The Nuremberg Rallies

RallyThe Nuremberg Rally was a periodic massive Nazi Party congresses held in 1923, 1927, 1929 and annually from 1933 through 1938 in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) in Bavaria. For obvious reasons, no rallies were held after the outbreak of World War II in 1939. As rallies were held in September (near the time of the Autumnal equinox), the 1939 rally was canceled.

The rallies were primarily powerful (very powerful, actually) propaganda events, carefully staged to reinforce party enthusiasm and to showcase the power of National Socialism to the rest of Germany and the world.

After 1933, rallies were held at specially constructed Nazi party rally grounds that covered about 11 square kilometers in the southeast of Nuremberg. Many documentaries were made to commemorate them, the most famous of which is Leni Riefenstahl’s The Victory of Faith and Triumph of the Will (which became a very powerful propaganda tool in itself).

The Victory of Faith was the first propaganda documentary directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Her film recounts the Fifth Party Rally of the Nazi Party, which occurred in Nuremberg from 30 August to 3 September 1933.

The documentary showed Adolf Hitler and Ernst Röhm on close and intimate terms – something that after the latter was shot on the orders of the former, Adolf Hitler did not want to be reminded about. So all known copies of the film were destroyed, and it was considered lost until a copy turned up in the 1990s in the United Kingdom.

The elements that marked all rallies were powerful and imposing: blaring Wagnerian overtures, stirring martial songs, banners, goose-step marches, human swastika formations, torchlight processions, bonfires, and magnificent fireworks displays.

Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders delivered lengthy orations, which often announcements of new Nazi directions. For example, in 1935 the racist Nürnberg Laws were promulgated at the corresponding rallies.

Buildings were festooned with enormous flags and Nazi insignia. The climax of the rallies was the solemn consecration of the colors, in which new flags were touched by the Blutfahne (“Blood Flag”).

Nuremberg rallies were very efficient tools for energizing the entire nation, uniting it around the Nazi Party and its Führer, instilling loyalty and obedience to Nazi regime (and personally Adolf Hitler), admiration and adoration of The Führer and providing powerful inspiration to make the maximum possible contribution to the victory in existential war against the “alien races”.


The Tool of Reichswehr

Although the DAP was created by the Thule Society, there was another, a far more powerful organization interested in using it as a powerful tool to sway the German proletariat away from Communism, which had become highly influential following the German Revolution.

The German Army. The Reichswehr (more accurately, the Reichsheer).

According to the official Nazi version, after the lecture delivered by Gottfried Feder (the future chief economic advisor of NSDAP), Adolf Hitler was about to leave.

But he suddenly heard an invited guest, a one Professor Baumann, attack Feder and then speak in favor of Bavarian separatism. A diehard Pan-German nationalist, Hitler simply could not let it pass. He intervened so heatedly that Baumann, totally deflated, took his hat and left even while Hitler was still speaking, looking ‘like a wet poodle’.

The Party Chairman, Anton Drexler, was so impressed by Hitler’s oratorical abilities, that he made him a party member without the latter even applying for membership.

According to Adolf Hitler, within a week of attending the meeting, he then received a postcard informing him that he had been accepted as a member, and should attend a committee meeting of the party a few days later to discuss the matter.

After a few days of indecision he finally made up his mind to join. What determined him was the feeling that such a small organization offered ‘the individual an opportunity for real personal activity’ – the prospect, that is, of quickly making his mark and dominating it.

Reality was quite different. According to Captain Mayr, Hitler’s boss at that time, he had ordered Hitler to join the DAP to help foster its growth and eventually take control of the party. Making it essentially one of the political tools of the Reichswehr.

Consequently, Drexler or no Drexler, postcard or no postcard, Hitler had no other choice but to (1) join the DAP; (2) make it grow – and grow real fast; and (3) ultimately take control of the party and become its Führer.

Money talks – and the gold money talks loud and clear. Captain Mayr’s order was supported with a generous weekly allowance of twenty gold German Marks. In addition to this (for all practical purposes) salary of an undercover Army agent, he was allowed to keep substantial speaker’s fees.

This income allowed him – in contrast to the other DAP leaders who had to work full-time elsewhere to support themselves– to devote all his time to political activities.

Hitler was also allowed to stay in the Army which was not just highly unusual – it was downright illegal (Reichswehr soldiers were forbidden by law to join political parties). He will be officially discharged from the Army only six months later – on March 31st, 1920.

Nazis were always very secretive (to put it mildly) about the sources of their finances but it will be safe to assume that the Reichswehr essentially bankrolled the NSDAP during the first crucial months of its existence by provided the “seed money” for its rapid growth. Thus making the German Army one of the “midwives” of the latter and of Adolf Hitler as a politician.

This “seed money” and the whole “Adolf Hitler project” created an uneasy alliance between NSDAP and Reicshwehr (subsequently with the Wehrmacht) which will last until the end of the World War II and thus until the demise of the Third Reich. Alliance where the Reichswehr was soon forced to accept Hitler and the Nazis as equal partners and later – after he obtained the (almost) absolute power in Germany – as a senior partner.


The Mentor

Most likely, by the time he joined the DAP in September 1919, Adolf Hitler already had the feeling that his great and glorious Mission was to become the leader and of Germany. But to get the confirmation of this feeling from an influential individual was a different matter entirely.

He got this conformation from Dietrich Eckart – a German journalist, playwright, poet, and politician who was one of the founders of the DAP – who became a “political mentor” for Adolf Hitler and even took part in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.

Eckart was a highly successful playwright, especially with his 1912 (openly nationalistic and anti-Semitic) adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt”, one of the best attended productions of the age with more than 600 performances in Berlin alone.

This success not only made Eckart wealthy, but gave him the social contacts that he later used to introduce Hitler to dozens of influential German citizens. These introductions proved to be pivotal in Hitler’s ultimate rise to power.

Later on, Eckart developed an ideology of a “genius superman”, based on writings of Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels. Months before Eckart met Hitler, he wrote a poem in which he anticipated the coming of “the Great One,” “the Redeemer”.

He was not a formal member of the Thule Society, but nevertheless was deeply involved in its activities. Interestingly enough, the Society as a whole also believed in the coming of a “German Messiah” who would redeem Germany after its defeat in World War I.

They found their “genius superman”, their “Messiah”, their “Redeemer” in Adolf Hitler. Consequently, Eckart did everything in his power to help the latter launch his political career and establish the firm theoretical foundation for the Nazi party.

To raise funds for the Party, Eckart introduced Hitler into influential German circles. Through Eckart, Hitler met Alfred Rosenberg (who introduced him to the writings of Houston Stewart Chamberlain – later referred to as “Hitler’s John the Baptist”) and to his future etiquette tutor, socialite Helene Bechstein. Thus, Dietrich Eckart became another “midwife” of Hitler’s political career.

On 9 November 1923, Eckart participated in the failed Beer Hall Putsch. He was arrested and placed in Landsberg Prison along with Hitler and other putschists, but was released shortly thereafter due to his poor health. He died of a heart attack in Berchtesgaden on 26 December 1923.

Eckart was held in high esteem by the Nazis (he was even called “the spiritual father of National Socialism”). During the Nazi period, several monuments and memorials were created to Eckart. Hitler even dedicated the second volume of Mein Kampf to Eckart.


The DAP and the DSP

To be on the safe side, the Thule Society created not one, but two political parties– the German Workers’ Party (DAP) and the German Socialist Party (DSP). Subsequently, it proved to be a wise decision.

Both parties were essentially clones of each other as they were designed as bridges between the esoteric ideology of the Thule Society and “the masses”. Both aimed to win the allegiance of the German proletariat away from communism, which had become highly influential following the German Revolution of 1918.

The DAP was founded in Munich in the hotel “Fürstenfelder Hof” on January 5, 1919 by Anton Drexler who was once a member of the short-lived German Fatherland Party (DVP) which played a vital role in the emergence of the stab-in-the-back myth and the defamation of certain politicians as the “November Criminals”.

Like the DAP two years later, it was backed by a nationalist organization – Pan-German League – which had a lot in common with the Thule Society. However, it apparently had little interest in a radical transformation of a German society (and thus in the establishment of a powerful political party).

Consequently, although DVP did have some very powerful members – Wolfgang Kapp (of the Kapp Putsch fame), Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (a naval minister),  Walter Nicolai, head of the German military intelligence and media baron Alfred Hugenberg) and at the peak of its popularity boasted over 1 million members, it soon fell apart and was officially dissolved on December 10, 1918. Most of its members later joined the German National People’s Party (DNVP), the major right-wing party of the Weimar Republic.

Undeterred by this failure, Drexler decided to try again – this time with the backing of the Thule Society of which he was a member. He obtained the support of his mentor – Dr. Paul Tafel – who was a leader of the Pan-Germanist League (one of those members who were still interested in establishing a political party), a director of the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg – and a prominent member of the Thule Society.

Having received this important blessing (and obviously a pledge of some financial support), he joined forces with three other members of the Thule Society – Karl Harrer, Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart (the latter will subsequently become the mentor to Adolf Hitler after the latter joined the DAP).

Harrer was a German journalist and politician who was “commissioned” by the Thule Society to try and politically influence German workers in Munich after the end of World War I. Later he became the editor-in-chief of the Völkischer Beobachter.

Feder was a German civil engineer, a self-taught economist who subsequently became the chief economic adviser of the Nazi Party. According to Adolf Hitler, it was one of his lectures that made him join the party in September 1919.

However, the DAP was initially far less successful than even the DVP. On May 17, only ten members were present at the meeting and only 38 attended a meeting in August. When Adolf Hitler joined the party in September 1919, he was only the 55th member.

German Socialist Party was founded in 1918 by Alfred Brunner (an engineer), Philipp Stauff (theosophist) and Professor Heinrich Kraeger. It was backed by the Thule Society and sponsored in part by Hans Georg Grassinger – the editor-in-chief of “Münchener Beobachter”.

Alfred Brunner aimed to create a party that would be both nationalist, socialist and attractive to the German proletariat. Which made it essentially a copycat of DAP the only difference being purely geographic – DAP was based in Munich while DSP initially existed in only in Nuremberg and around Franconia (it later expanded to Düsseldorf, Kiel, Frankfurt am Main and Dresden).

Eventually, DSP will be led by Julius Streicher – the future publisher of Der Stürmer – the official NSDAP weekly and one of the key elements of the Nazi propaganda machine.

It did not help DSP much, though – by the end of 1920 it had only 7,000 members. Party leaders tried to negotiate the merger with NSDAP but the merger did not go through. In late 1922, party was officially dissolved with many officers and members following Streicher to the NSDAP.

The key reason why the party (and the merger talks) failed was Adolf Hitler. In 1919, prior to attending the DAP meeting, he applied for membership in DSP but was rejected. It was a colossal blunder that ultimately killed the German Socialist Party (and brought NSDAP to an absolute power in Germany).


Völkischer Beobachter

In 1918, the Thule Society bought a local weekly newspaper, the Münchener Beobachter (“Munich Observer”) – an anti-Semitic semi-weekly scandal-oriented newspaper.

In an attempt to improve its circulation (apparently, anti-Semitic scandals by themselves were not that popular at that time), its name was changed to Münchener Beobachter und Sportblatt (“Munich Observer and Sports Paper”).

In August 1919, in an attempt to make it a nationwide newspaper (which it ultimately became), and to stress its ideological foundation, the Society changed the name of its newspaper again – to Völkischer Beobachter (“Populist Observer”).

It did not help much to improve its finances (völkisch ideas by themselves were apparently not that popular either – or the newspaper staff was simply grossly incompetent) and by the end of 1920 the paper was heavily in debt and thus on the verge of bankruptcy.

The dying newspaper was saved by the Nazis. Major Ernst Röhm and Dietrich Eckart (one of the founders of DAP) persuaded Röhm’s commanding officer, Major General Franz Ritter von Epp, to purchase the Völkischer Beobachter in December 1920, for the NSDAP from the Thule Society for 60,000 marks.

It was never definitively established where von Epp got the money, but it almost certainly came from secret army funds. Which proved beyond the reasonable doubt that German Reichswehr was one of the “midwives” of the Nazi movement.  

In 1921, Adolf Hitler, who had taken full control of the NSDAP earlier that year and became its Führer, acquired all shares in the newspaper, making him the sole owner of the publication. Subsequently he made it an official newspaper of the Nazi Party.



The Thule Society (part II)

Every political organization, by definition, pursues certain political objectives. And the fundamental objective, obviously, is to obtain sufficient political power to achieve all other objectives. And the Thule Society was no exception.

Its fundamental objective was to do away with the existing order (i.e. with the political, economic and social system) and replace it with the “ideal society”. Von Sebottendorff was an ardent admirer of Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels (founders of Ariosophy obsessed with the notion of Aryan racial superiority) so there was little (if any) doubt about how that ideal society was to look like.

It was to be dominated by the Aryan race, doing away with fear of the “inferior races” for good. The latter were to be either expelled (or even eliminated) altogether (like the Jews), or were to become servants or even slaves of the “master race”.

In the very beginning of XX century, von Sebottendorff for several years lived in Turkey. In 1911 he became a citizen of the Ottoman Empire and even fought for his new homeland in the First Balkan War of 1912-13.

At that time he came in close contact with the wing of the Young Turks, whose neo-pagan racism, expressed in its program of creating an “ethnically pure” Turkish homeland and its adoration of an idealized Turkish past, resulted in the twentieth century’s first genocide outside of colonial Africa – the mass murder of over 1.5 million of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian subjects in 1915-16.

It is not known for sure if von Sebottendorff discussed these experiences with Adolf Hitler, but it is quite plausible that he did and thus planted the seeds of what would become one of the worst (if not the worst) genocides in human history

To ensure its permanent superiority over the “inferior races” (and to ensure the highest level of happiness), the “master race” must be carefully bred using the most efficient tools of eugenics (in their opinion, psychological was always defined by physical, not the other way around).

To provide the “master race” with the necessary emotional and spiritual nourishment, it had to be provided with the neo-pagan ersatz-religion complete with dogmas, belief system, sacred texts, mantras, symbols, rituals, priesthood, etc.

This religion will also be used to control the population (control over the emotional and spiritual nourishment can be even more efficient than control over physical nourishment).

To transform the existing society (political, economic and social system) into an ideal one, two key tools were needed: (1) a secret society of powerful people who will control (2) a political party that will appeal to large segments of the (Aryan) population – a “bridge” between the esoteric Aryan ideology and the working class.

Von Sebottendorff and other leaders of the Thule Society made only one strategic mistake – but a fatal one. They thought that they could control their baby – the DAP – and its leadership. They were dead wrong.

After Adolf Hitler became the leader of DAP (soon renamed NSDAP) he almost immediately established full control over the party, unceremoniously pushing aside the Thule Society and its leaders and completely severing the link between these two organizations. And thus delivering a mortal blow to the Society.

With its raison d’être gone, the fell into decline and was dissolved about five years later – well before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. Von Sebottendorff returned to his beloved Turkey (his new homeland), but in 1933 came back to Germany, hoping to revive the Thule Society.

The same year he published a book “Before Hitler Came”, in which he claimed (correctly) that the Thule Society had paved the way for the Nazis and their Führer.

Predictably, this claim was not favorably received by the Nazis (Adolf Hitler did not tolerate “any gods before him”). After they obtained absolute power in Germany in 1933, esoteric organizations were suppressed (including völkisch occultists), and many closed down by anti-Masonic legislation passed in 1935.

Adolf Hitler publicly mocked the German Workers’ Party and allied völkisch forerunners, disparaging their activities as “club life of the worst manner and sort,” dismissing them as barely worthy of comment:

I shall not even speak of the unworldliness of those folkish Saint Johns of the twentieth century or their ignorance of the popular soul

Von Sebottendorff’s book was banned and he himself was arrested and imprisoned for a short period in 1934, afterwards departing into exile in Turkey where he worked as an intelligence agent for the Abwehr – German military intelligence.

On May 8th of 1945, after hearing the news of the demise of Germany’s defeat in World War II, its unconditional surrender and the demise of the Third Reich, von Sebottendorff’ committed suicide. In a very romantic fashion – by jumping into the waters of the Bosphorus Strait.

Although there is no evidence that he even attended the meetings of the Thule Society (let alone been its member), Adolf Hitler subsequently used the key elements of the teachings of the Thule Society (“master race”, eugenics, the need for the ersatz-religion) and its symbol – the swastika. However, he developed essentially his own teachings and his own neo-pagan quasi-religion (national-socialism).

Nevertheless, it is quite possible that he was aware of “all of the above” long before he became a member of DAP (most likely, from reading the Ostera magazine during his Vienna years).

Still, he once said (and probably more than once):

Anyone who understands National Socialism only as a political movement knows virtually nothing about it. It is even more than religion, it is the will to a new creation of man


The Thule Society (part I)

The Thule Society owes its existence to two fundamental feelings – acute emotional and spiritual hunger and xenophobia (i.e. fear of West European national elites of losing some of their power to “alien nations” – especially Slavs and Jews).

By the beginning of XX century, the Christian Church transformed itself into an insular bureaucracy no longer capable to provide emotional and spiritual nourishment to the citizens of Europe.

Nourishment that they badly needed in the emotionally and spiritually empty (and even hostile) increasingly industrial and secular society. And the egalitarian Christian message of universal equality was definitely not something that the nationalist and racist elites of Germany, Austria and other nations wanted to hear.

Consequently, they started to look elsewhere for the sources of emotional and spiritual nourishment and for an alternative religion that they can use as a powerful tool to radically change the increasingly hostile world and to secure their dominant position in their societies – for thousands of years.

They looked both East – at India, China and other nations that produced spiritually and emotionally powerful pagan religions and into their own past – at pre-Christian pagan religions of Europe (first and foremost, at German religions – by far the most powerful and successful). And created secret (or not-so-secret) societies to study, promote and use these religions for the abovementioned purposes.

There were many such societies in Europe in 1917, when the Thule Society was created as the Munich branch of the Berlin-based Germanenorden (the secret völkisch and occult society founded seven years earlier).

However, only the Thule Society became determined, daring and powerful enough to actually do something to change the status quo and to create what essentially amounted to an alternative civilization, radically different from the existing political, economic and social order.

And it ultimately succeeded, although by that time the Thule Society was long gone. “The Moor did his job – now the Moor can go”.

Venture capitalists often say that there are three key success factors for a business venture – management, management and management. Exactly the same can be rightfully said about a political venture as well.

Thule Society owes its outstanding success to its founder and leader – a charismatic, enigmatic and energetic Adam Alfred Rudolf Glauer, better known as Rudolf Freiherr von Sebottendorff (and sometimes as Erwin Torre).

A writer, occultist, political activist and even (later in life) an intelligent agent, this colorful character was pursued a wide and eclectic (to put it mildly) system of spiritual practices. He was a Freemason (and possibly a convert to Islam) and a practitioner of Sufism, meditation, astrology, numerology, and alchemy – among “other things”.

In 1916 he joined the schismatic offspring of the Germanenorden – the Germanenorden Walvater of the Holy Grail – and a few months later became the Master of its Bavarian chapter. Which was later renamed the Thule Society after the mythical land located by Greco-Roman geographers in the farthest north (“the edge of the known world”).

In that position he demonstrated impressive management, leadership and recruiting capabilities, increased membership from about a hundred in 1917 to 1,500 (250 of them in Munich) by the fall of the following year.

But it was the quality, not the quantity of recruits that made the Thule Society a highly successful political organization and the force to be reckoned with. During the Bavarian revolution of April 1919, it was just about the only organization in Munich that fought from day one against the Communist government of Bavarian Soviet Republic.

Historian Heinrich Hillmayr wrote:

Only one organization, the Thule Society, had enough will to try to do away with the new government by force. They were seriously preoccupied with the question of how to create political and military conditions in which the Left and Soviet governments could be deposed, and did not hesitate to leave the cover of legality

Communists obviously were not happy about it at all and on April 26th, 1919, BSR stormtroopers raided the society’s premises and took seven of its members as hostages. In response, the Thule Society organized a citizens’ uprising (no small feat) and brought in a Freikorps division (no small feat either) that together with Reichswehr and Freikorps units other liberated the city from Communism on May 1st.