The Thule Gesellschaft

The Thule-Gesellschaft (Thule Society), originally the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum (“Study Group for Germanic Antiquity”), was a German occultist and völkisch group founded by Felix Niedner, the German translator of the Elder Norse Eddas, in 1910.
In 1918, Rudolf Freiherr von Sebottendorf established its Munich branch.
The group was named after a mythical northern country from Greek legend.
The Society is notable chiefly as the organization that sponsored the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP), which was later transformed by Adolf Hitler into the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party).

A number of Thule members were associated with Adolf Hitler, most notably Rudolf Hess and Dietrich Eckart, and it is probable that Hitler attended meeting of the group, which were held at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Munich.
The occultists believed Hitler to be the prophesied “redeemer of Germany”.
They were Hitler’s first “disciples” and as such were crucial to his meteoric rise.
The Thule Society was originally a “Germanic study group” headed by Walter Neuhaus, a wounded World War I veteran turned art student from Berlin who had become a keeper of pedigrees for the Germanenorden (or “Order of Teutons”), a secret society founded in 1911 and formally named in the following year.
In 1917 Neuhaus moved to Munich; his Thule-Gesellschaft was to be a cover-name for the Munich branch of the Germanenorden, but events developed differently as a result of a schism in the Order. In 1918, Neuhaus was contacted in Munich by Rudolf von Sebottendorf (or von Sebottendorff), an occultist and newly elected head of the Bavarian province of the schismatic offshoot, known as the Germanenorden Walvater of the Holy Grail.
The two men became associates in a recruitment campaign, and Sebottendorff adopted Neuhaus’s Thule Society as a cover-name for his Munich lodge of the Germanenorden Walvater at its formal dedication on 18 August 1918.

A primary focus of Thule-Gesellschaft was a claim concerning the origins of the Aryan race. In 1917 people who wanted to join the “Germanic Order”, out of which the Thule Society developed in 1918, had to sign a special “blood declaration of faith” concerning the lineage:

The signer hereby swears to the best of his knowledge and belief that no Jewish or coloured blood flows in either his or in his wife’s veins, and that among their ancestors are no members of the coloured races.”

‘Thule’ (Greek – Θούλη)  is, in classical European literature and maps, a region in the far north.
Though often considered to be an island in antiquity, modern interpretations of what was meant by Thule often identify it as Norway.

Other interpretations include the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, and Scandinavia.
In the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance, Thule was often identified as Iceland or Greenland. 
The term ultima Thule in medieval geographies denotes any distant place located beyond the “borders of the known world”.
Sometimes it is used as a proper noun (Ultima Thule) as the Latin name for Greenland when Thule is used for Iceland.was a land located by Greco-Roman geographers in the furthest north (often displayed as Iceland).
The term “Ultima Thule” ((Latin): most distant Thule) is also mentioned by the Roman poet Virgil in his pastoral poems called the ‘Georgics’.
Although originally Thule was probably the name for Scandinavia, Virgil simply uses it as a proverbial expression for the edge of the known world, and his mention should not be taken as a substantial reference to Scandinavia.

Völkisch circles identified Ultima Thule, said by Nazi mystics to be the capital of ancient Hyperborea, as a lost ancient landmass in the extreme north: near Greenland or Iceland.

These ideas derived from earlier speculation by Ignatius L. Donnelly (see left) that a lost landmass had once existed in the Atlantic, and that it was the home of the Aryan race, a theory he supported by reference to the distribution of swastika motifs.
He identified this with Plato’s Atlantis, a theory further developed by Helena Blavatsky * (see below and right), an occultist during the second part of the 19th century.

Ignatius Loyola Donnelly (November 3, 1831 – January 1, 1901) was a U.S. Congressman, known primarily now for his theories concerning Atlantis,  Donnelly’s work had important influence on the writings of late 19th and early 20th century figures such as Helena Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner.

The Viennese psychologist and author Wilhelm Dahm wrote:
The Thule Gesellschaft name originated from mythical Thule, a Nordic equivalent of the vanished culture of Atlantis.
A race of giant supermen lived in Thule, linked into the Cosmos through magical powers. They had psychic and technological energies far exceeding the technical achievements of the 20th century.
This knowledge was to be put to use to save the Fatherland and create a new race of Nordic Aryan Atlanteans.
A new Messiah would come forward to lead the people to this goal.

The Thule Society attracted about 250 followers in Munich and about 1,500 in greater Bavaria.
Its meetings were often held in the luxury Hotel Vierjahreszeiten in Munich.
The followers of the Thule Society were, by Sebottendorff’s own admission, little interested in occultist theories, instead they were interested in racism and combating Jews and Communists. Nevertheless, Sebottendorff planned and failed to kidnap the Bavarian socialist prime minister, Kurt Eisner, in December 1918.

During the Bavarian revolution of April 1919, Thulists were accused of trying to infiltrate its government and of attempting a coup.

On 26 April the Communist government in Munich raided the Society’s premises and took seven of its members into custody, brutally executing them on 30 April.
Amongst them were Walter Nauhaus and four well-known aristocrats including Countess Heila von Westarp (left), a young woman who functioned as the group’s secretary, and Prince Gustav of Thurn and Taxis who was related to several European royal families.
In response, the Thule organised a citizens’ uprising as White troops entered the city on 1 May.

In 1918, the Thule Society bought a local weekly newspaper, ‘The Münchener Beobachter’ (Munich Observer), and changed its name to ‘Münchener Beobachter und Sportblatt’ (Munich Observer and Sports Paper) in an attempt to improve its circulation.
The Münchener Beobachter later became the ‘Völkischer Beobachter’ (People’s Observer), the main Nazi newspaper. It was edited by Karl Harrer.

Karl Harrer (8 October 1890 – 5 September 1926) was a German journalist and politician, one of the founding members of the “Deutsche Arbeiterpartei” (“German Workers’ Party”, DAP) in 1919, the party that later became the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP).
Harrer was also a member of the Thule Society, which gave him the task of founding a “Politischer Arbeiterzirkel” (“political workers’ circle”), an order he carried out together with Anton Drexler in October 1918.

On January 5, 1919, the DAP was formed, in which not only Harrer and Drexler but also Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart were involved.

Harrer became the party’s first chairman (adopting the title of “Reichsvorsitzender”); however, his plans to continue the DAP as a secret society similar to the Thule Society collided with Adolf Hitler’s, who had also joined the party.
Towards the end of 1919, their rivalry became more and more apparent; Harrer accused Hitler of megalomania, and ultimately resigned from all party offices and left the party after pressure from Hitler on January 5, 1920. The chairmanship passed first to vice chairman Drexler (right), and to Hitler himself in 1921.
On 5 January 1919 Anton Drexler, who had developed links between the Thule Society and various extreme right workers’ organizations in Munich, together with the Thule Society’s Karl Harrer, established the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP), or German Workers’ Party.
Adolf Hitler joined this party later in the same year.
By the end of February 1920, the DAP had been reconstituted as the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP), or National Socialist German Workers’ Party, generally known as the “Nazi Party”.
Sebottendorff had by then left the Thule Society, and never joined the DAP or the Nazi Party.

Early in 1920 Karl Harrer was forced out of the DAP as Hitler moved to sever the party’s link with the Thule Society, which subsequently fell into decline and was dissolved about five years later, well before Hitler came to power.
Rudolf von Sebottendorff had withdrawn from the Thule Society in 1919, but in 1933 he returned to Germany in the hope of reviving it.

In that year he published a book entitled ‘Bevor Hitler kam’ (Before Hitler Came), in which he claimed that the Thule Society had paved the way for the Führer: “Thulers were the ones to whom Hitler first came, and Thulers were the first to unite themselves with Hitler.”
This claim was not favourably received by the Nazi authorities: after 1933, esoteric organisations (including völkisch occultists) were suppressed, many closed down by anti-Masonic legislation in 1935.

Sebottendorff’s book was prohibited and he himself was arrested and imprisoned for a short period in 1934, afterwards departing into exile in Turkey.

Nonetheless, it demonstratebly true that many Thule members, and their ideas, were incorporated into the Third Reich.
Some of the Thule Society’s teachings were expressed in the books of Alfred Rosenberg (right), and many occult ideas found favour with Heinrich Himmler who had a great interest in mysticism.
And, of course, the swastika, first used in Völkisch circles by List, and symbol of the Thule Gesellschaft, became the emblem of the Third Reich.


The goal of Thule members was to break the barrier of the “small self” – consisting of physical reality and (upon promotion to their inner circle) moral constraints – so as to merge with the “divine self” in the unseen spirit realm.

That in turn allowed the initiate to reach the “universal energy fields” which would “awaken the sleeping powers within” and access superhuman psychic abilities which had once belonged to the proud Aryan race.
Attainment to this new level would lead to their thousand-year mastery over the earth.

Thulist powers were embodied in pagan deities, specifically Wotan; their symbols were the swastika (an ancient “rune” symbolizing the sun, the moving wheel of life and the process of transmutation – see left) and the eagle (which Sebottendorf defined as the symbol of the death-to-life experience).

The Thule Gesellschaft became increasingly political, and in 1918 established a political party, the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei DAP – (German Workers’ Party)

The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel “Fürstenfelder Hof” on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler (see left), a member of the occultist Thule Gesellschaft.
It developed out of the “Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden” (Free Workers’ Committee for a good Peace) which Drexler had also founded and led.
Its first members were mostly colleagues of Drexler’s from the Munich rail depot.
Drexler was encouraged to found the DAP by his mentor, Dr. Paul Tafel, a leader of the Alldeutscher Verband (Pan-Germanist Union), a director of the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg, also a member of the Thule Gesellschaft, and his wish was for a party which was both in touch with the masses and nationalist, unlike the middle class parties.
The initial membership was about forty people.
On March 24, 1919, Karl Harrer (a sports journalist and member of the Thule Society) joined the DAP to increase the influence of the Thule Society over the DAP’s activities, and the party name was changed to the “Political Workers’ Circle”.
The membership was as scarce as the original DAP’s and the meetings were reduced to the local beer houses.
This party was joined in 1919 by Adolf Hitler.
Adolf Hitler, then a corporal in the German army, was ordered to spy on the DAP on September 12, 1919 during one of its meetings at the Sterneckerbräu, a beer hall in the center of the city.
While there, he got into a violent argument with one guest.
Following this incident, Anton Drexler was impressed with Hitler’s oratory skills and invited him to join the party.
After some thinking, Hitler left the army and accepted the invitation, joining in late September.
At the time when Hitler joined the party there were no membership numbers or cards.

It was on January 1920 when a numeration was issued for the first time: listed in alphabetical order, Hitler received the number 555.
In reality he had been the 55th member, but the counting started at the number 501 in order to make the party appear larger.
Also, his claim that he was party member number 7, which would make him one of the founding members, is refuted, however, in his work ‘Mein Kampf’, Hitler claims that he received a membership card with the number 7.
After giving his first speech for the Party on October 16 in the Hofbräukeller, Hitler quickly rose up to become a leading figure in the DAP.
The small number of party members were quickly won over to Hitler’s political beliefs.
In an attempt to make the party more broadly appealing to larger segments of the population, the DAP was renamed on February 24, 1920 to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei NSDAP – (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) or Nazi Party.
The name was borrowed from a different Austrian party active at the time (Deutsche Nationalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei, German National Socialist Workers’ Party), although Hitler earlier suggested the party to be renamed the “Social Revolutionary Party”; it was Rudolf Jung who persuaded Hitler to follow the NSDAP naming.

The emblem of the new party was the black, straight-armed clockwise swastika (see right), on a white circle against a red ground – unlike the DAP, which used the curved armed, static swastika (see left), taken from the Thule Gesellschaft emblem.

Sebottendorf was also the owner of the ‘Völkischer Beobachter’, which Hitler bought in 1921. The paper was to become Hitler’s most important propaganda tool.

When Hitler joined the Society, Thule member Dietrich Eckart prophesied that the day had come; he began introducing him in Munich occult circles as “the long-awaited saviour”.
To Alfred Rosenberg he said: “I believe in Hitler; above him there hovers a star.”
Eckart was following his own mission revealed to him in a séance: that ‘the strong one from above’ (stark von obern) would soon make his appearance as a German messiah to “lead the Aryan race to final victory over the Jews”, he, Eckart, was charged with the responsibility of “nurturing” him.


Excerpt from ‘The Lord of the Harvest’ from


Völkisch Mysteries


It was from the ranks of those who had studied the works of Liebenfels (see right) and List (see right) that the founding members of the Thule Gesellschaft were drawn.

The Gesellschaft, or Group, was founded in 1918 by Rudolf Glauer, the son of an engine driver, from Dresden.
He had originally been a merchant seaman, who had travelled widely, eventually settling down in Turkey, where he worked as an engineer.

Glauer (see right) was initially interested in Theosophy and Freemasonry.
In 1901 he was initiated by a family of Greek-Jewish Freemasons into a lodge which is believed to have been affiliated to the French Rite of Memphis.
In Turkey, he became interested in numerology, kabbalah and Sufism (including secret mystical exercises still practised by Sufis of the Bektashi order – see right).
Speculations say he might have converted to Sufi Islam, although the evidence (from his own semi-autobiographical writings) is rather tenuous on this point.

In his autobiographical novel ‘Der Talisman des Rosenkreuzers’ (The Rosicrucian Talisman) (see left), Sebottendorff distinguishes between Sufi-influenced Turkish Masonry and conventional Masonry.

In his spare time read books on occult science and was particularly impressed by the teachings of Madame Blavatsky.

He set about recreating her Cosmology and origin of Races in terms of an anti-Semitic Nordic mythology, transforming the legend of Atlantis (see left), to be found in Blavatsky’s works, into the legend of Thule (see right).

By about 1912 he became convinced that he had discovered what he called “the key to spiritual realization”, described by a later historian as “a set of numerological meditation exercises that bear little resemblance to either Sufism or Masonry” (Sedgwick 2004: 66).

In addition to being a student of occult science, Glauer also dabbled in astrology (see left), and, like Gurdjieff, practised Sufi meditation.
The Thule Group itself derived from an earlier group known as the Germanen Order (see right), which was founded in 1912.
This order was founded by Theodor Fritsch, who was always reverently referred to as the ‘old teacher’ by the Nazi media, and Philip Stauff and Hermann Pohl, who were both disciples of von List.
The Germanen Order broke up in internal dissent in 1915, and it was not until 1918 that some of its original members were able to reform as the Thule Gesellschaft.

The Thule Gesellschaft (see left) had its headquarters in Munich, and superficially, appeared to be yet one more society, intent on the study of Runes and Sagas. To an extent this was true.

The Group was deeply involved in Nordic studies which it combined with Theosophical doctrines, and occult practices strongly influenced by methodology of Spiritualism.
The Group, however, had been born at a time of historical tumult, and unlike previous Volkisch societies, it had a definite political programme along with close connections with members of the Army and Freikorps (see right) (3).
It was during this period that a crucial link was forged between anti-Semitism and anti-Communism.
The Thule Gesellschaft, derived its anti-Semitism from List and Liebenfels, and more particularly from Madame Blavatsky (see left).

It was, however, an undisputed fact that many of the leading figures in the Communist uprisings, which immediately followed Germany’s defeat, were Jewish intellectuals, and that Marx (see right) (4) himself was Jewish.
It was, therefore, an easy matter for groups, such as the Thule Gesellschaft, to link the two phenomena together, and to see Communism as a barrier to the emergence of the hoped for ‘master race’ of super-human beings.
On the 6th of April, 1919 a Soviet Republic was declared in Munich, following the fall of the Hoffman Government.
The Communist regime was quickly overthrown by troops from the Reichwehr which had been dispatched from Berlin.
The Thule  Gesellschaft, seeing in the left wing takeover a Jewish conspiracy, was instrumental in assisting the army it its task.
As a result of this action the Army decided to offer the Thule Group both financial and political support, assisting it in the purchase of a newspaper, the ‘Munchener Beobachter’, which later won notoriety as the ‘Volkischer Beobachter’ (see right) (5).

(3) The Freikorps were private armies of ex-soldiers, usually commanded by their former officers. They originated in the Baltic states, where they fought against Russian Communists, Poles and Lithuanians who were attempting to take over areas formerly controlled by Germany. They were secretly funded by the regular German Army and were subsequently used by nationalist elements in the Army and Government to put down Left-wing revolution within the borders of Germany. The Freikorps were dissolved in 1921.

(4) Karl Heinrich Marx was born in 1818 at Treves. He studied at Bonn and Berlin Universities. Collaborating with Engles and in 1848 issued the ‘Communist Manifesto’. A year later he was expelled from Prussia and settled in London where he wrote ‘Das Capital’ which proclaimed a totally materialistic and atheistic view of life. He died in 1883.

(5) The ‘Volkisch Observer’ was purchased with Army funds. It was originally edited by Eckart, and on his death the editorship passed to Rosenberg. The paper was managed by Max Amann.

The Army was particularly concerned that the military defeat of 1918 had turned the working classes from their traditional support of the military and the Junkers (6), and had encouraged them to espouse socialism.
They hoped therefore, that the Thule Gesellschaft, as an apparently independent group, might be able to organise a working class movement which would bring the proletariat back to the nationalist, right-wing fold.

In 1919 the Thule Gesellschaft set up a workers organisation, which subsequently amalgamated with ‘The Committee of Independent Workers’, headed by Anton Drexler (see right), a railway engineer.

Independent, however, it certainly was not, being dependant upon the Thule Gesellschaft, in the fist instance.

The Thule Group was, of course, to a considerable extent, dependant upon the military, through their intermediary, Captain Ernst Rohm (see left).
The Thule Gesellschaft while having many members of little social standing, not a few of whom were cranks, it was also patronised by the rich and powerful.

Counted amongst its members were lawyers and intellectuals, members of the Bavarian aristocracy, the Bavarian minister of Justice, Franz Gurtner (see left) , the Police President of Munich, Pohner and Wilhelm Frick (see right), his deputy, who later became Reich Minister of the Interior. In addition two mysterious, wealthy Russian emigres Skoropadski and Bishupski, who had fled from the Bolsheviks in 1917 were also involved with the Group.

Amongst the  other members of the Thule Gesellschaft was Alfred Rosenberg, who was later to write ‘The Myth of the Twentieth Century’, and Rudolf Hess (7), a young student of Professor Haushofer.

The most enigmatic member of the Gesellschaft was Dietrich Eckart (see left).

Despite all the interest and controversy that has developed around this period of history, it is still remarkably difficult to discover any solid facts about this mysterious individual, whom Hitler described, in the final sentences of ‘Mein Kampf’ as ‘one of the best’.
Eckart was born in 1868.
He had originally studied law, but his involvement in student social life and his heavy drinking prevented him from obtaining his final Doctorate.

Like Gurdjieff (see right), he appears to have travelled widely in his youth, visiting Spain, North Africa and Italy, and it was during these travels that he first became interested in the occult.

He served in the German Army, as an officer, during the Great War, and, like Hitler, he was gassed, towards the end of hostilities.
For the rest of his life he suffered from respiratory problems which were eventually responsible for his premature death.
He was a poet and writer, having made a translation of Ibsen’s (see left) ‘Peer Gynt’, which was critically acclaimed, while at the same time writing numerous books and articles  on Nordic mythology and other volkisch subjects.

(6) Junkers: the hereditary Prussian landowners and the aristocracy.
(7) Rudolf Hess was born in 1894, at Alexandria in Egypt. He was the son of a wealthy German merchant. He served in the German Army in the same regiment as Hitler during the Great War. Immediately after the War he served in the Freikorps under Ritter von Epp. He subsequently attended Munich University, where he studied Geopolitics under Professor Karl Haushofer. When the National Socialists came to power he was appointed Deputy Fuhrer, and in May 1941 he made a mysterious flight to England, on the advice of Albrecht Haushofer, with the intention of forming an alliance between England and Germany. He was arrested and charged with ‘war crimes’. He died in mysterious circumstances in Spandau prison whilst serving a life sentence. Hess like Hitler was strongly influenced by astrological predictions and was a non-smoking, teetotal vegetarian who only used holistic medical techniques and herbal remedies.

In Munich Eckart published a weekly newspaper, entitled ‘Auf gut deutsch’, which was similar in content to the ‘Munchener Beobachter’, which Eckart would later edit, after it had been acquired by the National Socialist German Workers Party. Eckart’s involvement with the Thule Gesellschaft is difficult to pin down.
On the one hand he appears influential and yet, at the same time he often appears to act as if he were an outsider.
It appears, however, that it was Eckart who was responsible for the Thulist’s attempts to break through the veil of time, in a desperate attempt to discover what the future held in store for them.
They were living in desperate times and saw European, and particularly German civilisation crumbling around them.
After the defeat of the War, they now faced the creeping threat of communism and racial disintegration. Their dreams of completing the ‘great work’ seemed to be fading, and they looked to the future for reassurance.
Eckart, in an attempt to divine the future, used an uneducated peasant girl, who was apparently a natural medium.
Through her, the inner circle believed that they had made contact with  dead members of the group, who proceeded to prophecy the emergence of a leader who would lead Germany to both economic and spiritual recovery.

Perhaps it was wishful thinking on their part; regardless Eckart was on the lookout for this ‘German messiah’.
The Gesellschaft can be seen as the product of along process of development, beginning with the ancient Gnosticism of the Near East, and passing through many convolutions which include many of the individuals be have considered so far.
The Thule Gesellschaft, however, seemed to be waiting for someone to transform it and give it power.
That person proved to be Adolf Hitler !


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