CHAPTER 6: The Savage Messiah
The driving force behind black magic is hunger for power.... the black magician's ambition is to wield supreme power over the entire universe, to make himself a god.
-- Richard Cavendish, The Black Arts
Sebottendorff's Fuhrerprinzip is basic to esoteric cults. The disciple must blindly obey his master, who not only has secret knowledge, hidden from the initiate, but who must create favorable conditions in which his pupil can undergo a drastic change. This allows for actions which violate individual conscience.
Of course, the principle of blind obedience operates outside occult groups as well. The tendency is often seen in everyday institutions: military, governmental, corporate. Soldiers of every army have it drilled into them never to refuse an order. Mylai is one of the results. And this follow-the-leader syndrome certainly played a part in Watergate. Stanley Milgram's experiments in obedience to authority among university students demonstrated the alarming willingness of the average person to perpetrate harmful actions on fellow human beings when he fails to question the directives of a superior.
It is easy to see how the Fuhrerprinzip led, step by step, to the surrender of the will of the people to the will of the Fuhrer, culminating in such confessions as that of Rudolf Hess, commandant of Auschwitz, just before his execution in 1947, that he would have gassed and burned his own wife and children, and himself as well, if the Fuhrer had asked it.
A German did not need to be an occultist in order to long for a Messiah to save him. As in other difficult periods in history, after World War I the Messiah's coming was believed to be imminent. A father-figure in a chaotic age, he would surely preserve and protect and make things bloom again in the desert where men were daily losing their bearings. Still, the poet Heinrich Heine's ''man whom the German people await, the man who will bring to them the life and happiness they have so long hoped for in their dreams," was awaited with particular zeal by the members of the Thule Society. According to Trevor Ravenscroft's confidant, Dr. Stein, Thule member
Dietrich Eckart and a small inner core of Thulists had been prepared for the imminent appearance of the German Messiah in a whole series of spiritualistic seances....
... all those present were terrified....
Prince von Thurn und Taxis had prophesied the coming of a German Messiah, and Countess von Westarp had said that a false prophet would lead the Germans to defeat. Sebottendorff ran from the room in terror, but Eckart tackled him and knocked him down.
Eckart shared with Hitler a fascination with Ostara's erotic racism; had, in fact, been charged with plagiarism by Lanz von Liebenfels himself. After the Nazis were swept into power, Lanz was to write that his Order of New Templars was "the first manifestation of the Movement which now, in accordance with the law of God, is most powerful in history and unrestrainedly sweeping over the world." Eckart already belonged to the Thule Society when Hitler appeared on the scene. It was Eckart who first promoted Hitler as the long-awaited Messiah.
What do we know of Hitler's life before then? With certain important exceptions, only what he wanted us to know: that he was the son of a harsh man, a civil servant, who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps; that he adored his mother, who died a lingering death of cancer while he was struggling in Vienna; that he did not make it as an artist; that knowledge of his true vocation came to him in World War I.
But we can paint a fuller picture than this -- one that rather complicates the popular image of Hitler as a practical realist, though he most certainly was a man who knew how to seize his opportunities. He was also an occultist.
The Library of Congress in Washington contains thousands of books taken from Hitler's personal library after the Allied occupation of Germany. One of them, Nationalismus, is by the Indian mystic Rabindranath Tagore. It bears an inscription dated April 20, 1921, signed by the unfamiliar name B. Steininger: "An Adolf Hitler, meinem lieben Armanenbruder" ("To Adolf Hitler, my dear Armanen-brother").
The Armanen, Guido von List's esoteric brotherhood, invented an ancient race of Germanic priests. Their wisdom was passed on through the centuries, not only through a secret brotherhood of initiates but also through clues which List, the last of the Armanen, was able to divine through intuition and clairvoyance. Sacred meanings were hidden away in words and signs. This, of course, is perfectly understandable to the occultist. But List apparently reached a wider audience by pioneering in the revival of pagan worship.
His theories were studied by the Germanen Orden and, later, by the SS. His books, confiscated by the Allies, bear the SS mark and are stamped Ahnenerbe, the Nazi Ancestral Research branch, and apparently were used in teaching candidates for the SS.
But apart from the inscription to Hitler, the only connecting link from him to List is made by Ravenscroft, who reports that Hitler's occult adviser, the Viennese bookseller Ernst Pretzsche, was associated with List.
Hitler's library also contained one of Lanz's books, Das Buch der Psalmen Teutsch: Das Gebetbuch der Ariosophen Rassenmystiker und Antisemiten ("The Book the Psalms Teach; The Prayerbook of Ariosophic Race Mystery and Anti-Semitism").
Both List and Lanz were obsessed with blood purity, with anti-Semitism, with the secret significance of the Grail legend, with bringing about a new order. Both took the swastika for their symbol.
Membership in cults of this type are usually kept secret, so it is not surprising that we have no documentation of Hitler's membership. He may well have been a member of either the Armanen or the Order of New Templars, or both, however, for it is entirely in keeping with his character as presented by people who knew him in his younger days in Vienna.
Josef Greiner, the former lamplighter, who published his reminiscences in 1947, describes Hitler as an explorer of occult mysteries and a student of telepathy -- knowledgeable about the rituals of the yogis and about fakirs who seem to control their heartbeats. He was intrigued, according to Greiner, by pseudosciences which appeal to the poorly educated.
Reinhold Hanisch, who knew both Hitler and Greiner in this period, credited Greiner with leading Hitler into the occult but it may very well have been the other way around.
Hitler had already expressed many of these ideas as a teenager to his young friend August Kubizek, in Linz. He had had visions of remodeling the whole town, and spent hours telling his plans to his patient friend. Kubizek complied with all his dreams:
We would go to St. Georgen on the Gusen to find out what relics of that famous battle in the Peasants' War still remained. When we were unsuccessful Adolf had a strange idea. He was convinced that the people who lived there would have some faint memory of that great battle. The following day he went again alone, after a vain attempt to get my father to give me the day off. He spent two days and two nights there, but I don't remember with what result.
The circle in which Hitler moved in Linz subscribed to the ideas of Georg von Schoenerer, an admirer of List. Hitler was more at home in German mythology than in his real world. Kubizek says: "From the Edda, a book that was sacred for him, he knew Iceland, the rugged island of the North, where the elements which formed the world meet now, as they did in the days of Creation...."
Kubizek and Greiner both testify that what especially intrigued Hitler was the power of the human will.
The Allies, apparently puzzled by the riddle of Adolf Hitler, a ne'er-do-well of humble origins, unprepossessing looks, and mediocre intellect, rising to such eminence, had secret psychiatric reports drawn up on him while the war was still in progress, which obviously did not help much to clear away the confusion about this complex personality. They paint a portrait of sexual deviation, of adolescent overcompensation, of an indomitable will to power. This will to power has not been given its proper due. His admirers, and even reluctant observers, have testified to his spellbinding, hypnotic effect. A romantic mystic, a visionary, a charismatic figure he is often acknowledged to be. But this early will to power betrays the interests of a potential occultist.
The occultist is concerned with transcending everyday reality. He makes use of myth, symbol, and ritual. He tries to put himself in touch with forces which he believes to be beyond the reach of sense, and to awaken higher powers in himself. The Work, the Grand Work, is to transform oneself from an ordinary mortal into a superman. For this, the will must be developed -- something the ordinary mortal neither knows nor cares about.
Hitler, from the time he was a young boy, was preoccupied with the matter of will, a concern not shared by his family or social milieu. Though he could not will himself into art school or good health, his childhood friend Kubizek was the recipient of confidences about his inner life which betray Wagnerian fantasies of another sort of strength.
After a performance of Wagner's opera Rienzi, both boys stood under the stars, and, says Kubizek:
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 dykes, 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....
Hitler later recalled the incident, too, and solemnly said: "In that hour it began."
Typical adolescent dreams? A flight from harsh reality? Of course. But his grandiose plans for the future, unlikely as they were, did come to pass after all, and it is plausible that he should have worked on himself systematically, in obedience to occult teaching. The occult tradition, as Madame Blavatsky pointed out, holds that what moves the world is "that mysterious and divine power latent in the will of every man, and which, if not called to life, quickened and developed by Yogi-training, remains dormant in 999,999 men out of a million, and gets atrophied."
From the ancients to the most simplistic modern exponents of the magic power of thought, the doctrine is that one's attention and intense concentration can accomplish any desired end. If the end is not reached, it is simply because the mind has not sufficiently projected it.
In Vienna, Hitler's political thinking had been influenced by Mayor Karl Lueger, who, according to the Anthroposophist, Johannes Tautz, came to the Armanen. Lueger was in office from 1897 to 1910, and, in league with the Pan-German anti-Semitic groups, found favor with the lower middle class by attacking liberals and Jews. His anti-intellectualism was epitomized by one of his underlings, who said, "When I see a book I want to puke." While List wrote pseudo-erudite tracts on the esoteric meaning of words, Lueger knew that to gain power he had to win over the largest possible segment of society.
Hitler was a peculiar fellow to his World War I buddies because he would sit listlessly by himself and let nobody stir him out of his concentration. He was apt to jump up abruptly and move around agitatedly, predicting that the Germans would be defeated. Recovering in the hospital from a gassing attack which left him temporarily blinded, he had a vision which must have been comforting, considering his dim prospects for the future. Writing of this experience in Mein Kampf, he said: "I resolved that I would take up political work."
When he was discharged, he continued to work for the army, in the Munich branch, as an instructor in the Press and News Bureau of the Political Department. In the course of his duties he was sent to investigate one of the satellites of the Thule Society, the German Workers' party, and ended by joining it.
His membership number in the German Workers' party was originally 555, but for some reason it was changed to 7. The discrepancy is mentioned in a footnote to Reginald H. Phelps's monograph in the American Historical Review, July 1963:
Drexler, outraged by distorted official radio "history" of the party's origin, drafted a long, angry letter to Hitler late in January 1940.... In it he stated: "No one knows better than you yourself, my Fuhrer, that you were never the seventh member of the party, but at most the seventh member of the committee, which I asked you join as propaganda chief." In this letter -- never sent, since Drexler planned to forward it to Hitler after the war -- are also statements about the size of the party in September 1919 and about the "forging" of Hitler's party card.
It is significant that someone, at some point, saw fit to change the number. Seven, in occult terms, is a much more important number than 555. List, for instance, expatiates on seven:
The seven is developed from a triangle.... it is the secret of the beginning, the development and the change into the All in all respects ... and so closes the circle of eternity. That is why all figures in geometry can be measured by the triangle and the square. The seven is a glyphe (secret word and secret connotation) as well as a numerical value, because it can be arrived at only by symbols of the triangle and the square.
This, incidentally, is a fairly typical, if not lucid, exposition. To the occultists, numbers have curious properties which are not just utilitarian. They all borrow from Pythagoras, who first gave mathematics a specialized meaning. The occult properties of numbers form the basis for serious study which, they believe, contains the key to laws of human and cosmic life.
Whether through superstition or cognizance of cosmic laws, seven became Hitler's number. The perfect number, in short, for the membership card of the future Messiah of Germany.
But how is it that such an unexceptional fellow became the Messiah? Was he chosen by the group or by a single member -- perhaps Eckart -- or did he create the role for himself? This is still an open question.
According to Kurt Ludecke, who knew both Hitler and Eckart in those early years, Eckart "was something of a genius, and to a great degree the spiritual father of Hitler and grandfather of the Nazi movement. Also, he was well-to-do, one of Hitler's first financial blessings."
It is more likely that Eckart himself was not well-to-do but well-connected. He had contact with rich members of Munich's social circle and was an accomplished fundraiser. At any rate, it was he who afforded Hitler the entree into that circle, with the grandiloquent announcement that here, at last, was the "long-promised savior." In fact, he is reported to have said to Alfred Rosenberg, after Thule's revolutionary activities: "Let it happen as it will and must, but I believe in Hitler; above him there hovers a star."
Why Eckart believed particularly in Hitler remains something of a mystery. He apparently did have an uncanny knack for persuasive speechifying. His young friend Kubizek testified to that. His talent initially focused the attention of the group on Hitler. Its effect is admirably summed up by Joseph Goebbels, who wrote to Hitler after hearing him speak in Munich in June 1922:
Like a rising star you appeared before our wondering eyes, you performed miracles to clear our minds and, in a world of skepticism and desperation, gave us faith. You towered above the masses, full of faith and certain of the future, and possessed by the will to free those masses with your unlimited love for all those who believe in the new Reich. For the first time we saw with shining eyes a man who tore off the mask from the faces distorted by greed, the faces of mediocre parliamentary busybodies....
... You expressed more than your own pain.... You named the need of a whole generation, searching in confused longing for men and task. What you said is the catechism of the new political belief, born out of the despair of a collapsing, Godless world.... One day, Germany will thank you....
If you would know Him when He comes, then check the tendency to decry the great, and to find faults in what is noble. So many people, looking at the sun, only see the spots, and no man, they say, is a hero to his valet de chambre. But why not? Not because he is not heroic, but because the heart of the valet de chambre cannot appreciate heroism. We criticise; we find petty faults; we lay stress on petty mistakes, and we miss the soul of goodness and of greatness, perchance, in those who be against the common feeling of the time. Be not ashamed to admire. Be not ashamed to be reverent to that which is greater, nobler than yourself, for the power to admire means really the faculty to achieve. That which you recognise to the noble, by the very recognition you rise nearer to it and become liker to it. Reverence greatness wherever you see it, in outer life, in inner life, in the genius of the writer, the painter, the sculptor, in the holiness of the saint, in the compassion of the pitiful. In everyone that you meet try to see the best and not the worst. Meet everyone, be it even the criminal, as the potential saint; for by that love and respect to that which only exists in germ, the seed will burst, and presently will grow into flower and into fruit. God is in every man, and if you do not see Him it is your eyes that are blinded; and if you would see the divine in its mighty perfection in a Christ, then see the Christ in our poorest fellow-man or fellow-woman, and verily then you shall know Him when He comes.
When you are able to feel reverence, then do not put a check on the love that flows out to that which you see to be greater than yourself; but nourish the feeling of devotion which is ready to love, which is ready to give, which is able to give itself utterly to that which it knows to be greater than itself. Oh, they said of old that there were some who, when they met the Christ, left all and followed Him. And if, when He stands amongst us in our twentieth century, any of you would fain be among those who on seeing Him leave all and follow, then cultivate that feeling in your daily life while still He is not present, manifest amongst us. Thus practise the virtues that will burst into flower when you are in His presence. Try to realise what He must be, the Teacher of angels and men. Try to catch some touch of His spirit of perfect love, some gleam of His nature of perfect purity, some understanding of a power which conquers everything because it wins everything to knowledge and to answer.
If it be so amongst some of us, enough of us to influence the public opinion of our time, then when the Lord of Love comes again, it shall not be a Cross that will meet Him; then when He stands amongst us it shall not be hatred that shall be poured out against Him; not three brief years alone will He stay with us, but our love will not let Him go, for love fetters even the Lord of Love. Then we who have tried to grow into His likeness, we who have longed for the glory of His presence, we with our eyes shall behold the King in his beauty, and know the Supreme Teacher when again, ere very long He treads the roads of earth.
To these noble and eloquent words nothing can be added. It would be impossible to paint more vividly, or with more impressive effect, the lofty ideals of character and the utter desertion of all ordinary worldly standards of conduct, toward which members of the Order should even now begin to strive, if they would fit themselves to be accepted servants of the Lord when He comes.
-- The Order of the Star in the East: Its Outer and Inner Work, by by Professor E. A. Wodehouse, M.A.
Because the German Section, under the General Secretaryship of Dr. Steiner, opposed the pushing of the Order of the Star of the East ("O.S.E.") within the Theosophical Society ("T.S.") in Germany, Mrs. Besant, as President of the T.S., in March, 1913, dischartered and expelled from the T.S. the whole of that Section with all its Branches and over two thousand members, cancelling the diplomas of all these. She so successfully worked her theory, (that anyone may push within the T.S. any view he pleases,) that she has pushed out of that T.S. all these two thousand members and more at one push -- simply because they did not approve of her O.S.E. propaganda. It appears that in the course of the last few months, the two thousand have swelled to three thousand, because of resignations, in consequence of this highhanded procedure, in England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Russia, and elsewhere, also.
With a little more tact and balance, and a little less self-assertiveness and impulsive haste, with a few more of the long-sighted Counsellors whom she had 'shaken out' (in her favorite phrase) and a few less of the 'obedient' courtiers whom she had 'taken in' instead, on the General Council of the T.S., she could most easily have arranged to put the O.S.E. members of the T.S. in Germany into separate Branches and a Section of their own, and retained all the older members also intact. But as she has publicly stated, all of the members of the General Council of the T.S. now belong, with one or two exceptions perhaps, to the 'Esoteric Section,' prime condition of membership which is, the formal written pledge of absolute obedience to Mrs. Besant.
-- The Central Hindu College and Mrs. Besant, by Sri Bhagavan Das
Steiner dedicated ten years of his life to the theosophical movement, becoming one of its best-known spokespeople and honing his supernatural skills. He broke from mainstream theosophy in 1913, taking most of the German-speaking sections with him, when Besant and her colleagues declared the young Krishnamurti, a boy they "discovered" in northern India, to be the reincarnation of Christ. Steiner was unwilling to accept a brown-skinned Hindu lad as the next "spiritual master." What had separated Steiner all along from Blavatsky, Besant, and the other India-oriented theosophists was his insistence on the superiority of European esoteric traditions.
-- Anthroposophy and Ecofascism, by Peter Staudenmaier
Whatever others thought of him, Hitler himself was not so ambitious as to proclaim himself the Messiah right from the outset. At first, he was just a drummer, bringing glad tidings of the coming of the new man. The metaphor changed after the Putsch of 1923.
When the government was inactive in the face of Communist uprisings, Hitler and his Storm Troopers, on the evening of November 8, planned a coup to depose them. The government met that night in one of Munich's many beer halls, and the Nazis surrounded the building. On a signal, they entered the hall and fired a shot at the ceiling, shouting that the national revolution had come and the government was deposed. The Putsch turned out to be a fiasco, and when it was over, Hitler was imprisoned at Landsberg.
One of the major defendants at the Nuremberg Trials, Baldur von Schirach, the leader of the Hitler Youth, dated the change in Hitler's self-image from a later period, in talking to the prison psychiatrist after the war: "Before 1934 he was menschlich [human]; from 1934 to 1938 he was ubermenschlich [superhuman]; from 1938 on he was unmenschlich [inhuman] and a tyrant."
But the consensus does not seem to be that Hitler's confinement, and particularly, according to some commentators, his intimate exposure to Rudolf Hess in prison, occasioned the change. Whatever the relationship between the two men may have been, Hitler did become something of a national idol by the very fact of his imprisonment. He, of course, enjoyed the legend which began to grow up around him, and capitalized on it in every way that he could. It is not uncommon, either, for breakthroughs to come to men as they meditate quietly in prison. He certainly had lots of time to think in the nine months he was in Landsberg. It was only after this, according to his intimate acquaintance, "Putzi" Hanfstaengl, that the Fuhrer cult began in earnest. Before then, he was Herr Hitler to everyone. At Hess's instigation, this now changed, first to der Chef and then to Mein Fuhrer. Hitler seemed to enjoy the transmutation.
In prison, he had written Mein Kampf, with the help of Hess. When it was published, his absolute authority over the National Socialist German Workers' party was established. Whereas before, Kurt Ludecke observes, "people said he would be destroyed for loyalty to friends," he was now no longer one of the boys, but increasingly dictatorial and self-serving. From here on, Hitler, whatever steps he took, continued to see himself as sent by Providence to save the German people. This message communicated itself with striking power to his subalterns, to the masses, and even to his enemies.
Hermann Rauschning, who eventually defected from the Party, reports a typical conversation in which Hitler told Bernhard Forster, Nietzsche's brother-in-law, that he
would not reveal his unique mission until later. He permitted glimpses of it only to a few. When the time came, however, Hitler would bring the world a new religion.... The blessed consciousness of eternal life in union with the great universal life, and in membership of an immortal people -- that was the message he would impart to the world when the time came. Hitler would be the first to achieve what Christianity was meant to have been, a joyous message that liberated men from the things that burdened their life. We should no longer have any fear of death, and should lose the fear of a so-called bad conscience. Hitler would restore men to the self-confident divinity with which nature had endowed them. They would be able to trust their instincts, would no longer be citizens of two worlds, but would be rooted in the single, eternal life of this world.
While Rauschning took these ideas as mere reflections of irrationality, they mean something else to the student of occultism. Hitler's new religion was the same brand that Lanz and List had preached: a mixture of paganism, Gnosticism, and magic. Its true purpose could only be revealed to the initiated, and only at the proper time, because only they would really grasp its import, and only when the way had been prepared. The time, of course, had also to be auspicious in an astrological sense. And the initiated, whose consciousness presumably was sufficiently expanded, would be in a position to help usher in the new religion.
Many people have testified to Hitler's medium-like powers. Much has been made of the fact that he was born in Braunau am Inn in Austria, a town which happens to have produced a disproportionately great number of people who went on to gain reputations as mediums, the most notable being Rudi and Willy Schneider. Occultists are pleased to point out that Hitler had shared with the psychic Schneider brothers their wet nurse.
But even commentators who are not receptive to occult beliefs have drawn attention to Hitler's occasional lapses into trancelike states.
Ernst Hanfstaengl recalls "his almost medium-like performances on a speaker's platform."
Hermann Rauschning repeats what Bernhard Forster had told him about Hitler:
God, or whatever we preferred to call it, life or the universal spirit, spoke to him in solitude. He drew his great power from intercourse with the eternal divine nature.... Added Forster. ... "I hear those voices of which Hitler speaks. Then I feel strong, and know that we shall conquer and live for ever."
Stephen H. Roberts, an Australian journalist covering Germany in the thirties, described the two most popular views of him -- either "as a mere ranting stump-orator, or as a victim of demoniacal possession, driven hither and thither by some occult force that makes him a power of evil. ... the view of his believers that he is a demigod, revealing the path that Germany is to follow by some divine power of [intuitively1knowing what to do."
Hitler parodied Jesus. Lanz had preached that "love thy neighbor as thyself" really meant "love thy racially similar neighbor as thyself." Hitler said: "Whoever proclaims his allegiance to me is by this very proclamation and by the manner in which it is made, one of the chosen."
Symbols of his Messiahship appeared everywhere. One of the fashionable art shops in Berlin displayed an impressive portrait of Hitler in a prominent window space, flanked with duplicates of a painting of Christ. At one of the Nuremberg rallies a giant photo of Hitler was captioned with a phrase which opens the Gospel of John -- believed, by Biblical scholars, to be a Gnostic text -- and which occultists are fond of quoting: "In the beginning was the Word." Sermons were preached in churches which must have caused some people, at least, a good deal of dis-ease, as, for example, this one: "Adolf Hitler is the voice of Jesus Christ, who desired to become flesh and blood of the German people and did become flesh and blood."
A message bearing the title "What the Christian Does Not Know About Christianity" made this astonishing point:
If Jehovah has lost all meaning for us Germans, the same must be said of Jesus Christ, his son. He does not possess those moral qualities which the Church claims for him. He certainly lacks those characteristics which he would require to be a true German. Indeed, he is as disappointing, if we read the record carefully, as is his father.
In day nurseries, children were taught to pray:
"Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, by God given to me,
Defend and protect me as long as may be.
Thou'st Germany rescued from her deepest need;
I render thee thanks who dost daily me feed.
Stay by me forever, or desperate my plight.
Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, my faith, my light,
Hail, my Fuhrer!"
All of which lent support to Hitler's epigram in one of his more lucid moments: "What luck for the rulers that men do not think."
The Christ image was not the only one which Hitler adopted. He also had a particular fondness for Grail symbols. He put the question to Rauschning: "Should we create an elite of initiates? An order? A religious brotherhood of Templars to guard the Holy Grail, the august vessel containing the pure blood?" The quest for the Holy Grail is another of those talismans for the occultists, and Lanz and List, of course, had helped to kindle an interest in the real meaning of the Grail legend. The Grail, to the occultist, is a symbol for hidden knowledge. According to Ravenscroft, Hitler told Dr. Stein that he visualized the Grail "as a path leading from unthinking dullness, through doubt, to spiritual awakening," and that there were "ascending grades on the way to the achievement of higher levels of consciousness, disclosing the meaning of the heraldry and armorial insignia of the Knights, which he interpreted as representing the various stages they had attained in the quest for the Grail."
He went through an elaborate explanation of the various creatures which symbolized the different degrees, the highest being the eagle, emblem of the initiate who had attained the highest powers and faculties of which man was capable, and was at last in a position to "assume a world-historic destiny." Hitler went on to say: "The real virtues of the Grail were common to all the best Aryan peoples. Christianity only added the seeds of decadence such as forgiveness, self-abnegation, weakness, false humility, and the very denial of the evolutionary laws of survival of the fittest, the most courageous and talented."
No one could accuse Hitler of false humility. Stephen H. Roberts, the Australian journalist, describes colored pictures which he saw displayed in Munich for a short time in the autumn of 1936: "of Hitler in the actual silver garments of the Knight of the Grail." Roberts believes they were withdrawn from circulation because "they gave the show away ... were too near the truth of Hitler's mentality."
By then, Hitler's view of the Jew as the enemy of the light had bedazzled the whole country. It was the Jew who had to be cleared out of the way before the new man could arise. Lanz had proposed extermination as the most expedient way to do it. Sebottendorff, in the March 10, 1920, issue of the Beobachter, had been more ambiguous. He proposed, as an Endziel ("final goal"): MACHT GANZE ARBEIT MIT DEM JUDEN! ("CLEAN OUT THE JEWS ONCE AND FOR ALL!") by resorting to the "most ruthless measures, among them concentration camps" (Sammellager) and "sweeping out the Jewish vermin with an iron broom."
Like his teachers, Hitler saw the Jew as the embodiment of all evil, but among the qualities he considered evil were virtues such as intellect, conscience, intelligence, and pursuit of absolute truth. As he told Rauschning:
We are now at the end of the Age of Reason. The intellect has grown autocratic, and has become a disease of life. . . .
Conscience is a Jewish invention. It is a blemish, like circumcision.
A new age of Magic interpretation of the world is coming, of interpretation in terms of the Will and not the intelligence.
There is no such thing as truth, either in the moral or in the scientific sense. The new man would be the antithesis of the Jew.
The new man, Hitler told Rauschning, would be a mutation, a different biological species altogether from homo sapiens as we know him. This, Hitler believed, was the real seductive power of nazism. So fierce and terrible would the new men be that ordinary humans would hardly be able to look them in the face; they would be the true aristocracy, and all others would be subjects. With the coming of the new man, the inequality that exists in human life would be heightened. This was Hitler's antidote to democracy: the restoration of insurmountable barriers between two breeds of people, as he presumed to have existed in ancient great civilizations. Only Germans would have rights. Hitler had come to free them from "the dirty and degrading chimera called conscience and morality, and from the demands of a freedom and personal independence which only a very few can bear." They would be beyond good and evil. He would liberate them from "the burden of free will." He opposed "with icy clarity" the significance "of the individual soul and of personal responsibility. " Judging from Hitler's popularity, the suffering masses apparently found relief in this message.
Here, again, the voice of the occultist may be heard. Since Darwin, esoteric groups have talked in terms of a mutation, though generally none but Satanists have perceived the new man as amoral.
To betray the Fuhrer, then, was also to betray the new civilization which he was ushering in, and he managed to convince the people of this. Over and over again, in mass rallies so carefully staged that they left no one immune, he pummeled home, with the force of a master magician such as has not been seen before or since, the startling doctrine that he and the people were one. Through torchlit night parades, striking military bands, cathedral-like arcs of light, and the patterns and colors of swastika flags, a religious fervor was created among audiences wearied with waiting for hours until he came before them, suddenly, late at night, thundered his oration, and left just as suddenly. So skilled a psychologist was he that he knew that if he invited alienated mass man to "step out of his workshop," his smallness would disappear in the midst of a body of hordes "with a like conviction."
It worked. For a time, the Aryan Germans were rid of anxiety, and Hitler's mutations dared to commit unimaginable crimes against humanity, in the name of a greater humanity.