Hitler und Wagner

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


Without Wagner would there have been a Third Reich – and what would Richard have thought about his greatest ‘fan’ – Adolf Hitler. ?
Undoubtedly much of Hitler’s weltanschauung (world view or world philosophy) was dictated by the music, librettos and writings of his favourite composer.

Adolf Hitler
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Wilhelm Richard Wagner

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, “music dramas”). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Weber and Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama, and which was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852.

‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’

Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (The Ring of the Nibelung). His compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs—musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. His advances in musical language, such as extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centres, greatly influenced the development of classical music.

In addition there was a personal element to Hitler’s connection with Wagner.



Cosima, Siegfried and Richard Wagner
Siegfried and Winifred Wagner

Of course Wagner died in 1883, and Hitler was born in 1889 – so there could be no direct, personal connection – however Wagner had  a son, Siegfried, and Siegfried, despite his homosexuality, had sons – Wolfgang and Wieland.
After the death of Siegfried Wagner in 1930, Winifred Wagner, Siegfried’s wife, took over the Bayreuth Festival, running it until the end of World War II.

Wolfgang and Wieland Wagner and Hitler
Adolf Hitler and Winifred Wagner

In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler who, as we know, greatly admired Wagner’s music. 
When Hitler was jailed for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Winifred sent him food parcels and stationery on which Hitler’s autobiography ‘Mein Kampf’ was written.
In the late 1930s, she served as Hitler’s personal translator during treaty negotiations with England.
Winifred’s relationship with Hitler grew so close that by 1933 there were rumors of impending marriage.
‘Haus Wahnfried’, the Wagner home in Bayreuth, became Hitler’s favorite retreat, and he had his own separate accommodation in the grounds of Wahnfried, known as the Führerbau.


Entrance Hall – Villa Wahnfried
The name of the villa Wahnfried, is interesting.
Wahnen means endless striving of an artist for the fulfilment of his aspirations and the triumph of his art.
So Wahnfried (Wahnen free) was the name chosen and even today we can see Wagner’s motto on the front: “Here where my delusions have found peace, let this place be named Wahnfried.”
Above the door to the villa  is a giant mural, depicting Wotan, King of the Gods and the philandering wanderer, being welcomed by classical women.
We should also note that Wotan was the name of Wagner’s beloved St Bernard dog.
The whole house was a place where Wagner could compose, raise his family and entertain guests.
The Grand Hall is the largest room in the villa, and is a two-storey space with a gallery around the second floor and a skylight in the ceiling. Furnishings include two of Wagner’s pianos and numerous busts. The specially designed Bechstein piano was the piano Wagner used when he was composing Meistersinger, part of Siegfried and Parsifal. It was a present from the endlessly patient, endlessly generous King Ludwig II for Wagner’s birthday in 1864.
In a shady grove beyond the garden, surrounded with ivy, is the tomb of Richard and Cosima Wagner. The stone is unmarked, because as Wagner insisted, as long as it remained, everyone would know who was buried there. 
But to begin at – almost – the beginning – 


The most momentous non-event of the century occurred in February of 1908.

And it occurred in Vienna to Alfred Roller. 
Today  Roller  is  not  so  much  underestimated as unknown, at  least outside a small  circle  of  opera  devotees.
Yet in 1908 he was one of the most important figures on the Viennese artistic scene. 
He  was  a  painter who, along with Gustav Klimt, organized the Vienna Se-cession.
He was also professor of fine arts and soon to be appointed director of the School of Applied Arts.
But above all he was a stage designer of great distinction.

Alfred Roller

Alfred Roller (2 October 1864, Brünn, Mähren — 21 June 1935, Vienna) was an Austrian painter, graphic designer, and set designer.

Roller’s Original Drawings for ‘Tristan’ – 1903
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Roller at first studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna under Christian Griepenkerl and Eduard Peithner von Lichtenfels, but eventually became disenchanted with the Academy’s traditionalism. In 1897 he co-founded the Viennese Secession with Koloman Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, and other artists who rejected the prevalent academic style of art. He became a professor of drawing at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Kunstgewerbeschule) in 1899, and president of the Secession in 1902.
In his early career Roller was very active as a graphic designer and draughtsman.
He designed numerous covers and vignettes for the pages the Secessionist periodical Ver Sacrum, as well as the posters for the fourth, fourteenth, and sixteenth Secession exhibitions. He also designed the layout of the exhibitions themselves.
In 1902 Roller was introduced to the composer Gustav Mahler by Carl Moll. Roller expressed an interest in stage design and showed Mahler several sketches he had made for Wagner’s ‘Tristan und Isolde’. Mahler was impressed and decided to employ Roller to design the sets for a new production of the piece. The production, which premiered in February 1903, was a great critical success. Roller continued to design sets for Mahler’s productions. Eventually Roller left the Secession and his teaching post at the Kunstgewerbeschule to be appointed chief stage designer to the Vienna State Opera, a position he held until 1909.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d’art. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body; his works are marked by a frank eroticism. Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary. His mother, Anna Klimt (née Finster), had an unrealized ambition to be a musical performer. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. All three of their sons displayed artistic talent early on. Klimt’s younger brothers were Ernst Klimt and Georg Klimt. Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and of the group’s periodical, Ver Sacrum (“Sacred Spring”). He remained with the Secession until 1908.

Richard Wagner

In 1903, on the twentieth  anniversary of Wagner’s death, he  and Gustav Mahler initiated a cycle of the composer’s works in fresh  musical  and  visual  interpretations. 

Gustav Mahler


Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. His family later moved to nearby Iglau (now Jihlava), where Mahler grew up. On 8 October 1897 Mahler was formally appointed to succeed Jahn as the Hofoper’s director. Early in 1902 Mahler met Alfred Roller, an artist and designer associated with the Vienna Secession movement. A year later, Mahler appointed him chief stage designer to the Hofoper, where Roller’s debut was a new production of ‘Tristan und Isolde’. The collaboration between Mahler and Roller created more than 20 celebrated productions of, among other operas.



‘Tristan und Isolde’

The  ‘Tristan  and  Isolde’  of  that  year  marked  the first  break  with  the  Bayreuth  tradition. 

‘Tristan und Isolde’

Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde, or Tristan and Isolda, or Tristran and Ysolt) is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it “eine Handlung” (literally a drama or a plot), which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.
Wagner’s composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, Tristan was notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.

‘Der Rosenkavalier’ – Richard Strauss

That  production and  those  that  followed  –  in  particular  the premiere of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ in 1911 made him the world’s most talked-about operatic producer.

In that first week of February, Roller received a letter  from  a  friend  declaring  that  a  young  man  of her acquaintance  was  a  great  admirer  of  his. 
The  lad  was an aspiring painter and loved opera; he would give anything, she  wrote,  to  meet  Roller  to  discuss  his  professional  prospects,  either  in  painting  or  in  stage  design.
Despite his heavy commitments, Roller generously agreed to meet him, take a look at some of his work and advise him on a career.

Young Hitler

The young man was overjoyed, and a short time later, with Roller’s reply and a portfolio of  his  works  in  hand,  went  to  the  opera  house. 

On reaching the entrance, so he later said, he got cold feet and  left. 
A  short  time  later  he  summoned  up  his  courage, returned and this time made it as far as the grand staircase, when he again took fright.
On a third occasion he was well on his way to Roller’s office when an opera house  attendant  asked  his  business. 
At  that,  he  turned on  his  heels  and  fled  for  good.
Now young Adolf was not a naturally timid young man – so what was it that prevented him from meeting Roller.
Was there some force, that prevented him from taking the critical that would have decisively changed world history ? 
But  he  never  forgot  the gesture, and  when  he  finally met Roller in 1934, he told him  the  story. 
The  young man was  now  chancellor of Germany.
If  only,  history  sighs, Roller and  Hitler  had  met in 1908 and Hitler had been taken on as an assistant at the opera, or enrolled at  the School  of  Applied  Arts. 
As Hitler himself remarked to his personal staff in 1942: ‘Without  a  recommendation  it  was  impossible  to  get anywhere  in  Austria.  When  I  came  to  Vienna  I  had  a recommendation to Roller. But I never made use of it. If I had gone to him with it, he would have taken me right off.  But  I  do  not  know  whether  that  would  have  been better  for  me.  Certainly  everything  would  have  been much easier. And  much  different.‘ 
In  any  event  Hitler  never  lost his admiration of Roller.
When Winifred Wagner decided in 1933 to stage a new production of Richard Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ at Bayreuth – the  first  since  the  original  of  1882  –  Hitler, not unnaturally   proposed Roller to do it, although he had other, more obscure reasons for making that request (see below) and she agreed.

Winifred Wagner

Winifred Wagner (23 June 1897 – 5 March 1980) was an English woman and wife of Siegfried Wagner, Richard Wagner’s son. She was the effective head of the Wagner family from 1930 to 1945.
In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler, who greatly admired Wagner’s music. When Hitler was jailed for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Winifred sent him food parcels and stationery on which Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf may have been written. In the late 1930s, she served as Hitler’s personal translator during treaty negotiations with Britain.
Her relationship with Hitler grew so close that by 1933 there were rumors of impending marriage. Haus Wahnfried, the Wagner home in Bayreuth, became Hitler’s favorite retreat. Hitler gave the festival government assistance and tax exempt status, and treated Winifred’s children solicitously.
She corresponded with Hitler for nearly two decades. Scholars have not been allowed to see the letters which are kept locked away by one of Winifred’s grandchildren, Amélie Lafferentz.

Haus Wahnfried – Führerbau

Wahnfried was the name given by Richard Wagner to his villa in Bayreuth. The name is a German compound of Wahn (delusion, madness) and Fried(e), (peace, freedom).
The house was constructed from 1872 to 1874 under Carl Wölfel’s supervision after plans from Berlin architect Wilhelm Neumann, the plans being altered according to some ideas of Wagner. The front of the house shows Wagner’s motto “Hier wo mein Wähnen Frieden fand – Wahnfried – sei dieses Haus von mir benannt.” (“Here where my delusions have found peace, let this place be named Wahnfried.”)
The grave of Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima lies on the grounds of Wahnfried. An extension to the house was built for Wagner’s son, Siegfried Wagner, and was later used by Hitler and was known as the Führerbau

So how did it all start ?
Hitler’s love affair with Wagnerian opera had begun in Linz in 1901 when at the age of twelve he attended his first opera.


Stadtwappen Linz
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Linz – 1900

Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria (German: Oberösterreich).
IAdolf Hitler was born in the border town of Braunau am Inn but moved to Linz in his childhood. Hitler spent most of his youth in the Linz area, from 1898 until 1907, when he left for Vienna. The family lived first in the village of Leonding on the outskirts of town, and then on the Humboldtstrasse in Linz. After elementary education in Leonding, Hitler was enrolled in the Realschule (school) in Linz with the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.  To the end of his life, Hitler considered Linz to be his “home town”, and envisioned extensive architectural schemes for it, wanting it to become the main cultural centre of the Third Reich.

The  performance  was  of  ‘Lohengrin’ and, as he later wrote in Mein Kampf,
I was captivated at once. My youthful enthusiasm for the Master of Bayreuth  knew  no  bounds. 
Again  and  again  I  was drawn  to  his  works  .  .  .  .’ 
From  that  moment  the  lad found himself addicted, literally so, to Wagner’s operas.
The  composer’s  musical  and  intellectual  influence  in Central  Europe  was  then  at  its  zenith,  and  Hitler  em-braced the cult as devoutly as anyone.

‘Gustl’ Kubizek
Linz Opera House

During the years following  the  ecstasy  of  that  first  ‘Lohengrin’  performance, Hitler returned to the Linz Opera house night after night.

It was there that he eventually met another opera enthusiast,  August  Kubizek. 

August (“Gustl”) Kubizek (3 August 1888, Linz – 23 October 1956, Eferding) was a close friend of Adolf Hitler when both were in their late teens. He later wrote about their friendship.





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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

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The  slightly older August, although  training  to  follow  in  the  footsteps  of  his  father as  an  upholsterer, was a serious  amateur  musician, able to play several stringed and brass instruments.
In a short time he became the sole friend of Hitler’s youth.
It was  not  simply  the  mutual  interest  in  opera  that  drew them  together  but  the  compliant  Kubizek’s willingness – an absolute requisite for everyone else later as well – to listen in tacit agreement or at least silence as the domineering ‘Adi’ expatiated on whatever caught his fancy.

Albert Speer

According  to  Hitler’s  comments  to  Speer,  the two  young  men  spent  hours  wandering  through  the streets of Linz as he rambled on about music, architecture  and  the  importance  of  the  arts. 


Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Spee – March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981 – was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming ministerial office.







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On  visiting  Vienna for the first time in 1906, it was to Kubizek that he wrote.

Vienna Opera House

Tomorrow I am going to the opera, ‘Tristan’, and the day after  ‘Flying  Dutchman’,  etc.,’  he  reported  soon  after  arriving. 
Later the same day he dispatched  a  second postcard  of  the  opera  house  on  which  he  had  written grandiloquently:
The interior of the edifice is not exciting. If the exterior is mighty  majesty,  lending  the  building  the  seriousness  of an artistic monument, one feels in the interior admiration rather  than dignity.
Only when the mighty sound waves flow through  the  auditorium  and  when  the  whisperings of the wind give way to the terrible roaring of the sound waves does one feel the grandeur and forget the surfeit of gold and velvet covering the interior

Academy  of  Fine  Arts – Vienna


On  settling  in  Vienna  the  following  year,  he  persuaded Kubizek,  who  had  been  admitted  to  the  Music  Conservatory,  to  join  him  there. 

The  two lived together until 1908 when Hitler, following the humiliation of his second rejection  by  the  Academy  of  Fine  Arts,  suddenly  vanished from his companion’s life.
Beyond his Wagnermania,  little  is  known  for  certain  about  Hitler’s youthful  activities. 
He  sang  in  a  church  choir at Lambach Abbey (Stift Lambach) – a Benedictine monastery in Lambach in Austria.




Stift Lambach

A monastery was founded in about 1040 by Count Arnold II of Lambach-Wels. His son, Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg (later canonised), changed the monastery into a Benedictine abbey ten year later. Since 1056 it has been a Benedictine abbey. During the 17th and 18th centuries a great deal of work in the Baroque style was carried out, much of it by the Carlone family. Lambach escaped the dissolution of the monasteries of Emperor Joseph II in the 1780s. In 1897/98 Adolf Hitler had lived in the town of Lambach (with his parents). He went to the secular Volksschule at which Benedictine teachers were employed. 
Hitler had seen several swastikas each day as a boy in Lambach, when he attended the Benedictine monastery school, which was decorated with carved stones and woodwork that included the symbol.

Paula Hitler
Klara Hitler



On  leaving school,  the young Adolf  joined  a  music  club,  and  took  piano  lessons from October 1906 until the end of the following January from  a  man  named  Josef  Prawratsky. 

He  soon  quit because of  lack  of  money  as  a  result  of  the  expense  of  his mother’s  cancer  treatments, however,  his  sister  Paula recalled him ‘sitting for hours at the beautiful Heitzmann grand piano my mother had given him’.






Hitler’s Heitzmann 

Klara Hitler née Pölzl (12 August 1860 – 21 December 1907) was an Austrian woman, and the mother of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Paula Hitler (Paula Wolf)[1] (21 January 1896 in Hafeld, Austria – 1 June 1960 in Berchtesgaden) was the younger sister of Adolf Hitler and the last child of Alois Hitler and his third wife, Klara Pölzl. Paula was the only full sibling of Adolf Hitler to survive into adulthood.

In later years he occasionally  played  –  according  to  Winifred  Wagner fairly well – but what he played remains a mystery.

Kubizek’s  1954  book, ‘Young  Hitler’ indicates  that Hitler had a fairly solid musical background.

Anton Bruckner

Hitler  was  devoted  to  the  works  of  Haydn,  Mozart  and Beethoven as well as Bruckner, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn,  Schumann  and  Grieg, and he  was  especially fond of Mozart and of Beethoven’s violin and piano concertos, and above  all  Schumann’s  piano  concerto.

The assertion that Hitler read Wagner’s prose  writings  and  everything  else  he  could  get  his hands  on by or about Wagner is contradicted by Franz Jetzinger, librarian at the Linz archive, that Hitler  did  no  serious  reading  at  all  at  the  time – however this has been strongly disputed (see below).

Brigitte Hamann

Franz Jetzinger (3 December 1882 in Ranshofen in Upper Austria – 19 March 1965 in Ottensheim in Upper Austria) was an Austrian clergyman, academic, politician, civil servant, editor and author. He remains especially famous as author of the book ‘Hitler’s Youth’
Jetzinger gained fame in 1958 through the English version of his book ‘Hitler’s Youth’, in which he could refute many of Hitler’s statements about his early years. Moreover, Jetzinger attracted attention by attacking an earlier published book ‘The Young Hitler I Knew’ by August Kubizek, whom Jetzinger accused of spreading falsehoods. While earlier Hitler biographers like Joachim Fest or Werner Maser adopted Jetzinger’s criticism as their own, Jetzinger’s crushing judgment of Kubizek’s credibility is now challenged by Brigitte Hamann, author of ‘Hitlers Wien’. Hamann asserts personal motives for Jetzinger’s tendency to illustrate nearly every statement in Kubizek’s book as an ex post modification of facts, claiming Jetzinger was economically motivated, because the previous release of Kubizek’s book supposedly undermined the sale of his own work. Many of Jetzinger’s statements have now been disscredited.

The  young  Hitler  was  undoubtedly  enthralled  by  Wagner’s  music and he was ‘transported into that extraordinary state which Wagner’s  music  produced  in  him,  that  trance,  that  escape into a mystical dream-world . . . . . . a changed man; his violence  left  him,  he  became  quiet,  yielding  and  tracta-ble . . . . intoxicated and bewitched . . . . . . willing to let himself be carried away into a mystical universe . . . . . . from  the  stale,  musty  prison  of  his  back  room,  trans-ported into the blissful regions of Germanic antiquity . . .‘ according to Kubizek.

Wieland  der Schmied

According to some sources Hitler wrote an opera, based on a prose sketch which Wagner had  developed,  but  abandoned,  entitled  ‘Wieland  der Schmied’ (Wieland the Blacksmith).
An entire chapter is devoted  to  the  story  and  tells  how  the  young  Hitler worked  out  leitmotifs,  a  cast  of  characters,  a  plot,  a dramatic  structure  and  a  rough  score. 

Even  after  the passage  of  forty-five  years,  Kubizek  was able to  recall  the  specific  names,  all  old-Teutonic,  of the characters. 
Within three days of conceiving  the  idea  of  the  opera,  Hitler  had  already  composed an  overture  –  in  Wagnerian  style  –  which  he  played for his  friend  on  the  piano  in  their  completely  darkened room. 
Eventually  there was produced a very serious sketch  for  a music drama  with Adolf  Hitler  as  its  composer.

In Germanic and Norse mythology, Wayland the Smith (Old English: Wēland; Old Norse: Völundr, Velentr; Old High German: Wiolant; Proto-Germanic: *Wēlandaz, from *Wēla-nandaz, lit. “battle-brave”) is a legendary master blacksmith. In Old Norse sources, Völundr appears in Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and in Þiðrekssaga, and his legend is also depicted on the Ardre image stone VIII. In Old English sources, he appears in Deor, Waldere and in Beowulf and the legend is depicted on the Franks Casket. He is mentioned in the German poems about Dietrich von Bern as the Father of Witige.

National Socialist Symphony Orchestra

Kubizek also explains how Hitler dreamed up the  idea  of  a  ‘Mobile  Reichs Orchestra’ – or ‘Reich Symphony  Orchestra’  –  which was to tour German  provinces  and  perform  without charge. 

In 1928 an orchestra dedicated to  promoting National Socialist ideals was  organized and in 1931 it became, with Hitler’s approval, a travelling National Socialist Symphony Orchestra.

By  far  the  best  known  of  Kubizek’s  stories  relates to ‘Rienzi’.

Rienzi

Following  a  performance  at  the  Linz Opera of Wagner’s ‘Rienzi’, Hitler ascended to a  high  place  –  the  Freinberg  Hill  overlooking  the  city  – where he experienced an ideological epiphany.

‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’ (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes) is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Bulwer-Lytton’s novel of the same name (1835). Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden, on 20 October 1842, and was the composer’s first success.
The opera is set in Rome and is based on the life of Cola di Rienzi (1313–1354), a late medieval Italian populist figure who succeeds in outwitting and then defeating the nobles and their followers and in raising the power of the people.


Inspired by  the  hero  of  the  opera,  a  simple  man  driven  by  a sense  of  mission  to  restore greatness  to  Rome,  Hitler fell  into  a  state  of  ‘complete  ecstasy  and  rapture’  and declared that he too was destined to lead his people to greatness. 
Kubizek  went on to  say  that  he  mentioned the episode to Hitler when they met in Bayreuth in 1939 and found that he recalled it.
In that hour it began,’ the Führer commented.
And it is a story that is anchored  in  fact
One  fact  is  that  the  opera  was  actually performed  at  the  local  opera  house  beginning  in  January  1905. 
Another  is  that  this  is  a   case  where  the book  and  the  ‘Reminiscences’  are  consistent.
When  a  skeptical  Jetzinger  read  that  passage  and  challenged  it,  Kubizek responded  in  evident  dudgeon,  ‘The  experience  after  ‘Rienzi’  really  happened.’ 
But  most  telling  is  Hitler’s  own testimony  to  Speer  in  1938,  a  full  year  before  Kubizek raised  the  topic  at  Bayreuth. 
Explaining  why  the  party rallies  opened  with  the  overture  to  the  opera,  he said it was  not  simply  because of the impressiveness of the music  but  also  because  it  had  great  personal  significance.
Listening to this blessed music as a young man in  the  opera  at  Linz,  I  had  the  vision  that  I  too  must some  day  succeed  in  uniting  the  German  empire  and making  it  great  once  more.’ 

Anschluß – 1938

Upon  the  annexation  of Austria,  Hitler  publicly  expressed  identical  sentiments, without the personal reference to ‘Rienzi’, telling an audience  in  Vienna,
‘I  believe  it  was  God’s  will  to  send  a youth  from  here  into  the  Reich,  to  let  him  grow  up,  to raise him to be the leader of the nation so as to enable him to lead his homeland back into the Reich’.

The Anschluß (German for “connection” or union), also known as the Anschluss Österreichs, was the reunion of Austria with the Third Reich in 1938.
With the Anschluß, the German-speaking Republic of Austria ceased to exist as a fully independent state.

In some sense,  then,  the  ‘Rienzi’  experience  marked  the  primal scene of his political career. 

Wilhelm Furtwängler

Hitler’s love of music was intense, – fanatical even.

But as in painting, his taste  was limited  to a specific  type.
Wilhelm Furtwängler learned this to his shock at a long meeting with the Führer in  August  1933. 

Wilhelm Furtwängler (January 25, 1886 – November 30, 1954) was a German conductor and composer. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Furtwängler became one of the leading conductors in Europe, as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1922, as principal conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1922–26, and as a major guest conductor of other leading orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic. He was the leading conductor who remained in Germany during the Second World War.


Music, Hitler left him in no  doubt, meant opera, and  opera  meant Wagner and Puccini.


Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (22 December 1858 – 29 November 1924), generally known as Giacomo Puccini, was an Italian composer whose operas are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire.
Puccini has been called “the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi”. While his early work was rooted in traditional late-19th-century romantic Italian opera, he successfully developed his work in the ‘realistic’ verismo style, of which he became one of the leading exponents.


Symphonies – initially – held little interest, and chamber  music  none  at  all. 

There  is  no  record  of  his ever  having  attended  a  chamber  concert  or a lieder recital.
His attendance at symphony concerts was increasingly rare as time passed and, when chancellor, he seldom  appeared  except  on  ceremonial  occasions. 

Hitler Listening to Records

He wanted music to be readily available, however, and after 1933 built  up a large collection of  phonograph  recordings at the Chancellery in Berlin, at the Berghof, on his  train and, later on, at his military  headquarters  on the Eastern front.

According to all accounts, these were outstanding  in  quality  and  quantity,  and  the  playing equipment  was  excellent. 
In  the  evenings  he  enjoyed hearing   short   excerpts and dramatic highlights of favourite  pieces.
Christa Schroeder

He  would  then  sit  back,’  according  to Christa Schroeder, and listen with his eyes closed.

Christa Schroeder (born Emilie Christine Schroeder; March 19, 1908 – June 18, 1984) was one of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s personal secretaries before and during World War II.

It was always the same recordings that  were  played,  and  usually  the  guests knew  the  number  of  the  record  by  heart. 
When  Hitler said,  for  example,  ‘Aida,  last  act: ‘The  fatal  stone  upon me now is closing’, then one of the guests would shout the  catalogue  number  to  a  member  of  the  household staff.

Record number one-hundred-whatever.
Aida – Giuseppe Verdi

’‘Before  long,’ according to Speer, ‘the  order of the re-cords became virtually fixed.

First he wanted a few bra-vura  selections  from  Wagnerian  operas,  to  be  followed promptly  with  operettas.’ 
All the while he would try to guess the  names of  the  singers  and, as Speer remarked, ‘was  pleased  when  he  guessed  right,  as  he frequently did’.

Aida – sometimes spelled Aïda – is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario often attributed to French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Aida was first performed at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on 24 December 1871, conducted by Giovanni Bottesini.

Hitler was not genuinely fond of Beethoven and, as  time  passed,  his  attendance  at  performances  of  his symphonies was usually confined to official events.
This was  awkward. 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Traditionally  Germans  looked upon Beethoven   along   with   Goethe,   Rembrandt   and   Shakespeare as the supreme figures of modern Western culture. 

Unlike  the  others,  however,  Beethoven  was  never just  a  cultural  figure,  but  also  an  ideological  symbol,  invoked   by   every   political   movement.  
National Socialists, Rosenberg  in  particular,  claimed  the  composer  as  an Aryan  hero –  and  his  music  as  an elixir that would contribute to the nation’s renewal.

Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas, and 16 string quartets. He also composed other chamber music, choral works (including the celebrated Missa Solemnis), and songs.

In his speeches Hitler consequently felt obliged to give the composer his due, but his praise rarely rose above the perfunctory. 

Richard Wagner

So if Hitler had his Wagner, the Party had its Beethoven. 

When  Hitler  ‘entertained’  on  state  occasions,  Wagner  was  performed;  when  the  party  ‘entertained’  on  party  occasions  Beethoven  was  played. 
And played  he  was,  more  often  than  any  other  symphonic composer. 
His  works,  above  all  the  Ninth  Symphony, were  the  pre-eminent  musical  set  pieces  for  important occasions.
When Hitler wanted to impress state visitors, he  hauled  them  off  to  a  gala  performance  of  a  Wagnerian  opera. 
Miklós Horthy

In  1938,  anxious  to  gain  Hungarian  support for his impending dismemberment of Czechoslova-kia;  he  invited  the  Prince  Regent,  Admiral  Horthy, to make a state visit.

Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya (German: Nikolaus von Horthy und Nagybánya; 18 June 1868 – 9 February 1957) was regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the years between World Wars I and II and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. He was styled “His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary” (Ő Főméltósága a Magyar Királyság Kormányzója).

The social high point of the occasion was  a  stunning  performance  of  ‘Lohengrin’  –  a  rather tactless  choice  considering  the  opera  opens  with  a call to arms to defend Germany from the Hungarian invader.
The following year Prince Paul, Prince Regent of Yugoslavia,  was  invited  to  Berlin  for  similar  reasons, in  this case  the  imminent  invasion  of  Poland. 
He  was  treated to  the  happier  ‘Meistersinger  von  Nürnberg’. 

Adolf Hitler and Prince Paul of Yugoslavia

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević (Павле Карађорђевић, – 27 April 1893 – 14 September 1976), was regent of Yugoslavia during the minority of King Peter II. Peter was the eldest son of his first cousin Alexander I. His title in Yugoslavia was “Његово Краљевско Височанство, Кнез Намесник”, (His Royal Highness The Prince Regent). In 1939, Prince Paul, as acting head of state, accepted an official invitation from Adolf Hitler and spent 9 days in Berlin.

Hitler apparently believed that   outstanding   musical performances – like his  magnificent  works  of  architecture – would  leave  foreign  leaders  in  awe  of  the  greatness  of the Third Reich and incline them to support his policies.
Brahms  he  did  not  like. 

Hans  Severus  Ziegler

Hitler’s  admirers,  such as  Hans  Severus  Ziegler  and  Furtwängler,  traced  his antipathy  to  the  old  rivalry  between  the  Brahms  and Bruckner  camps  in  Vienna. 

Hans Severus Ziegler (13 October 1893 – 1 May 1978) was a German publicist, intendant, teacher and National Socialist Party official. A leading cultural director under the Nazis, he was closely associated with the censorship and cultural co-ordination of the Third Reich.
Ziegler played a leading role in promoting the Nazi vision of culture, particularly with regards to “degenerate” music. He was a strong critic of atonality, dismissing it as decadent “cultural Bolshevism”


In  an  attempt  to  have  him overlook  history,  and  concentrate  on  the  music,  they persuaded  him  to  attend  a  concert  of  the  Berlin  Philharmonic,  which  included  the  Brahm’s  Fourth  Symphony. 
But  when  he  blithely  commented  afterwards, ‘Well,  Furtwängler  is  such  a  good  conductor  that under such a baton even Brahms is impressive,’ they admitted defeat.

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist.
Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms’s popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.


Richard Strauss

Unfortunately  the  record  is  silent  on  what  Hitler thought  of  Richard Strauss’s  operas,  or  even  which  ones  he knew.

Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome’; his lieder, especially his ‘Four Last Songs’; and his tone poems and other orchestral works, such as ‘Death and Transfiguration’, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, ‘An Alpine Symphony’, and ‘Metamorphosen’. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.
Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.


Salome – Franz von Stuck
The story that Hitler begged money from relatives to  attend  the  Austrian  premiere  of  ‘Salome’  in  Graz  in May 1906, an event that also drew most of the eminent composers  of  the  day,  is possibly apocryphal.

Salome, Op. 54, is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. Strauss dedicated the opera to his friend Sir Edgar Speyer.
The opera is famous (at the time of its premiere, infamous) for its “Dance of the Seven Veils”. It is now better known for the more shocking final scene (often a concert-piece for dramatic sopranos), where Salome declares her love to – and kisses – the severed head of John the Baptist.


Not until after the Anschluss  in  1938  did  he  even  visit  the  Vienna.
Hitler  liked the  best known  operas  of  Verdi  and  Puccini. 
In  fact,  a performance  of  ‘Madama  Butterfly’  at  the  Berlin  Volksoper in 1937 left him so delighted that he decided then and there to donate 100,000 marks a year to the opera company.

Heinrich  Hoffmann

Even so, when once attending a performance of  ‘La  Boheme’,  what  he  talked  about  during  the  intermissions  was  Wagner  and  Bayreuth.

Otherwise  there were  few  if  any  non-German  composers  whose  works he  could  abide. 
According  to  Heinrich  Hoffmann,  he especially  disliked  Stravinsky  and  Prokofiev,  and  when Hoffmann’s   daughter,   Henriette   von   Schirach,   presented  him  with  a  recording  of  Tchaikovsky’s  Sixth Symphony, he brusquely refused to listen to it.

Heinrich Hoffmann (September 12, 1885 – December 11, 1957) was a German photographer best known for his many published photographs of Adolf Hitler.  Hoffmann married Therese “Lelly” Baumann, who was very fond of Hitler, in 1911, their daughter Henriette (“Henny”) was born on February 3, 1913 and followed by a son, Heinrich (“Heini”) on October 24, 1916. Henriette married Reichsjugendführer (National Hitler Youth commander) Baldur von Schirach, who provided introductions to many of Hoffmann’s picture books, in 1932. Therese Hoffmann died a sudden and unexpected death in 1928. Hoffmann and his second wife Erna introduced his Munich studio assistant Eva Braun to Hitler. Braun later became Hitler’s female companion.

Anton Brukner

Hitler liked his music to be melodic, euphonious and accessible.

Hitler’s    taste    underwent    several    significant changes,  however. 
During  most  of  his  life,  Bruckner held little appeal.

Anton Bruckner (4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner’s compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies.
Unlike other musical radicals, such as Richard Wagner or Hugo Wolf who fit the ‘enfant terrible‘ mould, Bruckner showed extreme humility before other musicians, Wagner in particular. This apparent dichotomy between Bruckner the man and Bruckner the composer hampers efforts to describe his life in a way that gives a straightforward context for his music.


Hoffmann did not so much as mention the  composer’s  name  when  once  identifying  Hitler’s favourites.
Even  after  becoming  chancellor,  Speer  noted, his interest ‘never seemed very marked’.
The composer had,  however,  symbolic  importance  to  him,  both  as  a ‘home town boy’ and as a rival to Brahms, so beloved in Vienna.
It  was  a  fixed  part  of  the  Nuremberg  rallies  for the cultural session to open with a movement of one of his  symphonies. 

Hitler at the Regensburg Valhalla

In  June  1937  he  was  famously  photographed  paying  his  respects  to  the  composer,  standing in  mute  homage  before  a  monument  at  ‘Valhalla  hall of   fame’   near   Regensburg   as   Siegmund   von Hausegger  and  the  Munich  Philharmonic  played the magnificent Adagio   of   the   Seventh   Symphony.   
Why  Hitler  staged  that  event  is  not  known. 

Speculation  has ranged from the theory that it was intended as a cultural precursor of the annexation of Austria the following year, to the notion that it was out of nostalgia for his ‘beautiful time  as  a  choirboy’  and Lembach Abbey – with  its  Bruckner associations.
Undoubtedly  the  Hitler  felt  a  personal   kinship.
Both   had   come   from   small   Austrian towns,  grew  up  in  modest  circumstances,  had  fathers who  died  at  an  early  age,  were  autodidacts,  and  made their way in life despite great obstacles.
On a number of occasions   he   contrasted   the   Austrian   Catholic Bruckner,  whom  the  Viennese  shunned,  to  the north   German   Protestant   Brahms,   whom   they idolized. 
Then,  suddenly  in  1940  he  developed  a passion   for   Bruckner’s   symphonies.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels

He   even began  mentioning  him  in  the  same  breath  with  Wagner.

He told me,’ Goebbels noted in his diary, ‘… that it was only now during the war, that he had learned to like him  at  all.’ 
The  enthusiasm  steadily  grew.

Paul Joseph Goebbels (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates and most devout followers.

By 1942  he  placed  Bruckner  on  a  level  with  Beethoven, and categorized the former’s Seventh Symphony as ‘one   of   the   most   splendid   manifestations   of German   musical   creativity,   the   equivalent   of Beethoven’s   Ninth’.
His   feelings   about   Bruckner,  man  and  composer,  are  best  conveyed  by  remarks  he  made  after  listening  to  a  recording  of  the first   movement   of   the  Seventh  at  his  military headquarters in January 1942:
‘Those  are  pure  popular  melodies  from  Upper Austria,  nothing  taken  over  literally  but   ländler  and  so  on  that  I  know  from  my youth. What the man made out of this primitive material ! In this case it was a priest who deserves well for having supported a great master.

Bruckner Organ – St Florian 

The bishop  of  Linz  sat  for hours  alone  in  the  cathedral  when  Bruckner,  the greatest organist of his time, played the organ.

One can imagine how difficult it was for a small peasant lad when he  went  to  Vienna,  that  urbanized,  debauched  society.
A  remark  by  him  about  Brahms,  which  a  newspaper recently  carried,  brought  him  closer  to  me:  Brahms’s music  is  quite  lovely,  but  he  preferred  his  own. 
That  is the healthy selfconfidence of a peasant who is modest but  when  it  came  down  to  it  knew  how  to  promote  a cause  when  it  was  his  own. 
That  critic  Hanslick  made his  life  in  Vienna  hell.
But  when  he  could  no  longer  be ignored,  he  was  given  honours  and  awards.
But  what could  he  do  with  those? 
It  was  his  creative activity that should have been made easier.
Brahms  was  praised  to  the  heavens.’
From  then  on  Hitler  did  everything  possible  to  promote Bruckner  and  to  enlist  him  in  his  vendetta  against Vienna.
St  Florian,  where  the  composer’s  career  had  begun, was to be turned into a pilgrimage site in the manner  of  Bayreuth.
He  wants  to  establish  a  new  cultural centre  here,’  Goebbels  noted.  ‘Simply  as  a  counter-weight to Vienna, which must gradually be shoved aside .  .  .  .  He  intends  to  renovate  St  Florian  at  his  own  expense.
Accordingly, Hitler financed a centre of Bruckner studies  there,  had  the  famous  organ  repaired  and  augmented  the  composer’s  library.
He  even  designed  a monument in his honour to stand in Linz, and endowed a Bruckner  Orchestra  which  he  was  determined  to  make one of the world’s best.
The publication of the Haas edition  of  the  composer’s  original  scores  was  subsidized from  his  own  funds.
And  he  dreamed  of  constructing a bell tower in Linz with a carillon that would play a theme from the Fourth Symphony.

Franz Lehar

An even more startling transformation in Hitler’s musical  taste  was  a  growing  passion  for  operetta,  in particular Franz Lehar’s  ‘Die lustige Witwe’

Franz Lehár (30 April 1870 – 24 October 1948) was an Austro-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe).
Hitler enjoyed Lehár’s music, and hostility diminished across Germany after Goebbels’s intervention on Lehár’s part. The National Socialist regime was aware of the uses of Lehár’s music for propaganda purposes: concerts of his music were given in occupied Paris in 1941. Even so, Lehár’s influence was limited.

‘Die lustige Witwe’ is an operetta by the Austro–Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. The librettists, Viktor Léon and Leo Stein, based the story – concerning a rich widow, and her countrymen’s attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband – on an 1861 comedy play, L’attaché d’ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac.

The operetta has enjoyed extraordinary international success since its 1905 premiere in Vienna and continues to be frequently revived and recorded. Film and other adaptations have also been made. Well-known music from the score includes the “Vilja Song”, “Da geh’ ich zu Maxim” (“You’ll Find Me at Maxim’s”), and the “Merry Widow Waltz”.



.

There was a remarkable  irony  in  this.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss’s  ‘Fledermaus’

Although  Hitler  almost  always avoided  mentioning  the  names  of  contemporary  composers  and  their  works,  in  speeches  in  1920  and  1922 he  singled  out  ‘Die lustige Witwe’   as  a  pre-eminent  example  of  artistic  kitsch.

There  is  no  way  of  knowing when he changed his mind.
But some time in the 1930s that very opera became one of his favourites.
He never missed   a   new   production   of   either   that   or   Johann Strauss’s  ‘Fledermaus’,  and  drew  large  sums  from  his private  account  for  lavish  new  stagings.

Johann Strauss II (October 25, 1825 – June 3, 1899), also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son (German: Sohn), was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 400 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as “The Waltz King”, and was largely then responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century.
Among his operettas, ‘Die Fledermaus’ and ‘Der Zigeunerbaron’ are the best known.

Eventually  Hitler  came  to  revere  Lehar  as  one of  the  greatest  of  composers.

Reichskulturkammer
Reich  Culture  Chamber – RKK
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

So thrilled was he upon meeting the composer in 1936 at a session  of  the Reichskulturkammer that  he  talked about  the  experience  for  days  afterwards.

The Reichskulturkammer (RKK) (“Reich Chamber of Culture”) was an institution in the Third Reich. It was established by law on 22 September 1933 in the course of the ‘Gleichschaltung’ (meaning “coordination”, “making the same”, “bringing into line”) process at the instigation of Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels as a professional organization of all German creative artists. Defying the claims raised by the German Labour Front (DAF) under rival Robert Ley, it was designed to control the cultural life in Germany, promoting art created by “Aryans”, and seen as consistent with National Socialist ideals.
Every artist had to apply for membership on presentation of an ‘Aryan certificate’.

The RKK was affiliated with the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda with its seat in Berlin and was headed by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.

The  importance  of  Lehar’s  music  in  the  last  years  of  his  life  was evident  when  he  celebrated  his  birthday  in  1943  by treating  himself,  and  his  guests,  to  a  recording  of  ‘Die lustige Witwe’.

Clearly Hitler had a keen ear, but how much did he actually know about music ?
He possessed a powerful memory, and in fields that interested him he  often  befuddled  specialists  with  his  detailed,  even expert,  knowledge.
In  fact,  confounding  professionals, and  showing  off  to  his  entourage,  gave  him  wicked pleasure, and those around him occasionally suspected that he boned up on a topic only to bring the conversation round to it so that he could exhibit his ‘extraordinary knowledge’.

Richard Strauss

After  the  Viennese  premiere  of  Richard Strauss’s  ‘Friedenstag’,  Hitler  gave  a  reception  for the artists  at  which,  according  to  one  account,  ‘He  showed an  astonishing  array  of  musical  knowledge,  and  was able, for example, to remind Hans Hotter of what he had been  singing  ten  years  previously: 

“Isn’t  Scarpia  too high for you? That G-flat in Act II?”’
While confirming the story,  Hotter  commented  that  it  was  difficult  to  draw much  of  a  conclusion  from  it. 
Hitler  had  an  exception-ally good memory.
According to the nature of an event – in this case music – he would prepare himself by reading relevant  literature  and  surprise  everybody  by  his  insider’s knowledge.’

Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome’; his lieder, especially his ‘Four Last Songs’; and his tone poems and other orchestral works, such as ‘Tod und Verklärung’, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, ‘Eine Alpensinfonie’  and Metamorphosen. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.
Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.

Friedenstag (Peace Day) is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss, his Opus 81, to a German libretto by Joseph Gregor. 
The opera was premiered at Munich on 24 July 1938 and dedicated to Viorica Ursuleac and her husband Clemens Krauss, the lead and conductor respectively. Strauss had intended ‘Friedenstag’ as part of a double-bill, to be conducted by Karl Böhm in Dresden, that would include as the second part his next opera ‘Daphne’.

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Winifred Wagner and Adolf Hitler
Bayreuth

Most accounts of his musical expertise relate to his   knowledge   of   Wagnerian   opera. 

Typical   was   a comment of Winifred Wagner (see above) who, as her secretary recorded,  ‘could  not  stop  raving  about  what  an  attentive listener  he  is  and  how  well  he  knows  the  works,  above all musically’.

Heinz Tietjen 
In the same vein, Heinz Tietjen remarked that  he  was  ‘amazed’  at  how  well  the  Führer  knew Wagner’s scores, citing as an example Hitler’s comment after  a  performance  that  the  oboe  had  not  played quite in  tune.
And  I  had  to  acknowledge  he  was  right,’  the impresario  said.

Heinz Tietjen (June 24, 1881 – November 30, 1967) was a German conductor and music producer.
Tietjen was the director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin between 1925 and 1927, then director of the Prussian State Theatre. From 1931 to 1944, he served as artistic director at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus for Winifred Wagner with whom he had a romantic liaison

Baldur von Schirach

More  convincing  are  the  comments  of Baldur von Schirach.

Writing after he had served twenty years in Spandau, he cannot be suspected of gilding the lily.
He  recalled  a  performance  of  ‘Die  Walküre’,  which Hitler had attended in Weimar in 1925.
Schirach’s father was managing director of the opera house and, after the performance,  Hitler  was  introduced  to him and went on at  great  length  about  what he had seen and heard in a way  that  demonstrated  he  really  knew  his  Wagner.
He compared the production with those he had attended in Vienna  as  a  young  man,  naming  singers  and  conductors,  and  so  impressed  the  elder  Schirach  that  he  was invited  home  to  tea.
After  he  left,  Schirach  père  was said  to  have  commented:
In  all  my  life  I  never  met  a layman  who  understood  so  much  about  music,  Wagner’s in particular.’

Baldur Benedikt von Schirach (9 May 1907 – 8 August 1974) was a Nazi youth leader later convicted of crimes against humanity. He was the head of the Hitler-Jugend (HJ, the “Hitler Youth”) and Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter (“Reich Governor”) of Vienna. Schirach was born in Berlin, the youngest of four children of theatre director Rittmeister Carl Baily Norris von Schirach (1873–1948) and his American wife Emma Middleton Lynah Tillou (1872–1944). Through his mother, Schirach descended from two signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence. He had two sisters, Viktoria and Rosalind von Schirach, and a brother, Karl Benedict von Schirach, who committed suicide in 1919 at the age of 19.
Schirach joined a Wehrjugendgruppe (military cadet group) at the age of 10 and became a member of the NSDAP in 1925. He was soon transferred to Munich and in 1929 became leader of the Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Studentenbund (NSDStB, National Socialist German Students’ League). In 1931 he was a Reichsjugendführer (youth leader) in the NSDAP and in 1933 he was made head of the Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend) and given an SA rank of Gruppenführer. He was made a state secretary in 1936.

Albert Speer

To this account, Speer added that at his  fiftieth  birthday  celebration  in  1939  Hitler  had  been particularly  excited  by  a  gift  of  some  of  Wagner’s original  scores  and,  as  he  leafed  through  that  of  Götterdämmerung, ‘showed  sheet  after  sheet  to  the  assembled guests, making knowledgeable comments

Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer –  March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981 – was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming ministerial office.
Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931, launching him on a political and governmental career which lasted fourteen years. His architectural skills made him increasingly prominent within the Party and he became a member of Hitler’s inner circle. Hitler instructed him to design and construct a number of structures, including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg where Party rallies were held. Speer also made plans to reconstruct Berlin on a grand scale, with huge buildings, wide boulevards, and a reorganized transportation system.

Which  were  Hitler’s  favourite  operas ?
Despite  the poverty of his Vienna years, he managed to attend ‘Tristan  und  Isolde’  alone  thirty  or  forty  times,  and  in the course  of  his  life  heard  it,  and  ‘Die  Meistersinger’,  probably  a  hundred  times.

‘Tristan  und  Isolde’

‘Tristan und Isolde’ is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it “eine Handlung” (literally a drama. a plot or an action).
Wagner’s composition of ‘Tristan und Isolde’ was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, ‘Tristan’ was notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.



Joachim C. Fest
Otto Dietrich

According  to  his  press  chief, Otto Dietrich,  he  knew  ‘Die  Meistersinger’  by  heart  and  could hum or whistle all its themes.

‘Lohengrin’ no doubt held a special place in his heart.
According to Fest, Hitler considered  the  final  scene  of  ‘Götterdämmerung’  to  be  ‘the summit  of  all  opera’.

Joachim Clemens Fest (8 December 1926 – 11 September 2006) was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer.

He  further  cites  Speer  as  having told him,
In Bayreuth, whenever the citadel of the gods collapsed  in  flames  amid  the  musical  uproar,  in  the darkness  of  the  loge  he  would  take  the  hand  of  Frau Wagner, sitting next to him, and in deep emotion bestow a kiss upon it.
Be that as it may, it was ‘Tristan and Isolde’ that meant  most  to  him.
After  listening one evening in 1942 to  a  recording  of  the  ‘Prelude  and  Liebestod’,  he  com-mented, ‘Well, ‘Tristan’ was his greatest work.

Festung Landsberg 
Christa  Schroeder and Adolf Hitler

According to Christa  Schroeder, the  ‘Liebestod’  moved  him  so deeply  that  he  said  he  wished  to  hear  it  at  the  time  of his death.

And in a letter from Landsberg prison in 1924 he  wrote  that  he  often  ‘dreamed  of  Tristan’.
At  a  1938 Bayreuth  performance  Winifred  observed, 
He  is  over-joyed   at   each   beautiful   passage   that   he   especially loves;  then  his  face  just  shines.’ 
There  is  no  way of knowing whether it was the eroticism, the sense of longing, the triumph of sensuality over reason that – in contrast  to  his  own  repressed  sexual  instincts – appealed to him.
Possibly it was the cult of the night or the tragic end.
Maybe just the music.

Tannhäuser and Venus – Otto Knille

‘Tannhäuser’ engaged him less, and he was long familiar  only  with  the  composer’s  earliest  score,  the so-called  ‘Dresden  Version’. 

At  some  point  in  the  1930s he heard the later ‘Paris Version’, and was so taken with it that he ordered Goebbels and Goring to permit only that score  to  be  performed. 
Despite the fact that Hitler seemed to favour ‘Tristan’ the most significant of Wagner’s works for Hitler, despite his comments about ‘Tristan’ and  ‘Götterdämmerung’, was ‘Parsifal’ – and that  was  the  reason  he wanted  Roller  to  re-stage  it  at  Bayreuth.
Alfred Roller – ‘Parsifal’ – 1934

And  this  elucidates  Hans  Frank’s  story  that,  while  riding  on  his train through  the  Rhineland  in  1936,  Hitler  asked  to  have played  for  him  a  recording  of  Karl  Muck’s  performance of the Parsifal Vorspiel.

Afterwards, in a deeply contemplative mood, he  remarked, ‘Out of Parsifal  I  shall  make  for  myself  a  religion,  religious  service in solemn form without theological disputation.’ 
He recalled that the Vienna opera archive  held  sketches  of  Roller’s  1914  production  and he  commended  these  as  models  for  producers. 
Not waiting  for  the  final  victory,  Goebbels  passed  on  the word  to  his  ministerial  officials  with  instructions  to  have photographs  of  the  Roller  sketches  circulated  to  every opera  house.  Managers  were  informed  that  any  future staging  of  the  work  was  to  follow  the  Roller  model and ‘was no longer to be done in the Byzantine-sacred style that was common up to then’.

For Hitler the Gnostic themes of the Grail Quest, and the cosmic struggle between Light and Darkness were perfectly portrayed in ‘Parsifal’.
Being an occult initiate, Hitler was aware of the Gnostic message behind “the externals of the story, with its Christian embroidery… the real message was pure, noble blood, in whose protection and glorification the brotherhood of the initiated have come together.”




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Adolf Hitler’s Interpretation of Parsifal


  “I have built up my religion out of Parsifal.  Divine worship in solemn form … without pretenses of humility … One can serve God only in the garb of the hero”  


                     ‘What is celebrated in Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ is not the Christian religion of compassion, but pure and noble blood, – blood whose purity the brotherhood of initiates has come together to guard.
The king (Amfortas) then suffers an incurable sickness, caused by his tainted blood.
Then the unknowing but pure human being (Parsifal) is led into temptation, either to submit to the frenzy and to the delights of a corrupt civilisation in Klingsor’s magic garden, or to join the select band of knights who guard the secret of life, which is pure blood itself.
All of us suffer the sickness of miscegenated, corrupted blood.
Note how the compassion that leads to knowledge applies only to the man who is inwardly corrupt, to the man of contradictions.
And Eternal life, as vouchsafed by the Grail, is only granted to those who are truly pure and noble !

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Only a new nobility can bring about the new culture.
If we discount everything to do with poetry, it is clear that elitism and renewal exist only in the continuing strain of a lasting struggle.
A divisive process is taking place in terms of world history.
The man who sees the meaning of life in conflict will gradually mount the stairs of a new aristocracy.
He who desires the dependent joys of peace and order will sink back down to the unhistorical mass, no matter what his provenance.
But the mass is prey to decay and self-disintegration.
At this turning- point in the world’s revolution the mass is the sum of declining culture and its moribund representatives.
They should be left to die, together with all kings like Amfortas.’

“The old beliefs will be brought back to honor again.
The whole secret knowledge of nature, of the divine, the demonic.
We will wash off the Christian veneer and bring out a religion peculiar to our race.”

Adolf Hitler


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It has sometimes been assumed that Hitler was attracted  to  Wagner’s  works  because  of  the  plots,  with their  classic  conflict  between  the  outsider  and  a  rigid social  order,  their  lonely  heroes  and  dark  villains,  their Nordic myths and Germanic legends.
However, (apart from ‘Parsifal’ – see above) there is no  record  of  any  comment  on  how  he  interpreted  the works,  or  whether  he  saw  in  them  any  ideological  message  – much  less  whether  he  envisaged  himself  as  Lohengrin, Siegmund, Siegfried, Wotan or any other Wagnerian  character.

‘Nordic Dreams’
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Rheintöchter
Woglinde, Wellgunde undFloßhilde
 ‘Das Rheingold’

It  was  the  music  that  moved  him.
When I hear Wagner it seems to me like the rhythms of the  primeval  world,’  he  said.  ‘And  I  could  imagine that science  will  one  day  find  measures  of  creation  in  the proportions of the physically perceptible vibrations of the Rheingold  music.’ 

Perhaps  he  was  trying  to  say  what Thomas  Mann  wrote  in  ‘Dr  Faustus’  –  that  the  elements of music are the first and simplest materials of the world, and make music one with the world, that ‘the beginning of  all  things  had  its  music’. 
Christa Schroeder recalled his saying that ‘Wagner’s musical language sounded  in  his  ear  like  a  revelation  of  the  divine’.
The vocabulary  suggests  that  the  feelings  conjured  by  the operas  may  have  filled  the  void left by the conventional Catholic religious belief  he  lost,  or  never  really  had – and it is quite clear that Hitler saw ‘Parsifal’ in religious terms. 
In  one  of  his  earliest speeches  he  made  the  revealing  comment  that  in  their way  Wagner’s  works  were  holy,  that  they  offered  ‘exaltation and liberation from all the wretchedness and misery  as  well  as  all  the  decadence  that  prevails’,  and  that they lift one ‘up into the pure air’.
If escape and purification were part of the appeal, the operas also responded to  that  proclivity  for  the  overwhelming,  the  oceanic,  the romantic,  the  orgasmic  that  was  evident  in  his  public rallies, parades and spectacles.
Like Wagner himself, Hitler believed that music fully  realized  itself  only  when  it  fused  with  other  arts  in visible form on stage.

National  Theatre Weimar
National  Theatre Weimar

And, like Wagner, his interest extended  to  virtually  every  aspect  of  operatic  production, 

down  to  the  fabric  and  design  of  the  theatre  itself. 
He was  fascinated  by  backstage  operations,  including  the functioning  of  stage  machinery.  During  his  visit  to  Weimar in 1925, he asked to go behind the stage at the National  Theatre.  Schirach  was  with  him  at  the  time  and later remarked, ‘He was familiar with all sorts of lighting systems  and  could  discourse  in  detail  on  the  proper  illumination  for  certain  scenes.’

Berghof 

Hans  Severus  Ziegler recalled  taking  a walk with Hitler one night at the Berghof,  when  the  moon  suddenly  appeared  from  behind  a cloud and lit the surrounding meadow.

Hitler stopped in his  tracks  and  launched  into  a  discussion  of  the  colour of light necessary to achieve verisimilitude for moonlight on a stage, as in the concluding scene of the second act of  ‘Die  Meistersinger’.
He  was  insistent  that  it  should  be white;  but  ‘it  is  often  greenish  or  blueish  and  that  is wrong’, he complained. ‘That is just Romantic kitsch.
Already  in  his  youth  Hitler  had  made  sketches of  Wagnerian  stage  sets  that  he  imagined  or  actually saw. 
Although  a  drawing  of  Siegfried  holding  a  raised sword  is  a  Kujau  forgery,  several  authentic  sketches survive.
Alfred Roller – ‘Tristan und Isolde’
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Among  them  is  one  of  the  second  act  of  ‘Lohengrin’; others include his rendering of the second and third  acts  of  the  famous  1903  Mahler-Roller  production of ‘Tristan and Isolde’, which he had attended in Vienna.

This interest in stage design increased after he became chancellor,  and  reached  such  a  level  that  it was  common  knowledge  that  the  best  way  to  get  an appointment   with   him,   which   otherwise   might   take months,  was  to  let  him  know  that  you  had  photos  of a new  staging  of  an  operetta  or  opera,  particularly  Wagnerian.
An  invitation  was  almost  certain  to  follow,  and then  Hitler  would  spend  countless  hours  studying  the pictures.
Most of all he relished working with Benno von Arent,  and  together  they  designed  several  productions that he commissioned and paid for with his private funds – among them, ‘Lohengrin’ in 1935 at the German Opera in Berlin, ‘Rienzi’ in 1939 at the Dietrich Eckart Open Air Theatre  in  Berlin  and  ‘Die  Meistersinger’  in  1934,  and later  years  at  the  Nuremberg  opera  in  connection  with the party rally.

Benno von Arent

Benno von Arent (19 July 1898 – 14 October 1956) was a member of the National Socialist Party and SS, responsible for art, theatres, movies etc.
Arent was born in Görlitz, Prussia, on 19 July 1898. Self-taught, after various apprentice positions he obtained his first theater job in Berlin in 1923 and became a stage designer. He joined the SS in 1931 and the NSDAP in 1932. The same year, he was one of the founders of the “Bund nationalsozialistischer Bühnen- und Filmkünstler” (“Union of national-socialist stage and movie artists”), which was renamed “Kameradschaft deutscher Künstler” (“fellowship of German artists”) after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
Arent was appointed “Reichsbühnenbildner” (“Reich stage designer”) in 1936 and “Reichsbeauftragter für die Mode” (“Reich agent for fashion”) in 1939. He designed the diplomatic uniform of the Nazi diplomatic service. In 1944, he was given the rank of SS-Oberführer.
He is listed under ‘Kunstlerische Mitarbeiter’ in the 1938-39 catalog issued by Porzellan-Manufaktur Allach, Munich.

Speer recalled:
At the chancellery Hitler once sent up to his bedroom for neatly  executed  stage  designs,  coloured  with  crayons, for  all  the  acts  of  ‘Tristan  and  Isolde’;  these  were to  be given  to  Arent  to  serve  as  an  inspiration. 
Another time he gave Arent a series of sketches for all the scenes of ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’.
At lunch he told us with great satisfaction  that  for  three  weeks  he  had  sat  up  over these, night after night.
This surprised me the more because  at  this  particular  time  Hitler’s  daily  schedule  was unusually  heavy  with  visitors,  speeches,  sight-seeing and other public activities.
Undoubtedly,  Arent’s  work  reflected  Hitler’s  taste.

His setting for the second act of ‘Tristan’, for example, was similar to  Roller’s  Vienna  staging  that  Hitler adored.’ 

The  main  trait  of  the  Hitler-Arent  style  was,  as Speer  phrased  it,  ‘smashing  effects’,  and  Arent’s  productions  were  smashing.
Gigantic  choruses  and  parades, huge casts of extras and glitzy costumes characterized   ‘Lohengrin’   and   ‘Rienzi’. 
But   the   Hitler-Arent chef-d’oeuvre  was  their  1934  joint  production  of  ‘Die Meistersinger’.
This  culminated  in  a  third-act  meadow scene staged in the manner of a Nuremberg party rally, with  massed  banners  and  martial  chorus.
No  detail  of the production escaped Hitler’s eye.
He fretted over the moonlight scene in the second act and went into ecstasies  over  the  brilliant  colours  he  wanted  for  the  final scene  on  the  Mastersingers’  meadow,  and  over  the  romantic  look  of  the  little  gabled  houses  opposite  Hans Sachs’s  cobbler’s  shop.

Meistersingers – 1934

So proud of it was he that he sent it on tour – from Nuremberg  to  the  German  Opera  in  Berlin  in  1935,  then  to Munich  in  1936,  Danzig  in  1938,  Weimar  in  1939  and Linz in 1941.

It even enjoyed a measure of resurrection after  the  war  when  the  costumes  were  used  in 1951 at the Bayreuth Festival, then too impoverished to afford to make its own.
Hitler’s adulation of Wagner-the-composer probably developed   into   veneration   of   Wagner-the-man   rather quickly.
Except  for  Frederick  the  Great  and  Bismarck, on no other person did he lavish such repeated and fulsome praise.
‘I must be frank to say that Richard Wagner’s  personality  meant  more  to  me  than  Goethe’s,’ he remarked  on  one  occasion. 
The  Führer  talks  to  me  of Richard  Wagner,  he  reveres  him  and  knows  of  no  one like  him,’  Goebbels  once  recorded.
He  even  managed to  introduce Wagner’s  name  into  his  1923  putsch  attempt, telling  the  court  at  his  trial  that  he  had  been  partly  inspired  by  the  composer’s  example  of  preferring  deeds to words.

Wagner’s  Grave 

‘When  I  stood  at  Wagner’s  grave  for  the  first  time  my heart  just  overflowed  with  pride  that  here  rested  a man who  would  not  permit  the  inscription  on  his  tombstone: ‘Here  lies  Privy  Counsellor,  Music  Director,  His  Excellency Baron Richard von Wagner’.

I was proud that this man,  like  many  men  in  German  history,  was content to leave his name to posterity not a title.’

Emil Ludwig

In  the  early  1930s  it  was  being  argued that Wagner did not simply enchant Hitler with his music and  inspire  his  anti-Semitism,  stagecraft  and  political ideas,  but  also  that  he  helped  to  create  the  very  ideological  atmosphere  that  put  him  in  power.

Of  all  German  creative  figures,  Wagner is the real father of the current German state of mind,’ wrote Emil Ludwig.
It was not by chance, he went on, that Hitler was a Wagnerian. 
The  two  men  were  personally  alike. Moreover,  they  worked  the  same  material.
The  composer  took  the  German  sagas  just  as  they  were.  ‘Such  were  the  ideals  that  Wagner proffered  the  German  people.
But  it  was  not  just  the stories and the ‘musical sound’ that created a mood of ‘mystical rapture’ but also his use of  the  German  language. 
‘Only  Hitler’s  prose  could compete with his,

‘Lohengrin’
Thomas Mann

These  were  themes  developed  in  later years by Thomas Mann.

The novelist was scarcely less smitten by Wagner than was Hitler himself.
He too as a youth had haunted his local opera house, and ‘Lohengrin’ had  also  been  the  first  of  the  Master’s  operas  he  had attended.
Mann  spoke  of  the  composer  as  his  ‘starkstes,  bestimmendes  Erlebnis’,  his  strongest  and  most formative experience.
From the beginning to the end of his life he was enthralled by the music, and bewitched by the man. Wagner was the subject, or important theme, of nearly a dozen essays, any number of letters and countless  diary  entries.
But  while  Hitler admired everything  he  knew  about  the  composer’s  life,  character,  ideology  and  musical  creation,  Mann  was  in someways ambivalent  about  them.
Mann’s most important commentary on Wagner was an address to the Goethe Society of Munich in February 1933 on the fiftieth anniversary of the composer’s death.
Entitled ‘The Sufferings and Greatness of Richard Wagner’, it was a deeply searching and astute treatment of  Wagner’s  place  in  European  culture.
The  fruit  of years  of  thought,  it  placed  the  composer  among  the greatest of artistic figures.
In 1937  Mann  noted  in  his  diary  that on the  one  hand  that  he  found  ‘elements  of  a  frightening  quality’  in  a  poem  Wagner  had  written  for Cosima,  and  on  the  other  that  he  had  listened  to  a  re-cording of ‘Die Walkure’ ‘with admiration’.

Joachim C. Fest 

According  to  Joachim C. Fest  ‘the youthful Hitler succumbed  to  the  music  of  Richard  Wagner  .  …  The charged  emotionality  of  this  music  seemed  to  have served him as a means for self hypnosis, while he found in its lush air of luxury the necessary ingredients for escapist fantasy . . . . ‘    Hitler himself in fact later declared that with the exception  of  Richard  Wagner  he  had  ‘no  forerunners’, and  by  Wagner  he  meant  not  only  the  composer  but Wagner  the  personality,  ‘the  greatest  prophetic  figure the German people has had’ . . . . The points of contact between  the  two  temperaments  –  all  the  more  marked because  the  young  painter  consciously  modelled himself after his hero – produce a curious sense of family resemblance.  

Joachim Clemens Fest (8 December 1926 – 11 September 2006) was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance. He was a leading figure in the debate among German historians about the Nazi period.

The  style  of  public  ceremonies  in  the  Third Reich is inconceivable without Wagner’s operatic tradition,  without  the  essentially  demagogical  art  of  Richard Wagner – for the ‘Master of Bayreuth’ was not only Hitler’s great  exemplar,  he  was  also  the  young  man’s  ideological  mentor.

Wagner’s  political  writings  were  some of Hitler’s  favourite reading, and his style unmistakably  influenced Hitler’s own grammar and syntax.
Those  political  writings,  together  with  the  operas, form much of the framework for Hitler’s ideology . . . . Here he  found  the  ‘granite  foundations’  for  his  view  of the world.
Nothing  could  have  symbolized  the  association  more provocatively  than  the  opening  scene  of  Hans  Jürgen Syberberg’s 1977 film, ‘Hitler’, in which the dictator rises ectoplasmically  out  of  Wagner’s  Bayreuth  grave.

‘Hitler: A Film from Germany’
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (born 8 December 1935) is a German film director, whose best known film is his lengthy feature, ‘Hitler: A Film from Germany’. Born in Nossendorf, Pomerania, the son of an estate owner, Syberberg lived until 1945 in Rostock and Berlin. In 1952 and 1953 he created his first 8 mm takes of rehearsals by the Berliner Ensemble. In 1953 he moved to West Germany, where he in 1956 began studies in literature and art history, completing them the following year.
He earned his doctorate in Munich. For Syberberg, cinema is a form of Gesamtkunstwerk. Many commentators, including Syberberg himself, have characterized his work as a cinematic combination of Bertolt Brecht’s doctrine of epic theatre and Richard Wagner’s operatic aesthetics. Well known philosophers and intellectuals have written about his work, including Susan Sontag, Gilles Deleuze and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe.

Syberberg – Parsifal
Syberberg – Parsifal

In 1975 Syberberg released ‘Winifried Wagner und die Geschichte des Hauses Wahnfried von 1914-1975’ – a documentary about Winifred Wagner, wife of Richard Wagner’s son Siegfried. The documentary attracted attention because it exposed Winifred’s  admiration for Adolf Hitler. The film thus proved an embarrassment to the Wagner family and the Bayreuth Festival (which she had run from 1930 until the end of the Second World War).
Syberberg is also noted for an acclaimed visual interpretation of the Wagner opera ‘Parsifal’ in 1982.

What  Hitler  admired  in  the  composer  was what  he  admired  in  his  other  heroes,  courage. 
In  a speech  in  1923  he  defined  the  vital  quality  of  human greatness  as  ‘the heroic’ and attributed it to three men: Luther,  Frederick  the  Great  and  Wagner  –  the  reformer because  he  possessed  the  courage  to  stand  alone against the world, the king because he never lost courage  when his lot appeared hopeless and the composer, because  he  had  the  courage  to  struggle  in  solitude.
Each had fought, had fought alone and had fought ‘like a  titan’.
As  a  desperately  lonely  and  friendless  figure  in his  early  days,  Hitler  must  have  seen  his  own  situation mirrored  in  such  struggles.
Wagner  was  thus  a  symbol or, better, a model of someone who believed in his destiny and let nothing deter him from it.
It was no doubt in this  sense  that  he  considered  the  composer,  in  the oft cited phrase, his only forebear.

Wolfgang Wagner – Adolf Hitler – Wieland Wagner
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Apart from his remarks about ‘Parsifal’, Hitler  never  ascribed  any  of  his views to Wagner, not in ‘Mein Kampf’, his speeches, articles  or  recorded  private  conversations. 
However,  there  are  many obvious parallels in outlook –  anti-Semitism, Hellenism, the belief that culture was the ‘summum bonum‘ of a civilization, the notion that the arts should never be hostage  to  commerce,  and  the  like.

Certainly  Wagner’s  pamphlet ‘Judentum  in  der  Musik’  resonates  in  Hitler’s  claim  that  Jews lack artistic creativity.

“Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Jewishness in Music”), is an essay by Richard Wagner which attacks Jews in general, and the composers Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn in particular. It was published under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (NZM) of Leipzig in September 1850 and was reissued, in a greatly expanded version, under Wagner’s name in 1869. It is regarded by some as an important landmark in the history of German anti-Semitism.

Some critics point out that Wagner’s opposition to Jews was not limited to his articles, and that the operas contained such messages. In particular the characters of Mime in the ‘Ring’, Klingsor in ‘Parsifal’ and Sixtus Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger’ appear to be Jewish stereotypes, although none of them are identified as Jews in the libretto. 

Dietrich Eckart



However, at no time did he ever trace his anti-Semitism to the composer, not even in his 1920 speech ‘Warum sind wir Antisemiten ?’ (Why  are  We  Anti-Semites?),  in  which  he  expounded his views for the first time in public.
This is not surprising, as his ‘doctrinal’ anti-Semitism, was based on Gnostic and occult teachings, originating with Dietrich Eckart.

Kubizek does say, however,that  the  youthful  Hitler was said  to  have  read  every  biography,  letter,  essay,  diary and other scrap by and about his hero that he could lay his  hands  on.
So we are left with the apprehension that Wagner, and in particular his Bühnenweihfestspiel ‘Parsifal’, was a seminal influence on Adolf Hitler.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
PARSIFAL and the THIRD REICH


Wagner Geburthaus – Leipzig

On January 13, 1933 the newly-elected National Socialist Party celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Richard Wagner’s death by staging a grandiose memorial ceremony in Leipzig, the composer’s birthplace.
Adolf Hitler invited Siegfried Wagner’s widow, the English-born Winifred, and her son Wieland to be guests of honor at this event.
This tribute by Hitler was the continuation of a deep friendship that had begun in 1923 between the Führer and the Wagner family, forging a link between the new Germany and the country’s most revered composer.
Within weeks of becoming Chancellor of Germany, Hitler had appropriated Wagner and made him the Reich’s great beacon.
Each summer, from 1933 to 1939, Hitler attended the Bayreuth Festival, and he made the Wagner estate, Wahnfried, his second home.
Because she had been one of his earliest supporters, Hitler had great affection for Winifred. Hitler repaid the Wagner family gratitude by pledging his undying friendship, and his deepest devotion to Richard Wagner and Bayreuth.

‘Parsifal’ – Gralsburg – Paul von Joukowsky
Paul von Joukowsky

With the assistance of Dr. Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s untiring propaganda minister, Richard Wagner became the legendary and ideological voice of the new party, and the musical standard by which all classical composers would, from now on, be judged.
Around the time that Hitler came to power, the Bayreuth ‘holy of holies‘ still existed: the original Paul von Joukowsky (1845-1912) sets used at the premiere of Parsifal.
They were still in use at the Festspielhaus even though they were falling apart and were dangerous to the singers.

Emil Preetorius

Realistically, the time had come to replace the production, and the logical person to design the sets would be Emil Preetorius.

The stage designer Emil Preetorius (1883-1973) was born in Mainz and was one of the most important stage designers of the first half of the 20th century.
He studied law and art history in Giessen and in 1909 he co-founded a school of illustration and the book trade in Munich together with Paul Renner. In 1928 Preetorius became a professor at the Munich “Hochschule für Bildende Künste”.
He became the head of scenery for the Bayreuth “Festspiele” in 1932. During the 1930s Emil Preetorius’s scenes, such as the rock of the Valkyrie for the “Ring des Niebelungen”, were among the most important and influential designs for Richard Wagner’s works.

A petition began circulating against this decision, after all, this was the scenery “on which the eyes of the Master had reposed,” and the conservative faction at Bayreuth believed that the scenery needed to be kept and revered like a holy icon.
Over a thousand signatures were collected, including those of Arturo Toscanini and Richard Strauss.
Winifred Wagner sent the petition to Hitler along with a pamphlet accusing Preetorius of being “un-German” and “under Jewish influence.”


Gralsburg – Alfred Roller – 1934
Gralsburg – Alfred Roller – 1934

Hitler, on the other hand, favored a new Bayreuth production of Parsifal, and selected Alfred Roller to design it.
The Führer was a great admirer of Roller’s work in Vienna.
Following all the controversy,. Alfred Roller’s production premiered in 1934.
There were, however,only a few changes to the overall designs that had originated with Paul von Joukowsky.
The temple cupola in the second scene of Act One disappeared, and this made many conservatives very disappointed.
Winifred once again appealed to Hitler that there should be yet another new production of ‘Parsifal’.

‘Parsifal’ – Gralsburg – Wieland Wagner 1937
Wieland Wagner

Hitler agreed, and suggested that Wieland Wagner design the new sets.
Hitler had always revered Siegfried’s son because he was a direct descendant of the Master. Once the war began, Hitler gave orders that Wieland should be permanently exempt from military service.
Young Wieland therefore designed the sets for the 1937 ‘Parsifal’.

Wieland was the elder of two sons of Siegfried and Winifred Wagner, grandson of composer Richard Wagner, and great-grandson of composer Franz Liszt through Wieland’s paternal grandmother.
In 1941, he married the dancer and choreographer Gertrude Reissinger. They had four children Iris (b. 1942), Wolf-Siegfried (b. 1943), Nike (b. 1945) and Daphne (b. 1946).
Winifred Wagner’s close friendship with Hitler meant that, as a teenager and young man, Wieland knew the dictator as “Uncle Wolf”. His family connections allowed him to avoid the draft in the war.

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Explaining Hitler

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

‘EDEL WOLF’


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

‘I go the way that Providence dictates with the assurance of a sleepwalker.’

Adolf Hitler

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Adolf Hitler was, and is still, an unsolved mystery.  
Scholars call  the  rise  of  Hitler  ‘the most crucial and mystifying event of our century’, – ‘the seminal question of the twentieth century’. 
Percy Ernst Schramm speaks for all historians when he writes:
By virtue of his personality and his ideas Hitler poses an historical problem of the first magnitude‘.
H. R. Trevor-Roper writes that, despite the passage of half a century, ‘Hitler remains a frightening mystery‘.
The most fundamental and difficult question in the field of Hitler studies is the question of how this man came to be one of the most outstanding orators and political organizers in German if not all modern history.
Surely, unless there were some miracle in Hitler’s life at the age of thirty, when he apparently attended his first political meeting, any historian worth his salt would be looking into this man’s early life to find the secret of his success at gaining power.
Fortunately, there were several amateurs who stepped in to fill the gap, and it is to them that we owe most of everything that we know of the young Hitler other than what this most secretive of men chose to tell.
The first of these was Franz Jetzinger, author ‘Hitlers Jugend’ (Hitler’s Youth – 1956).
Jetzinger, however, was not a historian, but a Social Democratic politician who served as a deputy in the Provincial Assembly of Upper Austria  for  fifteen  years  before  the  Second World War, and had a deep-seated hatred of both National Socialism and Adolf Hitler.

 Brigitte Hamann
Despite his obvious bias, having been a member of the federal state government, Jetzinger had secured for himself the Austrian military file of Adolf Hitler, which included details on Hitler’s arrest in 1914, which took place because he fled from military conscription.
It is to Jetzinger that we owe much of our knowledge of the documents of Hitler’s family, his ancestors, his father’s change of name, and where the family lived.


August Kubizek
His attacks on Kubizek‘s reminiscences about Hitler, however, seem to be motivated by his personal bias, and have been seriously questioned by Brigitte Hamann.
Kubizek’s memoirs are important as the first and only insight into the incipient character of the man who, without any other natural advantage besides his own personality, became the most powerful leader in modern history.
It was only through the indefatigable work  of  Jetzinger, however, that  this  witness was discovered  and  his  testimony  obtained before he died.
If if it had been left to the professional historians, we would never have known  of  Kubizek,  and  his  memoirs  might never have been written and published.
A whole generation may well be named in history after him, and we shall speak of the ‘Age of Hitler’ as we speak of the ‘Age of Napoleon’ or the ‘Age of Charlemagne’.  
And yet, for all the obviousness of its imprint on the world, how elusive his character remains !
To the Marxists, the most old-fashioned of all critics, he was simply a pawn, the creature of a dying capitalism in its last stages.
Others have seen him as a ‘charlatan’ profiting by a series of accidents, a ‘consummate actor’ and ‘hypocrite’, or a ‘sly, cheating peasant‘.
Even Sir Lewis Namier endorses an account of him given by a disgusted German official as a mere ‘illiterate, illogical, unsystematic bluffer’.
Even Bullock seems content to  regard him as a ‘diabolical adventurer’, animated solely by an ‘unlimited lust for power’.
Trevor-Roper insists that these are not explanations, but evasions – negative labels that explain nothing.
In dismay he asks, ‘Could a mere adventurer, a shifty, scatterbrained charlatan, have done what Hitler did, who, starting from nothing nearly conquered the whole world ?’

Ron Rosenbaum
Bizarrely, some historians – mainly Jews or their sympathisers – seriously hold that any attempt to explain Hitler is ‘immoral
These historians insist that Hitler must forever remain a mystery, and that history must never attempt to explain him.
Any explanation is considered, reports Rosenbaum, ‘dangerous, forbidden, a transgression of near biblical  proportion‘.
Rosenbaum  also suggests that historians are unable to find any narrative into which Hitler fits, or any new theory to explain him.
It is suggested that the general consensus of historians is that Hitler is simply ‘not explainable by the systems of explanation, historical  and  psychological,  that we use to explain ordinary human behavior‘.
Thus it is considered ‘reasonable‘ to acknowledge the bankruptcy of imagination of the historical profession in its failure to find any narrative understandable to ordinary human beings, or any credible explanation of the most stupendous events of the twentieth century.


Mein Kampf – Adolf Hitler
Ron Rosenbaum
‘Explaining Hitler’ – 1998
Ron Rosenbaum (born November 27, 1946) is an American journalist and author. Rosenbaum was born into a Jewish family in New York City. He graduated from Yale University in 1968. He wrote for The Village Voice for several years, leaving in 1975 after which he wrote for Esquire, Harper’s, High Times, Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine and Slate.
Rosenbaum spent more than ten years doing research on Adolf Hitler, interviewing leading historians, philosophers, biographers, theologians and psychologists. The result was his 1998 book, ‘Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil’.

One source of information about Hitler, of course, is ‘Mein Kampf‘.
This is often taken to be Hitler’s ‘autobiography’, whereas, in fact, it is a skilful piece of propaganda, with certain, in many cases distorted, biographical details inserted, to heighten the work’s general appeal.
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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

Explaining the life of Adolf Hitler is similar to exploring a fractal, as the further one travels into it, the more complex it becomes.

One of the major difficulties in achieving an authentic level of understanding of the Hitler phenomenon is the abundance of spurious sources.

The myths abound: Hitler was Jewish with a Rothschild ancestor; Hitler had only one testicle; Hitler had two testicles, but one was bitten off by a goat; Hitler once lived in Liverpool, England; Hitler was insane; Hitler contracted syphilis from a French prostitute during WW1; Hitler’s ‘real’ name was Schicklgruber; and so on.


Karl Heinrich Marx

Most of us have heard at least a few of these, and possibly believed a few as well.
The ambiguous and sometimes contradictory evidence is ready made for those who would tell the story with an agenda; German politicians – many of who are ‘closet’ Marxisit, and so-called ‘Revisionist’ historians, being two of the most obvious.


Ron Rosenbaum
Objectivity, the ideal of the true historian, is harder to come by in the field of ‘Hitler Studies’ than in nearly any other discipline not theologically based.
In a field that touches on such charged issues and events as Nationalism and Racism, the very nature of war and peace and good and evil, emotions tend to cloud, or at least effect, the judgement of even the most disciplined scholar.
Ron Rosenbaum called it a ‘terra incognita of ambiguity and incertitude, where armies of scholars clash in evidential darkness over the spectral shadows of Hitler’s past‘.
Hitler remains an enigma in spite of everything that has been written about him.
Historians like Alan Bullock, Ian Kershaw and Hugh Trevor-Roper confess their perplexity openly.

How was it possible that an unknown, solitary and future-less front-soldier, in 1918, became some years later the ‘Leader’ and ‘Messiah‘ of the German people ?

‘That is the miracle of our age:
that you have found me:
that you have found me among so many millions –
and that I have found you, that is Germany’s good fortune !’

Adolf Hitler

Sixty years after his death Hitler appears to be more popular than ever.
In India he symbolizes resistance, in Egypt prosperity, in Peru discipline.
The Senegalese celebrate him as a hero of anti-colonialism, and the Chinese in Hong Kong as a champion of style.
Presumably, Hitler is the only European who, more than half a century after his death, is still widely known around the world.


Other contemporary politicians, such as Churchill or de Gaulle, are merely remembered in the respective linguistic or cultural spheres; the same goes for intellectual heroes like Göthe, Kant, Cervantes, Shakespeare.
But only Hitler is part of popular knowledge in Korea, Japan, Namibia or Uruguay, even outside the academic islands.
Hitler, the German, is not only the most well-known European, but beside the religious founders Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, or the slayers Genghis Khan or Stalin, perhaps one of the most well-known figures of all time.
These are the results of various journalistic polls.
For Europeans, who like to view their continent as the cradle of the ‘Enlightenment’ and humanism, it is a rather embarrassing finding.
And a disconcerting, if not downright shocking one because Hitler is viewed in a positive light by millions of non-Europeans – who would have been viewed by Hitler as ‘untermenschen‘.
Most of the time, however, it is not the historical Hitler, who is celebrated, or even wished to reappear, but a figure of fantasy with few real attributes.
Hitler has a cathartic function, in which each culture projects its specific experiences, preferences and problems.
In the corrupt and chaotic economies of South America, Hitler is read as a code for order and national unity.
Africans, on the other hand, admire the strong man in him, the myth of power, but also the enemy of the former colonialists France and England.
Also in India, from whose history Hitler took his ideas of the Aryans and the Swastika, Hitler is transfigured into an aid in the national liberation struggle against the British Crown.
However, in East Asia, Hitler is merely present as an aesthetic influence in fashion collections, commercials and the restaurant business, uncoupled from Nazi policies or World War II.
This is not the case in the Arabic and Iranian centers of Islam.
Not only is Hitler celebrating a renaissance in the Middle East, but the modern view of Hitler is closest to the historical one.
In contrast to the West, however, the historical facts are evaluated 
differently.
Looked at objectively, it could be said that Hitler amazed the world in everything he accomplished.
To the great majority of the German people he was a ‘redeemer‘.

The German word Erlöser has two distinct connotations.
One refers to Jesus, dying on the cross to redeem the sins of the world.
The second refers to ‘Parsifal’, the eponymous hero of Wagner‘s opera – and this brings us directly to an association with Hitler.

Hitler gave the Germans real leadership, and motivated them to the greatest heights of achievement in every field of endeavour.

German Factory
Autobahn

Under his leadership Germany was a pulsating hive of industry.

Every section of the country responded to his ideas and encouragement.
He gave the German people joy of being alive, and a pride in simply being a German, instead of the humiliated broken people he had inherited.
There was an infectious feeling of excitement and expectancy in the land, as day by day and week by week, Hitler raised his people from the gutter, and freed Germans from humiliation in other lands.

Hitler Speaks

‘How could we not feel once again at this hour the miracle that brought us together.

You once heard the voice of a man, and it struck your hearts, it awakened you and you followed this voice.
You followed it for years, without even having seen the owner of the voice; you merely heard a voice and followed it.
When we meet here we are all filled by the miraculous quality of this meeting.
Not every one of you sees me, and I do not see everyone of you.
But I feel you, and you feel me.
It is the faith in our nation that has made us small people great, that has made us poor people rich, that has made us vacillating, despondent, frightened people brave and determined; that has given us blind wanderers sight and brought us together.
So you come from your little villages, your market towns, your cities, from mines and factories, away from the plow on one day to this city.
You come from the narrow environment of the struggle of your daily lives, and your struggle for Germany, and for our nation, in order to have the feeling: 
Now we are together; we are with him, and he is with us, and now we are Germany.
It is a wonderful thing for me to be your Führer.’

Adolf Hitler
Iron Cross – First Class
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

For Hitler, “National Socialism was natural socialism” and in his speeches he equated God with “the dominion of natural laws throughout the entire universe.”

This idea was attractive, and easily grasped by the German nation.
Today it is a very modern philosophy.
To his admirers, he was a real patriot and a war hero, having suffered in the horrors of trenches during the First World War, and having been awarded the Iron Cross, First Class.
The people sensed that at last they had found standing before them a man, in whom they could trust, and who believed in himself and in the talents and abilities of his own people.
Hitler created a Germany that influenced people from far beyond its borders.
During the Second World War, a million foreigners joined the Waffen SS simply because they believed in what he was trying to achieve, and willingly sacrificed themselves, for no reward except a profound belief in what they were fighting for.
Reichsparteitag
Reichsparteitag

Hitler created visual images of National Socialism and the Third Reich that are so outstanding, that to this day no person or country, has ever surpassed its artistic and spiritual influence.
These powerful images of the Third Reich have been so effective that even today Hollywood film studios have made billions of dollars since the end of World War II, and still continue to fill theatre seats just on the power of Hitler’s name.

His use of the ancient sign of the Swastika is the most famous and easily recognized emblem around the world today, and memorabilia of the Third Reich changes hands for high prices at public auctions or private sales rooms.
Tens of thousands of people purchase copies of Third Reich archive material, and in the privacy of their own homes, watch in fascination at the man who attempted to change the world and bring back simplicity to its organization.
Endless books have been published on the Third Reich.
Even today, debates take place at every level continuing to try to understand this phenomenon.
Hugh Trevor Roper

Some years ago the German historian Rainer Zitelmann, in a scholarly study established that Hitler’s outlook was “rational, self-consistent, and modern, and as early as 1953, the respected British historian Hugh R. Trevor Roper, evoked the image of Hitler as a kind of “synthesis of Napoleon and Spengler, noting that of all the world conquerors Hitler had been the most ‘philosophical’.

But none of this really ‘explains’ Hitler.


One of the main stumbling blocks to a true understanding of this unique individual, for us in the twenty-first century, is the fact that Hitler was born a long time ago – in fact on 20th April, 1889.
While Zitelmann may describe Hitler’s outlook as “modern” – he does not mean ‘contemporary’.
‘Modernity’, in this case, typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance.

Charles Pierre Baudelaire 

Charles Pierre Baudelaire is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.

Conceptually, modernity relates to the modern era, and to ‘modernism’, but forms a distinct concept.
Whereas the ‘Enlightenment’ (ca. 1650–1800) invokes a specific movement in Western philosophy, modernity tends to refer only to the social relations associated with the rise of capitalism.

Picasso – Cubism
In art, however, ‘Cubism’ may be seen as a feature of ‘modernity’, and yet it began in the first decade of the twentieth century.

Cubism is an early-20th-century movement pioneered by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. The term is broadly used in association with a wide variety of works produced in Paris (Montmartre, Montparnasse and Puteaux) during the 1910s and extending through the 1920s. Variants such as Futurism and Constructivism developed in other countries. A primary influence that led to Cubism was the representation of three-dimensional form in the late works of Paul Cézanne, which were displayed in a retrospective at the 1907 Salon d’Automne. In Cubist artwork, objects are broken up and reassembled in an abstracted form.


The Wright Flyer – 1903
Equally the world’s first successful controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight took place on December 17, 1903 – a ‘modern’ event that stirred the imagination of the young, fourteen year old Adolf Hitler.

The Wright Flyer is the first successful powered aircraft, designed and built by the Wright brothers. They flew it four times on December 17, 1903 near the Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, U.S. Today, the airplane is exhibited in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The U.S. Smithsonian Institution describes the aircraft as “...the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to achieve controlled, sustained flight with a pilot aboard.” The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale described the 1903 flight during the 100th anniversary in 2003 as “the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.


Hitler was born into a Europe dominated by Empires – some ancient, like the Hapsburg and Russian Empires, and some relatively new, although based on an ancient concept, like the German Empire (founded in 1871 – just 18 before Hitler was born).

Wappen des Reiches Österreich
Wappen von Österreich-Ungarn

The Austro-Hungarian Empire – more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in Central Europe, which operated from 1867 to October 1918, following the end of World War I. The union was a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, under which the House of Habsburg agreed to share power with the separate Hungarian government, dividing the territory of the former Austrian Empire between them. The Austrian and the Hungarian lands became independent entities enjoying equal status.

Kaiserliche Flagge des deutschen Kaisers
Wappen Deutsches Reich

Das Deutsches Kaiserreich – the German Empire is the common name given to the state officially named Deutsches Reich (literally: “German Realm”), designating Germany from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Kaiser (Emperor) on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.
The German Empire consisted of 27 constituent territories (most of them ruled by royal families). While the Kingdom of Prussia contained most of the population and most of the territory of the Reich, the Prussian leadership became supplanted by German leaders and Prussia itself played a lesser role.


Николай II
Николай Александрович Романов
Tsar Nicholas II
Greater Arms of the Russian Empire
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

When Hitler was a boy the Soviet Union didn’t exist, and Russia was rule by Tsar Nicholas II, the supreme autocrat of the Russian Empire, who had absolute control over all matters both secular and spiritual.


Николай II – Nicholas II (18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 – 17 July 1918) was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. As with other Russian Emperors he is commonly known by the monarchical title Tsar (though Russia formally ended the Tsardom in 1721). Nicholas II ruled from 1 November 1894 until his enforced abdication on 2 March 1917.


Europe then was a very different place to Europe today, or even the the Europe Hitler came back to after his time in the trenches.

Before he moved to Linz, Hitler grew up in a relatively rural, backward area of Austria.
The population was basically made up of farmers and peasants and, with the absence of mass communications, and relatively poor literacy, the area existed in a kind of ‘time-warp’, where life carried on much as it had done at the start of the nineteenth century.
Even after Hitler moved to Vienna, and then Munich, he was still living in a world in which only the very wealthy could afford such new inventions as the Gramophone (12″ records only became available around 1910), and the wireless (radio).

Gramaphone

From the mid-1890s until the early 1920s both phonograph cylinder and disc recordings, and machines to play them on were widely mass-marketed and sold.
The disc system (the gramophone gradually became more popular because of its cheaper price, and better marketing by disc record companies. Edison ceased cylinder manufacture in the autumn of 1929, and the history of disc and cylinder rivalry was concluded. Early disc recordings were produced in a variety of speeds ranging from 60 to 130 rpm, and a variety of sizes. As early as 1894, Emile Berliner’s United States Gramophone Company was selling single-sided 7-inch discs with an advertised standard speed of “about 70 rpm”. One standard audio recording handbook describes speed regulators or “governors” as being part of a wave of improvement introduced rapidly after 1897. History does not disclose why 78 rpm was chosen for the phonograph industry, apparently this just happened to be the speed created by one of the early machines and, for no other reason continued to be used.

Equally film, that great moulder of popular culture, was black and white, silent, and short, around the turn of the century

‘The Student of Prague’ (1913) 

On November 1, 1895 Max Skladanowsky and his brother Emil demonstrated their film projector the Bioscop at the Wintergarten music hall in Berlin. A 15-minute series of eight short films, it was the first screening of films to a paying audience in Europe. Other German film pioneers included the Berliners Oskar Messter and Max Gliewe, two of several individuals who independently in 1896 first used a Geneva drive (which allows the film to be advanced intermittently one frame at a time) in a projector, and the cinematographer Guido Seeber. In its earliest days, the cinematograph was restricted to upper class audiences, however, soon, trivial short films were being shown as fairground attractions aimed at the working and lower-middle class. Film-makers with an artistic bent attempted to counter this view of cinema with longer movies based on literary models, and the first German “artistic” films began to be produced from around 1910, an example being ‘The Student of Prague’ (1913) which was co-directed by Paul Wegener and Stellan Rye, photographed by Guido Seeber.  The first standalone, dedicated cinema in Germany was opened in Mannheim in 1906, and by 1910, there were over 1000 cinemas operating in Germany.

Adolf Hitler

When he was a young man Hitler was often referred to as ‘schöne Adolf’ – ‘handsome’ or ‘beautiful’ Adolf.

To many people today, seeing photos and film of Hitler, that may seem incomprehensible, but then we are forgetting how time has changed our perception of beauty.
Take, for example, Charles Chaplin.
Chaplin and Hitler resembled one another, (enough for Chaplin to impersonate Hitler in ‘The Great Dictator’ in 1940), particularly with regard to the moustache they both favoured – which today seems to many to be ridiculous – although it was a fashionable style at the time.

Charlie Chaplin – The Great Dictator

Chaplin made ‘The Great Dictator’ in 1940 as a “satirical attack on fascism” (did he mean National Socialism ?), and is his “most overtly political film“. There were strong parallels between Chaplin and Adolf Hitler, having been born four days apart, and raised in similar circumstances. It was widely noted that Hitler wore the same moustache as the ‘Little Tramp’, and it was this physical resemblance that formed the basis of Chaplin’s story. Chaplin spent two years developing the script, and began filming in September 1939. Making a comedy about Hitler was seen as highly controversial, but Chaplin’s financial independence allowed him to take the risk. The response from critics was not enthusiastic. Although most agreed that it was a brave and worthy film, many considered the ending inappropriate. Chaplin concluded the film with a six-minute speech in which he looked straight at the camera and professed his personal (left wing) beliefs. The monologue drew significant debate for its overt preaching, and continues to attract attention to this day. It has been identified as triggering Chaplin’s decline in popularity.

Adolf Hitler – 1920
The Little Tramp

We now think of Chaplin’s ‘little tramp’ as equally ridiculous and pathetic in appearance, but that is not what people thought who saw the character at the turn of the century, (the ‘tramp’ was first seen in 1914 in the Keystone comedy, ‘Kid Auto Races at Venice’) – their perception of the ‘tramp’ was of a young man who was ‘down on his luck’ – but a ‘good-looking’, handsome, one may almost say ‘cute’ character.

And in the same way, Hitler, with a similar hairstyle and similar moustache was seen as ‘good-looking’ – hence ‘schöne Adolf’.

So Hitler came form a world very different from our own, and yet in some respects his ‘weltanschauung’ seems almost contemporary – which is an obvious paradox.
One explanation for this derives from the fact that Hitler lived through what has been described as the ‘Watershed of the Epoch‘ – which he would have remembered as der große Krieg‘ – the great war.

click below for more information about
Der Große Krieg 1914-18
  
Causes of the Great War
                                                
It was the Great War that effectively divided off the new, ‘Modern’ epoch of history from the previous ‘Traditional’ epoch – and it created a paradox in Hitler’s thinking and, significantly, in the nature of National Socialism.
This paradox relates to the complex relationship between ‘Tradition’ and ‘Modernity’ which informs the fundamental nature of Völkisch thought and philosophy.
click below for a discussion of
‘Tradition’ and ‘Modernity’ in National Socialism
                                                                                              
Adolf Hitler – Herr Wolf
The name Adolf (Adolph) comes from the Old High German , and is composed of adal (edel – noble, noble) and wolf (wolf).
In his early days Hitler referred to himself as ‘Herr Wolf’ and changed his sister’s name to ‘Frau Wolf’.
He was called ‘Wolf’ by close relatives, as the name Adolf is derived from an old German word for wolf.
He even named three of his military headquarters ‘Wolfsschanze’, ‘Wolfsschluch’t and ‘Werwolf’.
His favourite dogs were wolfshunde, and he referred to his SS as “my pack of wolves.”

“Come what may, my heart remains ice-cold.”
Adolf Hitler
___________________________________
WAS HITLER POSSESSED ?
Few explanations for the phenomena of the rise of Adolf Hitler are in any way adequate or convincing.
As a result many unconventional theories have been put forward – including occult explanations, aliens, and possession.
This is, of course, a fertile area for wild speculation, and many have elaborated various unlikely scenarios, however, despite this there is reliable documentary evidence which points to a likely, occult explanation for the phenomena of Hitler and National Socialism.

Hermann Rauschning

Either with individuals, or before a multitude, Hitler revealed a great hypnotic power, and for this reason it is often proposed that he was possessed by invisible powers, his “unknown superiors” referred to by Hermann Rauschning.
In his work ‘Hitler Told Me’, he describes the Führer as ‘an antenna in touch with frightening, superior beings’.
Hitler’s words, ‘I follow the way that Providence points me with the confidence of a sleep-walker,’ indicates the lines of his supra-normal powers.
But, from whom did he receive those powers ?
Would it be ‘per chance’ from the Thule group that had initiated him into the occult ?
Or would it be from an older revelation ?
One thing seems certain about Hitler and National Socialism – the Gnostic and occult character of the man and his thought.

Gnosticism (from gnostikos, “learned”, from Ancient Greek: γνῶσις gnōsis, knowledge; Arabic: الغنوصية‎ al-ġnūṣīh) is the belief that the material world created by the demiurge should be shunned, and the spiritual world should be embraced, Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions. In Gnosticism, the world of the demiurge is represented by the ‘lower world’ which associated with matter,  flesh,  time, the imperfect and ephemeral world. The world of God is represented by the upper world, and is associated with the soul and perfection. The world of God is eternal and not part of the physical. It is impalpable, and time there doesn’t exist. To rise to God, the Gnostic must reach the “knowledge” which mixes philosophy, metaphysics, culture, knowledge, and secrets of history and the universe.

So, was Hitler possessed ? – this is a question that is often asked. 
Carl Jung, the well known, German speaking, Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist certainly thought so (see below – ‘Essay on Wotan’).

Carl Jung 

Carl Jung was born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland. Jung believed in the “complex” or emotionally charged associations. He collaborated with Sigmund Freud, but disagreed with him about the sexual basis of neuroses. He founded analytic psychology, advancing the idea of introvert and extrovert personalities and the power of the unconscious. He wrote several books before his death in 1961.

Lance of Saint Maurice
Trevor Ravenscroft’s 1973 book, ‘The Spear of Destiny’, as well as a later book, ‘The Mark of the Beast’, claims that Adolf Hitler was possessed by an entity connected to the Lance of Saint Maurice (also known as the ‘Spear of Destiny’), which Hitler first saw in the Weltliche Schatzkammer in the Hofburg in Vienna.
Trevor Ravenscroft repeatedly attempted to define the mysterious “powers” that the legend says the spear serves.
He states that  it is a hostile and evil spirit of immense power.

Trevor Ravenscroft

He never actually referred to the spear as spiritually controlled, but rather as intertwined with all of mankind’s ambitions.
However, Ravenscroft very quickly moves away from reasonably well researched material into the sphere of wild speculation which does little to shed any real light on Adolf Hitler, or the true nature of National Socialism.

Trevor Ravenscroft was born in England in 1921. He was educated at Repton and Sandhurst Military College before serving as a Commando officer in World War II. He was captured on a raid which attempted to assassinate Field Marshal Rommel in North Africa and was a POW in Germany from 1941 to 1945, escaping three times but each time being recaptured. After the war he studied at St Thomas’ Hospital, later becoming a journalist on the Beaverbrook press. He studied history under Dr Walter Johannes Stein for twelve years and carried out intensive research for his books ‘The Spear of Destiny’ and ‘The Mark of the Beast’. Before his death in 1989, he also lectured on history in London and Edinburgh.



But to start at the beginning, there was a tradition of spirit possession in the area where Hitler was born.

The Schneider Family
Willi and Rudi Schneider were born in Braunau.
Their father was a Linotype compositor who lived with his wife and six sons, close by his workshop.
Willi, the elder brother, first went into trances in 1919, when he was sixteen.
Willi’s control was ‘Olga’, who claimed to have been Lola Montez, the mistress of Ludwig I of Bavaria.

Klara Hitler
Willi was capable of producing materialisations of spirits and despite being tested under rigorous scientific conditions in Munich, Vienna and London from 1922 until 1927, no explanation has been advanced for such phenomena.
Willi’s powers faded after 1927, but Rudi’s then began to develop.
Rudi was also tested under rigorous scientific conditions in Munich,Vienna, Paris and London and no evidence of fraud was ever forthcoming.
After 1934 Rudi’s powers also began to fade, and he died in obscurity in Braunau in 1957.
Strangely, Hitler’s wet-nurse was also wet-nurse to the Schneider brothers.
At eight years of age Hitler was sent to the school of the Monastery of Lambach, where he reveled in the pomp and solemnity of Catholic ritual.


Arms of Bishop Hagen
Monastery of Lambach
Klara Hitler had hopes of her son becoming a priest. 
(It was at Lambach that Hitler first saw the swastika, which appeared on the heraldic arms of Bishop Hagen, which decorated the Baroque choir stalls, where he sang in the Monastery Church on feast days) 
Interestingly, Hitler was not considered suitable for a religious life, despite the fact that at that time he was top of his class.
Related to this may be the fact that while Hitler was a at the abbey, a Cistercian monk named Adolf Joseph Lanz (Liebenfels) made a stay at Lambach.
He stayed for several weeks, shut up in the monastery, thoroughly researching and studying Bishop Hagen’s personal papers.
The monks affirm that during his research he evidenced the signs of great agitation, like of a person who had made a great discovery.
After his visit to Abbey, Lanz returned to Vienna, where the following year (1900) he founded the Order of the New Templars.
The question remains – did the young Adolf and the monk Joseph Lanz meet during that time ?
 Alois Hitler
Apart from these facts, there seems to be little evidence that young Adolf was anything other than a fairly normal boy, despite his difficult family situation.
On 2 February 1900 Hitler’s younger brother, Edmund, died of measles.
Adolf was also ill, but recovered, although for the rest of his childhood and boyhood he was considered a ‘sickly youth’.
To Klara, the death was like a hammer blow and brought back the memories of the three children she had lost twelve years before.
She suffered terribly, and neighbours were shocked when she failed to attend the funeral.
To the ten year old Adolf, who had been very close to his younger brother, the death left a lasting wound.
After the church service he stood in a driving snowstorm and watched while his little brother was lowered into his grave.
In the future, any-time Adolf looked out of his bedroom window he was reminded of Edmund, who’s grave was visible from his window.
He became moody, dispirited and withdrawn.
The death of Edmund deeply affected Hitler, whose character changed from being confident and outgoing, and an excellent student, to a morose, detached, and sullen boy who constantly fought his father and his teachers.
Years later when Adolf Hitler would become famous, journalists and reporters would flock to the area to see what people remembered of him.
Although the local population would repeat the stories of his Indian games, how quickly he ran if called by his father, how well he did in the Leonding school, or how spoiled he was, they also remembered a very curious thing.
They said Adolf was sometimes seen, late into the night, sitting on the high cemetery wall “gazing up at the stars” or talking to the “windblown trees.”
Some of Adolf’s playmates remembered that Adolf would also climb the hill behind his house late at night, and talk to a “nonexistent audience.”
It is at this point in his youth that the young Adolf passed for the first time through those unseen portals into the world of the occult.
After Edmund’s death, religion lost its glamour for the young Adolf and he never again talked about becoming a priest.
It appears that Edmund’s death haunted Hitler all his life.

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August (Gustl) Kuzibek

Three years later Alois, Hitler’s father, died.

Then there was another indication that there was something strange about this young adolescent.
Adolf Hitler’s only real friend – August (Gustl) Kuzibek, met Hitler in 1904.

August (“Gustl”) Kubizek (3 August 1888, Linz – 23 October 1956, Eferding) was a close friend of Adolf Hitler when both were in their late teens. August was the first born and only surviving child of Michael and Maria Kubizek. His sisters Maria, Therese and Karoline died in early childhood. Kubizek later wrote that this was a striking parallel between his own life and that of Adolf Hitler, whose mother had lost four children prematurely. As the surviving sons of grief-stricken mothers, August and Adolf could not help but feel they had been spared or “chosen” by fate. Kubizek and Hitler first met while competing for standing room in the Landestheater in Linz, Austria. Because of their shared passion for the operas of Richard Wagner they quickly became close friends and later room-mates in Vienna while both sought admission into college. The two shared a small room in Stumpergasse 29/2 door 17 in the sixth district of Vienna from 22 February to early July 1908.
In 1951, Kubizek, who had rejected other post-war offers for his memoirs, agreed to publish ‘Adolf Hitler, mein Jugendfreund’ (‘Adolf Hitler, My Boyhood Friend’) through the Leopold Stocker Verlag.

In his account of his friendship with Adolf Hitler Kubizek describes his friend’s physical appearance, with particular emphasis on Hitler’s eyes’

‘In his countenance the eyes were so outstanding that one didn’t notice anything else.
Never in my life have I seen any other person whose appearance – how shall I put it – was so completely dominated by the eyes.
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Landestheater – Linz,
And does the nickname of ‘Wolf’ for Hitler come from this pseudo-canine ‘dominance’ trait of the eyes ?
Here, possibly, is another hint of some mediumistic or ‘spirit possessed’ nature with regard to Adolf Hitler.
Another incident that indicates that something had happened to the young Hitler occurred after the two boys had attended a performance of Richard Wagner’s Opera ‘Rienze’ in Linz.
On this occasion the young Adolf spoke with a voice that seemed to have its origins and meaning from another place – but more of that strange night and Adolf’s strange speech later(see below).


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
At the same time, young Adolf was spending many hours in the public library in Linz, filling his mind with books on such varied subjects as Ancient Rome, Eastern Religions, Yoga, Occultism, Hypnotism, and Astrology.
Many people today are not aware of the deeply Occult basis that these religions and practices contain, and they formed a tremendous early influence on Hitler.
Adolf was also deeply influenced by Hegel, that German Philosopher and University Professor, whose concept of ‘Thesis’ battling ‘Antithesis’, producing the hybrid, ‘Synthesis’, was so influential on European philosophy, and the general flow of history in the 20th Century.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher, and a major figure in German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism. Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or “system”, of Absolute Idealism to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, psychology, the state, history, art, religion, and philosophy. In particular, he developed the concept that mind or spirit manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other. 

Alice Bailey
Madame Blavatsky
Between 1903 and 1913 Hitler began to delve into the works of Madame Blavatsky, the head of the Theosophical Society.
Blavatsky wrote ‘Isis Enthüllt (Isis Revealed) and ‘Die Geheimlehre‘ (The Secret Doctrine, from which Hitler developed his views on the Ur-Rassen – (Root Races) and  the Jews, considering them to be an inferior race which were threatening the “purity” of the German race.


Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская – Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (12 August [O.S. 31 July] 1831 – 8 May 1891) was a scholar of ancient wisdom literature and established a research and publishing institute called the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky defined Theosophy as “the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization.” Blavatsky’s extensive research into the many different spiritual traditions of the world led to the publication of what is now considered her magnus opus, ‘The Secret Doctrine’, which collates and 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’.

Alice Bailey, writing in her book ‘Die Externalisierung der Hierarchie’ (The Externalisation Of The Hierarchy), calls the Jews a ‘race of lower evolution’, a theme Hitler struck often with his statement ‘The Jew is the anti-man, the creature of another god‘.

Hitler was also deeply involved in achieving ‘transcendent consciousness‘ through meditations and drugs, so critical if he was to open his Pineal Gland, or the ‘Third Eye‘.
Hitler was also deeply interested in the Akashic Record and Reincarnation.
The women of Germany found him to be “polite, charming, polished and very handsome. Perhaps it was his hypnotic eyes that led many of them into a fatal attraction.
As also noted, Hitler changed from a shy, timid speaker, who seemed to stumble over his words, to a most powerful orator, who seemed to be able to weave a spellbinding effect over his audience.
Yet, his voice was not his own, and he seemed to be transfixed by a strange force, as he was speaking
Many people believe that the poorly trained Adolf Hitler became the most accomplished orator who ever lived … His technique has been compared to the gradual seduction of a beautiful woman applied to a whole nation.”

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Dietrich Eckhart

Hitler also became deeply immersed in stories of Pan-Germanic and Völkisch mysticism, and old Nordic legends.

All of this was a heady brew for young Adolf’s mind and soul, but it prepared him for the ultimate experience of all, – joining the Thule Society, in 1919.
At the same time Hitler met Dietrich Eckhart, who exercised a deep influence over him.
As Eckhart lay dying in December, 1923, he uttered a most prophetic statement,
Follow Hitler! He will dance, but it is I who have called the tune! I have initiated him into the ‘Secret Doctrine’, opened his centres of vision and given him the means to communicate with the Powers. Do not mourn for me: for I shall have influenced history more than any other German.”
Eckhart repeatedly told his fellow adepts in the Thule Group that he had received an occult annunciation, that he was
destined to prepare the vessel of the Aeon, the man inspired by  the higher powers, to conquer the world, and lead the Aryan race to glory“.
With the aid of Eckart, Hitler, in 1921, at age 33 years of age, was totally ‘possessed‘ and prepared to take the leadership of the National Socialist Party.

ÆONS and ARCHETYPES

But what is meant by the term ‘possession‘ ?
One of the manifestations of occult power in the earth-plane is possession of the human consciousness by non-material entities.
This is where an entity supplants the will of an individual, to a greater or lesser degree, and performs its own will in the human consciousness.
This is the essence of the mechanism of possession, and this explains how there are very powerful occult entities influencing human behaviour, and  human events.
Jung considered theses occult entities to be the ‘archetypes‘.
Jung developed an understanding of archetypes as being “ancient or archaic images that derive from the collective unconscious“.
These are different from instincts, as Jung understood instincts as being “an unconscious physical impulse toward actions, and saw the archetypes as the psychic counterpart“.
There are many different archetypes, and Jung has stated they are limitless, but they have been simplified; examples include the ‘persona‘, the ‘shadow’, the ‘anima‘, the ‘animus‘, the ‘great mother’, the ‘wise old man‘, the ‘hero‘, and the ‘self‘ – to name but a few.
Jung proposed that the archetype had a dual nature: it exists both in the psyche, and in the world at large.
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Archetype of Time
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
He called this non-psychic aspect of the archetype the “psychoid” archetype.
He illustrated this by drawing on the analogy of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The part of the spectrum which is visible to us corresponds to the conscious aspects of the archetype.
The invisible infra-red end of the spectrum corresponds to the unconscious biological aspects of the archetype that merges with its chemical and physical conditions.
He suggested that not only do the archetypal structures govern the behaviour of all living organisms, but that they were contiguous with structures controlling the behaviour of inorganic matter as well.
The archetype was not merely a psychic entity, but more fundamentally, a bridge to matter in general.
This theory allows for the existence of independent archetypal entities – occult entities.
Such entities in occult tradition are known as Æons, a class of sentient spiritual beings of varying attributes and powers.
Incarnated Æon
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Their own qualities, the regions they occupy, the dimensions in which they function, and the time-span of their operations, all likewise become actualized, take on independent existence, and form links in the chain of emanation.
The occult spirit hierarchy includes many entities, amongst which, in Gnostic classifications, are Æons, Archons (rulers – archontes) principalities (archat), powers (dynameis), thrones (thronoi), dominions (kuriotetes), and lesser gods (theoi).
The most common spirit entities,  those contacted by Willi and Rudi Schneider of Braunau (see above), are known technically as ‘Daemons’, who are spirit ‘guides‘ – although their guidance is often spurious and malignant, and they sometimes masquerade as the ‘gods‘ themselves (see Plato’s ‘Symposium’).
Daemons, despite their lowly status, are often attributed to nations and races, although such functions properly attach to the Archons.
The most powerful non-material entities are the Æons, which many humans have taken to be ‘gods‘.

A fundamental concept relating to existence is that of a projecting forth (probole), or out-raying of qualities from the divine unity, commonly known as ’emanation’.
The divine unity generates or causes existence, not through the intermediary of another, or an opposite, not by creation, reproduction or evolution, but by a unique manifestation that brings into existence a complex, and at times paradoxical, chain of being, forming a descending hierarchy of spiritual entities.
The divine attributes of the divine unity , that is, the abstract qualities, mental states, spiritual concepts and metaphysical ideas, constituted the divine unity’s thoughts and designs, which lay hidden, known to the divine unity  but unknown to themselves.
Then the divine unity  gave them existence, and they flowed forth from the divine source.
The externalization of the divine attributes in this manner constitutes the first stage of a long process resulting from the overflow, or outpouring, of the fullness (pleroma) of the divine unity.
The entities that emerge from this process are known as Æons, a class of sentient beings of varying attributes and powers.
Their own qualities, the regions they occupy, the dimensions in which they function, and the time-span of their operations, all likewise become actualized, take on independent existence, and form links in the chain of emanation.
In the material world, or ‘Kingdom’, the Æons manifest as Nature.
The Æons may also manifest within the human psyche.
In esoteric terms, the Æons  are not the lifeless idols they are so often accused of being by the spiritually blind and ignorant.
Rather we can see these images as reflections of a greater Unseen.

The Germanic Wotan is one such Æon who is described by Jung (see below) as an independent archetypal entity, which Jung postulated had possessed the person of Adolf Hitler
Wotan ( oʊdɨn; from Old Norse Óðinn) is a major god in Germanic mythology, and the ruler of Asgard.
His name is related to ōðr, meaning “fury, excitation,” besides “mind,” or “poetry.”
His role is complex.
Wotan is a principal member of the Æsir (the major group of the Germanic  pantheon) and is associated with war, battle, victory and death, but also wisdom,  magic, poetry, prophecy, and the hunt.
Most significantly Wotan is cited as the discoverer, or even creator of the sacred runes.
The poem Hávamál describes  how Odin received the runes through self-sacrifice, and how he once sacrificed himself to himself by hanging on the tree Yggdrasill.

The stanza reads:


‘I know that I hung on a windy tree

nine long nights,
wounded with a spear,
dedicated to Wotan,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.’

‘No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes,
screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there.’

‘Wotan’s Wolves’
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
 Huginn and Muninn

Wotan has two ravens, Huginn (from Old Norse “thought”) and Muninn (Old Norse “memory” or “mind”)  that fly all over the world, Midgard, and bring the god Wotan information.

In Germanic mythology, Geri and Freki (Old Norse, both meaning “the ravenous” or “greedy one”) are two wolves which accompany the god Wotan.
They are attested in the Poetic Edda, a collection of epic poetry compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in the poetry of skalds.
The pair has been  connected to beliefs surrounding the Germanic “wolf-warrior bands”, the Úlfhéðnar.




Geri and Freki 

‘Freki and Geri does Heerfather feed,
The far-famed fighter of old:
But on wine alone does the weapon-decked god,
Wotan, forever live.’

And so we come back to the ‘noble wolf’ – Adolf.
Now Jung’s theory about Wotan is very interesting, but it is simplistic.
Wotan is a storm god of war, rage and frenzy, who can ‘seize‘ and ‘posses‘ his followers – but this does not really relate to Hitler’s behaviour, or his conception of himself.
To begin with Hitler envisioned himself as the ‘drummer‘ – a sort of ‘John the Baptist’ figure – preparing the way for a German messiah.
Later he saw himself as ‘Führer‘.

Führer is a German title meaning ‘leader’ or ‘guide’ – someone who ‘shows the way‘.
The word Führer, in the sense of ‘guide’, remains common in German, but because of its strong association with the Third Reich, it comes for some people with some stigma and negative connotations when used as the meaning of leader.
Wotan can be seen in only a very limited sense  as Führer.
Hitler was recorded as having a low opinion of Völkisch followers of Wotan.
If we want to discover Hitler’s own feeling about mythological identification then we have to consider the name he chose for himself – Wolf.
He even used to whistle the song ‘Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf’.
Big Bad Wolf

“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” is a popular song written by Frank Churchill with additional lyrics by Ann Ronell, which originally featured in the 1933 Disney cartoon ‘Three Little Pigs’, where it was sung by Fiddler Pig and Fifer Pig (voiced by Mary Moder and Dorothy Compton) as they arrogantly believe their houses of straw and twigs will protect them from the Big Bad Wolf (voiced by Billy Bletcher). The song’s theme made it a huge hit during the 1930s and it remains one of the most well-known Disney songs, being covered by numerous artists and musical groups.

The Wolf has a long and distinguished career in mythology – and mythology is the haunt of most of the significant archetypes.

The wolf (Canis lupus) is one of the animals that has been most consistently emblematic of Europe, being a common motif in the foundational mythologies and cosmologies of peoples from present-day Spain to far Eastern Europe.
In various European mythologies, the wolf is equated with creativity, fertility and protection, as well as with destruction, usually in association with the sun and the heroes in relation to the Greek god of Belen.
Before the development of farming and agriculture, when hunting and gathering formed the basis of survival, the wolf held a place of great importance.
Some European peoples considered themselves descended from wolves, and thus worshipped the wolf as both a god and an ancestor.
In European Antiquity, seeing a wolf before the beginning of a battle was an omen of victory, the wolf being symbolic both of the hunter and warrior.

Romulus and Remus and the Wolf

According to the Roman tradition, a wolf was responsible for the childhood survival of the future founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.
The twin babies were ordered to be killed by their great uncle Amulius.
The servant ordered to kill them, however, relented and placed the two on the banks of the Tiber river.
The river, which was in flood, rose and gently carried the cradle and the twins downstream, where under the protection of the river deity Tiberinus, they would be adopted by a she-wolf known as Lupa in Latin, an animal sacred to Mars – the god of War.



Fenrir
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Hitler and Blondi

Norse mythology prominently includes three malevolent wolves, in particular: the giant Fenrir, eldest child of Loki and Angrboda who was feared and hated by the Gods.
Fenrir is bound by the gods, but is ultimately destined to grow too large for his bonds and devour Odin during the course of Ragnarök – the Twilight of the Gods – Götterdämmerung, which takes us to Wagner, Hitler’s favourite composer.
Fenrir’s two offspring will according to legend, devour the sun and moon at Ragnarök.
On the other hand, however, the wolves Geri and Freki were the Norse god Odin’s faithful pets, (like Blondi, Hitler’s wolf-hound), who were reputed to be “of good omen.”(see above).
In one mythology, however, the wolf is seen as a guide.

Upuaut
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Egyptian Wolf

In Egyptian mythology, Upuaut, was a deity whose cult centre was Asyut in Upper Egypt (Lycopolis in the Greco-Roman period).
His name means, ‘opener of the ways’.
Upuaut was seen as a scout or guide, going out to clear routes for the army to proceed forward.
One inscription from the Sinai states that  Upuaut “opens the way” to king Sekhemkhet’s victory.
Wepwawet was a wolf deity, thus the Greek name of Lycopolis, meaning city of wolves.
Upuaut was said to accompany the Pharaoh on hunts, in which capacity he was titled ‘the one with sharp arrows, more powerful than the gods’.
Over time, the connection to war, and thus to death, led to Upuaut also being seen as one who opened the ways to, and through, Duat, for the spirits of the dead.

Ancient Egyptian Duat

In Egyptian mythology, Duat (also Tuat and Tuaut) is the underworld. The Duat is a vast area connected with Nun, the waters of the primordial abyss. The Duat is the realm of the god Osiris and the residence of other gods and supernatural beings. It is the region through which the sun god Ra travels from west to east during the night, and where he battled Apep. It also was the place where people’s souls went after death for judgement, though it was not the full extent of the afterlife. Burial chambers formed touching-points between the mundane world and the Duat, and spirits could use tombs to travel back and forth from the Duat.

Carl G Jung

Having shown the connection between Adolf Hitler, (who called himself ‘Wolf’), and the archetype of the wolf, we need now to consider whether such archetypes have any actual existence, and if that is so, whether Adolf Hitler was possessed by such an archetype in the manner that Jung (we would suggest wrongly) thought that Adolf Hitler was possessed by the archetype of Wotan.

Elemental archetypes are said to be created through the power of thought and ritual.

Plato

This theory rests on the belief that the material world is supported and brought into being by a non material mode of existence commonly known as a Platonic World of Forms, (or ‘astral plane’).

Plato’s Theory of Forms asserts that non-material abstract forms, and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.
Plato suggests that these Forms (εἶδος or μορφή) are the only true objects of study that can provide us with genuine knowledge, however, they exist on a non-material plane which some describe as the ‘astral plane’.
The astral plane is intertwined with the quotidian human world and is inhabited by many  entities, including the Platonic Forms and the Archetypes.

Incarnated Aeon

Some suggest that included amongst these entities are ‘nature spirits‘ (elementals),  and ethereal beings immersed in macro divisions of an interwoven universe.

In Gnostic teachings these entities are termed Æons and Archons, but in modern terminology they are often referred to as ἀρχέτυπον (Archetypes).
Numbered among the archetypes are the ‘gods‘ of the ancient religions.

The most universal of these are the ‘divine‘ archetypes of the Egyptian, Roman, Greek and Nordic religions.
We would suggest that if Hitler was possessed, then it was by the Aeon known to the Ancient Egyptians as Upuat.
Upuat was the guide, (führer in German), – leading the devotees to the gods – or to victory.
Assuming this to be the case, it is possible to suggest when this possession took place.

On 2 February 1900 Hitler’s younger brother, Edmund, died of measles.
This had a profound effect on the young Adolf, causing a psychic shock which undermined his previously normal, outgoing and optimistic character.
Up until that time young ‘Adi’ had been a co-operative young boy at home and an excellent student at school .
Subsequently Hitler became a morose, detached, and sullen boy who constantly fought his father and his teachers.
This was undoubtedly the outward manifestation of a turbulent conflict, as the alien entity began to take over the young boy’s psyche, as shown by his unusual behaviour at the time – (speaking to unseen individuals)
The wolf-like entity, while lying dormant did however, reveal itself in one significant way.
To quote Gustav Kubizek, Hitler’s only friend:

‘In this countenance the eyes were so outstanding that one didn’t notice anything else.
Never in my life have I seen any other person whose appearance – how shall I put it – was so completely dominated by the eyes.
They were the light eyes of his mother, but her somewhat staring, penetrating gaze was even more marked in the son and had even more force and expressiveness.
It was uncanny how these eyes could change their expression, especially when Adolf was speaking.
To me his sonorous voice meant much less than the expression of his eyes.
In fact, Adolf spoke with his eyes, and even when his lips were silent one knew what he wanted to say.
When he first came to our house and I introduced him to my mother, she said to me in the evening, “What eyes your friend has!”
And I remember quite distinctly that there was more fear than admiration in her words.
If I am asked where one could perceive, in his youth, this man’s exceptional qualities, I can only answer, “In the eyes.”

Many years passed, however, before the ‘entity’ was finally able to speak through Hitler for the first time.
It was in 1905, and Hitler had just seen the opera ‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’ by Richard Wagner at the Linz Opera House.

‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’  – (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes) is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Bulwer-Lytton’s novel of the same name (1835). The title is commonly shortened to Rienzi. Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden, on 20 October 1842, and was the composer’s first success.
The opera is set in Rome and is based on the life of Cola di Rienzi (1313–1354), a late medieval Italian populist figure who succeeds in outwitting and then defeating the nobles and their followers and in raising the power of the people.
Magnanimous at first, he is forced by events to crush the nobles’ rebellion against the people’s power, but popular opinion changes and even the Church, which had urged him to assert himself, turns against him. In the end the populace burns the Capitol, in which Rienzi and a few adherents have made a last stand.

That was the catalyst that revealed his possession and his subsequent role as führer.

 Gustav Kubizek

Fortunately Gustav Kubizek, Hitler’s boyhood friend, was with Hitler at the time, and later recorded the event for posterity.
According to Kubizek :

It was a cold, unpleasant November evening.
Hitler waved to me impatiently. I was just cleaning myself up from the workshop and getting ready to go to the theatre.
‘Rienzi’ was being given that night.
We had never seen this Wagner opera and looked forward to it with great excitement. In order to secure the pillars in the Promenade we had to be early.
Adolf whistled, to hurry me up.

 ‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’ 

Now we were in the theatre, burning with enthusiasm, and living breathlessly through Rienzi’s rise to be the Tribune of the people of Rome and his subsequent downfall.
When at last it was over, it was past midnight.
My friend, his hands thrust into his coat pockets, silent and withdrawn, strode through the streets and out of the city.
Usually, after an artistic experience that had moved him, he would start talking straight away, sharply criticizing the performance, but after Rienzi he remained quiet a long while. This surprised me, and I asked him what he thought of it. He threw me a strange, almost hostile glance. “Shut up !” he said brusquely.
The cold, damp mist lay oppressively over the narrow streets.
Our solitary steps resounded on the pavement. Adolf took the road that led up to the Freinberg. Without speaking a word, he strode forward. He looked almost sinister, and paler than ever. His turned-up coat collar increased this impression.
I wanted to ask him, “Where are you going ?” But his pallid face looked so forbidding that I suppressed the question.
As if propelled by an invisible force, Adolf climbed up to the top of the Freinberg.
And only now did I realize that we were no longer in solitude and darkness, for the stars shone brilliantly above us.
Adolf stood in front of me; and now he gripped both my hands and held them tight.
He had never made such a gesture before.
I felt from the grasp of his hands how deeply moved he was.
His eyes were feverish with excitement.
The words did not come smoothly from his mouth as they usually did, but rather erupted, hoarse and raucous.
From his voice I could tell even more how much this experience had shaken him.
Gradually his speech loosened, and the words flowed more freely.
Never before and never again have I heard Adolf Hitler speak as he did in that hour, as we stood there alone under the stars, as though we were the only creatures in the world.
I cannot repeat every word that my friend uttered.
I was struck by something strange, which I had never noticed before, even when he had talked to me in moments of the greatest excitement.
It was as if another being spoke out of his body, and moved him as much as it did me.
It wasn’t at all a case of a speaker being carried away by his own words.
On the contrary; I rather felt as though he himself listened with astonishment and emotion to what burst forth from him with elementary force.
I will not attempt to interpret this phenomenon, but it was a state of complete ecstasy and rapture, in which he transferred the character of Rienzi, without even mentioning him as a model or example, with visionary power to the plane of his own ambitions.
But it was more than a cheap adaptation. Indeed, the impact of the opera was rather a sheer external impulse which compelled him to speak.
Like flood waters breaking their dikes, his words burst forth from him.
He conjured up in grandiose, inspiring pictures his own future and that of his people.
Hitherto I had been convinced that my friend wanted to become an artist, a painter, or perhaps an architect. Now this was no longer the case.
Now he aspired to something higher, which I could not yet fully grasp.
It rather surprised me, as I thought that the vocation of the artist was for him the highest, most desirable goal, but now he was talking of a mandate which, one day, he would receive from the people, to lead them out of servitude to the heights of freedom.
It was an unknown youth who spoke to me in that strange hour.
He spoke of a special mission which one day would be entrusted to him, and I, his only listener, could hardly understand what he meant.

This, it seems, was an eruption of the dæmonic, of the hidden Æon, that was triggered by the intense stimulus of Wagner’s opera, combined with Hitler’s obvious frustrations with his somewhat pointless life in Linz.
Subsequently the ‘possessing entity’ was less obviously active – but was undoubtedly responsible for the way Hitler managed to survive the many difficulties he encountered in Vienna.
However, while living in Vienna Hitler’s mental state took a a turn for the worse.
He increasingly demonstrated obvious signs of mental instability, including instances of pressured, grandiose speech, and an inability to sleep for days on end.
It was not uncommon for Adolf to suddenly begin haranguing even complete strangers with violent speeches, which would end as abruptly as they began (Payne, Shirer ).
Adolf might be reading the newspaper and then suddenly erupt, or he could be lounging in the shelter or the lobby of the Mannerheim, slumped in a somewhat stuporous state, only to suddenly jerk upright, raging, and making accusatory and political speeches in the presence of astonished strangers.
He appeared to be suffering from a manic-depressive psychosis, which waxed and waned in severity.
Also, in this period, Hitler believed his thoughts could penetrate walls, or that he could communicate with others by thought alone – which suggests he may have been delusional and hearing voices.
These symptoms, of course, were examples of his adult psyche struggling to accommodate and come to terms with the non-human intelligence which was beginning to control him. 
Later, when Hitler had adjusted to the entity, it gave Hitler the ‘lupine’, (from ‘canis lupus‘ – referring to the wolf), instincts that enabled him to survive the appalling vicissitudes of trench warfare.
For example, he relates the following experience during the first World War.

I was eating dinner in a trench with several comrades.
Suddenly a voice seemed to be saying to me, “Get up and go over there.”
It was so clear and insistent that I obeyed automatically.
I rose to my feet and walked twenty yards.
Then I sat down to go on eating.
Hardly had I done so when a flash and deafening report came from the part of the trench I had just left. Every member in it was killed.’ (Price)

Then, once again, the ‘entity’ didn’t just ‘guide‘, but appeared.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

In October Hitler was blinded in a gas attack at Ypres, and subsequently sent to a military hospital at Pasewalk, a small town north-east of Berlin.
In ‘Mein Kampf’ Hitler describes, in detail, his physical pain along with the anguish and despair he felt when he learned of Germany’s defeat.
While initially the effects of his gassing must have caused him considerable pain, what he fails to tell us is that once the physical pain had subsided, he found himself in a prolonged state of sensory deprivation; known to para-psychologists as ‘the ganzfeld effect’; confined to his bed, unable to see and in the hushed atmosphere of a hospital ward.
Compared to the living hell of the front, with its screaming shells combining with the screams of the mutilated and dying, and the everlasting thundering of the guns, Hitler’s new silent, stimulus free environment was tailor-made for the psychic experience that came to him.
According to Hitler, he experienced a ‘vision‘ from ‘another world‘ (the ‘astral plane‘ inhabited by the Æons) 
while at the hospital.
It was not a vision in the form of a ‘wolf’, however, but rather in the form of the Übermensch.

The Exaltation of the Human Race
Thule Gesellschaft

In that vision, Hitler was told that he would lead Germany back to glory so that he would then be able to
perform an act of creation, a divine operation, the goal of a biological mutation which would result in an unprecedented exaltation of the human race and the appearance of a new race of heroes, demi-gods and god-men.’
After this eruption of the dæmonic (dæmon in this usage refers to a non-material entity – it is not related to the christian term ‘demon’), Hitler was left alone to pursue his post war activities, until his involvement in both the German Workers Party, and more significantly, the Thule Gesellschaft.
It is at this point that the predatory instincts of the ‘wolf’ begin to manifest, as Hitler ousted Karl Harrer and Anton Drexler, and took over effective leadership of the Party.


________________________________________

Carl G Jung

Carl G Jung
Carl Gustav Jung  (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961) was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology.
Jung proposed and developed the concepts of the ‘extroverted’ and the ‘introverted’ personality, ‘archetypes’, and the ‘collective unconscious’.
His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, literature, and related fields.
Individuation is the central concept of analytical psychology.
Jung considered ‘individuation’, the psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious while still maintaining their relative autonomy, to be the central process of human development.
Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts, including the ‘archetype’, the ‘collective unconscious’, the ‘complex’, and ‘synchronicity’.
Jung saw the human psyche as “by nature religious“, and made this religiosity the focus of his explorations.
Jung is one of the best known contemporary contributors to dream analysis and symbolization.
Though he was a practising clinician and considered himself to be a scientist, much of his life’s work was spent exploring tangential areas, including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, and sociology, as well as literature and the arts.
His interest in philosophy and the occult led many to view him as a mystic.


With regard to Adolf Hitler Jung stated that:
Hitler seemed like the ‘double’ of a real person, as if Hitler the man might be hiding inside, and deliberately so concealed in order not to disturb the mechanism…. You know you could never talk to this man; because there is nobody there…. It is not an individual; it is an entire nation.’

This essay by Jung is included in order to show that the concept of  psychic possession was considered a real possibility by one of the most astute academic minds of the time.
Unfortunately, Jung did not have much of the information about Hitler that has since become available – and this may account for the fact that he was mistaken in his identification of Wotan as the entity that was responsible for the possession of Hitler, however, many of his insights into Hitler and his relationship with the German people are highly relevant and revealing.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Carl Gustav Jung

First published as ‘Wotan, Neue Schweizer Rundschau’ (Zurich). n.s. –  III March, 1936

Carl Gustav Jung
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

When we look back to the time before 1914, we find ourselves living in a world of events which would have been inconceivable before the war.

We were even beginning to regard war between civilized nations as a fable, thinking that such an absurdity would become less and less possible in our rational, internationally organized world.
And what came after the war was a veritable witches’ Sabbath.
Everywhere fantastic revolutions, violent alterations of the map, reversions in politics to medieval or even antique prototypes, totalitarian states that engulf their neighbours and outdo all previous theocracies in their absolutist claims, persecutions of Christians and Jews, wholesale political murder, and finally we have witnessed a light-hearted piratical raid on a peaceful, half-civilized people.
With such goings on in the wide world it is not in the least surprising that there should be equally curious manifestations on a smaller scale in other spheres.
In the realm of philosophy we shall have to wait some time before anyone is able to assess the kind of age that we are living in.
But in the sphere of religion we can see at once that some very significant things have been happening.
We need feel no surprise that in Russia the colourful splendours of the Eastern Orthodox Church have been superseded by the ‘Movement of the Godless’ – indeed, one breathed a sigh of relief oneself when one emerged from the haze of an Orthodox church with its multitude of lamps and entered an honest mosque, where the sublime and invisible omnipresence of God was not crowded out by a superfluity of sacred paraphernalia.
Tasteless and pitiably unintelligent as it is, and however deplorable the low spiritual level of the “Scientific” reaction, it was inevitable that nineteenth-century “scientific” enlightenment should one day dawn in Russia.
But what is more than curious – indeed, piquant to a degree – is that an ancient God of storm and frenzy, the long quiescent Wotan, should awake, like an extinct volcano, to new activity.

Wandervogel auf dem Berggipfel
Deutsch Jugendbewegung
We have seen him come to life in the ‘German Youth Movement’, and right at the beginning the blood of several sheep was shed in honour of his resurrection.
Armed with rucksack and lute, blond youths, and sometimes girls as well, were to be seen as restless wanderers on every road from North Cape to Sicily, faithful votaries of the roving god.
Later, towards the end of the Weimar Republic, the wandering role was taken over by thousands of unemployed, who were to be met with everywhere on their aimless journeys.

Wandervogel Jungen Camp
Nackt Wandervogel Jungen
By 1933 they wandered no longer, but marched in their hundreds of thousands.
The Hitler movement literally brought the whole of Germany to its feet, from five-year-olds to veterans, and produced a spectacle of a nation migrating from one place to another.
Wotan the wanderer was on the move.
He could be seen, looking rather shamefaced, in the meeting-house of a sect of simple folk in North Germany, disguised as Christ sitting on a white horse.
I do not know if these people were aware of Wotan’s ancient connection with the figures of Christ and Dionysus, but it is not very probable.
Wotan is a restless wanderer who creates unrest and stirs up strife, now here, now there, and works magic.

Wotan
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Franz von Stuck – ‘Die Wilde Jagd’
He was soon changed by Christianity into the devil, and only lived on in fading local traditions as a ghostly hunter who was seen with his retinue, flickering like a will o’ the wisp through the stormy night.
The German youths who celebrated the solstice with sheep-sacrifices were not the first to hear the rustling in the primeval forest of unconsciousness.





Stefan George
Nietzsche
They were anticipated by Nietzsche, Schuler, Stefan George, and Ludwig Klages.
The literary tradition of the Rhineland and the country south of the Main has a classical stamp that cannot easily be got rid of; every interpretation of intoxication and exuberance is apt to be taken back to classical models, to Dionysus, to the peur aeternus and the cosmogonic Eros.
No doubt it sounds better to academic ears to interpret these things as Dionysus, but Wotan might be a more correct interpretation.
He is the god of the storm and frenzy, the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle; moreover he is superlative magician and artist in illusion who is versed in all secrets of an occult nature. Nietzsche’s case is certainly a peculiar one.

Also Sprach Zarathustra
He had no knowledge of Germanic literature; he discovered the “cultural Philistine”; and the announcement that “God is dead” led to Zarathustra’s meeting with an unknown god in unexpected form, who approached him sometimes as an enemy and sometimes disguised as Zarathustra himself.
Zarathustra, too, was a soothsayer, a magician, and the storm-wind.
 ‘And like a wind shall I come to blow among them, and with my spirit shall take away the breath of their spirit; thus my future wills it. Truly, a strong wind is Zarathustra to all that are low; and this counsel gives he to his enemies and to all that spit and spew: “Beware of spitting against the wind.” And when Zarathustra dreamed that he was guardian of the graves in the “lone mountain forest of death,” and was making a mighty effort to open the gates, suddenly a roaring wind tore the gates asunder; whistling, shrieking, and keening, it cast a black coffin before me. And amid the roaring and whistling and shrieking the coffin burst open and spouted a thousand peals of laughter. The disciple who interpreted the dream said to Zarathustra: Are you not yourself the wind with shrill whistling, which bursts open the gates of the fortress of death? Are you not yourself the coffin filled with life’s gay malice and angel-grimaces ?

In 1863 or 1864, in his poem:
To the Unknown God’, Nietzsche had written: ‘I shall and will know thee, Unknown One, Who searchest out the depths of my soul, And blowest through my life like a storm, Ungraspable, and yet my kinsman! I shall and will know thee, and serve thee. Twenty years later, in his Mistral Song, he wrote: Mistral wind, chaser of clouds, Killer of gloom, sweeper of the skies, Raging storm-wind, how I love thee! Are we not both the first-fruits Of the same womb, forever predestined To the same fate ?

In the dithyramb known as Ariadne’s Lament, Nietzsche is completely the victim of the hunter-god:
Stretched out, shuddering, Like a half-dead thing whose feet are warmed, Shaken by unknown fevers, Shivering with piercing icy frost arrows Hunted by thee, O thought, Unutterable! Veiled! Horrible one! Thou huntsman behind the cloud. Struck down by thy lightening bolt, Thou mocking eye that stares at me from the dark! Thus I lie. Writhing, twisted, tormented With all eternal tortures. Smitten By thee, cruel huntsman, Thou unknown – God !

Elizabeth Nietzsche
Schulpforta
This remarkable image of the ‘hunter-god’ is not a mere dithyrambic figure of speech but is based on an experience which Nietzsche had when he was fifteen years old, at Pforta.
It is described in a book by Nietzsche’s sister, Elizabeth Foerster-Nietzsche.
As he was wandering in a gloomy wood at night, he was terrified by a “blood-curdling shriek from a neighbouring lunatic asylum,” and soon afterwards he came face to face with a huntsman whose “features were wild and uncanny.”
Setting his whistle to his lips “in a valley surrounded by wild scrub,” the huntsman “blew such as a shrill blast” that Nietzsche lost consciousness – but woke up again in Pforta.
It was a nightmare.
It is significant that in his dream Nietzsche, who in reality intended to go to Eisleben, Luther’s town, discussed with the huntsman the question of going instead to “Teutschenthal” (Valley of the Germans).

Reich ohne Raum
Richard Wagner
No one with ears can misunderstand the shrill whistling of the storm-god in the nocturnal wood.
Was it really only the classical philologist in Nietzsche that led to the god being called Dionysus instead of Wotan – or was it perhaps due to his fateful meeting with Wagner ?
In his ‘Reich ohne Raum’, which was first published in 1919, Bruno Goetz saw the secret of coming events in Germany in the form of a very strange vision.
I have never forgotten this little book, for it struck me at the time as a forecast of the German weather.
It anticipates the conflict between the realm of ideas and life, between Wotan’s dual nature as a god of storm and a god of secret musings.
Wotan disappeared when his oaks fell and appeared again when the Christian God proved too weak to save Christendom from fratricidal slaughter.
Arms of the Holy See
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
 Sleipnir
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
When the Holy Father at Rome could only impotently lament before God the fate of the grex segregatus (separated flock), the one-eyed old hunter, on the edge of the German forest, laughed and saddled Sleipnir.

In Norse mythology, Sleipnir  is an eight-legged horse. Sleipnir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Sleipnir is Odin’s steed, is the child of Loki and Svaðilfari, is described as the best of all horses, and is sometimes ridden to the location of Hel. The Prose Edda contains extended information regarding the circumstances of Sleipnir’s birth, and details that he is grey in color.


We are always convinced that the modern world is a reasonable world, basing our opinion on economic, political, and psychological factors, but if we may forget for a moment and lay aside our well-meaning, all-too human reasonableness, may burden God or the gods with the responsibility for contemporary events instead of man, we would find Wotan quite suitable as a casual hypothesis.
In fact, I venture the heretical suggestion that the unfathomable depths of Wotan’s character explain more of Völkisch philosophy than all three reasonable factors put together.
There is no doubt that each of these factors explains an important aspect of what is going on in Germany, but Wotan explains yet more.
He is particularly enlightening in regard to a general phenomenon, which is so strange to anybody not a German that it remains incomprehensible, even after the deepest reflection. Perhaps we may sum up this general phenomenon as ‘Ergriffenheit’ – a state of being seized or possessed.
The term postulates not only an ‘Ergriffener’ (one who is seized) but, also, an ‘Ergreifer’ (one who seizes).
Wotan is an ‘Ergreifer’ of men, and, unless one wishes to deify Hitler – which has indeed actually happened – he is really the only explanation.
It is true that Wotan shares this quality with his cousin Dionysus, but Dionysus seems to have exercised his influence mainly on women.
The maenads were a species of female ‘storm-troopers’, and, according to mythical reports, were dangerous enough.
Wotan confined himself to the ‘berserkers’, who found their vocation as the Blackshirts of mythical kings.
A mind that is still childish thinks of the gods as metaphysical entities existing in their own right, or else regards them as playful or superstitious inventions.
From either point of view the parallel between ‘Wotan redivivus’ (come back to life; revived) and the social, political, and psychic storm that is shaking Germany might have at least the value of parable.
But since the ‘gods’ are without doubt personifications of psychic forces, to assert their metaphysical existence is as much an intellectual presumption as the opinion that they could ever be invented.
Not that “psychic forces” have anything to do with the conscious mind, fond as we are of playing with the idea that consciousness and psyche are identical.
This is only another piece of intellectual presumption.
“Psychic forces” have far more to do with the realm of the unconscious.
Our mania for rational explanations obviously has its roots in our fear of metaphysics, for the two were always hostile brothers.
Hence, anything unexpected that approaches us from the dark realm is regarded either as coming from outside and, therefore, as real, or else as a hallucination and, therefore, not true.
The idea that anything could be real or true which does not come from outside has hardly begun to dawn on contemporary man.
For the sake of better understanding and to avoid prejudice, we could of course dispense with the name “Wotan” and speak instead of the ‘furor Teutonicus’ (furor – violent anger or frenzy; a state of intense excitement).
But we should only be saying the same thing and not as well, for the furor in this case is a mere psychologizing of Wotan and tells us no more than that the Germans are in a state of “fury.”
We thus lose sight of the most peculiar feature of this whole phenomenon, namely, the dramatic aspect of the ‘Ergreifer’ and the ‘Ergriffener’.
The impressive thing about the German phenomenon is that one man, who is obviously “possessed,” has infected a whole nation to such an extent that everything is set in motion and has started rolling on its course towards perdition.
It seems to me that Wotan hits the mark as an hypothesis.
Apparently he really was only asleep in the Kyffhauser mountain until the ravens called him and announced the break of day.

Kyffhäuser Berg

The Kyffhäuser is a range of hills located on the border of the German state of Thuringia with Saxony-Anhalt. It stands on the southern edge of the Harz. The range has a length of 19 kilometres (12 mi) and a width of 7 kilometres (4.3 mi). It reaches its highest point at the Kulpenberg (473.4 metres (1,553 ft)), situated in Thuringia. The Kyffhäuser has significance in German traditional mythology as the resting place of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who drowned on June 10, 1190 in the Göksu River near Silifke during the Third Crusade.


He is a fundamental attribute of the German psyche, an irrational psychic factor which acts on the high pressure of civilization like a cyclone and blows it away.
Despite their apparent crankiness, the Wotan-worshippers seem to have judged things more correctly than the worshippers of reason.
Apparently everyone had forgotten that Wotan is a Germanic ‘datum’ of first importance, the trust expression and unsurpassed personification of a fundamental quality that is particularly characteristic of the Germans.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain is a symptom which arouses suspicion that other veiled gods may be sleeping elsewhere.

‘Walküre’
Alexander Rothaug
Houston Stewart Chamberlain
The emphasis on the German race – commonly called “Aryan” – the Germanic heritage, blood and soil, the Wagalaweia songs, the ride of the Valkyries, Jesus as a blond and blue-eyed hero, the Greek mother of St. Paul, the devil as an international Alberich in Jewish or Masonic guise, the Nordic aurora borealis as the light of civilization, the inferior Mediterranean races – all this is the indispensable scenery for the drama that is taking place and at the bottom they all mean the same thing: a god has taken possession of the Germans and their house is filled with a “mighty rushing wind.”
It was soon after Hitler seized power that a cartoon appeared in Punch of a raving berserker tearing himself free from his bonds.
A hurricane has broken loose in Germany while we still believe it is fine weather.
Things are comparatively quite in Switzerland, though occasionally there is a puff of wind from the north or south.
Sometimes it has a slightly ominous sound, sometimes it whispers so harmlessly or even idealistically that no one is alarmed.
Let the sleeping dogs lie” – we manage to get along pretty well with this proverbial wisdom.
It is sometimes said that the Swiss are singularly averse to making a problem of themselves.
I must rebut this accusation: the Swiss do have their problems, but they would not admit it for anything in the world, even though they see which way the wind is blowing.
We thus pay our tribute to the time of storm and stress in Germany, but we never mention it, and this enables us to feel vastly superior.
It is above all the Germans who have an opportunity, perhaps unique in history, to look into their own hearts and to learn what those perils of the soul were from which Christianity tried to rescue mankind.

Germany is a land of spiritual catastrophes, where nature never makes more than a pretence of peace with the world-ruling reason.
The disturber of the peace is a wind that blows into Europe from Asia’s vastness, sweeping in on a wide front from Thrace to the Baltic, scattering the nations before it like dry leaves, or inspiring thoughts that shake the world to its foundations.
It is an elemental Dionysus breaking into the Apollonian order.
The rouser of this Tempest is named Wotan, and we can learn a good deal about him from the political confusion and spiritual upheaval he has caused throughout history.
For a more exact investigation of his character, however, we must go back to the age of myths, which did not explain everything in terms of man and his limited capabilities, but sought the deeper cause in the psyche and its autonomous powers.
Man’s earliest intuitions personified these powers as ‘gods’, and described them in the myths with great care and circumstantiality, according to their various characters.
This could be done the more readily on account of the firmly established primordial types or images which are innate in the unconscious of many races and exercise a direct influence upon them.
Because the behaviour of a race takes on its specific character from its underlying images, we can speak of an archetype “Wotan.”

An archetype is a universally understood symbol, term, statement, or pattern of behaviour, –  a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated.

Archetypes are often used in myths and storytelling across different cultures.
In Jung’s psychological framework, archetypes are innate, universal prototypes for ideas and may be used to interpret observations. A group of memories and interpretations associated with an archetype is a complex ( e.g. a mother complex associated with the mother archetype). Jung treated the archetypes as psychological organs, analogous to physical ones in that both are morphological constructs that arose through evolution.

As an autonomous psychic factor, Wotan produces effects in the collective life of a people and thereby reveals his own nature.

For Wotan has a peculiar biology of his own, quite apart from the nature of man.
It is only from time to time that individuals fall under the irresistible influence of this unconscious factor.
When it is quiescent, one is no more aware of the archetype Wotan than of a latent epilepsy. Could the Germans who were adults in 1914 have foreseen what they would be today ?
Such amazing transformations are the effect of the god of wind, that “bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth.” It seizes everything in its path and overthrows everything that is not firmly rooted.
When the wind blows it shakes everything that is insecure, whether without or within.
Martin Ninck has recently published a monograph which is a most welcome addition to our knowledge of Wotan’s nature.
The reader need not fear that this book is nothing but a scientific study written with academic aloofness from the subject. Certainly the right to scientific objectivity is fully preserved, and the material has been collected with extraordinary thoroughness and presented in unusually clear form. But, over and above all this, one feels that the author is vitally interested in it, that the chord of Wotan is vibrating in him, too.
This is no criticism – on the contrary, it is one of the chief merits of the book, which without this enthusiasm might easily have degenerated into a tedious catalogue.
Ninck sketches a really magnificent portrait of the German archetype Wotan.
He describes him in ten chapters, using all the available sources, as the berserker, the god of storm, the wanderer, the warrior, the Wunsch- (wish) and Minne -god, the lord of the dead and of the Einherjar, the master of secret knowledge, the magician, and the god of the poets. Neither the Valkyries nor the Fylgja (a supernatural being or creature which accompanies a person in connection to their fate or fortune) are forgotten, for they form part of the mythological background and fateful significance of Wotan.
Ninck’s inquiry into the name and its origin is particularly instructive.

Wotan’s Runes
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012
Mercury

He shows that Wotan is not only a god of rage and frenzy, who embodies the instinctual and emotional aspect of the unconscious.
Its intuitive and inspiring side, also, manifests itself in him, for he understands the runes and can interpret fate.
The Romans identified Wotan with Mercury, but his character does not really corresponded to any Roman or Greek god, although there are certain resemblances.
He is a wanderer like Mercury, for instance, he rules over the dead like Pluto and Kronos, and is connected with Dionysus by his emotional frenzy, particularly in its mantic aspect.
It is surprising that Ninck does not mention Hermes, the god of revelation, who as ‘pneuma’ (ancient Greek for breath, spirit or soul) and ‘nous’ (Greek – intellect or intelligence) is associated with the wind.
He would be the connecting-link with the Christian ‘pneuma’ and the miracle of Pentecost.
As Poimandres (the shepherd of men), Hermes is an ‘Ergreifer’ like Wotan.
Ninck rightly points out that Dionysus and the other Greek gods always remained under the supreme authority of Zeus, which indicates a fundamental difference between the Greek and Germanic temperament.
Ninck assumes an inner affinity between Wotan and Kronos, and the latter’s defeat may perhaps be a sign that the Wotan-archetype was once overcome and split up in prehistoric times.
At all events, the Germanic god represents a totality on a very primitive level, – a psychological condition in which man’s will was almost identical with the god’s and entirely at his mercy.
But the Greeks had gods who helped man against other gods; indeed, ‘All-Father’ Zeus himself is not far from the ideal of a benevolent, enlightened despot.
It was not in Wotan’s nature to linger on, and show signs of old age.
He simply disappeared when the times turned against him, and remained invisible for more than a thousand years, working anonymously and indirectly.
Archetypes are like riverbeds which dry up when the water deserts them, but which it can find again at any-time. 
An archetype is like an old watercourse along which the water of life has flowed for centuries, digging a deep channel for itself.
The longer it has flowed in this channel the more likely it is that sooner or later the water will return to its old bed.
The life of the individual as a member of society and particularly as a part of the state may be regulated like a canal, but the life of nations is a great rushing river which is utterly beyond human control, in the hands of ‘One’ who has always been stronger than men.
The League of Nations, which was supposed to possess supernatural authority, is regarded by some as a child in need of care and protection, by others as an abortion.
Thus, the life of nations rolls on unchecked, without guidance, unconscious of where it is going, like a rock crashing down the side of a hill, until it is stopped by an obstacle stronger than itself. Political events move from one impasse to the next, like a torrent caught in gullies, creeks and marshes.
All human control comes to an end when the individual is caught in a mass movement.
Then, the archetypes begin to function, as happens, also, in the lives of individuals when they are confronted with situations that cannot be dealt with in any of the familiar ways.
But what a so-called Führer does with a mass movement can plainly be seen if we turn our eyes to the north or south of our country.
The ruling archetype does not remain the same forever, as is evident from the temporal limitations that have been set to the hoped-for reign of peace, the “thousand-year Reich.”
The Mediterranean father-archetype of the just, order-loving, benevolent ruler had been shattered over the whole of northern Europe, as the present fate of the Christian churches bears witness.
Fascism in Italy and the civil war in Spain show that in the south as well the cataclysm has been far greater than one expected.
Even the Catholic Church can no longer afford trials of strength.
The nationalist God has attacked Christianity on a broad front.

Deutsche Glaubensbewegung

In Russia, he is called technology and science, in Italy, ‘Duce’ (leader), and in Germany, ‘Deutsch Glaube’ (German Faith), ‘German Christianity’, or the State.
“The German Christians” are a contradiction in many terms, and would do better to join Hauer’s ‘Deutsche Glaubensbewegung’ (German Faith Movement).
These are decent and well-meaning people who honestly admit their ‘Ergriffenheit’ and try to come to terms with this new and undeniable fact.
They go to an enormous amount of trouble to make it look less alarming by dressing it up in a conciliatory historical garb and giving us consoling glimpses of great figures such as Meister Eckhart, who was, also, a German and, also, ‘ergriffen’.
In this way the awkward question of who the Ergreifer is is circumvented.
He was always “God.”
But the more Hauer restricts the world-wide sphere of Indo-European culture to the “Nordic” in general and to the ‘Edda’ in particular, and the more “German” this faith becomes as a manifestation of ‘Ergriffenheit’, the more painfully evident it is that the “German” god is the god of the Germans.
One cannot read Hauer’s book without emotion, if one regards it as the tragic and really heroic effort of a conscientious scholar who, without knowing how it happened to him, was violently summoned by the inaudible voice of the ‘Ergreifer’ and is now trying with all his might, and with all his knowledge and ability, to build a bridge between the dark forces of life and the shining world of historical ideas.
But what do all the beauties of the past from totally different levels of culture mean to the man of today, when confronted with a living and unfathomable tribal god such as he has never experienced before ?
They are sucked like dry leaves into the roaring whirlwind, and the rhythmic alliterations of the ‘Edda’ became inextricably mixed up with Christian mystical texts, German poetry and the wisdom of the Upanishads.
Hauer himself is ‘ergriffen’ by the depths of meaning in the primal words lying at the root of the Germanic languages, to an extent that he certainly never knew before.
Hauer the Indologist is not to blame for this, nor yet the ‘Edda’; it is rather the fault of kairos – ‘the present moment in time’ – whose name on closer investigation turns out to be Wotan.
I would, therefore, advise the ‘German Faith Movement’ to throw aside their scruples.
Intelligent people will not confuse them with the crude Wotan-worshipers whose faith is a mere pretense.

Jakob Wilhelm Hauer
Emblem of the
Deutsche Glaubensbewegung
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012

The Deutsche Glaubensbewegung was closely associated with Jakob Wilhelm Hauer during the Third Reich (1933–1945), and sought to move Germany away from Christianity towards a religion based on “immediate experience” of God. Hauer was a professor at the University of Tübingen.

Instead of the Bible,[citation needed] a combination of Indian (Hindu)[citation needed] and German literature was used as scripture. Hauer had worked as a missionary in India and was influenced in particular by the Bhagavad Gita[citation needed]. Ceremonies of the movement involved sermons, German classical music and political hymns.
Hauer was considered by contemporary observers as a genuinely religious man, though his political sentiments were also commented on.
The movement had around 200,000 followers at its height. Following the Nazi accession to power, it obtained rights of civil tolerance from Rudolf Hess, but never the preferential treatment from the Third Reich, for which Hauer campaigned.
The development of the German Faith Movement revolved around four main themes:
the propagation of the ‘blood and soil’ ideology
the replacement of Christian ceremonies by pagan equivalents; the most favoured pagan deity being the sun, as can be seen from the flag of the faith movement
the rejection of Christian ethics
the cult of Hitler’s personality.
Similar movements have remained active in Germany since 1945 outside mainstream educational and social structures.

There are people in the ‘German Faith Movement’ who are intelligent enough not only to believe, but to know, that the god of the Germans is Wotan and not the Christian God.
This is a tragic experience and no disgrace.
It has always been terrible to fall into the hands of a living god.
Yahweh was no exception to this rule, and the Philistines, Edomites, Amorites, and the rest, who were outside the Yahweh experience, must certainly have found it exceedingly disagreeable.
The Semitic experience of Allah was for a long time an extremely painful affair for the whole of Christendom.
We who stand outside judge the Germans far too much, as if they were responsible agents, but perhaps it would be nearer the truth to regard them, also, as victims.
If we apply our admittedly peculiar point of view consistently, we are driven to conclude that Wotan must, in time, reveal not only the restless, violent, stormy side of his character, but, also, his ecstatic and mantic qualities (relating to, or having the power of divination) – a very different aspect of his nature.
If this conclusion is correct, National Socialism would not be the last word.
Things must be concealed in the background which we cannot imagine at present, but we may expect them to appear in the course of the next few years or decades.
Wotan’s reawakening is stepping into the past; the stream was dammed up and has broken into its old channel.
But the Obstruction will not last forever; it is rather a reculer pour mieux sauter, (go back to have a better jump) and the water will over-leap the obstacle.
Then, at last, we shall know what Wotan is saying when  he “murmurs with Mimir’s head.

Mímir (Old Norse “The rememberer, the wise one”) is a figure in Norse mythology renowned for his knowledge and wisdom, who is beheaded during the Æsir-Vanir War.

Afterward, the god Odin carries around Mímir’s head, and it recites secret knowledge and counsel to him.

WOTAN

„Ich gehe manchmal in rauhen Nächten 
Zur Wotanseiche in den stillen Hain, 
Mit dunklen Mächten einen Bund zu flechten – 
Die Runen zaubert mir der Mondenschein. 


Und alle, die am Tage sich erfrechten, 

Sie werden vor der Zauberformel klein! 
Sie ziehen blank – doch statt den Strauß zu flechten, 
Erstarren sie zu Stalagmitgestein. 


So scheiden sich die Falschen von den Echten – 

Ich greife in das Fibelnest hinein 
Und gebe dann den Guten und Gerechten 
Mit meiner Formel Segen und Gedeihn.“


Adolf Hitler 1915
I often go on bitter nights 
To Wotan’s oak in the quiet glade 
With dark powers to weave a union— 
The runic letters the moon makes with its magic spell

And all who are full of impudence during the day 
Are made small by the magic formula! 
They draw shining steel—but instead of going into combat 
They solidify into stalagmites. 

So the false ones part from the real ones— 
I reach into a nest of words 
And then give to the good and just 
With my formula blessings and prosperity.


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©© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012