The Unknown Hitler: Nazi Roots in the Occult
On April 6, 1919, in Bavaria, left wing socialists and anarchists proclaimed the Bavarian Soviet Republic. The brains of the revolution were a group of writers who had little idea of administration. Life in munich grew chaotic. The counter-revolutionary forces, the whites, composed of various groups of decommissioned soldiers known as “Frei Corps”, equipped and financed by the mysterious Thule Society, defeated the Bavarian Soviet within a matter of weeks.
Many other decommissioned soldiers waited out the turbulence in barracks, pfc Adolph Hitler among them. After the Bavarian Republic had been defeated by the Whites, in May, Hitler’s superiors put him to work in the post revolution investigating commission. His indictments injected ruthless efficiency into the kangaroo courts as he fingered hundreds of noncommissioned officers and enlisted men who had sympathized with the communist and anarchists. He was subsequently sent to attend special anticommunist training courses and seminars at the University which were financed by the Reichswehr administration and by private donors from the Thule Society. This led to an assignment in the intelligence division of the postwar German army, to infiltrate groups that could organize the working classes while the communists were weak. On a September evening, 1919, Hitler turned up in the Sternecker Beer Hall where members and friends of the budding German Workers Party had gathered.
He quietly listened to the presentation by engineer Gottfried Feder, a Thule Society member, who talked about jewish control over lending capital. When one of the other group members called for Bavaria to break away from the rest of Germany, Hitler sprang into action. The astonished audience stood by while his highly aggressive remarks and compelling oratory swept through the room. After Hitler had finished his harangue, party chairman and founder, Anton Drexler, immediately asked him to a meeting of the party’s steering committee held a few days later. He was asked to join the committee as its seventh member, responsible for advertising and propaganda.
Back in 1912, several German occultists with radical anti-semitic inclinations decided to form a “magic” lodge, which they named the Order of Teutons. the main founders were Theodor Fritsch, a publisher of an anti-semitic journal; Philipp Stauff, pupil of the racist Guido Von List, and Hermann Pohl, the order’s chancellor. (Pohl would drop out three years later to found his own bizarre lodge, the ‘Walvater Teutonic Order of the Holy Grail’.)
The Order of Teutons was organized along the lines of the Free Masons or the Rosicrucians, having differing degrees of initiation, only persons who could fully document that they were of pure “aryan” ancestry were allowed to join.
In 1915, Pohl was joined by Rudolf Blauer, who held a Turkish passport and practiced sufi meditation. He also dabbled in astrology and was an admirer of Lanz Von Liebenfels and Guido Von List, both pathologically anti-semitic. Blauer went by the name of Rudolf Freiherr Von Seboottendorf. He was very wealthy, although the origin of his fortune is unknown. He became the Grand Master of the Bavarian Order and he founded the Thule Society, with Pohl’s approval, in 1918.
After the Bavarian communist revolution of 1918, the Thule Society became a center of thea counterrevolutionary subculture. An espionage network and arms caches were organized. The Thule Club rooms became a nest of resistance to the revolution and the Munich Soviet Republic.
Journalist Karl Harrer was given the job of founding a political “worker circle”. He realized that the workers would reject any program that was presented to them by a member of the conservative “privileged” class. Harrer knew that the mechanic Anton Drexler, who was working for the railroads, was a well-known anti-semite, chauvinist and proletarian. With drexler as nominal chairman, Harrer founded the German Workers Party in January 1919
The German Workers Party was only one of many associations founded and controlled by the Thule Society. The Thule was the “mother” to the German Socialist Party, led by Julius Streicher, and the right-wing radical Oberland Free Corps. It published the Munich observer, which later became the National Observer. Hitler became the most prominent personality in the party. He caused Harrer to drop out, and he pushed Drexler, the nominal chairman, to the sidelines. He filled key positions with his own friends from the Thule Society and the Army. During the summer of 1920, upon his suggestion, the party was renamed the National Socialist German Worker Party (NASDAP). The new name was intended to equally attract nationalists and proletarians.
To go along with the new name his mass movement also required a flag with a powerful symbol. Among many designs under consideration, Hitler picked the one suggested by Thule member Dr. Krohn: a red cloth with a white circle in the middle containing a black swastika.
Hitler wanted to turn the German Workers Party into a mass-conscious fighting party, but Harrer and Drexler were hesitant, due in part to their woeful financial situation. The Thule Society was not yet supplying very much money and no one seemed to know how to build up a mass party. Hitler arranged two public meetings in obscure beer halls, and he drafted leaflets and posters, but there was no real breakthrough.
All of this changed dramatically at the end of the 1919 when Hitler met Dietrich Eckart. Most biographers have underestimated the influence that Eckart exerted on Hitler. He was the wealthy publisher and editor-in-chief of an anti-semitic journal which he called In Plain German. Eckart was also a committed occultist and a master of magic. As an initiate, Eckart belonged to the inner circle of the Thule Society as well as other esoteric orders.
Briefly, the creed of the Thule Society inner circle is as follows: Thule was a legendary island in the far north, similar to Atlantis, supposedly the center of a lost, high-level civilization. But not all secrets of that civilization had been completely wiped out. Those that remained were being guarded by ancient, highly intelligent beings (similar to the “Masters” of Theosophy or the White Brotherhood). The truly initiated could establish contact with these beings by means of magic-mystical rituals. The “Masters” or “Ancients” allegedly would be able to endow the initiated with supernatural strength and energy. With the help of these energies the goal of the initiated was to create a race of Supermen of “Aryan” stock who would exterminate all “inferior” races.
There can be no doubt that Eckart – who had been alerted to Hitler by other Thulists – trained Hitler in techniques of self confidence, self projection, persuasive oratory, body language and discursive sophistry. With these tools, in a short period of time he was able to move the obscure workers party from the club and beer hall atmosphere to a mass movement. The emotion charged lay speaker became an expert orator, capable of mesmerizing a vast audience.
One should not underestimate occultism’s influence on Hitler. His subsequent rejection of Free Masons and esoteric movements, of Theosophy, of Anthrosophy, does not necessarily mean otherwise. Occult circles have long been known as covers for espionage and influence peddling. Hitler’s spy apparatus under Canaris and Heydrich were well aware of these conduits, particularly from the direction of Britain which had within its MI5 intelligence agency a department known as the Occult Bureau. That these potential sources of trouble were purged from Nazi life should not be taken to mean that Hitler and the Nazi secret societies were not influenced by mystical and occult writers such as Madame Blavatsky, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Guido Von List, Lanz Von Liebenfels, Rudolf Steiner, George Gurdjieff, Karl Haushofer and Theodor Fritsch. Although Hitler later denounced and ridiculed many of them, he did dedicate his book Mein Kampf to his teacher Dietrich Eckart.
A frequent visitor to Landsberg Prison where Hitler was writing Mein Kampf with the help of Rudolf Hess, was General Karl Haushofer, a university professor and director of the Munich Institute of Geopolitics. Haushofer, Hitler, and Hess had long conversations together. Hess also kept records of these conversations. Hitler’s demands for German “Living Space” in the east at the expense of the Slavic nations were based on the geopolitical theories of the learned professor. Haushofer was also inclined toward the esoteric. as military attache in Japan, he had studied Zen-Buddhism. He had also gone through initiations at the hands of Tibetan Lamas. He became Hitler’s second “esoteric mentor”, replacing Dietrich Eckart.
In Berlin, Haushofer had founded the Luminous Lodge or the Vril Society. The lodge’s objective was to explore the origins of the Aryan race and to perform exercises in concentration to awaken the forces of “Vril”. Haushofer was a student of the Russian magician and metaphysician Gregor Ivanovich Gurdyev (George Gurdjieff).
Both Gurdjeiff and Haushofer maintained that they had contacts with secret Tibetan Lodges that possessed the secret of the “Superman”. The lodge included Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg, Himmler, Goring, and Hitler’s subsequent personal physician Dr. Morell. It is also known that Aleister Crowley and Gurdjieff sought contact with Hitler.
Hitler’s unusual powers of suggestion become more understandable if one keeps in mind that he had access to the “secret” psychological techniques of the esoteric lodges. Haushofer taught him the techniques of Gurdjieff which, in turn, were based on the teachings of the Sufis and the Tibetan Lamas- and familiarized him with the Zen teaching of the Japanese Society of the Green Dragon.
From The Unknown Hitler by Wulf Schwartzwaller, Berkeley Books, 1990
The Men Behind Hitler – excerpts from the book by Bernard Schreiber
Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was an English political economist and historian who in 1796 published a book called “An Essay on the Principle of Population” in which he said that poverty, and thereby vice and misery, are unavoidable because population growth always exceeds food production. Checks on population growth were wars, famine, and diseases.
Malthus’s ideas had great impact, only a few asked on what his claims were actually based. Yet neither Malthus nor his later disciples ever managed to put forward any scientific proof for his theory. Many scientists have disproved Malthus’ theory and the ideology resulting from it.
However, with the book, Malthus created an atmosphere which moved his adherents in 1834 to pass a new law providing for the institution of work- houses for the poor, in which the sexes were strictly separated to curb the otherwise inevitable overbreeding. This kind of philosophy urged the calling forth of drastic measures. The full title of Charles Darwin’s famous book is not so famous: The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. In it he explains the development of life-forms as a struggle for existence. The result of this struggle would be a natural selection of those species and races who were to triumph over those weaker ones who would perish.
Francis Galton (1822-1911) was an english psychologist and a half-cousin of Darwin. Galton extended Darwin’s theory into a concept of deliberate social intervention, which he said was a logical application of evolution to the human race. He called his theory “Eugenics”, the principle of which was that by encouraging better human stock to breed and discouraging the reproduction of less desirable stock, the whole race could be improved.
Modern racism really began with Arthur Count de Gabon (1816-1882) who published his Essay on the Inequality of Human Races. He wrote in of a fair-haired Aryan race that was superior to all the others whose remnants constituted a tiny racial aristocracy decaying under the overwhelming weight of inferior races. A revival of his work in Germany began ten years after his death by the Pan-Germans, an extremely nationalistic and anti-jewish group.
In 1899, Gabon’s disciple, Houston Stewart Chaimberlain (1844-1927), an Englishman, published The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, in Germany. He upheld the German race to be the purest and damned the inferior races, the jews and negroes, as degenerate. From this point on, Eugenics, Social Darwinism and racial hygiene fused into a single concept.
In 1904 the first chairs in Eugenics were instituted at University College, London, followed by the establishment of the Galton Laboratory for National Eugenics in 1907. In 1910 the Eugenic Record Office was founded in the United States, both institutes used the research results of the Galton Laboratory of National Eugenics to propose practical applications. Eugenics was used an the “scientific” basis upon which racism was fused to politics.
Eugenicists believed that the child of a mentally-ill person and a mentally heathy person would be a mentally-ill offspring. This led to a series of escalating regimens: separation from society, restraint, separation of the sexes in defective’s colonies, and sterilizations.
In Great Britain one of the leaders of the mental hygiene movement was Miss Evelyn Fox. She had been an active member of the Eugenics Society before the foundation of the National Council for Mental Hygiene, of which she was an officer and founder. among the board members was Sir Cyril Burt, who later founded Mensa, a high i.q. group which espoused eugenic principles. The mental hygiene movement drew strongly from the eugenic movements of whatever country they were in.
Shortly after the turn of the century eugenic organizations were set up throughout the world. While the whole world was being prepared by propaganda for the sterilization of the insane, the adherents of mental hygiene and eugenics were preparing their next step, euthanasia.
In the U.S.A., Dr. Alexis Carrel, a nobel prize winner who had been on the staff of the Rockefeller Institute since its inception, published his bookMan the Unknown in 1935. In it he suggests the removal of the mentally ill and the criminal by small euthanasia institutions equipped with suitable gases.
In 1933 the Nazi party rapidly consolidated its power. In June of that year, Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick put in motion the passage of the “Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Diseases in Posterity”- the sterilization law. Architect of the law was Ernst Rudin, professor of psychiatry at the Munich University, director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Genealog, and of the Research Institute for Psychiatry. A separate legal system was set up consisting of “Hereditary Health Courts”, which could decree sterilization against a person’s will. By 1935 the “Nuremburg Laws” intended to insure the racial purity of the nation and was aimed specifically at the Jews.
In 1934 the Institute for Heredity, Biology and Racial Research was founded at Frankfurt University by professor Ernst Rudin’s colleague at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, Dr. Otmar Freiherr Von Verscheur. Von Verscheur’s assistant there was Dr. Joseph Mengele.
In England, Dr. Charles Killick Millard, president of the Society of Medical Officers of Health, brought up in 1931 the question of voluntary euthanasia and proposed a suitable law. Later he became fellow founder of the Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation Society. In 1935 Lord Moynihan, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, founded the Euthanasia Society .
Sterilization and euthanasia were not the ideas of the Nazis and never had been. They were ideas which were supported and promoted throughout the world by groups with an interest in the development of mental hygiene. Germany, however, was the only country in which the political climate allowed materialization of the final goal of sterilization and euthanasia.
There is not a great deal known about “T4” compared to other aspects of Nazi Germany. T4 was the Fuhrer Chancellery and the initials came from the full address which was Tiergartenstrasse 4, Berlin. “Project T4” was fully integrated into the organizational structure of the Reich and fell under section 11b. (“mercy-death”) of the Chancellery of the Fuhrer. Four cover organizations safeguarded the project T4: the Realms Work Committee in charge of collecting information on candidates for euthanasia from questionnaires sent to hospitals, the Realms Committee for Scientific Approach to Severe Illness Due to Heredity set up exclusively to apply euthanasia to children, the charitable company for the transport of the sick which transported patients to the killing centers, and the Charitable Foundation for Institutional Care, in charge of final disposition of the victims’ remains.
At the time the questionnaires went out a number of mental hospitals were being converted for use as killing centers and schools for murder. Death chambers were built disguised as shower-baths and crematoriums, which were identical to those later to be established in the death camps in Poland.
Schooling of the personnel at Hadamar Mental Institution produced perfect murderers who were used to the smell of burnt flesh, had been taught to trick people being led to their death and to steel themselves against the crying and pleading of the victims. On arrival, the victims were stripped, dressed in paper shirts and forthwith taken to a gas chamber where they were murdered with hydrocyanic acid gas, and the bodies moved to crematoriums by conveyer belts, six bodies to a furnace. The psychiatrist in charge at Hadamar was Dr. Adolf Wahlmann, an active member of the German Mental Hygiene Movement.
After the state had been relieved of the burden of these undesireables, the operation, still under the direction of eminent mental health psychiatrists in T4, was expanded under the code of 14F13. From being limited to mental hospitals and institutions, it now embraced German and Austrian inmates and Jews in concentration camps who were sick or invalid. At Dachau at the end of 1941 a commission composed of 4 psychiatrists under professor Dr. Werner Heyde, SS Standartenfuhrer and lecturer in neurology and psychiatry at Wurzburg University, arrived at the camp and selected hundred of patients incapable of work who were transported to the gas chambers and disposed of.
The extermination camps had followed a separate evolution from the concentration camps that were opened a few months after the Nazi rise to power. These death camps had their headquarters, not in Himmler’s SS organization, but in the Fuhrer’s Chancellory (T4). Franz Stangl (Austrian Gestapo) said at the Nuremberg trials that his progression to builder and commander of the Sobibor Extermination Camp went through the Hartheim and Bernberg euthanasia centers. The original staff at Sobibor was taken from Hartheim.
During the war eugenics became associated with the Nazis and afterwards a global whitewashing began. The first step was the reconstitution of the many National Councils of Mental Hygiene. The first was the British Association for Mental Health. Lady Prescilla Norman, wife of Montagu Norman, governor of the Bank of England, had been working in the mental hygiene movement since the 20’s. In 1944 they sponsored a congress held at the Ministry of Health in London where they established the World Federation of Mental Health-WFMH.
The first elected president of the WFMH was Dr. John Rawlings Rees, a British psychiatrist associated with the Tavistock Institute. In 1948 the WFMH was formally inaugurated at the Third International Congress of Mental Health. A vice-president of the Congress was Dr. Carl G. Jung who was described by fellow vice-president Dr. Conti as “representing German psychiatry under the Nazis”. Dr. Jung had been co-editor of the Journal for Psychotherapy with Dr. M. H. Goering, the cousin of Marshal Hermann Goering.
It may be that the real key to the Third Reich lies buried in the history of Tibet, for it was here that Karl Haushofer, the initiate who taught the youthful Hitler, first met in literal fact the Superman of Nazi legend.
Origins of the swastika
By 1945 the Thousand Year Reich had become a smoking ruin. Russian soldiers pressed through the rubble, fighting from house to house, from street to street in order to link up with their British and American allies who also pressed in inexorably on the heart of the dying capital. Before they overran the eastern sector of Berlin, these Russian troops came across something very strange: vast numbers of Tibetan corpses. The fact is mentioned by Maurice Bessy and again by Pauwels and Bergier, who set the actual number of bodies at a thousand. They wore German uniform, but without the usual insignia of rank.
The religion of Tibet is Buddhism, but like the Zen of Japan, it is a brand of Buddhism far divorced from the Indian original. Many scholars prefer the term “Lamaism” to distinguish between Tibetan Buddhism and its parent root. The religious life of the country is concentrated in a multitude of monasteries, many of them built in almost inaccessible mountain regions. Side by side with the state religion of Lamaism, and flourishing particularly in the rural districts, is Tibet’s aboriginal religion of Bon. The Bon-Pas follow a primitive, animistic creed, full of dark rituals and spells. If the holy Lamas of the Buddhist sects were looked on as personifications of spiritual wisdom, the priests of Bon had a potent reputation with the common people as magicians.
The Nazi leaders were attracted to Tibet by those of its secret doctrines which filtered through to the west. They believed, those members of the Thule group, the Luminous Lodge, and the various other occult organizations which helped shape the Third Reich, in an esoteric history of mankind. And it was in the archives of Tibetan monasteries that this history was preserved in its purest form.
Already, in the latter half of the previous century, intriguing hints about Tibetan secret teachings had been carried to the west by Helena Blavatsky, who claimed initiation at the hands of the Holy Lamas themselves. Blavatsky taught that her “Hidden Masters” and “Secret Chiefs” had their earthly residence in the Himalayan region. As soon as the Nazi movement had sufficient funds, it began to organize a number of expeditions to Tibet and these succeeded one another practically without interruption until 1943. One of the most tangible expressions of Nazi interest in Tibet was the party`s adoption of its deepest and most mystical of symbols-the swastika.
The swastika is one of mankind’s oldest symbols, and apart from the cross and the circle, probably the most widely distributed. It is shown on pottery fragments from Greece dating back to the eighth century BC. It was used in ancient Egypt, India and China. The Navaho indians of North America have a traditional swastika pattern. Arab-Islamic sorcerers used it. In more recent times, it was incorporated in the flags of certain baltic states.
The idea for the use of the swastika by the Nazis came from a dentist named Dr. Friedrich Krohn who was a member of the secret Germanen order. Krohn produced the design for the actual form in which the Nazis came to use the symbol, that is reversed, spinning in an anti-clockwise direction. As a solar symbol, the swastika is properly thought of as spinning, and the Buddhists have always believed the symbol attracted luck. The Sanskrit word “svastika” means good fortune and well being. According to Cabbalistic lore and occult theory, chaotic force can be evoked by revers- ing the symbol. And so the symbol appeared as the flag of Nazi Germany and the insignia of the Nazi party, an indication for those who had eyes to see, as to the occult nature of the Third Reich.
The Controversy off the Occult ReichBy John Roemer
One hundred years after Adolf Hitler’s birth near Linz in Austria on April 20 1889, and decades after his malign empire metastasized in Bavaria in Bavaria, the Hitler phenomenon remains to mainstream historians largely inexplicable, or at least unexplained. The man and his awful work seem to stand outside history looking in. Perhaps our human fear of the irrational is so great that we instinctively hold Hitler at a great remove in order that we need not admit him to our company.
In light of this it isn’t very surprising that an extensive literature exists seeking an occult rationale for the otherwise baffling catastrophe Hitler represents. As Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier point out in the Morning of the Magicians(1960), the Nazi era simply defies conventional analysis:
A self taught madman, surrounded by a handful of megalomaniacs,rejects Descartes, spurns the whole humanist culture, tramples on reason, invokes Lucifer, conquers Europe, and nearly conquers the world. The historian begins to feel anxious and to wonder whether his art is viable.
Pauwels and Bergier were among the first postwar proponents of a black magical explanation for the Third Reich. About a quarter of their book is devoted to a region they call “The Absolute Elsewhere,” a neverland where Nazi pseudosciences and occult methodology held official sway. They quote a Hitlerian pronouncement to demonstrate that the Fuhrer’s intellectual development was on a level wholly different from that understood by the Western tradition: “there is a Nordic and National Socialist science which is opposed to Jewish-Liberal science”.2 Reality was defined by politics.
Nazi “science” has brought hoots of derision from those who hold to the Cartesian model. In place of psychology there was an occult frappe composed of the mysticism of Gurdijeff, the theosophy of Madame Blavatsky and the archetypes of Nordic mythology. In place of Newtonian physics stood the cosmic force called vril, the bizarre geology known as the hollow earth theory, and the frigid cosmology of Hans Horbiger’s Welteislehre, the doctrine of eternal ice.
Nazi thought excluded psychoanalysis, which has in fact been not very helpful in explaining the etiology of great evil, although Robert G.L. Waite’s effort, quoted above and published in 1977 by Basic Books, is good on several provocative subjects: Hitler’s sadomasochistic sex life; the possibility he had a Jewish grandfather; and his Viennese mentors, who are described at greater length by the authors about to be mentioned.
Nazism officially rejected the theory of relativity as “Jewish science”. Not only Freud but Einstein too was forced to flee Hitler’s Europe. He and other physicists eventually were able to ensure that atomic secrets remained in the hands of the allies until they could be used spectacularly to climax the Pacific war.
Horbiger’s physics derived from an intuitive flash he experienced late in the nineteenth century. ” As a young engineer,” he wrote, “I was watching one day some molten steel poured on wet ground covered with snow: the ground exploded after some delay and with great violence.”
This conflict of opposites, of fire and ice, is a theme that inspired Horbiger and resonated for German nationalists because it recurs in the Icelandic Eddas, the sourcebooks of Teutonic mythology. It all makes good sense in Iceland, since that island’s peculiar geology feature numerous volcanic rifts in the permafrost; fire and ice are commonly juxtaposed all over the landscape. As grounds for a cosmology- the word implies universality- it is at best dubious. It would be a hard sell in Hawaii.
Nevertheless, Nazi science was influential out of all proportion to its objective validity. Hoerbiger was immensely influential in the Third Reich. His followers numbered in the tens of thousands. There were scores of Horbigerian books, hundreds of Welteislehre pamphlets, and a monthly magazine called The Key to World Events.
Unfortunately, Hitler never inventoried his books, and the only detailed accounting of his libraries comes courtesy of the former United Press correspondent Frederick Oechsner, who met Hitler repeatedly and was evidently able to acquaint himself intimately with the FŸhrer’s book collections. “I found that his personal library, which is divided between his residence in the Chancellery in Berlin and his country home on the Obersalzberg at Berchtesgaden, contains roughly 16,300 books,” Oechsner wrote in his best-selling book This Is the Enemy (1942).
According to Oechsner, the biggest single share of Hitler’s library, some 7,000 books, was devoted to military matters, in particular “the campaigns of Napoleon, the Prussian kings; the lives of all German and Prussian potentates who ever played a military role; and books on virtually all the well-known military campaigns in recorded history.”
Another 1,500 volumes concerned architecture, theater, painting, and sculpture. “One book on the Spanish theater has pornographic drawings and photographs, but there is no section on pornography, as such, in Hitler’s Library,” Oechsner wrote. The balance of the collection consisted of clusters of books on diverse themes ranging from nutrition and health to religion and geography, with “eight hundred to a thousand books” of “simple, popular fiction, many of them pure trash in anybody’s language.”
By his own admission, Hitler was not a big fan of novels, though he once ranked Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Don Quixote (he had a special affection for the edition illustrated by Gustave DorŽ) among the world’s greatest works of literature.
The one novelist we know Hitler loved and read was Karl May, a German writer of cheap American-style westerns. In the spring of 1933, just months after the Nazis seized power, Oskar Achenbach, a Munich-based journalist, toured the Berghof in the FŸhrer’s absence and discovered a shelf of Karl May novels at Hitler’s bedside. “The bedroom of the FŸhrer is of spartan simplicity,” Achenbach reported in the Sonntag Morgenpost. “Brass bed, closet, toiletries, a few chairs, those are all the furnishings. On a bookshelf are works on politics and diplomacy, a few brochures and books on the care of German shepherds, and then pay attention you German boys! Then comes an entire row of books by Karl May! Winnetou, Old Surehand, Bad Guy, all our dear old friends.” During the war Hitler reportedly admonished his generals for their lack of imagination and recommended that they all read Karl May. Albert Speer recounted in his Spandau diaries,
Hitler was wont to say that he had always been deeply impressed by the tactical finesse and circumspection that Karl May conferred upon his character Winnetou … And he would add that during his reading hours at night, when faced by seemingly hopeless situations, he would still reach for those stories, that they gave him courage like works of philosophy for others or the Bible for elderly people.
No one knows the exact extent of Hitler’s library. Though Oechsner estimated the original collection at 16,000 volumes, Gassert and Mattern assert that it is impossible to determine the actual dimensions, especially since the majority of the books were either burned or plundered in the final weeks of the war an assumption confirmed in part by Florian Beierl, the head of the Archive for the Contemporary History of the Obersalzberg, in Berchtesgaden.
According to Beierl, Hitler’s Berghof experienced successive waves of looters: first local residents, then French and American soldiers, and eventually members of the U.S. Senate. Beierl showed me archival film footage (taken by the legendary World War II photographer Walter Rosenblum) of a delegation of American senators Burton Wheeler, Homer Capehart, and Ernest McFarland emerging from the Berghof ruins with books under their arms. “I doubt if they were taking them to the Library of Congress,” Beierl said.
I have also been told that a portion of the Hitler Library may have been seized by the Red Army. “Stalin was so paranoid about Hitler that he sent trophy brigades to search for anything connected with him,” says Konstantin Akinsha, a former researcher for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States. “His skull, his uniforms, Eva Braun’s dresses, her underwearÑthey are all in Moscow.” Akinsha told me recently that in the early 1990s he heard rumors about a depository in an abandoned church in Uzkoe, a suburb of Moscow, that allegedly contained a huge quantity of “trophy books,” including some that had belonged to Hitler.
Grigory Kozlov, another “trophy” sleuth, confirms that a “secret depository” did indeed exist in Uzkoe for more than four decades, with tens of thousands of books stacked from floor to ceiling. “At the beginning of 1995 there was a big discussion about trophy books,” Kozlov told me. “They decided to remove these books from Uzkoe and destroy all traces that showed there had been some sort of secret depository there.” Now, he says, the books have been dispersed anonymously in libraries and archives across Russia. “I don’t know what’s true or not,” Kozlov told me. “Books were evacuated without records, confiscated without records. I don’t know if anyone is ready to talk.”
The 1,200 of Hitler’s books in the Library of Congress most likely represent less than 10 percent of the original collection. Nevertheless, when I first visited the Hitler Library, in April of 2001, I was surprised to discover that despite the incompleteness of the collection, I could easily discern the collector preserved within his books. In more than 200 World War I memoirs, including Ernst JŸnger’s Fire and Blood, with a personal inscription to “the FŸhrer,” I encountered Hitler the “Austrian corporal,” with his bushy moustache, his somber demeanor, and his battlefield service, during which he was twice wounded and for which he was twice decorated, once with the Iron Cross first class.
In two olive-drab paperbacks, guidebooks to the cultural monuments of Brussels and Berlin, published by Seemann Verlag and costing three marks each, I glimpsed Hitler the aspiring Frontsoldat-cum-artist. The Berlin guide has Hitler’s signature in faded purple ink on the inside front cover, with the place and month of purchase: “Fournes, 22 November 1915.” In the Brussels guide Hitler simply scrawled “A. Hitler” in pencil; the last three letters trail downward like unspooling ribbon. A chapter on Frederick the Great is especially worn, its pages tattered, marked with fingerprints, and smeared with red candle wax. Tucked in the crease between pages 162 and 163 I found a three-quarter-inch strand of stiff black hair.
In dozens of books, with salutations from the likes of Prince August Wilhelm son of the last German Kaiser and the heirs of the Bechstein piano dynasty, I saw Hitler the protŽgŽ of Germany’s financial, social, and cultural elite. One book on FŸhrertum “leadership” was presented to Hitler by the industrialist Fritz Thyssen, who had introduced him to some of Germany’s leading businessmen at a decisive meeting in DŸsseldorf in January of 1932.
“To the FŸhrer, Adolf Hitler, in memory of his presentation to the DŸsseldorf Industrial Club,” Thyssen wrote on the inside cover. Several books are inscribed to Hitler from Richard Wagner’s youngest daughter, Eva, who had married Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Chamberlain was an anti-Semitic Englishman best known for his book The Foundations of the 19th Century, in which he advanced the thesis that Jesus was of Aryan rather than Semitic blood. Hitler read Chamberlain during his Vienna period, and had a brief audience with the aging anti-Semite at the Wagner estate shortly before being sent to Landsberg Prison. “You know Goethe’s differentiation between force and force,” Chamberlain wrote Hitler in October of 1923. “There is force which comes from chaos and leads to chaos, and there is force which is destined to create a new world.” Chamberlain credited Hitler with the latter.
In a French vegetarian cookbook with an inscription from its author, Ma•a Charpentier, I encountered Monsieur Hitler vŽgŽtarien. And I found hints of Hitler the future mass murderer in a 1932 technical treatise on chemical warfare that explores the varying qualities of poison gas, from chlorine to prussic acid (BlausŠure). The latter was produced commercially as Zyklon B, which would be notorious for its use in the Nazi extermination camps.
I also found, however, a Hitler I had not anticipated: a man with a sustained interest in spirituality. Among the piles of Nazi tripe (much of it printed on high-acid paper that is rapidly deteriorating) are more than 130 books on religious and spiritual subjects, ranging from Occidental occultism to Eastern mysticism to the teachings of Jesus Christ books with titles such as Sunday Meditations; On Prayer; A Primer for Religious Questions, Large and Small; Large Truths About Mankind, the World and God.
Also included were a German translation of E. Stanley Jones’s 1931 best seller, The Christ of the Mount; and a 500-page work on the life and teachings of Jesus, published in 1935 under the title The Son: The Evangelical Sources and Pronouncements of Jesus of Nazareth in Their Original Form and With the Jewish Influences. Some volumes date from the early 1920s, when Hitler was an obscure rabble-rouser on the fringe of Munich political life; others from his last years, when he dominated Europe.
One leather-bound tome with WORTE CHRISTI, or “Words of Christ,” embossed in gold on the cover was well worn, the silky, supple leather peeling upward in gentle curls along the edges. Human hands had obviously spent a lot of time with this book. The inside cover bore a dedication: “To our beloved FŸhrer with gratitude and profound respect, Clara von Behl, born von Jansen von den Osten. Christmas 1935.”
Worte Christi was so fragile that when the attendant brought it to me, he placed it on a red-velvet pad in a wooden reading stand, a beautifully finished oak contraption with two supports that could be adjusted with small brass pegs to fit the dimensions of the book. No more than a foot wide and eighteen inches long, the stand had a sacred air, as if it belonged on an altar.
I reviewed the table of contents “Belief and Prayer,” “God and the Kingdom of God,” “Priests and Their Religious Practices,” “The World and Its People” and skimmed the introduction; then I scanned the book for marginalia that might suggest a close study of the text. A white-silk bookmark, preserved in its original perfection between pages 22 and 23 (only the portion exposed to the air had deteriorated), lay across a description of the Last Supper as related by Saint John. A series of pages that followed contained only a single aphorism each: “Believe in God” (page 31), “Have no fear, just believe” (page 52), “If you believe, anything is possible” (page 53), and so on, all the way to page 95, which offers the solemn wisdom “Many are called but few are chosen.”
On page 241 appears the passage “You should love God, your Lord, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your spirit: this is the foremost and greatest commandment. Another is equally important: Love your neighbor as you would love yourself.” Beside this passage is one brief penciled line, the only mark in the entire book.
Given Hitler’s legendary disdain for organized religion in general and Christianity in particular, I didn’t expect him to have devoted much time to the teachings of Christ, let alone to have marked this quintessential Christian virtue. Had this in fact been made by the pencil of Hitler’s younger sister, Paula, who occasionally visited her brother at the Berghof and remained a devout Catholic until her dying day? Might some other Berghof guest have responded to this holy Scripture?
Possibly but though most of the spiritually oriented books in the Hitler Library were gifts sent to the FŸhrer by distant admirers, several, like Worte Christi, were obviously well read, and some contained marginalia in Hitler’s hand that suggested a serious exploration of spiritual matters. If Hitler was as deeply engaged with spiritual issues as his books and their marginalia suggest, then what was the purpose of this pursuit?
In the spring of 1943, while the outcome of World War II hung in the balance, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services forerunner to the CIA commissioned Walter Langer, a Boston-based psychoanalyst, to develop a “psychological profile” of Adolf Hitler. As Langer later recalled, this was the first time the U.S. government had attempted to psychoanalyze a world leader in order to determine “the things that make him tick.”
Over the course of eight months, assisted by three field researchers and advised by three other experts in psychology, Langer compiled more than a thousand typewritten, single-spaced pages of material on his “patient”: texts from speeches, excerpts from Mein Kampf, interviews with former Hitler associates, and virtually every printed source available. Langer wrote,
A survey of all the evidence forces us to conclude that Hitler believes himself destined to become an Immortal Hitler, chosen by God to be the New Deliverer of Germany and the Founder of a new social order for the world. He firmly believes this and is certain that in spite of all the trials and tribulations through which he must pass he will finally attain that goal. The one condition is that he follow the dictates of the inner voice that have guided and protected him in the past.
In his summary Langer outlined eight possible scenarios for Hitler’s course of action in the face of defeat. The most likely scenario, he suggested in a prescient moment, was that Hitler’s belief in divine protection would compel him to fight to the bitter end, “drag[ging] a world with us a world in flames,” and that ultimately he would take his own life.
Langer based his assessment not only on Hitler’s repeated references to “divine providence,” both in speeches and in private conversations, but also on reports from some of Hitler’s most intimate associates that Hitler truly believed he was “predestined” for greatness and inspired by “divine powers.” After the war Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, one of Hitler’s chief military advisers, seemed to confirm the Langer thesis. “Looking back,” he said, “I am inclined to think he was literally obsessed with the idea of some miraculous salvation, that he clung to it like a drowning man to a straw.”
Experts since then have been of two minds on the matter of Hitler’s spiritual beliefs. Ian Kershaw argues that Hitler consciously constructed an image of himself as a messianic figure, and eventually came to believe the very myth he had helped to fashion. “The more he succumbed to the allure of his own FŸhrer cult and came to believe in his own myth, the more his judgment became impaired by faith in his own infallibility,” Kershaw writes in The Hitler Myth (1987). But believing in a messianic myth is not the same as believing in God.
When I asked Kershaw in 2001 whether he thought Hitler actually believed in divine providence, he dismissed the notion. “I don’t think that he had any real belief in a deity of any sort, only in himself as a ‘man of destiny’ who would bring about Germany’s ‘salvation,'” he declared. Gerhard Weinberg, who helped sort through the Hitler Library back in the 1950s, likewise dismisses the notion of Hitler as a religious believer, insisting that he was driven by the twin passions of Blut und Boden racial purity and territorial expansion. “He didn’t believe in anything but himself,” Weinberg told me last summer. Most historians tend to agree.
Some non-historians, however, have different views. In the 1960s Friedrich Heer, a prominent and controversial Viennese theologian, identified Hitler as a misguided “Austrian Catholic,” a man whose faith was disastrously misplaced but nevertheless sincere. In a dense, 750-page treatise Heer saw Hitler the Austrian Catholic at every turn: the nine-year-old choirboy catching his first glimpse of a swastika in the coat of arms at the Lambach Monastery; the beer-hall orator whose speeches resound with biblical allusions; the FŸhrer of the Reich who re-created the splendor of the Catholic mass at the annual Nuremberg rally.
Even his virulent hatred of Jewry found sustenance in those roots. Fritz Redlich, an eminent Yale psychiatrist, asserts in his book, Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet, that Hitler acted from a profound belief in God. Noting Hitler’s own words “Man kommt um den Gottesbegriff nicht um” (“You cannot get around the concept of God”), Redlich told me last summer that he was certain Hitler believed in a “divine creature.” He rejected suggestions that Hitler’s invocations of the divine were little more than cynical public posturing and insisted that we ought to take Hitler at his word: “In a way, Hitler was a terrible liar, but he was a tactical liar. In his essential line of thinking he was honest.”
Traudl Junge, Hitler’s former secretary, would not go so far as to say that Hitler believed in God, but she did believe that Hitler’s repeated references to the divine were more than just for show. Junge who died of cancer in February of last year told me the previous summer that Hitler spoke of such things in private as well as in public. After two and a half years of daily contact with Hitler, she was convinced that he believed in some form of divine protection, especially after surviving a dramatic assassination attempt in 1944. “After the July 1944 attack,” she told me, “I believe he felt himself to be an instrument of providence, and believed he had a mission to fulfill.”
Our Nordic ancestors grew strong amidst the ice and snow, and this is why a belief in a world of ice is the natural heritage of Nordic men. It was Austrian, Hitler, who drove out the Jewish politicians, and another Austrian, Horbiger, (who) will drive out the Jewish scientists. By his own example Hitler has shown that an amateur to give us a thorough understanding of the Universe.
Hitler’s fatal confidence in the success of his troops on the Russian front during the 1941 – 2 winter is generally believed to have been a result of his misplaced faith in Horbiger’s weather forecasts. Despite such setbacks, the Welteislehre managed to thrive even after the war. The popular speculations of Immanuel Velikovsky derive in part from Horbiger. In 1953 a survey conducted by Martin Gardner showed that more than a million people in Germany, England, and the U.S. believed that Horbiger was right.
The Horbigerian cosmology posited an early epoch, some fifteen million years ago, during which a hugh moon moved across the sky very near the earth. Its gravitational attraction gave rise to a race of our ancestors, the giants. These giants, which appear in the ancient Norse and Icelandic sagas, sleep, yet they are alive. To the Nazis, they were Supermen. In one set of myths, contained in the Nibelungenlied, they lived beneath Teutonic mountains. In another they were prototype Aryans from the East, inhabiting vast Tibetan caverns.
Three other books that investigate hidden influences on Gerald Suster’s Hitler: The Occult Messiah; Jean-Michel Angebert’s The Occult and the Third Riech and Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s The Occult Roots of Nazism.
Suster’s book largely rehashes Pauwels and Bergier. Angebert (actually a pen name for two French writers) interestingly links Hitler to an ancient dualist tradition he traces from Manichaenism in Persia through the Essenes, Jesus’s Palestinian forebears, to the Cathars in the south of France in the Middle Ages. It’s philosophy in which, in its Nazi incarnation, solar forces of light represented by blond, fair-skinned Aryans strive against the evil forces of darkness, who are of course dark skinned Semites.
Both books, but especially Suster’s are written in prose that stops just this side of tabloid journalese. This is too bad for two reasons. One, the authors diminish some important material by this kind of presentation. Two, the lessons we have to learn about mass psychopathology and about the history of fascism are too important to be trivalized in this way.
Goodrick-Clark’s is a serious and compelling historical look at ariosophy, a dangerous amalgam of Aryan racism, pan-German nationalism, and occultism that flourished in Austria and Germany from around 1890 well into the era when Himmler’s Death’s Head SS was organized. Himmler is said by Pauwels and Bergier to have taken the Jesuits for his model, and to have installed a regular hierarchy ranging from lay brothers to father superior, and to have used this Black Order in horrific rites.8
The Occult Roots of Nazismidentifies wide circle of proto-Nazi philosophers, previously almost unknown, who saw in the chaos that beset Germany after the Treaty of Versailles the working out of ancient Aryan prophecies. Among them was Rudolf John Gorsleben, who interesting career Goodrick-Clarke sums up in a sentence: “on the basis of the runes, occultism, and the Edda, Gorsleben created an original racist mystery-religion which illuminated the priceless magical heritage of the Aryans and justified their spiritual and political world-supremacy.”
Gorsleben was active in right-wing politics in Bavaria in the years Hitler was forming his political convictions there, and he lectured to the Thule Society, a Munich club thought to have greatly influenced Nazism in its infancy. He also edited a weekly newspaper called German Freedom; in 1927 he changed the name to Aryan Freedom.
He derived the word ‘race’ from rata, an Old Norse term meaning ‘root’, in order to conclude that God and race were identical. He maintained that racial mixing was always detrimental for the racially superior partner, since his purity was debased in the progeny, and he repeated the common volkisch [folkish] conviction that woman could be ‘impregnated’ by intercourse, even when no conception occurred, so that her subsequent offspring bore the characteristics of her first lover. Given these overwhelming pressures towards the increasing bastardization of the German descendants of the Aryan race, only the strict practice of segregation and eugenics could guarantee the reversal of racial contamination in the world.
Another book which hold that Hitler learned many of his occult lesson from avatars in Vienna and Munich may well be the best known black magical explanation of Nazism to have been put forth so far. Trevor Ravenscroft’s The Spear of Destiny was published by that famous British house of occultism, the aptly named Neville Spearman Ltd,.in 1972, and has since gone through many edition.