Hanns-Heinz Ewers - Master of the Occult

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2017
Hanns Heinz Ewers was an important figure in the occult development of  völkisch ideology.
Suprisingly, perhaps, he was  flamboyantly and openly bisexual
The son of a pair of public figures - his father was the artist, Heinz Ewers, and his mother was a well known translator of French and English works, including the children’s stories of Alexander Dumas, and a number of works of French decadents.
A literary late bloomer, he acquired a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from either the University of Bonn or Leipzig, a fashionable scar on his cheek from his duelling fraternity, and an illegitimate daughter (whom he left in a Red Cross orphanage) before he began publishing in his late 20s. 
Hanns Heinz Ewers (3 November 1871 in Düsseldorf – 12 June 1943 in Berlin - see right)) was a German actor, poet, philosopher, and writer of short stories, novels and screenplays.

He was an associate of Guido von List (see left), Lanz von Liebfels (see right), and Aleister Crowley (see below,) and later a member of the NSDAP, - but also a nudist, pioneer of sexology and decadent poet, film-maker and playwright.

Guido Karl Anton List, better known as Guido von List (October 5, 1848 – May 17, 1919) was an Austrian/German (Viennese) poet, journalist, writer, mountaineer, hiker, dramatist, and playwright, but was most notable as an occultist and völkisch author who is seen as one of the most important figures in Germanic revivalism, Germanic mysticism, Runic Revivalism and Runosophy in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and continues to be so today. He is the author of 'Das Geheimnis der Runen' (The Secret of the Runes), which is a detailed study of the Armanen Futharkh, his intellectual world-view (as realised in the years between 1902 and 1908), an introduction to the rest of his work and is widely regarded as the pioneering work of Runology in modern occultism.

Adolf Josef Lanz - who called himself Lanz von Liebenfels (July 19, 1874 – April 22, 1954), was an Austrian publicist and journalist. He was a former monk and the founder of the magazine 'Ostara', in which he published völkisch theories. He founded his own esoteric organisation, the Ordo Novi Templi (Order of the New Templars) in 1907. Liebenfels was reportedly the first völkisch ideologue to use the swastika (Hakenkreuz) as the emblem of the Aryan race.

While he wrote on a wide range of subjects, he is now known mainly for his works of horror, particularly his trilogy of novels about the adventures of Frank Braun, a character modelled on himself.

Ewers's literary career began with a volume of satiric verse, entitled 'A Book of Fables', published during 1901.
That same year he collaborated with Ernst von Wolzogen in forming a literary vaudeville theatre before forming his own such company, which toured Central and Eastern Europe before the operating expenses and constant interference from censors caused him to abandon the enterprise.

Ernst von Wolzogen
Ernst von Wolzogen (April 23, 1855 - August 30, 1934 was a cultural critic, a writer and a founder of Cabaret in Germany.
Wolzogen came from a noble Austrian family; he studied Literature, Philosophy, and the history of art in Strasbourg and Leipzig. In 1882, he went to Berlin where he worked as an editor at a publishing house and later became an independent writer. From 1892 to 1899, he lived in Munich where he founded the 'Freie Literarische Gesellschaft', a literary society. In 1899, he returned in Berlin where he established the 'Cabaret Überbrettl', a play on Nietzsche's term 'Übermensch'.  After its closure in 1905, he returned to Darmstadt.

Wolzogen produced a great many works of humorous fiction. Some of his works include Die Kinder der Exzellenz (1890); Das Lumpengesindel (1892); Ein unbeschriebenes Blatt (1896); Der Kraft-Mayr, 2 vols.(1897); Das dritte Geschlecht, 2 vols. (1899). Although primarily a humorist, he also wrote on serious topics. Works such as Fahnenflucht (1894), Das Wunderbare (1898), and Die arme Sünderin (1901) are examples of his more serious side as an author. Wolzogen work is known for its wit and elegance.

A world traveller, Ewers was in South America when the First World War broke out, and unable to return to Germany, he relocated to New York.
Ewers had been romantically involved with Ludwig Lewisohn’s cousin, Adele Guggenheimer-Lewisohn, at least as early as 1909 and likely met George Sylvester Viereck through this tie.

George Sylvester Viereck
George Sylvester Viereck (December 31, 1884, Munich, Germany – died March 18, 1962, Holyoke, Massachusetts) was a German-American poet, writer, and propagandist. Viereck founded two publications, 'The International' and 'The Fatherland', which argued the German cause during World War I. Viereck became a well-known German apologist. His interview with Adolf Hitler in 1923 had offered hints of what was to come. In 1933 Viereck again met with Hitler, now Germany's Führer, in Berlin, and in 1934 he gave a speech to twenty thousand "Friends of the New Germany" at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Adele and Ewers renewed their affair during his stay in the United States, and established a fruitful literary collaboration; Ludwig translated Ewers’ novel, 'The Sorcerer’s Apprentice', into English. (Kugel, 243).
Ewers' reputation as a successful German author and performer made him a natural speaker for the Imperial German cause to keep the United States from joining the war as an ally of Britain.
Ewers toured cities with large ethnic German communities, and raised funds for the German Red Cross.
After the United States joined the war he was arrested during 1918 as an “active propagandist,” as the US government, as well as British and French intelligence agencies asserted that Ewers was a German agent.
They evidenced his travels to Spain during 1915 and 1916, both with an alias using a falsified Swiss passport.
Later, a travel report in the archives of the German Foreign Office was discovered indicating that he may have been travelling to Mexico; maybe to encourage Pancho Villa to hamper the U.S. military by an attack on the United States.
Ewers is associated with the pro-German George Sylvester Viereck, son of the German immigrant and reported illegitimate Hohenzollern offspring Louis Sylvester Viereck (a Social Democrat famous for sharing a prison cell with August Bebel), who was a member of the same Berlin student Corps (fraternity) as Ewers.
Ewers' activities as an "Enemy Alien" in New York were documented by J. Christoph Amberger in the German historical journal 'Einst & Jetzt' (1991).
Amberger indicates arrival records which demonstrate that Ewers entered the United States in the company of a "Grethe Ewers," who is identified as his wife.
Enemy Alien Office records refer to a recent divorce.
The identity of this otherwise undocumented wife has never been established and is missing from most biographies.
As a German national he was sent to the internment camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.
Ewers was never tried as a German agent in the United States.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
During 1921, he was released from the internment camp and returned to his native Germany.
Ewers's first novel, 'Der Zauberlehrling' (The Sorcerer's Apprentice) (see left), was published during 1910, with an English translation appearing in America during 1927.
It introduces the character of Frank Braun, who, like Ewers, is a writer, historian, philosopher, and world traveller with a decidedly Nietzschean morality.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet and composer. He wrote several critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism.

Nietzsche's key ideas include the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, the Will to Power, the "death of God", the Übermensch and eternal recurrence. Central to his philosophy is the idea of "life-affirmation", which involves questioning of any doctrine that drains one's expansive energies, however socially prevalent those ideas might be.

This was followed during 1911 by 'Alraune', a reworking of the Frankenstein myth.
The novel was filmed several times, most recently by Erich von Stroheim during 1952.
The third novel of the sequence, 'Vampyr', written during 1921, concerns Braun's own eventual transformation into one of these blood-drinking creatures.
Another novel, 'Der Geisterseher', was published during 1922.
Aleister Crowley 
Ewers also published several plays, poems, fairy tales, opera librettos, and critical essays.
These included 'Die Ameisen', translated into English as 'The Ant People', 'Indien und ich', a travelogue of his time in India, and a 1916 critical essay on Edgar Allan Poe, to whom he has often been compared.

Students of the occult are also attracted to his works, due to his longtime friendship and correspondence with Aleister Crowley (see right).

Aleister Crowley (12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947), born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both 'Frater Perdurabo' and 'The Great Beast 666', was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, and mountaineer, who was responsible for founding the religion of 'Thelema'. In his role as the founder of the Thelemite philosophy, he came to see himself as the prophet who was entrusted with informing humanity that it was entering the new 'Aeon of Horus' in the early 20th century.

Crowley was so inspired by Ewers that he hoped for a translation of his 'Gnostic Mass' into German by Ewers.

'Das Unbekannte Übermensch'
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2017
Aleister Crowley wrote 'The Gnostic Mass' - technically called Liber XV or "Book 15" - in 1913 while travelling in Moscow, Russia. In many ways it is similar in structure to the Mass of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church. However, the comparison ends there, as Liber XV is a celebration of the principles of Thelema. It is the central rite of 'Ordo Templi Orientis'. The ritual culminates in the consummation of the eucharist, consisting of a goblet of wine and a Cake of Light, after which the congregant proclaims “There is no part of me that is not of the gods !” Its first public performance was March 19, 1933, (the year that Hitler came to power)  by Wilfred T. Smith and Regina Kahl in Hollywood, California at the first Agape Lodge

One outstanding question relates to Crowley's avatar, Aiwass - and Hitler's visionary being at Passewalk, and the 'Unbekannte Übermensch' (unknown superman) of which he was 'not permitted to speak'.
Were these the same entities - and did Hitler communicate with Crowley, through Ewers, with regard to this crucial matter ?

'The Book of the Law'
Aiwass was the name of the voice of an occult entity that Aleister Crowley claimed to have heard on April 8, 9, and 10th in 1904. Crowley claimed that this voice dictated 'The Book of the Law' (or Liber Legis) to him. Crowley went to great pains to argue that Aiwass was an objectively separate being from himself, possessing far more knowledge than he or any other human could possibly have.
Æon Upuat
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2017

While it has been suggested that Hitler was possessed from an early age by a Lupine entity - possibly identified as the Æon 'Upuat', - it is not suggested that this entity was identical to the visionary being encountered by Hitler at Passewalk, or the entity which Hitler occasionally saw after he became Führer, and which has been identified with the 'Unbekannte Übermensch'.
Of course occult entities identify themselves in various ways, and there is often little significance in such given identities.
The identities of such beings are, by their very nature 'occult' - 'hidden'.
Occult organisations such as Crowley's are frequently seen to hold right wing ideas; not least because of Aleister Crowley’s distinction between “ordinary” humans, who are compared to dogs, and who serve - and a superior class of 'human gods', (Übermensch) who rule the 'dogs' ['Liber AL' - The Book of the Law].

Crowley's 1937 idea of the commercial utilization of the Swastika on porcelain cups, and his suggestion to discuss Thelema “as the basis for the National Socialist new order” [diary entry dated 5th May 1936] indicate the assumption of a totalitarian conviction by Crowley.

Ewers also edited the eight-volume 'Galerie der Phantasten' anthologies of horror and fantasy literature, featuring work by Poe, E. T. A. Hoffman, Oskar Panizza, Honoré de Balzac, Alfred Kubin, Ewers' friend Karl Hans Strobl, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer and Ewers himself.

Ewers was one of the first critics to recognize cinema as a legitimate art form, and wrote the scripts for numerous early examples of the medium, most notably 'The Student of Prague' (1913), a reworking of the Faust legend, which also included the first portrayal of a double role by an actor on the screen.

National Socialist martyr Horst Wessel, then a member of the same Corps (student fraternity) of which Ewers had been a member, appears as an extra in a 1926 version of the movie, also written by Ewers (see left).
During the last years of the Weimar Republic, Ewers became involved with the burgeoning NSDAP, attracted to its Nationalism, its Nietzschean (see right) moral philosophy, and its occult involvement with Teutonic culture.
Despite his enormous influence on 20th century fantasy and horror literature, Ewers remains out of favor in many literary circles because of his association with National Socialism.

Ewers, who is reliably reported to have been Hitler's favorite author, was later commissioned by Hitler to write a biography of Horst Wessel ('Einer von vielen' - 'One of many').
This biography was later made into the film, 'Hans Westmar - Einer von vielen' (One of Many) (see left).
'Hans Westmar' was the last of an unofficial trilogy of films commissioned by the Third Reich celebrating the National Socialist 'Kampfzeit' (Time of Struggle) - a history of their period in opposition, struggling to gain power.
Originally, the film, based on Hanns Heinz Ewers's novelistic biography, was named 'Horst Wessel'.
Goebbels changed the main character's name to the fictional "Hans Westmar".
One reason may have been to avoid "de-mystifying" Wessel.
It was, however, among the first films to depict dying for Hitler as a glorious death for Germany, resulting in his spirit inspiring his comrades.
His decision to go to the streets is presented as fighting "the real battle."
Interestingly, the music for the film was provided by Ernst Hanfstaengl (see right), a close, early associate of Adolf Hitler, and also a friend of Ewers
The film concentrates on the conflict with the Communist Party in Berlin in the late 1920s.
When Westmar arrives in Berlin the communists, whose leaders include a stereotypical Jew, are popular, holding large parades through Berlin singing 'The Internationale'.
When he looks into the cultural life of Weimar Berlin, he is horrified at the "internationalism" and cultural promiscuity, which includes black jazz music and Jewish nightclub singers.
This scene dissolves into images of the German fighting men of World War I and shots of the cemeteries of the German dead.
Westmar decides to help organize the local Nazi party and becomes, through the course of the plot, responsible for their electoral victories, which encourages the Communists to kill him.

Final Work and Death

Hanns-Heinz Ewers'  last book, 'Die schönsten Hände der Welt' - (The most beautiful hands in the world), was published by the Zinnen Verlag (Munich, Vienna, Leipzig) in 1943.
Ewers died from tuberculosis in the same year.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

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