The Thule Gesellschaft
In 1918, Rudolf Freiherr von Sebottendorf established its Munich branch.
The group was named after a mythical northern country from Greek legend.
‘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.
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 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.
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.
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.
‘THE END OF AN AGE’
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
The Communist regime was quickly overthrown by troops from the Reichwehr which had been dispatched from Berlin.
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.
The Thule Group was, of course, to a considerable extent, dependant upon the military, through their intermediary, Captain Ernst Rohm (see left).
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.
The most enigmatic member of the Gesellschaft was Dietrich Eckart (see left).
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 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.
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.
That person proved to be Adolf Hitler !