Rudolf von Sebottendorf 16
Rudolf Glandeck von Sebottendorff
There are two claims made about the German Nazis that have been debunked by scholarly research but which continue to enjoy popular interest. The first is that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were driven by an occult agenda; that their early success, and ultimate failure, was a result of either supernatural intervention, or their magical attempts to control the supernatural. A second claim is found in certain branches of conspiracy theory: that the Nazis were created by the Freemasons.
It is a curious historical footnote that a link can be found between the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP), founded in 1920, and the Germanenorden, a magical fraternity founded at a conference of occultists in May of 1912, organised by disciples of Guido von List (1848-1919/05/17) and Adolf Lanz, aka Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels (1874-1954) in the home of Theodor Fritsch.
The link was Rudolf Glandeck von Sebottendorff (1875/11/09 - 1945/05/09). The son of a Silesian railway engineer, Sebottendorff was born Adam Alfred Rudolf Glauer. He travelled to Turkey in 1900, where he was adopted by Baron Heinrich von Sebottendorff in 1909, and also claimed to have been initiated into Freemasonry.1 Changing his name and taking Turkish citizenship, he returned to Germany in 1913. Sebottendorffs version of Freemasonry did not prevent his striking up a friendship with the Germanenorden chancellor, Hermann Pohl, who violently opposed Freemasonry as being international and Jew-ridden, but who used masonic terminology and organizational structure, believing this would insure secrecy.
Shortly after Sebottendorffs return to Germany, the Germanenorden splintered, its then ex-chancellor, Hermann Pohl, establishing the German Order Walvater of the Holy Grail. Pohl was joined in 1916 by Sebottendorff who was made Master of the Bavarian section of the order in 1917. Sebottendorff later established another occult society in Munich on August 17, 1918 as a cover identity for the Germanenorden: the Thule Gesellschaft, named after the mythic northern island home of the white race: Ultima Thule. 2
Originally called the "Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum" (Study Group for German Antiquity), it derived its ideology (and some members) from earlier occult groups founded by Listthe Armenan (est, 1908)and Liebenfelsthe Order of the New Templars (est. 1900)and from the writings of Madame Blavatsky. Yet this facade of occult study hid a counter-revolutionary activism of stockpiled weapons; schemes to kidnap the Communist leader, Kurt Eisner; infiltration of spies into the Communist cadres; and the Kampfbund Thule paramilitary group.3
With the suppression of many other groups by a suspicious government, the Thule became a meeting place for nationalistic, pan-German rightist Bunds. A leading part in the successful attack on Munichs Communists on April 30, 1919 was played by Thulists who allied themselves with the Freikorps Oberland to fight the Bavarian republic of councils (Räterepublik).4 Sebottendorff resigned from the group in June of 1919. While the Thule continued to meet as a political and cultural club until 1925, Sebottendorff and the Thules more activist members joined with the Committee of Independent Workers on January 5, 1919 to found the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei: the German Workers' Party. Shortly after Hitler joined this group, they again renamed themselves the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
Sebottendorffs real association with Freemasonry is difficult to determine, although it appears that he was initiated into an irregular body of the Rite of Memphis under the Grand Orient of France.5 From his own writings it is clear that his version of Freemasonry incorporated aspects of Islamic Sufi mysticism, alchemy, astrology and Rosicrucianism. In his autobiographical novel Der Talisman des Rosenkreuzers (The Rosicrucian Talisman), he made a clear distinction between Turkish Freemasonry and regular Freemasonry:
"It must be shown that Oriental Freemasonry still retains faithfully even today the ancient teachings of wisdom forgotten by modern Freemasonry, whose Constitution of 1717 was a departure from the true way." "We look at our world as a product of the people. The Freemason looks at it as a product of conditions..."6
Sebottendorff believed that the esoteric tradition of Sufism was the purest stream of wisdom and that it had nourished European occultism through astrologists, Rosicrucians and authentic freemasons of the Middle Ages. He claimed:
"No one can accuse me of profanation, nor of sacrilege in uncovering the course of these mysteries...It is the means that the communities of dervishes traditionally use in order to acquire special strength by means of unusual techniques. They are, for the most part, men who aspire to the highest rite, that from which come those who have been prepared for their missions as spiritual leaders of Islam... This high rite is the practical basis of Freemasonry, and it inspired in times past the work of the alchemists and of the Rosicrucians...But to reply to the accusation of my being guilty of some kind of treachery: I say to you plainly that this book has been written on the instructions of the leaders of the Order." 7
Subsequent authors such as Jean-Michel Angebert (pseudonym for Michel Bertrand and Jean Angelini), Trevor Ravenscroft, James Herbert Brennan, and Gerald Suster made much of the occult leanings of the Thule and its influence on the Nazi party and Hitler. Many of their claims have been effectively debunked by Goodrick-Clarke whose research proves, among other things, that Ravenscroft lied about his source and invented his history of a social network of Munich-based occultists. 8
"This sensational image of the Thule Society and its members is almost entirely a fictional invention. Hitler never attended a single meeting of the Thule Society. While the founder of the Thule Society, Rudolf von Sebottendorff, was certainly interested in the occult, a detailed diary of its regular meetings from 1919 to 1925 maintained by its secretary, Johannes Hering, mentions only two lectures on such topics. On 31 August 1918, Sebottendorff gave a talk on dowsing, of which Hering disapproved, commenting that occultism brought dubious members into the Thule from time to time; and on 23 February 1919 a certain Wilde lectured on occultism. All other lectures and excursions were devoted to such themes as megalithic culture, the original homeland of the Teutons, Germanic myths and poetry, the Thule legend, the Jews and Zionism, and current political issues."9
Goodrick-Clarke traces the theory of an occult inspired Nazism to a French Christian mystic, Reneé Kopp who, in 1934, wrote of invisible spirits influencing Hitler. Later, the self-proclaimed German rocket engineer, Willy Ley, in 1947 wrote an article for a pulp fantasy magazine ridiculing pseudoscience in Germany, which he claimed included a Berlin sect attempting to conjure up the mysterious vril force described by British novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his The Coming Race (1871). 10
While French journalists Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier,11 and others, saw a magical explanation for the effectiveness of the Hitler myth, Goodrick-Clarke demonstrated that although the Thule was purportedly a literary-cultural group, this appears to have been a cover for counter-revolutionary activism. Sebottendorffs Bevor Hitler Kam, a 1933 attempt to claim some of Hitlers glory,12 and Hermann Rauschnings Hitler speaks, a discredited attempt to paint Hitler as a magician,13 are often used to support this claim.
Ravenscroft saw a link between the Thule and such early "fringe freemasons" as Robert Wentworth Little, but his research standards are demonstrated when, among other errors, he identifies Dietrich Eckart as being Rudolf Glauer. 14
Sebottendorff, expelled from Germany in 1923 as an undesirable alien, returned in 1933. With his book, Bevor Hitler Kam, banned by the Bavarian political police on March I, 1934, and the Thule Group dissolved, Sebottendorff was arrested by the Gestapo, interned in a concentration camp and then expelled to Turkey, where he committed suicide by jumping into the Bosporus on May 9, 1945 upon hearing of the German surrender.15
Anti-masons will attempt to embarass Freemasonry by imagining a link with Hitler, and occult writers will attempt to inflate the importance of magic in world affairs, but neither of these claims can be proven from the available facts. <>
1.<phi-presse.de/Buchclub/Angebote/xc3/x-vorhitler.htm>. Also see "In 1901 von Sebottendorff was initiated into a Masonic lodge which, like many in the Middle east, had connections with the French Grand Orient." Michael Howard, The Occult Conspiracy : secret societies, their influence and power in world history Destiny Books is a division of Inner Traditions International, Ltd., 1989. ISBN: 0-89281-251-6. p. 124. "...he learned Turkish from a Muslim imam and worked for a Sufi initiate at a toewn near Bursa, becoming initiated into Freemasonry there in 1901." Peter Levenda, Unholy Alliance. New York : Continuum, 2002, c. 1995. p. 74. Note that Sebottendorff is often spelt Sebottendorf and that the Library of Congress gives his birth year as 1943. Also see Bevor Hitler Kam, Eine historische Studie, Dietrich Bronder. Hannover : Hans Pfeiffer Verlag, 1964. pp. 232-240. 446pp. hb. ^
2.Also termed the Thule-Bund. See Simon Taylor, Germany 1918-1933. London : Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1983. ISBN: 0-7156-1689-7. p. 35. "By the end of the war von Sebottendorff had moved to Munich and the German order had adopted the name of the Thule Society. This was to prevent its activities being disturbed by the Communists who were opposed to the German Orders right-wing, pro-monarchist views. In 1918 the Thule Society had over 250 members in Munich and nearly 1,500 members scattered across the Bavarian countryside." [pp. 124-125.]; "Politically, the Thulists were committed to the establishing of a pan-German state based on the Habsburg dynesty which had abdicated in November 1918 when faced with a socialist revolution in Austria." [p. 125.]; Copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion had been imported into Germany from Russia by the Thule Society at the beginning of the First World War. [p. 127.]; "The early meetings of the German Workers Party had been advertised in the Thulist newspaper Volkisher Beobachter and this later became the official organ of the Nazi Party" [p. 128.]. See Michael Howard. "This group was outwardly just one more fringe Pan-German club promoting German mythology, spreading anti-Semitism and encouraging the formation of a greater German Reich." "Whether or not the club ever acted on its mystical premises or used them only as some silly and meaningless initiation gibberish is not known." See J. Sydney Jones, Hitler in Vienna, 1907-1913. 1983 : Stein and Day, NY. c. 1982. ISBN: 0-8128-2855-0. p. 302. n. 92. ^
3.See Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, U.K.: Aquarian Press, 1985. hb, 293pp, illust, ISBN: 0-85030-402-4. Also see: Gemäss Glowka (1981:25) soll die Thule-Gesellschaft als "Verein zur Pflege deutscher Altertümer" noch bis 1933 bestanden haben. Cited at <www.relinfo.ch/thule/info.html>. ^
4.Christian Zentnere and Friedemann Bedürftig (1940- ), The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich, Grosse Lexikon des Dritten Reiches, English. ed. Amy Hackett. New York : Macmillan Publishing Company, 1991 [c. 1985]. ISBN: 0-02-897502-2 (v. 2) p. 956. ^
5.Wulf Schwartzwaller, The Unknown Hitler. Berkeley Books, 1990. Also see Bundesarchiv, Koblenz; Roots. Cf.: E. Gugenberger, Mutter Erde/Magie und Politik: zwischen Faschismus Schweidlenka, R. und neuer Gesellschaft. Wien: Verlag fuer Gesellschaftskritik, 1987. p. 102.
6.Untitled article, Runen July 21, 1918, Thule Society journal, cited in "Hitler, Nazis & the Occult," M. Sabeheddin. New Dawn No. 41, March-April 1997) <www.newdawnmagazine.com> Also see his 1925 autobiographical novel, Der Talisman des Rosenkreuzers. Pfulligen in Wurttemberg : Johannes Baum Verlag,  115p. Die Bibliothek des Deutschen Freimaurermuseums in Bayreuth.^
7.Rudolf Glandeck Sebottendorff, Die Praxis der alten türkischen Freimaurerei. [The practice of the old Turkish Freemasons] [2. verb. und verm. Aufl.] Freiburg im Breisgau, H. Bauer [c1954] 54 p. 21 cm. LCCN: 57017289; La pratique opérative de l'ancienne franc-maçonnerie turque : la clé de la compréhension de l'alchimie : un exposé du rituel, de l'enseignement, des signes de reconnaissance de la franc-maçonnerie orientale. [Operative practice of the old Turkish freemasonry: the key of the comprehension of alchemy: a talk of the ritual, teaching, signs of recognition of Eastern freemasonry.]. traduit de l'allemand par Henry E. Wansard. Praxis der alten türkischen Freimaurerei. French. Braine-le-Comte : Éditions du Baucens, 1974. 87pp. ; 21 cm. LCCN: 75511952. Cited in "Book Review: The Occult Roots of Nazism," William Grimstad. The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 121-127. ^
8.Jean-Michel Angebert, The Occult and the Third Reich (1971); Trevor Ravenscroft (1921-1989), The Spear of Destiny. London: G.P. Putnam & Sons, 1973; J.H. Brennan, Occult Reich, London: Futura, 1974; Gerald Suster (1951-), Hitler and the Age of Horus. London: Sphere Books Limited, 1981, c. 1980 Gerald Suster. hb, 11cm x 19cm 231pp.; Lewis Spence (1874-1955), The occult causes of the present war. London : Rider & Co., 1940. 191 p ; 19 cm; Francis King, Satan and Swastika, London: Mayflower Books Ltd, 1976.^
9.Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the politics of identity, Chap. 6, "The Nazi Mysteries." New York: New York University Press, 2002. ISBN: 0-8147-3124-4. pp. 116-17. Also see The Occult Roots of Nazism. ^
10.Willy Ley (1906-1969), "Pseudoscience in Naziland" Astounding Science Fiction. New York. Edited by John W. Campbell, Jr. (June 8, 1910 - July 11, 1971) May 1947, 39/3. pp. 90-98. ^
11.Louis Pauwels, Jacques Bergier, Le matin des magiciens. 1960; trans. London: Granada Publishing Ltd; Panther, 1964. Cf. Ian Kershaw, The "Hitler Myth" ; image and reality in the Third Reich. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1989. pb 297pp. ^
12.Rudolf [Glandeck] von Sebottendorff, Bevor Hitler kam: Urkundliches aus der Frühzeit der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung von Rudolf von Sebottendorff. [Quellen zur Zeitgeschichte Ein Sammlung von drei Hauptquellen zurIdeengeschichte und Fruehzeit des Nationalsozialismus] München: Grassinger [Hans Georg Grassinger], 1933. 267 p. ports., facsims. 22 cm. LCCN: af 48000823. Cited in "The Occult and the Third Reich," Jean-Michel Angebert, as noted in The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 121-127. [Historische Faksimiles. Reprint für Forschungszwecke, insbes. zur Ergänzung von Sammlungen. Erscheinungsjahr 1982. Faksimile-Verlag/Versand. D-2800 Bremen 1. Postfach 10 14 20. Der Faksimile-Versand liefert eine große Auswahl außergewöhnlicher Nachdrucke. Fordern Sei unser neues Gesamtverzeichnis an!].^
13.Hermann Adolf Reinhold Rauschning, (1887-1982) [Gespraeche mit Hitler] Munich: Deufula-Verlag Grassinger & Co., 1933. Hitler m'a dit. Confidences du Fuehrer sur son plan de conquete du monde, etc. (Traduit par Albert Lehman.) [With plates, including portraits.] Paris, 1939. pp. 320. ; 8o. Hitler speaks : a series of political conversations with Adolf Hitler on his real aims. London : Thornton Butterworth Ltd., 1939. 287pp,  p. ; 21.7cm [second impression: Andover: Chapel River Press, December 1939]. For Raushnings unreliability see <freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/hitler.html#2> fn. 2. ^
14.Trevor Ravenscroft, p. 159 ^
15.Sutter, p. 137;
Reginald H. Phelps, "Before Hitler came: Thule Society and Germanen Orden" The Journal of Modern History, Vol. xxxv, No. 3 (September 1963); <www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Thule.html>; Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . Date noted in Unholy Alliance. p. 147. ^
Portrait from frontispiece, Bevor Hitler kam: bust by sculptor, Hanns Goebl (23. 6. 1901 -12. 8. 1986), München.