Dedicated to all those who served with or supported the 456th Fighter Squadron or 456th Fighter Interceptor Squadron or the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
The Nazi Ahnenerbe Forschungs und Lehrgemeinschaft organization was founded by Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Wirth, and Walter Darré on July 1st 1935 as a research foundation. It was incorporated into the larger SS in January 1939.
The name of the society literally means "ancestral heritage", and it was originally devoted to research concerning the anthropological and cultural history of the German race. Their headquarters was at Wewelsburg castle.
Their initial aim was to prove Nazi theories of racial superiority through historical, anthropological, and archaeological research. Himmler summarized its goal as "to restore the German people to the everlasting godly cycle of ancestors, the living and the descendants."
Much of their research was later believed to extend beyond pseudoscience into occultism. In total, the Ahnenerbe was divided into 50 sections, including sections covering Celtic studies, the Externsteine rock formation, Scandinavian mythology, runic symbolism, and the World Ice Theory of Hans Hörbiger.
In 1936, Himmler convinced Otto Rahn to join the group by promising near-unlimited funding for his Grail search, which would become one of the best-known aspects of the Ahnenerbe in post-war times. Unfortunately Rahn committed suicide the following year amidst rumours of homosexuality, after being disciplined for his behaviour.
Otto Wilhelm Rahn
b. February 18, 1904; Michelstadt, Germany.
d. March 13, 1939; Tyrolean Mts.
Poet, mystic, and Nazi researcher. Rahn was obsessed with two ideas--the Holy Grail and the Cathars, medieval French heretics; while in college, he had intended to write a dissertation on the hypothetical Kyot, the supposed troubador who gave Wolfram von Eschenbach the story of Parzival.
In 1929, he made a special trip to the Languedoc region of Southern France, a hotbed of Catharist activities in the thirteenth century. He began excavating at Montsegur, the last Cathar stronghold to fall to the Inquisition. Legend had it that the Cathars had a great treasure which was never found, but hidden deep in the mountainside. Rahn was convinced that this treasure was the Holy Grail, and he intended to find it.
Rahn's research resulted in a book called Kreuzzug gegen den Gral ("Crusade Against the Grail"), published in 1933. Rahn believed that the Cathars were in fact descended of druids who converted to Manichaeism, and that is why they were guardians of the grail--both as descendants of a Celtic priesthood, and pure followers of Lucifer, the angel who brought knowledge to mankind and exposed the Demiurge--all very gnostic. He then proceeded to identify Montsegur with Parzival's "Munsalvaesche" (Mountain of Salvation, Wagner's "Monsalvat"), and tied the Cathars with those other famous heretics, the Knights Templar, who were said to guard the grail in Parzival.
All of which brought him to the attention of occult-nut Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS. Himmler was obsessed with the occult, and had a particular interest in the grail. His castle at Wewelsburg was intended as an SS Camelot/Avalon, where the honorable deads' ashes would sit in twelve urns on stone pillars around a center, where the grail would sit. He also had a Round Table commissioned. Himmler invited Rahn to join the Ahnenerbe--the heritage buearu--as a civilian; Rahn latter joined officially in 1936, with the rank of SS-Unterscharführer. In 1937, he wrote a second book--Luzifers Hofgesind ("Lucifer's Courtiers"), based upon his Catharist research, and a trip made to Iceland to study the Eddas.
However, in 1937 he fell into disgrace, possibly for disciplinary reasons, though it is not clear. He was sent on duty at an SS camp in Dachau; in 1938, he requested dismissal from the SS. According to personal papers, he was against the coming war, and spoke openly against it; this may have been the reason for his relocation to Dachau in the first place. More likely, though, were rumors of homosexuality, which of course was verboten.
Not long afterwards, Rahn was found dead, frozen on a mountainside. It is generally thought to have been suicide, though conspiracy theorists believe he was murdered by the SS in order to silence him about the secrets of the grail.
As a side note, there is a rumor that Rahn found the grail and brought it to Wewelsburg, where it stayed until the end of the war. Others say that no grail made it, but that a large quartz crystal was found instead. It is worth pointing out that Parzival describes the grail not as a cup, but as a stone, though in this case an emerald.
Otto Rahn has become a rallying point with certain occultists, neo-Cathars, and mystics, particularly those who follow the Holy Blood, Holy Grail/Priory of Sion hoax. None of his works have been translated into English, unfortunately, but they did have an influence on Trever Ravenscroft and his book Spear of Destiny.The Ahnenerbe accepted Rahn's belief that the Grail had been possessed by the Cathars, and continued to excavate and study Montsegur after his death. A notable officer in the institute's Grail work was Otto Ohlendorf, an occultist lawyer practising in Kiel. Never formally a member of the Ahnenerbe, Ohlendorf was diverted to the Crimea by Hitler in 1941. His final words upon being executed in 1951 following the Nuremberg trials were recorded as "The Grail will rise again. The Jews in America will suffer for what you have done to me."
Travels, Operations and Expeditions
Archealogical expeditions were organized and sent to Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland and Greece, as well as the region of Kafiristan, and the Channel Islands.
Not an official expedition, Ahnenerbe officials were reportedly sent to Brazil in 1943 with the task of 'procuring' the crystal skull that was reportedly found in a Maya ruin of Lubaantun by F.A. Mitchell-Hedges. The agents were arrested after trying to infiltrate and rob a Brazilian museum storing the artefact. This account has not been corroborated by independent sources however, and may be a subject of fanciful authors imagination.
The Ahnenerbe took great interest in the 900-year-old Bayeux Tapestry, reportedly since it contained images of the Germanic Franks solidly defeating their enemies. In June of 1941, they oversaw the transport of the tapestry from its home in the Bayeux Cathedral, to an abbey at Juaye-Mondaye, and finally to the Chateau de Sourches. In August of 1944, after Paris was consumed by Allied and Resistance fighting, two members of the SS were dispatched to Paris to retrieve the tapestry that was now stored in the basement of the Louvre, however elected not to enter the Resistance stronghold to fetch it, contrary to Himmler's orders.
In 1936, Günther Kirchhoff and Karl Maria Wiligut undertook a study of the Murg Valley in the Black Forest, where there was a settlement described as consisting of old half-timbered houses, architectural ornament, crosses, inscriptions, and natural and man-made rock formations in the forest, which they theorized showed it to be an ancient Krist settlement.
Though 1937-1938, Gustav Riek led an excavation of the Grosse Heuneberg, where an ancient (Roman?) fortress had been discovered much earlier. They also studied the nearby Tumulus burial mounds, which continue to be excavated today.
In April of 1938, Himmler oversaw an archaeological excavation on the nearby Danube river near Ulm, where they reportedly found stone age and neolithic remains.
In early 1940, the Ahnenerbe was given control of excavating the Externsteine rock formation, which was previously the role of Wilhelm Teudt. That summer, Kurt Tackenberg tried to convince the Ahnenerbe to excavate early Frankish cemeteries in Belgium and France, but the Amt Rosenberg instead took over the sites.
Iceland Himmler had a personal fascination with Iceland, believing it to have been a birthplace of the Aryans. He actively sought the Edda, which he believed was a sacred text about Germanic origins.
In 1936, Otto Rahn led an expedition to Iceland, detailing the travel in his 1937 book Luzifers Hofgesind. This expedition flew a blue swastika on a white flag, similar to that of the Finnish air force at the time.
On March 10th 1938, Dr. Bruno Schweizer proposed an expedition to Iceland, hoping to discover shrines to the Norse gods Odin or Thor. During the expedition later that year, he sent back correspondence to Himmler complaining that the Icelandic people had abandoned traditional crafts such as forging, wood-carving, spinning, weaving and dyeing; and that they had also forgotten their traditional myths and legends, thus losing belief in the ‘transcendent nature’ that the Ahnenerbe held dearly to. The mission was eventually aborted, citing uncooperative Icelandic government officials who restricted the Ahnenerbe's access to certain locations.
In 1940, the British invasion of Iceland saw the Ahnenerbe-funded Dr. Bruno Kress captured as an "enemy alien" and sent to the Ramsey Camp. His studies were published in 1955 by East Germany leading some to question whether Kress had become a Stasi agent.
The Ahnenerbe had tried to gain possession of one of the best-known copies of Tacitus' Germania after Eduard Norden had declared it Urgeschichte in the 1920s. Although Mussolini had originally promised it as a gift in 1936, it remained in an aristocratic library outside Ancona where the Ahnenerbe tried to obtain it after Mussolini was deposed.
Departing in April 1938, biologist Ernst Schäfer led an expedition which arrived in Tibet the following January. There was initially conflict when Schäfer tried to distance himself from what he viewed condescendingly as Himmler's obsession with the occult, and sought corporate sponsorship of his expedition instead - but eventually conceded and allowed the Ahnenerbe to sponsor him.
The team included Bruno Beger who collected and studied 300 skulls in the region attempting to prove that Tibet was the birthplace of a "Northern Race". Eventually he concluded that the Tibetans were somewhere between the Mongol and European races. Other team members included Edmont Geer and Karl Vinert.
There is speculation that Schäfer personally sought to prove that the Yeti was a species of bear, and though he did not find a specimen, he did send more than 50 animals back to Germany for further study, as well as 5000 different grains. The team also acquired the 108-page sacred text Kangschur. The expedition formally ended in May 1939.
Upon returning from the expedition in August of 1939, Schäfer was presented a Totenkopfring by Himmler. He would not publish his findings until 1950, under the title Festival of the White Gauze Scarves: A research expedition through Tibet to Lhasa, the holy city of the god realm.
In June 1943, 27-year-old Untersturmführer Heinz Brücher, who held a PhD from Tübingen in botany, was tasked with an expedition to the Ukraine and Crimea. Hauptsturmführer Konrad von Rauch and an interpreter identified as 'Steinbrecher' were also involved in the expedition.
In February of 1945, Brücher was ordered to destroy the 18 research facilties that were being studied, to avoid their capture by advancing Soviet forces. He refused, and after the war continued his work as a botanist in Argentina and Trinidad.
The theory of Welteislehre had been proposed by Hans Hörbiger in his 1913 book Glazial Kosmologie, in which he claimed the Universe existed solely as a struggle between fire and ice. A separate institute of the Ahnenerbe was later created to study the plausibility and source of his claims. Headed by Hans Robert Scultetus, the institute sent Atlantis-enthusiast playwright Edmund Kiss to Abyssinia to research possible connections to the Welteislehre.
Later on an Institute for Functional Research in Military Science (Institut für Wehrwissenschaftliche Zweckforschung) was set up within the Ahnenerbe Society. During the Nuremberg Trials, Dr. Friedrich Hielscher testified that Sievers had initially been repulsed at Himmler's idea of expanding the Ahnenerbe to human experimentation in 1942, and that he had "no desire whatsoever to participate in these."
Wolfram Sievers, the manager of the Ahnenerbe Society, became the director of the Institute. Under his leadership, it was responsible for many of the Nazi medical experiments, chiefly in the Dachau concentration camp with Ahnenerbe member Dr. Sigmund Rascher.
Sievers, Beger and August Hirt together collected human skeletons from among the camp inmates, and ultimately had 79 Jewish men, 30 Jewish women, 2 Poles, and 4 Asians sent to Natzweiler-Struthof, gassed, and their bodies returned to him. (some speculate that the asians were in fact, Soviets, and there is mention that Hirt used this opportunity to test the effects of mescaline as a poison). In early 1943, Bruno Beger arrived at the camp and began to assist in processing and measuring the remains.
From July to September, the Ahnenerbe provided space and materials to doctors at Dachau to undertake 'Seawater experiments', chiefly through Sievers. Sievers in known to have visited Dachau on July 20th, to speak with Ploetner and the non-Ahnenerbe Wilhelm Beiglboeck, who would ultimately carry out the experiments.
Sievers was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity in the Doctors' Trial and hanged in 1948. Hirt was never found after the war, though reported sightings occurred in Chile and Paraguay.
Involvement of German soldiers
Thule member Prof. Krönen, from the 2004 Hellboy
In 2002, Ukraine announced the discovery of a mass-grave containing dozens of Nazi soldiers in the southern region of the country. Some had been trepanned, others had their spinal cords sawn lengthwise, or were missing their skulls. Pravda reported it to be the aftermath of an Ahnenerbe experiment, although no further information was given.(And it should be pointed out that Pravda has run several incorrect stories about the Ahnenerbe before)
End of the War
In August 1943, Himmler relocated the Ahnenerbe headquarters from Wewelsburg castle in Büren, to Waischenfeld to avoid the danger of Allied bombing campaigns. Waischenfeld finally fell in April 1945, at the close of the war.
On 27 June 1944, Rascher was replaced by Plötner as head of the Ahnenerbe Institute for Military Scientific Research at Dachau.
Fantasy vs. reality
Misconstrued ideas of the Ahnenerbe arecommon in fantasy fiction, and they have become part of the background of conspiracy theories - largely because of confusion between themselves and Vril, or more commonly the Thule Society.
The Ahnenerbe organization appears to have been the basis for the Nazi archaeologist villains in Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones" films. In the Delta Green (a sourcebook for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game), Ahnenerbe is said to have spawned another organization, known as "Karotechia," which actually practiced ritual magic. The video game Return to Castle Wolfenstein also portrays the Ahnenerbe as practicing occult rituals and magic.
Christopher Hale. Himmler's Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race
Alan Baker's 160 page dissertion that contains details of several expeditions and key figures
Kater, Michael, Das “Ahnenerbe” der SS 1935–1945. Ein Beitrag zur Kultur-politik des Dritten Reiches, Munich 1997
Hitlerian Esotericism and the Tradition
There were, naturally, levels among the elect. (Curiously, the name of this élite of physical health and beauty, warlike courage and, more or less, secret knowledge, which the broad public knows only by its initials [SS], means, "protection levels"). I have, I believe, also mentioned that fact in alluding to the Ordensburgen [Order Castles], in which took place the military training, the political and, to a certain extent, metaphysical education, of the SS, and especially of their cadres -- because the Hitlerian Weltanschauung is inseparable from the metaphysics that underlies it. That is so true that a critic of National Socialism and the work of René Guénon could say that the latter was "Hitlerism minus the armored divisions" (Louis Powels and Jacques Bergier, The Morning of the Magicians [Paris: Gallimard, 1960], without the initiate of Cairo ever writing one single word on "politics."
All the candidates -- I should say "the novices" -- of the SS, were not trained and educated in the same Ordensburg. And all those of the same Ordensburg did not receive -- especially at the higher levels -- the same teaching. That depended on the tasks for which they were judged apt, even within the élite. Because it comprised several organizations, from the most visible, the Waffen [Armed] SS -- the most famous also, because of the superhuman heroism of which it gave proof so many times during the Second World War -- up to the most secret, the Ahnenerbe (Ancestral Heritage), founded in 1935, and all the more difficult to know since many documents which referred to it (also secret, which goes without saying) were destroyed, "before the arrival of the Allies in Germany," and which "the members of this organization who survived the collapse of Third Reich ... concealed with a strange resolution" (André Brissaud, Hitler and the Black Orde).
It is at least logical to think that it was probably the Ahnenerbe which, in "the Black Order" of Adolf Hitler, was the agent of the Tradition -- and more specifically, certain sections of the Ahnenerbe, because it comprised many of them, including "fifty-two scientific [sections]" (Brissaud), i.e., dealing with objective research, though not necessarily in the spirit and employing the methods used in the applied sciences. According to the declarations of Wolfram Sievers before the tribunal of the victors in Nuremberg, to whom one owes this detail, the same Institute "carried out or tried to carry out more than one hundred missions of research of great extent" (Brissaud). The nature of some of this research reveals a very clear interest in esoteric questions. Thus they studied the symbolism of the harp in Ireland; also, the question of the survival of the true Rosicrucian brotherhood -- in other words, of initiatory groups still having the complete tradition of the Templars (of which the first Rosicrucian brotherhood would have received the heritage).
Thus they reconsidered the Bible and the Kabbalah, while trying to draw the hidden meaning from them -- wondering, in particular what role the symbolism of numbers plays in one and the other. Thus they further studied the physical and mental structure of human specimens of various races -- that of the Nordic with the very special care that one can guess -- in order to prove the value of the concept of heredity and race, so fundamental in Hitlerism. Thus they devoted systematic and sustained efforts to all research aimed at revealing to the Germans the glory of their own Antiquity, historic or prehistoric -- and of their Middle Ages -- and to highlight the importance of the corresponding sites.
Without denying that there is, in Christianity as in Judaism itself, and all the associated religions or philosophies close to or even far from the Tradition, a share of esoteric truth, they put the emphasis on the traditional form specific to the Germanic people. The traces of this one are found in the symbols, engraved on rock, of most remote prehistory, and, after the bloody eradication of the worship of Wotan by Charlemagne and his immediate successors, in certain rites practiced in the Middle Ages in the Chivalric Orders or the Holy Vehm. It would be interesting to know if the latter, which did not cease to exist as a secret organization, has, or had at a given time, some relationship with the Thule Society.
Heinrich Himmler -- the Head of the SS, and the man whose career, so much decried outside Hitlerian circles, is (besides that of the Führer himself) stamped more than any other with the detached violence that signifies a higher quality of being -- insists on the above, albeit in "a veiled expression," "intentionally vague" in his speech of January 1937 (Brissaud), which contains the sole public or semi-public reference to the Ahnenerbe. There is high ideological importance to archaeological discoveries made by the Institute of this name in Altchristenburg, in East Prussia: as of this day, several layers of Germanic fortifications, increasingly old, refute the opinion that East Prussia was a Slavic land. But there is more: the "reorganization" and "maintenance" of cultural centers consecrated "to the greatness of Germany and the German past ... in each area where an SS company is found" is recommended (Brissaud). And he gives examples of such centers. One is Sachsenhain, close to Verden, where 4,500 rough blocks, each transported from a Saxon village, had been set up one after another on both sides of a road in the middle of a forest, in memory of 4,500 Saxons decapitated there, on the banks of the Aller, in 782, by order of Charlemagne, because they persisted in refusing a foreign God whom he wanted to impose to them. The other is the site of the Externsteine, impressive vertical rocks marking, close to Horn, one of the great spiritual centers of the world of all time, and the sacrosanct place of worship of the ancient Germans. At the top of the highest of the rocks, in the place of the ancient Irminsul of gold torn off in 772 by the soldiers of the same Christian conqueror, floated henceforth -- the victorious, liberating symbol of the reconciliation of all the opposite aspects of German history in the knowledge of its deep unity -- the red, white, and black flag with the Swastika of the Third Reich.
[*The Prussians were still "pagans," that is to say, faithful to their German gods, in the fourteenth century.]
And the examples show sufficiently that it was not only about "culture," but about secret knowledge, or, about the national culture of the Germans in general, and, for the initiates of Order of the SS and in particular of Ahnenerbe, of secret knowledge of the great cosmic truths, apprehended through traditional symbolism such as the Germanic people knew it, and such as a quiet minority preserved it.
For -- and it is here a point to be noted -- in spite of the very strong "pagan" current that underlies Hitlerism, and which appears especially in the unreserved rejection of any anthropocentrism, such as the whole personal God, it was never a question of rejecting or even under appreciating anything which in the German -- and European -- ancestral heritage gives honor to the Aryan genius.
The Führer had, says André Brissaud, "the feeling" -- I myself would say the certainty -- that "all that which in recent Western history had taken the form of a religion, and the Christian religion particularly ... pertains to the 'too human'," and therefore did not have a great deal to do with really transcendent values, and, moreover, "offers a general climate or an inner order scarcely compatible with its own provisions and its vocation, set alongside the truths and the dogmas of the faith suggested to the ordinary man" (Brissaud). However, it is the whole of Western civilization which is at the same time "recent" and "Christian." It never should be forgotten.
That did not, however, prevent Adolf Hitler, who was impartial, as is necessary for any sage (and even more so for any human expression of the Divine), from admiring Charlemagne -- the Sachsenschlächter or "exterminator of the Saxons," as he was called by Alfred Rosenberg, Johannes von Leers, Heinrich Himmler, and a good number of other high-ranking dignitaries, thinkers, and men of action of the Third Reich. He saw in him a conqueror with an immense will to power, and above all the first unifier of the Germans; he who, alone in his time, had had the idea of the Reich, even if it had been useful to impose on it the artificial unity of "faith," and if this "faith" was the Christian faith, i.e. a foreign faith. One remembers that Adolf Hitler insisted on the corrosive action of Christianity on the Greco-Roman world, and that he described it as "pre-Bolshevism." But it does not matter what this faith was (and still is), if it were the cement of a conquering Germanic Empire and, later, the occasion for all the flowering of art that one knows. Insofar as this art is beautiful, it presupposes, in any event, a certain knowledge of that which is eternal. The Führer thus accepted with respect, as a German heirloom, a replica of the sword of the Emperor of West.
He also admired the great Hohenstaufen Emperors -- especially Frederic Barbarossa, he-who-must-return -- and who had returned, in him (for only a little while, alas!); and Frederic II, Stupor Mundi [Wonder of the World], in whom so many of his contemporaries believed they saw the Antichrist -- as men nowadays, deceived by propaganda, were to see in him, the Founder of Third Reich, the incarnation of Evil. He admired Frederic II of Prussia, Bismarck, all those in whom the conquering force of the German people had been expressed, of whose cultural -- and much more than cultural -- mission he did not have the slightest doubt.
And Heinrich Himmler himself, while paying a brilliant homage to the Saxon warriors, martyrs of the ancient national faith in Verden, in the year 782 of the foreign God, professed a veritable adoration of the Emperor Henry I and exalted the Knights of the Teutonic Order -- certainly not because the latter had, with great reinforcement of brutality, forced the Slavs (and finally the Prussians*) to accept Christianity, but because they had, by the sword, "prepared the way for the German plow": made possible the German colonization of vast territories in the east.
What there was, moreover, of the eternal in the warlike religion of Wotan and Thor -- and, before that in the immemorial Nordic religion of the Sky, the Earth, and "Son" of the one and the other, which Dr. Hermann Wirth studied -- was to survive in Christian esotericism, and in esotericism as such. This has, parallel to the teaching of the Churches, continued throughout history to have its initiates, less and less numerous, undoubtedly, but always present, and sometimes very active. (One counts among them such immortal creators as the great Dürer and, later, Göthe, Wagner, and to a certain extent, Nietzsche.) And it is known that Frederic II, "the Great," King of Prussia -- the hero par excellence of the Führer -- was Grand Master of the Old Prussian Lodges). The deep significance of the ancient Irminsul, Axis of the world, is not, at the bottom, different from that of the Cross, detached of all Christian mythology, i.e., of the story of the execution of Jesus considered as a fact in time. The point of the venerable Germanic symbol indeed aims at the Pole star, which appears as the "One" or supreme Principle; and its curved branches are supposed to support the circle of the Zodiac, symbol of the Cycle of manifestation, being driven around its motionless center. There are in certain very old churches of Germany today "crucifixions" in which the cross itself has the curved branches of the "pagan" Irminsul -- the ensemble suggesting the fusion of the two religions in their most elevated and most universal symbolism. In addition -- according to Professor von Moth, of Detmold -- the Fleur de Lys, connected, as everyone knows, with the idea of royal or imperial power, is, in its form, a somewhat stylized Irminsul, or "Pillar of All," having like it a polar and axial significance. Any legitimate power comes indeed from On-high. And the Swastika, also "essentially the sign of the Pole" thus of the "rotational movement which is achieved around a center of an immutable axis" and -- the movement representing life -- of "the vivifying role of the Principle in relation to the cosmic order" is connected thereby to the Irminsul and the cross (René Guénon, Fundamental Symbols of Sacred Science).
What, therefore, was important, what was exalted, was all that had contributed, or could contribute, to reinforce the Germanic will to power -- condition of the universal "rectification," which only regenerated Germany could begin. It was, in addition, to keep alive the deposit of traditional truth, i.e., of more than human -- cosmic -- truth transmitted down through the ages. The expression of this heritage, the form in which it was presented, could certainly vary from one time to another thanks to the political fluctuations of the visible world, but at bottom remained one, and is explicated as well in the supreme beauty of the old Scandinavian sagas as in the music, eminently Christian in inspiration, of Johann-Sebastian Bach, and, this goes without saying, in the "complete artwork" [Gesamtkunstwerk] (musical and literary), also initiatory, of Richard Wagner.
This deposit, more invaluable than anything, came from mysterious Hyperborea, original homeland of the "transparent men," sons of the "Intelligences of Beyond"; of the Hyperborea whose center -- the "capital" -- was Thule.
It is undoubtedly unnecessary to point out that the "transparency" in question here is not anything material and consequently visible. It seems to be a state of being more subtle than that which we know, more open to direct contact with the intangible and even the formless. In other words, the Hyperboreans, guardians of the primordial Tradition, would have been capable of intellectual intuition to a degree that we cannot conceive.
Who were they? And -- if they really existed -- where did their territory extend? The more or less evocative allusions made by the ancients -- by Seneca in his Medea; by Pliny the Elder, Virgil, Diodorus of Sicily, Herodotus, Homer (in the Odyssey) and the author or the authors of Genesis, and especially the enigmatic Book of Enoch -- are rather vague, though all refer to the "Far North." And the evocation of the extreme "whiteness" of the Hyperboreans, of the inexpressible beauty of their wives and the "extraordinary gifts of perspicacity" of some of them (Brissaud), would make one think of an Aryan race immensely higher than the average Nordic of today, which is not astonishing since they belong to a past which is lost in the mists of time. But there is more: the scholar Bal Gangadhar Tilak,* better known under the name of Lokomanya Tilak, a learned and wise Hindu, has, in his work The Arctic Home in the Vedas, very clearly connected the oldest tradition of India to an area located in the high latitudes, an area of the long polar night and Midnight Sun and ... the aurora borealis; an area where the stars do not rise nor set, but move, or seem to move, circularly along the horizon.
[*Born on 3 July 1856, died 1 August 1920. He was a Brahman of Maharashtra, of the sub-caste of Chitpavan.]
The Rig-Veda, which he studied in particular and from which he draws the majority of the quotations in support of his thesis, would have been, as well as the whole of the Vedas -- or knowledge "seen," i.e., direct -- revealed to these "Aryas," i.e., "Lords" of the extreme North, and preciously preserved by them during the migrations which have, over centuries, brought them little by little into India.
Tilak places the abandonment of the Arctic fatherland at the time when it lost its moderate climate and its green vegetation to become "icy," i.e., at the time when the axis of the Earth shifted more than twenty-three degrees some eight thousand years ago. He does not specify if the island or the portion of the continent thus struck with sudden barrenness was swallowed up, as in the Legend of Thule, or continues to exist somewhere in the vicinity of or inside the Arctic Circle. He does not mention, either, the stages that the trustees of the eternal Vedas -- Wisdom hidden in the sacred texts of this name -- had to traverse between their Arctic fatherland and the first colonies they founded in the Northwest of India. And, his work not being addressed to initiates -- who would have no need for it anyway -- but only to oriental scholars of good faith, whom he knew are insensitive to any argument not supported by proof, he does not evidently say anything of the "underground" initiatory centers, Agartha and Shambhala, which are so often an issue in the secret teaching that the "Thule Society" gave its members -- a teaching that was thus received by, inter alia, Alfred Rosenberg, Rudolf Hess, Dietrich Eckart and, probably via the latter, Adolf Hitler himself. (Agartha, or Agarthi, is the center placed "under the wheel of the Golden Sun," that is to say, that to which are attached the contemplatives who refuse in advance to take part in the businesses of this world: that of sages whom I called "men above Time." Shambhala is, by contrast, the spiritual center of the men "against Time": initiates who, while living in the eternal, agree to act in this world "in the interest of the Universe" according to immutable values, or, to employ the equivalent words of the Führer, according to the "original sense of things." It was, naturally, to this second center of the Masters of Action that Adolf Hitler was attached.)
It is remarkable that the names of Agartha and Shambhala "appear several times on the lips of more than one head of the SS during the Nuremberg tribunals, and, more particularly, of the SS who were among the persons in charge of the Ahnenerbe" (Brissaud). This organization, inter alia, sent to Tibet "an expedition directed by the ethnologist Standartenführer SS Doctor Schäffer" (Brissaud, ibid). The fragments of his reports, which exist on microfilms in the "National Archives in Washington, D.C.," appeared "extraordinary" to André Brissaud, who read them. Why such an expedition? Admittedly not to try to find in Central Asia, "the origins of the Nordic race," as Brissaud seems to believe. Under the Third Reich, even school children knew from reading it in their textbooks -- some of which, such as that of Klagges/Blume, So ward das Reich, were remarkable -- that this race had migrated from the North towards the South and the East, and not conversely (Klagges/Blume) No. What was wanted, undoubtedly, by Doctor Schäffer and his collaborators, was rather to try to penetrate the mystery of Agartha and Shambhala, perhaps to test, with the assistance of the heads of a spiritual center where it appears, to come into contact with the principle (because it is a principle, not a character) that René Guénon calls the "King of the World" (Guénon, The King of the World). That seems all the more plausible as, among the sections of the Ahnenerbe whose work was classified "secret business of Reich" and "of which one was entirely unaware," "one included, in addition to the study of old languages, of cosmology and archaeology, that of 'Yoga and Zen'," and another was interested "in esoteric doctrines and magic influences on human behavior" (Brissaud).
Moreover, it is not only with the initiates of the Forbidden City of Lhasa (and perhaps with the Dalai-Lama himself) which the spiritual élite of the Order of the SS -- which was that of a new Traditional civilization in potentiality, if not currently in gestation -- sought to make contact. In my humble knowledge, there were also similar encounters in India -- meetings that people hardly suspect in the West -- and completely apart from the political conversations that took place with certain Hindu leaders, such as Subhas Chandra Bose, in India and in Germany, before and during the Second World War.
There appeared in Calcutta, beginning in 1935, a "cultural" review, The New Mercury, very skillfully published by Sri Asit Krishna Mukherji in collaboration with Sri Vinaya Datta and some others. The speeches of the Führer, of which the official press in English as well as in Bengali reported only extracts, were printed there in extenso, especially if they presented, as was often the case, an interest beyond "politics." One of them, which had then particularly drawn my attention, related to the subject of "Architecture and Nation." But the aforementioned review also published studies on anything that could illuminate a profound non-political connection, going back very far and very deep, between traditional Hindu civilization, which had never ceased to exist, and traditional Germanic civilization, as it had existed long before Christianity, and aspired to rebirth in what was essential. These studies revealed in their authors, beyond indispensable archaeological scholarship, a serious knowledge of cosmic symbolism. Several were, it goes without saying, centered on the Swastika. They seemed to want to show -- indirectly -- the exceptional character of a great modern State that recognized for "its own" a Sign of such a universal range, which engraved it on all its public monuments, stamped it on all its standards. It suggested at the same time the aspiration of this great State to renew contact with the primordial Tradition -- from which Europe had been detached for centuries, but which India had kept as a priceless deposit.
I do not have any evidence that the services of the Ahnenerbe played any role whatsoever in the publication of The New Mercury. That appears to me, in fact, as very improbable since this special section of the SS was itself founded only in 1935 -- the same year as the review. But I know that the latter was at least partly supported financially by the government of the Third Reich. Germans, and the representatives -- German or not -- of German firms in India, were supposed to subscribe to it. And one of them at least, to my knowledge, was recalled to Germany, having been dismissed from the direction of the branch which he governed for years, for having refused to do so and declaring that "this propaganda in a new style" (sic) did not interest him.
The founder and editor of the periodical, Sri A.K. Mukherji, remained in close contact with Herr von Selzam, Consul General of Germany in Calcutta, as long as he remained in this station. And this official representative of Adolf Hitler, the day before his departure, gave to Mukherji a document addressed to the German authorities in which it was specified in all letters that, "no person in Asia has rendered services comparable to his." I saw this document. I read it and read it again, with joy, with pride -- as Aryan and as Hitlerian, and as wife of Sri A.K. Mukherji. I already mentioned this in these discussions.
It is not possible for me to say if the "services" in question had or had not gone beyond the rather narrow limits of the activities of Sri A.K. Mukherji as an editor of a semi-monthly review that was Traditionalist and at the same time Hindu and pro-German. It would indeed seem that they went beyond them -- because the review lasted only two years, the English authorities having prohibited it towards the end of 1937, shortly after the definitive "turning" in the evolution of the British policy vis-à-vis the Reich. In any event, I did not yet personally know Sri A.K. Mukherji at that time: his name evoked for me only the existence of the sole review of clearly Hitlerian tendencies that I knew in India. But something leads me to believe that the knowledge that he had subsequently, and even before, of esoteric Hitlerism, i.e., of the profound connection of the secret doctrines of the Führer to the eternal Tradition, did not have any common measure with the vague impressions that I myself could have had on the same subject. During the very first conversation that I had with him, after having had the honor of being introduced -- on 9 January 1938 -- to him who, less than two years later, was destined to give me his name and his protection, asked me incidentally what I thought of ... Dietrich Eckart.
I knew that he was the author of the famous poem "Deutschland Erwache," a combatant of the very first days of the Kampfzeit, dead a few weeks after the failed "Putsch" of 9 November 1923 at the age of fifty-five years, the comrade to whom Adolf Hitler had dedicated the second part of Mein Kampf. I was still unaware of the existence of the Thulegesellschaft and was consequently far from suspecting the role that the poet of the national revolution had been able to play for the Führer.