Karl Haushofer

K A R L   H A U S H O F E R   &   T H E    V R I L


BIOGRAPHY

Karl Ernst Haushofer (August 27, 1869 – March 10, 1946) was a German general, geographer and geopolitician.

Through his student Rudolf Hess, Haushofer’s ideas may have influenced the development of Adolf Hitler’s expansionist strategies, although Haushofer denied direct influence on the Nazi regime.

Haushofer belonged to a family of artists and scholars.
He was born in Munich, Germany, to Max Haushofer, a professor of economics, and Frau Adele Haushofer (née Fraas). On his graduation from the Munich Gymnasium (high school), Haushofer contemplated an academic career. However, service with the Bavarian army proved so interesting that he stayed to work, with great success, as an instructor in military academies and on the general staff.
In 1887, he entered the 1st Field Artillery regiment “Prinzregent Luitpold” and completed Kriegsschule, Artillerieschule and War Academy (Kingdom of Bavaria).
In 1896, he married Martha Mayer-Doss (1877–1946). They had two sons, Albrecht Haushofer and Heinz Haushofer.
Haushofer continued his career as a professional soldier, serving in the army of Imperial Germany, and rising through the Staff Corp by 1899.
In 1903 he began teaching at the Bavarian War Academy.
In November 1908 the army sent him to Tokyo to study the Japanese army and to advise it as an artillery instructor.
He travelled with his wife via India and South East Asia and arrived in February 1909.

Haushofer was received by the Japanese Emperor (see right) and got to know many important people in politics and armed forces. In autumn 1909 he travelled with his wife for a month to Korea and Manchuria on the occasion of a railway construction.

In June 1910 they returned to Germany via Russia and arrived one month later.
Shortly afterwards he began to suffer from several severe diseases and was given a leave from the army for three years. From 1911 – 1913 Haushofer would work on his doctorate of philosophy from Munich University for a thesis on Japan entitled: Dai Nihon, Betrachtungen über Groß-Japans Wehrkraft, Weltstellung und Zukunft (Reflections on Greater Japan’s Military Strength, World Position, and Future).
By World War I he had attained the rank of General, and commanded a brigade on the western front.
He became disillusioned after Germany’s loss and severe sanctioning, retiring with the rank of Major General in 1919.

At this time, he forged a friendship with the young Rudolf Hess who would become his scientific assistant.

Haushofer entered academia with the aim of restoring and regenerating Germany. Haushofer believed the Germans’ lack of geographical knowledge and geopolitical awareness to be a major cause of Germany’s defeat in World War I, as Germany had found itself with a poor alignment of allies and enemies.
The fields of political and geographical science thus became his areas of specialty.
In 1919 Haushofer became Privatdozent for political geography at Munich University and in 1933 professor.
After the establishment of the Nazi regime, Haushofer remained friendly with Rudolf Hess.
During the pre-war years Haushofer was instrumental in linking Japan to the axis powers, acting in accordance with the theories of his book “Geopolitics of the Pacific Ocean”.
From September 24, 1945 on Karl Haushofer was informally interrogated by Father Edmund A. Walsh on behalf of the Allied forces to determine if he should stand trial at Nuremberg for war crimes.
However, he was determined by Walsh not to have committed war crimes.
On the night of March 10–11, 1946 he and his wife committed suicide in a secluded hollow on their Hartschimmelhof estate at Pähl/Ammersee.


GEOPLOITIK

Haushofer developed Geopolitik from widely varied sources, including the writings of Oswald Spengler, Alexander Humboldt, Karl Ritter, Friedrich Ratzel, Rudolf Kjellén, and Halford J. Mackinder.

Geopolitik contributed to Nazi foreign policy chiefly in the strategy and justifications for lebensraum.
The theories contributed five ideas to German foreign policy in the interwar period: the organic state, lebensraum, autarky, pan-regions, and land power/sea power dichotomy.
Geostrategy as a political science is both descriptive and analytical like Political Geography, but adds a normative element in its strategic prescriptions for national policy.
While some of Haushofer’s ideas stem from earlier American and British geostrategy, German geopolitik adopted an essentialist outlook toward the national interest, oversimplifying issues and representing itself as a panacea.
As a new and essentialist ideology, geopolitik found itself in a position to prey upon the post-WWI insecurity of the populace.
Haushofer’s position in the University of Munich served as a platform for the spread of his geopolitical ideas, magazine articles, and books.
In 1922 he founded the Institute of Geopolitics in Munich, from which he proceeded to publicize geopolitical ideas.
By 1924, as the leader of the German geopolitik school of thought, Haushofer would establish the ‘Zeitschrift für Geopolitik’ monthly devoted to geopolitik.

His ideas would reach a wider audience with the publication of ‘Volk ohne Raum’ – (People without Space) (see right) by Hans Grimm in 1926, popularizing his concept of lebensraum – (living space).

Haushofer exercised influence both through his academic teachings, urging his students to think in terms of continents and emphasizing motion in international politics, and through his political activities.
While Hitler’s speeches would attract the masses, Haushofer’s works served to bring the remaining intellectuals into the fold.
Geopolitik was in essence a consolidation and codification of older ideas, given a scientific gloss: Lebensraum was a revised colonial imperialism; Autarky a new expression of tariff protectionism;
Strategic control of key geographic territories exhibiting the same thought behind earlier designs on the Suez and Panama canals; i.e., a view of controlling the land in the same way as those choke points control the sea.

Pan-regions (Panideen) based upon the British Empire, and the American Monroe Doctrine, as enunciated by American President James Munroe (see left), Pan-American Union and hemispheric defense, whereby the world is divided into spheres of influence.

Frontiers – His view of barriers between peoples not being political (i.e., borders) nor natural placements of races or ethnicities but as being fluid and determined by the will or needs of ethnic/racial groups.
The key reorientation in each dyad is that the focus is on land-based empire rather than naval imperialism.
Ostensibly based upon the geopolitical theory of American naval officer Alfred Thayer Mahan, and British geographer Halford J. Mackinder, German geopolitik adds older German ideas.

Enunciated most forcefully by Friedrich Ratzel (see right) and his Swedish student Rudolf Kjellén, they include an organic or anthropomorphized conception of the state, and the need for self-sufficiency through the top-down organization of society.

The root of uniquely German geopolitik rests in the writings of Karl Ritter who first developed the organic conception of the state that would later be elaborated upon by Ratzel and accepted by Hausfhofer.
He justified lebensraum, even at the cost of other nations’ existence because conquest was a biological necessity for a state’s growth.
Ratzel’s writings coincided with the growth of German industrialism after the Franco-Prussian war and the subsequent search for markets that brought it into competition with Britain.
His writings served as welcome justification for imperial expansion.
Influenced by Mahan, Ratzel wrote of aspirations for German naval reach, agreeing that sea power was self-sustaining, as the profit from trade would pay for the merchant marine, unlike land power.
Haushofer was exposed to Ratzel, who was friends with Haushofer’s father, a teacher of economic geography, and would integrate Ratzel’s ideas on the division between sea and land powers into his theories, saying that only a country with both could overcome this conflict.
Haushofer’s geopolitik expands upon that of Ratzel and Kjellén.
While the latter two conceive of geopolitik as the state as an organism in space put to the service of a leader, Haushofer’s Munich school specifically studies geography as it relates to war and designs for empire.
The behavioral rules of previous geopoliticians were thus turned into dynamic normative doctrines for action on lebensraum and world power.
Haushofer defined geopolitik in 1935 as “the duty to safeguard the right to the soil, to the land in the widest sense, not only the land within the frontiers of the Reich, but the right to the more extensive Volk and cultural lands.”
Culture itself was seen as the most conducive element to dynamic special expansion.
It provided a guide as to the best areas for expansion, and could make expansion safe, whereas projected military or commercial power could not.

Haushofer even held that urbanization (see left) was a symptom of a nation’s decline, evidencing a decreasing soil mastery, birthrate and effectiveness of centralized rule.

To Haushofer, the existence of a state depended on living space, the pursuit of which must serve as the basis for all policies.
Germany had a high population density, whereas the old colonial powers had a much lower density, a virtual mandate for German expansion into resource-rich areas.
Space was seen as military protection against initial assaults from hostile neighbors with long-range weaponry.
A buffer zone of territories or insignificant states on one’s borders would serve to protect Germany.
Closely linked to this need, was Haushofer’s assertion that the existence of small states was evidence of political regression and disorder in the international system.
The small states surrounding Germany ought to be brought into the vital German order.
These states were seen as being too small to maintain practical autonomy, even if they maintained large colonial possessions, and would be better served by protection and organization within Germany.
In Europe, he saw Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, Greece and the “mutilated alliance” of Austro-Hungary as supporting his assertion.
Haushofer’s version of autarky was based on the quasi-Malthusian idea that the earth would become saturated with people and no longer able to provide food for all.
There would essentially be no increases in productivity.

Haushofer and the Munich school of geopolitik would eventually expand their conception of lebensraum and autarky well past the borders of 1914 and “a place in the sun” (see right) to a ‘New European Order’, then to a ‘New Afro-European Order’, and eventually to a ‘Eurasian Order’.

This concept became known as a pan-region, taken from the American Monroe Doctrine, and the idea of national and continental self-sufficiency.
This was a forward-looking refashioning of the drive for colonies, something that geopoliticians did not see as an economic necessity, but more as a matter of prestige, and putting pressure on older colonial powers.
The fundamental motivating force would not be economic, but cultural and spiritual.
Haushofer was, what is called today, a proponent of “Eurasianism”, advocating a policy of German–Russian hegemony and alliance to offset an Anglo–American power structure’s potentially dominating influence in Europe.

Beyond being an economic concept, pan-regions were a strategic concept as well.
Haushofer acknowledges the strategic concept of the Heartland put forward by the British geopolitician Halford Mackinder (see left).
If Germany could control Eastern Europe and subsequently Russian territory, it could control a strategic area to which hostile seapower could be denied.
Allying with Italy and Japan would further augment German strategic control of Eurasia, with those states becoming the naval arms protecting Germany’s insular position.






HAUSHOFER & THE OCCULT



Louis Pauwels, in his book “Monsieur Gurdjieff”, describes Haushofer as a former student of George Gurdjieff.

He was with Gurdjieff in Tibet in 1903, 1905, 1906, 1907 and 1908.
From 1907 Haushofer lived mainly in Japan, where he was initiated into an esoteric Buddhist society, ‘The Green Dragon’: it is said that one of the tests of initiation in this Order is to activate the germination process of a seed so that it grows into a mature plant in a matter of minutes; it is also said that each member of the Order was sworn to a mission, pledging that he would commit suicide if he failed.
He was also the main protagonist of the concept of the Vril in Germany and was a member of the Thule Society.
The Luminous Lodge or Vril Society was founded in Berlin
Its leading light was Karl Haushofer.


Members included Alfred Rosenberg (see right), Dr Theodor Morrel, later the Führer’s doctor, Heinrich Himmler (see left), Hermann Goering (see right below), and Adolf Hitler himself.

We have met the concept of the vril before, in Bulwer Lytton, and his ‘The Coming Race‘ was thought by initiates to be a work of supreme importance.

The Vril Society was first heard of outside Germany when the rocket expert, Willi Ley, (see left) fled from his country in 1933, and informed those who were willing to listen that the Lodge took Lytton’s book literally: ‘He added with a smile that the disciples believed they had secret knowledge that would enable them to change – their race and become the equals of the unknown supermen.
They used methods of concentration and a whole system of internal gymnastics by which they would be transformed.

They began their exercises by staring fixedly at an apple cut in half….

Perhaps, like Japan’s Green Dragon Society (see right), they were endeavouring to make the seeds germinate, but this was just a minor diversion.
The main aim of the Vril Society was to make further researches into the origins and nature of the Aryan Race and discover how to reactivate the vril force, which, it was held, slumbered in the blood, but when awakened would produce the Superman.
The investigations of the Lodge were under the guidance of Haushofer, and it is only to be expected that much time was spent in the study of Tibetan secret teachings.

Soon the initiates came to believe that they had formed an alliance with mysterious Tibetan lodges situated in Agarthi and Schamballah (see right), and with an Unknown Superman.

No one knows who this was, though J. H. Brennan has suggested Gurdjieff.
Nor do we know if Hitler ever met the Unknown Superman, though certain of his remarks do imply this:

“In uttering these words,” added Rauschning (see left), “Hitler was trembling in a kind of ecstasy.”

Initiates kept in touch with the Unknown Superman both with electronic transmitters and, rather more bafflingly, by means of a ’game’ played with a Tibetan pack of cards like the Western Tarot.
Were they essaying telepathic communication? And could it have been with Gurdjieff, whose telepathic skills have frequently been described by his pupils?
Whatever the identity of, the Nazis certainly took an extraordinary interest in Tibet, and as soon as funds were available, they mounted a series of expeditions to that distant land, which followed one another in rapid succession until 1943.
We have seen how Haushofer was taught by Gurdjieff in Tibet, and by the Green Dragon Society in Japan, how his predictive powers brought him, esteem as a general, and how his formidable intellect won him renowned as a professor.
He never made the mistake of openly attributing his success to his occultism.
Like Hitler, he was shrewd enough to realize that a passion for the esoteric usually invites ridicule and he hid the true nature of his interests beneath a cloak of cold-blooded rationalism, which has taken in more than one historian.

Like Crowley (right) and Hitler, Haushofer despised the majority of occultists as ineffectual and self-important cranks who succeeded only in bringing the entire subject into deserved disrepute.
We have seen how unimpressed he was by Rudolf Hess.
Initially too, he was equally unimpressed by Hess’s god, Adolf Hitler.
Even so, Hess, or probably Dietrich Eckart’s manuscript, persuaded the Professor to attend Hitler’s trial for treason.

The Nazi leader’s magnificent courtroom performance exercised a profound effect upon Haushofer and caused him to revise his opinion. When Hess begged him to visit Hitler in Landsberg Fortress (see left), Haushofer complied.

As Joachim C. Fest (see right) remarks: ‘Acting as intermediary between Haushofer and Hitler was the most important and virtually the only personal contribution Rudolf Hess made towards the birth and shaping of National Socialism.’
Unfortunately, Fest does not enlighten us as to the nature of Haushofer’s influence, which was both exoteric and esoteric.
It is best to deal first with the exoteric aspect.

Dietrich Eckart (see left) had instructed Hitler in the art of propaganda; Haushofer broadened the scope of his vision and taught him Geo-Politics.

The Professor was obsessed by the concept of lebensraum, or living-space.
A fierce believer in Nordic supremacy and Jewish degeneracy, he thought that the Aryan race had originated in Central Asia, and urged the conquest of this area.
Hence, in Mein Kampf, we find a constant reiteration of the importance of lebensraum, and in Chapter 14, a discussion of land and sea power, security and living area and the place of geography in military strategy that could have come straight out of Haushofer.
Haushofer’s exoteric influence upon Hitler has often been remarked upon, but the nature of his esoteric influence is not so well known.
We do not know for certain if he remained in contact with Gurdjieff, then domiciled in Paris, though this is rumoured to be the case.

There may well be some substance to this rumour for, according to Gurdjiefl’s leading English disciple, J. G. Bennett (see right), Gurdjieff took an extraordinary interest in the Third Reich and declared that the events it precipitated were of profound significance for humanity.

But whether or not Gurdjieff kept in touch, his former pupil certainly provoked another eruption of the daemonic in the mind of Adolf Hitler.

Hitler’s first experience of magic had been in Vienna: the climax was a mystical experience which was probably self-induced, though the methods employed may have owed something to Lanz von Liebenfels; from it dates Hitler’s inner strength and certainty.
The second was provoked by Dietrich Eckart and the Thule Society; from it dates Hitler’s mastery of ‘the magic power of the spoken word’, the mediumship of his oratory, his flair for propaganda, and probably his intense personal magnetism.
Now let us look at the results of his third experience, under the guidance of Karl Haushofer.
Firstly, Hitler developed greater self-control.
He learned that greatest of secrets, how to wait.
He never again made the mistake of trying to seize power by armed revolution.
He no longer felt the need to be seen with a riding-whip.
The exhaustion brought on by his oratory could now be remedied with a cup of sweet tea rather than copious draughts of strong beer, and he gave up alcohol altogether, a practice recommended by all Eastern teachers of yoga
Secondly, Hitler developed the predictive powers which we have noticed in Haushofer.
Thirdly, he gained instruction in various Tibetan occult teachings which had a profound effect upon him.
In Vienna, Hitler had learned from books and from German völkisch occultists.
The Thule Group of Eckart and Sebottendorf taught him a system of magic based upon a marriage between völkisch occultism and the teachings of Arab magicians picked up in the Middle East and North Africa.

Now Haushofer introduced him to a new combination: the wisdom of Gurdjieff, derived from Sufi mystics (see right) and Tibetan lamas, and the Zen mysticism of the Japanese Green Dragon Society.

These teachings stressed the existence of certain centres of power, or chakras, in the human body which correspond to the endocrine glands of Western science.






In most human beings, these chakras (see left) are dormant, but they can be activated by dint of yogic or magical exercises and bring to the practitioner some rather unusual powers, most notably that of being able to impose one’s will upon others.
The student is usually taught to resist this temptation, but Haushofer had little interest in ethics.
The most important of these centres, according to the systems he was teaching, is that which corresponds to the pineal gland, between and behind the eyebrows.
When activated, it confers superhuman powers and magical vision.
It is known by some as the Ajna Chakra, by some as the Third Eye (see right), and by some as the Cyclops Eye.
‘Hitler was always talking about this Cyclops Eye,’ recalled a baffled Hermann Rauschning. ‘Hitler was fascinated by these ideas and loved to immerse himself in them.’
Evidently, Haushofer did nothing to diminish Hitler’s belief in the imminence of the Superman’s advent; very probably, he encouraged it, for he had been to Tibet, which Blavatsky and Gurdjieff had declared to be the home of the Unknown Superman.
It must at this point be stressed, for it is usually forgotten or ignored, that whatever powers Hitler did acquire were wholly independent of the intellect.
Esoteric prowess has little to do with intellectual distinction, though these do occasionally unite in one individual.
Haushofer was one of these, and Aleister Crowley was another; the latter even forced his students to develop their intellects so as to prevent bigotry and fanaticism.
This, however, is uncommon.
At the time of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, few people in the world knew what Hitler’s real aims and passions were.
Fewer still knew or cared about his experience of the occult, and the teachings of Karl Haushofer, which would soon be put into practice.
Although Rudolf Hess (see right) has formally stated that Haushofer was indeed the Secret Master, the latter himself probably did not realise the magnitude of his contribution to history, and if he did, he has nowhere stated the fact.


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