A Teetering German Society and the Revival of the Ancient Germanic Spirit - Ch. 1 "The Nazis and the Occult" Dusty Sklar
This first chapter of Sklar's book bring awareness to an under reported aspect of the German Nazi movement. With the changing social, political, and economic structures of the late 19th and early 20th Century Germany, a movement was began to reclaim German heritage by investigating the ancient occult religion and practice of the pagan past. These groups filled a growing anger and disenchantment in many of the people of the time by glorifying the German man and pinning the blame regarding their problems on lower classes, religions, ideas ... and, of course, the Jews.
A quick note, I do not support any of the ideas below. I am simply doing research for my master's thesis on the role of worldviews and beliefs in society.
The Pan-German Movement and Establishment of Groups Dedicated to German Occultism
Sklar begins chapter one by reflecting that while many books have been written about the Holocaust, and Hitler's take over of Germany, many of these works have overlooked a key factor which the Nazis themselves admitted to the world. This factor was their involvement with the occult. 1 Some claim that Hitler rejected such things, as he did try to purge Germany of occultism when he came into power. But Sklar claims that this was not because he didn't believe in such things, but because he believed in them so much, he wanted to consolidate such pursuits in a unified way under the control of the Reich. 2 Sklar then identifies the core traits of 19th Century occultism and claims that such traits are easily seen in parallel in Nazi Germany. "...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; and, in uncommon cases, Satanic practices. Glaring parallels to Nazi history." 3
In exploring how occultism could have taken root in a civilized country like Germany, she mentions certain factors which had been tearing apart the social fabric of Germany for decades before the rise of the Nazis. The radical development due to the industrial revolution created a disparity between emerging power and wealth and the traditional aristocracy's role in governing. Also she mentions, for example, a 400% increase in the Jewish population in Vienna in the second half of the 19th Century due to emancipation of German Jews in 1871. These folks, due to their own values and desire to be accepted into society, often sought after the very educated and high echelon jobs, such as medicine and law. Then, after World War I there was defeat, mass inflation of Germany currency, and a chaotic scramble of political parties. Why was this discord taking place? "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..." 4
As a response, many in Germany felt a desire to recapture their own greatness and vilify those who seemed to be outsiders. This set into motion the "pan-German" (volkisch) movement which sought to unify and revive the ancient German heritage. "The mystical concepts of Reich and Volk went along with an awakening interest in occultism." Several occultist groups sprang up under the direction of certain thought leaders, two of which being Jorge Lanz and Guido von List. Lanz started the "Order of New Templars" and List the "Armanen." Lanz also produced a magazine to spread his ideas, which was titled "Ostara." Another group that sprang up was called the "Germanen Orden." They strove to combat the growing interest in social democracy. While struggling for members at first, after World War I, they certain were able to bring people in, as by that time the traditional German government, the Kaiser, had fallen and a new democratic state was established. They were humiliated both by the loss of the war, the loss of their Kaiser, as well as the collapse of their economy. 5 Instead of regaining Germany's spirit, they had lost it further. Now add in hundreds of thousands of soldiers returning broken from the war to find unemployment and economic ruin, a new form of government, and the spread of Communism ... a desire for change was fomenting under the surface.
The Germanen Orden merged with another similar group at the time, called the "Thule Society." Under the guise of studying German heritage, they secretly were fomenting a rebellion of sorts. "The Thule Society soon became the political arm of the Germanen Orden and quietly set about preparing for a counterrevolution against the government. It formed an umbrella for many of the racist-nationalist groups and enlisted frightened or unscrupulous men against the government, which, it said, had betrayed the German people. In addition to rabid anti-Semitism, it preached the coming of a Fuhrer who would do away with hated democracy, the handmaiden of the weak. It began to collect weapons, bought a newspaper, instigated terrorist activity and stirred up race hatred against the Jews, all the while keeping up the front of being a study group for Germany antiquity." Many of these members later became central figures of the Nazi party. It was during this time that the ideology and revival of the pagan German spirit was rekindled in these men. "...the ideology, the rituals, the symbols, the attitudes - of the coming Nazi Revolution were already present in the Germanen Orden and the Thule Society, as well as the Order of the New Templars and the Armanen." 6
1 - Sklar, Dusty. Gods and Beasts, The Nazis & the Occult. Thomas Y. Crowell Company (New York, 1977). Pg. 1.
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