In late 19th and early 20th century Germany and Austria there were many flourishing esoteric orders which sought to establish a reborn Germanic identity and to reconnect the volk with its repressed archetypes.
One of the most significant of these Orders was founded in Germany in 1912 - the German Order. From this sprang the Thule Society whose driving force was Rudolf von Serbottendorff. He had been schooled in occultism, Islamic mysticism, alchemy, Rosicrucianism and much else, in Turkey, where he had also been initiated into Freemasonry.
Thule served as the recruiting and political action front of the German Order. Serbottendorff bought a failing Munich newspaper, the Beobachter which he renamed the Volkische Beobachter and it became the official newspaper of the NSDAP.
A movement to promote Thulian ideas among industrial workers and to offset Marxism, was formed in 1918 - the Workers' Political Circle - with Thulist Karl Harrer as chairman. From this came the German Workers' Party in 1919. A year later this became the NSDAP under the leadership of Adolf Hitler.
Serbottendorff himself stated: "Thule members were the people to whom Hitler first turned and who first allied themselves with Hitler."
The Thule society was active in efforts to overthrow the Barvarian Communist Government. Their propaganda effort was aided by a journalist, poet, and occult student Dietrich Eckart, who was the major intellectual influence on Hitler in the early years. The swastika flag adopted by the NSDAP was the brain-child of another Thulist, Dr Krohn.
With the victory of the Nazi Party, the occult tradition was carried on in the Third Reich mainly by the SS, who Reichsfuhrer, Himmler, was an avid student of the occult. An SS occult research department, the Ahnernerbe (Ancestral Heritage) was established in 1935 with SS Colonel Wolfram von Sievers at its head. Occult research took SS researchers as far afield as Tibet. Sievers had the Tantrik prayer, the Bardo Thodol, read over his body after his execution at Nuremberg.
National Socialism and the Third Reich represented a major attempt by high esoteric Adepts to re-establish a Culture based on the Laws of Nature, against the entrenched forces of anti-Life. Nothing that ambitious had been tried since the founding of the American Republic by Masonic adepts.
The Thule Society inner circle had the following beliefs
Thule was a legendary island in the far north, similar to Atlantis, supposedly the center of a lost, high-level civilization. But not all secrets of that civilization had been completely wiped out. Those that remained were being guarded by ancient, highly intelligent beings (similar to the "Masters" of Theosophy or the White Brotherhood).
The truly initiated could establish contact with these beings by means of magic-mystical rituals.
The "Masters" or "Ancients" allegedly would be able to endow the initiated with supernatural strength and energy.
With the help of these energies the goal of the initiated was to create a race of Supermen of "Aryan" stock who would exterminate all "inferior" races.
On April 6, 1919, in Bavaria, left wing socialists and anarchists proclaimed the Bavarian Soviet Republic. The brains of the revolution were a group of writers who had little idea of administration. Life in munich grew chaotic. The counter-revolutionary forces, the whites, composed of various groups of decommissioned soldiers known as "Frei Corps", equipped and financed by the mysterious Thule Society, defeated the Bavarian Soviet within a matter of weeks.
Many other decommissioned soldiers waited out the turbulence in barracks, pfc Adolph Hitler among them. After the Bavarian Republic had been defeated by the Whites, in May, Hitler's superiors put him to work in the post revolution investigating commission. His indictments injected ruthless efficiency into the kangaroo courts as he fingered hundreds of noncommissioned officers and enlisted men who had sympathized with the communist and anarchists. He was subsequently sent to attend special anticommunist training courses and seminars at the University which were financed by the Reichswehr administration and by private donors from the Thule Society.
This led to an assignment in the intelligence division of the postwar German army, to infiltrate groups that could organize the working classes while the communists were weak. On a September evening, 1919, Hitler turned up in the Sternecker Beer Hall where members and friends of the budding German Workers Party had gathered. He quietly listened to the presentation by engineer Gottfried Feder, a Thule Society member, who talked about jewish control over lending capital. When one of the other group members called for Bavaria to break away from the rest of Germany, Hitler sprang into action. The astonished audience stood by while his highly aggressive remarks and compelling oratory swept through the room. After Hitler had finished his harangue, party chairman and founder, Anton Drexler, immediately asked him to a meeting of the party's steering committee held a few days later. He was asked to join the committee as its seventh member, responsible for advertising and propaganda.
Back in 1912, several German occultists with radical anti-semitic inclinations decided to form a "magic" lodge, which they named the Order of Teutons. the main founders were Theodor Fritsch, a publisher of an anti-semitic journal; Philipp Stauff, pupil of the racist Guido Von List, and Hermann Pohl, the order's chancellor. (Pohl would drop out three years later to found his own bizarre lodge, the Walvater Teutonic Order of the Holy Grail.) The Order of Teutons was organized along the lines of the Free Masons or the Rosicrucians, having differing degrees of initiation, only persons who could fully document that they were of pure "aryan" ancestry were allowed to join.
In 1915, Pohl was joined by Rudolf Blauer, who held a Turkish passport and practiced sufi meditation. He also dabbled in astrology and was an admirer of Lanz Von Liebenfels and Guido Von List, both pathologically anti-semitic. Blauer went by the name of Rudolf Freiherr Von Seboottendorf. He was very wealthy, although the origin of his fortune is unknown. He became the Grand Master of the Bavarian Order and he founded the Thule Society, with Pohl's approval, in 1918.
After the Bavarian communist revolution of 1918, the Thule Society became a center of the counterrevolutionary subculture. An espionage network and arms caches were organized. The Thule Club rooms became a nest of resistance to the revolution and the Munich Soviet Republic.
Journalist Karl Harrer was given the job of founding a political "worker circle". He realized that the workers would reject any program that was presented to them by a member of the conservative "privileged" class. Harrer knew that the mechanic Anton Drexler, who was working for the railroads, was a well-known anti-semite, chauvinist and proletarian. With drexler as nominal chairman, Harrer founded the German Workers Party in January 1919
The German Workers Party was only one of many associations founded and controlled by the Thule Society. The Thule was the "mother" to the German Socialist Party, led by Julius Streicher, and the right-wing radical Oberland Free Corps. It published the Munich observer, which later became the National Observer. Hitler became the most prominent personality in the party. He caused Harrer to drop out, and he pushed Drexler, the nominal chairman, to the sidelines. He filled key positions with his own friends from the Thule Society and the Army. During the summer of 1920, upon his suggestion, the party was renamed the National Socialist German Worker Party (NASDAP). The new name was intended to equally attract nationalists and proletarians.
To go along with the new name his mass movement also required a flag with a powerful symbol. Among many designs under consideration, Hitler picked the one suggested by Thule member Dr. Krohn: a red cloth with a white circle in the middle containing a black swastika.
Hitler wanted to turn the German Workers Party into a mass-conscious fighting party, but Harrer and Drexler were hesitant, due in part to their woeful financial situation. The Thule Society was not yet supplying very much money and no one seemed to know how to build up a mass party. Hitler arranged two public meetings in obscure beer halls, and he drafted leaflets and posters, but there was no real breakthrough.
All of this changed dramatically at the end of the 1919 when Hitler met Dietrich Eckart. Most biographers have underestimated the influence that Eckart exerted on Hitler. He was the wealthy publisher and editor-in-chief of an anti-semitic journal which he called In Plain German. Eckart was also a committed occultist and a master of magic. As an initiate, Eckart belonged to the inner circle of the Thule Society as well as other esoteric orders.
There can be no doubt that Eckart - who had been alerted to Hitler by other Thulists - trained Hitler in techniques of self confidence, self projection, persuasive oratory, body language and discursive sophistry. With these tools, in a short period of time he was able to move the obscure workers party from the club and beer hall atmosphere to a mass movement. The emotion charged lay speaker became an expert orator, capable of mesmerizing a vast audience.
One should not underestimate occultism's influence on Hitler. His subsequent rejection of Free Masons and esoteric movements, of Theosophy, of Anthrosophy, does not necessarily mean otherwise. Occult circles have long been known as covers for espionage and influence peddling. Hitler's spy apparatus under Canaris and Heydrich were well aware of these conduits, particularly from the direction of Britain which had within its MI5 intelligence agency a department known as the Occult Bureau. That these potential sources of trouble were purged from Nazi life should not be taken to mean that Hitler and the Nazi secret societies were not influenced by mystical and occult writers such as Madame Blavatsky, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Guido Von List, Lanz Von Liebenfels, Rudolf Steiner, George Gurdjieff, Karl Haushofer and Theodor Fritsch. Although Hitler later denounced and ridiculed many of them, he did dedicate his book Mein Kampf to his teacher Dietrich Eckart.
A frequent visitor to Landsberg Prison where Hitler was writing Mein Kampf with the help of Rudolf Hess, was General Karl Haushofer, a university professor and director of the Munich Institute of Geopolitics. Haushofer, Hitler, and Hess had long conversations together. Hess also kept records of these conversations. Hitler's demands for German "Living Space" in the east at the expense of the Slavic nations were based on the geopolitical theories of the learned professor.
Haushofer was also inclined toward the esoteric. as military attache in Japan, he had studied Zen-Buddhism. He had also gone through initiations at the hands of Tibetan Lamas. He became Hitler's second "esoteric mentor", replacing Dietrich Eckart. In Berlin, Haushofer had founded the Luminous Lodge or the Vril Society. The lodge's objective was to explore the origins of the Aryan race and to perform exercises in concentration to awaken the forces of "Vril". Haushofer was a student of the Russian magician and metaphysician Gregor Ivanovich Gurdyev (George Gurdjieff).
Both Gurdjeiff and Haushofer maintained that they had contacts with secret Tibetan Lodges that possessed the secret of the "Superman". The lodge included Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg, Himmler, Goring, and Hitler's subsequent personal physician Dr. Morell. It is also known that Aleister Crowley and Gurdjieff sought contact with Hitler. Hitler's unusual powers of suggestion become more understandable if one keeps in mind that he had access to the "secret" psychological techniques of the esoteric lodges. Haushofer taught him the techniques of Gurdjieff which, in turn, were based on the teachings of the Sufis and the Tibetan Lamas- and familiarized him with the Zen teaching of the Japanese Society of the Green Dragon.
in the latter half of the previous century, intriguing hints about Tibetan secret teachings had been carried to the west by Helena Blavatsky, who claimed initiation at the hands of the Holy Lamas themselves. Blavatsky taught that her "Hidden Masters" and "Secret Chiefs" had their earthly residence in the Himalayan region. As soon as the Nazi movement had sufficient funds, it began to organize a number of expeditions to Tibet and these succeeded one another practically without interruption until 1943. One of the most tangible expressions of Nazi interest in Tibet was the party`s adoption of its deepest and most mystical of symbols-the swastika.
The swastika is one of mankind's oldest symbols, and apart from the cross and the circle, probably the most widely distributed. It is shown on pottery fragments from Greece dating back to the eighth century b.c. It was used in ancient Egypt, India and China. The Navaho indians of North America have a traditional swastika pattern. Arab-Islamic sorcerers used it. In more recent times, it was incorporated in the flags of certain baltic states.
The idea for the use of the swastika by the Nazis came from a dentist named Dr. Friedrich Krohn who was a member of the secret Germanen order. Krohn produced the design for the actual form in which the Nazis came to use the symbol, that is reversed, spinning in an anti-clockwise direction. As a solar symbol, the swastika is properly thought of as spinning, and the Buddhists have always believed the symbol attracted luck. The Sanskrit word "svastika" means good fortune and well being. According to Cabbalistic lore and occult theory, chaotic force can be evoked by revers- ing the symbol. And so the symbol appeared as the flag of Nazi Germany and the insignia of the Nazi party, an indication for those who had eyes to see, as to the occult nature of the Third Reich.
From "The Unknown Hitler" by Wulf Schwartzwaller, Berkeley Books, 1990