Hitler and the occult
June 9, 2005 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Were Hitler and the Nazis actually interested/involved in the occult, as so many movies (Raiders, Hellboy) say?

Because you know, if it's in the movies...Google just turns up a raft of sites of questionable veracity.
posted by gottabefunky to Religion & Philosophy (13 answers total)
Yes. And Wikipedia has an entry.
posted by occhiblu at 11:39 AM on June 9, 2005

filmwise you might also check out "Invincible", a recent Werner Herzog film, that is, dare i say it, cute (also tragic. but, you know, compared to say, Aguirre, it's a sappy little love story).
posted by fishfucker at 11:56 AM on June 9, 2005

"Other related modern theories involve Hitler having escaped to the Antarctic, where he joined with a subterranean dinosauroid master race, with whom he now travels inside UFOs underground, generally beneath the South Pole or throughout the center of the hollow earth, but sometimes to a Nazi moon base as well."

can't get any better than that.
posted by puke & cry at 12:33 PM on June 9, 2005

There was a book on the subject published recently - Himmler's Crusade. But that Wikipedia link lists a bunch more books on the topic too.
posted by p3t3 at 12:58 PM on June 9, 2005

Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail is an interesting program about "the Nazi 'Ancestral Heritage Society,' founded in 1935 whose task according to Himmler was 'to restore the German people to the everlasting godly cycle of ancestors, the living and the descendants.'" Perhaps not about the occult, more mysticism.
posted by heatherann at 3:11 PM on June 9, 2005

Most well-founded militaries research the supernatural (psychics, etc). The US military certainly does as well as the FBI, but this is less an indication that they believe in the supernatural but rather that they're willing to consider all possibilities and have money to throw around.

But I think the prevalence of combined Nazi & occult imagery in movies (Hellboy, Indiana Jones), computer games (Doom) etc. is a reflection of
a) America's odd combination of puritanism and militarism and thus how it imagines evil,
b) the fact that you can safely portray Nazis and occultists as villains without getting sued or boycotted. White South Africans fell into this group for a while too until they complained too much.

Sorry, too lazy to provide supporting links. Google is your friend.
posted by randomstriker at 3:14 PM on June 9, 2005

I don't have any supporting links, but in the course of some (personal) research a couple of weeks ago I did stumble across references to Hitler's Department of the Occult. There's some German occult doctrines referencing the superiority of the Germanic (and, I think, Nordic) groups. The department was a subdivision of the SS, if memory serves, or was possibly originally independent, and then absorbed into it.

Ah! Now I remember: Thule. You might want to start by looking here:
The Thule Society is known to be closely connected to the Germanenorden secret society.

The Germanenorden was a secret society in Germany early in the 20th century. Formed by several prominent German occultists in 1912, the order, whose symbol was a swastika, had a hierarchical fraternal structure similar to freemasonry. It taught to its initiates nationalist ideologies of nordic race superiority, antisemitism as well as occult, almost magical philosophies. Some say that the Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei (later the Nazi Party) when under the leadership of Adolf Hitler was a political front, and indeed the organisation reflected many ideologies of the party, including the swastika symbol. The Thule Society, another secret society with similar ideologies and symbols was also closely linked to this.
With the victory of the Nazi Party, the occult tradition was carried on in the Third Reich mainly by the SS, who Reichsfuhrer, Himmler, was an avid student of the occult. An SS occult research department, the Ahnernerbe (Ancestral Heritage) was established in 1935 with SS Colonel Wolfram von Sievers at its head. Occult research took SS researchers as far afield as Tibet. Sievers had the Tantrik prayer, the Bardo Thodol, read over his body after his execution at Nuremberg.
Sift carefully through the conspiracy BS though; there's a reference to America being founded by Masonic Adepts, for example. While yes, all but two of the signatories of the DoI were Freemasons, none of them--to the best of my knowledge--were Adepts, which is a distinction reserved for those of high rank in esoteric/occult/magickal groups. More to the point, the fact that they were Masons is a red herring.

Some mythical background here, and here is a ocnvenient Google search for you.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:44 PM on June 9, 2005

Skull and Bones is thought to be derivative of the Thule Society. So....
posted by hortense at 5:21 PM on June 9, 2005

Hitler wasn't the only one with an army that explored the "paranormal". Checkout The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson.
posted by krisjohn at 6:13 PM on June 9, 2005

Thought by whom, hortense?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:59 PM on June 9, 2005

Check out Wewelsburg Castle, Himmler's very own Camelot.
posted by SPrintF at 9:01 PM on June 9, 2005

dirtynumbangelboy :some researchers say Illuminati,some say Thule society.The most recent and beliveable.
posted by hortense at 10:34 PM on June 9, 2005

A lot of the stories about the Nazis and the occult come from the fact that Goebbels used astrology as a form of black propaganda, e.g. circulating pro-German interpretations of Nostradamus in order to undermine Allied morale. The subject is very thoroughly discussed in Ellic Howe's book, Astrology and the Third Reich (1984). Howe knew what he was talking about, as he was closely involved in the production of black propaganda for the British side. The British also had a role in spreading rumours about the Nazis and the occult in order to undermine German morale by casting doubt on Hitler's mental stability.

In general, Hitler seems to have adopted the Nietzchean view that superstition was only for the weak and credulous; and on the subject of astrology, at least, he seems to have been a confirmed sceptic. According to his private secretary: 'There were popular rumours that Hitler allowed himself to be guided by astrologers before reaching any important decision, but I must confess that I never noticed anything of the kind and the subject was never mentioned in conversation. On the contrary, he always vigorously rejected the idea that the fate of individuals depends on their stars or constellations.'

Himmler, on the other hand, was deeply interested in the paranormal; and in the last desperate days of the Third Reich the Nazi leaders do seem to have turned to astrology and the supernatural in the hope that it might somehow enable them to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
posted by verstegan at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2005

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