For and Against the Occult

The attitude of the leadership of the Third Reich with regard to religion and the occult is controversial.
Many historians, authors and researchers have made numerous assumptions - and often even definitive statements, but the facts of the matter are far from clear.
The 'liberal left' and those espousing 'political correctness' (whatever that may be), like to 'paint' the Third Reich as a vast, monolithic dictatorship - in which all were required to 'tow the party line' - or face the 'concentration camp', or 'firing squad'.

FACTIONS

In truth, however, and perhaps surprisingly, that was far from the case - (although is was, to a great extent, the case in Soviet Russia, and other Communist dictatorships).
Although the Third Reich, on the surface, espoused 'Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer', there were, in fact, numerous seething undercurrents in many areas of policy - including religion, the arts, culture and philosophy.

COVERING UP THE TRACES
Some would take at face value Hitler's reported disdain, and on occasions open derision with regard to occult practices - but Hitler, from his youth, had been a master at laying false trails. - He was well aware that it was not in his interests, having achieved the position of a major 'world leader' to be seen as a 'dabbler in the occult arts', and so he assiduously laboured to distance himself from anyone who would be able to associate him with such practices.
'Gustl' Kubizek
Dietrich Eckart
If you have studied other articles in this blog you will be aware that there is a wealth of information (often ignored or denied) that associates various aspects of Hitler's Weltanschauung with occult beliefs and teachings.
As August Kubizek has recorded in 'Hitler - Mein Jungenfreund', these occult influences began very early in Hitler's life.
Some of the most significant influences on Hitler, with regard to occult matters, disappeared along the way.
In some cases these disappearances were natural - as in the case of Dietrich Eckart  (died of a heart attack in Berchtesgaden on 26 December 1923) - probably the most significant of those influences, (who was the dedicatee of 'Mein Kampf').
Lanz von Liebenfels
Karl Haushoffer
Natural cause also would apply to Rudolf John Gorsleben (died of a chronic heart complaint in 1930) - rarely mentioned, but highly influential.
Some of these influences, such as Rudolf Heß, disappeared under the strangest circumstances.
Others were silenced, (but not 'liquidated' as in Soviet Russia), such as Lanz von Liebenfels (Hitler banned him from publishing his writings and copies of Ostara were removed from circulation in 1938), and Karl Haushoffer, (Haushofer's son Albrecht was arrested on 7 December 1944 and put into the Moabit prison in Berlin) and Haushoffer was disgraced.
At this point it would be tedious to list all the individuals who had connections with Hitler and the occult.
Some, of course, like Rosenberg and Himmler lasted the distance after Hitler became Chancellor, mainly because Hitler had need of them.
Most, however, disappeared - practically without trace - and there is a reason for this.
Some would take at face value Hitler's seeming disdain, and on occasions open derision with regard to occult practices - but Hitler, from his youth, had been a master at laying false trails.
Alfred Rosenberg
Rudolf Heß
He was well aware that it was not in his interests, having achieved the position of a major 'world leader' to be seen as a 'dabbler in the occult arts', and so he assiduously laboured to distance himself from anyone who would be able to associate him with such practices.
However, in unguarded moments, as can be seen in various articles in this blog, he would make statements that no 'normal', politician would make.
Statements that repeatedly entered into areas of the mystical, philosophical and religious and occult.
Equally, if he held such matters in such low repute, it makes little sense that he would continue his long standing connection with, and reliance on such figures as Rudolf Heß, Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg (author of 'Der Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts') - and continue to publicly venerate the memory of Dietrich Eckart.
Interestingly, on October 13, 1933, Deputy Führer Rudolf Heß issued a decree stating: "No National Socialist may suffer any detriment on the ground that he does not profess any particular faith or confession or on the ground that he does not make any religious profession at all." However, the regime strongly opposed "Godless Communism" and all of Germany's freethinking (freigeist), atheist, and largely left-wing (but not occult) organizations were banned the same year.
A STRANGE FRIEND

Hanns Heinz Ewers
Perhaps the strangest of all of the individuals to influence Hitler with regard to occult matters was Hanns Heinz Ewers - an individual who has been almost completely ignored by academics, writers and researches when considering the historical period immediately before and during the Third Reich.
Hitler had very few real friends - which was an intriguing and significant aspect of his psychology.
'Gustl' Kubizek was not a real friend, but rather just a 'sounding board' for Hitler's emerging adolescent fantasies.
With Rudolf Heße there was some reciprocal feeling.
Eckart was more of a substitute for the father that Hitler had respected, but also feared.
Speer was undoubtedly a substitute son.
Horst Wessel
Ewers, however, was a real - but secret friend - which was not surprising, as Ewers was a known bisexual, a Satanist and an ocultist.
In addition, Ewers was an associate of Guido von List, Lanz von Liebfels and Aleister Crowley - but Ewers was also a member of the NSDAP, - and also a nudist, a pioneer of sexology, a decadent poet, a film-maker and playwright.
Ewers, who is reliably reported to have been Hitler's favourite author, was later commissioned by Hitler to write the biography of Horst Wessel ('Einer von vielen' - 'One of many') - later made into a film.
(interestingly Horst Wessel was employed a youthful extra when one of Ewer's stories were turned into the remarkably successful film, 'The Student of Prague' in 1913.)
Ewers died from tuberculosis in 1943.
The strangest aspect of the relationship between Hitler and Ewers is the fact that in 1934 most of his works were banned in Germany, but subsequently Ewers secured the rescission of the ban - presumably on the insistence of Hitler.

OPPOSITION TO THE OCCULT

There were two 'major players' in the National Socialist hierarchy who were apparently violently opposed to religious and occult concepts and practices - Martin Bormann and Dr. Joseph Goebbels.

MARTIN BORMANN

Martin Bormann (17 June 1900 – 2 May 1945) gained immense power by using his position as Adolf Hitler's private secretary to control the flow of information and access to Hitler.
He succeeded Hitler as Party Minister of the National Socialist German Workers' Party after Hitler's death on 30 April 1945.
Bormann joined a paramilitary Freikorps organisation in 1922 while working as manager of a large estate.
He served nearly a year in prison as an accomplice to his friend Rudolf Höss (later commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp) in the murder of Walther Kadow.
Bormann joined the Nazi Party in 1927, and the Schutzstaffel (SS) in 1937.
He initially worked in the party's insurance service, and transferred in July 1933 to the office of Deputy Führer Rudolf Heß, where he served as chief of staff.
Bormann used his position to create an extensive bureaucracy, and involve himself as much as possible in the decision making.
He gained acceptance into Hitler's inner circle, and accompanied him everywhere, providing briefings and summaries of events and requests.
He began acting as Hitler's personal secretary on 12 August 1935.
Bormann assumed Heß' former duties, with the title of Head of the Parteikanzlei (Party Chancellery), after Heß' solo flight to Britain on 10 May 1941 to seek peace negotiations with the British government.
Bormann had final approval over civil service appointments, reviewed and approved legislation, and by 1943 had de facto control over all domestic matters.
Bormann was one of the leading proponents of the ongoing persecution of the Christian churches and favoured harsh treatment of Jews and Slavs in the areas conquered by Germany during World War II.
With regard to rligion and the occult, Bormann was violently opposed to all such beliefs, and his apparent materialism has given rise to suspicions that he 'left leaning' tendency may be an indication that he was a 'crypto-Marxist'.

DR. JOSEPH GOEBBELS

Goebbels was another of Hitler's close followers who tended towards the 'left' in politics.
However, unlike Bormann, who gave every indication of being a socio-path - who was only concerned about benefiting himself at the expense of everyone else, including Hitler, Goebbels appeared to have a true regard for, and belief in Hitler, and National Socialism.
Paul Joseph Goebbels was the Reich Minister of Propaganda of the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945. He was one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates, and one of his most devoted followers, and was known for his skills in public speaking and his deep, virulent anti-Semitism, which was evident in his publicly voiced views.
Goebbels, who aspired to be an author, obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Heidelberg in 1921.
He joined the Nazi Party in 1924, and worked with the 'left wing' Gregor Strasser in their northern branch.
He was appointed as Gauleiter (district leader) for Berlin in 1926, where he began to take an interest in the use of propaganda to promote the party and its programme.
After the seizure of power in 1933, Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over the news media, arts, and information in Germany.
He was particularly adept at using the relatively new media of radio and film for propaganda purposes.
Topics for party propaganda included anti-Semitism, attacks on the Christian churches, and (after the start of the Second World War) attempting to shape morale.
Goebbels was educated at a Christian Gymnasium, where he completed his Abitur (university entrance examination) in 1917.
He was the top student of his class.
His parents initially hoped that he would become a Catholic priest, and Goebbels seriously considered the option.
He studied literature and history at the universities of Bonn, Würzburg, Freiburg, and Munich, aided by a scholarship from the Albertus Magnus Society.
By this time Goebbels had begun to distance himself from the church.
During and after university, he read avidly and was influenced by the works of Oswald Spengler, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the British-born German writer whose book 'Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts' (The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century - 1899) was one of the standard works of the extreme right in Germany.
He also began to study the 'social question' and 'left wing' and Marxist writings, including works by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Rosa Luxemburg and Gustav Noske.
Diary entries of mid-December 1923 forward show Goebbels was moving towards the völkisch nationalist movement.
Goebbels first took an interest in Adolf Hitler and National Socialism in 1924.
In February 1924, Hitler's trial for treason began in the wake of his failed attempt to seize power in the Beer Hall Putsch of November 8–9, 1923.
The trial attracted widespread press coverage and gave Hitler a platform for propaganda.
Hitler was sentenced to five years prison, but was released on 20 December 1924, after serving just over a year.
Goebbels was drawn to the NSDAP mostly because of Hitler's charisma, and his commitment to his beliefs.
Goebbels joined the NSDAP around this time, becoming member number 8762.
In late 1924, Goebbels offered his services to Karl Kaufmann, who was Gauleiter (NSDAP district leader) for the Rhine-Ruhr District. Kaufmann put him in touch with Gregor Strasser, a leading Nazi organiser in northern Germany, who hired him to work on their weekly newspaper, and to do secretarial work for the regional party offices.
He was also put to work as party speaker and representative for Rhineland-Westphalia.
Members of Strasser's northern branch of the NSDAP, including Goebbels, had a more 'left wing' socialist outlook than the rival group in Munich.
Strasser disagreed with Hitler on many parts of the party platform, and in November 1926 began working on a revision.
In 1926, Goebbels sided with Hitler, and published a pamphlet titled "Nazi-Sozi" which explained how National Socialism differed from Marxism.
By 1930 the violence in Berlin between the Nazis and communists led to local SA troop leader Horst Wessel (see above) being killed by members of the Communist Party of Germany.
Exploiting Wessel's death, Goebbels turned him into a martyr for the Nazi movement, and Goebbels officially declared Wessel's march 'Die Fahne hoch', renamed as the 'Horst-Wessel-Lied', to be the NSDAP anthem.
As Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, Goebbels placed restrictions on public meetings, and Catholic publications faced censorship.
Catholic schools were required to reduce religious instruction and crucifixes were removed from state buildings.
Hitler often vacillated on whether or not the 'Kirchenkampf' (church struggle) should be a priority, but his frequent inflammatory comments on the issue were enough to convince Goebbels to intensify his work on the issue, and in February 1937 he stated he wanted to eliminate the Protestant church.
Goebbels reduced the pressure on the churches during the war, mainly because he had to deal with more pressing and urgent matters.
Throughout his adult life, however, Goebbels had no time for religion, Christian or otherwise, or any form of mysticism or occultism - and in this way considered himself to be thoroughly 'modern'.

CONCLUSIONS

While it is the case that National Socialism had its roots in the reactionary mysticism and occultism occurring at the ending of the nineteenth century, along with Lebensreform and the Völkisch revival, it is hardly surprising that such a movement as the NSDAP, which also embraced an unusual and inovative form of 'modernism' would attract certain individuals for whom the mystical and occult aspects of National socialism would not have any appeal.
It was Bormann's and Goebbels' 'modernistic' materialism - which was undoubtedly the result of their 'left' leaning economic and political beliefs - that caused their rejection of the mystical and the occult aspects of National Socialism.
For Hitler, of course, this was no problem, as he was desperately concerned to keep hidden the true origins of National Socialism, - (and in particular the true occult origins of his anti-Semitism), - and rather it was individuals such as Himmler, Heß and Rosenberg who could be the cause of greater problems, with their flamboyant mysticism.

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