Thule Society

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The Thule Society (German: Thule-Gesellschaft), originally the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum ("Study Group for Germanic Antiquity"), was a German occultist and völkisch group in Munich, named after a mythical northern country from Greek legend. The Society is notable chiefly as the organization that sponsored the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which was later transformed by Adolf Hitler into the Nazi Party. However, there's no evidence Hitler ever attended the Thule Society before its transformation into the Nazi Party.[1]


[edit] Origins

The Thule Society was originally a "Germanic study group" headed by Walter Nauhaus,[2] a wounded World War I veteran turned art student from Berlin who had become a keeper of pedigrees for the Germanenorden (or "Order of Teutons"), a secret society founded in 1911 and formally named in the following year.[3] In 1917 Nauhaus moved to Munich; his Thule-Gesellschaft was to be a cover-name for the Munich branch of the Germanenorden,[4] but events developed differently as a result of a schism in the Order. In 1918, Nauhaus was contacted in Munich by Rudolf von Sebottendorf (or von Sebottendorff), an occultist and newly-elected head of the Bavarian province of the schismatic offshoot, known as the Germanenorden Walvater of the Holy Grail.[5] The two men became associates in a recruitment campaign, and Sebottendorff adopted Nauhaus's Thule Society as a cover-name for his Munich lodge of the Germanenorden Walvater at its formal dedication on 18 August 1918.[6]

Sebottendorff later claimed that he originally intended the Thule Society to be a vehicle for promoting his own occultist theories, but that the Germanenorden pressed him to emphasize political, nationalist and anti-Semitic themes. The fact that this claim was made while the Nazis were in power and Sebottendorff had little to gain by denying anti-Semitism lends credibility to this claim.[citation needed]

[edit] Black Sun logo

Black Sun symbolism formed a central doctrine to the pre-Nazi secret society, the Thule Society. The symbol of the Black Sun also has an alternative design that has no relationship with Nazism, Himmler or Wewelsburg. This Black Sun (image) was also adopted as an emblem for von Liebenfels' New Templars.[7] Scholar Joseph P. Farrell states that in contemporary German federal law forbids it to be displayed.[7]

[edit] Beliefs

A primary focus of Thule-Gesellschaft was a claim concerning the origins of the Aryan race. "Thule" ((Greek): Θούλη) was a land located by Greco-Roman geographers in the furthest north.[8] The term "Ultima Thule" ((Latin): most distant Thule) is also mentioned by the Roman poet Virgil in his epic poem Aeneid. This was supposed to be the far northern segment of Thule and is now generally understood to mean Scandinavia.

Said by Nazi mystics to be the capital of ancient Hyperborea, they identified Ultima Thule as a lost ancient landmass in the extreme north: near Greenland or Iceland. These ideas derived from earlier speculation by Ignatius L. Donnelly that a lost landmass had once existed in the Atlantic, and that it was the home of the Aryan race, a theory he supported by reference to the distribution of swastika motifs. He identified this with Plato's Atlantis, a theory further developed by Helena Blavatsky, the occultist during the second part of the 19th century. The Thule-Gesellschaft maintained close contacts with Theosophists, the followers of Blavatsky.[citation needed]

[edit] Activities

The Thule Society attracted about 250 followers in Munich and about 1,500 in greater Bavaria.[9] Its meetings were often held in the luxury Hotel Vierjahreszeiten ((German): Four Seasons Hotel) in Munich.[6]

The followers of the Thule Society were, by Sebottendorff's own admission, little interested in his occultist theories. They were more interested in racism and combating Jews and Communists. Nevertheless, Sebottendorff himself planned and failed to kidnap the Bavarian socialist prime minister, Kurt Eisner, in December 1918.[2][10] After the establishment of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, they were accused of trying to infiltrate its government and of having attempted a coup on April 30, 1919. During this attempt, the Soviet government took several members of the Thule Society into custody, and later executed them.

[edit] Münchener Beobachter newspaper

In 1918, the Thule Society bought a local weekly newspaper, the Münchener Beobachter (Munich Observer), and changed its name to Münchener Beobachter und Sportblatt (loosely, Munich Observer and Sport Report) in an attempt to improve its circulation. The Münchener Beobachter later became the Völkischer Beobachter ((German): People's Observer), the main Nazi newspaper. It was edited by Karl Harrer.

[edit] Deutsche Arbeiterpartei

On 5 January 1919 Anton Drexler, who had developed links between the Thule Society and various extreme right workers' organizations in Munich, together with the Thule Society's Karl Harrer, established the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP), or German Workers' Party. Adolf Hitler joined this party later in the same year. By the end of February 1920, the DAP had been reconstituted as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), or National Socialist German Workers' Party, generally known as the "Nazi Party".[11]

Sebottendorff had by then left the Thule Society, and never joined the DAP or the Nazi party. It has been alleged that other members of the Thule Society were later prominent in Nazi Germany[who?]: the list includes Dietrich Eckart, Gottfried Feder, Hans Frank, Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg. (Eckart, who coached Hitler on his public speaking skills, had Mein Kampf dedicated to him.) Historian Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke has described such membership rolls as "spurious" and "fanciful", noting that Feder, Eckart and Rosenberg were never more than guests to whom the Thule Society extended hospitality during the Bavarian revolution of 1918,[12] although he has more recently acknowledged that Hess and Frank were members of the Society before they came to prominence in the Nazi party.[13] It has also been claimed that Adolf Hitler himself was a member.[14] Evidence on the contrary shows that he never attended a meeting, as attested to by Johannes Hering's diary of Society meetings.[1] It is quite clear that Hitler himself had little interest in, and made little time for, "esoteric" matters.[15] (See also Hitler's speech of 6 September 1938[16] on his disapproval of occultism.)

Other members were Karl Fiehler, Wilhelm Frick, Michel Frank, Heinrich Jost, Wolfgang Pongratz, Wilhelm Laforce, Johann Ott, Hans Riemann, Max Seselmann, and Hans-Arnold Stadler.[citation needed] Two well-known aristocrats in the group were Countess Heila von Westarp, a young woman who functioned as secretary, and Prince Gustav von Thurn und Taxis (both of these were among those abducted and executed by the Communist government in Munich on 26 April 1919).[17]

[edit] Dissolution

Early in 1920 Karl Harrer was forced out of the DAP as Hitler moved to sever the party's link with the Thule Society, which subsequently fell into decline and was dissolved about five years later,[18] well before Hitler came to power.

Rudolf von Sebottendorff had withdrawn from the Thule Society in 1919, but in 1933 he returned to Germany in the hope of reviving it. In that year he published a book entitled Bevor Hitler kam ((German): Before Hitler Came), in which he claimed that the Thule Society had paved the way for the Führer: "Thulers were the ones to whom Hitler first came, and Thulers were the first to unite themselves with Hitler." This claim was not favourably received by the Nazi authorities: after 1933, esoteric organisations (including völkisch occultists) were suppressed, many closed down by anti-Masonic legislation in 1935. Sebottendorff's book was prohibited and he himself was arrested and imprisoned for a short period in 1934, afterwards departing into a lonely exile in Turkey.

Nonetheless, it has been argued that some Thule members and their ideas were incorporated into the Third Reich.[14] Some of the Thule Society's teachings were expressed in the books of Alfred Rosenberg.[citation needed] Many occult ideas found favour with Heinrich Himmler who, unlike Hitler, had a great interest in mysticism, but the Schutzstaffel (SS) under Himmler emulated the ethos and structure of Ignatius Loyola's Jesuit order[19] rather than the Thule Society.

[edit] Conspiracy theories

Like the Ahnenerbe section of the SS, and due to its occult background, the Thule Society has become the center of many conspiracy theories concerning Nazi Germany. Such theories include the creation of vril-powered Nazi UFOs.[20]

[edit] The Thule Society in popular culture

  • Thule is mentioned in the video game Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Wolfenstein depicts the Thule Society (that Hitler formally disavowed while in power) as a “powerful nest of Nazis who disappear the Black Sun and are deeply entangled in the Reich’s paranormal research efforts.”[21]
  • It is mentioned in the Friday the 13th: The Series episode "The Butcher" when a high ranking Nazi colonel is brought back from the dead with the help of a mystic swastika amulet.
  • It features prominently in the 1978 thriller novel The Spear by James Herbert in the context of a contemporary Nazi mysticist terrorist organisation.
  • Mack Bolan, The Executioner, goes up against the Thule Society in the 1998 novel, Devil's Guard, by Mark Ellis.
  • The Russian songwriter, Alexander Laertsky, had published an album called Общество Туле (Thule Society).
  • The Thule Society is the society to which Reinhold (a fictional character) belongs in the book Indiana Jones and the Hollow Earth.
  • The Thule Society is deeply involved in the plot of novelist Brad Meltzer's novel The Book of Lies—strangely enough as being part of the origin of the fictional character Superman.
  • The Thule Society plays an important role in Charles Stross' cyber-neo-Lovecraftian Laundry series

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b Johannes Hering, "Beiträge zur Geschichte der Thule-Gesellschaft", typescript dated 21 June 1939, Bundesarchiv Koblenz, NS26/865, cited in Goodrick-Clarke (1985: 201), who concludes: "There is no evidence that Hitler ever attended the Thule Society" (ibid., 201).
  2. ^ a b Phelps 1963
  3. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985, pp. 127–28, 143
  4. ^ Phelps 1963, n.31.
  5. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985, pp. 131, 142–43
  6. ^ a b Goodrick-Clarke 1985, p. 144
  7. ^ a b Farrell, Joseph P.; 'Reich of the Black Sun p175.
  8. ^ "Perseus Digital Library", citing "Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography"
  9. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985, p. 143
  10. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985, p. 147
  11. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985, p. 150
  12. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985, pp. 149, 217–225
  13. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 2003, p. 114
  14. ^ a b Angebert 1974, p. 9
  15. ^ Skorzeny 1995
  16. ^ Hitler, Adolf. Nuremberg speech, 1938-09-06.
  17. ^ Timebase 1919. Timebase Multimedia Chronography. Accessed April 18, 2008.
  18. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 1985, p. 221
  19. ^ Höhne 1969, pp. 138, 143–145
  20. ^ Goodrick-Clarke 2003: 166–169.
  21. ^ “Real-life Insanity: Wolfenstein’s events are fictional, but are inspired by the reality of the Nazi regime”, Game Informer 184 (August 2008): 36.

[edit] References

  • Angebert, Jean-Michel. 1974. The Occult and the Third Reich: the mystical origins of Nazism and the search for the Holy Grail.. Macmillan Publishing. ISBN 0-0250-2150-8.
  • Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas. 1985. The Occult Roots of Nazism: The Ariosophists of Austria and Germany 1890-1935. Wellingborough, England: The Aquarian Press. ISBN 0-85030-402-4.
    Republished 1992 as The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology: The Ariosophists of Austria and Germany, 1890–1935 (New York University Press, ISBN 0-8147-3060-4)
    and in 2003 as The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology (Gardners Books, ISBN 1-86064-973-4).
  • Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas. 2002. Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-3124-4. (Paperback 2003, 384 pages, ISBN 0-8147-3155-4.)
  • Höhne, Heinz. 1969. The Order of the Death's Head: The Story of Hitler's SS. Martin Secker & Warburg. ISBN 0-1413-9012-3.
  • Phelps, Reginald H. 1963. "'Before Hitler Came': Thule Society and Germanen Orden". Journal of Modern History 35(3): 245-261. ISSN 0022-2801/63/3501.
  • Skorzeny, Otto, tr. Johnston, David. 1995. My Commando Operations. ISBN 0-8874-0718-8.

[edit] Further reading

  • Gilbhard, Hermann. 1994. Die Thule-Gesellschaft. (German) Kiessling Verlag. ISBN 3-930423-00-6.
  • Hale, Christopher. 2003. Himmler's Crusade: The True Story of the 1938 Nazi Expedition into Tibet. London: Transworld Publishers. ISBN 0-593-04952-7.
  • Kershaw, Ian. 2001. Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-013363-1.
  • Sklar, Dusty. 1977. The Nazis and the Occult. Dorset Press, New York. 188 pages. ISBN 0-88029-412-4.
  • Peter Lavenda.2007. Unholy Alliance. Continium Books, 401 pages. ISBN 0-8264-1409-5.

[edit] External links

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