Die Völkisch Bewegung und Pangermanismus – The Völkisch Movement and Pan-Germanism

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Die Völkisch Bewegung und Pangermanismus

Wappen Deutscher Bund

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Wappen von Österreich

Austria in the late 1800s was the product of three major political changes.

These changes consisted in the exclusion of Austria from the German Confederation, the administrative separation of Hungary from Austria, and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in the “Austrian” or western half of the empire.”

\Wappen Heiliges Römisches Reich
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The German Confederation had been created by the Congress of Vienna to replace the Holy Roman Empire, and lasted from 1815 to 1866; it consisted of a union of 39 German states, with 35 monarchies and four free cities.

Its main organ was a central Diet under the presidency of Austria, however, the establishment of the confederation failed to meet the aspirations of German nationalists, who had hoped for a consolidation of these small monarchies into a politically unified Greater Germany.

Preußisch-Österreichischen Krieg
Otto Eduard Leopold,
Fürst von Bismarck,
Herzog von Lauenburg

As a step towards the ascendancy of Prussia over Austria and the unification of Germany under Prussian dominance, Otto von Bismarck provoked the Austro-Prussian War in June 1866, using the dispute over the administration of Schleswig-Holstein as a pretext.

Preußisch-Österreichischen Krieg

In this conflict, also known as the Seven Weeks’ War, Prussia was allied with Italy, and Austria with a number of German states, including Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Saxony and Hanover.
Prussia easily overcame Austria and her allies.

Austria was excluded from German affairs in the Treaty of Prague (23 August 1866).
The war notwithstanding, Bismarck considered Austria a potential future ally, and so avoided unnecessarily weakening the state, settling for the annexation of Hanover, Hesse, Nassau, Frankfurt and Schleswig-Holstein.
(These moderate peace terms were to facilitate the Austro-German alliance of 1879.)

Wappen des Norddeutschen Bundes
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The war resulted in the destruction of the German Confederation, and its replacement with the North German Confederation under the sole leadership of Prussia.

The defeat of Austria was an additional blow to German nationalism: Austrian Germans found themselves isolated within the Habsburg Empire, with its multitude of national and ethnic groups.
A look at the political divisions within the empire will give some idea of the extent of its multiculturalism.
Wappen der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie
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They included: Austria; the kingdoms of Bohemia, Dalmatia and Galicia-Lodomeria; the archduchies of Lower Austria and Upper Austria; the duchies of Bukovina, Carinthia, Carniola Salzburg and Styria; the margraviates of Istria and Moravia; the counties of Gorizia-Gradisca, Tyrol and Vorarlberg; the crownland of Austrian-Silesia; Bosnia-Hercegovina; Lombardy (transferred to Italy in 1859), Modena (transferred to Italy in 1860), Tuscany (transferred to Italy in 1860) and Venetia (transferred to Italy in 1866); and the town of Trieste.
Fears that the supremacy of the German language and culture within the empire would be challenged by the non-German nationalities resulted in a conflict of loyalties between German nationality and Austrian citizenship.
This in turn resulted in the emergence of two principal nationalist movements: volkisch nationalism and the Pan-German movement.
The second major change was the Ausgleich (‘Compromise’) of 1867, whereby the Habsburgs set up the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.
The intention was to curb the nationalist aspirations of Slavs in both states, inspired by Slavs in the Ottoman Empire (including Serbs, Montenegrins and Albanians) who had taken advantage of the Turkish decline to establish their own states.

König-Kaiser Franz Josef
König-Kaiser Franz Josef

The former revolutionaries (of 1848) – German and Magyar – became de facto “peoples of state”, each ruling half of a twin country united only at the top through the König-Kaiser – (King-Emperor) and the common Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of War’, however,  the Ausgleich only served to make matters worse.

There was no chance that the German-speaking elite could impose its culture throughout Austria, let alone extend it to the whole of the Dual Monarchy, after all, ‘Austria was a Slav house with a German facade’.
In practice the three ‘master races’ – the Germans, the Magyars, and the Galician Poles – were encouraged to lord it over the others.

Wappen des Königreichs Ungarn
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Wappen des Königreichs Böhmen
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The administrative structures were so tailored that the German minority in Bohemia could hold down the Czechs, the Magyars in Hungary could hold down the Slovaks, Romanians, and Croats, and the Poles in Galicia could hold down the Ruthenians (Ukrainians).

So pressures mounted as each of the excluded nationalities fell prey to the charms of nationalism.
The Ausgleich resulted in aspirations towards autonomy among a number of groups within the Austro-Hungarian Empire; the empire as a whole was home to eleven major nationalities: Magyars, Germans, Czechs, Poles, Ruthenians, Slovaks, Serbs, Romanians, Croats, Slovenes and Italians.

Wappen von Mähren
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The largest and most restless minority consisted of about 6.5 million Czechs living in Bohemia, Mähren (Moravia) and Austrian Silesia, however, their desires for autonomy were constantly frustrated by the Hungarian determination to preserve the political structure established by the Ausgleich.
German nationalism had been frustrated on two main occasions in the first half of the nineteenth century: at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and after the revolutions of 1848.

As a result of this slow progress towards political unification, Germans increasingly came to conceive of national unity in cultural terms.
This tendency had begun in the late eighteenth century, when writers of the pre-Romantic ‘Sturm und Drang’ movement had expressed the common identity of all Germans in folk-songs, customs, and literature.

Moritz von Schwind – ‘Rose’ 1847

An idealized image of medieval Germany was invoked to prove her claim to spiritual unity, even if there had never been political unity.

This emphasis on the past and traditions conferred a strongly mythological character upon the cause of unification.
The exclusion of Austria from the new Prussian-dominated Reich had left disappointed nationalists in both countries.
Hopes for a Greater Germany had been dashed in 1866, when Bismarck consolidated the ascendancy of Prussia through the military defeat of Austria, forcing her withdrawal from German affairs.
The position of German nationalists in Austria-Hungary was henceforth problematic.
In 1867 the Hungarians were granted political independence within a dual state.
The growth of the Pan-German movement in Austria in the following decades reflected the dilemma of Austrian Germans within a state of mixed German and Slav nationalities.
Their programme proposed the secession of the German-settled provinces of Austria from the polyglot Habsburg empire and their incorporation in the new Second Reich across the border. 

Die österreichische Anschluß – Hitler betritt Wien

Such an arrangement was ultimately realized by the Anschluß of Austria into the Third Reich in 1938.

The idealised, romantic image of a rural, quasi-medieval Germany suffered under the programme of rapid modernisation and industrialisation undertaken by the Second Reich.
For many, who saw their traditional communities destroyed by the spread of towns and industries, the foundations of their mystical unity had become threatened.
In addition, these anti-modernist sentiments resulted in the rejection of both liberalism and rationalism, while paradoxically hijacking the scientific concepts of anthropology, linguistics and Darwinist evolution to ‘prove’ the superiority of the German race.

Archetypal Jew
Blue-eyed, Blond-haired and Tall 

A set of inner moral qualities was related to the external characteristics of racial types: while the Aryans (and thus the Germans) were blue-eyed, blond-haired, tall and well-proportioned, they were also noble, honest, and courageous.

The Darwinist idea of evolution through struggle was also taken up in order to prove that the superior pure races would prevail over the mixed inferior ones.
Racial thinking facilitated the rise of political anti-Semitism, itself so closely linked to the strains of modernization.
Feelings of conservative anger at the disruptive consequences of economic change could find release in the vilification of the Jews, who were blamed for the collapse of traditional values and institutions.
Racism indicated that the Jews were not just a religious community but biologically different from other races.

The Volkisch Movement and Pan-Germanism

The fears and aspirations of German nationalists led to the formation of two highly influential movements, Völkisch nationalism and Pan-Germanism.

The intention of the Völkisch movement was to raise the cultural consciousness of Germans living in Austria, particularly by playing on their fears for their identity within the provinces of mixed nationality in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The word Völkisch is not easy to translate into English, containing as it does elements of both nationalism and a profound sense of the importance of folklore.

The main principles of Völkisch thought were the importance of living naturally (including a vegetarian diet – Lebensreform); an awareness of the wisdom of one’s ancestors, expressed through the appreciation of prehistoric monuments; and an understanding of astrology and cosmic cycles.
The ideas of the Völkisch movement were propagated through educational and defence leagues called Vereine.

In 1886, Anton Langgassner founded the Germanenbund, a federation of Vereine, at Salzburg under the banner of Germanic Volkstum (nationhood).
The Vereine were particularly popular amongst young people and intellectuals; such was their popularity, in fact, that an unsettled Austrian government dissolved the Germanenbund in 1889, although it re-emerged in 1894 as the Bund der Germanen, and  by 1900, as many as 150,000 people were influenced by Völkisch propaganda.

Ancient Teutonic Gods

The followers of the Völkisch movement believed the troubles of the industrial order – the harshness, the impersonality, the sharp dealing, the ruthless speculators – would only be exorcised by a return to Ur-Germanism, to the German community, the ancient Teutonic gods, and a Germanic society unsullied by inferior, foreign intrusions.
Nations might endure such foreign elements, but a Volk was an organic unity with a common biological inheritance.
The culture-bearing Volk of the world, incomparably superior among the races, was the German; therefore, the only proper function of a German state was to administer on behalf of the Volk; everything international was inferior and to be rejected.

Zurück in den Boden
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A sound economy would be based on agriculture rather than on industry with its international, especially Jewish influences; and in religion, a German God would have to replace the Jewish God.
Völkisch ideology was propagated through a number of publications, one of the most forthright of which was the satirical illustrated monthly Der Scherer, published in Innsbruck by Georg von Schonerer (1842-1921), a leader in the movement, whom Davidson describes as ‘antiCatholic, and anti-Semitic.
One Catholic paper, Die Tiroler Post, wrote in 1906 that the goal of the Jew was world domination, while another, the Linzer Post, defended anti-Semitism as no more than healthy self-preservation.
If the Völkisch movement attempted to raise German national and cultural consciousness, Pan-Germanism operated in a more political context, beginning with the refusal of Austrian Germans to accept their exclusion from German affairs after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. 

Friedrich Ludwig Jahn 

The movement originated among student groups in Vienna, Graz and Prague, which were inspired by earlier German student clubs (Burschenschaftern) following the teachings of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1850).
Jahn, a purveyor of Völkisch ideology, advocated German national unity, identity and romantic ritual.
These groups advocated ‘kleindeutsch’ (or ‘little German’) nationalism, which called for the incorporation of German Austria into the Bismarckian Reich.

Georg Ritter von Schönerer

Georg von Schonerer’s involvement with Pan-Germanism transformed kleindeutsch nationalism from a nebulous ‘cult of Prussophilia’ into a genuine revolutionary movement. Following his election to the Reichsrat in 1873, Schonerer followed a progressive Left agenda for about five years, before making demands for a German Austria without the Habsburgs and politically united with the German Reich.
Schonerer’s Pan-Germanism was not characterised merely by national unity, political democracy and social reform – its essential characteristic was racism, ‘that is, the idea that blood was the sole criterion of all civil rights’.
When the Austrian government decided in 1895 that Slovene should be taught in the German school at Celje in Carniola, and two years later the Austrian premier, Count Casimir Badeni, ruled that all officials in Bohemia and Moravia should speak both Czech and German (thus placing Germans at a distinct disadvantage), the flames of nationalism were once again fanned throughout the empire.
The result was that the Pan-Germans, together with the democratic German parties, followed a strategy of blocking all parliamentary business, which in turn led to violent public disorder in the summer of 1897.

Wappen von der
römisch-katholischen Kirche
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By this time, Schonerer had identified an additional enemy in the Catholic Church, which he regarded as inimical to the interests of Austrian Germans.
The episcopate advised the emperor, the parish priests formed a network of effective propagandists in the country, and the Christian Social party had deprived him of his earlier strongholds among the rural and semi-urban populations of Lower Austria and Vienna.
The association of Catholicism with Slavdom, and the Austrian state could further be emphasised, Schonerer believed, by a movement for Protestant conversion; this was the origin of the slogan ‘Los von Rom’ (‘Away from Rome’).

Los von Rom – Lutheran Cross
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The movement claimed approximately 30,000 Protestant conversions in Bohemia, Styria, Carinthia and Vienna between 1899 and 1910, although it was not at all popular among either the Völkisch leagues or the Pan-Germans, who saw it as ‘a variation of old-time clericalism’. 
For that matter, the Protestant Church itself was rather dissatisfied with Los von Rom, and felt that its profound connection of religion with politics would make religious people uneasy.
By the same token, those who were politically motivated felt religion itself to be irrelevant.
By the turn of the century, Pan-Germanism could be divided into two groups: those who, like Schonerer, wanted political and economic union with the Reich, and those who merely wanted to defend German cultural and political interests within the Habsburg empire.
These interests were perceived as being radically undermined, not only by the Badeni language decrees, but also by the introduction in 1907 of universal male suffrage.

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This could only exacerbate the growing German-Slav conflict within the empire, and was one of the main factors in the emergence of the racist doctrine of Ariosophy.
In 1853-55, Arthur de Gobineau had written an essay on the inequality of races, in which he had made claims for the superiority of the Nordic-Aryan race, and warned of its eventual submergence by non-Aryans.
This notion, along with the ideas about biological struggle of Social Darwinism, was taken up at the turn of the twentieth century by German propagandists who claimed that Germans could defend their race and culture only by remaining racially pure.
The Völkisch nationalists and Pan-Germans found further inspiration in the work of the zoologist Ernst Haeckel who, in 1906, founded the Monist League to spread his racist interpretation of Social Darwinism.
Seven years earlier, Haeckel’s colleague, Wilhelm Bolsche, had written a book entitled Vom Bazillus zum Affenmenschen (From the Bacillus to the Apeman), in which he had described the ‘naked struggle for dominance between the zoological species “Man” ‘ and ‘the lowest form of organic life (microscopic organisms)’.
This ‘struggle for dominance’ was to have a profound effect upon the development of German anti-Semitism in the early years of the twentieth century.
Hitler would later express his own anti-Semitism in these biological terms.

German Theosophy

The revival of Germanic mythology and folklore in Austria in the last two decades of the nineteenth century was of enormous importance to the development of  Völkisch esotericism and cosmology, yet it must he viewed in the context of a much wider occult revival that had been taking place in Europe for about one hundred years.
The central concepts of what would become Western occultism, such as Gnosticism, Hermeticism and the Cabala, which originated in the eastern Mediterranean more than 1,500 years ago, had been largely banished from Western thought by the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century.

Die Geheimlehre
German Theosophy
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

This brings us to the emergence of Theosophy in the 1880s.
The prime mover behind Theosophy was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891).
Her extensive research into the spiritual traditions of the world led to the publication of what is now considered her magnum opus, ‘Die Geheimlehre’ – (The Secret Doctrine), which organizes the essence of these teachings into a comprehensive synthesis.
Blavatsky’s other works include ‘Isis Unveiled’, ‘The Key to Theosophy’ and ‘The Voice of the Silence’.

‘Isis Unveiled’

Well-known and controversial during her life, Blavatsky was no stranger to criticism. Some authors have questioned the authenticity of her writings and the validity of her claims, while others have praised them.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

According to Blavatsky, humanity in its present form is the fifth root race of Earth, which is itself passing through the fourth cosmic round.
The first root race were completely non-corporeal beings, the second race were the Hyperboreans, who lived on a lost polar continent. the third root race were the Lemurians, who had the misfortune to occupy the lowest point in the seven-stage cycle of humanity.
For this reason, the Lemurians, who lived on a now-sunken continent in the Indian Ocean.


The fourth root race were the Atlanteans, who possessed highly advanced psychic powers and mediumistic skills.
Gigantic like the Lemurians and physically powerful, the Atlanteans built huge cities on their mid-Atlantic continent.

Vril Emblem
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Their technology was also highly advanced, and was based on the application of a universal electro-spiritual force known as ‘Fohat’ – similar, it seems, to the ‘Vril’.
Unfortunately for the Atlanteans, although they were intelligent and powerful, they were also possessed of a childlike innocence that made them vulnerable to the attentions of an evil entity that corrupted them and caused them to turn to the use of black magic.
This was to result in a catastrophic war that led to the destruction of Atlantis.
The fifth root race, from which white races today are descended, was the Aryan race.
In addition Theosophy placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of reincarnation, and the concept of hierarchy.

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Through reincarnation, the movement’s followers could imagine themselves to have participated in the fabulous prehistory of humanity in a variety of magical, exotic and long-lost locations, while feeling assured that their souls were on a definite upward trajectory, heading for spiritual salvation and ultimate unity with God.
Of equal importance to the cosmic scheme were hierarchy and elitism.
As mentioned earlier, the Hidden Masters were enlightened beings who had decided to remain on Earth to guide the rest of humanity towards spiritual wisdom.
This concept, along with Blavatsky’s own claim to hidden occult knowledge, is clearly based on the value of authority and hierarchy.
Indeed, this value is illustrated by the fate of the Lemurians, whose miscegenation caused their fall from divine grace.


The central tenets of Theosophy offered a way for people in the late nineteenth century to maintain their religious faith (or, at least, their faith in the existence of some form of spirituality in the cosmos) while simultaneously accepting the validity of new theories, such as evolution, that threatened to undermine their previously held world view, however, for many people in Europe and America, scientific rationalism, rapid industrialisation and urbanisation presented another threat to their long-established way of life.
As an antidote to the fears and uncertainties of modern life, Theosophy was particularly readily accepted in Germany and Austria.
It was also well suited to the German protest movement known as Lebensreform (life reform).


This movement represented a middle-class attempt to palliate the ills of modern life, deriving from the growth of the cities and industry.
A variety of alternative life-styles – including herbal and natural medicine, vegetarianism, nudism – (Nacktkultur) and self-sufficient rural communes – were embraced by small groups of individuals who hoped to restore themselves to a natural existence …
Theosophy was appropriate to the mood of Lebensreform and provided a philosophical rationale for some of its groups.
Interest in Theosophy increased in Germany with the founding of the German Theosophical Society on 22 July 1884 at Elberfeld.

Wilhelm Hubbe-Schleiden
Eliphas Levi
(Alphonse Louis Constant)

Blavatsky and Olcott were staying there at the home of Marie Gebhard (1832-1892), a devotee of occultism who had corresponded frequently with the famous French occultist and magician Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant) (c. 1810-1875). 
Its first president was Wilhelm Hubbe-Schleiden, then a senior civil servant at the Colonial Office in Hamburg. Hubbe-Schleiden, who had travelled extensively throughout the world and was a keen advocate of German colonial expansion abroad, was instrumental in gathering the isolated Theosophists scattered throughout Germany into a consolidated German branch of the society.

‘Die Sphinx’

Hubbe-Schleiden also did much to increase occult interest in Germany through the founding in
1886 of his periodical ‘Die Sphinx’, a scholarly blend of psychical research, the paranormal, archaeology and Christian mysticism from a scientific viewpoint.
As such it was firmly Theosophical in tone, and included contributions from scientists, historians and philosophers.
Another great populariser of scientific occultism in Germany was Franz Hartmann (1838-1912), who had also led a highly eventful life in Europe and the Americas, following a number of careers such as soldier, doctor, coroner and mining speculator.
Already interested in Spiritualism, Hartmann was converted to Theosophy after reading ‘Isis Unveiled’, and decided to travel to Adyar to meet Blavatsky and Olcott in 1883.
So impressed was Blavatsky with him that she appointed him acting president of the Theosophical Society while she and Olcott travelled to Germany to start the branch there. Hartmann remained there until 1885.
Hartmann went on to found the occult periodical ‘Lotusbluthen’ (Lotus Blossoms), which ran from 1892 to 1900 and was the first German publication to feature the Hakenkreuz – (swastika) on its cover.
(In eastern mysticism, the swastika is a symbol with many positive connotations.)

Charles Leadbeater
Annie Besant

The increased public interest generated by this periodical prompted a number of German publishers to issue long book series dealing with a wide range of occult and esoteric subjects, including the work of Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater who took over the Theosophical Society on Blavatsky’s death in 1891.
The German branch of the society had been dissolved in 1885 when the Theosophists left India, but was replaced by a new society founded in Berlin in August 1896 as a branch of the International Theosophical Brotherhood in America, with Hartmann as president.

Metaphysische Rundschau
Franz Hartmann

Also on the executive committee was one Paul Zillmann, who founded the monthly ‘Metaphysische Rundschau’ (Metaphysical Review) and who would later publish the works of the Ariosophists.
By 1902, German Theosophy, which had hitherto suffered from internecine rivalry, became far better coordinated under the two main centres at Berlin and Leipzig.

Rudolf Steiner
Hugo Vollrath

In 1906, a Theosophical Publishing House was founded at Leipzig by Hugo Vollrath, a disciple of Hartmann, possibly to counter the new influence in occult circles of Theosophist Rudolf Steiner, whose mystical Christian stance did not endear him to Annie Besant whose own outlook was firmly Hindu.
(Steiner would later leave and form his own Anthroposophical Society in 1912.)
The Theosophical Publishing House produced a large number of occult magazines and book series, in competition with other publishers such as Karl Rohm, Johannes Baum and Max Altmann who had turned their attention to this potentially lucrative field.
The public interest in occultism quickly grew in Vienna, which already had its own tradition of esotericism and interest in paranormal phenomena.
New occult groups were founded, including the ‘Association for Occultism’, which had its own lending library, the ‘Sphinx Reading Club’ and the ‘First Viennese Astrological Society’.
In fact, it was in Vienna that the seeds of Germanic occult racism were most liberally sown.
The public disquiet at economic change, scientific rationalism and rapid industrialisation and the threat they appeared to pose to traditional ‘natural’ ways of life was palliated not only by occultist notions of the centrality and importance of humanity within the wider cosmos (of the essential meaningfulness of existence), but also by the volkisch ideology that assured Germans of the value and importance of their cultural identity.
This combination of culture and spirituality was expressed most forcefully through the doctrine of Ariosophy, which originated in Vienna.


Guido von List

Ariosophy constituted a mixture of racist volkisch ideology and the Theosophical concepts of Madame Blavatsky.
The two principal personalities behind Ariosophy were Guido von List (1848-1919) and Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels (1874-1954).

Guido von List was born in Vienna, to a prosperous middle-class family. 
List dreamed of the reunification of Austria with Germany, and hated both Jews and Christians for the attacks he perceived them to have made upon German culture, spirituality and territorial rights.
A journalist by trade, List also wrote novels about the ancient Teutons and the cult of Wotan, whose hierarchy he came to call the Armanenschaft, a name derived from his spurious interpretation of a Teutonic myth.

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List’s codification of his beliefs regarding the ancient and racially pure Teutons led to a profound interest in the symbolism of heraldry and the secrets allegedly contained in the runic alphabet, an interest that included the mystical significance of the Hakenkreuz.

By 1902, as a result of a period of enforced inactivity following a cataract operation that left him blind for eleven months, List had devoted much thought to the nature of the proto-Aryan language he believed was encoded in the ancient runes.
His occult-racist-mystical theories, including an exposition on the Aryan proto-language, did not find particular favour with the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna, which returned without comment a thesis he had sent, nevertheless, the anti-Semitic elements in German and Austrian society began to take note, and in 1907 a ‘List Society’ was formed to provide financial aid in his researches.

Carnuntum – Heidentor

For many Austrian and German occultists of the time, List’s historiography and archaeology provided a scientific basis for both racism and extreme nationalism, and enabled the German Volk to trace their ancestry back to the splendour and racial purity of the ancient Teutons.
In List’s view, the Old Norse poems of Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, the Eddas, were actually chronicles of the myths of the ancient Germans.
The Eddas were composed of songs, manuals of poetry and works of history telling the story of the ancient Teutonic pantheon of gods and the numerous secondary divinities who were their cohorts.
In the Eddas, Wotan (whose name derives from the word in all Germanic languages meaning fury, and which in modern German is wuten, to rage) was the god of war, whom dead heroes met in Valhalla.


It was Wotan who gained an understanding of the runes after being wounded by a spear and hanging from a tree for nine nights, and who related the eighteen runic spells that held the secrets of immortality, invincibility in battle, healing abilities and control of the elements.
In Norse legend, the runes are not only a system of writing but also possess an inherent magical power.

List, therefore, was a pioneer of rune occultism, since he was the first to link the runes of a certain written series with Wotan’s runic spells.
List attributed a specific individual rune to each of Wotan’s verses, adding occult meanings and a summary motto of each spell.
The central tenet of Wotanism was the cyclical nature of the Universe, which proceeded through a series of transformations
This cyclical cosmology was a primal law and represented the presence of God in Nature. Since Man was part of the cosmos, he was bound by its laws and thus required to live in harmony with the natural world.
A close identity with one’s folk and race was reckoned a logical consequence of this closeness to Nature.

Universal Whisk
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

List also utilised Theosophical concepts in his development of Ariosophy, in particular those of Max Ferdinand Sebaldt von Werth who wrote extensively on Aryan sexuality and racial purity.
Sebaldt believed that the Universe was whisked into being by god, and that its fundamental nature was one of the interaction of opposites, such as matter and spirit, and male and female. Aryan superiority could therefore only be achieved through a union of racially pure opposites
 In September 1903, List published an article in the Viennese occult periodical ‘Die Gnosis’ that drew heavily on this idea, referring to ancient Aryan cosmology and sexuality.
The phases of this cosmology were illustrated with variations on the Hakenkreuz  the symbol of the Sun, that List used to denote the unconquerable and racially pure Germanic hero.

List was also heavily influenced by legends of lost civilisations and sunken continents, such as the fabled lands of Atlantis and Lemuria, and by the theosophical writings of Madame Blavatsky.

Madame Blavatsky

Theosophical, derived from the ‘Secret Doctrine’ also formed the basis of his ‘Die Religion der ‘Ario-Germanen” (1910), in which he devoted considerable space to the cosmic cycles which had inspired Blavatsky’s concept of cosmological cycles.
List identified the four rounds of fire, air, water and earth with the mythological Teutonic realms of Muspilheim, Asgard, Wanenheim and Midgard, which were tenanted respectively by fire-dragons, air-gods, water- giants and mankind.

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These realms lie at the centre of the Nordic creation myth.
Wotanist doctrine held that the natural evolutionary cycle of the Universe was from unity to multiplicity and back to unity.
The first stage of this evolution (unity to multiplicity) was represented symbolically by anticlockwise triskelions.
The second stage (multiplicity back to the unity of the godhead) was represented by clockwise and upright symbols. In this scheme, the Ario-German was seen as the highest possible form of life, since he occupied the zenith of multiplicity at the outermost limit of the cycle.


Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels

Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels, founded the occult magazine ‘Ostara’, and created the Order of the New Templars in 1907.
Like his mentor List, Liebenfels had a middle- class Viennese upbringing.

Burg Werfenstein

Liebenfels chose as a headquarters for the Order of the New Templars a ruined castle, Burg Werfenstein, perched on a cliff on the shores of the River Danube between Linz and Vienna.
He was concerned with the idea of the struggle between the ‘blond’ Aryan race (characterised by creativity and heroism) and the dark ‘beast-men’ (untermensch), who were consumed with lust for blonde women, and who were bent on the corruption of human culture.

‘Ostara’ – Goddess of Spring

Two years earlier, Liebenfels had established the periodical ‘Ostara’ (named after the pagan goddess of spring) that called repeatedly for the restoration of the ‘blond race’ as the dominant force in the world.
This could only be achieved through racial purity, and the destruction of socialism, democracy and feminism.
These racist concerns led Liebenfels to conceive of founding a chivalrous order based on the monastic and military orders of the Crusades, which naturally resulted in an intense interest in the Order of the Knights Templar.

Richard Wagner Parsifal
Richard Wagner – Lohengrin

This interest was fuelled by the medieval Grail Romances, which were at the time enjoying a widespread popularity due to their treatment by Richard Wagner in his operas (‘Lohengrin’ and ‘Parsifal‘).
To Liebenfels and many of his contemporaries, such romances were significant in their painting of the Grail Knights as searchers after sublime and eternal values: this view provided a powerful antidote to the modern world, with its rampant industrialisation and materialism
In 1913 Liebenfels published a short study, in which the grail was interpreted as an electrical symbol pertaining to the ‘pan-psychic’ powers of the pure-blooded Aryan race.

The quest of the Templeisen for the Grailwas a metaphor for the strict eugenic practices of the Templar knights designed to breed the anticipated ‘god-men’. 
The early activities of the ONT revolved around festivals and concerts, with hundreds of guests being shipped in by steamer from Vienna.
They were routinely reported in the press, thus ensuring a wider audience for Liebenfels and the racist ideas presented in Ostara. Membership of the ONT was naturally restricted to those who could prove that they were of pure Aryan blood and who would vow to protect the interests of their (racial) brothers.

‘Theozoologie – oder die Kunder
von den Sodoms-Afflingen
und dem Gotter-Elektron’
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Two years before he founded the Ordo Novi Templi  Liebenfels had published a book entitled ‘Theozoologie oder die Kunder von den Sodoms-Afflingen und dem Gotter-Elektron’ (Theo- zoology or the Lore of the Sodom-Apelings and the Electron of the Gods).
Liebenfels divided his book into two sections, the first dealing with the origin of humanity in a race of beast-men (Anthropozoa).
In his view of antiquity, Liebenfels utilised new scientific discoveries such as radiation and radio waves, which at that time had a powerful hold on the public imagination.
Liebenfels applied these discoveries in his description of the gods, which held that they were not really gods at all, but higher forms of life (Theozoa) who possessed fantastic mental faculties including telepathy (which was actually the transmission of electrical signals between the brains of the Theozoa).
Through the millennia, these god-men gradually lost these faculties through miscegenation with the beast-men, until their telepathic sense organs became atrophied as the pineal and pituitary glands of modern humanity.

Liebenfels based this work, in part, on the research of the zoologist Wilhelm Bolsche (1861-1939), who in turn was inspired by Theosophy.

Wilhelm Bölsche (2 January 1861, Cologne, Rhenish Prussia – 31 August 1939, Schreiberhau, Riesengebirge) was a German author, editor and publicist. Bölsche was born in Cologne. He studied from 1883 to 1885 philosophy, art history and archaeology in Bonn and moved 1885 to Berlin. His publishing of “Das Liebesleben in der Natur“ (The Love Life in Nature) in 1898 was the key for creating modern fact books in Germany. Boelsche also initiated with Wilhelm Schwaner (1863 – 1944) a prequel of the first German folk high school, the “Freie Hochschule Berlin” in 1902 and was an important instigator for the “Lebensreformbewegung” (Humanistic naturalism – key note: “Back to Nature”) in Germany. Boelsche wrote for ‘Freie Volksbühne’ (Drama for the People) and edited the most important cultural history review of the day, “Freie Bühne“ (Free Stage) and popularized his free-thinking theories – especially the innovating school of Charles Darwin and Ernst Haeckel in dozens of  books and series released by “Kosmos-Verlag“ in Stuttgart, collaborating with the Berlin artist Heinrich Harder.

Liebenfels believed that the only way for Germans to reclaim their ancient godhood was by preventing the pollution of pure Aryan blood.
The second section of Liebenfels’s book concerned the redemption of the Aryan people, who had been corrupted by the promiscuous activities of the other races of Earth.

Vien juden

This idea of the Aryan struggle against the pernicious vices of other races in effect replaced the traditional Judaeo-Christian concept of the struggle between good and evil.
List’s and Liebenfels’s ideas remained just that: ideas.
Many of their followers became more and more restless and dissatisfied with their lack of action against the perceived threat to the Aryan race from the various inferior beings with whom they were forced to share their nation, in particular the Jews, who were blamed for the perceived evils of urbanisation, industrialisation and the threat to the traditional rural way of life of the Aryan peasant-hero.
Many came to believe that the time for scholarly theorising was past, that the time for direct action had come.

The Germanenorden

Theodor Fritsch

In May 1912, a meeting was held at the Leipzig home of Theodor Fritsch.
At this meeting were approximately twenty prominent Pan-Germans.
Their purpose was to found two groups to alert Germans to the dangers to small businesses they perceived as arising from the influence of Jewish business and finance.


These groups were known as the Reichshammerbund and the Germanenorden (Order of Germans).
Born on 28 October 1852, Fritsch, the son of Saxon peasants, had trained as a milling engineer, and had edited the ‘Kleine Muhlen-Journal’ (Small-Mills Journal).
In common with other activists of the time, his anti-Semitism arose principally from a fear of rapid industrialisation, technology and mass production, driven by international Jewish influence, and the threat it posed to small tradesmen and craftsmen.
In spite of his political leanings, Fritsch decided against becoming a candidate for either of the two German anti-Semitic parties, the Deutsch-Soziale Partei and the Antisemitische Volkspartei, which had been established at Bochum in 1889, since he did not believe that anti-Semitism would prove successful in the Reichstag.

Reichstag – Berlin

Fritsch’s conviction in the ineffectiveness of parliamentary anti-Semitism proved to be correct. 
When more than one party existed after the Bochum conference, their competition led to a reduction in the number of successful anti-Semitic candidates at the Reichstag elections.
In addition, the merging of the two parties in 1894 as the Deutsch-Soziale Reformpartei resulted in a significant reduction in anti-Semitism in favour of an appeal to more conservative and middle-class economic interests

Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Comte Vacher de Lapouge

At this time, in the mid-1860s, racist writers such as the French aristocrat Comte Vacher de Lapouge, and the Germanised Englishman Houston Stewart Chamberlain, were influenced by biology and zoology, and were concentrating more on scientific studies of race.
It was these writers who identified the Jews as the greatest threat to the supremacy of the Aryan race, and backed up their ideas with reference to physical characteristics such as hair and eye colouring, and the shape of the skull.
For de Lapouge, Jews were more pernicious than any other race because they had insinuated themselves so completely into European society, while Chamberlain in particular did much to popularise mystical racism in Germany. 

‘Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’

Beyond the Aryan racial stereotype (tall, blond, blue-eyed) Chamberlain affirmed the existence of a special ‘race soul’ that created a more imaginative and profound spirit in Aryans.

Tall, Blond, Blue-Eyed
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The ultimate anti-Aryan, and most bitter racial foe was the Jew.
Chamberlain combined Social Darwinism with racism, and thus emphasized an endless racial struggle on behalf of the purity of Aryanism and against Jews and lesser peoples, including Slavs and Latins.

‘Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts’ – (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, 1899) was the best-selling work by Houston Stewart Chamberlain. In it he advances various racist and especially völkisch antisemitic theories on how he saw the Aryan race as superior to others, and the Teutonic peoples as a positive force in European civilization and the Jews as a negative one. Chamberlain was a germanophile who adopted German citizenship, and wrote most of his works in German (on numerous subjects, from biographies to biology).

Houston Stewart Chamberlain (September 9, 1855 – January 9, 1927) was an English author of books on political philosophy, natural science and son-in-law of the German composer Richard Wagner. He later became a German citizen. In December 1908, twenty-five years after Wagner’s death, Chamberlain married Wagner’s daughter, Eva von Bülow. Chamberlain’s two-volume book, Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century), published in 1899, became one of the many references for the pan-Germanic movement of the early 20th century, and, later, of  völkisch racial policy.

In order to fulfil his ambition to create a powerful anti-Semitic movement outside the ineffectual parliament, Fritsch founded a periodical called the ‘Hammer’ in January 1902.
By 1905, its readership had reached 3,000.
These readers formed themselves into ‘Hammer-Gemeinden’ (Hammer-Groups), changing their name in 1908 to ‘Deutsche Erneuerungs-Gemeinde’ (German
Renewal Groups).


Their membership was interested in anti-capitalist forms of land reform designed to invigorate the peasantry, the garden city movement, and Lebensreform.
The Reichstag elections of January 1912 saw a humiliating defeat for Conservatives and anti- Semites, who lost 41 of their 109 seats, while the Social Democratic Party increased their seats from 43 to 110. 
In the Hammer, Fritsch favourably reviewed a violently anti-Semitic book entitled ‘Wenn ich der Kaiser war !’ (If I were Kaiser!) by the chairman of the Pan-German League, Heinrich Class, and decided that the time was right to act in the formation of an anti-Semitic organisation that would not be subject to the control or influence of any party.
As already stated, at the meeting in Fritsch’s Leipzig home on 24 May 1912 two groups were established: the Reichshammerbund, which combined all existing Hammer-Groups, and the ‘Germanenorden’, whose secret nature reflected the conviction of anti-Semites that Jewish influence in public life could only be the result of a secret international conspiracy, and as such could only be combated by a secret group whose members’ names would be withheld to prevent enemy infiltration.
Germanenorden lodges were established throughout Northern and Eastern Germany that year, and called for the rebirth of a racially pure Germany from which the parasitic Jews would be deported.
By July, lodges had been established at Breslau, Dresden, Konigsberg, Berlin and Hamburg. 
By the end of 1912, the Germanenorden claimed 316 brothers.
The main purpose of these lodges was to monitor Jewish activities; in addition, lodge members aided each other in business dealings and other matters.
The Germanenorden was heavily influenced by the doctrines of Ariosophy.
Any German wishing to join the order was required to supply details of hair, eye and skin colour, and also had to prove beyond any doubt that they were of pure Aryan descent.
Anyone suffering from a physical handicap was barred from membership.
Ariosophy also inspired the emblems used by the Order.

Curved-Armed Thule Hakenkreuz,

From the middle of 1916 the official Order newsletter, the ‘Allgemeine Ordens-Nachrichten’, began to display on its front cover a curved-armed Hakenkreuz, superimposed upon a cross … Although the swastika was current among several contemporary volkisch associations in Germany, it was through the Germanenorden and the ‘Thule Society’, its successor organization in post-war Munich, that this device – the Hakenkreuz, came to be adopted by the National Socialists.

First World War – 1914-1918

With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Germanenorden began to suffer problems, both with membership and finance.
Many members of the Order were killed in action, and the Orders chief, Hermann Pohl, feared that the war would ultimately result in its destruction.
At that time, Pohl’s leadership abilities were coming under attack from several high-ranking members, who were becoming tired of the emphasis he placed on ritual and ceremony.
The Germanenorden was then headed by General-major Erwin von Heimerdinger.
Following the schism of 1916, the Germanenorden became seriously weakened, with many members confused as to its status (many assumed that it had been disbanded), however, the end of the war in November 1918 saw attempts to revive its fortunes and influence.
Grand Master Eberhard von Brockhusen believed that the Order would benefit from a constitution, which he succeeded in establishing in 1921, which provided for a complex organization of grades, rings, and provincial citadels (Burgen) supposed to generate secrecy for a nationwide system of local groups having many links with militant volkisch associations.
In the post-war period, the Germanenorden’s verbal violence was transformed into violent activities against public figures.

Matthias Erzberger

The new Republic was, of course, despised as a symbol of defeat, and it was the Germanenorden that ordered the assassination of Matthias Erzberger, the former Reich Finance Minister and head of the German delegation to Compiegne (one of the November criminals) who had signed the armistice.
His killers, Heinrich Schulz and Heinrich Tillessen, had settled in Regensburg in 1920, where they met Lorenz Mesch, the local leader of the Germanenorden.
Since they had become interested in volkisch ideology after the end of the war, and were heavily influenced by its propaganda, the Order chose them to assassinate Erzberger, which they did in August 1921.
From 1921, the Germanenorden became the focus for right-wing and anti-Semitic sentiments in the hated Weimar Republic.
When Rudolf von Sebottendorff joined Hermann Pohl’s breakaway Germanenorden Walvater in 1917, the seed of the legendary Thule Society was sown.

The Thule Society


The mythology surrounding the Arctic realm of Thule has its origins in another myth, that of Atlantis.
Although the lost continent of Atlantis was held for centuries to have existed in the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Pillars of Hercules, this view was challenged in the late seventeenth century by the Swedish writer Olaus Rudbeck (1630-1702) who claimed that the lost civilisation, which had conquered North Africa and much of Europe 9,000 years before, had actually been centred in Sweden.

Jean-Sylvain Bailly

This notion was taken up in the mid-eighteenth century by a French astronomer and mystic named Jean-Sylvain Bailly (1736-1793) who came to the conclusion that the great achievements of civilisations such as Egypt and China were the result of knowledge inherited from a vastly superior antediluvian culture that had resided in the far North.
According to Bailly, when the Earth was younger, its interior heat was much greater, and consequently the North Polar regions must have enjoyed a temperate climate in remote antiquity.


Combining this idea with his belief that such climates are the most conducive to science and civilisation, Bailly identified Rudbeck’s Atlanteans with the Hyperboreans of classical legend. 

Nordic Physique
(tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed)

The placing of this high civilisation in the far north resulted in the Nordic physique (tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed) being seen as the ultimate human ideal.
The origin of the Völkisch concept of Thule and the Thule Society can be traced to Guido von List, Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels and Rudolf von Sebottendorff (1875-1945).

SS Emblem

As we have seen, in 1907, Liebenfels founded the ritualistic Order of the New Templars, which was undoubtedly the prototype for Heinrich Himmler’s SS (Schutzstaffel).

Madame Blavatsky

Liebenfels was an avid student of Madame Blavatsky, who developed the notion that humanity was descended from a series of ‘Root Races’ that had degenerated throughout the millennia from a pure spiritual nature to the crude and barbarous beings of the present.
According to Blavatsky, the origin of the anthropoid apes could be explained as the result of bestiality committed by the Third Root Race of humanity with non-humans
Liebenfels in effect adapted this concept, claiming that the non-Aryan races were the result of bestiality committed by the original Aryans after their departure from the paradise of their northern homeland, a lost continent he called Arktogaa (from the Greek, meaning ‘northern earth’ – Thule).

Guido von List

These ideas found favour with Guido von List, like Liebenfels a native of Vienna, who was instrumental in the development of the lkisch movement.
This movement was characterised by a love of unspoiled Nature, vegetarianism, ancient wisdom, astrology and earth energies.
List had already played a crucial role in the founding of the secret Germanenorden, whose aim was to counter what its members saw as the corruption by Jewry of German public life that was clearly the result of a secret international conspiracy.
The Germanenorden was still active during the First World War, publishing a newsletter and placing advertisements in newspapers inviting men and women ‘of pure Aryan descent’ to join its ranks.


It was in response to one of these advertisements that Rudolph von Sebottendorff met the leader of the Germanenorden, Hermann Pohl.
Sebottendorff had originally intended to be an engineer; however, having failed to complete his studies at the Berlin-Charlottenburg Polytechnic, and thus having little chance of qualified employment in Germany, he decided to go to sea.

In 1900, after service on a number of steamships, and an abortive career as a gold prospector in Western Australia, Sebottendorff made his way first to Egypt and then to Turkey, where he immersed himself in a study of the Turkish people, and cultivated an intense interest in occult science and ancient theocracies.
By 1916, Sebottendorff had settled in Bad Aibling, a fashionable Bavarian spa.
At their meeting in Berlin in September of that year, Sebottendorff learned of Pohl’s conviction that contamination by other races (particularly Jews) had robbed the Aryan race of its knowledge of magical power, and that this knowledge could only be regained through racial purity.
On his return to Bad Aibling, Sebottendorff immediately set about organising a recruitment campaign for the Germanenorden in Bavaria.
In 1918, Sebottendorff met an art student named Walter Nauhaus who had been badly wounded on the Western Front in 1914 and had been invalided out of the war.
Nauhaus shared Sebottendorff’s intense interest in the occult, and soon became an invaluable colleague in the Bavarian recruitment campaign for the Germanenorden.

Thule Gesellschaft

It was Nauhaus who suggested that the name of the order be changed from Germanenorden to Thule Gesellschaft (Thule Society), in order to ‘spare it the unwelcome attentions of socialist and pro- Republican elements’.
The ceremonial foundation of the Thule Society took place on 17 August 1918.

Hotel Vierjahreszeiten – Munich

The society met at the fashionable Hotel Vierjahreszeiten in Munich, in rooms decorated with the Thule emblem: a long dagger, its blade surrounded by oak leaves, superimposed on a shining, curved-armed swastika.
On the eve of the Armistice that signalled German defeat in the First World War, the Thule Society, appalled at the prospect of the Kaiser abdicating, not to mention the revolution in Bavaria which had seen the seizure of authority by the Soviet Workers and Soldiers Councils, held a meeting on 9 November 1918, at which Sebottendorff made an impassioned exhortation to his fellow Thuleans.
The Thule Society continued to meet at the Hotel Vierjahreszeiten, while Sebottendorff extended its influence from the upper and middle classes to the working classes via the use of popular journalism.
He achieved this by purchasing for 5,000 marks a minor weekly newspaper, published in Munich and called the Beobachter, in 1918.
Renaming the paper the ‘Munchener Beobachter und Sportblatt’ (Munich Observer and Sports Paper), Sebottendorff added sports features to attract a more youthful, working-class readership for the anti-Semitic editorials that had been carried over from the paper’s previous proprietor, Franz Eher.
(In 1920, the Munchener Beobachter und Sportblatt became the ‘Volkischer Beobachter’ – (The Racial Observer), which would later be the official newspaper of the NSDAP.)
On 26 April 1919, seven members of the Thule Society were captured by Communists and taken to the Luitpold Gymnasium, which had served as a Red Army post for the previous two weeks.

Countess Hella von Westarp

The hostages included Walter Nauhaus, Countess Hella von Westarp (secretary of the society) and Prince Gustav von Thurn und Taxis (who had many relatives in the royal families of Europe).
Four days later, on 30 April, the hostages were shot in the cellar of the Gymnasium as a reprisal for the killing of Red prisoners at Starnberg.

White Troops Entering Munich

The killing of the Thule Society members had the effect of catalysing a violent popular uprising in Munich that, with the aid of White troops entering the city on 1 May, ensured the demise of the Communist Republic.

Karl Harrer

In 1918, Sebottendorff had succeeded in extending the journalistic influence of the Thule Society to the working classes by asking a sports reporter on a Munich evening paper, Karl Harrer, who had an intense interest in Völkisch deology, to form a workers’ ring.

Anton Drexle

This small group met every week throughout the winter of 1918, and discussed such topics as the defeat of Germany and the Jewish enemy.

At the instigation of Anton Drexler, the workers’ ring became the ‘Deutsche Arbeiterpartei’ (German Workers’ Party) (DAP) on 5 January 1919.
In February 1920, the DAP was transformed into the ‘National Socialist German Workers’ Party’ (NSDAP).
By that time, the party had already been taken over by an army ‘BIldungs Offizier’ , whose orders had been to lead and enlarge it, – and he soon became its President.
His name was Adolf Hitler.

The Edda Society

Guido von List and his followers believed that the Icelandic Eddas were chronicles of the ancient Aryans.

Rudolf John Gorsleben

List’s occult-historical system was elaborated upon by Rudolf John Gorsleben (1883-1930), a playwright and journalist, who was born in Metz and grew up in Alsace-Lorraine (annexed by the German Reich in 1871).
In this environment, in which people’s loyalties were divided between France and Germany, Gorsleben was exposed to Pan-German nationalism and succeeded in tracing his ancestry back to a fourteenth-century noble family in Thuringia.

German Troops in the Middles East – 1914-1918

At the outbreak of the First World War, Gorsleben fought first in a Bavarian regiment and then in a unit attached to the Turkish army in Arabia.
When the war ended he went to Munich, where he became involved with the Thule Society and right-wing politics.
During an eventful three years, Gorsleben became Gauleiter of the South Bavarian section of the Deutschvolkischer Schutz-und Trutzbund, an anti-Semitic group that was competing with the early NSDAP.
He formed associations with right-wing figures such as Julius Streicher, who would later edit the NSDAP newspaper ‘Der Sturmer’, and Lorenz Mesch, the Germanenorden chief who had been instrumental in the assassination of Erzberger.

Julius Streicher (12 February 1885 – 16 October 1946) was born in Fleinhausen, Bavaria, one of nine children of the teacher Friedrich Streicher and his wife Anna (née Weiss). He worked as an elementary school teacher like his father, and in 1909 he began his political career, joining the German Democratic Party. He would later claim that because his political work brought him into contact with German Jews, he “must therefore have been fated to become later on a writer and speaker on racial politics.” In 1913 Streicher married Kunigunde Roth, a baker’s daughter, in Nuremberg. They had two sons, Lothar (born 1915) and Elmar (born 1918).

Streicher joined the German Army in 1914. He won the Iron Cross and reached the rank of lieutenant by the time the Armistice was signed in November, 1918.

Through his periodical ‘Deutsche Freiheit’ (German Freedom) – later renamed ‘Arische Freiheit’ (Aryan Freedom) – Gorsleben disseminated his occult ideas, which centred upon the concept of racial purity and the reactivation of the occult powers that every Aryan possessed but which had become atrophied.
With these magical powers once more at their fullest, the Aryan would hold complete sway over the processes of nature, and would thus be in a position to dominate and rule the world.
He reiterated the völkisch notion that racial mixing was not only detrimental to the superior partner but also that a female could be tainted merely by intercourse with a racial inferior, and that all subsequent offspring, even if conceived with a racial equal, would likewise be tainted.
With regard to the Eddas, Gorsleben believed that the Scandinavian runes contained an inherent magical power that provided those who understood their significance with a spiritual conduit through which could flow the force that drives the Universe itself.
By far the most powerful was the ‘hagall rune’, since within it could be found hidden all the other runes.

Hagal Rune

In addition, Gorsleben was perhaps the first occultist to promote the magical significance of crystals, which he considered to be three-dimensional projections of the runes.
According to this theory, the spirit of every human individual can be correlated to a specific type of crystal that can be apprehended through the faculty of mediumship.
In November 1925, Gorsleben founded the ‘Edda Society’ in the medieval town of Dinkelsbuhl in Franconia.
The treasurer of the society was Friedrich Schaefer, an associate of Karl Maria Wiligut, who would come to exert a great influence upon Heinrich Himmler.

Edda Gesellschaft

When Gorsleben died from heart disease in August 1930, the Edda Gesellschaft was taken over by Werner von Bulow (1870-1947), who had designed a ‘world-rune-clock’ which illustrated the correspondences between the runes, the zodiac, numbers and gods.
Bulow also took over the running of Gorsleben’s periodical, and changed its name from ‘Arische Freiheit’ to ‘Hag All All Hag’, and then ‘Hagal’.
Although the primary intention of the Edda Society was to conduct research into the ancient Aryan religion through the interpretation, via the runes, of Norse mythology, the history of the lost Atlantean civilisation and the numerous prehistoric monuments of Europe, it nevertheless declared its allegiance to National Socialism in 1933, stating in an article in ‘Hagal’ that the rise of National Socialism was occurring in accordance with universal laws.

Karl Maria Wiligut

‘Hagal’ also included material on the ancestral clairvoyant memories of Karl Maria Wiligut, which were felt to be of extreme significance to an understanding of the ancient occult heritage of the Germanic people.

Siegfried Adolf Kummer

In 1927, Siegfried Adolf Kummer (b. 1899) founded a rune school called ‘Runa’ at Dresden. ‘Runa’ concentrated on the practice of ritual magic, including the drawing of magic circles containing the names of the Germanic gods, and the use of traditional magical tools.

Siegfried Adolf Kummer (born 1899, date of death unknown) was a German mystic and Germanic revivalist. He is also most well known for his revivalism and use of the Armanen runes row. In 1927, Kummer founded a “runic school” called ‘Runa’, associated with the summer school ‘Bielatal Bärenstein’ of Georg and Alfred Richter. The runic exercises, comparable to the “runic gymnastics” of Marby, runic dancing and runic songs were taught. Kummer held that
As a we now can receive various waves by means of a radio device, so the German by means of runic exercises and dances can regulate the influx of invisible ethereal cosmic waves. Those who dismiss this as impossible will never be able to detect thought waves, because they are in disharmony with the cosmic All, and are impeded by racially foreign blood.”

During these rituals, the names of runes were called out, and rune shapes were traced in
the air as an aid to the magical process.

Weimar Republic

The defining element in the occultism practised in Germany and Austria in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the perceived evil and corruption of the modern world, particularly that of the despised Weimar Republic with its stench of defeat, weakness and decadence.
For people like List, Liebenfels, Sebottendorff and their followers, the future of humanity lay not in industrialisation, urbanisation and international finance (which they saw as causing the destruction of traditional, rural ways of life and the brutalisation of their ancestral homelands) but in the resurgence of ancient Aryan culture and the maintenance of racial purity.
For the Aryans were heirs to a fabulous mystical legacy stretching far into prehistory, all the way back to the lost realms of Atlantis, Hyperborea and Thule.
From out of the mists of time shone this lost ‘Golden Age’ of giants and god-men endowed with fantastic, superhuman abilities but who had been subsumed through miscegenation with inferior races – and were now gone.
The volkisch occultists hoped, through their activities, to forge a magical and cultural link with these lost times, and through racial segregation re-establish the global hegemony of the Aryan Übermensch (Superman).