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The Nazi Magicians’ Controversy: Enlightenment, “Border Science,” and Occultism in the Third Reich

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2015

Eric Kurlander*
Affiliation:
Stetson University

Abstract

Over the past two decades, a number of scholars have called into question the existence of any meaningful relationship between Nazism and the occult. This article paints a different picture. First, virtually all Nazi leaders appeared to recognize the widespread popularity of occult practices and “border-scientific” thinking across the German population and within the Nazi Party itself. Second, although Adolf Hitler's Reich Chancellery, Joseph Goebbels’s Propaganda Ministry, and even Heinrich Himmler's Gestapo consistently advocated anti-occult policies or pro-enlightenment campaigns during the first six years of the Third Reich, most Nazi officials worked to differentiate between popular or commercial occultism, which they deemed ideologically “sectarian,” and acceptable “scientific” occultism, which was generally tolerated and intermittently sponsored by the regime. Third, the regime's reticence to eradicate even popular or commercial occultism—indicated by the fact that the environment for professional debunkers became more hostile with the outbreak of World War II––reflected the popularity of supernatural and border-scientific thinking within the German population. Indeed, whereas some Nazis intervened on the side of occultism for reasons of public opinion, many did so because they truly believed in its “scientific” value.

Die Bedeutung des Okkultismus für den Nationalsozialismus ist in den vergangenen beiden Jahrzehnten durch zahlreiche Forscher in Frage gestellt worden. Dieser Aufsatz zeichnet ein anderes Bild: Erstens scheinen tatsächlich alle NS-Größen die innerhalb der deutschen Bevölkerung sowie auch der NSDAP weitverbreitete Popularität okkulter Praktiken und „grenzwissenschaftlichen” Denkens anerkannt zu haben. Zweitens haben sich während der ersten sechs Jahre des Dritten Reiches Adolf Hitlers Reichskanzlei, Joseph Goebbels’ Propagandaministerium und sogar Heinrich Himmlers Gestapo zwar ständig gegen Okkultismus und für eine aufklärerische Politik eingesetzt, aber die meisten nationalsozialistischen Beamten bemühten sich um eine Differenzierung zwischen populärem oder kommerziellem Okkultismus, den sie für „sektiererisch” hielten, und akzeptablem „wissenschaftlichem” Okkultismus, der im Allgemeinen toleriert und zeitweilig vom Regime gefördert wurde. Drittens erklärt sich auch die Zurückhaltung des Regimes gegenüber einer Ausmerzung des populären oder kommerziellen Okkultismus—belegt durch die Tatsache, dass das Klima für professionelle Enthüller mit dem Ausbruch des 2. Weltkrieges feindlicher wurde—durch die Beliebtheit übernatürlichen und grenzwissenschaftlichen Gedankenguts innerhalb der deutschen Bevölkerung. Natürlich haben einige Nazis nur mit Rücksicht auf die öffentliche Meinung zugunsten des Okkultismus interveniert, viele andere aber taten es auch, weil sie ernsthaft an dessen „wissenschaftlichen” Wert glaubten.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Central European History Society of the American Historical Association 2015 

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References

1 Bundesarchiv Berlin (hereafter BArch), NS 15/399, letter from Helmut Schreiber to Albert Stadthagen, Jan. 14, 1941.

2 BArch, NS 15/399, KdF report, Feb. 28, 1941.

3 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Gestapo to German Labor Front (hereafter DAF), KdF division, Amt Deutsches Volksbildungswerk, Feb. 7, 1941.

4 For the more traditional scholarship that emphasizes the “occult roots of Nazism,” see Theodor Adorno, The Stars Down to Earth and Other Essays on the Irrational in Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994); Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism (London: Tauris, 2003); Siegfried Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); George Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology (New York: Fertig, 1999); Nederman, Cary J. and Wray, James, “Popular Occultism and Critical Social Theory: Exploring Some Themes in Adorno's Critique of Astrology and the Occult,” Sociology of Religion 42, no. 4 (1981): 325–32Google Scholar; Staudenmaier, Peter, “Occultism, Race and Politics in Germany, 1880–1940: A Survey of the Historical Literature,” European History Quarterly 39, no. 1 (Jan. 2009): 4770CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974); James Webb, Flight from Reason (London: MacDonald, 1971). For examples of the more popular and pseudohistorical work in this genre, see Lincoln and Leigh Baigent, Holy Blood, Holy Grail (New York: Dell, 1983); Wilfred Daim, Der Mann, der Hitler seine Ideen gab (Munich: Isar, 1958); Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, The Morning of Magicans (London: Souvenir, 2007); Trevor Ravenscroft, The Spear of Destiny (New York: Weiser, 1973); Dusty Sklar, Gods and Beasts: The Nazis & the Occult (New York: Thomas Crowell, 1977); Lewis Spence, The Occult Causes of the Present War (London: Kessinger, 1940).

5 See Frederick Gregory, Nature Lost: Natural Science and the German Theological Traditions of the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992); Anne Harrington, Reenchanted Science: Holism in German Culture from Wilhelm II to Hitler (Princeton, NJ: Princeton, 1999); Schellinger, Uwe, Anton, Andreas, and Schetsche, Michael, “Zwischen Szientismus und Okkultismus. Grenzwissenschaftliche Experimente der deutschen Marine im Zweiten Weltkrieg,” Zeitschrift für Anomalistik 10, no. 3 (2010): 287321Google Scholar; Peter Staudenmaier, Between Nazism and Occultism: Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era (Leiden: Brill, 2014); idem, “Occultism, Race, and Politics”; Corinna Treitel, A Science for the Soul (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004); Heather Wolffram, The Stepchildren of Science (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009).

6 See Kurlander, Eric, “Hitler's Monsters: The Occult Roots of Nazism and the Emergence of the Nazi ‘Supernatural Imaginary,’German History 30, no. 4 (2012): 528–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 Hermann Rauschning, Gespräche mit Hitler (Zurich: Europa, 2005), 208.

8 H.R. Knickerbocker, Is Tomorrow Hitler's (New York: Penguin, 1942), as excerpted in Omnibook Magazine (Feb. 1942), 134 (http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/pdf/Carl_Jung_on_Hitler.pdf); Sickinger, Raymond L., “Hitler and the Occult: The Magical Thinking of Adolf Hitler,” Journal of Popular Culture 34, no. 2 (Fall 2000): 107–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 Spence, Occult Causes of the Present War.

10 See Kracauer, From Caligari to Hitler; Jared Poley, “Siegfried Kracauer, Spirit, and the Soul of Weimar Germany,” in Revisiting the Nazi Occult: Histories, Realities, Legacies, ed. Monica Black and Eric Kurlander (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2015), 86–100.

11 Nederman and Wray, “Popular Occultism”; Adorno, Stars Down to Earth.

12 Lotte Eisner, The Haunted Screen (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), 8–9, 95–97.

13 Mosse, Crisis of German Ideology; Stern, Politics of Cultural Despair; Goodrick-Clarke, Occult Roots of Nazism. Also see Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986); Michael Burleigh, Sacred Causes (New York: Harper Collins, 2008); Wilfried Kugel, Hanussen. Die wahre Geschichte des Hermann Steinschneider (Düsseldorf: Grupello, 1998).

14 Goodrick-Clarke, Occult Roots of Nazism.

15 See Laqueur, Thomas, “Why the Margins Matter: Occultism and the Making of Modernity,” Modern Intellectual History 3, no. 1 (2006): 111–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Anson Rabinbach, In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals between Apocalypse and Enlightenment (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); Gregory, Nature Lost.

16 Treitel, Science, 50–52; Wolffram, Stepchildren of Science.

17 Treitel, Science, 209–10.

18 Schellinger, Anton, and Schetsche, “Zwischen Szientismus und Okkultismus”; Kurlander, “Hitler's Monsters.”

19 See Schellinger, Anton, and Schetsche, “Zwischen Szientismus und Okkultismus”; Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences: Astrology, Anthroposophy, and World Ice Theory,” in Black and Kurlander, Revisiting the Nazi Occult; Uwe Werner, Anthroposophen in Zeit des Nationalsozialismus (1933–1945) (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1999), 287–336.

20 Kugel, Hanussen, 159–62, 221–24; Alexander Bahar and Wilfried Kugel, Der Reichstagsbrand. Wie Geschichte gemacht wird (Berlin: Quintessenz, 2001), 641–42.

21 Institut für Zeitgeschichte (hereafter IfZG), 414/138, Nachlaß Herbert Frank; also see the Ludendorff article on Hanussen in Schaffendes Volk, May 2, 1933; Treitel, Science, 233–34; Benjamin Hett, Burning the Reichstag: An Investigation into the Third Reich's Enduring Mystery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 106–7, 131–32.

22 Hett, Burning the Reichstag, 106–7. Also see idem, ‘This Story Is about Something Fundamental’: Nazi Criminals, History, Memory, and the Reichstag Fire,” Central European History 48, no. 2 (2015): 199224CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For earlier interpretations that deemphasize the role of the Third Reich in setting the fire, see Fritz Tobias, The Reichstag Fire (New York: Putnam, 1964); Mommsen, Hans, “Der Reichstagsbrand und seine politischen Folgen,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 12, no. 4 (1964): 351413Google Scholar.

23 Kugel, Hanussen, 202–3, 290–328; Bahar and Kugel, Reichstagsbrand, 15–16, 644–49; Hett, Burning the Reichstag, 106–7; Treitel, Science, 233–34.

24 See BArch, R 58/6206, Carl Pelz's report to Kripo, Feb. 28, 1937; Treitel, Science, 220.

25 Treitel, Science, 221.

26 Ellic Howe, Nostradamus and the Nazis (London: Arborfield, 1965), 129; Treitel, Science, 226–28; Anna Bramwell, Blood and Soil: Walther Darré and Hitler's Green Party (London: Kensal, 1985).

27 The telegram is all the more remarkable given the Gestapo's opinion that Korsch was a homosexual openly critical of the Nazi regime. See Wolf Stegeman, “Hubert Korsch, Dorstener Petrinum-Absolvent, Jurist, Verleger und Begründer der wissenschaftlichen Astrologie, wurde 1942 im KZ ermordet,” May 28, 2012, Dorsten unterm Hakenkreuz (http://goo.gl/n3NwEg). On Nazi views of Korsch's politics and private life, see BArch, R 9361V/7196, correspondence about immorality, Jan. 23, 1940; April 21, 1940; Sept. 9, 1937; April 2, 1935.

28 Treitel, Science, 204–5, 227–28.

29 Thomas, Chris, “Defining ‘Freemason’: Compromise, Pragmatism, and German Lodge Members in the NSDAP,” German Studies Review 35, no. 3 (Oct. 2012): 587605Google Scholar; Melzer, Ralf, “In the Eye of the Hurricane: German Freemasonry in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich,” Totalitarian Movements & Political Religions 4, no. 2 (Autumn 2003): 113–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

30 Treitel, Science, 205–6.

31 Ibid., 147–48.

32 See Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences,” 132–56; Treitel, Science, 212–15.

33 Bramwell, Blood and Soil, 176; Staudenmaier, Peter, “Organic Farming in Nazi Germany: The Politics of Biodynamic Agriculture, 1933–1945,” Environmental History (2013): 14CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Werner, Anthroposophen, 7–8, 38–50, 212–21.

34 Treitel, Science, 206–7; Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences.”

35 Frank-Rutger Hausmann, Hans Bender (1907–1991) und das “Institut für Psychologie und Klinische Psychologie” an der Reichsuniversität Straßburg 1941–1944 (Würzburg : Ergon, 2006), 46–48.

36 See Fred Karsten [Carl Pelz], Vampyre des Aberglaubens (Berlin: Deutsche Kultur-Wacht, 1935), 5–11; BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Rolf Sylvéro [Eduard Neumann] to Bernhard Hörmann, Dec. 9, 1940.

37 Treitel, Science, 219; also see Annika Spiker, Geschlecht, Religion und völkischer Nationalismus. Die Ärztin und Antisemitin Mathilde von Kemnitz-Ludendorff (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2013), 99–134.

38 IfZG 414/138, Nachlaß Herbert Frank, articles from Feb. 19, March 3, and March 28, 1933; Karsten [Pelz], Vampyre, 5–11.

39 Nachlaß Herbert Frank, IfZG, 414/138, articles from Feb. 19, March 26, and March 28, 1933.

40 Karsten [Pelz], Vampyre; Mathilde Ludendorff, Der Trug der Astrologie (Berlin: Volkswarte, 1932); Treitel, Science, 219; Spiker, Geschlecht, 166–204; on the rivalry between Ludendorff and völkisch-religious leader and SS intellectual J.W. Hauer, who accused each other of esoteric, fanatical, and sectarian tendencies, also see BArch, R 58/6217, SD report, May 9, 1939.

41 Karsten [Pelz], Vampyre, 69–70.

42 Although a “fanatical supporter of Ludendorff,” Küchenmeister's “books on ‘shadow men’ and the unnatural death of Schiller” clearly represent esoteric tendencies, the SD report continued, concluding that “more research is needed to grasp which occultist circles Küchenmeister is associated with.” See BArch, R 58/6217, SD report on Küchenmeister, June 23, 1939.

43 Carl Pelz, Die Hellseherin (Munich: Ludendorff, 1937); see also idem, Die Hellseherin (Düsseldorf: Pfeiffer, 1928); Albert Stadthagen, Die Rätsel des Spiritismus: Erklärung der mediumistischen Phänomene und Anleitung, die Wunder der vierten Dimension ohne Medium und Geister ausführen zu können (mit Illustrationen), 5th ed., foreword by Otto Siemens (Leipzig: Ficker's, 1911), 5–11.

44 BArch, R 58/6206, Carl Pelz's report to Kripo, Feb. 28, 1937; letters from Nebe to Himmler, March 23, 1937, and April 24, 1937.

45 BArch, R 58/6206, letters from Nebe to Himmler, March 23, 1937, and April 24, 1937.

46 Ibid.

47 See Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany (Oxford: Oxford, 2001); idem, The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933–1945 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990); Eric Johnson, Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (New York: Basic Books, 1999).

48 See Staudenmaier, Between Nazism and Occultism, 214–22; also see Wolfgang Dierker, Himmlers Glaubenkrieger. Der Sicherheitsdienst der SS und seine Religionspolitik 1933–1941 (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2002).

49 See Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences,” 135–43, 145–51; Treitel, Science, 214–15.

50 Bernard Hörmann, “Gesundheitsfuehrung und geistige Infektionen.” Volksgesundheitswacht (VGW) no. 10 (May 1937), in Institut für Grenzgebiete in Psychologie und Psychohygiene (IGPP) 10/5 BIII, Nachlaß Hans Bender (Hellwig correspondence).

51 Treitel, Science, 221–22; Otto Urbach, Das Reich des Aberglaubens (Bad Homburg: Siemens, 1938), 4–10, 17–20, 49–65.

52 Howe, Nostradamus and the Nazis, 129.

53 See BArch, NS 5VI/16959, Hörmann's article “Schutz der ernsthaften Wissenschaft,” July 1937; BArch, R 9361V/89324, Hörmann's report on Johannes Verweyen, Feb. 2, 1937, and his letter to the Reich Literary Chamber, July 30, 1938; BArch, R 58/6206, reports on occultism to Hörmann, Sept. 2, 1938, and Dec. 13, 1938; BArch, R 58/6217, letters from Herlbauer to Hörmann (Feb. 26, 1937), to Kittler (Dec. 3, 1937), and to Hitler's Chancellery (Feb. 7, 1938).

54 Treitel, Science, 238–39.

55 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Pelz to Tietze, Jan. 26, 1941.

56 BArch, NS 15/399, 90–91, attachment to Tietze's letter, Jan. 28, 1941.

57 BArch, R 58/6206, report from Kiendl to Hörmann, Sept. 2, 1938. Also see BArch, R 58/6206, reports on occultism to Hörmann, Sept. 2, 1938, and Dec. 13, 1938; BArch, R 58/6217, letters from Herlbauer to Hörmann (Feb. 26, 1937), to Hitler's Chancellery (Feb. 7, 1938); from Bayer to Kittler (March 13, 1938); from Rossnagel to Kittler (May 21, 1938); from Kittler to Herlbauer (July 1, 1938); also see Staudenmaier, Between Occultism and Nazism, 126; Ellic Howe, Urania's Children (London: Kimber, 1967), 173–76, 178–81; Hans Frank, Im Angesicht des Galgens (Munich: Frank, 1955), 15.

58 On Dr. Kiendl's support for Werner Kittler's “original and useful method, in which he brought together natural scientists and astrologers” in working groups in the Reich Literary Chamber and the Reich Ministry of Propaganda (hereafter RMVP), see BArch, R 58/6206, report from Kiendl to Hörmann, Sept. 2, 1938, 8; BArch, R 9361V/1107, Werner Kittler biography (March 14, 1938), application (June 13, 1938).

59 BArch, R 58/6207, letter from Himmler to Heydrich, Jan. 10, 1939. For more on careful attempts by the SD and the Gestapo to differentiate between “scientific occultism” and occult charlatanry, see BArch, R 58/6206, letters from Haselbacher to the Gestapo (March 29, 1937), and from Nebe to Himmler (April 24, 1937); Aktennotiz (March 12, 1938); peer review reports from Hörmann to Ehlich (Dec. 13, 1938).

60 Treitel, Science, 39.

61 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Stadthagen to Hörmann, Jan. 26, 1941.

62 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Pelz to Amt Rosenberg (Jan. 1941); from Stadthagen to Hörmann (Jan. 26, 1941).

63 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Schreiber to Stadthagen (Jan. 14, 1941), and to Hörmann (Jan. 26, 1941).

64 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Schreiber to Stadthagen, Jan. 14, 1941.

65 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Schreiber to Stadthagen, Feb. 20, 1941.

66 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Stadthagen to Schreiber, March 16, 1941. Emphasis in original.

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid.

69 Ibid.

70 Ibid.

71 See Ian Kershaw, Hitler (Essex: Pearson, 1991), 168–69; Kurlander, Eric, “Violence, Volksgemeinschaft, and Empire: Interpreting the Third Reich in the Twenty-first Century,” Journal of Contemporary History 46, no. 4 (2011): 921–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

72 See Kershaw, Ian, “‘Working Towards the Führer’: Reflections on the Nature of the Hitler Dictatorship,” Contemporary European History 2, no. 2 (July 1993): 103–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

73 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Stadthagen to Hörmann, Jan. 26, 1941. Emphasis in original.

74 Ibid.

75 Ibid.

76 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Stadthagen to Hörmann (Feb. 19, 1941); from Hörmann to Stadthagen (Feb. 3, 1941).

77 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Hitler's Chancellery to Kisshayer, March 31, 1941.

78 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Stadthagen to Brümmel, Feb. 22, 1941.

79 BArch, NS 15/399, enclosure by Pelz, Feb. 6, 1941.

80 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Gestapo to DAF, Feb. 7, 1941.

81 BArch, NS 15/399, DAF notations on Gestapo letter, Feb. 7, 1941.

82 “In addition to Party Comrade Pelz, we have had only Party Comrade Wilhelm Gubisch, Dresden, and Party Comrade Albert Stadthagen,” the KdF noted, and “these speakers are not sufficient to meet demand.” See BArch, NS 15/399, letter from KdF Abt. III/Vortragswesen (Tietze) to Beauftragten des Führers für die Überwachung der gesamten geistigen und weltanschaulichen Schulung und Erziehung der NSDAP, Feb. 28, 1941.

83 Ibid.

84 BArch, NS 15/399, attachment to letter (including letter from Pelz to Rosenberg), Jan. 28, 1941.

85 BArch, NS 15/399, letter from KdF Abt. III/Vortragswesen (Tietze) to Beauftragten des Führers (see n. 82).

86 Ibid.

87 BArch, NS 15/399, attachment to letter (including letter from Pelz to Rosenberg), Jan. 28, 1941.

88 Kurlander, “Hitler's Monsters.”

89 See Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences,” 134–40.

90 See Eric Kurlander, “Between Weimar's Horrors and Hitler's Monsters: The Politics of Race, Nationalism, and Cosmopolitanism in Hanns Heinz Ewers’ Supernatural Imaginary,’” in Zwischen Popularisierung und Ästhetisierung? Hanns Heinz Ewers und die Moderne, ed. Rainer Godel, Erdmut Jost, and Barry Murnane (Bielefeld: Moderne Studien [Aisthesis], 2014), 229–56.

91 Ernst Schertel, Magic: History, Theory, and Practice, ed. J.H. Kelly (Boise: COTUM, 2009); also see Gerd Meyer, “Verfemter Nächte blasser Sohn. Ein erster Blick auf Ernst Schertel,” in Phantom Schmerz. Quellentexte zur Begriffsgeschichte des Masochismus, ed. Michael Farin (Munich: Belleville, 2003), 488–505; Sickinger, “Hitler and the Occult.”

92 Walter Kröner, Wiedergeburt des Magischen (Leipzig: Hummel, 1938), 12, 14–16.

93 Ibid., 14.

94 BArch, R 43 II/ 479a, report, May 21, 1941 (http://www.polunbi.de/archiv/41-05-21-01.html)

95 Ibid; Schellinger, Anton, and Schetsche, “Zwischen Szientismus und Okkultismus”; Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences,” 133–38.

96 Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences,” 144–49; Christina Wessely,“Welteis”. Eine wahre Geschichte (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2013); Robert Bowen, Universal Ice: Science and Ideology in the Nazi State (London: Belhaven, 1993); Brigitte Nagel, Die Welteislehre. Ihre Geschichte und ihre Rolle im “Dritten Reich” (Berlin: Diepholz, 2000); Edmund Kiss, Das Sonnentor von Tihuanaku und Hörbigers Welteislehre (Leipzig: Köhler & Amelang, 1937); Robert Henseling, Umstrittenes Weltbild. Astrologie. Welteislehre. Um Erdgestalt und Weltmitte (Leipzig: P. Reclam, 1939).

97 See Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences,” 139–44.

98 Hess did consult his astrologer before leaving, and later suggested that “supernatural powers” had given him the idea for the flight “in a dream.” See Rainer F. Schmidt, Rudolf Hess. Botengang eines Toren? (Düsseldorf: Econ, 1997), 198.

99 BArch, NS 6/334, Bormann circular to all Gauleiter, May 7, 1941.

100 Ibid.

101 Schmidt, Rudolf Hess, 192–97.

102 Christopher Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution (Jerusalem and Lincoln: Yad Vashem and University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 252–53.

103 Robert Gerwarth, Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011), 86–93, 106–7, 185–86.

104 BArch, R 58/1029, letter from Heydrich to Gauleiter, June 4, 1941.

105 Ibid.

106 BArch, R 58/1029, letter from Heydrich to Lohse, June 21, 1941. In May 1941, in fact, Heydrich had tentatively approved a suggestion that the SD produce a critical history to be titled “Modern Occultism.” But the archival record suggests that, as of February 1942, it still had not appeared. See BArch, R 58/6517, Murawski proposal (May 14, 1941); letter from Spengler (June 27, 1941); letter from Schick (Jan. 30, 1942).

107 See the extensive lists of individuals detained and materials confiscated across Germany and Austria in the wake of the June 1941 “Hess Action” in BArch, R 58/6216a and R 58/6217. Uwe Schellinger, Andreas Anton, and Michael Schetsche, “Pragmatic Occultism in the Military History of the Third Reich,” in Black and Kurlander, Revisiting, 160–61; Treitel, Science, 211–12, 241–42; Schellinger, Anton, and Schetsche, “Zwischen Szientismus und Okkultismus.”

108 See BArch, NS 8/185, Rosenberg report, May 28, 1941.

109 Ibid.

110 Ibid.

111 Ibid. See also Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences.”

112 BArch, NS 8/185, Rosenberg Nachschrift, May 28, 1941.

113 Ibid.

114 Ibid.

115 BArch, NS 18/211, letter from Bormann to Goebbels, June 30, 1941.

116 Ibid.

117 BArch, NS 43/1650, Goebbels directive, May 15, 1941.

118 BArch, NS 18/211, letter from Goebbels to Bormann, July 3, 1941.

119 BArch, NS 15/399, “Verpflichtungserklärung” by Pelz (July 7, 1941); letter from Schreiber to Tietze (DAF) (July 16, 1941); notice to Kisshauer of Propaganda Ministry conference (Sept. 5, 1941); “Beiträge von Kriminalkommissar a.D. Carl Pelz über Pseudookkultismus und verwandte Gebiete können nunmehr wieder gebracht werden” (Sept. 8, 1941); letter from DAF to Kisshauer, Sept. 9, 1941.

120 BArch, NS 15/399, “Verpflichtungserklärung” by Pelz (July 7, 1941); letter from Schreiber to Tietze (DAF) (July 16, 1941).

121 BArch, NS 18/497, letter to DAF/Deutsches Volksbildungswerk, July 5, 1939.

122 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Pfriemer (Reichstelle gegen Mißstände im Gesundheitswesen) to Tiessler, Jan. 24, 1942.

123 BArch, NS 18/497, Sylvéro to Gauring (Ministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, Bayreuth) (Aug. 3, 1941); RMVP Bayreuth letter of inquiry (Aug. 9, 1941); RMVP to Sylvéro (Aug. 19, 1941).

124 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Sylvéro to RMVP, Aug. 21, 1941.

125 Ibid.

126 BArch, NS 18/497, RMVP report (Sept. 1, 1941); letters from Sylvéro to Reichsring (Aug. 31, 1941, and Sept. 11, 1941); letter from RMVP to Sylvéro (Sept. 12, 1941).

127 BArch, NS 18/497, report on Veranstaltung Sylvéro, Sept. 15, 1941. See also BArch, NS 18/497, letter from RMVP to Reichsring (Sept. 24, 1941); letter from DVB to KdF (Sept. 30, 1941). Emphasis in original.

128 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from KdF, Oct. 16, 1941 (including report dated Sept. 25, 1941).

129 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Munich KdF to Berlin KdF employee Tietze, Oct. 16, 1941.

130 Ibid.

131 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Sylvéro to Tiessler, Jan. 12, 1942.

132 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Tiessler to Hörmann, Jan. 16, 1942.

133 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Pfriemer to Tiessler, Jan. 24, 1942.

134 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Tiessler to Neumann, Jan. 28, 1942.

135 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Neumann to Reichsring (Tiessler), Feb. 17, 1942.

136 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Sylvéro to Tiessler, April 29, 1942.

137 BArch, NS 18/497, letters from Müller to Tiessler (July 8, 1942), and to Spangenberg in Reichsring (Dec. 29, 1942); from Reichsring to RMVP (Aug. 26, 1941); from Christiansen to RMVP (Aug. 26, 1941).

138 See BArch, NS 5VI/16959, Kisshauer article (1937), “Die Astrologie––eine Wissenschaft”; BArch, R 58/6206, letter from Kisshauer to Kittler (April 14, 1939); Kisshauer Denkschrift and letter to Hartl (Sept. 7, 1939); BArch, R 58/6217, letter from Rudolph to Kittler, June 4, 1940.

139 “Practical accuracy,” Kisshauer wrote, “is a necessary precondition, for otherwise the author can be easily dismissed as laughable in the circles of those who are well informed about occult matters; their number is still very large.” Goebbels's expert then proceeded to enumerate examples of insufficient astrological rigor: the author not only failed to understand that “the ascendant stemming from the sixth house” was “astrologically impossible,” but also confused Saturn and Jupiter. More exasperating for Kisshauer was the claim that “Mercury and Moon stand in a sixty-degree angle to the Earth,” since it was completely “unastrological” to speak of this in connection to the Earth. See BArch, NS 15/399, letter from Aug. 25, 1941.

140 In 1942, for example, the German Navy assembled a team of dowsers to locate British naval vessels in the Atlantic; the SS hired many of the same individuals a year later to locate Benito Mussolini after he had been captured. See Schellinger, Anton, and Schetsche, “Pragmatic Occultism”; idem, “Zwischen Szientismus und Okkultismus”; Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences”; Wilhelm Wulff, Zodiac and Swastika (New York: Coward, 1973), 92–94.

141 Assembling a local jury and dealing with such issues on a case-by-case basis by the police would, Irkowsky suggested, be much better than opening a public discussion. See BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Irkowsky to Tiessler, Dec. 3, 1941.

142 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Tiessler to Irkowsky, Dec. 5, 1941. As Goebbels's representative in Bormann's Party Chancellery, Tiessler frequently advocated the importance of maintaining a positive morale over Bormann's efforts to attack occultism or Christianity. See Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 249–50.

143 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Tiessler to Rosenberg, Dec. 6, 1941.

144 BArch, NS 18/497, letter from Irkowsky to Tiessler, Dec. 13, 1941.

145 Goodrick-Clarke, Occult Roots of Nazism.

146 See, e.g., Paul J. Croce, Science and Religion in the Era of William James, vol. 1, Eclipse of Certainty (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995); Gregory, Nature Lost; Harrington, Reenchanted Science; Alex Owen, The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004); Rabinbach, In the Shadow of Catastrophe; Treitel, Science.

147 Treitel, Science, 209–10.

148 Treitel herself alludes to this, adding that “there were important affinities” between Nazism and occultism “that underlay and complicated this hostility.” See ibid., 212.

149 Ibid., 209–10.

150 As Himmler's personal astrologer, Wilhelm Wulff, reported, Himmler was convinced that one could “bring the knowledge and methods of traditional astrology into line with the Natural Sciences.” See Wulff, Zodiac and Swastika, 92–94.

151 See Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences.”

152 Adolf Hitler, Hitler's Secret Conversations, 1941–1944, ed. Martin Bormann, trans. Hugh Trevor-Roper (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953), 473; Henry Picker, Hitlers Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier (Stuttgart: Seewald, 1976), 444–45. The Nazis believed that folk superstitions were a healthy part of popular consciousness, linked not to formal religion but to faith in the power of magic and the Volk. See Gottfried Holtz, Die Faszination der Zwange (Düsseldorf: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1989), 13–15; Sickinger, “Hitler and the Occult.”

153 Kurlander, “Hitler's Supernatural Sciences”; Schellinger, Anton, and Schetsche, “Zwischen Szientismus und Okkultismus”; Reinhard Greve, “Tibetforschung im SS Ahnenerbe,” in Lebenslust durch Fremdenfurcht, ed. Thomas Hauschild (Frankfurt/Main, 1995), 168–209; Mosse, Nationalization of the Masses, 199–202; Hannjost Lixfeld, Folklore and Fascism: The Reich Institute for German Volkskunde. Edited and translated by James R. Dow (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 21–22; James R. Dow and Hannjost Lixfeld, eds., The Nazification of an Academic Discipline: Folklore in the Third Reich (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994); Webb, Flight from Reason.

154 See IfZG, 1867/56, report on Reichsuniversität Straßburg und Grenzwissenschaftliches Institut (Niederschrift über die Unterredung mit Prof. Dr. Ernst Anrich am 16. Februar 1960, verfasst von Dr. Hans-Dietrich Loock); IfZG, 1867/56, letter from Anrich to Hans Buchheim, March 18, 1953; Heinz-Dietrich Loock, “Der Hünenburg-Verlag[,] Friedrich Spieser und der Nationalsozialismus,” Gutachten des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte, vol. 2 (Munich: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1966), 399–447; Haussmann, Hans Bender.

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