vrijdag 23 april 2010

The caller of the black


Franz Wegener, Heinrich Himmler, Deutscher Spiritismus, Fransözischer Okkultismus und der Reichsführer SS, 2004

Yesterday I went to my local bookshop to pick up the book Himmer’s Wewelsburg Und Die SS of which I’ve written previously and that I had ordered. The tome looks almost as thick as the biography of Heinrich Himmler by German author Peter Longerich, but the page count shows why: Longerich’s hardcover is printed on much better quality paper and numbers, with index, 1034 pages. In contrast, the Wewelsburg hardcover looks almost as thick, but numbers only 556 pages, due to a thicker, lesser quality paper.

I read Longerich’s biography on Heinrich Himmler immediately upon its publication in Germany in 2008. It is detailed, full of fascinating facts on Himmler’s early life and upbringing and was long overdue. There is a point of criticism, though, that of course reflects my personal interest in this matter. At various times, writers on the occult aspects of the Third Reich have complained that the subject did not find any resonance whatsoever in academic circles. This is not entirely true as for instance a scholarly study on the Thule Society had appeared as early as 1963, but it was not till Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s groundbreaking The Occult Roots of Nazism (1985), that the subject was rescued for the history of ideas. I was privileged to correspond with him a decade ago on certain aspects of the German occult movements and avant-garde technology in the early 1990’s.


Peter Longerich, Heinrich Himmler Biographie, 2008

But that leads me to my observation in regards to Longerich’s monumental study: we but very rarely glimpse something of the inner Himmler, where in the dark recesses of his soul a weird concoction of some particular esoteric beliefs and notions swirled to form at least part of his psychological make-up. In how far his beliefsystem influenced his actions is not made entirely clear in the biography in the sense that one gets the impression that these played no part at all in the day to day affairs of Wewelsburg’s dark Lord. I speculate that precisely these irrational elements in Himmler and for which there is an abundance of historical, verifiable evidence, must form a large part of the ingredients needed to try and assess a man who sent millions of persons to unimaginable deaths, had grandiose ideas, was a slavish follower of Hitler but who betrayed the Führer in the end. Moreover, he held quasi-heroic ideals but never experienced a day in combat, he bargained with the lives of the very jews he had sworn to eradicate in order to find a way out, and in the end he took his own life without ever having had the courage to stand up in court to take responsibility for his men serving under him in the Waffen SS. These units, founded by Himmler, had suffered untold hardships at the eastern front, dealt their enemy terrible blows in battles fit only for heroes but saw their reputation as merciless, undefeatable elite soldiers, the best that the Reich could offer, blackened for ever by the horrible war crimes that they committed. Heinrich Himmler by all means was a complex, puzzling entity and from our point of view a man living and dreaming in another sphere of reality.


Christopher Hale, Himmler’s Crusade, 2006

The biography does not dwell that much on Himmler’s esoteric predilections, these are more or less confined to one chapter. But there we surprisingly learn that even the granite foundation of the Nazis, their universal hatred of the Jews, within Himmler and as the war progressed underwent a change of direction too. Towards the end of the war Himmler pointed his unsavoury attentions less to the Jews, after all, the Endlösung was in full swing, but more and more against the Slavic and Asian peoples. In regards to Himmler’s esoteric preoccupations, we do have other, complementary, studies to consult. Most notably those of Lorenz Sönke, Himmler’s hexenkartothek, published in 1999 as part of the Witchcraft Researches Series published by the Institut für Geschichtliche Landeskunde und Historische Hilfswissenschaften der Universität Tübingen, Franz Wegener, Heinrich Himmler, Deutscher Spiritismus, Fransözischer Okkultismus und der Reichsführer SS, 2004; Heather Pringle’s The Master Plan, 2006 and Christopher Hale’s Himmler’s Crusade, 2006.


Heather Pringle, The Master Plan, 2006

I quickly started reading the Wewelsburg tome and chose two essays to begin with that seemed to explore my favorite topics; the SS as a kind of freemasonry within Nationalsocialism (page 23, the title is misleading as it quotes a diary fragment of Joseph Goebbels), and Wewelsburg and its influence on the esoteric and far right fringe literature after the war(page 488). The book is dedicated to Prof. Karl Hüser, whose Wewelsburg 1933–1945. Kult- und Terrorstätte der SS, published in 1982, is a monumental study and required reading.


Karl Hüser, Wewelsburg 1933–1945. Kult- und Terrorstätte der SS, 1982

The forword of this scholarly tome already makes it clear that modern studies imply that the SS was not the closely cordoned and mystical black order bonded by oath and blood, an image that entered popular consciousness on behalf of Eugen Kogon’s pioneering study of the SS that was published in 1946. Titled Der SS-Staat. Das System der Deutschen Konzentrationslager, Kogon formulated in his early study the existence of the SS organisation as ‘a state within a state’.


Eugen Kogon, Der SS Staat, 1946.

Later, according to the foreword, dubious assertions emerged that the SS formed itself along the lines of the Jesuits, allegations that also seem without historical merit. What I do find lacking though, in the chapter of the esoteric influence of Wewelsburg, is a thorough treatment of the emergence of the symbolism of the Black Sun which lies at the heart of Himmler’s Dark Camelot. Acknowledging its potent importance for esoteric and far right circles nowadays, this paper quickly charts such outré ideas back to highly disreputable sources such as Trevor Ravenscroft and Pauwels and Bergier. It also offers a fascinating glimpse into Michael Aquino and his Wewelsburg Working.

It is an excellent overview that sheds much light, although for those already well versed in these byways of sources and attributions, this is common knowledge, as this debate has been raging for more than two decades now. What is sadly lacking, is the viewpoint on something new, a fresh insight or a new perspective to build upon what we already know. The author for instance follows the respected, but familiar, sources, instead of try and explain how those uncanny rumours about Wewelsburg exactly started, a subject for research that falls outside the easy access to secondary literature no matter how respected, academic, well researched and definitive, sources to which the author returns to most of the time.

There is for instance the question of why at Paderborn – the small German town where the castle is located - the castle’s crypt entered local folklore under the byname ‘Walhalla’, which is the place in Nordic mythology where the souls of the dead heroes slain in battle come to rest. This obviously must have had a connection with persistent rumours attached to this vault relating to secret SS rituals involving the remembrance of those elite SS men who died at the battlefields. Even if there is no consensus about how and in what form these rituals would have taken place if at all, and even if there is uncertainty if the crypt was actually meant for such rituals to take place, as there are no sources, witness statements or other forms of document that can shed any light on this matter. Speculation on the other hand, we find enough.


Stephen Cook and Stuart Russell, Heinrich Himmler's Camelot: The Wewelsburg Ideological Center of the SS, 1934-1945, 1999

Before the various writers turned this folklore into print, there must have been a very exclusive and as yet uncharted undergound where these tales were nurtured, transmitted and thus kept alive, an underground that started immediately after the second world war and the defeat of Nazi Germany, a fertile environment where the strangest rumours were whispered in the aftermath of this terrible conflict. There we find the genesis of the German UFO mythos; of the mysterious wonder Weapons that would have changed the tide of war in Nazi Germany’s favour; of a German atom bomb program that contrary to what consensus history has dictated was succesful; of occult orders hiding behind the curtains of our worldly affairs that influenced Hitler’s rise to power, and of dark atrocities committed on a scale too vast to behold.
And one still wonders, the many studies which have put many myths surrounding the Third Reich in a more realistic perspective notwithstanding, where these myths actually originated – from what bizarre components they were assembled, at a time when the smoke over the ruins of the German cities was barely lifting. Some, including Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s The Black Sun (2002) have tried to answer this difficult question by seeking answers in the human psyche; revanchist feelings, the trauma of a horrid war, dreams that came shattering down while returning to a defeated nation, mixed in with the odd, irrationalist personal belief. It is in this background of the Götterdämmerung of a thousand year Reich that, like puss from an ill treated wound, these stories bubble up and haunt us still. But it does not explain all of it, there are still many uncharted areas and we are still stuck with the paradox of the potent resonance these myths have in our times, when we know about the many atrocities committed on behalf of the Third Reich, not in the least by that infamous black order, the SS.


Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Black Sun, 2002

Hans Jürgen Lange wrote about the origin of the Black Sun in his article 'Im Zeichen der Schwarze Sonne', Wolfszeit Magazin, 2002, (also found here)so integral to Wewelsburg as the only time that this particular symbol is found in the Third Reich is precisely there. Lange traced the roots of the concept of the Black Sun – for which there is no evidence before or during World War II, except for that enigmatic inlay in that floor in the tower of Wewelsburg, back to Emil Rüdiger in his postwar writings. Rüdiger, a former SS man, was a disciple of Karl Maria Wiligut, also known as Himmler’s Rasputin.


Karl Maria Wiligut, The Secret King: The Myth and Reality of Nazi Occultism, 2001

Wiligut not only designed the infamous SS ring but he also developed some strange ideas about a dark planet which he called ‘Santur’, and from there on and as always, we can follow the roots of the inception of such a strange idea back to theosophy. In regards to the ‘Black Sun’symbol, it is well to remind oneself that there is no contemporary documentation that we know of that actually explains the why of that symbol inside Wewelsburg – let alone provides us with a name. The name ’Black Sun’ was given to it after the War; and indeed, from Hüser’s study (and repeated in this new tome) it is already clear that on the most esoteric aspects there are neither corroborating documents or testimonies, and we are stuck with post-war interpretations by esoteric writers who, if not copying each other, were more interested in following their own agendas and thus propagating the myth, than to try and find some corroboration for their claims in archives and reliable witness statements.

But it would take more than a lifetime and many resources to chart the history of the occult in the Third Reich. As an example, I once inspected some ultrarare copies of a pre second world war obscure periodical published by Volkische occultist Friedrich Bernhard Marby. Marby by the way was put on the list of prohibited books by Nazi Germany, and he was incarcerated in Dachau during the rest of the war. He died in the 1950’s.


One of Marby's publications on Rune gymnastics, 1935.

The periodical was published in the 1920’s and I was surprised to find it having survived at all. In it, I noted an enigmatic series of articles explaining life on Mars, where its intelligent dwellers have erected enormous towers as energy relay stations and power plants, reminding me of Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower. This little and puzzling aspect – what does a Rune researcher and ariosophist occultist have to do with a decidely science fictional concept – is perhaps only explainable by studying different areas such as the influence of theosophy in 19th century Germany, the fact that science fiction was still published in the Third Reich and even during the war, and similar ideas such as those of Dutch author and Grail seeker J.K. Rensburg. Rensburg published in that same timeframe his favourable thoughts on certain aspects of Ariosophist doctrine, demonstrating that he was quite familiar with them, and on beings on Mars, ‘higher evolved than humans, communicating with us through their telepathic abilities’. It provides us with a rare glance into an as yet uncharted area of occult ideas of a decidely strange nature, percolating into psyches of who knows whom. Moreso since Rensburg was Jewish and he would die in 1943 in Sobibor, one of the deathcamps that infested the occupied territories of Nazi Germany. It was a terrible fate that, if anything, bitterly tastes of the cold bile that ariosophist Lanz von Liebenfels spewed forth in his many antisemitic tracts. But we, the non-esoterists and non-initiated, will never understand what lies at the heart of these incomprehensible alliances. A Jew occupying the same intellectual occult strata as the virulently antisemitic Ariosophists of the dark forests and crumbling castles of Austria, it is a paradox. Yet both dreamt of Atlantis, of the Grail and of higher evolved beings on other planets. And all the while there is a hint of communication or at least acknowledgement, found among various little known publications, or the odd footnote here and there. They not only share an uncanny familiarity with their respective apocalyptic visions, all of this is set against the same tapestry of apocalyptic worldview. Yet even things like this do not explain all, at most they open up chasms of unsuspected tales, of lives and dreams that sofar have escaped our scrutiny.


Corinna Treitel, A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern, 2004

This small example, and much more, in fact, all of this, is not found in the - still – relatively very few academic treatments of Germany and the occult. We have Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke’s momumental study to thank for, but, while treating only a segment of the German and Austrian occult strata between the two world wars and before it, most notably Ariosophy to which Marby more or less belonged as he was influenced by Guido von List as countless others were, it still has not been surpassed. Corinna Treitel’s A Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern (2004) – though not without its irritating errors, see her attribution of sources while treating the Vril Society - is a welcome supplement. All in all though, the larger history of the German occult movements prior and in the Third Reich still has to be written.

Sufficient light still has not shone on this history. Notwithstanding the obsession with meticulous record keeping that the administral slaves and dignitaries of the Third Reich had, there are still vast amounts of documents hidden, kept under lock after all these years, or destroyed in the chaos of the last days of the war. An architect who had worked on Himmler's reconstruction of Wewelsburg during the war, once confided to Hüser, who already started with his groundbreaking researches into Wewelsburg in the 1950’s, that the tower with the crypt and the Black Sun hall was ‘the center of the world’. Further than that the architect was unable to explain what exactly was meant by this intriguing expression, and it is a moot case in point of the veil of secrecy that still clings around the many, indeed labyrinthine, connections between National Socialism and the occult.

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