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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Huge Stash of Nazi-Confiscated Masonic and Occult Books Discovered

The grand lodge building of the Norwegian Order of Freemasons in Oslo.

A collection of 13,000 books on occult subjects, including Freemasonry, were amassed by Nazi SS-Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler's forces during Germany's wartime occupation of Norway. The collection was stolen, in part, from the Norwegian Order of Freemasons' grand lodge library in Oslo. 

Shortly after the war ended, the collection was put into a storage building near Prague, Czechoslovakia.  In 1948, the Communists took power, and as part of the Warsaw Pact nations, they were effectively lost behind the Iron Curtain for many years.  Even after Czechoslovakia's opening to the West, they remained hidden away without any record since the 1950s.

These were just a small part of an enormous library of works on Masonic, occult, esoteric and witchcraft subjects that were confiscated throughout occupied Europe by a division of the Nazi SS.

From a story on the Prague Post website:


Books on witchcraft and the occult collected by SS chief Heinrich Himmler were found in a storage depot near Prague used by the Czech National Library.
The depot has not been accessed since the 1950s, according to UK tabloid the Daily Mail, which cited Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang. 
Bjørn Helge Horrisland, a Norwegian Freemason historian, told Verdens Gang he was involved in identifying some of the books. “Many of them belonged to the central Norwegian Order of Freemasons library in Oslo,” he said.
The collection of books totals some 13,000 volumes, some 6,000 of which allegedly came from a library of books owned by the Norwegian Order of Freemasons. The Masonic library [was] seized by Nazis when Norway was occupied during World War II.
Himmler began amassing the collection in 1935 and had a strong interest in the occult, He had a special unit within the SS to collect and manage information on witchcraft.
Many of the books deal with witchcraft trials in Germany, and Himmler reportedly believed that the trials were part of historical plot to weaken the Germans. He also claimed to be descended from a witch that was executed.
 Himmler also believed that knowledge of the occult could be used to benefit the Third Reich.
The books were not meant for Prague but for Wewelsburg Castle in Germany. Himmler intended to make that castle a modern-day Camelot with a round table of SS officers in the place of knights. Himmler signed a 100-year lease on the triangular castle in 1934. The building is now a museum.
The books will now be examined by scholars, and a Norwegian TV company is planning a documentary.
The project to recover the library of books received European Economic Area funds from Norway and is a result of a cooperation between Stiftelsen Arkivet, the National Library of Norway and the Czech National Library, according to Norwegian new server TheLocal.no.
Himmler's interest in collecting occult items has been well-documented and has inspired works of fiction including the 1981 film 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.'
Himmler was captured May 21, 1945. He committed suicide with a cyanide capsule May 23 and was buried in an unmarked grave near near Lüneburg, Germany. The exact location is not known.

In 1935, Himmler founded the Ahnenerbe Forschungs-und Lehrgemeinschaft (the Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society), to use the methods of science to bend history and archeology enough to back up the Nazis’ racial and cultural policies. (In the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Nazi group looking for the Ark of the Covenant is supposed to be a contingent of Ahnenerbe archeologists.)

The tales of Himmler's alleged fascination with the occult have waxed and waned over the years. The Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) was formed in 1939 as part of the SS, combined with the SD, and was subordinate to Himmler.  It's purpose was to fight all enemies of the Reich both inside and outside of Germany.  It eventually grew to become a massive bureaucracy with close to one hundred sub-sections, divided into seven main divisions. Amt II was headed up by SS-Brigadefuhrer Professor Franz Albert Six, and was dedicated to "Ideological Investigation." 


Not long afterwards, Amt II was reorganized and split off as Amt VII for "Ideological Research and Evaluation," again headed by Franz Six (and after 1943 by SS-Obersturmbannführer Paul Dittel.) Their mission was partially to create anti-semetic and anti-Masonic propaganda, as well as surveying occupied Nazi population's public opinion.


Modern scholarship has dug into captured Nazi documents long held by Warsaw Pact countries, which have revealed Amt VII's other activities, including the collection of stolen  esoteric libraries. They also, allegedly, created an extensive card catalog on publications and other resources regarding witchcraft, a special interest of Himmler's (it was long whispered that a relative of his had been burned at the stake for being a witch). 


After the Soviets took parts of Berlin, and Germany was divided into East and West after the war, many of the records and books from their confiscation of occult, esoteric and Masonic libraries eventually wound up in Russia, the Silesia region of Poland, and Czechoslovakia, and were not researched until the 1990's.

In 2002, 750 crates of Masonic objects and papers stolen from occupied lodges and Grand Lodges across Europe and held by the Russian Military State Archive were delivered to the Museum of Freemasonry of the Grand Orient of France in Paris. These included membership lists that were used to help round up Freemasons to be sent to concentration camps. (The entire library of the Grand Orient of France was confiscated when the Nazis occupied Paris, and the books were taken to Berlin and subsequently burned.) 

A lengthy work, Restitution of Confiscated Art Works - Wish Or Reality?, was published in Czechoslovakia in 2008 as a collection of presentations from a conference in the city of Liberec. Buried in it are several references to the RSHA Amt VII unit's activities in assembling a vast library on the occult, witchcraft, esoteric, and Masonic books, eventually estimated to be in excess of 160,000 volumes:


Most of the books that traversed Sudeten crossroads had been held before August 1943 as part of the RSHA Amt VII (Seventh Office) library in Berlin, seized by the SD Main Office (Hauptamt) and the Gestapo starting in 1936. With the merger of the security services in late 1939, most of the collected books and archives preserved by the SD Main Office came under control of the newly formed RSHA Amt II (Second Office), headed by SS-Brigadeführer Franz Alfred Six, charged with investigation of political opponents (Gegnerforschung).
Starting in December 1941, Six organized the Seventh Office (Amt VII), specially for “Ideological Research and Evaluation” (Welt- anschauliche Forschung und Auswertung), split off from the other more  operational offices. Having inherited most of the SD/RSHA library and archival loot, Amt VII was responsible for organizing the RSHA library and archival centers, although some of the books went to other RSHA units. Most of the Amt VII staff, which Six headed until 1943, were members of the SS. Most of the books and archives were held in the buildings of two liquidated Masonic lodges the Gestapo had commandeered (Emserstrasse 12/13, and Eisenacherstasse 11/13), although some were stored in other depots in Berlin. From the spring of 1943, SS-Obersturmbannführer Paul Dittel, who from the start had been particularly involved with the collected Masonic materials, was the last head of Amt VII. Yet his title remained “acting,” indicative of the reduced importance and “mysterious twilight” of that unit towards the end of the war, as he made clear to his British interrogators afterwards.
During the Cold War, little was known about Amt VII, because its major surviving records were not publicly accessible. The Soviets found many SD Main Office administrative files among the massive RSHA-plundered archives they captured in Silesia (Wölfelsdorf), along with those of later Amt VII operations, and they seized a few more in the bombed-out RSHA Eisenacherstasse building in Berlin. Some of those files they passed on to the Stasi in the 1950s, and those are now being processed with other Stasi RSHA holdings by the Bundesarchiv in Berlin. Others were captured in Silesia by the Poles, came out of hiding in 1989, and were traded to the Bundesarchiv in 1997. However, many important SD Main Office and subsequent RSHA Amt VII files remain in Moscow, not all of them open for research. Combining clues from documents now in Moscow and Berlin provides hitherto unknown revelations about RSHA library operations, especially those in the Sudeten castles.
[SNIP]
Alleged occult elements in the Nazi ideology and Himmler’s interest in neo-paganism and Masonic rituals have aroused widespread interest since the defeat of the National Socialist regime. Even the History TV Channel produced a documentary on“Hitler and the Occult,”suggesting what would seemingly be a sensationalist theme. The popular internet Wikipedia suggests that ‘Nazism and Occultism’ is usually “a topic for sensational authors in pursuit of strong sales,” but it prominently cites Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, and his serious Oxford doctoral thesis on the Austrian Arisophists. Other important scholarly studies have analyzed occult themes in Nazi circles, especially under Heinrich Himmler, and the Masonic Library, confiscated from one of the alleged ‘enemies of the regime,’ was one of the most important components in the RSHA Amt VII holdings. Himmler’s interest in witchcraft and the supernatural was highlighted in Amt VII’s special unit devoted to Witchcraft (C 3), Sonderauftrag H, and Himmler’s card file on witches (Hexenkartothek), all of which are well documented. Reportedly, the materials gathered for the Witchcraft unit were sent to Schlesiersee [in Poland] with the Masonic collections, rather than the Sudeten castles, and that unit had ceased to function by the time of evacuation.
In the Sudeten castles, on the other hand, we find Amt VII SS specialists busily sorting and cataloguing occult literature, which the SD Main Office and Amt VII library had been collecting. Suddenly, that section of the library assumed a major prominence, and a top- secret project was launched on its basis—another important example of Nazi preoccupation with the occult. 

Himmler saw the SS as a kind of reimagining of the of the chivalric Teutonic Order, who were originally founded  in 1190, much like the Templars, to protect crusading pilgrims to the Holy Land.


Wewelsburg castle in Germany


He came to the town of Buren in the Westphalia region of western Germany in 1934, and took over the imposing castle of Wewelsburg. The castle was to become the center of a college for new SS officers and Himmler’s own elite Knightly Order. The castle became the place of initiation of his new order and the new spiritual center of the Nazi paganism that was based on Germanic legends. Ahnenerbe’s headquarters were based in Wewelsburg Castle.

Himmler planned very big. His goal was to make the surrounding village a complete SS colony, only for members of the SS and their families. In 1939, a concentration camp was established to provide 3,900 prisoners to work on the project. More than 1,200 were worked or starved to death building Himmler’s dream.


Himmler saw Wewelsburg as his own private Camelot which, of course, needed a Round Table for its knights. In the north tower, a round chamber was constructed, with a sunken area in the floor and a round, oak table.

There were just twelve seats around it, for the top dozen officers of the SS. In the domed ceiling a stylized, golden swastika set in stone can still be seen today, modified with the symbol of the SS at each corner. A different subterranean round chamber immediately below it was to be a crypt for the ashes of all dead SS members, complete with an eternal flame. Another one of Himmler’s goals was to find the Holy Grail, and a special room in the castle was set aside for the Grail when it was found.

The Nazis went to great lengths to engineer an elaborate explanation that Jesus was descended from Jacob, who, they said, was not Jewish at all, but an Aryan. Another part of Ahnenerbe’s mission was to prove the origin of the Aryans, and they even sent archeological expeditions to India, Tibet to seek evidence of the earliest appearance of their “Master Race”.

As a footnote to this post, I came across a brief account of Freemasonry in Norway under the Occupation, and especially about the grand lodge building in Oslo. From Freemasonry Under The Nazis by David Lewis, published in 2012:

When Norway was invaded in 1940 the Masonic temple in Oslo was converted to an army barracks and the order dissolved. Major Vidkun Quisling, the Nazi collaborator, had Freemasonry as point no. 1 for action on his agenda and emptied Masonic buildings and destroyed some of them. The main Temple in Oslo was converted to officers’ quarters but, according to one brother who visited it recently, amazingly it was not vandalised -- the only one in Europe known to have been left untouched by the Nazis. A number of masons were murdered. When he was tried after the war his trial, ironically, took place in a former Masonic temple before he was convicted and shot. 


“I was personally involved in identifying some of the books. Many of them belonged to the central Norwegian Order of Freemasons library in Oslo,” Bjørn Helge Horrisland, a Norwegian Freemason historian, told VG.

1 comment:

  1. Most of our European members in Le Droit Humain request to remain anonymous and not to be photographed due to the Nazi purge. Even though some are also like this in the American Federation, most are bold in their American form of the Craft.

    ReplyDelete

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