Himmler, the Ahnenerbe and the Wewelsburg
The name of the society literally means “ancestral heritage”, and it was originally devoted to scientific researches 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.
Many of their interests extended beyond science into occultism.
This led to Nazi scientists traveling around the world in search of Atlantis and the Holy Grail, and some believe that the Ahnenerbe sought “portals” to God.
Growing out of the Ahnenerbe-SS, the Thule Gesellschaft and the general Nazi interest in the occult, was Karotechia (see below) – a secret organization in Nazi Germany dedicated to the research and use of occult forces for the Third Reich.
The Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society, or Ahnenerbe Forschungs-und Lehrgemeinschaft, was founded in July 1935 by Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Wirth (see left) (a Dutch historian obsessed with Atlantean mythology), and Richard Walter Darré (see right)(creator of the Nazi ‘Blut und Boden’ (blood and soil) ideology and head of the Race and Settlement Office).
BLUT UND BODEN
Blut und Boden refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors, descent (Blood (of a volk) and Heimat (homeland) (Soil).
It celebrates the relationship of a people to the land they occupy and cultivate, and it places a high value on the virtues of rural living.
The German expression was coined in the late 19th century, in tracts espousing racialism and national romanticism.
It produced a regionalist literature, with some social criticism.
This romantic attachment was widespread prior to the rise of the Nazis.
Ultranationalists predating the Nazis often supported country living as more healthy, with the Artaman League sending urban children to the countryside to work in part in hopes of transforming them into Wehrbaueren.
Richard Walther Darré popularized the phrase at the time of the rise of Nazi Germany; he wrote a book called ‘Neuadel aus Blut und Boden’ (A New Aristocracy Based On Blood And Soil) in 1930, which proposed a systemic eugenics program, arguing for breeding as a cure-all for all the problems plaguing the state.
Darré was an influential member of the Nazi party and a noted race theorist who assisted the party greatly in gaining support among common Germans outside the cities.
Prior to their ascension to power, Nazis called for a return from the cities to the countryside.
This agrarian sentiment allowed opposition to both the middle class and the aristocracy, and presented the farmer as a superior figure beside the moral swamp of the city.
The doctrine not only called for a “back to the land” approach and re-adoption of rural values; it held that German land was bound, perhaps mystically, to German blood.
Peasants were the Nazi cultural heroes, who held charge of German racial stock and German history — as when a memorial of a medieval peasant uprising was the occasion for a speech by Darré praising them as force and purifier of German history.
This would also lead them to understand the natural order better, and in the end, only the man who worked the land really possessed it.
It contributed to the Nazi ideal of a woman: a sturdy peasant, who worked the land and bore strong children, contributing to praise for athletic women tanned by outdoor work.
That country women gave birth to more children than city ones also was a factor in the support.
It was also argued that a people would develop laws appropriate to its “blood and soil” because authenticity required loyalty to the Volk over abstract universals.
The SS and the Ahnenerbe, under Heinrich Himmler, in general supported and encouraged the Blut und Boden ideology.
There is some evidence that the Ahnenerbe existed as early as 1928, when Wirth established the “Hermann Wirth Society” for teaching and spreading his theories.
Another candidate for precursor of the Ahnenerbe was a research institute for “spiritual prehistory” created by the German state of Mecklenburg in 1932, when the state was governed by the NSDAP.
The emblem chosen for the Ahnenerbe was the Irminsul (see left below).
Irmin was an aspect, Avatar or epithet of Wodan (Odin).
Irmin might also have been an epithet of the god Ziu (Tyr) in early Germanic times, only later transferred to Odin.
The Old Norse form of Irmin is Jörmunr, which just like Yggr was one of the names of Odin.
Yggdrasil (“Yggr’s horse”) was the yew or ash tree from which Odin sacrificed himself, and which connected the nine worlds. Jakob Grimm connects the name Irmin with Old Norse terms like iörmungrund (“great ground”, i.e. the Earth) or iörmungandr (“great snake”, i.e. the Midgard serpent).
It is thus often conjectured that the Irminsul was a World tree, the equivalent of Yggdrasil among the Saxon tribes of Germany.
The linguistic connection between Irmin- and iörmun/jörmun- is generally accepted, but the terms simply mean “great/mighty” or “rising high”.
It is easy to see how “The great one” or “The exalted one” could become a by-name of Odin, and become known as “great pillar” instead of “Irmin’s pillar” or “Odin’s pillar”.
Sievers & Wüst
He also worked to limit the influence of “those he deemed scholarly upstarts,” which included cutting communication with the RuSHA office of Karl Maria Wiligut (see left).
musicology, whose aim was to determine “the essence” of German music.
It recorded folk music in expeditions to Finland and the Faroe Islands, from ethnic Germans of the occupied territories, and in South Tyrol.
The section made sound recordings, transcribed manuscripts and songbooks, and photographed and filmed instrument use and folk dances.
The lur, a Bronze Age musical instrument, became central to this research, which concluded that Germanic consonance was in direct conflict to Jewish atonalism.
The Ahnenerbe was part of Himmler’s greater plan for the systematic creation of a “Germanic” culture that would replace Christianity in the Greater Germany to exist after the war, a kind of SS-religion that would form the basis of the new world order.
This new culture would be based on the völkisch beliefs of the Nazis, and it was the role of the Ahnenerbe to marshal scientific research in an interdisciplinary program to reject the “priggish line of high-school professors” and support the “development of the Germanic heritage”.
The Runes & Nordic Mythology
Linguistic study was at the forefront of Ahnenerbe activity.
ZThe first institute to be established specialized in the study of Norse runes (the symbol of the Ahnenerbe was the life rune).
This institute was under the command of Hermann Wirth (see left) until he left the Ahnenerbe in 1937.
According to the theory, the world itself was created when a giant chunk of ice collided with the sun.
The Institute for Germanic Archaeology was created in 1938.
Himmler saw the potential of archaeology as a political tool.
He needed archaeology to provide an identity for his SS, but Himmler also believed that archaeology had a certain religious content.
There were excavations; there were myths and legends, a feeling of superiority.
He believed by drawing on the power of prehistory one would achieve success in the present day.
Archaeological excavations were conducted in Germany at Paderborn, Detmold, Haithabu, and at Externsteine (see left).
Haithabu, which is still recognized by archaeologists as an important site for medieval Norse artifacts, is in an area of northern Germany near the Danish border, and is very close to Detmold and Externsteine, the site of a much-reputed Aryan temple and which some legends connected with Yggdrasil, the “World-Ash” (see right) of Norse mythology.
Externsteine is also close to Paderborn and Wewelsburg, and the entire sites compromised for the Ahnenerbe a mythological heartland where the Saxons resisted the Romans and their heirs, the Franks of Charlemagne.
The area was also sympathetic to the ideology of the Ahnenerbe, as Detmold was one of the first German states to elect an NSDAP government, and Paderborn and Wewelsburg were strongholds of Prussian beliefs.
During the war, archaeological expeditions were sent to Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Poland, and Rumania with the collaboration of local authorities.
The Ahnenerbe also conducted similar operations in occupied Russia and North Africa.
They were also very active in the Far East, mostly in Tibet (see below), but the Ahnenerbe did send an expedition to Kafiristan.
These books told of a race much older than mankind: the ‘Ancient Ones’.
The top-secret Occult Corps (Geheimnisvolle Korps) was soon established as the Paranormal Division of SS-Hauptsturmführer Wolfram Sievers’ Ancestral Inheritence Office (Ahnenerbe), which was responsible for investigating all aspects of ancient German tradition.
The Occult Corps incorporated into one organization the Thule Society, the Vril Society and the German branch of Crowley’s OTO.
Despite her Slavic blood, Madame Helena Blavatsky’s granddaughter Marianna Blavatsky was then recruited as its High Priestess. (Allegedly the Ahnernerbe traced the Blavatsky roots back to the Rhos – Scandanavian Vikings that had come into contact with the Slavs in 860 A.D.)
From Archive Department 7′s stolen texts Marianna learned that violence begot a form of orgone energy which, if properly seized, could be forged into magical effects.
Thousands died to help Marianna and her Meta-Psychic Operatives in the Bio-Energy/Psi-Enhancement Division better understand and control the new “blood magic” they had discovered.
Now under the direction of the SS Paranormal Division, Special Unit H continued to comb German-occupied territories in search of more arcane knowledge and magical artifacts. Archaeological expeditions were sent to the bottom of the Baltic Sea hoping to find some lost artifacts or magical items of Ultima Thule.
The Spear of Destiny, the weapon that was used to pierce the side of the Messiah while he was nailed to the cross, was brought from Vienna in 1938, but early attempts to recover the Lost Ark of the Covenant in 1936 and the Holy Grail in 1938, however, were less successful.
The original base of operations for the Occult Corps was Castle Wewelsburg in Westphalia, which Himmler bought as a ruin and rebuilt over the next 11 years at a cost of 13 million marks. The central banqueting hall contained a vast round table with throne-like seats to accommodate Himmler and 12 of his favorite officers, making his modern-day “Order of the Black Knights” a dark covenant of 13.
The Black Guard, the toughest, smartest and most dangerous officers from the SS, occupied the upper echelon of Himmler’s personal guard.
Beneath Castle Wewelsburg was the “Hall of the Dead” where plinths stood around a stone table and the covenant could practice their occult magic in secret.
The roots of the Karotechia are deep and varied.
When the unit was officially created within the Ahnenerbe in 1939, it drew its members from within the Ahnenerbe, the disbanded Thule Gesellschaft, and a little known section of Archive Department VII of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA, Reich Security Central Office) called Sonderkommando-H.
Created in 1935 under direct orders from Heinrich Himmler, Sonderkommando-H (for Hexen, German for witches) collected records of the Catholic Inquisition against witchcraft from libraries in Germany and Austria.
These records were collated into the Hexenkartothek, a catalog of over 33,000 index cards, each providing the details of a victim of the witch trials.
While most of the Hexenkartothek concentrated on witch trials in Germany, Sonderkommando-H researched cases from as far away as India and Mexico.
The research of Sonderkommando-H was meant to provide propaganda that would justify an SS crackdown on the Catholic Church, as well as discover the ancient Germanic religion that Himmler believed had been eradicated by the Inquisition.
The SS officers that collected the Hexenkartothek came to informally refer to themselves as the “Kartothekia,” and what they discovered were arcane formulae and necromantic rituals.
Enough was learned by Sonderkommando-H to create what some one hundred and fifty known witches, warlocks, and alchemists termed “the resuscitating of ye vital saylts.”
This formulae, it has been claimed, was first successfully put to effect by SS-Hauptscharführer Dieter Scheel when his team resurrected 17th century sorceror Jurgen Tess.
It was this incident that created a new department within the Ahnenerbe to exploit the occult in service to the Reich: the Karotechia.
Occult research had been conducted by various arms of the SS for quite some time before the creation of the Karotechia.
In the Ahnenerbe, the Abteilung zur Überprüfung der Sogenannten Geheimwissenschaften (literally, Department for the Examination of So-Called Secret Sciences) had analyzed the occult since 1933.
Also since 1933, Karl Maria Wiligut and his Department for Pre- and Early History had been Himmler’s premier occultist, a position that was undermined soon after the creation of the Karotechia.
Suitable members of these organizations were drawn to the Karotechia, as were former members of the Thule Gesellschaft and scholars from Nazi-allied regimes and occupied countries.
More so than any other group researching the paranormal for their government during the Second World War, the Karotechia sought to exploit the occult to its fullest.
With the full backing of the SS and the Nazi state, they raided the libraries and museums of Europe in an insatiable search for arcane power.
No avenue of study was left unexplored.
The Karotechia was shielded from inquiry within and without by direct patronage of Himmler, who passed certain information on to Hitler.
Members of the Karotechia were known by their initials in SS documents, and by their rune-names in internal correspondence, the names given upon induction into the unit.
They were identified by the Sonnenrad runes worn on the lapels of their black Allgemeine-SS uniforms.
This insignia and the men that wore it were equally feared and respected throughout the SS.
Never as successful as their reputation belied, the Karotechia did score a number impressive victories during the war.
In particular was the discovery of a Gothic version of the ‘Necronomicon’ in the spring of 1944, which opened up several new projects to exploit its potential.
Most of these projects ended in failure, causing great destruction, such as the incident at Castle Naudabaum in early 1945, where seven Karotechia officers and seventy-three support personnel were killed and the castle destroyed during an abortive attempt to summon an extraterrestrial being called Azathoth.
This disaster lead to the final Karotechia operation of the war: Aktion Götterdammerung, the attempt by the Karotechia to reenact the Naudabaum disaster without aborting the sequence to summon Azathoth.
Aktion Götterdammerung, however, failed.
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A significant amount of Ahnenerbe research involved Tibet, and was carried out by the Sven Hedin Institute for Inner Asian Research.
The institute was named for the famous Swedish explorer whose memoirs ‘My Life As An Explorer’ were popular worldwide for their tales of Hedin’s travels throughout Tibet.
Hedin’s descriptions of hidden cities deep within the Himalayas were as much a source for Nazi interest in Tibet as Blavatsky’s theosophical vision of the East.
Though never an official member of the Ahnenerbe (the old explorer was in his seventies during the war), Hedin corresponded with the organization and was present when the Institute for Inner Asian Research was formally established in Munich on January 1943.
Hedin’s closest contact in the Ahnenerbe was Ernst Schäfer, who commanded the Institute for Inner Asian Research and was eventually responsible for all scientific projects within the Ahnenerbe.
Under the influence of Haushofer and the Thule Society, the Ahnenerbe sent annual expeditions to Tibet from 1926 to 1943.
Their mission was first to find and then to maintain contact with the Aryan forefathers in Shambhala and Agharti, hidden subterranean cities beneath the Himalayas.
Adepts there were the guardians of secret occult powers, especially vril, and the missions sought their aid in harnessing those powers for creating an Aryan master race.
Shambhala, however, refused any assistance, but Agharti agreed.
Subsequently, from 1929, groups of Tibetans came to Germany and started lodges known as the Society of Green Men.
In connection with the Green Dragon Society in Japan, through the intermediary of Haushofer, they supposedly helped the Nazi cause with their occult powers. Himmler was attracted to these groups of Tibetan-Agharti adepts and as a result encouraged the study of Eastern Occultism within the SS.
In 1937, Himmler decided he could increase the Ahnenerbe’s visibility by sending a large scale expedition to Tibet under the leadership of Ernst Schäfer.
There were rumors of secret tasks that included the SS making overtures to the Reting Regent to lay the groundwork for a German invasion of India through Tibet.
Tibet expedition was also involved in “geophysical” research to prove the Hanns Hörbiger’s “World Ice Theory”, which may have included the search for fossilized remains of “giants” as part of the cosmology of the theory.
The final inventory from the expidition included 20,000 black-and-white photographs, 2,000 colour photographs, 17 head casts and the measurements of 376 people, as well as having sent back specimens of three breeds of Tibetan dogs, rare feline species, wolves, badgers, foxes, animal and bird skins, and the seeds for 1,600 types of barley, 700 varieties of wheat, 700 varieties of oats and hundreds of other types of seeds. In addition, the team had been given a Tibetan mastiff, a gold coin and the robe of a lama (believed by Schäfer to have been worn by the Dalai Lama) to be gifted to Adolf Hitler.
Another interesting acquisition of the expedition was the 108-volume sacred document of the Tibetans, the ‘Kangschur’.
The centre of the SS, Himmler’s new order of knights, an “aristocracy of soul and blood”, was the Wewelsburg castle.
This was Himmler’s “Camelot”, with SS commanders cast as the Knights of the Round Table.
Rooms were dedicated to figures of Nordic history and mythology like King Arthur. Himmler’s room was dedicated to King Heinrich I, founder of the first German Reich (empire).
Heinrich Himmler even claimed to have been the spiritual successor and reincarnation of Heinrich the Fowler, having established special SS rituals for the old king and having returned his bones to the crypt at Quedlinburg Cathedral.
Himmler even had his personal quarters at Wewelsburg castle decorated in commemoration of Heinrich the Fowler.
Another room was set aside to house the Holy Grail (see left), which was to be searched for all over the world.
Himmler’s goal was to “create a focus point of all the aspirations he had towards religion and science’.
To this end, Himmler set out to re-establish an ancient Aryan religion within Germany in opposition to Christianity, as a basis for Nazi ideology.
Himmler maintained that many sacred symbols had been stolen from a more ancient Aryan religion and set out to restore them.
One such symbol was the Holy Grail.
One leading academic recruited to the Nazi cause was Otto Rahn, the leading German authority on the Holy Grail.
He was brought into the SS to lead the search for it the world over.
The occultist Karl Maria Wiligut (known in the SS under the pseudonym ‘Weisthor’) accompanied Himmler on his visits to the castle.
Wewelsburg is a Renaissance castle located in the northeast of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in the village of Wewelsburg (the same name as the castle) which is a quarter of the city Büren, Westphalia, in district of Paderborn in the Alme Valley.
In its current form the Wewelsburg was built from 1603 to 1609 as secondary residence for the prince-bishops of Paderborn namely Fürstbischof Dietrich von Fürstenberg.
Significantly, its location is near what was then believed to be the site of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
Legend suggests that the castle held thousands of accused witches during the 17th century, who were tortured and executed within its walls.
During the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) the basement rooms were probably used as military prison.
Till the end of the prince-episcopalian times in 1802 prison cells existed in a dungeon in the basement of the west tower.
In addition to these study rooms, the SS created guest rooms, dining room, auditorium, a canteen kitchen, and a photographic laboratory with an archive.
Himmler’s plans included making the Wewlesberg the “center of the new world” (“Zentrum der neuen Welt”) following the “final victory”.
The mosaic is located in the ground floor room of the North-Tower of the castle, in the so-called Obergruppenführersaal (“Obergruppenführer hall”, completed 1939-1943).
The “Obergruppenführer” (literally: “Upper-Group-Leaders”) were the highest ranking SS-generals.
It is not known if the SS had a special name for the ornament, or if they attributed a special meaning to it.
The sun wheel is significant for the Germanic light- and sun-mysticism which was propagated by the SS.
In their studies on sense characters, the sun apart was interpreted as “the strongest and most visible expression of god”, the number twelve as significant for “the things of the target and the completion”.
The mosaic at Wewelsburg itself is dark green on a whitish/greyish marble floor.
Probably a golden disc was originally located in the middle of the ornament.
Traditional Christianity was to be replaced by a “völkisch” (folkish or racial) cult.
Instead of Christianity, Himmler wanted a moral doctrine derived from the pre-Christian pagan Germanic heritage.
Cultic ceremonies and rituals were part of the everyday life of the SS, and the Wewelsburg was to be a center of a “species-compliant” religion (German: “artgemäße” Religion).
According to studies commissioned by the Third Reich regarding the beliefs of the pre-Christianized Germanic peoples, it was estimated that these pagan ancestors believed in “a grand force or a grand god in the background of the multiplicity of gods and spirits who becomes visible in a multiple way in the universe, on earth and in the life of all beings and facts”.
So the sun was interpreted as “only one, but a very important and big expression (of that force or god) in the surrounding events and in the life of the ancestors”.
The North-Tower of the castle was to be the center of a planned circular estate, 1.27 kilometres in diameter ( see the architectural drawing and model from 1944). The architects called the complex the “Center of the World” from 1941 on.
The North-Tower, which had survived a ruin after 1815, only assumed importance for Himmler starting in the autumn of 1935.
In the process of Himmler establishing the castle as a cult site (an ideological and religious center of the SS), the tower was to serve the highest-ranking SS leaders as a meeting place and probably as location for quasi-religious devotions.
Nothing is known about the possible way and the kind of arrangement of designated ceremonies in the tower—the redesigned rooms were never used.
According to the architects, the axis of the North-Tower was to be the actual “Center of the World”.
The inside of the complete castle was redesigned in a völkish mythological way (see the Wewelsburg SS School).
SS architect Hermann Bartels presented a first draft of plans that envisioned using the North Tower on three different levels:
Where primary a cistern was a vault after the model of Mycenaean domed tombs was created which probably was to serve for some kind of commemoration of the dead.
The room is unfinished. In the middle exists a preparation for an eternal flame.
A “columned hall” was to be constructed on the ground floor for the SS-Obergruppenführer.
The sun wheel–shaped ornament, later called the “Black Sun”, is placed here.
Finally, the upper floors were to be completed as a meeting hall for the entire corps of the SS Gruppenführer (not realized).
However, a meeting in the first floor mosaic room never occurred—the building work at the room was stopped in 1943.
In 1945, when the “final victory” didn’t materialize, the castle was partially blasted and set on fire by the SS, but the two redesigned rooms in the North-Tower stayed intact.
It is not known whether this symbol was placed in the marble floor at Wewelsburg before or after the National Socialist Regime and the taking over of the castle by Himmler.
There is speculation as to whether the symbol was put into the hall by the Nazis or whether it was there a long time before but there is no definitive proof either way.
The plans for the North Tower by SS architect Hermann Bartels make no mention of it. Scholars today are reluctant to say with any certainty why it was put there, or by whom.
Because the ceilings of the North-Tower were cast in concrete and faced with natural stone during the Third Reich, it is more likely that the ornament was created during the Himmler era.
There is, although its origins are unknown, an identical rendition of the Wewelsburg Schwarze Sonne in a wall painting at a World War II military bunker memorial to Bismarck at Hamburg below a statue of Bismarck (see Bismarck-Monument (Hamburg)).
It is with a central piece incorporating a sunwheel and swastikas and the texts “Nicht durch Reden werden große Fragen entschieden, sondern durch Eisen und Blut” (“Great questions will not be resolved by talk, but by iron and blood”).
The sun wheel had a relation to Germanic light and sun-mysticism which was propagated by the SS.
To avoid Allied bombing, the Ahnenerbe relocated to Waischenfeld in Franconia on August 1943.
There they remained until American forces took the city in April 1945.
The war ended before the Ahnenerbe found another permanent home, and, during the interim period, a great number of documents were destroyed.
Had the Ahnenerbe survived the war, Himmler planned to use its members to staff an SS-University at Leyden in the Netherlands.
Those that survived the war were either tried for war crimes, or faded back into academia under their own or false names.