Peter Levenda and the Magickal Roots of Nazism part 1
Interview by Tracy R. Twyman
Peter Levenda’s quest for the truth began in 1979 while reading Aftermath: Martin Bormann and the Forth Reich, by Ladislas Farago, about how Hitler’s former Riechsleiter had escaped to South America after the war petending to be a priest, protected by the “underground railroad” of Nazi sympathizersthat operated and still operate all over that continent, including many if not most of the police and military. Levenda came across a description of one of Bormann’s many hideouts, a Koreshisn cult compound called “Colonia Dignidad” (Colony of Righteousness), which was, as Farago described, “the weirdest encampment of the postwar world, housing a sect that combines Nazism and vodooism.” Intrigued as he was by such an odd combination, Mr. Levenda decided to check the place out for himself, and actually flew down to Chile to conduct the investigation. He did manage to penetrate the compound, but only briefly, and this lead to him being chased out of Chile by a series of unidentified agents, then later fired from his job at “a large, multinational corporation that did a lot of business with the Chilean military.” It also lead to the research that eventually culminated in Levenda’s terrifying, spellbinding book, Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult.
It all started with the Thule Gesellschaft, a pagan, anti-Semitic, right-wing aristocratic society founded by a Freemason and Eastern mystic named Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorff. They met every Saturday in Munich’s Four Season’s Hotel to discuss things like runes (an old German alphabet), racial evolution, Nordic mythology and German nationalism. Registered under the name “Thule Gessellschaft” as a “literary-cultural society”, in order to fool the communist Red Army now controlling Munich, this group had originally been known as the Germanenorden, or the German Order Walvater of theHoly Grail. According to Levenda, ‘The Germanenorden had an impressive series of initiatory rituals, replete with knights in shining armor, wise kings, mystical bards and forest nymphs’, including a Masonic-style program of secrecy, initiation and mutual cooperation.” But they were not copying the ideological aspects of Freemasonry. As Levenda writes, “What the Germanenorden became was, essentially, an anti-Masonry: a Masonic-style society dedicated to the eradication of Freemasonry itself.” Their symbol was a long dagger on top of a swastika, and their beliefs had been influenced largely by the writing s of Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels, two men who will feature prominently in our story. Liebenfels had founded the neo-pagan, swastika-waving “Order of the New Templars” on Christmas Day, 1907, along similar ideological lines. In that same year, occult researcher Guido von List began The List Society part of a then-developing “völkish” (folkish) movement extolling the virtues of Norse heritage, heritatge which could be traced by reading the Edda, a compilation of Icelandic legends which Hitler would later take great interest in. The völkish movement itself was based in part on the ideas of Madam Helena Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society famous for her books Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine. She wrote that humanity was descendant from a series of imperfect races which had once rules the earth, and which all had a common Atlantean origin dating back millions of years, culminating in the Aryan race, which had at one point possessed supernatural powers but had since lost them. She also romanticized about the occult significance of the swastika, of Lucifer, “The Light-Bearer”, and of a cabal of spiritual “Hidden Masters” called the Great White Brotherhood, who guided human evolution from their abode in the Himalayas and who Blavatsky herself purported to channel during her many self-induced trances. And the philosophy of List and Liebenfels took this a bit further, to the extent that the Aryan race was the only “True” humanity, and that the Jews, along with a host of other undesirables, or “minderwertigen” (“beings of inferior value”) were sapping the race of its strength and purity through the evil machination of Christianity, Freemasonry, capitalism and Communism. They believed that the Aryan race had come from a place called Thule, the north pole, where there was an entrance to a vast underground area populated by giants. “Among the völkish cults”, writes Levenda, “it was was believed that – as soon as the Germans had purified the planet of the pollution of the inferior races – these Hidden Masters, these Supermen from Thule, would make themselves known, and the link which had been lost between Man and God would be forged anew.”
There were the beliefs of the members of the Thule Gesellschaft when they met on November 9, 1918 to discuss something of immediate concern; The Communist control of Munich. After a rousing speech by Sebottendorf, the Thule Society began to prepare for a counter-revolution, stockpiling weapons and forming alliances with other like-minded groups, such and the Pan-Germans, the German School Bund and the Hammerbund. The follwing year, on April 7, a Bavarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed in Munich, causing the Prime Minister of Bavaria to run off to Bamburg in order to prevent a total Communist take-over of the government. Six dayd later the Thule-Organized Palm Sunday Putsch failed to overcome the Communists in Munich, and now the Thule members were on the Red Army’s Most Wanted list. Sebottendorfgot busy organizing an army of Freikorps (Freekorps) to counter-attack. (One of the units of the Freikorps, the Ehrhardt Brigade, later became part of the German Army, and eventually, part of the S.S.) On April 26, the Red Army raided Thule headquarters and began making arrests, including the well-connected Prince von Thurn und Taxis. On April 30, Walpurgisnacht, they were executede in the Luitpold High School courtyard. The following day, their obituaries were published in Sebottendorf’s newspaper Münchener Beobachter (which would evolve one year later in to the official Nazi publication, Völkischer Beobachter.) The citizens of Munich became outraged. The Thule Society organized a citizen rebellion, which was joined by the 20,000-member Freikorps, and together they marched, “beneath a swatika flag, with swastikas painted on their helmets, singing a swastika hymn.” By May 3, after much bloodshed and destruction, the Communists in Munich were defeated. But there was much work to be done. The Soviet threat was still very real. Witht he help of the local police and military, the Thule began organizing a more full-scale national revolt, using connections with societies wealthy intellectuals. They also began recruiting among Germany’s working class, by forming a group called the German Worker’s Party, which met regularly in beer halls to discuss the threat of Jews, Communists, and Freemasons. This group would later become the National Socialist German Workers’ Party – The Nazi Party, and in November 1923, they would make their first attempt at national takeoever, the failed Beer Hall Putsch, lead by a man who had originally been sent by the German Army to spy on them – Adolf Hitler.
We all know what the Nazi party went on too accomplish. What most people do not know is the extent to which those actions wer inspired by the occult beliefs of their perpetrators. As Levenda writes, “The most extreme aims of the Thule Society would all eventually become official policy of the Third Reich, while its purely metaphyscial and occult characteristics were adopted wholeheartedly by the S.S.” Hitler himself was fascinated by the occult. While he was a college student he began reading Von Liebenfels’ magazine, Ostara. Later in 1909, while he was living in poverty in a men’s dormatory and hawking his paintings on the street, Hitler actually met Libenfels in his office, looking “so distraught and so impoverished that the New Templar himself gave Hitler free copies of Ostara and bus fare back home.” Hitler’s friend Josef Greiner recalls in his memoirs how obsessed young Adolf was with astology, religion, occultism, magic and yoga. Hitler loved Wagner, as we know, especially The Ring Cycle, Parsifal, Lehengrin and Rienzi. It was from Wagner that Hitler gained his affinity for knighthood, chivalry, and the Quest fo the Holy Grail, a pagan, Teutonic Grail. In 1915, Hitler was at war, and while in the trenches, wrote a poem, one which “sings the praises of Wotan, the Teutonic Father God, and of runic letters, magic spells, and magic formulas.” So there is no doubt that Hitler’s interest in occultism and paganism ran deep. There is doubt, however, as to whether or not Hitler actually performed any magical operations himself. According to Levenda, this was not in his nature, a nature inclined towards action, doing stuff, accomplishing things here on Earth, in the 3rd dimension. He did not have the time and the patience necessary for real spiritual endeavors. “Hitler was a paranoid”, writes Levenda, “and the occult holds special attractions for the paranoid. But Hitler as a cultist? As a black-robed, ritual-performing, invocation-chanting priest of Satan? Probably not.
But Hitler as a tool of other cultists?
In fact, a number of people deeply involved in the occult would have great influence on him and play essential roles in the development of the Third Reich. It would do us well to examine them one by one.
Hitler, while working as the leader of the German Worker’s Party, became freinds with Thulist Deitrich Eckast, who published a newspaper called Auf Gut Deutsch (“In Good German”), which “ranks with the Völkischer Beobachter as a racist sheer with intellectual pretensions.” Eckart had a tremendous effect on Hitler, and was he who first introduced Hitler to all the wealthy and powerful people he needed make his crusade possible, including Henry Ford, who would later contribute “vital financial support” to the Nazi party. From Eckart, Hitler learned a great deal about the esoteric sciences, and it is said that they occasionally attended seances and talked to ghosts. Eckart, who died after the Beer Hall Putsch, is quoted as saying, “Hitler will dance, but it is I who plays the tune.”
Eckart protegé, and soon Hitler’s as well, was Alfred Rosenburg, a man who would later become “one of the architects of official Nazi policies.” One of these policies was that all of the Masonic temp[les in all of the Nazi’s occupied territories were to be raided, and the goods shipped back to Rosenberg himself. This was done by Franz Six and Otto Ohlendorf, both occultists. Rosenberg was also friends with another occultist named Walther Darré, who became agricultural minister of the Third Reich. “Together”, writes Levenda, “they ran around the nation drumming up support for an official state religion based on the worship of the Old Gods,a religion that included purifying the Aryan race of elements that were in the process of polluting it and dilluting the strength of its blood.”
Erik Jan Hanussen
In 1932, after his Nazi Party hade lost much ground in the Reichstag, and his mistress Eva Braun had shot herself on Halloween Night, Hitler turned to his friend Erik Jan Hanussen, a well-known astologer and occulist whom he had met back in 1926. Hannusen is supposed to have taught Hitler a number of exaggerated gestures to use in puiblic speaking, ones which could been seen and understood from far away, and which would communicate a message through body language even if a person could not hear what he was saying. Hanussen had never read Hitler’s stars before, but on this occasion in 1932, upon request, he drew up an astrological chart for the future Führer, and told Hitler that his troubles stemmed from an evil hex that someone had cast on him. Furthermore, he said, the only way to get rid of it was for someone to go to a butcher’s backyard located in Hitler’s hometown – at midnight, on a full moon – and pull a mandrake out of the ground. For those who don’t know, a mandrake is a “man-shaped” root with supposed medicinal properties which, according to European folklore, will emit an ear-shattering scream upon being uprooted. Sometime a dog would be sent on a suicide mission to pull the root while the magician plugged his own ears. Hanussen performed the ritual himslef, and on January 1st of 1933 came to Hitler predicting that he would return to power onthe 30th of that month, “a date roughly equivalent to the pagan sabbat of Oimelc.” Of course, as is known to history, that is exactly what happened. A few weeks later, during a seance held on February 26, Hanussen predicted that the Communists would make another attempt at revolution in Germany, one that would begin by setting an important government building on fire. “The next day”, writed Levenda, “the Reichstag was in flames and Hitler had all the excuse he needed to go from Chancellor of Germany to Führer of the Third Reich.” Six weeks later, Hanussen was mysteriously murdered.
There was also another astrologer, a shareholder in the Völkischer Beobachter who had been Hitler’s close friend since the days of the German Worker’s Party in 1919. In the memoirs of Walter Schellenberg he is described as “a Munich physician who belonged to the intimate circle around Hitler. Gubarlett believed in the ‘sidereal pendulum’, an astological contraption , and claimed that this had given him the power to sense at once the presence of any Jews or persons of partial Jewish ancestry, and to pick them out in any group of people. Hitler availed himself of Gutberlett’s mysticpower and had many discussions with him on racial questions.
A friend of hitler’s from way back, he had been arrested at the Beer Hall Putsch with him in 1923, and had transcribed Hitler’s Mein Kampf (originally titled Four and a Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice) while they were both in prison. He later became Hitler’s Deputy Führer. He was an “intimate” of the Thule Society and was way into the occult. Hess introduced hitler to one of his profesors, Karl Haushofter, a man with an interest in astrology who claimed clairvoyance. Haushoffer later came to weild considerable power in Germany by founding the Deutsche Akadamie, and by heading the University of Munich’s Institute Geopolitik – “A kind of think tank – cum – intelligence agency”, according to Levenda. He was vital in forming the Nazi alliances with Japan and South America, and was responsible for the adoption of the Lebensraum (“Living Room”) policy, which stated taht “a sovereign nation, to ensure the suvival of its people, had a right to annex the territory of other sovereign nations to feed and house itself.”
Himmler and the S.S.
The S.S. (Schuzstafel) was originally formed as a personal bodyguard to Hitler, and numbered around 300 when Heinrich Himmler joined. But when he rose to its leadership in 1929, things changed a bit. Four years later, membership had soared to 52,000. He established headquarters at a medieval castle called Wewelsburg, where his secret inner order met once a year.. According to Walther Schellenberg’s memoirs,”Each member had his own armchair with an engraved silver nameplate, and each had to devote himself to a ritual of spiritual excercises aimed mainly at mental concentration…. The focal point of Wewelsburg, evidently owing much to the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, was a great dining hall with an oaken table to seat twelve picked from the senior Gruppenfühers. The walls were to be adorned with their coats of arms.” Underneath this dining hall there was kept a so-called “realm of the dead”, a circular well in which these coats of arms would be burnt and the ashes worshipped after the “knight” had died. (There are tales of Himmler using the severed heads of deceased S.S. officers to communicate with ascended masters.) In addition to this, each knight had his own room, “decorated in accordance with one of the great ancestors of Aryan majesty.” himmler’s own room was dedicated to a Saxon King Henry the Fowler, whose ghost Himmler sometimes conversed with.
Outside of the inner order, SS officers were discouraged from participating in Christian ceremonies, including weddings and christenings, and celebrated the Winter Soltice instead of Christmas. The traditional day of gift exchange was switched to the day of the summer solstice celbration. Writes Levenda, “These ceremonies were repleate with sacred fires, torchlit processsions, and invocations of Teutonic deities, all performed by files of young blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan supermen.” Although Himmler admired the ceremonial nature of Catholocism and modeled the S.S. partially on the Order of the Jesuits, he also despised Christianty for what he considered its weak, masochistic nature. He held further resentment because of the persectution of German witches during the Inquisition.
Himmler, along with Richard Darré, was responsible for absobing The Ahnenerbe Society “a kind of seminary and teaching college for the future leaders of the Thousand Year Reich”, into the S.S. The Ahenenerbe was devoted to some odd völkish studies, each of which had a subdivision dedicated to it: “Celtic Studies”, Externsteine (near Wewelsburg), where the world-tree Yggdrasil was supposed to reside, Icelandic research; Tibeten research, runic studies; a strange new twist on physics called the “World Ice Theory”, an archeological research in an effort to find evidence of past Aryan presence in remote locations all over the world, such as South America, giving rise to “Aryans discovered America” stories. Another theory propounded by Himmler was that babies that had been conceived in cemetaries would inherit the spirits of whoever was buried there, and actually published lists of cemetaries that were good for breeding because of the Teutonic heroes resting therein. Himmler was obsessed with the concept of the Holy Grail, and hired researchers to try and prove that the Grail was actually a Nordic pagan artifact.
The Allied Occult Offense
According to Levenda, “Himmler was obsessed by the idea that British Intelligence was being run by the Rosicrucian order, and thqtn occult adepts were in charge of MI5.” Whether or not that was true, the Germans were certainly not the only participants in the war using the power of magick to their advantage. Levenda provides the details of a “Cult Counterstrike” organized by the intelligence agencies of the U.S. and Britian, an effort centering around the “most evil man in the world”, the Great Beast 666, Aleister Crowley.
Crowley had gone to live in New York during WWI after being rejeted for military service by the British government, and began writing “pro-German propaganda” for a mgazine called The Fatherland, published by George Viereck. Crowley took over as editor. He later claimed that he had really been working for British Intelligence, because “his articles were so outlandish that the journal was reduced to absurdity, a caricature of serious political discussion, which would help the British cause more than harm it.” There is some evidence to suggest that Crowley was working for MI5 during this time, spying on his fellow OTO initiate Karl Germer, a German intelligence agent, ao perhaps his excuse for working for The Fatherland is sound. Whatever the case, he was definitely hired by MI5 during WWII. Crowley had become friends with author Dennis Wheatley, well-known for a number of fiction and non-fiction books based on the occult who had once worked for Winston Churchill’s Joint Planning Staff. He had been introduced to Crowley by a journalist named Tom Driberg, who would later become a spy for MI5 as well, and who would come into possession of Crowley’s diaries shortly after his death in 1947. Wheatley also introduced Crowley to yet another MI5 agent, Maxwell Knight. Knight was the real historical figure behind the fictional character “M” in all the James Bond novels, written by Knight’s friend in the Department of Naval Intelligence, Ian Fleming. Crowley met Knight for dinner at Wheatley’s house, and it was there that Crowley agreed to take them both on as magick students. Later, Ian Fleming dreamed up a way to use Crowley’s expertise in a scheme against the Germans. The scheme involved an Anglo-German organization known as “The Link”, a supposed “cultural society” which had once been under the leadership of Sir Barry Domville, Director of Naval Intelligence from 1927 to 1930. The Link had been investigated by Maxwell Knight in the 1930s because of its involvement in German spy operations, and was soon dissolved after much incriminating evidence was found. As Levenda describes, Fleming “thought that the Nazis could be made to believe that the The Link was still in existence, they could use it as bait for the Nazi leadership. The point was to convince the Nazis that The Link had sufficient influence to overthrow the Churchill government and thereby to install a more pliable British government, one which would gladly negotiate a separate peace with Hitler.” The suggestion came in the form of fake astological advice passed on to the gullible Rudolf Hess, who was already under the delusion that only he could talk the British into peace with Germany, and that it was his destiny to do so. One of his staff astrologers, Dr. Ernst Schulte-Strathaus, under British employ, encouraged Hess to make his mission to England on May 10, 1941 a significant date because of a rare conjuntion of six planets inthe sign of Taurus. The Duke of Hamilton was also enlisted to let Hess know that he would be happy to entertain him should he plan to go through with such an endeavor. So Hess, a trained pilot, embarked on a rather dangerous solo flight to the British Isles, parachuting into Scotland donned in various occult symbols, where he was immediately arrested by the waiting Brits. Accoding to Levenda, “Fleming tried to obtain permission for Crowley to debrief Hess in order to develop intelligence on the occult scene inthe Third Reich and particularly the Nazi leadership.” But this permission was denied, and Hess spent the rest of his days in prison not being much use to anybody. Levenda finds this suspicious, for “What could have been a major propaganda coup against the Nazis went utterly wasted, as if by tacit agreement on both sides.”
After Hess’ arrest, Hitler denounced hi as a crazed madman, and began persecuting astrologers and occultists in his own domains more so than ever before. Crowley continued trying to help the Allied cause, but most of his ideas were rejected. One, however, while initially dismissed, was later implemented. This involved dropping occult pamphlets on the German countryside that predicted a dire outcome for the war and depicted the Nazi leadership as Satanic. A fogery of a popular German astrological magazine called Zenit was created and dropped onto enemy battlefields. It was set for full-scale distribution, buit the delivery was intercepted by the Gestapo before it could be completed.
Besides Crowley, there were other occultists involved in the fight against the Third Reich. One of Crowley’s protegés, Jack Parsons, who was the Head of the Agapé O.T.O. Lodge in California as well as a charter member of both Cal-Tech and the Jet propulsion Laboratory, invented the “Greek Fire” rocket propellant which was widely used by the United State Navy between 1944 and 1945. According to Levenda, it was “a solution that could have only come from someone with a working knowledge of the arcane lore of alchemy and magic.” (Parsons later killed himself in an accident involving fulaminate of mercury. He had been driven crazy and proclaimed himself the Anti-Christ after becoming involved with one “Frater H”, who was actually a spy sent by Naval Intelligence to infiltrate the O.T.O. That spy’s name was L.Ron Hubbard!) There was also a Golden dawn intiate named Sam Untermyer, an attorney and wealthy philanthropist once called a “Satanist” by a British newspaper. Untermyer started the “Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights” and the “World-Anti-Nazi Council, which both promoted the boycott of German products. He also donated money to the hunt for Nazi agents coming into New York. And with the help of a man named Richard Rollins, he started a secret society called “the Board” which engaged in couterespionage agaisnt Nazi group who were recruiting in the United States.
The World War II that Levenda describes is a magick war, and a holy war, a war in which both sides consider themselves to be fighting the forces of evil. It is a war operated behind the scenes by mystical adepts using their esoteric knowledge of symbolism, astrology, meditation, astral travel, clairavoyance, and mind control agasint the enemy. A war inspired by age-old beliefs in the Elder Gods of Europe’s ancient past. In the pages that folow, Mr. Levenda discusses that war with the editor of Dagobert’s Revenge.
DR: Your book is all about how occultism, esoteric beliefs and secret societies inspired many of the leading figures in the Nazi party. You also detail how several people in the upper echelons of the Golden Dawn and the OTO were involved in espionage – Karl Germer and Theodor Reuss for German Intelligence and Crowley for the British. And certainly we know that a number of occult societies throughout history, such as the Bavarian Illuminati, various Masonic sects, The Knights of Malta, The Templars, etc., have been involved in espionage and political revolution. What do you think draw occultists into the field of spying and revolutionary activities?