The Thule Gesellschaft

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Many followers of List and Liebenfels were not satisfied with the metaphysical, meditational, essentially passive and academic nature of the List Society and the Order of New Templars.

Ostara - Liebenfels
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Armanen Runes - Guido List
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While they devoured 'Ostara' and similar publications - and professed to read the longer, more complex books of both List and Liebenfels - they found themselves inflamed by their wild rhetoric and the countless attacks on Jews, Freemasons, Jesuits, Bolsheviks, and Capitalists.
It was no longer enough to perform pagan rituals at the summer solstice or to decode a particularly interesting series of runes found on a rock or described in a forgotten book.

The Goddess Ôstarâ.
'Ostara' or 'Ostara, Briefbücherei der Blonden und Mannesrechtler' was a German nationalist magazine founded in 1905 by the occultist Lanz von Liebenfels in Vienna, Austria.
Lanz derived the name of the publication from the reconstructed Old High German goddess name Ôstarâ. Lanz claimed that the Ostrogoths and the nation of Austria (Österreich) were matronymically named after this goddess. 
According to von Liebenfels, the magazine had a peak circulation of 100,000 and appeared in three series; the first series included 100 issues between 1905 and 1917, the second series had only one issue, and the third series included 20 issues published between 1927 and 1930.

Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels
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Guido von List
If the theories and proposals of List and Liebenfels were right -- if a war was, in fact, taking place between the forces of Light and Darkness and the fate of the entire human race was at stake - then why wasn't someone doing something about it ?
Why wasn't there a program in place to weed out the Jews and other Minderwertigen: 'beings of inferior value' ?
Where were the Germans of pure Aryan blood ? Why weren't they taking charge in the political arena ?
And why weren't all German peoples united in a single great Reich ?

Theodor Fritsch 
To that end, and following the lead of a wealthy if small-time industrialist by the name of Theodor Fritsch - whose publishing hobby included an inflammatory anti-Semitic periodical, 'the Hammer', and one of the first German editions of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion', several members of the List Society and the ONT formed their own, ultra-secret and ultra-right-wing society, the 'Germanenorden' (German Order) in concert with a more overt propaganda effort called the Reichshammerbund based loosely on the anti-Semitic diatribes to be found in Fritsch's 'Hammer' magazine.
The Germanenorden had an impressive series of initiatory rituals, replete with knights in shining armor, wise kings, mystical bards, and forest nymphs.
The desire of the founders was to implement a Masonic-style program of secrecy, initiation, and mutual cooperation to counter the imagined conspiracy of Jews and Freemasons with their secret meetings and hidden agendas.

What the Germanenorden became was, a Masonic-style society devoted to the eradication of Freemasonry itself; and an anti-Semetic mutual help and support network based on racial principles (one had to prove one's Aryan heritage by providing birth certificates going back several generations).
The Germanenorden was formally established -- along with the Reichshammerbund - in May of 1912 at the home of Theodor Fritsch.
Things went along fine for a while until World War I broke out and many Germanenorden members found themselves called to the front.
At that time, the Order began to weaken and split into schismatic factions until the arrival on the scene of Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorff.
Sebottendorff had an exotic past.
Initiated into a Masonic society in Egypt, and communicant with a variety of secret societies in the Middle East and Turkey - for whom he fought in the Balkan War of 1912 - Sebottendorff was another self-styled aristocrat in the tradition of List, Liebenfels, Mathers, and Crowley.

Pyramids at Giza

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Adam Alfred Rudolf Glauer 
Born Adam Alfred Rudolf Glauer (see left) to a locomotive driver on November 9, 1875, young Rudolf would take to sea at the age of twenty-two.
After some misadventures in Australia, he fetched up in Alexandria in 1900, visited the pyramids at Giza and witnessed the rites of the Dervishes.
Later in Constantinople he learned Turkish from a
Muslim imam and worked for a Sufi initiate at a town near Bursa, becoming initiated into Freemasonry there in 1901.

Baktashi Dervishes
Although he returned to Germany for a short while, he would find himself back in Turkey in 1908, studying Islamic alchemy, mysticism, and the practices of a Dervish sect with Janissary lineage known as the Baktashi (see right).
It is said that he founded his own mystical lodge in Constantinople in 1910, eventually winding up back in Germany in 1913.


During the war, Sebottendorff made contact with the head of the Germanenorden, Hermann Pohl, with whom he shared a fascination with Nordic runes and Eastern mysticism.
Pohl enlisted his aid as a recruiter for the Order in Bavaria and Sebottendorff became a very successful promoter during 1917, even going so far as to publish his own Order magazine, called Runen (Runes) in 1918.
By the end of 1917, Sebottendorff was admitted to the exalted rank of Master of the Order's Bavarian section.
It should be recognized from the above that Sebottendorff's interest in the Germanenorden was obviously of a strongly occultist nature.
His background was that of a mystic and Orientalist (as Arabists then were called); his contact with Pohl was made on the basis of rune symbolism and other arcane lore.

Arms of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire

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Although he served in the Turkish Army, he managed to avoid conscription into the German Army because he claimed Turkish citizenship.
Therefore, we do not see Sebottendorff as a fanatic German nationalist or political activist first; rather, he comes upon his politics somewhat later.
By 1918, the Germanenorden in Bavaria had grown to over fifteen hundred members - an astonishing rate of growth, particularly considering the number of able-bodied men who were fighting World War I at the time.

Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel 
In need of space, Sebottendorff would rent rooms at the up-market Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel (Four Seasons Hotel) in Munich.
These rooms would eventually become known as the meeting place for the Thule Gesellschaft.
The Thule Society (see right) was originally conceived as a cover identity for the Germanenorden which, at this time, was becoming identified with the type of right-wing extremism and virulent anti-Semitism that the various German republican and socialist groups were seeking to weed out and destroy.
In short, the Germanenorden - another magic-oriented, occult society with its secret initiation rituals patterned after Masonic ceremony and its Theosophical-style philosophy encompassing everything from Eastern mysticism to runic lore and occult racial theories - was considered a subversive organization and a threat to society.

Franz Gurtner
Thule Society

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The Thule Society, while ostensibly a "literary-cultural group," had as its emblem the famous swastika superimposed on a dagger.
The Thule Society front fooled no one, probably – and certainly not its members, who, in the beginning were all Germanenorden initiates, and which included the Justice Minister Franz Gurtner (who would retain that title in the Third Reich), Ernst Pohner, the police chief of Munich, and various titled aristocrats.
Sebottendorff enlisted the aid of young ex-soldier and art student Walter Nauhaus.
Another occultist and a follower of Guido von List, Nauhaus joined the Germanenorden in Berlin in 1916 and in 1918 made contact with Sebottendorff (the Order's Bavarian master) after moving to Munich.
The two magicians decided to divide the responsibilities of attracting new recruits to the cult by having Nauhaus devote himself to university-age prospects. Nauhaus was about twenty-six years old at the time.
The membership restrictions of the Thule Gesellschaft were rigorous.
Aside from proving one's purity of Aryan blood as far back as the Thirty Years' War, there were physical examinations that had to be passed (measurement of skull, foot; color of hair, eyes; etc.).
In addition, the deformed or simply unattractive were also refused admittance.
Those uncertain of where they stood in relation to these draconian requirements were advised to refer to past issues of von Liebenfels's 'Ostara'.
Kurt Eisner
It was directly due to this screening out of potential members that the minister-president of Bavaria's first Socialist government - Kurt Eisner (see right) - was assassinated, thus precipitating a national crisis.
The assassin, a young count, was refused admittance to the Thule Society because he had Jewish blood.
Angry at the rejection, and consumed by a desire to prove his pro-German bona fides, he shot and killed Herr Eisner while the latter was actually on his way to quit his post, letter of resignation in hand.
As a result, the young art student and occultist Walter Nauhaus was one of the seven Thulists captured, and later murdered, by the Red Army during the debacle of April 30, 1919.

Liberation of Munich 1919
Munich was liberated from the Reds in May, and Sebottendorff - stinging from charges he had let the Order down and was indirectly responsible for the deaths of the seven Thulists by failing to conceal the membership lists - officially resigned from the Germanenorden/Thule Society organization in June of that year and devoted the following years to a serious study of the stars.

The Germanenorden continued to operate until well into the 1920s and actually carried out several political assassinations - including that of Matthias Erzberger (see left), one of the signatories of the Armistice and hence a "November criminal" - making the name Germanenorden synonymous with political terrorism as well as occult conspiracy.
As for the Thule Society itself, there is documentary evidence in the diaries of Thule member Johannes Hering to show that it lasted at least until 1923, the year of Hitler's Munich Putsch.
Its foremost creation, however, took place while Sebottendorff was still in charge in Munich, and that was the formation of the "workers' society" arm of the Order.
Heretofore, the Germanenorden and the Thule Society were virtually the exclusive domain of the wealthy, educated, and prominent among Bavarian society.
There was no room for the lower-middle-class elements who were hurting the most from the effects of war, revolution, and inflation.
The enemies of the Germanenorden, the Communists and Socialists, were actively recruiting among these elements, however, poisoning them against their aristocratic leaders and promising them a heaven on earth, a "workers' paradise."
The monarchists and industrialists understood the need to counter this threat, or else their population base - a given for a thousand years of royal rule over the peasant populations of Europe - would wither and die.

Order of New Templars
The arcane occult theories and snarled academic prose that characterized the meetings and publications of the Germanenorden, the Thule, the List Society, and the Order of New Templars was not likely to be easily understood - or warmly embraced - by the masses.
The Thule, it was recognized, was an elite society, attractive only to those who had done the reading; to those who could afford the initiations and the leisure time to devote to occult studies; and to those who had already abandoned their traditional Christian faith.

Anton Drexler 
Thus, in order completely to unify the German population in opposition to the threat of Bolshevism and international Jewry, Sebottendorff formed a workers' circle with a few hand-picked men, among them Anton Drexler (see right).
Deutsche Arbeiterpartei  -DAP

This group did not meet at the fancy Four Seasons Hotel but at a tavern, and was called the German Workers' Party, the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or DAP, a consciously Socialist-sounding title.
It was this group that Hitler was sent to join in September, 1919, and which, five months later, became the National Socialist German Workers' Party, the NSDAP.
Rudolf von Sebottendorff would eventually return to Germany in the 1930s with a mission to revitalize his old Order, calling upon his former colleagues and even reissuing his old magazine, 'Runen'.

'Bevor Hitler Kam'
He wrote a book – 'Bevor Hitler Kam' - (Before Hitler Came) (see left) - describing the early history of the Thule Gesellschaft and the Nazi Party, showing how the occultists had virtually created both the Party and Hitler.
This book - consulted with appropriate caution - has become invaluable to researchers tracing the lineage of many of the principal actors and organizations in this drama and in providing a time line against which the history of the NSDAP can be established.
However, his revelations aroused the ire of the Party - and particularly of Hitler, who would take steps to ensure that no one who knew of his early days would be around to talk about them.
Sebottendorff was arrested and then released to make his way to Turkey, where he worked for German Intelligence as a perfectly useless agent until the war ended.
The new Thule Gesellschaft never got off the ground, and died, divided by petty squabbles among its members (including an acrimonious attack on Franz Dannehl) and increasingly under pressure from the NSDAP to disband.
But the damage had already been done, many years before.

Karl Harrer
It should be pointed out that there is a great deal of controversy over the early days and connections of the DAP with the Thule Society.
Some historians insist that there was no direct connection between them - although many DAP members were also Thulists, such as Franz Dannehl, Karl Harrer (see left), and Friedrich Krohn (who designed the swastika flag for Hitler), and although the adoption of the swastika as Party symbol is a virtual admission of the link between the List, Liebenfels, and Sebottendorff groups and the DAP and NSDAP.

Rudolf Heß
Alfred Rosenberg
Indeed, during the "troubles" of 1918 when the German revolution was in full swing with the collapse of the Second Reich, Pan-German groups were shut down all over Germany with the exception of the Thule Society (which was, it should be remembered, purely a "literary-cultural" society); and its premises at the 'Four Seasons Hotel' were used as a meeting place - and sometime hiding place - for such notables as Rudolf Heß (see left) and Alfred Rosenberg (see right), not to mention the poet Dietrich Eckart.

Rudolf Walter Richard Heß
Rudolf Walter Richard Heß, (26 April 1894 – 17 August 1987), was a prominent politician in the Third Reich. Appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, he served in this position until 1941, when he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom during World War II. Hess, the eldest of three children, was born 26 April 1894 in Alexandria, Egypt, into the ethnic German family of Fritz Hess, a prosperous merchant from Bavaria, and Clara Hess (née Münch). His brother, Alfred, was born in 1897 and his sister, Margarete, was born in 1908.[1] The family lived in a villa on the Egyptian coast near Alexandria, and visited Germany often from 1900, staying at their summer home in Reicholdsgrün in the Fichtel Mountains. Heß served in the army and Luftwaffe in World War I, was discharged from the armed forces in December 1918. In autumn 1919 Hess enrolled in the University of Munich, where he studied history and economics. His geopolitics professor was Karl Haushofer, a proponent of the concept of Lebensraum ("living space"), which Haushofer cited to justify the proposal that Germany should forcefully conquer additional territory in Eastern Europe. After hearing NSDAP leader Hitler, a powerful orator, speak for the first time in 1920 at a Munich rally, Hess became completely devoted to him.

Alfred Ernst Rosenberg (12 January 1893 – 16 October 1946) was an early and intellectually influential member of the NSDAP. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government. He is considered one of the main authors of key Völkisch ideological creeds, including its racial theory, Lebensraum, abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, and opposition to "degenerate" modern art.

Dietrich Eckart (23 March 1868 – 26 December 1923) was a German journalist, author, dramatist, occultist and politician and, with Adolf Hitler, was one of the early key members of the NSDAP and a participant in the 1923 Munich Putsch. Eckart was born Johann Dietrich Eckart in 1868 in Neumarkt, Upper Palatinate (about twenty miles southeast of Nuremberg) in the Kingdom of Bavaria, the son of royal notary and lawyer Christian Eckart and his wife Anna, a devout Catholic.

Dietrich Eckart
(It was only Eckart's (see right) fast talking and fancy footwork that kept him and Rosenberg alive when the Red Army began arresting - and shooting – Thulists.)
So, while we cannot show a document stating that the DAP and NSDAP were subsidiaries of the Thule Gesellschaft or the Germanenorden, it is safe to say that the DAP (and, by extension, the NSDAP) was originally a creature of both the Thule Society and Sebottendorff (as claimed by Sebottendorff and as admitted by Toland), and, certainly the aims of the Thule Society would all eventually become official policy of the Third Reich, while its purely metaphysical and occult characteristics were adopted wholeheartedly by the SS.
Between them, Guido von List - an elderly man in flowing beard and quasi-Renaissance attire - and Lanz von Liebenfels (a younger, clean-shaven, somewhat more imposing sort, - photographed in the ritual vestments of his Order) created the atmosphere of "rational" anti-Semitism in Vienna that was based on scholarship in a number of fields, from etymology and linguistics to anthropology, astronomy and astrology, archaeology, and the occult.
Sebottendorff, with his initiations into Eastern cults and his background in Middle Eastern mysticism and Freemasonry, personified the Aryan Mystic.
As an aristocrat, a proven man of action who fought with Turkish forces in the Balkan War, and with his political connections and his activism at the time of the 1919 Putsch, he showed what a serious occultist could accomplish with a few hundred men and a stockpile of weapons.
Sebottendorff was an ideal figure, a perfect combination of mystic and militarist, an echo of the times when kings were initiates, and when priests raised armies.
Although he was held responsible by the Thule for the murder of the seven hostages held by the Red Army by allowing the Thule membership lists to fall into enemy hands, it was Sebottendorff who had tirelessly organized - first for the Germanenorden, of which he was a Master, and then for the Thule Gesellschaft, which he founded - and who had created an armed cult and sophisticated intelligence apparatus in the midst of pre-Weimar Munich.
His Society had received such distinguished guests as Alfred Rosenberg, Dietrich Eckart, and Rudolf Hess.
His Society had created the German Workers' Party, from which the NSDAP would be born.

And his Society bestowed the single most important symbol of the Third Reich upon the fledgling NSDAP: the occult sign of the Hakenkreuz (swastika), inherited from Liebenfels (see left), Hitler's early mentor.
(Although it must be remembered that Adolf Hitler first saw the swastika at Stift Lambach.)

Stift Lambach - Hakenkreuz 
Stift Lambach is a Benedictine Monastery founded in Lambach in about 1040 by Count Arnold II of Lambach-Wels. His son, Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg (later canonised), changed the monastery into a Benedictine abbey in 1056, which it has been since. During the 17th and 18th centuries a great deal of work in the Baroque style was carried out, much of it by the Carlone family.
Adolf Hitler attended the monastery school, where each day he saw swastikas among the carved stones and woodwork.

Sebottendorff and the Thule Society were both ultimately and directly responsible for the collapse of the Soviet regime in Bavaria, both from force of arms and from force of ideas.
And it was an amazing time, no matter who was responsible; for an occult organization - a secret society based on Theosophical, runic, and magical concepts – magic with guns – which had fought an armed conflict in the streets of Munich against the purely political forces of a Soviet state ... and won.
Today, this would be considered the stuff of science fiction or, at worst, sword and sorcery fantasy.
But in Munich, in 1919, it was reality.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013