The Occult Foundations of Nazism: The Thule Group and the Vril Society
· These two groups were relatively small but their influence on history was profound. It is not too much to claim that without them Hitler would never have come to power in Germany. Though them he made important contacts and found a nucleus of disciples with whose aid he transformed his country and the world.
· The Thule Group came into existence earlier and was originally founded in Berlin by Felix Niedner in 1910. It was small and ineffective and on the outbreak of war became moribund. In 1917 it was reconstituted in Berlin by Walter Nauhaus as a ‘Study Group for German Antiquity.’ In 1918 Nauhaus moved to Munich where he met Rudolf von Sebottendorf.
· Sebottendorf transformed it from a tiny and ineffective organisation into a force that changed the course of history.
· Thule took its name from a mythical country in Greek legend located in the far north. Many of its members believed that Thule had been the last surviving remnant of the lost continent of Atlantis.[
· Thule Group symbol
· Its members believed that Thule was the seat of a lost Hyperborean civilisation and that the Aryan races represented its surviving descendants.
· Sebottendorf recruited a number of new members to the Thule Group. The first three recruits were George Gaudatz, Wilhelm Rohmeder and Johannes Hering.
· Gaudatz was a lawyer, a geographer, a writer and a school councillor. He also belonged to the Red Cross and the Audubon Society for the protection of birds. In his capacity as a lawyer he acted for the owner of the Münchener Beobachter and the Franz Eher publishing group. Gaudatz was a striking character who resembled the actor Erich von Stroheim and wore a swastika emblem dangling from a chain on his waistcoat. He was not a significant member of the Thule Group but his personal relationship with the Eher/ Beobachter media empire later enabled him to persuade the owner’s widow to sell it to the group.
· Rohmeder was a teacher, a geographer, an author and a city school councillor. He was passionately concerned about German ethnicity and culture.
· Hering was critical of Sebottendorf’s occultism and particularly objected at having to listen to a lecture by him on divining rods. He is unimportant in himself but because he recorded details of the meetings he is the chief source of information on Thule.
· Sebottendorf believed that mediaeval cathedral builders were been members of a secret society of craftsmen who also knew the secret of alchemy
· He taught the members to repeat certain syllables during particular phases of the moon. They also learned to make signs which were supposed to capture ‘original force’ and to turn matter into energy.
· There was an inner and outer circle but both attempted to raise their consciousness and to develop contacts with supernatural beings.
· The inner circle looked on themselves as lords of the earth, destined to usher in a new era in evolution when supermen would eventually supersede the Aryan race.
· The Thulist account of evolution claimed that the first humans had no physical bodies and were sexless. They were created by the Chohans who lived on the Moon. Later the Chohans developed a second race which possessed physical bodies. The third race to arise on Earth was hermaphrodite though later it separated into male and female. The apes resulted from cross-breeding between the third race and animals so apes were seen as fallen or degenerate humans. The fourth race possessed both consciousness and speech and a complete division of the sexes. It was the fourth race that founded the first kingdom on Earth, Thule.
A supposed map of Thule (called Tile in the Latin)
Later the kingdom of Lemuria arose.
A supposed map of Lemuria
Its sole surviving relic was claimed to be Tiahuanaco in the Bolivian mountains.
Lemuria, like Thule, was destroyed in a cosmic catastrophe. Its survivors escaped to Shamballah, a secret place in the Gobi Desert. A degenerate branch of the Lemurians became hunters and cave dwellers.
Rigdan, allegedly king of Shamballah
· After them came the Atlanteans, identified by both Thulist and Vril members as being the Nordic/Aryan race.
· Thule’s non-political activities were primarily centred on meditation, concentration, developing the will and seeking to contact ancestors.
· Sebottendorf was obsessed with astrology and the idea that – in his own words – ‘the Germans especially must give to the world a new species.’ This idea fascinated both Hitler and Himmler and when the Nazis came to power they took steps to try to make this dream a reality.
· Sebottendorf purchased the Münchener Beobachter – the ‘Munich Observer – in 1918 and turned it into a vehicle for racist and occult propaganda. He also acquired the Franz Eher publishing house.
· Thule became highly active in politics as Bavaria was on the brink of going Communist and the Thulists actively worked to suppress ‘Soviet Bavaria.’
Soon Gottfried Feder joined the Thule Group and urged its members to woo the workers away from Communism.
· Its membership list contained most of the early leaders of the Nazi Party – Hess, Rosenberg, Frank, Feder, Eckart and other leading lights in the early years of the party.
· Its members subscribed to a range of occult beliefs and some engaged in a variety of occult practices but its primary purpose soon became to establish an alternative political movement to Communism.
· Sebottendorf was a poor organizer and squandered the group’s funds. He turned the Münchener Beobachter into the Völkischer Beobachter but was otherwise increasingly ineffective.
His influence within Thule waned and Eckart soon became the driving force.
Soon, probably through the journalist Karl Harrer,
they discovered the DAP (German Workers’ Party) run by Anton Drexler, a railway worker.
· The Thulists became active in the party and when Hitler joined and became its principal speaker they threw their weight behind him.
· Ironically, during the 1918 Bavarian uprising by the Thulists and other right-wing groups against the left-wing government, Hitler was an active and enthusiastic supporter of ‘Soviet Bavaria.’ He was not only a member of the Soldiers’ Councils but was arrested by Federal troops for firing on them when they entered Munich to suppress the Communist threat. Fortunately for Hitler he was recognised by some soldiers who had served with him during the war and he quickly made excuses and pretended that he had been an undercover agent trying to overthrow the ‘Red Bavarian’ government. To back up his false claims he also betrayed as many of his former comrades as he could. The result was that he was recruited by military intelligence. They put him and other former soldiers on a training course and quickly discovered that he was a born orator.
· The Thule Group held a séance in 1919 with a Russian medium who allegedly produced ghostly apparitions from her vagina. At this séance she is said to have evoked the spirits of two murdered Thulists and to have prophesised the imminent arrival of Germany’s saviour
· Not long after this séance Hitler attended a meeting of the DAP and made an angry and impassioned speech. This so impressed both Drexler and Eckart that they recruited him into the party. Although Eckart became a close personal friend of Hitler’s and to a considerable extent his mentor there is no evidence that Hitler ever joined the Thule Group. It is hard to believe that if he had attended their meetings or become a member that Hering would not have mentioned that in his notes on Thule.
· The Thule Group became largely ineffective after the suppression of the Communist threat to Germany. Hitler’s political career continued to rise and as he began to contemplate the possibility of achieving political power he slowly pushed occult groups like Thule into the background. One of his first actions after his appointment as Chancellor in 1933 was to suppress the group completely.
The result of this was an angry book by Sebottendorf, Bevor Hitler Kam (Before Hitler Came), in which Sebottendorf took too much credit for Hitler’s rise to power and exaggerated the influence of the Thule Group and of his own role within the organisation.
The Vril Society
The Vril Society was founded in 1919 by Karl Haushofer. It grew out of the Order of the Green Dragon, an Asian order to which Haushofer belonged.
· Green Dragon members tried to control the vital forces in the human body and to gain power over time. They also performed a ritual to control the vital energy in plants.
· The original name of the organization was the Brothers of the Light. It was then renamed the Luminous Lodge but soon became known as the Vril Society.
The name Vril was taken from an 1871 novel by Bulwer-Lytton, The Coming Race, which described a race of superior beings dwelling under the ground and who enjoyed the mastery of a mysterious force which Lytton called ‘Vril power.’
· Lytton’s underground beings were ruthless and racist.
· The Vril Society believed in the real existence of ‘Vril power.’ They were convinced that anyone who could master this force could dominate the world.
· The Vril Society’s interest included research into Atlantis, the origins of the Aryan race and the awakening of the magical powers they believe lay dormant in those with Aryan blood.
· Their cosmology saw the Earth as a living, conscious organism where every aspect of inner and outer life was interrelated. The breathing of the Earth’s subtle body, they believed, was the force that governed and guided evolution.
· In the beginning, they claimed, humans were literally mirror images of the Gods. Then a group of supernatural beings known collectively as Lucifer turned humans against the Gods. Later another group of spirits, collectively known as Ahriman, came to persuade humans that there were no Gods and that the material world was the only one that existed.
In December 1919 the society met at a house near Berchtesgaden. It is alleged that various female mediums, one a Croatian called Maria Orsitsch (also sometimes referred to as Orsic or Orsich)
and others known simply as Sigrun, Traute, Heike and Gudrun
received various messages from supernatural beings. These claimed that the forthcoming saviour of Germany was ‘hard by the door’ and that he would be the next owner of the ‘Spear of Destiny’ – the lance held in the Hofburg Museum at Vienna which was claimed to be the spear that pierced the side of Christ on the cross.
· Orsitsch in particular is said to have received her messages in ‘an unknown tongue’ but, depending on which version of events is regarded as more plausible, either she was able to ‘translate’ them clairvoyantly or, more probably, one of the Vril Society members ‘decoded’ the messages and relayed them to the other members in German.
· It is sometimes claimed that Orsitsch and Sigrun received ‘telepathic transmissions’ from extraterrestrials, generally Aldebaran but other planetary locations have been suggested. That aspect of the activities of the Vril Society was only suggested in the 1980s and is highly improbable. The society’s members were steeped in occultism and the idea of beings from other planets was one in which they were unlikely to have shown much interest at that period of history.
· Vril members performed rituals to ‘summon’ and ‘control’ Vril power as well as the usual meditation and visualization exercises.
· Great emphasis was placed on concentration, focusing willpower and on attempting psychokinesis.
· Vril power has been identified with many different ‘forces.’ Lytton compared it to electricity while others have compared it to prana or kundalini. Some Vril Society members believed it to be ‘telluric energy’ from the Earth.
· There were supposedly two methods of raising Vril power. One was called ‘the scientific method’ and required particles of a protein found in lead to be chemically isolated and then ‘captured’ in the ‘photonic magnetism of Saturn’ or placed in lava from an active volcano.
· An alternative method was ‘the mystic way.’ This involved standing before a symbol of Agarthi with various coloured lights and sounds in the background. It was alleged to lead to ‘a symbolic regression of life’ after which the initiate would be filled with Vril power.
· All the society’s members believed that control of Vril led to domination of the world and to advancing to the next stage in evolution. They saw it as the only proper and worthwhile goal in life. If it could be achieved they believed that when the subterranean dwellers from the Earth’s core emerge on to its surface they would greet humans had mastered Vril as their equals.
Haushofer was the founder and the dominant force in the Vril Society.
· He allegedly possessed the gift of prophecy. One of his predictions, perhaps the result of his affinity with Oriental cults, was that Germany and Japan would become allies. He also predicted that Britain and France would not go to war over Czechoslovakia. By contrast he claimed that Poland would be conquered in eighteen days even though the Wehrmacht were convinced that it would take a long time to subdue the country. He opposed an early invasion of France but insisted that a later invasion would be successful. His prophetic gifts appear to have deserted him in 1941 when he wrongly believed that Hess could persuade Britain to make peace with Germany.
· Haushofer emphasised not only the ‘racial purity’ of the subterranean ‘Aryans’ from Atlantis but also regarded them as masters of magic. He believed that Atlanteans were not purely human but partly spiritual beings with superhuman powers. They were so close to nature that they could, through certain words of power, heal the sick and aid the growth of plants. What they lacked, Haushofer claimed, was reason. It was the latest branch of the Atlanteans, the Aryan race, who developed the power of thought. This gave them enormous new possibilities but meant that they lost their magical power and had to learn to adapt and improvise. These Aryans left Atlantis and went to Europe and Asia. Their leaders settled in Tibet and established ‘an oracle of the sun’ whose symbol was the swastika. Their main centre was known as Shamballah.
Haushofer introduced not only the legend of Shamballah but also that of Agarthi (also known as Agarti and Agharta) to the society.
The story of Shamballah was first brought to the West in the 17th century by missionaries to the Far East. Agharti is a different matter, being first mentioned by the 19th century French writer Louis Jacolliot who came across the legend during his travels in Asia.
He claimed to have read an account of it in a Hindu sacred text, the Agrouchada Parikshai (The Book of Spirits.)
Partly through Jacolliot and partly from other sources, the French writer Saint-Yves d’Alveydre
gave more details about the legend of Agarthi (which he spelt as Asgartha.) He claimed to have learned of its existence from ‘a high official of the Hindu Church.’ In reality his ‘source,’ apart from obvious borrowings from Jacolliot, was an Indian pet shop owner living in Le Havre!
· The name Shamballah means ‘quietness’ and the name Agarthi means ‘inaccessible.’
Shamballah was described, like the Norse ‘world tree Yggdrassil, as having its foundations beneath the earth as well as a visible section above ground. Jacolliot and Saint-Yves had their ideas picked up by the founder of the Theosophical Society, Helena Blavatsky.
She not only added touches of her own but was largely responsible for the wider dissemination of the legends of Shamballah and, particularly, Agarthi. This led to occultists identifying the submerged portion of Shamballah with Agarthi. Theosophists regarded Agarthi as being an extensive network of underground caves in Tibet.
· They believed them to be the dwelling place of demi-Gods who they called Asuras.
· Agharti is said to form ‘the mystic zero, the undiscoverable’ and in the Tarot pack is symbolized by the Fool. Its symbol is said to be the triangle of fire.
· Haushofer believed that Agarthi was the original ‘centre’ from which the Aryan race had started out.
· Haushofer, perhaps under the influence of the Theosophists, also transferred the traditional location of Shamballah from Mongolia to Tibet. Although there were naturally similarities between the legends of Shamballah in both regions the view before his time had always been that its location was in Mongolia.
· In Haushofer’s account of Shamballah and Agarthi, he described Agarthi as the kingdom and Shamballah as its capital. Strangely, in contrast to all previous accounts of Shamballah which had described it as a place of enlightenment, learning, wisdom and goodness. Haushofer was the first to asset that it was ‘a place of violence and power.’
The Vril Society, while not rejecting the Theosophical account of underground caves, claimed that a vast worldwide network of underground tunnels existed linking Asia, America, Europe and Africa.
The importance attached by the Vril Society to Tibet lead to a number of expeditions to the country between 1926 and 1938. It is alleged that one final expedition took place between 1942-1943 bur this seems implausible.
· Unlike the Thule Group, which became moribund after 1925, the Vril Society continued to exist and exert influence. As with Thule, there is no evidence that Hitler became a member but he certainly knew and was influenced by key players within the society and undoubtedly shared most of their beliefs.
The first semi-public appearance of the Vril Society was in 1930 when it published a book entitled Vril: Die kosmische Urkraft which claimed that the Atlanteans had possessed a ‘spiritual dynamo technology.’
Their second brochure, Weltdynamismus, appeared in 1931 and spoke of the possibilities of ‘free energy.
· After these two publications, both of which appeared during the final years of the Weimar Republic, open knowledge of the Vril Society ceased.
Hess had been a member of the Vril Society and an ardent disciple of Haushofer.
· Following the failure of the Munich putsch in 1923, both Hitler and Hess were imprisoned in Landsberg prison. Hess introduced Hitler to Haushofer and Hitler became convinced of the truth of his teachings.
· The racism, cruelty and lust for power of the alleged subterranean dwellers (in whose reality Haushofer firmly believed) attracted Hitler to the Vril’s theories.
· From 1933 onwards the picture is less clear. One of the first things the Nazis did on coming to power was to suppress or incorporate every occult or mystical group within Germany. A few managed to survive, mainly through becoming incorporated in the SS, but the story of the Vril Society’s fate is complex and contradictory.
· On the one hand Vril Society members like Himmler, Hess, Rosenberg, Feder and others held high office and continued to be influential. On the other hand there is little or no evidence of any kind of occult activity by them except for Himmler’s rituals within Wewelsburg castle and his public neo-pagan ceremonies.
The first open mention of the Vril Society was in an article by the German rocket scientist Willy Ley in 1947.
He gives few concrete details though the reality of the society has been confirmed by independent researchers. He was aware of the 1930 and 1931 publications and even referred to their depiction of a bisected apple as being ‘a map of the free energy field’ that they alleged to exist. Ley described the Vril Society as seeking to create a new and more highly evolved Aryan race. He was contemptuous of the society and claimed that ‘the Nazis forced me to do crazy things that hindered my researches.’
· The leader of the Tibetan monks was known simply as the Man with Green Gloves. He and his fellow lamas lived and died in the Third Reich, many of them through suicide as the Russians approached Berlin. The Man with the Green Gloves was alleged to ‘know the secrets of the entrance to Agarthi.
· In spite of their small size and secretive nature, and the probability that Hitler never directly joined either organization, there is no doubt that both groups had a profound and decisive influence upon his thinking and his courses of action.
· As a final thought, it has been alleged that either the Vril Society or the Thule Group designed, constructed and flew flying saucers during the 1930s and 1940s. Though there is considerable evidence for the design of flying discs during the Third Reich, and even strong probability that one of them made a successful test flight, it is unlikely that the Vril Society were involved in such activities and the involvement of Thule is impossible. Again, the theory of Thule or Vril involvement did not surface until the late 1970s and early 1980s whereas the idea that UFOs might be the result of Nazi secret weapons was suggested as early as 1952 (if not before.) Nevertheless, it remains a fascinating speculation and yet another example of the hidden mysteries of the Third Reich which are only slowly beginning to come to light. I will go into more detail on this subject in my talk on the Nazis and UFOs.
In an ironic twist to the Nazi/UFO connection, the anti-Nazi Nicholas Roerich travelled extensively in Tibet and other parts of Asia. He gave an account from 1926 of what is one of the best UFO sightings every recorded, with witnesses, a clear sky and a trained observer describing it. The lamas who were with Roerich at the time described it as being ‘the sign of Shamballah’ and told him that he was under its protection.
Again, I will go into greater detail on this and other aspects of the Nazis and UFO activity in my forthcoming talk on the subject.