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The Occult History of the Third Reich

a vintage photo of a group of people in uniform

Occult Influence on the Nazi Party

by Charles Spratley

A defeated country on the brink of economic collapse became the most dangerous country in Europe in just a few years. Its armies spread across Western Europe like a plague. Their flag struck fear in the population of the areas they took over. Their leader, a once quiet struggling artist, was known as the Fuhrer, or Guide. His name was Adolf Hitler and he became the most dangerous person on the planet, and to many, he is believed to have come to this power with help from the Occult.

When people think of the Third Reich possibly relying on Supernatural forces during the war, their mind usually goes to Indiana Jones thwarting Nazis from acquiring the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail. Or Hellboy fighting Rasputin and his otherworldly minions. If you did any research on it, you may have read The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, written in the 1960s, or The Spear of Destiny, by Trevor Ravenscroft. These are conspiracy theory pieces at best, both highly questionable of their sources and their intents. The Morning of the Magicians did become the diving board of Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods.

But beneath it all, there is indeed an occult influence on the Nazi Party. This is not as absurd as it may seem. For clarification, we must go back to the end of the 1800s and the Spiritualism movement. Throughout the later part of the 19th Century and the earlier part of the 20th there was a great resurgence in all things paranormal. Seances were being held in living rooms, Astrology and fortune telling were active and Helena Blavatsky was teaching Theosophy all over the world. In Germany though, a mindset known as Ariosophy, along with what was called the Volkish movement will appear during this age and it will redefine for many the idea of what it is to be German. These Volkish beliefs included the idea of a “national rebirth” of ancient Germany which included Germanic paganism, racialism and romantic nationalism. Combining this with the great age of Spiritualism gave a different spin on Germanic esoteric circles at the turn of the Century. Amongst the most popular, the Thule Society.

The Thule society started out as just a reading group of German antiquity, mostly esoteric and occult work. This group will be a major sponsor for the German Workers Party, which will later be reorganized by Adolf Hitler and become the Nazi Party. The group was founded by a World War One veteran by the name Walter Nauhaus, who before the war belonged to another esoteric order, known as the Order of Teutons. One of the main focuses of this group was the pursuit of the origins of the Aryan race.  The Thule society would force their initiates to sign a “declaration of faith” concerning their Germanic heritage:

The signer hereby swears to the best of his knowledge and belief that no Jewish or coloured blood flows in either his or in his wife’s veins, and that among their ancestors are no members of the coloured races.

They will accumulate almost 2000 followers but after Hitler had the German Workers Party withdraw any support of them, they will decline and will eventually die out in 1925. There was an attempted resurgence of the Thule Society in 1933 that failed. In fact, many esoteric organizations would be closed down in 1935 as part of anti-Masonic legislation (any group that was esoteric in nature that could threaten the new Nazi Party was looped into this category). Ironically, Heinrich Himmler, who was the Reichsfuher of the SS, took a lot of mysticism and esoteric knowledge from the Thule Society, from which he was a member, and used it to help start the Ahnenerbe that same year (1935?). Ahnnerbe, which means ancestral heritage was an appendage of the SS and was basically a think tank of people from the field of archeology, anthropology, ethology, folklorists, runology, classics, and life sciences such as zoology and biology. Their goal, was to make this “New Germany” as Aryan as possible by making Nordic connections wherever possible and claiming they were the purest of all races through their own brand of science and research. This led to a lot of what was referred to as Border Science. Border science, also known as fringe science, was scientific research that was not in-line with mainstream science thinking. Basically, it was anything occult that wasn’t viewed as divine in nature which would subvert the Nazi ideals. They were never into ritual magic or anything else that certain writers will claim. There goes the Indiana Jones fun, the Nazis would never try to meddle with something they couldn’t control since that would be tapping into an unknown source of a higher power. But disciplines such as Astrology, Parapsychology and Clairvoyance were explored heavily.

The Schutzstaffel, also known as the SS, used Nordic runes on their uniforms as a symbol of their believed origins. The SS on their uniforms isn’t even two Ss’ as most believe. It is the Nordic rune Sig (meaning victory) twice, or double victory. Other divisions of the SS used other runes as their symbol as well. Many members of the higher SS command consulted with Astrologers to aid in their tactical decisions. Himmler’s personal Astrologer was Wilhelm Wulff. Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy was also a believer in Astrology and even fled Germany for Scotland in hopes of brokering peace during the war under the advisement of his astrologer.

One of the most famous border scientists that will come out of this movement in Hitler’s Germany is Professor Hans Bender. Bender, in order to have a successful career joined the Nazi Party before 1940 and studied Astrology, dowsing, and parapsychology. After the war, his main claim to fame was the Rosenheim Poltergeist investigation in the 1960s. Later in life he became good friends and associates with Uri Gellar.

Did Hitler himself believe in the Occult? There are sources that claim both. What we do know is that some contemporaries of his regime view Hitler as preternatural and some even believed that he was linked with “dark forces”. To many though, the charisma and great authority Hitler wielded over the German people were the result of clever publicists and that the occult symbolism of his ranks were used to assure his most loyal that their cause was indeed divine.