre, but it is also noteworthy that this is an area where two discourse strands meet and create discursive bridges between them.
Thus, a tv documentary like Nazis: The Occult Conspiracy made by Discovery Channel can include renowned historians like George L Mosse among its interviewed experts and still be highly speculative and sensationalistic. This means that those who are seriously interested in the esoteric aspects of Nazi Germany are faced with a huge amount of work, including reading and critically evaluating everything they can find on the topic.
Although this kind of media criticism is by no means confined only to those with an academic training, such a background is certainly an asset.
Occultism in Nazism
This becomes visible in the next part, when we go to the Temple of Set. Aquino and Stephen E. Flowers, two leading members of the Order. LaVey was fascinated by Nazi Germany, especially the idea of Nazi occultism and its potential for magical work, which led to rumours connecting the COS to Nazism. Aquino ; Flowers However, there is also a renouncement regarding racism, anti- Semitism and xenophobia. Said Heinrich Himmler on April 21, "We have made serious mistakes.
If I could have a fresh start, I would do many things differently now. But it is too late. We wanted greatness and security for Germany, and we are leaving behind us a pile of ruins, a fallen world Budapest: Central European University Press, San Antonio: Antarctic Press, Moon, Peter. Westbury, NY: Sky Books, Paijmans, Theo. Pauwels, Louis, and Jacques Bergier.
The Morning of the Magicians New York: Basic Books, New York: Hyperion, Rahn, Otto. Crusade Against the Grail Translated and annotated by Christopher Jones. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, Ravenscroft, Trevor. The Spear of Destiny. Sklar, Dusty. The Nazis and the Occult New York: Dorset Press, Smith, Jerry E.
Stevens, Henry. Suster, Gerald. Hitler: The Occult Messiah. New York: St. Vesco, Renato, and David Hatcher Childress.
Invisible Eagle: The Hidden History of Nazi Occultism by Alan Baker (Hardback, 2000)
The Occult Establishment. Afrikakorps Elite Yenne, Bill. Minneapolis: Zenith, V-2 Ballistic Missile New Vanguard Znamenski, Andrei. Tags: eliptony , history , lists , nazi occult. However, for many people in Europe and America, scientific rationalism, rapid industrialisation and urbanisation presented another threat to their long-established way of life.
As an antidote to the fears and uncertainties of modern life, Theosophy was particularly readily accepted in Germany and Austria.
As Goodrick-Clarke notes, it was well suited to the German protest movement known as Lebensreform life reform. A variety of alternative life-styles - including herbal and natural medicine, vegetarianism, nudism and self-sufficient rural communes - were embraced by small groups of individuals who hoped to restore themselves to a natural existence Theosophy was appropriate to the mood of Lebensreform and provided a philosophical rationale for some of its groups.
Blavatsky and Olcott were staying there at the home of Marie Gebhard , a devotee of occultism who had corresponded frequently with the famous French occultist and magician Eliphas Levi Alphonse Louis Constant c. Hubbe-Schleiden, who had travelled extensively throughout the world and was a keen advocate of German colonial expansion abroad, was instrumental in gathering the isolated Theosophists scattered throughout Germany into a consolidated German branch of the society.
Hubbe-Schleiden also did much to increase occult interest in Germany through the founding in of his periodical Die Sphinx, a scholarly blend of psychical research, the paranormal, archaeology and Christian mysticism from a scientific viewpoint. As such it was firmly Theosophical in tone, and included contributions from scientists, historians and philosophers. Already interested in Spiritualism, Hartmann was converted to Theosophy after reading Isis Unveiled and decided to travel to Adyar to meet Blavatsky and Olcott in So impressed was Blavatsky with him that she appointed him acting president of the Theosophical Society while she and Olcott travelled to Germany to start the branch there.
Hartmann remained there until , when the Theosophists left India following the Coulomb scandal. Hartmann went on to found the occult periodical Lotusbluthen Lotus Blossoms , which ran from to and was the first German publication to feature the swastika on its cover. The increased public interest generated by this periodical prompted a number of German publishers to issue long book series dealing with a wide range of occult and esoteric subjects, including the work of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater who took over the Theosophical Society on Blavatsky's death in The German branch of the society had been dissolved in when the Theosophists left India, but was replaced by a new society founded in Berlin in August as a branch of the International Theosophical Brotherhood in America, with Hartmann as president.
Also on the executive committee was one Paul Zillmann, who founded the monthly Metaphysische Rundschau Metaphysical Review and who would later publish the works of the Ariosophists whom we shall meet shortly.
By , German Theosophy, which had hitherto suffered from internecine rivalry, became far better coordinated under the two main centres at Berlin and Leipzig. In , a Theosophical Publishing House was founded at Leipzig by Hugo Vollrath, a disciple of Hartmann's, possibly to counter the new influence in occult circles of Theosophist Rudolf Steiner, whose mystical Christian stance did not endear him to Annie Besant whose own outlook was firmly Hindu.
Steiner would later leave and form his own Anthroposophical Society in The Theosophical Publishing House produced a large number of occult magazines and book series, in competition with other publishers such as Karl Rohm, Johannes Baum and Max Altmann who had turned their attention to this potentially lucrative field. The public interest in occultism quickly grew in Vienna, which already had its own tradition of esotericism and interest in paranormal phenomena. New occult groups were founded, including the Association for Occultism, which had its own lending library, the Sphinx Reading Club and the First Viennese Astrological Society.
The public disquiet at economic change, scientific rationalism and rapid industrialisation and the threat they appeared to pose to traditional 'natural' ways of life was palliated not only by occultist notions of the centrality and importance of humanity within the wider cosmos of the essential meaningfulness of existence , but also by the volkisch ideology that assured Germans of the value and importance of their cultural identity. This combination of culture and spirituality was expressed most forcefully through the doctrine of Ariosophy, which originated in Vienna.
Ariosophy The bizarre theories of Ariosophy constituted a mixture of racist volkisch ideology and the Theosophical concepts of Madame Blavatsky.
As with the philosophy of Nietszche, Blavatsky's ideas were hijacked and warped by German occultists and it should be remembered that neither of these two would have advocated the violence and suffering that would later be perpetrated by the Nazis: indeed, Nietszche disavowed anti-Semitism and called German nationalism an 'abyss of stupidity'. The two principal personalities behind Ariosophy were Guido von List and Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels , both of whom added the undeserved particle 'von' denoting nobility to their names.