The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

Postby admin » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:45 pm

The Occult Roots of Nazism
Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology
The Arisophists of Austria and Germany, 1890-1935

by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
With a foreword by Rohan Butler
© Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke 1985, 1992




Table of Contents:

• Acknowledgements
• Foreword
• Introduction
• 1. The Pan-German Vision
• 2. The Modern German Occult Revival 1880-1910
• 3. Guido von List
• 4. Wotanism and Germanic Theosophy
• 5. The Armanenschaft
• 6. The Secret Heritage
• 7. The German Millennium
• 8. Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels and Theozoology
• 9. The Order of the New Templars
• 10. The Germanenorden
• 11. Rudolf von Sebottendorff and the Thule Society
• 12. The Holy Runes and the Edda Society
• 13. Herbert Reichstein and Ariosophy
• 14. Karl Maria Wiligut: The Private Magus of Heinrich Himmler
• 15. Ariosophy and Adolf Hitler
• Appendix A: Genealogy of Lanz von Liebenfels
• Appendix B: Genealogy of the Sebottendorff Family
• Appendix C: The History of Ariosophy
• Appendix D: New Templar Verse
• Appendix E: The Modern Mythology of Nazi Occultism
• Notes and References
• Bibliography
• Index


1. Guido von List 1910
2. Freidrich Wannieck
3. Freidrich Oskar Wannieck
4. Blasius von Schemua
5. Philipp Stauff
6. Bernhard Koerner
7. List, Das Geheimnis der Runen (1908)
8. List, Die Bilderschrift der Ario-Germanen (1910)
9. Tarnhari, name-runes and occult coat-of-arms, c.1915
10. HAO pilgrimage to Carnuntum, June 1911
11. Funerary tumulus for F.O. Wannieck in Munich, 1914
12. Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels PONT
13. Flagstone showing knight and beast, excavated at Heiligenkreuz Abbey in 1894
14. Ostara illustration, 1922
15. Burg Werfenstein
16. Werfenstein ex-libris
17. Templar Room at Burg Werfenstein
18. Marienkamp-Szt. Balazs
19. Staufen
20. Theodor Fritsch
21. Lodge ceremony for novices, c.1912
22. Founding meeting of Order at Leipzig, 24/25 May 1912
23. Rudolf von Sebottendorff
24. Thule Society emblem, 1919
25. Herbert Reichstein
26. Frodi Ingolfson Wehrmann
27. Gregor Schwartz-Bostunitsch
28. Rudolf John Gorsleben
29. Werner von Bulow's 'world-rune-clock'
30. Karl Maria Wiligut in July 1945
31. Wiligut family seal, 1933
32. SS Totenkopfring design, 1941
33. SS-Oberfuhrer Weisthor (K. M. Wiligut) in 1936
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Re: The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

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SEVERAL individuals were kind enough to help me gather the rare sources of Ariosophy and also offered valuable encouragement. Here I would like to thank especially Mr Ellic Howe, Pastor Ekkehard Hieronimus, Dr Armin Mohler, Professor Dr Helmut Moller, the late Herr Rudolf]. Mund, Dr Reginald H. Phelps, and DrWilfried Daim. Meetings and correspondence with Herren Hermann Gilbhard, Gerhard Kurtz, Eckehard Lenthe, Arthur Lorber, Adolf Schleipfer, Karlheinz Schwecht, Dr Johannes Kopf, and Dr Johannes von Mullern-Schonhausen also furthered my quest in Germany and Austria.

An earlier version of this work was submitted as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Oxford and I therefore wish to record my gratitude to my successive supervisors who gave constructive criticism and support: Professor Norman Cohn, Dr Bryan Wilson, and Professor Peter Pulzer. I am also grateful to the German Historical Institute, London, for the award of a travelling bursary in 1978.

I owe thanks to the libraries and staffs of the British Museum; the Bodleian Library, Oxford; the Warburg Institute, University of London; the Wiener Library, London; the Bundesarchiv, Koblenz; the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich; the Berlin Document Center, and the Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna. I am finally grateful to Mr Leonard Baker for assisting me in the correction of the proofs.
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Re: The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

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I HAVE no claim to be an occultist but I welcome this opportunity to write a word at the inception of Dr Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's telling study of the occult roots of national socialism. When I wrote The Roots of National Socialism Adolf Hitler was in power. At that time it had become the fashion, in England certainly, to regard the Nazis as hardly more than a bunch of gangsters who had by some economic or propagandist trick won the following of the liberal-minded bulk of the German people. I wrote to suggest that a deeper explanation might be sought in a German tradition of political thought which was liable to promote an outlook on society in some sympathy with aspects of national socialism. Thus, my book proved to be initially controversial.

As the Second World War progressed, however, it became increasingly evident that something more, even, than fear had been needed to keep a large majority of the German people loyal to the Nazi Third Reich through thick and thin, displaying remarkable courage and endurance almost to the bitter end. After the war this was recognized by the Rhineland statesman who began to lead the Germans of the Federal Republic into the light again and into the great combination of the western nations in defence of freedom. Dr Konrad Adenauer wrote: 'National socialism could not have come to power in Germany if it had not found, in broad strata of the population, soil prepared for its sowing of poison. I stress, in broad strata of the population. It is not accurate to say that the high military or the great industrialists alone bear the guilt ... Broad strata of the people, of the peasants, middle classes, workers and intellectuals did not have the right intellectual attitude.'

Since the publication of my book (now reprinted in the United States) a formidable amount of further research into the ideology and practice of national socialism, much of it untranslated from the German, has added to our stock of facts and theories. I have sometimes wondered whether the gain in fresh insights has been commensurate. No such doubt arose in reading The Occult Roots of Nazism.

Dr Goodrick-Clarke describes his study as an unusual and underground history in exploration of a 'netherworld of fantasy'. In the romantic amalgam of fact and make-believe characteristic of the steamy subculture of Ariosophy, of supposedly occult wisdom concerning the Aryans, the two leading exponents here presented are Guido von List and Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels, both of Vienna in the early days there of Adolf Hitler.

In my own survey, less concentrated in theme and treatment, I considered areas of German political thought liable to predispose many educated Germans towards Nazi ideology, while remarking that the Nazi leaders themselves were mostly men of small education who seized hold of the ideas and prejudices which came most naturally to them, as to others. I also referred to a German interplay of nihilism and mysticism and to a 'deficient German grip upon reality' so that Germans, for all their technical mastery, might find it difficult in times of stress to distinguish the heroic from the trumpery. This suggestion is richly illustrated in the present book, starting from the stress experienced by those of German stock in the face of the Slav resurgence towards the close of the Austro-Hungarian empire, succeeded by the shock of defeat in the First World War.

In examining those thinkers, or dreamers, who most probably did actually influence Hitler and his intellectual peers Dr Goodrick- Clarke validates extensive research by scholarly evaluation. One may notice, for instance, his caution in assessing the influence of Lanz von Liebenfels, assumed by Joachim Fest in his biography of Hitler to have dominated his early years. There is no doubt about the Nazi connections of Rudolf von Sebottendorff of the Thule Society or of Karl Maria Wiligut, the magus who was promoted SS-Brigadefuhrer by Himmler, more addicted than Hitler to the pagan cult of nordic mythology. Harking back to primitive myths, propagating that of the subhuman Untermensch, the Nazis in the twentieth century evolved with great efficiency a political dispensation so innovative and so cruel that it still exerts a horrid fascination.

Dr Goodrick-Clarke concludes that the Nazi leaders were obsessed by 'semi-religious beliefs in a race of Aryan god-men, the needful extermination of inferiors, and a wonderful millennial future of German world-domination ... a hellish vision ... Auschwitz, Sobibor, and Treblinka are the terrible museums of twentieth-century Nazi apocalyptic.' Those fierce names were as yet hardly known when I wrote my study. One knows now. And this book further helps one to understand.

June 1985
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Re: The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

Postby admin » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:46 pm


THIS is an unusual history. Although it presents an account of past events relating to the origins and ideology of National Socialism in Germany, its proper subject is not the parties, policies and organizations through which men rationally express their interests in a social and political context. Rather, it is an underground history, concerned with the myths, symbols and fantasies that bear on the development of reactionary, authoritarian, and Nazi styles of thinking. It is also a marginal history, since its principal characters were mystics, seers and sectarians who had little to do with the outer realities of politics and administration. But such men had the imagination and opportunity to describe a dream-world that often underlay the sentiments and actions of more worldly men in positions of power and responsibility. Indeed, their abstruse ideas and weird cults anticipated the political doctrines and institutions of the Third Reich.

For historians trained exclusively in the evaluation of concrete events, causes, and rational purposes, this netherworld of fantasy may seem delusive. They would argue that politics and historical change are driven only by real material interests. However, fantasies can achieve a causal status once they have been institutionalized in beliefs, values, and social groups. Fantasies are also an important symptom of impending cultural changes and political action. The particular fantasies discussed in this book were generated within an extreme right-wing movement concerned with the creation of a superman elite, the extermination of lesser beings, and the establishment of a new world-order. The nature of this movement has set it quite apart from the mainstream of rational politics in the twentieth century and demands answers relating to its deeper inspiration. An analysis of the fantasies underlying such a movement can provide new answers to old questions.

The following study traces these fantasies by presenting an historical account of the lives, doctrines and cult activities of the Ariosophists, [1] namely Guido von List (1848-1919) and Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels (1874-1954) and their followers in Austria and Germany. The Ariosophists, initially active in Vienna before the First World War, combined German volkisch nationalism and racism with occult notions borrowed from the theosophy of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, in order to prophesy and vindicate a coming era of German world rule. Their writings described a prehistoric golden age, when wise gnostic priesthoods had expounded occult-racist doctrines and ruled over a superior and racially pure society. They claimed that an evil conspiracy of anti-German interests (variously identified as the non-Aryan races, the Jews, or even the early Church) had sought to ruin this ideal Germanic world by emancipating the non-German inferiors in the name of a spurious egalitarianism. The resulting racial confusion was said to have heralded the historical world with its wars, economic hardship, political uncertainty and the frustration of German world power. In order to counter this modern world, the Ariosophists founded secret religious orders dedicated to the revival of the lost esoteric knowledge and racial virtue of the ancient Germans, and the corresponding creation of a new pan-German empire.

The Ariosophists were cultural pessimists. An obvious link exists between their fantasies and the grievances of German nationalists in the Habsburg empire of Austria-Hungary towards the end of the nineteenth century. Such factors as Catholicism, the rapid urban and industrial changes in society, the conflict of Slav and German interests in a multi-national state, the rise of the Austrian Pan-German movement under Georg von Schonerer, and the vogue of Social Darwinism and its racist precepts were also crucial influences upon their thinking. The role and importance of occultism in their doctrines is principally explicable as a sacred form of legitimation for their profound reaction to the present and their extreme political attitudes. The fantasies of the Ariosophists concerned elitism and purity, a sense of mission in the face of conspiracies, and millenarian visions of a felicitous national future.

This introduction is intended to set the scene for a detailed examination of Ariosophy. The background against which Ariosophy arose was that of the contemporary nineteenth-century ideas of nationalism, anti-liberalism, cultural pessimism, and racism. Our point of departure will be the volkisch movement which combined these concepts into a coherent ideological system. In his study of the volkisch ideology, George L. Mosse has commented on the spiritual connotations of the word 'Volk'. During the nineteenth century this term signified much more than its straightforward translation 'people' to contemporary Germans: it denoted rather the national collectivity inspired by a common creative energy, feelings and sense of individuality. These metaphysical qualities were supposed to define the unique cultural essence of the German people. An ideological preoccupation with the Volk arose for two reasons: firstly, this cultural orientation was the result of the delayed political unification of Germany; secondly, it was closely related to a widespread romantic reaction to modernity. [2]

The disunity of Germany had been graphically illustrated by the mosaic of small particularist kingdoms, principalities and duchies which, together with the larger states of Prussia and Austria, constituted the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation until its formal dissolution in 1806. After the defeat of Napoleon this state of affairs was barely changed by the creation of a loose German Confederation that left the member states free to pursue their separate paths. If the results of the Congress of Vienna had disappointed German nationalists in 1815, their hopes were again frustrated after the revolutions of 1848. As a result of this slow progress towards political unification, Germans increasingly came to conceive of national unity in cultural terms. This tendency had begun in the late eighteenth century, when writers of the pre-romantic Sturm und Drang movement had expressed the common identity of all Germans in folk-songs, customs, and literature. An idealized image of medieval Germany was invoked to prove her claim to spiritual unity, even if there had never been political unity. This emphasis on the past and traditions conferred a strongly mythological character upon the cause of unification. [3]

When Bismarck proclaimed the Prussian king the German Kaiser of a new Second Reich in 1871, national unity seemed won at last. But the new state proved a disappointment to many Germans. The idealistic anticipation of unity had nurtured utopian and messianic expectations, which could not be fulfilled by the prosaic realities of public administration. Quasi-religious sentiments could find no outlet in the ordinary business of government and diplomacy. It was widely felt that political unification under Prussia had not brought with it that exalted sense of national self-awareness implicit in its expectation. Moreover, the new Reich was feverishly occupied in building up industry and the cities, a process which seemed merely materialistic and which was destroying the old rural Germany, an essential idyll in the romantic celebration of German identity. The mock-medieval Kaiser, his modern battleships and the contemporary Grunderstil architecture, have all been cited as symbols of this tension between the old and new in the Second Reich. Behind the extravagance of royal pageantry and pompous street facades lay the secular realities of a rapid industrial revolution.

The exclusion of Austria from the new Prussian-dominated Reich had left disappointed nationalists in both countries. Hopes for a Greater Germany had been dashed in 1866, when Bismarck consolidated the ascendancy of Prussia through the military defeat of Austria, forcing her withdrawal from German affairs. The position of German nationalists in Austria-Hungary was henceforth problematic. In 1867 the Hungarians were granted political independence within a dual state. The growth of the Pan-German movement in Austria in the following decades reflected the dilemma of Austrian Germans within a state of mixed German and Slav nationalities. Their programme proposed the secession of the German-settled provinces of Austria from the polyglot Habsburg empire and their incorporation in the new Second Reich across the border. Such an arrangement was ultimately realized by the Anschluss of Austria into the Third Reich in 1938.

The volkisch ideology also embraced a general reaction to modernity. Both Germany and Austria-Hungary had been late developers in comparison with the western economies. The survival of pre-capitalist attitudes and institutions in these countries meant that modernization imposed a particular strain upon individuals who still identified with a traditional, rural social order. Many people despised modernization because the growing towns and mushrooming industries uprooted established communities and disturbed their sense of security and status. Liberalism and rationalism were also rejected because they tended to demystify time-honoured institutions and to discredit accepted beliefs and authorities. This anti-modernist discontent has been analysed in the writings of three important German nationalist prophets: Paul de Lagarde, Julius Langbehn, and Moeller van den Bruck. [4]

Racism and elitism also had their place in the volkisch ideology. The fact of racial differences was exploited to lend validity to claims of national distinction and superiority. Once anthropology and linguistics had offered empirical standards for the classification of races, these became a staple in volkisch eulogies of the German race. A set of inner moral qualities was related to the external characteristics of racial types: while the Aryans (and thus the Germans) were blue-eyed, blond-haired, tall and well-proportioned, they were also noble, honest, and courageous. The Darwinist idea of evolution through struggle was also taken up in order to prove that the superior pure races would prevail over the mixed inferior ones. Racial thinking facilitated the rise of political anti-Semitism, itself so closely linked to the strains of modernization. Feelings of conservative anger at the disruptive consequences of economic change could find release in the vilification of the Jews, who were blamed for the collapse of traditional values and institutions. Racism indicated that the Jews were not just a religious community but biologically different from other races. [5]

The Ariosophists had their political roots in the late nineteenth-century volkisch ideology and the Pan-German movement in Austria. Their reactionary response to the nationality problem and modernity led to a vision of a pan-German empire, in which the non-German nationalities and the lower classes would be denied all claims to emancipation or representation. Theories of Aryan-German racial excellence, anti-liberalism, and anxiety about social and economic changes typify their volkisch concerns, but their occultism was an original contribution. Occultism was invoked to endorse the enduring validity of an obsolescent and precarious social order. The ideas and symbols of ancient theocracies, secret societies, and the mystical gnosis of Rosicrucianism, Cabbalism, and Freemasonry were woven into the volkisch ideology, in order to prove that the modern world was based on false and evil principles and to describe the values and institutions of the ideal world. This reliance on semi-religious materials for their legitimation demonstrated the need of the Ariosophists for absolute beliefs about the proper arrangement of human society: it was also an index of their profound disenchantment with the contemporary world.

As romantic reactionaries and millenarians, the Ariosophists stood on the margin of practical politics, but their ideas and symbols filtered through to several anti-Semitic and nationalist groups in late Wilhelmian Germany, from which the early Nazi Party emerged in Munich after the First World War. This study traces that survival of Ariosophy through personal contacts and -literary influences. The possibility that List and Lanz von Liebenfels may have already had an influence on Adolf Hitler in his pre-war Vienna days is also investigated. Ariosophy continued to be fostered in the 1920s by small coteries that propagated racist mystery-religions during the Weimar Republic in the hope of a national revival. At least two Ariosophists were closely involved with Reichsflihrer-55 Heinrich Himmler in the 1930s, contributing to his projects in prehistory, 55 order ceremonial, and even to his visionary plans for the Greater Germanic Reich in the third millennium. In this account of their succession, it is shown how the fantasies of Ariosophy, besides being symptoms of anxiety and cultural nostalgia, illuminate the ultimate dream-world of the Third Reich.
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Re: The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

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PART 1: The Background

1: The Pan-German Vision

THE Austrian state in which both List and Lanz came of age and first formulated their ideas was the product of three major political changes at the end of the 1860s. These changes consisted in the exclusion of Austria from the German Confederation, the administrative separation of Hungary from Austria, and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in the 'Austrian' or western half of the empire. The constitutional changes of 1867 ended absolutism and introduced representative government and fulfilled the demands of the classical liberals, and the emperor henceforth shared his power with a bicameral legislature, elected by a restricted four-class franchise under which about 6 per cent of the population voted. Because liberalism encouraged free thought and a questioning attitude towards institutions, the democratic thesis of liberalism increasingly challenged its early oligarchic form. A measure of its appeal is seen in the decline of the parliamentary strength of parties committed to traditional liberalism and the rise of parties dedicated to radical democracy and nationalism, a tendency that was reinforced by the widening of the franchise with a fifth voter class in 1896. This development certainly favoured the emergence of Pan-Germanism as an extremist parliamentary force.

The other political changes in Austria concerned its territorial and ethnic composition. Separated from both Germany and Hungary, the lands of the Austrian half of the empire formed a crescent-shaped territory extending from Dalmatia on the Adriatic coast through the hereditary Habsburg lands of Carniola, Carinthia, Styria, Austria, Bohemia, and Moravia to the eastern provinces of Galicia and Bukovina. The somewhat incongruous geographical arrangement of this territory was compounded by the settlement of ten different nationalities within its frontiers. Nationality in Austria was defined by the preferred language of the individual. Most of the Germans -- about 10 million in 1910-lived in the western provinces of the state and constituted about 35 per cent of its 28 million inhabitants. In addition to Germans, Austria contained 6,400,000 Czechs (23 per cent of the total population), 5,000,000 Poles (18 per cent), 3,500,000 Ruthenes or Ukrainians (13 per cent), 1,200,000 Slovenes (5 per cent); 780,000 Serbo-Croats (3per cent), 770,000 Italians (3 per cent), and and 275,000 Romanians (I per cent). The population and nationality figures for the provinces of the state indicate more dramatically the complexity of ethnic relationships: not only did the relative strength of the peoples vary from one province to another, but within the boundaries of some of the provinces the Germans were a clear majority, while in others they found themselves confronting a single united majority race, and in still others they were one nationality among several. [1]

After the Prussian-Austrian war of 1866, the Austrian Germans were barred from union with their co-nationals outside Austria, and were compelled to exist as one people among many in the Habsburg empire. Against the background of democratization, some Austrian Germans began to fear that the supremacy of German language and culture in the empire, a legacy of rationalization procedures dating from the late eighteenth century, would be challenged by the non- German nationalities of the state. This conflict of loyalties between German nationality and Austrian citizenship, often locally sharpened by anxieties about Slav or Latin submergence, led to the emergence of two distinct, although practically related, currents of German nationalism. Volkisch-cultural nationalism concerned itself with raising national consciousness among Germans, especially in the large conurbations and provinces of mixed nationality, through the foundation of educational and defence leagues (Vereine) to foster German culture and identity within the empire. Pan-Germanism was more overtly political, concerned with transforming the political context, rather than defending German interests. It began as the creed of the small minority of Germans in Austria who refused to accept as permanent their separation from the rest of Germany after 1866, and who determined to repair this breach of German unity by the only means possible after Bismarck's definitive military victory over France in 1870: the Anschluss of what they called German-Austria-those provinces that had formed part of the German Confederation from 1815 to 1866-to the Bismarckian Reich, even though that union meant the destruction of the Habsburg monarchy. This idea of making German-Austria a province of the German Reich was called kleindeutsch (little German) nationalism, in contrast to grossdeutsch (greater German) unity under Vienna, a concept that had declined in credibility after 1866.

By 1885 a considerable number of volkisch-cultural Vereine were operating in the provinces and Vienna. They occupied themselves with the discussion and commemoration of figures and events in German history, literature and mythology, while investing such communal activities as choral singing, gymnastics, sport and mountain-climbing with volkisch ritual. In 1886 a federation of these Vereine, the Germanenbund, was founded at Salzburg by Anton Langgassner. Member Vereine of the federation held Germanic festivals, instituted a Germanic calendar, and appealed to all classes to unite in a common Germanic Volkstum (nationhood). Their chief social bases lay in the provincial intelligentsia and youth. The government regarded such nationalism with wariness and actually had the Germanenbund dissolved in 1889; it was later re-founded in 1894 as the Bund der Germanen.

In 1900 more than 160 Vereine of this kind belonged to the federation, distributed throughout Vienna, Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia, Bohemia and Moravia. [2] Given that there was an equal number of unaffiliated Vereine, it is probable that between 100,000 and 150,000 people were influenced by their propaganda. [3] List formed his ideas and political attitudes almost exclusively within this volkisch-cultural milieu. During the 1870s and 1880s he wrote for the journals of the movement; he attended the Verein 'Deutsche Geschichte', the Deutscher Tumverein and the rowing club Donauhort at Vienna, and the Verein 'Deutsches Haus' at Brno; and he was actively involved in the festivals of the Bund der Germanen in the 1890s. It is against this ongoing mission of the volkisch-cultural Vereine in the latter decades of the century that one may understand the inspiration and appeal of his nationalist novels and plays in the pre-occult phase of his literary output between 1880 and 1900.

The Pan-German movement originated as an expression of youthful ideals among the student fraternities of Vienna, Graz, and Prague during the 1860s. Initially formed in the 1840s, these Austrian fraternities were modelled on the German Burschenschaften (student clubs) of the Vormiirz period (the conservative era between 1815 and the bourgeois liberal revolution of March 1848), which had developed a tradition of radical nationalism, romantic ritual and secrecy, while drawing inspiration from the teachings of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1850), the volkisch prophet of athleticism, German identity, and national unity. Certain fraternities, agitated by the problem of German nationality in the Austrian state after 1866, began to advocate kleindeutsch nationalism; that is, incorporation of German-Austria into the German Reich. They glorified Bismarck, praised the Prussian army and Kaiser Wilhelm I, wore blue cornflowers (supposed to be Bismarck's favourite flower) and sang 'Die Wacht am Rhein' at their mass meetings and banquets. This cult of Prussophilia led to a worship of force and a contempt for humanitarian law and justice.

Georg von Schonerer (1842-1921) first associated himself with this movement when he joined a federation of kleindeutsch fraternities in 1876 at Vienna. [4] Without the leadership of Schonerer, Pan-Germanism would have remained an amorphous 'tendency' among politically naive student, valkisch, and working-class groups. His ideas, his temperament, and his talent as an agitator, shaped the character and destiny of Austrian Pan-Germanism, thereby creating a revolutionary movement that embraced populist anti-capitalism, anti-liberalism, anti-Semitism and prussophile German nationalism. Having first secured election to the Reichsrat in 1873, Schonerer pursued a radical democratic line in parliament in common with other progressives of the Left until about 1878. By then he had begun to demand the economic and political union of German-Austria with the German Reich, and from 1883 he published a virulently nationalist newspaper, Unverfalschte Deutsche Wane [Unadulterated German Words], to proclaim his views. The essence of Schonererite Pan-Germanism was not its demand for national unity, political democracy, and social reform (aspects of its programme which it shared with the conventional radical nationalists in parliament), but its racism-that is, the idea that blood was the sole criterion of all civic rights.

The Pan-German movement had become a minor force in Austrian politics in the mid-1880s but then languished after the conviction of Schonerer in 1888 for assault; deprived of his political rights for five years, he was effectively removed from parliamentary activity. Not until the late 1890s did Pan-Germanism again attain the status of a popular movement in response to several oven challenges to German interests within the empire. It was a shock for those who took German cultural predominance for granted when the government ruled in 1895 that Slovene classes should be introduced in the exclusively German school at Celje in Carniola. This minor controversy assumed a symbolical significance among German nationalists out of all proportion to its local implications. Then in April 1897 the Austrian premier, Count Casimir Badeni, introduced his controversial language decrees, which ruled that all officials in Bohemia and Moravia should be able to speak both Czech and German, a qualification that would have clearly discriminated against Germans. These decrees provoked a nationalist furore throughout the empire. The democratic German parties and the Pan-Germans, unable to force the government to cancel the language legislation, obstructed all parliamentary business, a practice which continued until 1900. When successive premiers resorted to rule by decree, the disorder overflowed from parliament onto the streets of the major cities. During the summer of 1897 bloody conflicts between rioting mobs and the police and even the army threatened to plunge the country into civil war. Hundreds of German Vereine were dissolved by the police as a threat to public order. It is in this background of events involving parliamentary breakdown, public disorder, rampant German chauvinism, and the electoral gains of the Pan-Germans in 1901, that one may find the roots of a new rancorous nationalist mood among Germans ill the decade that witnessed the emergence of Ariosophy. [5]

The underlying theme of these varied political protests was the attempt on the part of many Austrian Germans to fight a rearguard action against Slav demands for political and national expression and unity within the increasingly anachronistic multi-national Habsburg empire. Not all Pan-German voters expressly wanted the economic and political union of German-Austria with the German Reich as proposed by Schonerer's programme. Their reasons for supporting the party often amounted to little more than the electoral expression of a desire to bolster German national interests within the empire, in common with the myriad volkisch-cultural Vereine. For wherever they looked in the course of the past decade, Austrian Germans could perceive a steadily mounting Slav challenge to the traditional predominance of German cultural and political interests: the Celje school controversy, the Badeni language ordinances and the menacing implications of universal male suffrage (finally introduced in 1907) represented climaxes in this continuing and unresolved issue. Many Austrian Germans regarded this political challenge as an insult to their major owning, tax-paying and investment rule in the economy and the theme of the German Besitzstand (property-owning class) in the empire was generally current at the turn of the century. Lanz's early Ostara issues and other articles addressed themselves to the problems of universal suffrage and the German Besitzstand. Both List and Lanz condemned all parliamentary politics and called for the subjection of all the nationalities in the empire to German rule. The concerns of Ariosophy were clearly related to this late nineteenth-century German- Slav conflict in Austria.

The strident anti-Catholicism of Ariosophy may also be traced to the influence of the Pan-German movement. Although predisposed towards the volkisch paganism of the Germanenbund, Schonerer had begun by 1890 to think of a denominational policy by which he might counter the Catholic Church, which he regarded as alien to Germandom and a powerful electoral force. The episcopate advised the emperor, the parish priests formed a network of effective propagandists in the country, and the Christian Social party had deprived him of his earlier strongholds among the rural and semi-urban populations of Lower Austria and Vienna. He thought that a Protestant conversion movement could help to emphasize in the mind of the German public the association of Slavdom-after 1897 hated and feared by millions -- with Catholicism, the dynasty, and the Austrian state. The conservative-clerical- slavophile governments since 1879 had indeed made the emergence of a populistic and anti-Catholic German reaction plausible and perhaps inevitable. Many Germans thought that the Catholic hierarchy was anti-German, and in Bohemia there was resentment at the number of Czech priests who had been given German parishes. In order to exploit these feelings, Schonerer launched his Los von Rom (break with Rome) campaign in 1898. [6]

Having liaised with Protestant missionary societies in Germany, Schonerer publicly associated the Pan-German movement with a new Lutheran movement, which accounted for about 30,000 Protestant conversions in Bohemia, Styria, Carinthia, and Vienna between 1899 and 1910. The alliance remained uneasy: most of the volkisch leagues were strongly opposed to the movement, while other Pan-Germans denounced the Los von Rom campaign as a variation of old-time clericalism. For their part, the missionary pastors complained that the political implications of conversion alienated many religious people who sought a new form of Christian faith, while those who were politically motivated did not really care about religion. The rate of annual conversions began to decline in 1902, and by 1910 had returned to the figure at which it had stood before the movement began. Although a movement of the ethnic borderlands, its social bases were principally defined by the professional and commercial middle classes. The greatest success of the Los von Rom movement therefore coincided chronologically and geographically with the prestige of the Pan-German party: the campaign neither widened the appeal of Pan-Germanism nor significantly weakened the Catholic Church. [7]

Although the Los vom Rom movement was a political failure, it highlights the anti-Catholic sentiment that prevailed among many Austrian Germans during the 1900s. This mood was an essential element of Ariosophy. List cast the Catholic Church in the role of principal antagonist in his account of the Armanist dispensation in the mythological Germanic past. [8] He also conflated the clericalism, the conservatism and the Slav interests of the Austrian governments since 1879 into the hateful adversary of Germanism -- the Great International Party. This wholly imaginary organization was held responsible for all political developments contrary to German nationalist interests in Austria and impugned as a Catholic conspiracy. [9] Lanz also appears to have been caught up in this current of feeling. He abandoned his Cistercian novitiate in a profoundly anti-Catholic mood in 1899, joined the Pan-German movement, and is said to have converted briefly to Protestantism. [10] Although going los von Rom was but a short intermediate stage in his evolution towards his own race cult of Ariosophy, this step indicates the signal importance of Pan-Germanism in his ideological development.

Racism was a vital element in the Ariosophists' account of national conflict and the virtue of the Germans. An early classic on the superiority of the Nordic-Aryan race and a pessimistic prediction of its submergence by non-Aryan peoples was Arthur de Gobineau's essay. [11] Although this work evoked no immediate response, its notions were echoed and its conclusions reversed by numerous propagandists for the superiority of Germandom towards the end of the century. When the Social Darwinists invoked the inevitability of biological struggle in human life, it was proposed that the Aryans (or really the Germans) need not succumb to the fate of deterioration, but could prevail against the threats of decline and contamination by maintaining their racial purity. This shrill imperative to crude struggle between the races and eugenic reform found broad acceptance in Germany around the turn of the century: the principal works of Ernst Krause, Otto Ammon, Ludwig Wilser, and Ludwig Woltmann, all Social Darwinists, were all published between the early 1890s and 1910. [12]

Ernst Haeckel, the eminent zoologist, warned repeatedly against the mixing of races and founded the Monist League in 1906 in order to popularize this racist version of Social Darwinism among Germans. [13] These scientific formulations of racism in the context of physical anthropology and zoology lent conviction to volkisch nationalist prejudice in both Germany and Austria. List borrowed stock racist notions from this movement, while Lanz contributed to Das freie Wort [The Free Word, est. 1901], a semi-official journal of the Monist League, and to Woltmann's Politisch-Anthropologische Revue [Political-Anthropological Review, est. 1902]. The central importance of 'Aryan' racism in Ariosophy, albeit compounded by occult notions deriving from theosophy, may be traced to the racial concerns of Social Darwinism in Germany.

If some aspects of Ariosophy can be related to the problems of German nationalism in the multi-national Habsburg empire at the end of the nineteenth century, others have a more local source in Vienna. Unlike the ethnic borderlands, Vienna was traditionally a German city, the commercial and cultural centre of the Austrian state. However, by 1900, rapid urbanization of its environs, coupled with the immigration of non-German peoples, was transforming its physical appearance and, in some central districts, its ethnic composition. Old photographs bear an eloquent testimony to the rapid transformation of the traditional face of Vienna at the end of the nineteenth century. During the 1850s the old star-shaped glacis of Prince Eugene was demolished to make way for the new Ringstrasse, with its splendid new palais and public buildings. A comparison of views before and after the development indicates the loss of the intimate, aesthetic atmosphere of a royal residence amid spacious parkland in favour of a brash and monumental metropolitanism. It may be that List rejected urban culture and celebrated rural-medieval idylls as a reaction to the new Vienna.

Between 1860 and 1900 the population of the city had increased nearly threefold, resulting in a severe housing shortage. By 1900 no less than 43 per cent of the population were living in dwellings of two rooms or less, while homelessness and destitution were widespread. [14] Parallel with this process of overcrowding and slum creation was the large immigration of Jews from Galicia. In 1857 only some 6,000 Jews had resided in the capital, but by 1910 this number had risen to 175,000, which was more than 8 per cent of the total city population; in certain districts they accounted for 20 per cent of the local residents. [15] These eastern Jews wore traditional costume and made a scant living as poor tradesmen or pedlars. Germans with volkisch attitudes would have certainly regarded this new influx as a serious threat to the ethnic character of the capital. An example of this reaction is found in Hitler's description of his first encounter with such Jews in the Inner City. [16] Given the Ariosophists' preoccupation with the growing predominance of non-German nationalities in Austria, such local changes would have furnished palpable evidence of the problem.

It remains to be asked if Ariosophy's assimilation of occult notions deriving from theosophy also had a local source in Vienna. Although a Theosophical Society had been established there in 1886, no German translation of the movement's basic text, The Secret Doctrine, was published until 1901. The 1900s subsequently witnessed a wave of German theosophical publishing. But while the date of the ariosophical texts (from 1907 onwards) relates to the contemporary vogue of the theosophical movement in Central Europe, it is not easy to ascribe a specifically Austrian quality to the volkisch-theosophical phenomenon. Mystical and religious speculations also jostled with quasi-scientific forms (e.g. Social Darwinism, Monism) of volkisch ideology in Germany. It is furthermore significant that several important ariosophical writers and many List Society supporters lived outside Austria [17] It is thus correct to say that, while the volkisch racism, the anti-Catholicism, and the anti-modernity of Ariosophy relate to specifically Austrian factors, its involvement with theosophy indicates a more general phenomenon. Given the large number of volkisch leagues in Vienna, it is not so remarkable that a small coterie should have exploited the materials of a new sectarian doctrine as fresh 'proof' for their theories of Aryan-German superiority. The particular appropriateness of theosophy for a vindication of elitism and racism is reserved for a later discussion. [18]

To conclude: the origins of Ariosophy in Vienna may be related to the problems of modernity and nationalism in the Habsburg empire at the beginning of the century. Although still outwardly brilliant and prosperous, Vienna had become embedded in the past. In the modernizing process, that 'old, cosmopolitan, feudal and peasant Europe' -- which had anachronistically survived in the territory of the empire-was swiftly disappearing. Some bourgeois and petty bourgeois in particular felt threatened by progress, by the abnormal growth of the cities, and by economic concentration. These anxieties were compounded by the increasingly bitter quarrels among the nations of the empire which were, in their turn, eroding the precarious balance of the multi-national state. Such fears gave rise to defensive ideologies, offered by their advocates as panaceas for a threatened world. That some individuals sought a sense of status and security in doctrines of German identity and racial virtue may be seen as reaction to the medley of nationalities at the heart of the empire. Writing of his feelings towards non-Germans in contemporary Vienna, Hitler had written:

Widerwartig war mir das Rassenkonglomerat, das die Reichshauptstadt zeigte, widerwartig dieses ganze Volkergemisch von Tschechen, Polen, Ungarn, Ruthenen, Serben und Kroaten ... Mir erschien die Riesenstadt als die Verkorperung der Blutschande. [19]

[I found the racial conglomeration of the Imperial capital disgusting, this whole medley of Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Ruthenians, Serbs and Croats was disgusting ... The city seemed the very embodiment of racial infamy.]

It is a tragic paradox that the colourful variety of peoples in the Habsburg empire, a direct legacy of its dynastic supra-national past, should have nurtured the germination of genocidal racist doctrines in a new age of nationalism and social change.
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Re: The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

Postby admin » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:47 pm

2: The Modern German Occult Revival, 1880-1910

OCCULTISM has its basis in a religious way of thinking, the roots of which stretch back into antiquity and which may be described as the Western esoteric tradition. Its principal ingredients have been identified as Gnosticism, the Hermetic treatises on alchemy and magic, Neo-Platonism, and the Cabbala, all originating in the eastern Mediterranean area during the first few centuries AD. Gnosticism properly refers to the beliefs of certain heretical sects among the early Christians that claimed to posses gnosis, or special esoteric knowledge of spiritual matters. Although their various doctrines differed in many respects, two common Gnostic themes exist: first, an oriental (Persian) dualism, according to which the two realms of Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, order and chaos are viewed as independent battling principles; and second, the conviction that this material world is utterly evil, so that man can be saved only by attaining the gnosis of the higher realm. The Gnostic sects disappeared in the fourth century, but their ideas inspired the dualistic Manichaean religion of the second century and also the Hermetica. These Greek texts were composed in Egypt between the third and fifth centuries and developed a synthesis of Gnostic ideas, Neoplatonism and cabbalistic theosophy. Since these mystical doctrines arose against a background of cultural and social change, a correlation has been noted between the proliferation of the sects and the breakdown of the stable agricultural order of the late Roman Empire. [1]

When the basic assumptions of the medieval world were shaken by new modes of enquiry and geographical discoveries in the fifteenth century, Gnostic and Hermetic ideas enjoyed a brief revival. Prominent humanists and scholar magicians edited the old classical texts during the Renaissance and thus created a modem corpus of occult speculation. But after the triumph of empiricism in the seventeenth-century scientific revolution, such ideas became the preserve of only a few antiquarians and mystics. By the eighteenth century these unorthodox religious and philosophical concerns were well defined as 'occult', inasmuch as they lay on the outermost fringe of accepted forms of knowledge and discourse. However, a reaction to the rationalist Enlightenment, taking the form of a quickening romantic temper, an interest in the Middle Ages and a desire for mystery, encouraged a revival of occultism in Europe from about 1770.

Germany boasted several renowned scholar magicians in the Renaissance, and a number of secret societies devoted to Rosicrucianism, theosophy, and alchemy also flourished there from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. However, the impetus for the neo-romantic occult revival of the nineteenth century did not arise in Germany. It is attributable rather to the reaction against the reign of materialist, rationalist and positivist ideas in the utilitarian and industrial cultures of America and England. The modern German occult revival owes its inception to the popularity of theosophy in the Anglo-Saxon world during the 1880s. Here theosophy refers to the international sectarian movement deriving from the activities and writings of the Russian adventuress and occultist, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-91). Her colourful life and travels in the 1850s and 1860s, her clairvoyant powers and penchant for supernatural phenomena, her interest in American spiritualism during the 1870s, followed by her foundation of the Theosophical Society at New York in 1875 and the subsequent removal of its operations to India between 1879 and 1885, have all been fully documented in several biographies.2 Here the essentials of theosophy as a doctrine will be summarized before tracing its penetration of Central Europe.

Madame Blavatsky's first book, Isis Unveiled (1877), was less an outline of her new religion than a rambling tirade against the rationalist and materialistic culture of modern Western civilization. Her use of traditional esoteric sources to discredit present-day beliefs showed clearly how much she hankered after ancient religious truths in defiance of contemporary agnosticism and modern science. In this enterprise she drew upon a range of secondary sources treating of pagan mythology and mystery religions, Gnosticism, the Hermetica, and the arcane lore of the Renaissance scholars, the Rosicrucians and other secret fraternities. W. E. Coleman has shown that her work comprises a sustained and frequent plagiarism of about one hundred contemporary texts, chiefly relating to ancient and exotic religions, demonology, Freemasonry and the case for spiritualism. [3] Behind these diverse traditions, Madame Blavatsky discerned the unique source of their inspiration: the occult lore of ancient Egypt. Her fascination with Egypt as the fount of all wisdom arose from her enthusiastic reading of the English author Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton. His novel The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) had been conceived of as a narrative of the impact of the Isis cult in Rome during the first century AD. His later works, Zanoni (1842), A Strange Story (1862), and The Coming Race (1871), also dwelt on esoteric initiation and secret fraternities dedicated to occult knowledge in a way which exercised an extraordinary fascination on the romantic mind of the nineteenth century. It is ironical that early theosophy should have been principally inspired by English occult fiction, a fact made abundantly clear by Liljegren's comparative textual studies. [4]

Only after Madame Blavatsky and her followers moved to India in 1879 did theosophy receive a more systematic formulation. At the new headquarters of the Theosophical Society in Madras she wrote The Secret Doctrine (1888). This work betrayed her plagiarism again but now her sources were mainly contemporary works on Hinduism and modern science. [5] Her new book was presented as a commentary on a secret text called the 'Stanzas of Dzyan', which she claimed to have seen in a subterranean Himalayan monastery. This new interest in Indian lore may reflect her sensitivity to changes in the direction of scholarship: witness the contemporary importance of Sanskrit as a basis for the comparative study of so-called Aryan languages under Franz Bopp and Max Muller. Now the East rather than Egypt was seen as the source of ancient wisdom. Later theosophical doctrine consequently displays a marked similarity to the religious tenets of Hinduism.

The Secret Doctrine claimed to describe the activities of God from the beginning of one period of universal creation until its end, a cyclical process which continues indefinitely over and over again. The story related how the present universe was born, whence it emanated, what powers fashion it, whither it is progressing, and what it all means. The first volume (Cosmogenesis) outlined the scheme according to which the primal unity of an unmanifest divine being differentiates itself into a multiformity of consciously evolving beings that gradually fill the universe. The divine being manifested itself initially through an emanation and three subsequent Logoi: these cosmic phases created time, space, and matter, and were symbolized by a series of sacred Hindu sigils Image. All subsequent creation occurred in conformity with the divine plan, passing through seven 'rounds' or evolutionary cycles. In the first round the universe was characterized by the predominance of fire, in the second by air, in the third by water, in the fourth by earth, and in the others by ether. This sequence reflected the cyclical fall of the universe from divine grace over the first four rounds and its following redemption over the next three, before everything contracted once more to the point of primal unity for the start of a new major cycle. Madame Blavatsky illustrated the stages of the cosmic cycle with a variety of esoteric symbols, including triangles, triskelions, and swastikas. So extensive was her use of this latter Eastern sign of fortune and fertility that she included it in her design for the seal of the Theosophical Society. The executive agent of the entire cosmic enterprise was called Fohat, 'a universal agent employed by the Sons of God to create and uphold our world'. The manifestations of this force were, according to Blavatsky, electricity and solar energy, and 'the objectivised thought of the gods'. This electro-spiritual force was in tune with contemporary vitalist and scientific thought.

The second volume (Anthropogenesis) attempted to relate man to this grandiose vision of the cosmos. Not only was humanity assigned an age of far greater antiquity than that conceded by science, but it was also integrated into a scheme of cosmic, physical, and spiritual evolution. These theories were partly derived from late nineteenth-century scholarship concerning palaeontology, inasmuch as Blavatsky adopted a racial theory of human evolution. She extended her cyclical doctrine with the assertion that each round witnessed the rise and fall of seven consecutive root-races, which descended on the scale of spiritual development from the first to the fourth, becoming increasingly enmeshed in the material world (the Gnostic notion of a Fall from Light into Darkness was quite explicit), before ascending through progressively superior root-races from the fifth to the seventh. According to Blavatsky, present humanity constituted the fifth root-race upon a planet that was passing through the fourth cosmic round, so that a process of spiritual advance lay before the species. The fifth root-race was called the Aryan race and had been preceded by the fourth root-race of the Atlanteans, which had largely perished in a flood that submerged their mid-Atlantic continent. The Atlanteans had wielded psychic forces with which our race was not familiar, their gigantism enabled them to build cyclopean structures, and they possessed a superior technology based upon the successful exploitation of Fohat. The three earlier races of the present planetary round were proto-human, consisting of the first Astral root-race which arose in an invisible, imperishable and sacred land and the second Hyperborean root-race which had dwelt on a vanished polar continent. The third Lemurian root-race flourished on a continent which had lain in the Indian Ocean. It was probably due to this race's position at or near the spiritual nadir of the evolutionary racial cycle that Blavatsky charged the Lemurians with racial miscegenation entailing a kind of Fall and the breeding of monsters. [6]

A further important theosophical tenet was the belief in reincarnation and karma, also taken from Hinduism. The individual human ego was regarded as a tiny fragment of the divine being. Through reincarnation each ego pursued a cosmic journey through the rounds and the root-races which led it towards eventual reunion with the divine being whence it had originally issued. This path of countless rebirths also recorded a story of cyclical redemption: the initial debasement of the ego was followed by its gradual sublimation to the point of identity with God. The process of reincarnation was fulfilled according to the principle of karma, whereby good acts earned their performer a superior reincarnation and bad acts an inferior reincarnation. This belief not only provided for everyone's participation in the fantastic worlds of remote prehistory in the root-race scheme, but also enabled one to conceive of salvation through reincarnation in the ultimate root-races which represented the supreme state of spiritual evolution: 'we men shall in the future take our places in the skies as Lords of planets, Regents of galaxies and wielders of fire-mist [Fohat]'. This chiliastic vision supplemented the psychological appeal of belonging to a vast cosmic order. [7]

Besides its racial emphasis, theosophy also stressed the principle of elitism and the value of hierarchy. Blavatsky claimed she received her initiation into the doctrines from two exalted mahatmas or masters called Morya and Koot Hoomi, who dwelt in a remote and secret Himalayan fastness. These adepts were not gods but rather advanced members of our own evolutionary group, who had decided to impart their wisdom to the rest of Aryan mankind through their chosen representative, Madame Blavatsky. Like her masters, she also claimed an exclusive authority on the basis of her occult knowledge or gnosis. Her account of prehistory frequently invoked the sacred authority of elite priesthoods among the root-races of the past. When the Lemurians had fallen into iniquity and sin, only a hierarchy of the elect remained pure in spirit. This remnant became the Lemuro-Atlantean dynasty of priest-kings who took up their abode on the fabulous island of Shamballah in the Gobi Desert. These leaders were linked with Blavatsky's own masters, who were the instructors of the fifth Aryan root-race. [8]

Despite its tortuous argument and the frequent contradictions which arose from the plethora of pseudo-scholarly references throughout the work, The Secret Doctrine may be summarized in terms of three basic principles. Firstly, the fact of a God, who is omnipresent, eternal, boundless and immutable. The instrument of this deity is Fohat, an electro-spiritual force which impresses the divine scheme upon the cosmic substance as the 'laws of nature'. Secondly, the rule of periodicity, whereby all creation is subject to an endless cycle of destruction and rebirth. These rounds always terminate at a level spiritually superior to their starting-point. Thirdly, there exists a fundamental unity between all individual souls and the deity, between the microcosm and the macrocosm. [9] But it was hardly this plain theology that guaranteed theosophy its converts. Only the hazy promise of occult initiation shimmering through its countless quotations from ancient beliefs, lost apocryphal writings, and the traditional Gnostic and Hermetic sources of esoteric wisdom can account for the success of her doctrine and the size of her following amongst the educated classes of several countries.

How can one explain the enthusiastic reception of Blavatsky's ideas by significant numbers of Europeans and Americans from the 1880s onwards? Theosophy offered an appealing mixture of ancient religious ideas and new concepts borrowed from the Darwinian theory of evolution and modern science. This syncretic faith thus possessed the power to comfort certain individuals whose traditional outlook had been upset by the discrediting of orthodox religion, by the very rationalizing and de-mystifying progress of science and by the culturally dislocative impact of rapid social and economic change in the late nineteenth century. George L. Mosse has noted that theosophy typified the wave of anti-positivism sweeping Europe at the end of the century and observed that its outre notions made a deeper impression in Germany than in other European countries. [10]

Although a foreign hybrid combining romantic Egyptian revivalism, American spiritualism and Hindu beliefs, theosophy enjoyed a considerable vogue in Germany and Austria. Its advent is best understood within a wider neo-romantic protest movement in Wilhelmian Germany known as Lebensreform (life reform). This movement represented a middle-class attempt to palliate the ills of modern life, deriving from the growth of the cities and industry. A variety of alternative life-styles-including herbal and natural medicine, vegetarianism, nudism and self-sufficient rural communes-were embraced by small groups of individuals who hoped to restore themselves to a natural existence. The political atmosphere of the movement was apparently liberal and left-wing with its interest in land reform, but there were many overlaps with the volkisch movement. Marxian critics have even interpreted it as mere bourgeois escapism from the consequences of capitalism. [11] Theosophy was appropriate to the mood of Lebensreform and provided a philosophical rationale for some of its groups.

In July 1884 the first German Theosophical Society was established under the presidency of Wilhelm Hubbe-Schleiden (1846-1916) at Elberfeld, where Blavatsky and her chief collaborator, Henry Steel Olcott, were staying with their theosophical friends, the Gebhards. At this time Hubbe-Schleiden was employed as a senior civil servant at the Colonial Office in Hamburg. He had travelled widely, once managing an estate in West Africa and was a prominent figure in the political lobby for an expanded German overseas empire. Olcott and Hubbe-Schleiden travelled to Munich and Dresden to make contact with scattered theosophists and so lay the basis for a German organization. It has been suggested that this hasty attempt to found a German movement sprang from Blavatsky's desire for a new centre after a scandal involving charges of charlatanism against the theosophists at Madras early in 1884. Blavatsky's methods of producing occult phenomena and messages from her masters had aroused suspicion in her entourage and led eventually to an enquiry and an unfavourable report upon her activities by the London Society for Psychical Research. Unfortunately for Hubbe-Schleiden, his presidency lapsed when the formal German organization dissolved, once the scandal became more widely publicized following the exodus of the theosophists from India in April 1885. [12] Henceforth Blavatsky lived in London and found eager new pupils amongst the upper classes of Victorian England.

In 1886 Hubbe-Schleiden stimulated a more serious awareness of occultism in Germany through the publication or a scholarly monthly periodical, Die Sphinx, which was concerned with a discussion of spiritualism, psychical research, and paranormal phenomena from a scientific point of view. Its principal contributors were eminent psychologists, philosophers and historians. Here Max Dessoir expounded hypnotism, while Eduard von Hartmann developed a philosophy of 'individualism', according to which the ego survived death as a discarnate entity, against a background of Kantian thought, Christian theology, and spiritualist speculations. Carl du Prel, the psychical researcher, and his colleague Lazar von Hellenbach, who had held seances with the famous American medium Henry Slade in Vienna, both contributed essays in a similar vein. Another important member of the Sphinx circle was Karl Kiesewetter, whose studies in the history of the post- Renaissance esoteric tradition brought knowledge of the scholar magicians, the early modern alchemists and contemporary occultism to a wider audience. While not itself theosophical, Hubbe-Schleiden's periodical was a powerful element in the German occult revival until it ceased publication in 1895.

Besides this scientific current of occultism, there arose in the 1890s a broader German theosophical movement, which derived mainly from the popularizing efforts of Franz Hartmann (1838-1912). Hartmann had been born in Donauworth and brought up in Kempten, where his father held office as a court doctor. After military service with a Bavarian artillery regiment in 1859, Hartmann began his medical studies at Munich University. While on vacation in France during 1865, he took a post as ship's doctor on a vessel bound for the United States, where he spent the next eighteen years of his life. After completing his training at St Louis he opened an eye clinic and practised there until 1870. He then travelled round Mexico, settled briefly at New Orleans before continuing to Texas in 1873, and in 1878 went to Georgetown in Colorado, where he became coroner in 1882. Besides his medical practice he claimed to have a speculative interest in gold- and silver-mining. By the beginning of the 1870s he had also become interested in American spiritualism, attending the seances of the movement's leading figures such as Mrs Rice Holmes and Kate Wentworth, while immersing himself in the writings of Judge Edmonds and Andrew Jackson Davis. However, following his discovery of Isis Unveiled, theosophy replaced spiritualism as his principal diversion. He resolved to visit the theosophists at Madras, travelling there by way of California, Japan and South-East Asia in late 1883. While Blavatsky and Olcott visited Europe in early 1884, Hartmann was appointed acting president of the Society during their absence. He remained at the Society headquarters until the theosophists finally left India in April 1885. [13]

Hartmann's works were firstly devoted to Rosicrucian initiates, Paracelsus, Jakob Boehme and other topics in the Western esoteric tradition, and were published in America and England between 1884 and 1891. However, once he had established himself as a director of a Lebensreform sanatorium at Hallein near Salzburg upon his return to Europe in 1885, Hartmann began to disseminate the new wisdom of the East to his own countrymen. In 1889 he founded, together with Alfredo Pioda and Countess Constance Wachtmeister, the close friend of Blavatsky, a theosophical lay-monastery at Ascona, a place noted for its many anarchist experiments. [14] From 1892 translations of Indian sacred texts and Blavatsky's writings were printed in his periodical, Lotusbluthen [Lotus Blossoms] (1892-1900), which was the first German publication to sport the theosophical swastika upon its cover. In the second half of this decade the first peak in German theosophical publishing occurred. Wilhelm Friedrich of Leipzig, the publishers of Hartmann's magazine, issued a twelve-volume book series, Bibliothek esoterischer Schriften [Library of Esoteric Writings] (1898-1900), while Hugo Goring, a theosophist in Weimar, edited a thirty-volume book series, Theosophische Schriften [Theosophical Writings] (1894-96). Both series consisted of German translations from Blavatsky's successors in England, Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater, together with original studies by Hartmann and Hubbe-Schleiden. The chief concern of these small books lay with abstruse cosmology, karma, spiritualism and the actuality of the hidden mahatmas. In addition to this output must be mentioned Hartmann's translations of the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao-Te-King and the Tattwa Bodha, together with his own monographs on Buddhism, Christian mysticism and Paracelsus.

Once Hartmann's example had provided the initial impetus, another important periodical sprang up. In 1896 Paul Zillmann founded the Metaphysische Rundschau [Metaphysical Review], a monthly periodical which dealt with many aspects of the esoteric tradition, while also embracing new parapsychological research as a successor to Die Sphinx. Zillmann, who lived at Gross-Lichterfelde near Berlin, was an executive committee member of a new German Theosophical Society founded under Hartmann's presidency at Berlin in August 1896, when the American theosophists Katherine Tingley, E. T. Hargrove and C. F. Wright were travelling through Europe to drum up overseas support for their movement. [15] Zillmann's own studies and the articles in his periodical betrayed a marked eclecticism: contributions on yoga, phrenology, astrology, animal magnetism and hypnotism jostled with reprints of the medieval German mystics, a late eighteenth-century rosicrucian-alchemical treatise, and the works of the modern French occultist Gerard Encausse (Papus). Hartmann supplied a fictional story about his discovery of a secret Rosicrucian monastery in the Bavarian Alps, which fed the minds of readers with romantic notions of adepts in the middle of modern Europe. [16] Zillmann was so inspired by the early nineteenth-century mystic Eckhartshausen and his ideas for a secret school of illuminates that he founded an occult lodge in early 1897. This Wald-Loge (Forest Lodge) was organized into three quasi-masonic grades of initiation. [17] In Zillmann's entourage there worked the occultist Ferdinand Maack, devoted to the study of newly discovered rays in the context of his own 'dynamosophic' science and an edition of the traditional Rosicrucian texts, the astrologer Albert Kniepf, Indian theosophists and writers on the American movements of Christian Science and New Thought. In his capacity of publisher, Paul Zillmann was an important link between the German occult subculture and the Ariosophists of Vienna, whose works he issued under his own imprint between 1906 and 1908.

The German Theosophical Society had been established in August 1896 as a national branch of the International Theosophical Brotherhood, founded by the American theosophists around Willian Quan Judge and Katherine Tingley. Theosophy remained a sectarian phenomenon in Germany, typified by small and often antagonistic local groups. In late 1900 the editor of the Neue Metaphysische Rundschau received annual reports from branch societies in Berlin, Cottbus, Dresden, Essen, Graz, and Leipzig and bemoaned their evident lack of mutual fraternity. [18] However, by 1902, the movement displayed more cohesion with two principal centres at Berlin and Leipzig, supported by a further ten local theosophical societies and about thirty small circles throughout Germany and Austria. Paul Raatz, editor of the periodical Theosophisches Leben [Theosophical Life, est. April 1898], opened a theosophical centre in the capital, while at Leipzig there existed another centre associated with Arthur Weber, Hermann Rudolf, and Edwin Bohme. [19] Weber had edited his own periodical Der theosophische Wegweiser [The Theosophical Signpost, est. 1898], while from the newly-founded Theosophical Central Bookshop he issued a book-series, Geheimwissenschaftliche Vortrage [Occult Lectures] (1902-7), for which Rudolph and Bohme contributed many titles.

While these activities remained largely under the sway of Franz Hartmann and Paul Zillmann, mention must be made of another theosophical tendency in Germany. In 1902 Rudolf Steiner, a young scholar who had studied in Vienna before writing at Weimar a study of Goethe's scientific writings, was made general secretary of the German Theosophical Society at Berlin, founded by London theosophists. Steiner published a periodical, Luzifer, at Berlin from 1903 to 1908. However, his mystical Christian interests increasingly estranged him from the theosophists under Annie Besant's strongly Hindu persuasion, so that he finally broke away to found his own Anthroposophical Society in 1912. [20] It may have been a desire to counter Steiner's influence in the occult subculture which led Hartmann to encourage the publication of several new periodicals. In 1906 a Theosophical Publishing House was established at Leipzig by his young protege Hugo Vollrath. [21] Under this imprint a wave of occult magazines appeared, including Der Wanderer (1906-8), edited by Arthur Weber; Prana (1909-19), edited initially by the astrologer Karl Brandler-Pracht and later by Johannes Balzli, secretary of the Leipzig Theosophical Society; and Theosophie (est. 1910), edited by Hugo Vollrath. Astrological periodicals and a related book-series, the Astrologische Rundschau [Astrological Review] and the Astrologische Bibliothek [Astrological Library], were also issued here from 1910. Hartmann's earlier periodical was revived in 1908 under the title Neue Lotusbluten at the Jaeger press, which simultaneously started the Osiris-Bucher, a long book-series which introduced many new occultists to the German public.

Meanwhile, other publishers had been entering the field. Karl Rohm, who had visited the English theosophists in London in the late 1890s, started a firm at Lorch in Wurttemberg after the turn of the century. His publications included reprints of Boehme, Hamann, Jung-Stilling, and Alfred Martin Oppel (A.M.O.), translations of Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton's romances and the works of contemporary occultists. [22] Johannes Baum's New Thought publishing house was founded in 1912 and moved to Pfullingen in 1919. Although initially concerned with translations of American material, this firm was to playa vital role in German esoteric publishing during the 1920s. [23]

In competition with the theosophists at Leipzig was the firm of Max Altmann, which had commenced occult publishing in 1905. In July 1907 Altmann began to issue the popular Zentralblatt fur Okkultismus, edited by D. Georgiewitz-Weitzer, who wrote his own works on modern Rosicrucians, alchemy and occult medicine under the pseudonym G. W. Surya. The Leipzig bookseller Heinrich Tranker issued an occult book-series between 1910 and 1912, which included the works of Karl Helmuth and Karl Heise. From 1913 Antonius von der Linden began an ambitious book-series, Geheime Wissenschafien [Secret Sciences] (1913-20), which consisted of reprints of esoteric texts from the Renaissance scholar Agrippa von Nettesheim, the Rosicrucians and eighteenth-century alchemists, together with commentaries and original texts by modern occultists. From this brief survey it can be deduced that German occult publishing activity reached its second peak between the years 1906 and 1912. [24]

If the German occult subculture was well developed before the First World War, Vienna could also look back on a ripe tradition of occult interest. The story of this tradition is closely linked with Friedrich Eckstein (1861-1939). The personal secretary of the composer Anton Bruckner, this brilliant polymath cultivated a wide circle of acquaintance amongst the leading thinkers, writers and musicians of Vienna. His penchant for occultism first became evident as a member of a LebensreJorm group who had practised vegetarianism and discussed the doctrines of Pythagoras and the Neo-Platonists in Vienna at the end of the 1870s. His esoteric interests later extended to German and Spanish mysticism, the legends surrounding the Templars, and the Freemasons, Wagnerian mythology, and oriental religions. In 1880 he befriended the Viennese mathematician Oskar Simony, who was impressed by the metaphysical theories of Professor Friedrich Zollner of Leipzig. Zollner had hypothesized that spiritualistic phenomena confirmed the existence of a fourth dimension. Eckstein and Simony were also associated with the Austrian psychical researcher, Lazar von Hellenbach, who performed scientific experiments with mediums in a state of trance and contributed to Die Sphinx. Following his cordial meeting with Blavatsky in 1886, Eckstein gathered a group of theosophists in Vienna. During the late 1880s both Franz Hartmann and the young Rudolf Steiner were habitues of this circle. Eckstein was also acquainted with the mystical group around the illiterate Christian pietist, Alois Mailander (1844-1905), who was lionized at Kempten and later at Darmstadt by many theosophists, including Hartmann and Hubbe-Schleiden. Eckstein corresponded with Gustav Meyrink, founder of the Blue Star theosophical lodge at Prague in 1891, who later achieved renown as an occult novelist before the First World War. In 1887 a Vienna Theosophical Society was founded with Eckstein as president and Count Karl zu Leiningen-Billigheim as secretary.

New groups devoted to occultism arose in Vienna after the turn of the century. There existed an Association for Occultism, which maintained a lending-library where its members could consult the works of Zollner, Hellenbach and du Prel. The Association was close to Philipp Maschlufsky, who began to edit an esoteric periodical, Die Gnosis, from 1903. The paper was subsequently acquired by Berlin theosophists who amalgamated it with Rudolf Steiner's Luzifer. [26] In December 1907 the Sphinx Reading Club, a similar occult study-group, was founded by Franz Herndl, who wrote two occult novels and was an important member of the List Society. [27] Astrology and other occult sciences were also represented in the Austrian capital. Upon his return from the United States to his native city, Karl Brandler-Pracht had founded the First Viennese Astrological Society in 1907. [28] According to Josef Greiner's account of Hitler's youth in Vienna, meetings and lectures concerned with astrology, hypnotism and other forms of divination were commonplace in the capital before the outbreak of the war. [29] Given this occult subculture in Vienna, one can better appreciate the local background of the movements around Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels, whose racist writings after 1906 owed so much to the modern occult revival in Central Europe.

Although modern occultism was represented by many varied forms, its function appears relatively uniform. Behind the mantic systems of astrology, phrenology and palmistry, no less the doctrines of theosophy, the quasi-sciences of 'dynamosophy', animal magnetism and hypnotism, and a textual antiquarianism concerning the esoteric literature of traditional cabbalists, Rosicrucians, and alchemists, there lay a strong desire to reconcile the findings of modern natural science with a religious view that could restore man to a position of centrality and dignity in the universe. Occult science tended to stress man's intimate and meaningful relationship with the cosmos in terms of 'revealed' correspondences between the microcosm and macrocosm, and strove to counter materialist science, with its emphasis upon tangible and measurable phenomena and its neglect' of invisible qualities respecting the spirit and the emotions. These new 'metaphysical' sciences [30] gave individuals a holistic view of themselves and the world in which they lived. This view conferred both a sense of participation in a total meaningful order and, through divination, a means of planning one's affairs in accordance with this order.

The attraction of this world-view was indicated at the beginning of this chapter. Occultism had flourished coincident with the decline of the Roman Empire and once again at the waning of the Middle Ages. It exercised a renewed appeal to those who found the world out of joint due to rapid social and ideological changes at the end of the nineteenth century. Certain individuals, whose sentiments and education inclined them towards an idealistic and romantic perspective, were drawn to the modern occult revival in order to find that sense of order, which had been shaken by the dissolution of erstwhile conventions and beliefs.

Since Ariosophy originated in Vienna, in response to the problems of German nationality and metropolitanism, one must consider the particular kind of theosophy which the Ariosophists adapted to their volkisch ideas. A theosophical group had been active in the city as early as 1887, but its members were initially inclined towards a Biedermeier tradition of pious 'inwardness' and self-cultivation under the patronage of Marie Lang. Rudolf Steiner was a member of this group and his account of its interests indicates how little sympathy there existed between the 'factual' Buddhistic theosophy of Franz Hartmann, who was also in attendance, and the more spiritual reflective attitude of the rest of the circle. [31] During the 1890s Viennese theosophy appeared to reflect the predilection of the educated classes for piety, subjectivism, and the cult of feelings, a mood which corresponds to the contemporary vogue of the feuilleton and literary impressionism in the arts. Schorske has attempted to relate this cultivation of the self to the social plight of the Viennese bourgeoisie at the end of the century. He suggests that this class had begun by supporting the temple of art as a surrogate form of assimilation into the aristocracy, but ended by finding in it an escape, a refuge from the collapse of liberalism and the emergence of vulgar mass-movements. [32] It appears plausible to locate the rise of Viennese theosophy within this cultural context.

When theosophy had become more widely publicized through the German publishing houses at the turn of the century, its ideas reached a larger audience. By this time theosophy represented a detailed body of teachings, as set down in the newly-available translation of Blavatsky's major work Die Geheimlehre [The Secret Doctrine] (1897-1901) and the numerous abridgements and commentaries by Franz Hartmann, Hermann Rudolph, Edwin Bohme and others. Whereas the earlier Austrian theosophical movement had been defined by the mystical Christianity and personal gnosticism of cultivated individuals, its later manifestation in Vienna corresponded to a disenchantment with Catholicism coupled with the popularization of mythology, folklore and comparative religion. The impetus came largely from Germany, and both List and Lanz drew their knowledge of theosophy from German sources. List was indebted to the Berlin theosophist Max Ferdinand von Sebaldt and counted Franz Hartmann, Hugo Goring, and Paul Zillmann among his supporters. Zillmann was the first to publish both List and Lanz on esoteric subjects. Theosophy in Vienna after 1900 appears to be a quasi-intellectual sectarian religious doctrine of German importation, current among persons wavering in their religious orthodoxy but who were inclined to a religious perspective.

The attraction of theosophy for List, Lanz, and their supporters consisted in its eclecticism with respect to exotic religion, mythology, and esoteric lore, which provided a universal and non-Christian perspective upon the cosmos and the origins of mankind, against which the sources of Teutonic belief, customs and identity, which were germane to volkisch speculation, could be located. Given the antipathy towards Catholicism among volkisch nationalists and Pan- Germans in Austria at the turn of the century, theosophy commended itself as a scheme of religious beliefs which ignored Christianity in favour of a melange of mythical traditions and pseudo-scientific hypotheses consonant with contemporary anthropology, etymology, and the history of ancient cultures. Furthermore, the very structure of theosophical thought lent itself to volkisch adoption. The implicit elitism of the hidden mahatmas with superhuman wisdom was in tune with the longing for a hierarchical social order based on the racial mystique of the Volk. The notion of an occult gnosis in theosophy, notably its obscuration due to the superimposition of alien (Christian) beliefs, and its revival by the chosen few, also accorded with the attempt to ascribe a long pedigree to volkisch nationalism, especially in view of its really recent origins. In the context of the growth of German nationalism in Austria since 1866, we can see how theosophy, otherwise only tenuously related to volkisch thought by notions of race and racial development, could lend both a religious mystique and a universal rationale to the political attitudes of a small minority.
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Re: The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

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PART 2: The Ariosophists of Vienna

3: Guido von List

GUIDO (VON) LIST was the first popular writer to combine volkisch ideology with occultism and theosophy. He also represented an exceptional figure among the volkisch publicists in Germany before 1914. First of all, he was a native of Vienna, the capital of Habsburg Austria, which by the turn of the century had stood outside the mainstream of German national development, as exemplified by the Bismarckian Reich, for more than three decades. List, moreover, belonged to an older generation than most of his pre-war fellow ideologues and thus became a cult figure on the eastern edge of the German world. He was regarded by his readers and followers as a bearded old patriarch and a mystical nationalist guru whose clairvoyant gaze had lifted the glorious Aryan and Germanic past of Austria into full view from beneath the debris of foreign influences and Christian culture. In his books and lectures List invited true Germans to behold the clearly discernible remains of a wonderful theocratic Ario-German state, wisely governed by priest-kings and gnostic initiates, in the archaeology, folklore, and landscape of his homeland. He applied himself to cabbalistic and astrological studies and also claimed to be the last of the Armanist magicians, who had formerly wielded authority in the old Aryan world.

Guido Karl Anton List was born in Vienna on 5 October 1848, the eldest son of a prosperous middle-class merchant. Both his mother and his father were descended from trading families that had been settled in the capital for at least two generations. Maria List, the mother of Guido, was the daughter of a builder's merchant, Franz Anton Killian, who had served as the commander of the First Vienna Civil Defence during the anti-royalist 1848 revolution. His father, Karl Anton List, was a leather goods dealer who sold saddlery and other finished articles, while his grandfather, Karl List, had been a publican and vintner by trade. The great-grandfather had also kept an inn. [1]

Guido List was brought up in the second Bezirk of the city which lies on the immediate eastern side of the old Danube canal in· the centre. Several accounts suggest that List was a happy child in a secure home. In 1851 Anton von Anreiter painted a water-colour portrait of him. [2] Such a commission would indicate that the family was both affluent and identified with the customs of the Vienna bourgeoisie. Young List enjoyed a good relationship with his parents. The Lists delighted in taking their children on country excursions around the capital, and it was these outings which initially established List's love of nature and rural landscape. List also displayed an artistic bent inasmuch as he tried to render these sentiments in both pictures and words, efforts which were encouraged by his 'father's instruction in drawing and painting. List's surviving sketches date from 1863 (aet. 15) and depict castles, prehistoric monuments, and the natural scenery of Lower Austria and Moravia. [3]

Like most Austrians, the List family was Roman Catholic, and List had been duly christened at St Peter's Church in Vienna. However, in 1862, an incident occurred that revealed his lack of interest in orthodox religion. When his father and friends planned to visit the catacombs beneath St Stephen's Cathedral, List was determined to accompany the adults. The dark and narrow vaults made a strong impression on him. He later claimed that he had knelt before a ruined altar in the crypt and sworn to build a temple to Wotan once he had grown up. Evidently he regarded the labyrinth under the cathedral as a pre-Christian shrine dedicated to a pagan deity. List was later to claim that his conversion dated froin this revelation. [4]

List wanted to become an artist and a scholar, by which he understood a romantic historian who could read the past from folklore and the landscape. This ambition brought him into conflict with his father, who wanted him to work in the family leather business as the eldest son and heir. List conformed with these paternal expectations and resigned himself to a commercial training, but his submission to the demands of work was by no means total. Henceforth he divided his time between the claims of commerce and a private world of art, imagination and nature-worship. During working hours he would assist his father, but he dedicated all his leisure time to rambling or riding through the countryside in all weathers, while sketching scenes and writing down his experiences. [5] These rural excursions were given direction and focus through List's interest in alpinism and rowing. He was proficient at both sports, becoming a leading member of the Viennese rowing club Donauhorl and the secretary of the Osterreichischer Alpenverein (Austrian Alpine Association) in 1871. It is significant that his first published piece appeared in the annual of the Alpine Association. Sport had evidently assumed the role of an active communion with the elemental realms of rivers and mountains. [6]

List's love of nature was inspired by a desire for solitude and escape from the workaday world. He was happiest if he could undertake his excursions alone. Although not averse to the company of friends, he often experienced others as a hindrance to the enjoyment of his inmost being. [7] Surviving descriptions of excursions undertaken in company indicate his withdrawal from the group and a tendency to strike off on a private adventure. His ritualization of such adventures served to make his private world even more exclusive and earned him the reputation of a lone wolf and a mystic. Such rituals are illustrated by his midsummer solstice camps. After a long hike across the Marchfeld, List and his friends had once gone to an inn. When a thunderstorm compelled the group to stay there overnight, List left to celebrate the solstice by sleeping out alone on the Geiselberg hill-fort. [8] Again, on 24 June 1875 he persuaded four friends to take the afternoon off work and to row with him on the Danube. Downstream they came upon the ruins of the Roman town of Carnuntum, where the group camped and caroused into the night. For his friends this was a most congenial evening; for List, lost in reverie, it was the 1500th anniversary of the tribal German victory over the Romans, which he celebrated with a fire and the burial of eight wine bottles in the shape of a swastika beneath the arch of the Pagan Gate. [9]

In later years List frankly explained· his attraction to nature as a reaction to the modern world of streets, shops, and factories. He often expressed his dislike of metropolitan Vienna: whenever he left the city for the country he felt he had escaped 'the foggy shroud of the metropolis' and 'fearful scenes of the wild pursuit of profit'. The modern economy had, according to List, led humans astray under the motto of self-seeking individualism. [10] 'One must flee those places where life throbs and seek out lonely spots untouched by human hand in order to lift the magic veil of nature.' [11] His flight into the benign and tranquil realm of nature was an escape from modernity, which he may have associated with paternal pressure towards a career in commerce.

While his father continued to manage the leather business, List could freely indulge his taste for solitude, sports, and long excursions. But after Karl Anton died in 1877, List was forced to make his own living. Being quite unsuited for commerce, he soon retired from the business and married his first wife, Helene Forster-Peters, on 26 September 1878. He recalled the next decade as a period of hardship, [12] as the couple eked out a very modest existence on scant private means and the small income from List's journalism. [13]

With his business career at an end, List was now able to pursue his interests in literature and history on a full-time basis. From 1877 to 1887 he published numerous articles about the Austrian countryside and the customs of its inhabitants in the newspapers Heimat, Deutsche Zeitung and Neue Welt, all known for their nationalist sentiment. His studies of landscape were coloured by a pagan interpretation of local place-names, customs and popular legends. A typical early idyll about a group of medieval castles near Melk was published in the Neue Deutsche Alpenzeitung in 1877. [14] Because the Austrian Alpine Association had assumed a trans-national status in 1874, thereby ignoring the German-Austrian borders of the 1867 and 1871 settlements, List was in contact with both Austrian and German members of the Association with nationalist and Pan-German attitudes. List now celebrated the fact that the landscape was native. The Alps and Danube were revered for their national identity; streams, fields and hills were personified as spirits culled from Teutonic myth and folklore. These early articles were distinguished from the juvenilia by their markedly volkisch and nationalist stamp.

During these years List was working at his first full-length novel, Carnuntum, inspired by that memorable summer solstice party of 1875. In 1881 he published a short account of his vivid experiences on that occasion. Enthralled by the genius loci List had gazed into the distant past of Carnuntum. The streets and splendid buildings of the ruined town rose around him, the ethereal figures of its former inhabitants passed before his mind's eye, and then he witnessed that fateful battle between Germans and Romans, which had led to the fall of the garrison in 375. In his opinion this attack of the Quadi and Marcomanni tribes started the Germanic migrations which eventually led to the sack of Rome in 410 and the collapse of the Empire. To List, the very word Carnuntum evoked the hazy aura of olden Germanic valour, a signal motto recalling the event that put the ancient Germans back on the stage of world history. [15] Carnuntum, published in two volumes in 1888, described a romance enacted against this fanciful background.

This specious history was doubly attractive to German nationalists in Austria. In the first place List placed Austrian-settled tribes in the van of the assault on Rome. Secondly, his account suggested that these tribal settlers of pre- Roman Austria and the post- Roman barbarian kingdoms of the Dark Ages constituted a continuous native occupation of the homeland. Their high civilization, to use List's terms, had been interrupted only twice in its entire history: once by the Roman colonization of Pannonia lasting from c.100 until 375, and secondly with the advent of Christianity, or 'the other Rome'. [16] This account reflected List's loathing of the contemporary Catholic establishment in Austria. The present political order and main confession were shown to be illegitimate, deriving from the imposition of a foreign yoke and the suppression of Germanic culture many centuries before. This mythology caught the attention of German nationalists in search of legitimations for their own disenchantment with the multinational Austrian state. The earliest recognition of his novel proved most valuable to List. In 1888 there had also appeared an historical work en tided Der altdeutsche Volksstamm der Quaden [The ancient German Quadi tribe) by Heinrich Kirchmayr. The publisher was the Verein 'Deutsches Haus' at Brno, whose president was the industrialist Friedrich Wannieck, chairman of the Prague Iron Company and the First Brno Engineering Company, both major producers of capital goods in the Habsburg empire. The Verein 'Deutsches Haus' was a nationalist association for German inhabitants of Brno, who felt encircled by the overwhelmingly Czech population of South Moravia. Wannieck was impressed by the parallels between List's clairvoyant account of the Quadi and the academic study of Kirchmayr. Between Wannieck and List there developed a regular correspondence that laid the basis of a lasting friendship. The Verein 'Deutsches Haus' later published three of List's works in its own book-series of nationalist studies of history and literature, while Wannieck's munificence eventually led to the foundation of the List Society twenty years later. [17]

Besides its appeal to this volkisch circle at Brno, Carnuntum helped to establish List as a familiar figure in the Austrian Pan-German movement associated with the names of Ritter Georg von Schonerer and Karl Wolf. Schonerer had first secured election to the Austrian Reichsrat in 1873 and became the outspoken protagonist of anti-Semitism and nationalism amongst the German nationals of the Habsburg empire. He made his first anti-Semitic speech before the assembly in 1878 and demanded the economic and political union of German-speaking Austria with the German Reich in his election address. From 1883 onwards he published a virulently nationalist newspaper Unverfalschte Deutsche Worte, which stressed the German identity of Austrian Germans and recommended a separation of German provinces from the remainder of the multi-national Habsburg empire. During this decade Schonerer achieved a modest following in many provincial groups, cultural societies, and sports clubs with similar sentiments. All these numerous associations were concerned with raising nationalist consciousness among the Austrian Germans in a variety of ways: anniversary celebrations for German royalty and culture heroes like the Prussian Kaiser, Bismarck, Moltke, and Wagner; midsummer and yuletide solstice festivals in accordance with ancient custom; and study-groups for the appreciation of German history and literature. List now made his own mark in this milieu during the 1890s.

1n 1890 Karl Wolf, a Pan-German parliamentary deputy, had begun publishing the weekly Ostdeutsche Rundschau [East German Review], the political tenor of which was only slightly less nationalistic than Schonerer's paper. List became a regular contributor. In 1891 the paper published extracts of his recent book, Deutsch-Mythologische Landschaftsbilder [German-Mythological Landscape Pictures 1 (1891), which comprised an anthology of his folkloristic journalism from the previous decade. The titles of his articles over the next years witness his tireless interest in the ancient national past of Austria: 1893 saw the publication of 'Gotterdammerung' and 'Allerseelen und der vorchristliche Totenkult des deutschen Volkes' in Wolf's paper; [18] in 1894 came a long serialized article 'Die deutsche Mythologie im Rahmen des Kalenderjahres', and, with a typically volkisch touch of peasant romanticism, 'Der Kohlenbrenner, ein nieder-osterreichische Volkstype';  [19] the celebration of national crafts was more general in his 'Die Blutezeit des deutschen Handwerkers im Mittelalter' of 1895. [20] Studies of magical folklore occurred in the articles 'Der deutsche Zauberglaube im Bauwesen' and 'Mephistopheles'. [21] By the middle of the decade List's nationalist sentiment included anti-Semitism, witness his deprecatory essay 'Die Juden als Staat und Nation'. [22] He also wrote in Aurelius Polzer's Bote aus dem Waldviertel [The Waldviertel Herald] (est. 1878) and in Kyffhauser (est. 1887), which had hoisted the Pan-German flag at Horn and Salzburg. His topics were heraldry and folk customs concerning baptism, marriage, and burial. In his opinion these traditional institutions all reflected archaic Teutonic practices. [23] List's nationalization of local history and archaeology was followed by Franz Kiessling, author of several books on topography, ancient monuments and customs in Lower Austria. The two men were acquainted and doubtless influenced each other.

Journalism by no means exhausted List's support of the Pan- German cause, for he was also active in the movement as a lecturer and a playwright. On 24 February 1893 he delivered a lecture to the nationalist Verein 'Deutsche Geschichte' about the ancient holy priesthood of the Wotan cult. List claimed this extinct faith had been the national religion of the Teutons. Moreover, it was a theme dear to List, since it had formed the subject of an earlier lecture read to members of Wannieck's Verein 'Deutsches Haus' in 1892 at Brno. In due course this imaginary priesthood would become the central idea of his political mythology. [24] He was also associated with the Bund der Germanen, the Verein refounded in January 1894 by Karl Wolf and Karl Iro, the editor of Schonerer's newspaper. On 3 December 1894 this league threw a Germanic evening festival, where diversions included a choir, music and the premiere of List's mythological play Der Wala Erweckung [The Wala's Awakening], followed by a speech on the German mission. The festival was exclusive to nationalists and the ticket of admission read 'not valid for Jews'. [25] As a member of the strongly nationalistic Deutscher Tumverein (German Gymnastic League, est. 1885), List commemorated the 1895 yuletide festival of its Leopoldstadt branch with a rousing oration entitled 'Deutsche Treue', which was subsequently published in Der Hammer (est. 1894), the monthly periodical of the German Nationalist Workers' League, and appearing as a supplement to the Ostdeutsche Rundschau.

List continued to publish his own literary works throughout the 1890s. In 1893 he had founded, together with Fanny Wschiansky, a belletristic society for the purpose of fostering neo-romaniic and nationalist literature in Vienna. This Literarische Donaugesellschaft (Danubian Literary Society) was modelled on the fifteenth-century litteraria sodalita Danubiana of the Viennese humanist Conrad Celte (1459-1508), about whom List wrote a short biography in 1893. The success of his first novel Carnuntum was repeated with two more historical romances set in tribal Germany. Jung Diethers Heimkehr [Young Diether's Homecoming] (1894) related the story of a young Teuton, who was converted to Christianity by force in the fifth century. The novel closes with the joyful return of the apostate to his original religion of sun-worship. Hardly less melodramatic was the saga Pipara (1895), a two-volume novel which recounted the sensational career of Pipara, a Quadi maiden of Eburodunum (Brno), who rose from Roman captivity to the rank of empress. Representatives of the Pan- German movement were glowing in their praise of List's fiction. Pipara received enthusiastic reviews in both Schonerer's and Wolf's papers. On 9 April 1895 the editorial board of the Ostdeutsche Rundschau convened a Guido List evening in the author's honour. There were poetry-readings and lectures by Ottokar Stauf von der March, editor of the Tiroler Wochenschrift, and by Karl Ptak, another editor on Wolf's paper. List also composed lyrical pieces in a mythological and nationalist idiom. After his Walkuren- Weihe [The Valkyries' Initiation] (1895) had been published by Wannieck's association at Brno, the Wieden Singers' Club in South Vienna gave a spring recital on 6 June 1896, when his poem Ostara's Einzug was sung. The same choral society organized a List festival to commemorate the silver anniversary of his literary endeavour on 7 April 1897. By this date List had become a celebrity amongst the Pan-German groups of Austria. [26]

List's search for the ancient religion of his country led him towards the pagan deism evidenced by his catechism Der Unbesiegbare [The Invincible] (1898). On 6 January 1898 he had been visited by the Old Catholic bishop of Bohemia, Nittel von Warnsdorf, who warmly congratulated him on his inauguration of ' a new epoch in the history of religion' Y On the later occasion of List's second marriage, in August 1899, to Anna Wittek of Stecky in Bohemia, the wedding was celebrated in the evangelical Protestant church. [28] His wife's Lutheranism reflects the spiritual waverings of many Austrian Pan-Germans, who wished to express their disgust with the multi-national empire by a rejection of its common Catholic faith. Aurelius Polzer had converted formally to Protestantism in 1885; Schonerer followed suit in 1900. This tendency was particularly strong after 1898 in the border areas of German settlement, where Austrian Pan-Germans were encouraged by Schonerer's Los von Rom campaign to distinguish themselves from their Czech and Slovene neighbours by a Prussian set of sacred values. It has been estimated that there were ten thousand converts in Austria by 1900, and that over half of these were resident in Bohemia. [29] However, List's volkisch bias towards paganism precluded any formal involvement with an alternative Christian confession.

Anna Wittek was the actress who had played the Wala at the evening festival in 1894; she also had given dramatic recitations of List's poetry. Her portrait shows a pretty, young woman dressed in a fashion redolent of fin-de-siecle mystery and natural appeal. [30] In her List had found both an inspired and inspiring interpreter for his presentation of the sentimental national past. [31] Following their marriage List dedicated himself exclusively to drama. His plays, Konig Vannius [King Vannius] (1899), Sommer-Sonnwend-Feuerzauber [Summer Solstice Fire Magic] (1901), and Das Goldstuck (The Gold Coin] (1903), were concerned with royal tragedy, solstice festivals, and a love story in times of yore. An interesting product of this use of the stage as a vehicle for his ideas was the programmatic pamphlet Der Wiederaufbau von Carnuntum (The Reconstruction of Carnuntum] (1900). Here List called for a reconstruction of the Roman amphitheatre as an open-air stage for the production of scenarios including dragon-slaying, regattas, bardic contests and Thinge (annual Germanic assemblies), which would all carry the symbolism of Wotanism to an ever wider public of Pan-Germans in Austria. List called the projected New Carnuntum a 'German- Austrian Bayreuth' and it was indeed evident that the example of Richard Wagner had served him as a model. [32]

By the turn of the century List had achieved modest success as a writer in the idiom of contemporary neo-romantic and nationalistic genres. His writings focused attention on the heroic past and religious mythology of his native country. The year 1902 witnessed a fundamental change in the character of his ideas: occult notions now entered his fantasy of the ancient Germanic faith. After undergoing an eye operation to relieve a cataract in 1902, List was blind for eleven months. Throughout a long and anxious period of enforced rest, he took solace in pondering the origins of the runes and language. [33] In April 1903 List sent a manuscript about the Aryan proto-language to the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna. This document set out the idea of a monumental pseudo-science concerned with Germanic linguistics and symbology: it was his first attempt to interpret, by means of occult insight, the letters and sounds of the runes and alphabet on the one hand, and the emblems and glyphs of ancient inscriptions on the other. Although the Academy returned his manuscript with no comment, this slight piece grew over the ensuing decade to become the masterpiece of his occult-nationalist researches. [34] In September 1903 the Viennese occult periodical Die Gnosis published an article by List, which indicated the new theosophical cast of his thought. Here the author outlined the process of the universe's creation and illustrated its phases with the triskelion and swastika glyphs. A fuller discussion of the theosophical influence on List's writings is reserved for a later chapter.

Between 1903 and 1907 List made occasional use of the aristocratic title 'von' in his name: he finally entered the title in the Vienna address-book of 1907. This entry came to the notice of the nobility archive, which urged an official enquiry. On 2 October 1907 List asserted before the magistrates that his family was descended from Lower Austrian and Styrian aristocracy. He claimed that his great-grandfather had abandoned the title upon entering a burgher trade (inn keeper), but that he, Guido von List, had resumed the title after leaving commerce for a literary career in 1878. In support of his title List produced a signet ring, which his great-grandfather had allegedly worn. This bore a coat-of-arms displaying two rampant foxes (List means cunning in German) upon a quartered field, which was the blazon of the twelfth-century knight, Burckhardt von List, according to an old chronicle. [35]

Although it is possible that List did possess some tenuous claim to nobility, the sociological implications of its assertion in either 1878 or 1907 are more important. Why did List want the title must be our first question. According to his own testimony, List assumed the title once he had abandoned a commercial career. As an author, List felt himself to be a member of a cultivated elite, according to an idealist tradition which had struck deep chords amongst the German middle classes of the nineteenth century. Seen in this light, List's assumption of a noble title represents a socio-cultural confirmation of his desired identity. [36] On the other hand, if his use of the title dates from 1907, as the documents suggest, his self-ennoblement can be regarded as an integral part of his religious fantasy. According to his lectures on the Wotanist priesthood, List believed that this ancient religious elite had formed the first aristocracy of tribal Germany. From 1905 to 1907 he had extended this line through his heraldic studies. These discussions treated heraldry as a system of esoteric family emblems which had been handed down from the old hierarchy to the modern nobility. [37] By claiming an aristocratic title and an armorial device, List was reassuring himself that he was a descendant of the hierarchy as well as its historian. His friend, Lanz von Liebenfels, had also assumed a noble title by 1903 and may have influenced List. [38] The aristocratic trappings of genealogy and heraldry served, through their esoteric interpretation, to reassure men of their identity and worth.

Despite the rebuff of the Imperial Academy, List's fortunes changed. In December 1904 Rudolf Berger raised the matter in parliament and demanded an explanation of List's treatment from the Minister for Culture and Education. This interpellation was signed by fifteen Viennese dignitaries. [39] No redress from the Academy was forthcoming, but the uproar led the supporters of List to moot the founding of a List Society (Guido-von-List-Gesellschaft), which would finance and publish a formal series of List's 'researches' into the ancient nationalist past. Both this incident and proposition demonstrate the significant appeal of List's ideas to Pan-Germans and occultists alike.

Around 1905 Friedrich Wannieck, his son Friedrich Oskar Wannieck, Lanz von Liebenfels and some fifty other individuals signed the first announcement concerning support for a List Society. A study of its signatories reveals the widespread and significant support for List amongst public figures in Austria and Germany. Here are the names of Karl Lueger, the anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna; Ludwig von Bernuth, chairman of a volkisch health organization; Ferdinand Khull, committee member of the German Language Club; Adolf Harpf, editor of the Marburger Zeitung; Hermann Pfister-Schwaighusen, lecturer in linguistics at Darmstadt University and an enthusiastic supporter of Austrian Pan-Germanism; Wilhelm von Pickl-Scharfenstein (Baron von Witkenberg), compiler of several anti-Semitic directories; Amand Freiherr von Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, editor of the popular magazine Stein der Weisen and a distinguished army officer; Aurelius Polzer, editor of nationalist newspapers at Horn and Graz; Ernst Wachler, the volkisch author and founder of an open-air Germanic theatre in the Harz mountains; Wilhelm Rohmeder, a Pan-German educationist at Munich; Arthur Schulz, editor of a Berlin periodical for volkisch educational reform; Friedrich Wiegershaus, chairman of the Elberfeld branch of the powerful Deutschnationaler Handlungsgehilfen-Verband [DHV] (German Nationalist Commercial Employees' Association) and Franz Winterstein, committee member of the anti-Semitic German Social Party (DSP) at Kassel. These representatives of Pan- Germanism in Austria and Germany were joined by several occultists: Hugo Goring, editor of theosophical literature at Weimar; Harald Arjuna Gravell van Jostenoode, a theosophical author at Heidelberg; Max Seiling, an esoteric pamphleteer and popular philosopher in Munich; and Paul Zillmann, editor of the Metaphysische Rundschau and master of an occult lodge at Berlin. All these men endorsed the foundation of the List Society. [40]

After an official founding ceremony on 2 March 1908, the List Society continued to attract this distinctive mixture of nationalist and occultist supporters. From 1908 to 1912 new members included the deputy Beranek, a co-founder of the Bund der Germanen in 1894; Rudolf Berger, committee member of the German Nationalist Workers' League in Vienna; Hermann Brass, chairman of the defensive League of Germans in North Moravia (est. 1886); Dankwart Gerlach, an ardent supporter of the nationalist and romantic Youth Movement; Conrad Glasenapp, the nationalist biographer of Wagner; Colonel Karl Hellwig, a volkisch organizer at Kassel; Bernhard Koerner, the heraldic expert and popularizer of middle-class genealogy; Josef Ludwig Reimer, a Pan-German author in Vienna; Philipp Stauff, a virulently anti-Semitic journalist in Berlin; and Karl Herzog, chairman of the Mannheim branch of the DHY. In addition to this roll of nationalists one finds the leading German theosophist Franz Hartmann, the theosophical editor Arthur Weber, the occult novelist Karl Hilm, the theosophist General Blasius von Schemua, the collective membership of the Vienna Theosophical Society, and Karl Heise, a leading figure in the vegetarian and mystical Mazdaznan cult at Zurich. The register implies that List's ideas were acceptable to many intelligent persons drawn from the upper and middle classes of Austria and Germany. Attracted by his unique amalgam of nationalist mythology and esotericism, these men were prepared to contribute ten crowns as an annual society subscription. The main part of the Society's assets derived from the Wannieck family, which put up more than three thousand crowns at its inauguration. [41]

Encouraged by this generous provision, List wrote a series of 'A rio- Germanic research reports' (Guido-List-Bucherei) which were based upon his occult interpretations of ancient national culture. Between 1908 and 1911, six reports were issued as booklets under the auspices of the List Society. These publications included a key to the meaning and magical power of the runes (GLB 1), a study of the political authority and organization of the Wotanist priesthood (the Armanenschaft) (GLB 2 and 2a), esoteric interpretations of folklore and place-names (GLB 3 and GLB 4), and a glossary of secret Aryan messages in hieroglyphs and heraldic devices (GLB 5). In 1914 List published his masterpiece of occult linguistics and symbology (GLB 6). These seven booklets represent the systematic exposition of his fantasy concerning the religious, political and social institutions of the national past. This fantasy of the past (and a desired present) records a Weltanschauung shared by List and his close supporters. It will be the task of later chapters to analyse this Weltanschauung.

List's reputation amongst members of the volkisch and nationalist subcultures grew in the wake of his first three 'reports' of 1908. The institutions of the Ario-Germans were frequently discussed in the volkisch press and other newspapers. From 1909 onwards List's name became well known among volkisch groups of Austria and Germany: the Neues Wiener Tagblatt and the Grazer Wochenblatt praised his discoveries in the ancient national past; Der Tag, a Berlin daily paper, credited him with the illumination of a priceless heritage; a French periodical regarded him as 'a teacher of mystical imperialism'. [42] In February 1911 alone three academic lectures were delivered about him in Vienna and Berlin. [43] Following this acclaim List was feted by minor authors, who drew upon his 'researches' for their inspiration. In 1907 Jerome Bal, a Hungarian schoolmaster at Levora, published an occult manual of Magyar heraldry, which he dedicated to List; [44] his example was followed by B. Hanftmann in his study of regional domestic architecture and by Ernst von Wolzogen in his survey of contemporary literature. [45] In June 1909 Wolzogen staged his volkisch drama, Die Maibraut [The May Bride), at Wiesbaden. He had dedicated the play to List in words of deep admiration and was delighted to introduce the old author in person to the audience. A reporter described List as 'a martial, bearded manifestation of Armanism'. [46] In 1912, Karl Heise wrote about seven special and holy runes, indicating that his work was based on the discoveries of 'his dearest teacher Guido von List', while Karl Engelhard t dedicated a mythological idyll to his 'teacher of the Divine', [47] The German theosophists also acknowledged List's nationalist popularization of their doctrines. Franz Hartmann compared List's work on hieroglyphs to Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled, while Johannes Balzli, editor of Prana, wrote a biography of List as 'the rediscoverer of ancient Aryan wisdom'. [48]

List's ideas were passed on by means of three principal channels. His ideology, rooted in the conflict of German and Slav national interests within the Habsburg empire, possessed an evident appeal to volkisch groups in Germany, which also sought a chauvinist mystique for the defence of Germandom against liberal, socialist, and 'Jewish' political forces in the late Wilhelmian era. The most important carriers of Listian ideas across the border were those members of the List Society in the German Reich who were involved in the founding of the Reichshammerbund and the Germanenorden. Philipp Stauff, Karl Hellwig, Georg Hauerstein, Bernhard Koerner, and Eberhard von Brockhusen were active in both these pre-war anti-Semitic volkisch leagues. In subsequent chapters this ideological succession is traced through the Germanenorden and its Munich offshoot, the Thule Society, to the infant Nazi Party after the war. This channel of influence certainly carries most weight in any assessment of List's historical importance.

The second channel concerns several shadowy volkisch figures in Germany, whose publicistic activity ensured a wider audience for Listian ideas among the German public both during and after the war. In November 1911 List received a letter from a pseudonymous individual calling himself Tarnhari, who claimed that he was the descendant or reincarnation of a chieftain of the ancient Wolsungen tribe in prehistoric Germany. Tarnhari assured List that his ancestral-clairvoyant memories confirmed List's own reconstruction of the Ario-Germanic traditions and hierarchic institutions. Tarnhari subsequently published two patriotic brochures at Diessen near Munich during the war, later establishing a volkisch publishing house at Leipzig. During the early post-war period he was associated with Dietrich Eckart, Hitler's mentor in the early days of the Nazi Party. That Tarnhari popularized List's ideas during the war can be seen from the writings of Ellegaard Ellerbek, a volkisch-mystical author, who paid extravagant tribute to both Tarnhari and List. His example was followed by others in the 1920s who wrote about the religion of Armanism and guaranteed this word a certain currency in nationalist usage. [49]

The third channel of Listian influence in Germany concerns those individuals, who specifically built upon his ideas of an occult Aryan- German heritage and elaborated upon the wisdom of the runes, mantic sciences, the Edda, and Teutonic astrology. Rudolf john Gorsleben, Werner von Bulow, Friedrich Bernhard Marby, Herbert Reichstein and Frodi Ingolfson Wehrmann created a complex corpus of armanist-ariosophical lore, which, while associated with the writings of Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels during the 1920s, owed a more significant and acknowledged debt to Guido von List. This later ariosophical movement flourished in Germany during the late 1920s and 1930s. Although these individuals worked in esoteric circles and sought no political involvement, a small coterie of these Edda and runological occultists enjoyed the confidence of Heinrich Himmler during the mid-1930s and contributed to the symbolism and ritual of the SS. [50]

List himself remained a mystical thinker with little organizational ability. However, he did found a tiny inner ring of initiates within the List Society called the HAO, which stood for Hoker Armanen-Orden (High Armanen-Order). The HAO was formally founded at the midsummer solstice of 1911, when the most dedicated List Society members in Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich travelled to meet their Austrian colleagues in Vienna. List took this elect on several 'pilgrimages' to certain places in 'the land of Ostara, where the spirit of Hari-Wotan still reigned'. On 23 June 1911 the group visited the cathedral catacombs, where the young List had first sensed this pagan god, and then proceeded to other allegedly Wotanist sanctuaries on the Kahlenberg, on the Leopoldsberg and at Klosterneuburg. Over the next three days, the enthusiasts made their way to Bruhl near Modling, Burg Kreuzenstein, and finally to Carnuntum. This last expedition marked the climax of these 'pilgrimages to sanctuaries undertaken by our Armanist congregation'. The commemorative photographs of this climax indicate that the congregation numbered only ten persons. [51] The HAO was supposed to be a post for the architects of 'a new Spiritual Germany', but its minute sectarian and pietist nature is all too evident. In April 1915 List convened at Vienna an HAO meeting, which now numbered more Austrian public figures who had gathered to hear List's rousing Easter address. [52]

The HAO was a dead end in terms of historically significant groups, since List chose to work on occult and racial problems throughout the war in the calm of his study. His final 'research report' entitled 'Armanismus und Kabbala' was intended to amplify his earlier speculations on the occult 'correspondences' between various objects and qualities in the physical world, including animals, plants, minerals, colours, sounds, musical notes and numbers, within an esoteric scheme of interpretation. The 'report' was never completed in a publishable form. During 1916 and 1917 List wrote several articles on the approaching national millennium, which was supposed to be realized once the Allies had been defeated; Johannes Balzli published two of these predictions in his Prana in 1917.

During the war years List's ideas continued to attract individuals, who sought sacred explanations for the hardships and trials of the war. List received many letters from men at the front who expressed their gratitude for his cheering discoveries; stories of runes and ancient Aryan symbols found on stones far from hearth and home gave them hope in a final victory for the Ario-Germans. List's books were passed around by men in the trenches and field hospitals. [53] At the beginning of 1917 List had a vision which assured him of a final victory for the Central Powers over the Allies, but these hopes were betrayed. The year 1918 brought the Allied blockade of Europe, where food and fuel supplies ran low in the cities. In the early autumn the Habsburg empire began to dissolve and the Austrians were compelled to sue for peace on 3 October 1918. List regarded the catastrophe in a millenarian context: this collapse was necessary as a period of woes before the salvation of the Ario-Germans.

In late 1918 the seventy-year-old guru was in poor health owing to food shortages in Vienna. The following spring List and his wife set off to spend a period of recuperation at the manor-house of Eberhard von Brockhusen, a List Society patron who lived at Langen in Brandenburg. On arrival at the Anhalter Station at Berlin, List was too exhausted to continue the journey. After a doctor had diagnosed a lung inflammation, List's condition deteriorated rapidly. On the morning of 17 May 1919 the Armanist magician and prophet of national revival died in a Berlin guest-house. Following his cremation at Leipzig, the ashes were laid in an urn at Vienna Central Cemetery. Philipp Stauff wrote an obituary which appeared in the Munchener Beobachter, a volkisch newspaper edited by Rudolf von Sebottendorff that became the official Nazi organ in the course of the next year and remained the leading Party newspaper until 1945. Although List never lived to see the Nazi party, he was honoured by its nascent spirit. [54]
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4: Wotanism and Germanic Theosophy

List claimed that the ancient Teutons had practised a gnostic religion emphasizing the initiation of man into natural mysteries. He called this religion Wotanism after the principal god in the Germanic pantheon. His basic sources for the ancient religion were the Edda and the runes. The Old Norse poetry of Iceland painted the colourful mythology of its pagan inhabitants, whom List regarded as Wotanist refugees from Christian persecution in early medieval Germany. The Edda thus recorded the myths and beliefs of the ancient Germans. In the Edda, Wotan was worshipped as the god of war and the lord of dead heroes in Valhalla. He was also identified as a magician and a necromancer in the poems. The 'Havamal' and 'Voluspa' described how Wotan performed ritual acts of self-torture in order to win the magical gnosis of natural mysteries. According to late nineteenth-century scholars these acts reflected a form of shamanism. As a result of pain the performer of these rituals gained certain magical and psychical powers. [1] In the 'Havamal' Wotan was wounded by a spear and hung upon a windswept tree without food or drink for nine nights. At the climax of his suffering an understanding of the runes suddenly came to him. He sank down from the tree and then related the eighteen runic spells, which were typically concerned with the secret of immortality, the ability to heal oneself, mastery over one's enemies in battle, the control of the elements and success in love. In the 'Voluspa' Wotan pledged one of his eyes to the well of Mimir in return for mantic knowledge of future events. It is very likely that this myth reminded List of his own occult insights during his period of blindness in 1902.

The runes are best known as an ancient northern script formed by sharp separate lines for writing or cutting upon wood, metal or stone; but they were also used for their magical properties in divination, the casting of lots, invocations and the preparation of amulets and charms. Thus each individual rune possessed its own name and symbolism over and above its phonetic and literary value. List must be acknowledged as the pioneer of volkisch rune occultism, for he was the first writer to link the written runes of a particular eighteen-letter series, or futhark, with the runic spells related by Wotan in the 'Havamal'. List attributed a specific individual rune to each of Wotan's verses, adding occult meanings and a summary motto of the spell. These occult meanings and mottoes were supposed to represent the doctrine and maxims of the rediscovered religion of Wotanism. Typical mottoes were: 'Know yourself, then you know everything!'; 'Embrace the universe in yourself, and you can master the universe!'; 'Do not fear Death, he cannot kill you!'; 'Your life rests in God's hand, trust him in yourself!'; 'Marriage is the root of the Aryan race!'; and 'Man is one with God!' [2] The emphasis of these maxims upon the inner power of the human spirit and its identity with God reveals the gnostic nature of Wotanism.

But Wotanism also stressed the mystical union of man with the universe as well as his magical powers. The doctrine described the universe in terms of a ceaseless process of transformation through 'birth', 'being', 'death' and 'rebirth'. The rotation of the planets, the seasonal cycle, the growth and decay of all living organisms confirmed the truth of this simple cyclical cosmology. Behind this process of change List saw the 'primal laws of nature', according to which all change occurred. He claimed that these laws represented an immanent God in Nature. List conceived of all things as an emanation of a spiritual force. Man was an integral part of this unified cosmos and thus obliged to follow a single ethical precept: to live in accordance with Nature. At her bosom all tensions were dissolved in a mystical union between man and the cosmos. A close identity with one's folk and race was reckoned a logical consequence of this closeness to Nature.

The twin doctrines of the magical self and a mystical union in List's gnostic religion of Wotan ism typify the contradictory spirit of nineteenth-century Romanticism, itself a literary and spiritual response to the wider cultural and social changes in modern Europe. Writing of the motives of Romanticism, George L. Mosse has observed:

Bewildered and challenged, men attempted to re-emphasise their own personality. But, since the rate of industrial transformation, as well as its effects, seemed to evade the grasp of reason ... many turned away from rational solutions to their problems and instead delved into their own emotional depths. This longing for self-identification ... was accompanied by a contradictory urge to belong to something greater than oneself ... since existing social conditions were bewildering and oppressive, romantics sought to find the larger, all-encompassing unity outside the prevalent social and economic condition of man. [3]

List also formed his new religion from archaic materials and in opposition to the modern world. His doctrine emphasized the power of the individual spirit and a sanctuary within the cosmos of Nature. As the alleged gnosis of the ancient Germans, this religion was to be revived as the faith and moral cement of a new pan-German realm.

List also adopted the notions of modern theosophy for his reconstruction of the ancient gnosis. His debt to theosophy may be understood in terms of two distinct sources. The first source concerns the writings of Max Ferdinand Sebaldt von Werth (1859-1916). Sebaldt had begun his literary career as the editor of a periodical, Das angewandte Christentum [Applied Christianity] (1891), in collaboration with Moritz von Egidy, a prominent Lebensreformer in Germany. He was also a prolific writer on travel and foreign countries. However, in 1897 he began to publish thick volumes on the subject of sexology. His 'Wanidis' (1897) and D.I.S 'Sexualreligion' (1897) described the sexual-religion of the Aryans, a sacred practice of eugenics designed to maintain the purity of the race. Both works were published by Wilhelm Friedrich of Leipzig, a publisher known for his many theosophical editions, and were illustrated with the magical curved-armed swastika by the theosophical artist Fidus. Sebaldt subsequently published Genesis (1898-1903) in five-volumes, which treated of eroticism, Bacchanalia, libido, and mania within a racist and sexological context.

This Berlin author clearly anticipated Ariosophy by combining racial doctrines with occult notions derived from his own bizarre interpretations of Teutonic mythology. The contents of 'Wanidis' indicate his penchant for expounding the metaphysical symbolism of the Germanic pantheon. According to Sebaldt, ancient Aryan cosmology was defined by the creative act of the god Mundelfori, who whisked the universe out of a primal fiery chaos. There subsequently arose a polar dualism typified by the opposite principles of matter and spirit, and the male and female sexes. He insisted that eugenics was essential to Aryan superiority, because only a bond of'pure opposites' could release the primal energy underlying their polarity and thereby generate excellent progeny. [4] Similar notions later appeared in the writings of List over the ensuing years.

The first indication that List knew the work of Sebaldt occurs in his unsigned article 'Germanischer Lichtdienst', published in 1899 in Der Scherer [The Mole-Catcher], a satirical Tyrolean monthly magazine loosely associated with the Austrian Pan-German movement.5 Discussing the religious significance of pagan solstice fires, List suggested that this ritual symbolized the original birth of the sun. He also claimed that the swastika was a holy Aryan symbol, since it derived from the Feuerquirl (fire whisk) with which Mundelfori had initially twirled the cosmos into being. In September 1903 the Viennese occult periodical Die Gnosis published an article by List that indicated his continuing debt to Sebaldt. He discussed the 'old-Aryan sexual religion' and a mystical cosmogony, the phases of which he illustrated with such hieroglyphs as Image. He also wrote for the first time about the immortality of the soul, reincarnation and its karmic determination. He distinguished between exoteric (Wotanist) and esoteric (Armanist) forms of religious doctrine and hinted at the total authority of initiates over the ordinary people in ancient Germany. The Teutonic gods, Wotan, Donar and Loki, were interpreted as symbols for esoteric cosmological ideas, the Sebaldtian stamp of which would have been quite evident to contemporaries. [6] This article marked the first stage in List's articulation of a Germanic occult religion, the principal concern of which was racial purity.

In the course of the next few years List's writings became more overtly theosophical. His notes and references indicated such we rks as Madame Blavatsky's Die Geheimlehre (1897-1901), which had been published in German translation by Wilhelm Friedrich in instalments at the turn of the century, and the German edition of William Scott- Elliot's The Lost Lemuria (1905), with its descriptions of fabulous sunken continents and lost civilizations. List no longer termed the ancient natives 'Germans' or a 'people', but 'Ario-Germans' and a 'race', as if to stress their identity with the fifth root-race in Blavatsky's ethnological scheme. The Wotanist priesthood, which List had first discussed in the early 1890s, was now transformed into an exalted gnostic elite of initiates (the Armanenschaft), which corresponded to the hierophants in The Secret Doctrine. Die Rita der Ario-Germanen [The Rite of the Ario- Germans] (1908) regurgitated substantial parts of the theosophical cosmogony in its putative account of ancient Ario-Germanic belief. The unmanifest and manifest deities, the creation of the universe by divine respiration, a primal fire as the energy source of a force redolent of Fohat, and the gradual evolution of the cosmos according to this agent's obedience to the 'laws of nature' received detailed treatment. Chapter headings were supplemented with the cryptic theosophy and Chapter headings were supplemented with the cryptic theosophical sigils Image. [7] By now a synthesis of theosophy and Germanic mythology formed the basis of List's Weltanschauung. His first three 'research reports' even made occasional use of the word 'theosophy' in their exposition of imaginary ancient Teutonic beliefs. [8]

List displayed considerable knowledge of theosophical detail. Life was graded according to its 'dimensionality', which was supposed to increase as it continued its progress through the rounds. He also mentioned the airships and cyclopean structures of the Atlanteans. [9] Die Religion der Ario-Germanen (1910) presented a long discussion of the Hindu cosmic cycles, which had inspired Blavatsky's hypothesis of rounds. List was evidently fascinated by a numerical correspondence between an arithmetical riddle in the 'Grimnismal' of the Edda and the number of years in the kaliyuga, the shortest and most decadent of the Hindu cycles. He acknowledged Blavatsky's Die Geheimlehre as the source of his speculations. [10] Astrological analyses also appeared in his work in 1910, the year which witnessed the publication of the first popular German astrological periodicals by the Theosophical Publishing House. [11]

Die Bilderschrift der Ario-Germanen [The Picture-Writing of the Ario- Germans] (1910) described the theosophical cosmogony in further detail: List's account of the divine manifestation alluded to the three Logoi and the ensuing rounds of fire, air, water and earth. List depicted these stages with the Blavatskyan-Hindu sigils Image and identified the first four rounds as the mythological Teutonic realms of Muspilheim, Asgard, Wanenheim and Midgard, which were tenanted respectively by fire-dragons, air-gods, water-giants and mankind. He also evidenced his debt to Blavatsky in his adoption of seven root-races for each round. List claimed that the Ario-Germans represented the fifth and current race in the present round, while ascribing the names of mythical Teutonic giants to the four preceding races. The diluvial Atlanteans were equated with the kinsfolk of the giant Bergelmir, who was supposed to have survived a flood in Norse mythology, while the third race was reckoned to be the kinsmen of the giant Thrudgelmir. In common with Blavatsky, List suggested that this third race (her Lemurians) had been the first to propagate themselves through sexual reproduction. The two earlier races, namely the kinsmen of Ymir and Orgelmir, were androgynous and clearly corresponded to Blavatsky's Astral and Hypoborean races. [12]

This Germanization of theosophy was extended by three tables in the appendix. The first illustrated the evolutionary stages of a round through one complete cycle from unity to multiplicity and back to unity. Corresponding to the theosophical notions of unmanifest and manifest deities, the three Logoi, the five elemental realms (now including ether) and the appearance of mankind, List invoked mythological German equivalents. He called the divine being Allvater, who manifested himself in the three Logoi as Wotan, Wili, and We. A series of anti-clockwise triskelions and swastikas and inverted triangles symbolized stages of cosmic evolution in the downsweep of the cycle (i.e. the evolution from unity to multiplicity), while their clockwise and upright counterparts connoted the return path to the godhead. The skewed super-imposition of these 'falling' and 'rising' sigils created complex sigils like the hexagram and the Maltese Cross Image. List asserted that these latter sigils were utterly sacred, because they embraced the two antithetical forces of all creation; as the representative symbols of the zenith of multiplicity at the outermost limit of the cycle, they denoted the Ario-Germanic god-man, the highest form of life ever to evolve in the universe. Two further tables recorded a cabbalistic scheme of 'correspondences' between plants, trees, birds and deities of the Classical and Germanic pantheons. [13] Franz Hartmann commended this work, comparing its scope with that of Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled, and praised List for his discovery of the congruence between Germanic and Hindu doctrines. [14]

In 1914 List published the sixth and last of his 'research reports', Die Ursprache der Ario-Germanen [The Proto-Language of the Ario-Germans], which introduced yet more theosophical notions into his account of the ancient national past. To the root-races of the Lemurians and Atlanteans he assigned homelands on sunken continents in accordance with the speculations of William Scott-Elliot, whose map he reproduced. List also claimed that the prehistoric megaliths and the huge rocking-stones of Lower Austria indicated the survival of an Atlantean 'island' within the modern European continent. A chart at the end of this work sought to reconcile the geological periods of the Earth, as established by contemporary palaeogeography, with the stages of a theosophical round lasting 4,320,000,000 years, or a kalpa in Hindu chronology. [15]

Why did theosophy become such an important part of List's gnosis? One solution is provided by its contemporary vogue and the fact that many supporters of the List Society were interested in the occult. Friedrich Wannieck was both an ardent spiritualist and a firm believer in the theosophical mahatmas, Morya and Koot Hoomi; [16] General Blasius von Schentua (1856-1920) had been associated with the mystical school of Alois Mailander at Darmstadt since 1890, whose followers included Franz Hartmann and Wilhelm Hlibbe-Schleiden. Schemua was a prominent theosophist and also a friend of Demeter Georgiewitz-Weitzer (1873-1949), who edited the Zentralblatt fur Okkultismus and wrote several occult works under the pseudonym G. W. Surya; [17] Max Seiling had written a study of Mailander and other books about spiritualism and occultism; Friedrich Schwickert (1857- 1930) was interested in the work of Sir Edward Bulwer- Lytton and wrote a study about the elixir of life. He became one of the leading astrologers in Weimar Germany; [18] Karl Heise was a Swiss member of the Mazdaznan cult and, together with his brother Heinrich, ran a commune called 'Aryan a' near Zurich; [19] Wladimir von Egloffstein dabbled in chronological speculations about cycles and wrote an esoteric history of the Church. Finally, there was Jorg Lanz-Liebenfels, whose own brand of racist occultism owed much to theosophy. List borrowed several ideas from the younger man: the occult significance of the Templars, the manichaean struggle between the master-races (the Ario-Germans) and the slave races (non-Aryans) and a theory about the original homeland of the Aryans, a vanished polar continent called Arktogaa. [20]

What theosophy offered to these individuals, whose intellect, education and social circumstances made it at all appealing, was an integrated view of the world, in which the present was understood in terms of a remote past. This imaginary past legitimated a variety of social, political, and cultural ideals such as racism, magic, and hierophantic elitism, which were all negations of the modern world. Although this legitimation was not traditional, inasmuch as it was mythological, it was a legitimation that included the apparently scientific findings of the present, a sense of meaning in society and history, and supernatural references. This perspective was likely to appeal to people for whom a variety of contemporary developments were disturbing. At best, these occult beliefs might bolster and justify resistance to processes of social change. At worst, they provided a fantasy world, in respect of which the present could be lamented and the possessors of the true gnosis could comfort themselves in their assumed superior wisdom.
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Re: The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

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5: The Armanenschaft

LIST'S political mythology of a Wotanist priesthood invoked the political authority of initiates, both in the prehistoric social order and in the modern world. This idea was first formulated in his lectures and articles of the 1890s, but it had emerged as a principal element of his fantasy by 1908. The word 'Armanenschaft', which List applied to his ancient hierarchy, can be traced to his spurious adaptation of a Teutonic myth related by Tacitus in his Germania. [1] According to the Roman author, the ancient Germans had preserved an account of their origins in traditional songs. These songs celebrated an earth-born god Tuisco and his son Mannus as the founders of their race. To Mannus they assigned three sons, after whom the three constituent tribes of ancient Germany took their names: the coastal tribes were called 'Ingaevones'; those of the interior, 'Hermiones'; and the remainder, 'Istaevones'. Contrary to Tacitus and other classical historians who had attempted to identify these tribes with known appellations, List claimed that these names denoted social estates within the Ario-Germanic nation. [2] He claimed that the 'Ingaevones', the 'Hermiones' and the 'Istaevones' represented the agricultural, the intellectual and the military estates. It was the intellectual estate, a body of priest-kings, that formed the basis of List's political fantasy. He germanized the word 'Hermiones' to 'Armanen', meaning the heirs of the sun-king, while their priesthood was called the 'Armanenschaft'. [3]

The priest-kings were allegedly responsible for all government and education in ancient society, offices which were legitimized by their profound wisdom. This wisdom was defined by the gnosis of Germanic theosophy. The possession of this gnosis was regarded as the absolute and sacred legitimation of the initiates' political authority, while society was stratified according to each class's degree of initiation into the gnosis. List emphasized that this gnosis was not equally accessible to all members of society. He alluded to a two-tier system of exoteric and esoteric instruction in the gnosis. Exoteric doctrine (Wotanism) assumed the popular form of myths and parabolic tales intended for the lower social classes, while esoteric doctrine (Armanism) was concerned with the mysteries of the gnosis and was restricted to trainees for high office. Since the Armanenschaft was the body responsible for education, such a segregation would have been simply administered. [4]

List's description of the Armanenschaft structure borrowed concepts from Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism. The elite priesthood was divided into three grades, corresponding to the grades of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason in lodge hierarchy. Each grade represented a certain degree of initiation into the gnosis. With a clear image of masonic ritual in mind, List claimed that each grade of the ancient priesthood had its own particular signs, grips and passwords. A novice spent seven years learning the Edda and elementary theosophy, before proceeding to the grade of brother. At this stage in his training he travelled to other Armanist centres, in order to gain working experience as a priest, governor and educator. After seven years in this grade, a suitably qualified brother might proceed to the grade of master as a full initiate. He was then privy to the ultimate secrets of the gnosis, which could not be communicated by language: List characterized these secrets by such occult formulae as 'the lost master-word', 'the unutterable name of God' and 'the philosopher's stone', culled from masonic, cabbalistic and alchemical lore of the eighteenth century, or the 'Image Arehisosur Image', his own Gothic motto formed by the five vowels. [5] Freemasonry thus provided List with a model for an hierarchical priesthood whose power derived from initiation.

Besides defining the authority of a master over his subordinate brothers, this gnostic gradation underpinned the collective authority of the Armanenschaft over the profane majority. The Armanenschaft was alleged to have enjoyed 'superior privileges' and possessed an 'exalted and holy status' among the people. [6] They predominated in all affairs of government, while the king and nobility were drawn from a superior college of masters. Since the gnosis of the priesthood combined science, religion and law, its members exercised total authority as teachers, priests and judges. [7] The Armanist centres or 'high places' (Halgadome) were the seat of government, the school and the lawcourt. [8] All authority was invested with the absolute legitimacy of sacredness. [9]

In his account of the history of the A rmanenschaft, List continued to draw on the occult materials of Rosicrucianism, alchemy, the military religious orders and Freemasonry. He claimed that the Armanenschaft, following its suppression in ancient Germany, had survived up until the present, inasmuch as its holy gnosis had been fostered by secret societies of Rosicrucians and Freemasons, chivalrous orders and the scholar magicians of the Renaissance who had championed the pursuit of hermetic and cabbalistic sciences. The link between these diverse groups lies in the modern occult revival's debt to the tangled mythology of theosophists and secret societies in the eighteenth century. In order to appreciate List's adoption of these groups as social agents of Armanism during its dark age, these mythologies require explanation.

The story of these mystifications can be properly understood only in relation to the growth of irrationalism in the mid-eighteenth century. This trend was partly a reaction to the practical reforming attitude of enlightened absolute princes in Germany, which appeared to interfere with traditional legal privilege, ecclesiastical immunities or popular prejudice. Enlightened reform represented a threat to many people because its changes destroyed long accepted status and cultural values. Such people found a handy ideological weapon against such innovating tendencies in irrationalism. There were also older sources of the new irrationalism: traditional religious affiliation, pietism and the enduring fascination of a mystical key to the riddles of nature, which found expression in the traditional occult sciences. The new irrationalism was thus a product of the revaluation of the emotive and intuitive faculties, coupled with a fearful distrust of analytical reason, materialism and empiricism. This spiritual mood, widespread in Germany, generated many sects and societies concerned with the occult and mysterious during the second half of the eighteenth century. These groups were responsible for a revival of interest in the arcane materials of alchemy, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry. [10]

The origins of Rosicrucianism lie at the beginning of the seventeenth century when two anonymous Rosicrucian manifestoes and the related Chymische Hochzeit of Johann Valentin Andreae (1586-1654) were printed at Kassel. These manifestoes announced the existence of a secret brotherhood, which desired a 'universal and general reformation of the whole wide world'. The brotherhood was putatively founded by Christian Rosenkreutz, a German mystic who was supposed to have lived from 1378 to 1484. This reformation was to be achieved through the union of Protestantism with magic, alchemy, and cabbalism in concert with contemporary advances in medical and scientific knowledge. Frances Yates has argued that the manifestoes express hopes that focused on Frederick II, the Elector of the Palatine, as a 'politico-religious leader destined to solve the problems of the age', while their contents represented a kind of hermetic revival among Protestant intellectuals at a time when the original hermetic impulses of the fifteenth century Renaissance had waned. [11] The attraction of such a project at a time of violent ideological and religious antagonism before the Thirty Years War is obvious. From these seventeenth-century origins of mystical pietism, utopian hope and hermetic-cabbalistic ideas, the Rosicrucian myth continued to fascinate many intellectuals who felt drawn to its quest for secret knowledge and the promise of moral renewal. Klaus Epstein has noted that the myth attracted conservatives particularly, since it emphasized the value of traditional wisdom for future development. [12]

While the Rosicrucians of the early seventeenth century were only partly concerned with alchemy, the later revivals of the myth laid great stress on their claims to possess the secrets of transmutation and the knowledge of the 'philosopher's stone' or elixir of life. In 1710 a work was published in Breslau with the arcane title Die warhaffte und vollkommene Bereitung des Philosophischen Steins der Bruderschaft aus dem Orden des Gulden- und Rosen-Creutzes. Its author was 'Sincerus Renatus', in reality Sigmund Richter, a pastor in Silesia, who had studied the writings of Paracelsus and Jakob Boehme. In the light of other documentary finds around Central Europe, Christopher McIntosh has suggested that a widespread alchemical movement existed under the appellation Gold- und Rosenkreuz during the second half of the eighteenth century. In either 1747 or 1757 a quasi-masonic Rosicrucian order of this name was founded at Berlin, with a hierarchy of nine grades based on the cabbalistic Tree of Life. This organization acquired some political significance, since it counted King Frederick William II and his prime minister, Johann Christoph von Wollner, among its brothers in the late 1780s. The ideology of the order blended mysticism with conservative and anti-Enlightenment attitudes. [13]

List was familiar with Rosicrucian materials, inasmuch as he used the ten-grade cabbalistic hierarchy peculiar to some Rosicrucian orders. He may have gleaned this idea from Franz Hartmann, who was probably familiar with the Rosicrucian structure of the Order of the Golden Dawn in England as a result of his contact with Theodor Reuss, who had founded in 1902 irregular masonic and Rosicrucian lodges in Germany with the authority of William Westcott, a founder member of the Golden Dawn. [14] In any event, literature about the Rosicrucians was abundant at the beginning of the century in Germany. Both Franz Hartmann and Rudolf Steiner had written about them, while a reprint of a late eighteenth-century alchemical-rosicrucian text was published in Zillmann's periodical during 1905. [15] When List made the further claim that the Rosicrucians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had been agents of the Armanist gnosis, he was thus recruiting a mysterious and durable body of adepts for his secret tradition. Besides the response this would enjoy from theosophists, one must consider the ambition of the original Rosicrucians. In a Listian context, the 'universal and general reformation' connoted a national revival through the rediscovery of traditional Ario-Germanic wisdom.

Before examining the putative Templarist survival of Armanism, the involvement of the Knights Templars with occultism must be mentioned. This complex story introduces two distinct Templar mythologies: the medieval Templar legends and their confusion with Freemasonry in the eighteenth century. Founded in 1118, the original Knights Templars were a crusading military religious order which was forced to leave the Holy Land in 1291. The order subsequently became the victim of a slanderous campaign mounted by the King of France, who coveted their wealth and influence within his realm. He accused the Templars of satanic practices, certain perversions and blasphemies, including the worship of a huge idol fashioned in the shape of a human head. Because of these alleged calumnies the order was ruthlessly suppressed and its leaders burnt in 1314. Despite the probable falsehood of the charges against them, the historical record surrounded the memory of the Templars with a mysterious and heretical aura. [16] This medieval suppression had a certain influence upon the masonic adoption of the Templars.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the institutions of modern Freemasonry arose. It should be emphasized that this new organization of meeting-houses was institutionally linked with the old working lodges of operative masons and master-builders, which dated from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The Freemasons had begun joining the operative lodges at the end of the seventeenth century to form an organization in which the professional and upper classes could discuss contemporary affairs and business in an enlightened and congenial atmosphere. The new institution inherited the ritual of the older, in that craft traditions became the allegories and symbols of a deistic and fraternal doctrine. After its official foundation in England in 1717, Freemasonry soon migrated to a Continental setting. It was in Germany, where the growth of deviant masonic rites was greatest owing to the profusion of mystical and theosophical sects, that Freemasonry became confused with a Templar heritage.

Although the idea of chivalric Freemasonry first occurred around 1737 in France, the first Templar rite was introduced in Germany in 1755 by Baron Gotthelf von Hund (1722-76). Calling his order the Rite of Strict Observance, Hund claimed to possess secret Templar documents dating from the time of their suppression, which allegedly proved that his order represented the legal Templar succession. Hund speculated that the Templars had been privy to the secrets of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, which was held to be the origin of the Craft. It has been suggested that this chivalric mystification of Freemasonry arose with the express purpose of conferring aristocratic origins upon a middle-class institution with a humble craft background. [17]

Masonic and occultist interest in the Templars during the late eighteenth century influenced scholarship regarding the beliefs and practices of the historical Templars. Attention was focused on their alleged blasphemies, especially the worship of the idolatrous head, in an attempt to relate Templar heresy to exotic religions. One particular account of the head in the trial documents called it 'Baphomet', which was interpreted as a reference to a Muslim deity. This name was also associated with the gnostic cult of the Ophites, which had flourished in the first few centuries AD. Josef von Hammer-Purgstall suggested that the idol derive.d from surviving conventicles of the cult, with which the Templars had supposedly come into contact during their domicile in the eastern Mediterranean area. [18]

These mythologies entered late nineteenth-century occultism through the influential writings of the French occultist Eliphas Levi (1810-75), whose writings on magic were studied by Blavatsky. [19] The Templars were once again credited with the possession of arcane knowledge. Occult Templarism flourished among quasi-masonic orders and at least two specifically Templar orders were founded on the Continent around 1900. The Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) originated in the irregular masonic activities of Theodor Reuss, Franz Hartmann and Karl Kellner between 1895 and 1906; the racist Ordo Novi Templi (ONT) was founded by Lanz von Liebenfels around 1907. [20]

List most probably derived his occult conception of the Templars from a masonic source, but his notion was also coloured by the poetic grail-mythology of Parsival which inspired Lanz. [21] He exploited these myths in order to claim that the medieval Templars had been another secret agent of the Armanist gnosis during the benighted Christian epoch. List concluded that the 'Baphomet' idol was not a head but a gnostic sigil. According to List, this sigil was the Maltese Cross, formed by the skewed superimposition of the clockwise and anti-clockwise swastikas. He claimed that the Templars had been put to death for their worship of this most sacred Ario-Germanic symbol, and that the later masonic orders of Templarist inspiration had also fostered the gnosis. List claimed that the Templars and Rosicrucians 'represented the higher grades of the secret priesthood, the spiritual and aristocratic tendency, while the Freemasons signified lower grades . . . the democratic tendency'. [22] But besides the elitist connotations of chivalry, the Templars were important in another respect. Because they had been persecuted for their beliefs, List could more plausibly contend that there had been a conspiracy against any revival of ancient Germanic religion and its priesthood.

In his short essay 'Das Mittelalter im Armanentum', List described a further group of Armanist secret agents. These were the Renaissance. humanists, whose interests had focused on the rediscovery of the Hermetic texts. Specifically mentioned by List were Pico della Mirandola (1463-94) and Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) in Italy, and Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522), Johann Trithemius (1462-1516) and Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535) in Germany. List claimed that their revival of neo-Platonist and hermetic-cabbalistic ideas marked an efflorescence of the ancient national gnosis following the weakening of the Catholic stranglehold in medieval Europe. [23] List had already copied 'Aryan' magic sigils from the cryptographic works of Trithemius and lauded Agrippa as an 'old Armanist'. [24] However, it was his exploitation of Reuchlin that lent most plausibility to his fantasy of modern Armanist tradition.

Reuchlin has been acclaimed as the father of German humanism for his pioneering work on Greek and Hebrew texts. Educated at several universities, Reuchlin initially qualified as a lawyer and entered service at the court of Wurttemberg in 1482. He was ennobled for his services by Emperor Maximilian in 1494. During a visit to Italy Reuchlin had met Pico della Mirandola, who encouraged him to study Hebrew. Reuchlin subsequently developed those ideas which established him as the German representative of Renaissance cabbalism. He was convinced that the philosophy of Plato had its origins in the Jewish mystical books of the Cabbala. These theories were advanced in his treatises De verbo mirifico (1494) and De arte cabbalistica (1517). Besides his interest in Jewish mysticism, Reuchlin also wrote original studies of the Hebrew language, which paved the way for biblical scholarship based on the oldest sources, while confirming his reputation as a humanist who respected the contributions of other religious traditions besides Christianity.

Around 1510 Johann Pfefferkorn demanded that the Jews of Germany should have their holy books confiscated by the Church in a campaign to force them to convert to Christianity. His demands enjoyed the support of an anti-Semitic ecclesiastical party at Cologne. Reuchlin scorned this kind of religious intolerance and lampooned the arguments of the anti-Semites, only to be accused of heresy by the Dominicans of Cologne. The controversy dragged bitterly on until 1520, when Reuchlin was cleared of these charges. It was Reuchlin's defence of the Jewish texts which led List to believe that he was an initiate of the Armanist gnosis. List claimed that the original priest-kings had entrusted their gnosis verbally to the rabbis of Cologne during the eighth century, in order to safeguard its survival during a wave of Christian persecution. The rabbis had then set these secrets down in cabbalistic books which were erroneously thought to represent a Jewish mystical tradition. The Cologne controversy thus made Reuchlin look as if he was trying to save these very books from the anti-Armanist Church. [25] In this way List cast Reuchlin in the role of a great Armanist reformer struggling against a Catholic conspiracy to suppress the gnosis. List's veneration of Reuchlin even extended to the belief that he himself was the reincarnation of the sixteenth-century humanist. [26]

The Templars, Renaissance humanists, cabbalists and Rosicrucians were thus enlisted in the ranks of an imaginary heritage stretching back from the modern Armanists like List and his followers to the persecuted priest-kings, whose political authority had lapsed at the time of Christianization in early medieval Germany. This secret tradition bridged the gap formed by the Christian epoch between the ancient dispensation and its future revival. By claiming that the Armanenschaft had never been destroyed, but had survived in secret conventicles, List could suggest that his own cult was the surviving remnant of the hierophantic political tradition, which had to be revived in order that a glorious pan-German realm could be established in Europe.

List's blueprint for a new pan-German empire was detailed and unambiguous. It called for the ruthless subjection of non-Aryans to Aryan masters in a highly structured hierarchical state. The qualification of candidates for education or positions in public service, the professions and commerce rested solely on their racial purity. The heroic Aria-Germanic race was to be relieved of all wage-labour and demeaning tasks, in order to rule as an exalted elite over the slave castes of non-Aryan peoples. [27] List codified a set of political principles for the new order: strict racial and marital laws were to be observed; a patriarchal society was to be fostered in which only the male head of the house had full majority and only Ario-Germans enjoyed the privileges of freedom and citizenship; each family was to keep a genealogical record attesting its racial purity; a new feudalism was to develop through the creation of large estates which could not be broken up but inherited only by the first-born male in a family. [28] These ideas, published as early as 1911, bear an uncanny resemblance to the Nuremberg racial laws of the 1930s and the Nazi vision of the future.

But List went further still, anticipating the mystical elitism of the SS in Nazi Germany. The hierarchical structure of Ario-Germanic society was based on the cabbalistic Tree of Life. [29] This occult system of ten grades of successively higher initiation into gnostic mysteries served as the basis of the new order. In List's scheme, the two lowest grades denoted the individual and his family, which were in turn subordinate to five specified levels of Armanist authority. Above these there existed three supreme grades, whose absolute authority corresponded to the analogous location of the three highest sefiroth on the Tree 'beyond the veil of the abyss'. According to List, the eighth grade comprised the higher nobility, while the ninth was occupied only by the king and his immediate circle. The tenth grade symbolized God. List emphasized the mystical equivalence of the ascending and descending grades and interpreted the traditional cabbalistic motto 'As above, so below' to mean that the Aryan is a god-man. [30] This application of the Tree to a political hierarchy thus located the seat of authority in a sacred zone. While ancient Germanic society was claimed to have been a theocratic state, so the new order was to comprise a special elite, whose power was holy, absolute and mysterious. List's ideal state was a male order with an occult chapter. [31] The similarities with Himmler's plans for an SS order-state are striking.

Documentary evidence proves that List and the members of his HAO relished their sense of membership of a secret elite. List styled himself the Grand Master of the order and was addressed thus by his followers, [32] while other titles were conferred on members in accordance with the hierarchical grades of the ancient priesthood. Bernhard Koerner was known as the Arz-Femo-Aithari, and List also used the dignity of Arz-Wiho-Aithari. [33] Both these titles denoted councillors in the ninth grade of the cabbalistic hierarchy. Subordinate only to God and king, these councillors formed the supreme chapter of the priesthood. Initiate status was also ritually celebrated by means of esoteric glyphs upon funerary monuments: Heinrich Winter was buried at Hamburg beneath a rough-hewn stone bearing the swastika in 1911; an entire tumulus with a glyph-ornamented column was designed for Friedrich Oskar Wannieck in 1914; Georg Hauersteinsen. set a swastika-inscribed headstone upon the grave of his first wife at Isernhagen near Hanover in the same year. [34]

The HAO addressed itself to the male sex, the upper and middle classes, and all German patriots in the historically German-settled lands of Central and Eastern Europe. List urged the contemporary aristocracy in particular to resist the pro-Slav interests and democratic tendencies of the contemporary Austrian state and to regard themselves as the heirs of the old priest-kings. List was also a staunch supporter of the Habsburg monarchy and imperial dynasty, which he wished to transform into the figure-head of a new Armanist empire. [35] All these exhortations demonstrate his concern to awaken German nationalist consciousness among the nobility and other groups whose traditional status was threatened by the growth of non-German political influence in Austria.

The myth of an occult elite is not new in European ideology. It has been a perennial theme of post-Enlightenment occultism, which attempts to restore the certainties and security of religious orthodoxy within a sectarian context. Baron von Hund had invoked 'unknown superiors' for his Rite of Strict Observance, Westcott provided for a third order of 'Secret Chiefs' in the Golden Dawn, and Blavatsky spoke of the secret masters of the 'Great White Lodge': all these occult authorities fall within the same tradition. [36] The hidden elite confers an unaccountable authority upon the visible representatives of the cult. The imaginary priest-kings of the past similarly endorsed List's claims to secret knowledge and special authority. At the same time, the putative existence of a modern Armanenschaft suggested to believers that the golden age might be soon restored, and that Germany and Austria would be united in a theocratic pan-German realm, wherein non-German interests would play no part. Within thirty-five years this vision was instituted as the foreign policy of the Third Reich.
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Re: The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke

Postby admin » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:27 am

6: The Secret Heritage

LIST, echoing contemporary Pan-German sentiment, was particularly concerned to associate the Austrian Germans with their compatriots in the Reich. It was important to him that the Armanenschaft and its politico-religious rule should have flourished in the Danubian region, as well as in Germany proper, since the earliest times. List accordingly challenged the conventional historical belief that the barbarian migrations had scattered the Celtic tribes of the region, and that it was Charlemagne who had first settled converted Germans on the eastern marches (Ostmark) of his large ninth-century empire. He claimed, on the contrary, that the region had witnessed a high development of Aria-Germanic culture several millennia before its Roman colonization (c. 100-375) and that the Wotanist religion had been continually practised until the imposition of Christianity, principally through Charlemagne, whom he decried as the 'slaughterer of the Saxons' on account of his campaign of conversion on pain of death among the pagans of North Germany.

List believed he had discovered the remnants of this universal armanist-wotanist dispensation all round his native country. Despite the ravages of many centuries, compounded by Christian obliteration, he claimed to discern the vague outlines and scanty relics of a vast forgotten culture both throughout and beyond the German-settled areas of Austria. He found these relics in material archaeological monuments (tumuli, megaliths, hill-forts and castles on earlier pagan sites); in the local names of woods, rivers, hills and fields, many of which dated from pre-Carolingian times and allegedly recalled the names of gods and goddesses in the Germanic pantheon; and in the many legends, folk-tales and customs through which the common country folk were supposed, albeit unconsciously, to inherit and pass on the pale and distorted reflection of ancient Aria-Germanic religious parables and doctrines. By means of his discoveries in these three areas of local historical and folkloristic research, List sought to convince his readers that the western or 'Austrian' half of the Habsburg empire could look back upon a German pagan and national past of immemorial antiquity.

List's vision of the prehistoric past owed little to empirical methods of historical research. His surmises depended rather upon the clairvoyant illumination that certain places induced in his mind. After walking up the Hermannskogel to the north of Vienna, and again while sleeping out overnight on the Geiselberg hill-fort, List fell into a trance and witnessed the heroic and religious events that had allegedly passed in these places centuries before. [1] Armed with this faculty, List was able to divine countless sites of former Armanist association in the Lower Austrian countryside, along the River Danube, high upon the Alps and in Vianiomina (Vienna), the holy Teutonic city of old. The tumuli at Gross Mugl and Deutsch-Altenburg, likewise the hill-forts of Gotschenberg, Leisserberg and Oberganserndorf, were all recruited for his list of sanctuaries dedicated to the old faith. [2] The town of Ybbs was, according to List, founded upon a shrine to the Teutonic goddess Isa; the dreary ruins of Aggstein recalled the evil spirit Agir, while the village of St Nikola lay upon the site of a sanctuary named after Nikuz, the lord of the water-sprites. [3] South of the Danube near Melk, List discerned a huge Armanist temple stretching over many square miles: he regarded the Osterburg, Burg Hohenegg and the woodland church at Mauer as stations in a religious complex which focused on a sacrificial stone, now serving as a plinth for a saint's statue beside the Zeno brook. [4] This exploitation of pre-historic monuments, human settlements and medieval castles for his stock of Armanist Halgadome (high places) represented a personal mythology, by means of which List imposed a set of modern German nationalist meanings upon cultural objects. Through this occult interpretation, List sought to nationalize the ancient past in accordance with contemporary Pan- German ideology.

List pursued similar speculations in the case of place-names, which allegedly celebrated the old Germanic religion. He claimed that the god Wotan had been immortalized in such village-names as Wutterwald, Wulzendorf, Wultendorf and Wilfersdorf, while his wife Frigga (also known as Holla or Freya) was remembered in such place-names as Hollenburg, Hollabrunn, Hollarn, Frauendorf and Frauenburg. Because many of the old pagan shrines had probably not been destroyed, but merely newly consecrated and re-dedicated to Christian saints, in conformity with early missionary policy, List was convinced that place-names containing the words Michael, Rupprecht, Peter and Maria denoted the old deities Wotan, Hruoperaht, Donarand Frigga. [5] Armed with this interpretative key to place-names, List was able to trace an extended network of shrines and sanctuaries dedicated to the gods of the Wotanist religion across the map of modern Austria.

More fruitful and far richer as a source of evidence for the former armanist-wotanist culture of Austria were the numerous popular legends and folk-tales in which List had taken an interest since his childhood. He suggested that the stock figures and motifs in fairy-tales and nursery rhymes such as the ogre, the sleeping emperor, the wild huntsman, and the ratcatcher reflected the parables and teachings of the formerly universal Wotanist religion. [6] When List heard specific folk-tales describing vanished castles, the offspring of supernatural and mortal unions, fratricides, lost lovers, or half-human creatures, he would trace their elements back to the fables of Teutonic mythology and their cosmic significance as symbols for the winter-gods, sungods, spring-goddesses and the goddess of Death in the old Ario- Germanic nature-religion. [7] The same interpretation could be applied to popular customs. In a work specifically devoted to the rites of the Ario-Germans, List traced a wide range of legal antiquities and common law practices relating to local jurisdictions and their officers, fines, ordeals, penalties and ceremonial back to ancient Armallist procedures. [8]

Having indicated the former existence of a universal German pagan culture by means of these relics, List sought to increase the plausibility and significance of his golden-age myth by explaining the downfall of the ideal Armanist world in terms of a real and historical institution. Owning to his strong sympathies with the Los von Rom movement, Georg von Schonerer's anti-Catholic campaign begun in 1898, List achieved this end with a conspiracy-theory that identified Christianity as the negative and destructive principle in the history of the Ario- Germanic race. If it could be shown that Christian missionaries had been intent upon the destruction of Armanist culture, its actual nonexistence in the present could be related to empirical events, while reproaching the neglect of German national interests in modern Austria. List's account of Christianization in the historic German lands reiterated the debilitation of Teutonic vigour and morale and the destruction of German national consciousness. He claimed that the Church's gospel of love and charity had encouraged a deviation from the strict eugenics of 'the old Aryan sexual morality', while its new ecclesiastical foundations had blurred the Gaue (traditional ethnic provinces), in order to confuse the Germans in respect of political loyalties and obedience. Lastly, the withdrawal of all educational and religious facilities from the vanquished Germans had reduced them to the level of a helot people.

These moral and political enormities could have been achieved only through the annihilation of the national leadership. According to List, Christian missionary activities began with the humiliation of the Armanenschaft and ended with its outright persecution. The sanctuaries were closed down as centres of worship, education and government, thus removing the institutional basis of Armanist authority. Expropriated and impoverished, the priest-kings were compelled to wander through a land which neither recognized their status nor valued their holy gnosis anymore. Many of them fled to Scandinavia or Iceland, while those remaining in Central Europe assumed the status of a pariah caste, subsisting as tinkers, gypsies and strolling players. [9] Christianity completed its suppression of the Armanenschaft by its absolute vilification. According to the new faith, the old faith had been the instrument of Satan. Abandoned 'high places' were shunned as the 'castles of Antichrist'; the priest-kings were mythicized into warlocks; the runes acquired the stigma of sorcery; the ancient celebrations were conceived of as a sabbath by the medieval mind, while those who persisted in the old confession were burnt as heretics or witches.

That the Church had demonized the (imaginary) national priesthood was the ultimate charge in List's own polemic against Christianity. But it was he who had demonized the Church as the sole source of evil in a pan-German scheme of belief. Religious conversion by missionaries or by force (in the case of Charlemagne and the Saxons) represented the most vicious assault upon national integrity ever witnessed, for 'when the Germans had been completely barbarized ... the Vicar of God ensconced himself upon the bastion of his subjects' artificially induced stupidity and ruled over a shamefully demoralized people which was almost ignorant of its nationality'. [10] Only a conspiracy of such magnitude, entailing a colossal process of national dissolution, could satisfactorily account for the decay of Armanist culture and the downfall of the traditional world.

From medieval times onward the subjugated Germans had learnt of their past only through mendacious foreign accounts. These 'vicious reports from Roman, Greek and Frankish pens' assured the Germans that they had existed in a woefully primitive state before the advent of Christianity. The combined weight of Western historical scholarship relegated them to the status of a cultural latecomer in Europe. Confronted by the fact of Germany's retarded national unification, List invoked his specious occult history to prove the opposite. Because the alleged Christian conspiracy had tried to obliterate all traces of the Armanist past, it followed that its relics would be obscure and inaccessible to the majority of people in the modern world. At this point occultism made its logical appearance in his thought. In order to ensure some dialogue between his myths and the present, List ascribed occult meanings to many familiar cultural materials. These materials possessed an accepted ordinary meaning, but once List had revalued them with an occult meaning, they endorsed his own fantasy of the Armanist past. We have already seen that List's stock of occult Armanist relics included prehistoric monuments, place-names, popular folk-tales and customs. But these artefacts and traditions simply posited an unconscious survival of former Armanist culture in a diluted, distorted and misunderstood form. List claimed that there also existed a consciously cultivated secret Armanist heritage, which had been started with the explicit expectation of an Armanist restoration at the end of the Christian epoch.

List's account of the secret Armanist heritage returns us to the time when the German tribes were subject to enforced conversion to Christianity. The priest- kings had soon realized the inevitable outcome of this process and consequently set about the creation of secret societies, which would be responsible for fostering the holy gnosis during the Christian era. Within conventicles known as Kalander, the national priesthood translated all records of their wisdom into a secret language called the Kala or hochheilige heimliche Acht, which was comprehensible only to initiates. [11] This language enabled the fugitive priest-kings to communicate metaphysical and religious material surreptitiously and to leave a record of their gnosis to posterity. List coined the verb verkalen to denote the translation of esoteric Armanist wisdom into an occult code of words, symbols, or gestures. This occult language, in the context of its re-translation, permitted List to interpret a very broad range of cultural material in confirmation of the hidden Armanist gnosis.

Since Freemasonry and lodge hierarchy were the models for the priesthood, List extended this idea as a way of proving that the ancient wisdom had survived. He imagined the secret Kalander as the social precursors of the medieval corporations of guilds, akin to masonic lodges in their hierarchy of apprentice, journeyman, and master. The medieval guilds typically possessed a craft secret, which protected its members from outside competition. List, however, suggested that these commercial craft secrets were a cover for the occult gnosis, the esoteric meaning of which was probably not even apparent to the members of the guilds, since the memory of the priest-kings had faded in the medieval mind. The three particular corporations of guildsmen, whom List cited as the conscious or unconscious carriers of tradition, comprised the skalds and minstrels, the heralds and masons, and lastly the officers of the secret medieval vehmgericht. Their respective 'kalic' forms of the gnosis were medieval. songs, heraldic devices and architectural decoration, and legal antiquities.

List's claim that a college of heralds had existed as a guild organization in the early medieval period was essential to his belief that such a corporation had safeguarded the ancient gnosis. The source of this fallacy is easily explained. Because heraldry signified a method of personal identification by means of hereditary marks borne on a shield, some historians have been tempted to date heraldry from the time when warriors first decorated their shields for battle. Formal heraldry dates from the second quarter of the twelfth century, when armorial bearings on shields began to be repeated in subsequent generations of the original bearer's family. The utility of this practice in largely illiterate societies was considerable; because of the growth and complexity of the practice, kings founded colleges of heralds to administer the design and award of arms at the beginning of the fifteenth century. List's interest in heraldry arose for three specific reasons. Firstly, he could claim that it was a practice deriving from pre-Christian times. Secondly, the colourful blazon could be interpreted as a graphical and occult form of the secret gnosis. Lastly, the genealogical nature and widespread use of heraldry connoted the survival of the esoteric tradition throughout the Christian epoch in all parts of Europe.

List first advanced the theory that heraldic devices were based on the magical runes in 1891. He rejected the thesis of the historian Erich Gritzner, that the science dated back to the time of the Crusades, by demonstrating the correspondence between the heraldic divisions of the shield and the runic forms. [12] After his adoption of theosophical ideas in 1903, List adduced other supposedly Armanist sigils, including triskelions, swastikas, and sun-wheels, for the secret heraldic heritage. He expounded his theories in a series of articles in the Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung between 1905 and 1907. In his treatise Das Geheimnis der Runen [The Secret of the Runes] (1908) he showed how the runic forms could be discerned in the heraldic divisions; their occultation arose from the fact that the non-initiate was distracted by the brightly tinctured fields of the shield, so that the dividing lines themselves were not apparent. The fa-rune Image corresponded to the blazon per pale sinister side bend sinister; the thurr-rune Image to a series of blazons incorporating the pile charge, and the gibor-rune (or swastika) Image to a variety of blazons based on kinked pale, fess and bend. Besides these runes, List also detected the swastika in several heraldic crosses. [13]

This was just a beginning. Assisted by Bernhard Koerner (1875-1952), a List Society member and an officer of the Royal Prussian College of Arms since 1903, List supplemented these modest claims with a heraldic manual, which demonstrated the presence of the remaining runes and numerous glyphs of Armanist provenance in at least five hundred coats-of-arms, many of which were still borne by the modern aristocracy of Germany and Austria. In this compendium of pictorial Armanist relics List developed an occult key to interpret the furs, tinctures, divisions and charges of almost any coat-of-arms. The three furs, pean, ermine and vair, identified the bearer of the arms as a member of the three ancient social estates, the farmers, the priest-kings and the warriors. Each colour and metal similarly corresponded to a specific concept in Armanist doctrine. Gules yielded the 'kalic' word ruoth, which denoted Ario-Germanic law; vert referred to hope and resurrection; argent symbolized knowledge, wisdom and God. [14] From this system of correspondences List was able to decipher any heraldic device as a cryptic motto conveying the old gnosis. Some of his solutions were simple: the argent and azure gyrony charge in the Brockhausen arms was interpreted to mean 'Heed the law and safeguard wisdom', [15] but the esoteric meanings became more complex and less consistent when List introduced the magical sigils taken from the works of Johann Trithemius. List identified a heraldic device corresponding to the sign of the earth-spirit in Rembrandt's etching 'The Magician' (c.1632). This quartered escutcheon charge per saltire or and azure with twin orles in alternate gules, argent and sable meant 'I long for the illuminating Armanist salvation, wisdom and law, because the heavenly commandment issues from the darkness and God blesses from the light'. [16] List completed this arbitrary system of interpretation with occult meanings for the heraldic animals. He claimed that the dragon, eagle, worm, and lion symbolized the four elements, fire, air, water and earth, while the serpent stood for the fifth (theosophical) element of ether. Since the griffin was a synthetic creature, combining parts of the other animals, List concluded that it denoted the whole cosmos. [17]

List's materials were practically unlimited owing to Koerner's tireless interest in heraldic occultism. The arms of states, towns and noble families were all interpreted as the secret cultural relics of the ancient order. Burgundy, Moravia, Silesia, and Carniola had enshrined the old gnosis in their state arms, while the civic arms of Cologne, Basle, and Mainz also possessed an esoteric meaning. The nobilities of Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Styria, and Carinthia were likewise shown to be the traditional representatives of the old hierarchy on account of their coats-of-arms. [18] List multiplied such examples to posit the existence of a widespread Armanist counterculture throughout Central Europe and beyond.

As the genealogical principle was the essence of heraldry it followed logically that this secret heritage led to the contemporary aristocracy. The German aristocracy, whose political authority had been eroded since the French Revolution, might derive comfort from List's exhortation that it was composed largely of 'descendants of old hierocratic families'. [19] The secret gnosis in their arms was an esoteric legitimation of their hereditary authority against the populist and democratic tendencies of the modern age. Friedrich Freiherr von Gaisberg (1857-1932), a List Society member and a Wurttemberg nobleman, was drawn to List's occult legitimation of aristocratic authority. At the turn of the century he had founded the St Michael Association for the study of the peerage and the 'preservation of their hereditary interests as an estate'. List dedicated one of his 'research reports' to Gaisberg and interpreted his coat-of-arms to mean 'Salvation! Laws are the principal gnosis of Armanism; the creative power of God shines out of the darkness'. [20] Such laws naturally guaranteed the authority of the aristocracy and held out the hope of its restitution.

This heraldic and genealogical occultism did not appeal only to aristocrats. The contemporary existence of several groups devoted to the study of middle-class pedigrees indicates that List's occult heraldry had a wider bourgeois audience. Bernhard Koerner had established a Roland Association at Berlin, having assumed the editorship of a twenty-volume handbook of middle-class genealogy from 1899. The Roland Association in Dresden under the chairmanship of Hermann Unbescheid had pursued volkish research into heraldic matters since January 1902. Another group called the Central Agency for German Family History was established by Hans Breymann at Leipzig in February 1904. [21] For the individuals who joined such groups, heraldry and genealogy connoted a search for identity in the form of time-honoured tradition, a precious heritage and an imaginarily secure image of the feudal past. Heraldry conjured a colourful tableau of knights, feudal privileges and castles, an image which formed a pleasant antithesis to the socio-cultural tendencies of the present. This quest connoted a hunger for obsolescent social structure and political authority, which were undermined by the institutions of the modern world. One might recall that both List and Lanz were self-ennobling bourgeois. Given this middle-class fascination for seigneurial trappings, List's heraldic occultism possessed considerable appeal.

List's architectural occultism was similar to that of heraldry with regard to both its forms and appeal. In 1889 he had suggested that the corbels on the west arch of St Stephen's Cathedral made allegorical references to ancient doctrine. The mystifications of medieval masons allowed all stone sculpture to be treated as a secret 'kalic' code, the meaning of which had always remained a craft concern. This notion dated from a time when List was acquainted with Friedrich von Schmidt (d. 1891), the master-builder of the cathedral, from whom he gleaned a knowledge of operative masonic lore. [22] Once List adopted the theosophical sigils, he was able to extend this architectural occultism in a geometrical sense. According to List, the holy Armanist triskelion, swastika and other sigils could be detected in the design of late Gothic curvilinear tracery and rose windows dating from the fifteenth century. [23] The technical nature of this kind of occultism was most plausible, a fact borne out by its perennial appearance amongst occultists. [24] But the idea appealed for two further reasons. In the first place, contemporaries were familiar with the notion of masonic secrets, so that it seemed probable that medieval craftsman had worked their mysteries into the fabric of their creations for subsequent generations to decipher. Secondly, given the contemporary Gothic Revival in Germany, List's suggestion that Gothic architecture contained ancient secrets would have found a readymade response. [25] He also emphasized the traditional atmosphere of the Armanist world with Gothic artwork and the occasional use of a bold Fraktur typeface in his publications.

The vehmgericht constituted the last of List's guilds and was supposed to have translated the holy Armanist gnosis into a 'kalic' form so that it might survive the Christian epoch. Since the vehmgericht really was a secret institution, founded to administer law in the Holy Roman Empire between the early thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, it seemed a most effective agent for List's occult heritage. Vehmic law most probably originated in pre-Carolingian times, but it was not until the late twelfth century that it assumed historical significance. At this time the imperial jurisdiction was being usurped by the new territorial princes, who were striving to assume the political authority of the old feudal estates. To counter this modern tendency the Archbishop of Cologne placed himself at the head of a long-standing system of local courts, which were to pass capital sentences in the name of the Emperor. An old parochial institution thus assumed a new historical role. From their origin in Westphalia these vehmgerichts soon spread throughout the Empire wherever conservative men sought to hinder the power of the princes. However, with the stabilization of political conditions, such a system of justice became superfluous. The vehmgericht was consequently restricted to Westphalia at the beginning of the sixteenth century and finally abolished in 1811.

The organization of the vehmgericht was based on the jurisdiction of countless local courts. Sessions were held either publicly or in secret, attended only by the members of the particular court and the judge, to whom they owed allegiance, wherever they travelled in the Empire. New members were sworn to secrecy concerning all matters relating to the vehmgericht and took an oath that they would bring any case within the competence of the court to its notice. They were then initiated into the passwords and secret signs of the organization before being presented with the symbols of their office: a rope and a dagger inscribed with the letters S.S.G.G., which stood for the obscure vehmic motto 'String, Stone, Grass, Green'. Henceforth, the novices would fight to maintain old feudal privileges against their usurpers and bring the offenders to trial.

This was the historical reality of the vehmgericht, but it later became the subject of a romantic mythology. Owing to its secret means and traditional ends -- the protection of historic rights against the centralizing tendencies of princely rule-the vehmgericht came to symbolize a heroic and radical institution to the authors and historians of the Romantic period. The now largely forgotten Gothic novels published in Germany between 1780 and 1820 were primarily responsible for the creation of an enduring popular image of the vehmgericht as a secret but powerful body exercising true justice against local despots and their lackeys in distant days of medieval strife. These Gothic tales dwelt upon the mystique of the secret courts. In the middle of the night an officer of the vehmgericht would fasten the summons to the door of the accused, or simply transfix it with his vehmic dagger upon the town-gates. In obedience to this summons the accused would then make his way to the appointed place. On a remote moonlit heath or at a lonely crossroad the vehmgericht gathered to judge the accused. If the man were innocent, he would be acquitted; if guilty, he would be hanged on the spot. Failure to appear in accordance with the summons would be taken as satisfactory proof of guilt. The fugitive would then be executed by vehmic assassins, who waylaid him outside low taverns, on woodland paths or wheresoever he tried to flee. [26]

List was quite familiar with this sensational image of the vehmgericht. In 1891 he described a vehmgericht session which was supposed to have occurred at the castle of Rauhenstein against this pseudomedieval background; the summons, the dagger, secret passages, dungeons, torture-chambers and midnight gloom all served to make his secret Armanist guild both vivid and plausible to a popular audience. [27] Besides its familiarity, the vehmgericht possessed several other attributes, which made it a fitting historical vehicle for List's occult tradition. In the first place, even academic historians admitted that the vehmgerichts had originally derived from local courts which dated back to pre-Christian times. List could therefore claim that the vehmgericht was a secret Armanist guild. Since administration and justice had been important functions of the priest-kings, it could be argued that the vehmgerichts represented a clandestine survival of Ario-Germanic law. List adduced many occult notions to prove this. The obscure letters on the vehmic dagger were reckoned to be a transliteration of a double sig-rune followed by two swastikas Image, while the 'kalic' word moth (meaning law) suggested that any cultural feature which was either red (rot) or in the shape of a wheel (Rad) concealed the existence of a former vehmgericht. According to these irrational speculations, List believed that all the common red wayside crucifixes and wheelcrosses in Catholic regions of Central Europe marked the erstwhile locations of secret Armanist courts; he found these in abundance throughout Lower Austria, Bohemia, and even in the suburbs of Vienna. [28]

Secondly, the avowed purpose of the vehmgericht was appropriate to List's secret tradition. He also attributed other ideological motives to the courts than had been the historical case. In 1905 List published a short account of a vehmgericht which was supposed to have held its sessions at Rothenkreuz near Stecky in the fifteenth century. This was the period of the Hussite wars and a time of lawlessness throughout Central Europe. From List's account it is clear that he regarded these religious wars as a Czech campaign of attrition against the German minorities of Bohemia. His vehmgericht acted accordingly as the defender of German rights against Czech tyranny. This projection of modern nationalist sentiment into the past was obviously addressed to contemporary German minorities. Published in the annual of a volkisch association in North Moravia, this tale would doubtless be seen as a vindication of its readers' anti-Czech attitudes. [29]

The vehmgericht was an ideal agent for List's hidden heritage. Its secret means connoted a mysterious elitism, but also implied a popular institution offering comfort to those who groaned beneath an upstart tyrant's heel. Its relics could now be rediscovered and its function revived. The vehmgericht could rise again to restore order in a world where modern tendencies appeared to some individuals as a threat to their culture. List and his followers found satisfaction in this fantasy of a militant, omnipresent, yet hidden force that appeared to promise the restoration of a new pan-German empire. This fantasy was grimly fulfilled in the aftermath of the lost war when extreme right-wing nationalists, calling themselves vehmic assassins, murdered several politicians of the new German Republic.

List had marshalled all sorts of occult evidence for the existence of a prehistoric national culture in the heart of the hereditary Habsburg lands. The archaeological monuments, the place-names, and the legends, folk-tales and customs of the Danubian region were interpreted in such a way as to prove that this part of Central Europe had participated in a universal and superior German civilization of great antiquity. List's invocation of a secret, consciously created Armanist heritage in the form of heraldry, architectural decoration, and legal antiquities also progressed from the celebration of past Germanic glory to an analysis of the historic measures taken by the old priest-kings to ensure its eventual restoration. The occult meanings which he ascribed to these materials indicated the political testament and expectations of the last representatives of a lost unitary Ario-Germanic nation. The time for that restoration was now come. List's secret heritage augured the imminent transformation of Austria and Germany into a new pan-German empire.
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