Saturday, September 09, 2006

Aryan Gods from Hyperborea

Otto Sigfrid Reuter has obtained in recent years the dubious sobriquet of, together with Hermann Wirth, the founding father of Nazi Archaelogy. Reuter (1876 - 1945) was a staunch Ariosophist and founder of several Aryan-Christian orders such as the Deutschglaubige Gemeinschaft and the Germanische Glaubensgemeinschaft, founded in 1911 and 1912 respectively. The aim of these orders was the fusion of blood and religion, hence, membership was restricted to "true Aryans". Some have it that these orders still exist today.

Reuter's reputation rests predominantly on his book Germanische Himmelskunde (German Sky Lore), published in 1934. The idea behind his orders was to rid Christianity of the Jewish influences to make it more digestible for Germans. Reuter's book Sigfrid oder Christus? Ein Kampfruf (Sigfrid or Christ? A Battle Cry), published in 1908, reflects his philosophy. Highly succesful, it was reprinted in 1910.

His next book, Das Ratsel der Edda und der Arische Urglaube (The Riddle of the Edda and the Ancient Religion of the Aryans), published in 1921, 1922 and 1923, was a continuation of his ideas. Reuter believed in the reality of the Edda 'like a maniac' as one authority has it. This was one of the reasons why Reuter left various nationalist and racist German orders which stood at the cradle of National Socialism. It appears that Reuter could not tolerate ideas that were not of his own.

Otto Sigfrid Reuter on his 60th birthday as published in Mannus, issue 28, 1936, found here.

Reuter's philosophy was based on the study of the Edda was that the oldest human culture had come from a Germanic North. The idea of a world axis - the Axis Mundi or Irminsul, the column that supports heaven -was invented by the Germans and the names of all the constellations were based on ancient German science that had its origin aeons before our time. He also believed that the divine was to be found within the German race. Reuter died on 5 April 1945 by heart attack. Allied bombs had wrecked his home earlier. With him perished his dreams of a prehistoric Aryan supercivilisation that had encoded its secret wisdom in the stars, in the Gotterdammerung of the Third Reich.

Das Ratsel der Edda und der Arische Urglaube, 1922, page 48.

But all this does not do Reuter’s book justice. Reading the antiquated Fraktur Schrift is like visiting another world, far removed from the shallow modernity of our times. I wonder how many of us have read the book; I found no recent scholarly assessment or critical treaty of its contents. Reuter’s book is full of strange ideas and should be placed in the larger context of ultra-conservative illuminated literature. Reuter’s interpretations of the ‘Nordic Rock paintings’ (see pages 47-48) can be considered as a forerunner of the school of ancient astronauts. Reuter writes:

“Opposed to that, examining the rock drawings… we must notice:
1. .. a general bird headedness, that seems to point to their flying nature;
2. their floating composure;
3. their mostly uplifted hands, often extra sized;
4. the connection of these figures with circles, many sliding coils, ships and chariots;
5. the interspersion of the images with numerous single and grouped points, which are replaced in some images with radiant stars;
6. the connection of the figures and companions with these single or grouped together standing points or stars;
7. the absence of house images and earthly needs.

Reuter concludes by writing that ‘it is not about earthly, but heavenly paintings and representations of gods.’ Radiant stars, godly beings and heavenly chariots as sacred Germanic lore. Reuter on page 49:

“ The images of the ships. We know from ancient times that the sun and the moon were accosted as ships of the heavens, which sail away on the sea of heaven. The depiction of such ships is not only known to the southern and eastern peoples, but also to the Germans (as Tacitus reports). Even in the Edda one finds an elaborate entry on this…”

Reuter's 'Germanic Worldview' as depicted in his Das Ratsel der Edda und der Arische Urglaube, 1922, page 87.

I acquired an original edition of Reuter’s book years ago, but its extremely brittle paper and worn out leather binding gave me concerns in regards to preserving this unique artefact of a bygone era. Fortunately since then a digital scan of the book can be downloaded here. More biographical data provided by his daughter Irmgard Teubert, written in 1985, are found here and the text of a letter by SS-Oberscharfuhrer Lasch, asking Reuter for help in selecting a proper teacher of Germanic 'Himmelskunde' for Wewelsburg, dated 14 October 1935 is found here. Reuter's essay 'Der Himmel uber den Germanen' is found, translated and annotated, here.

Crossing the Abyss, 1931

While the Third Reich made sure to eradicate the bewildering maze of occult orders, esoteric societies and Volkische movements the minute it came into power, it strangely left that other field with its many connections to the occult underground, that of science fiction, largely untouched.

Thus, when the might of the German war machine unleashed its Blitzkrieg (thunder war) on an ill prepared Europe - its new strategic formula and technological terror tactics were reminiscent of that early subgenre in science fiction entitled the Future War Tale. While the sirens of the Stuka dive bombers, howling like the legendary Walkuren or Banshees, transformed whole cities into hellish cauldrons of the alchemical Prima Materia, other minds in Germany kept on dreaming of soaring space ships and the conquest of space.

Jetzt gehort und Deutschland, morgen das ganse Sonnensystem (now Germany belongs to us, tomorrow the whole solar system), as The Illuminatus Trilogy coyly states, is the apt slogan. One could perhaps remark that, since Germany had lost most of its colonies, space formed the final formidable frontier.

Another edition with its variant title (airship in space) published in 1939
One author who envisioned the path to solar conquest in the dreamtanks of the Third Reich was Walter Heichen (1876 - 1970). His Jenseits der Stratosphäre. Erlebnisse zwischen Mond und Erde. Eine Erzählung für die Jugend (On the Other Side of the Stratosphere. Experiences between the Moon and the Earth. A Story for the Youths) was published in 1931 and was reprinted in 1939 as Luftschiff im Weltenraum (Airship in Space), the year that The Third Reich annihilated Poland.

Heichen, who lived in Berlin, already had published propaganda lecture to kindle pattriotic interest during the outbreak of the First World War. During the Third Reich his pattriotism adhered to the National Socialist cause. In Heichen's book, the protagonists travel to the planet of Sigma, where they encounter highly developed humanoids. Heichen died in Berlin in 1970, having witnessed the landing of the first man on the Moon the year before, made possible by his fellow countryman Wernher von Braun, who had led the rocket development program of the Third Reich before and during World War II.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The German Mission to Mars, 1910

Mars has held the fascination of mankind since times immemorial. Starting in the early 19th century many books were written about travels to Mars, or Martians travelling to earth, the most famous ones probably being H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (1897) and Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. In Germany however, the pen was taken up by Kurt Lasswitz. His Auf Zwei Planeten (On Two Planets) was published in the same year as Wells' War of the Worlds. Lasswitz book became immensely popular. Wernher von Braun confessed to have read it and became so inspired by it to pursue a career that landed a man on the Moon.

Then there was Albert Daiber who published his Die Weltensegler, drei jahre auf dem Mars (The World Sailers, three years on Mars) in 1910 and its sequel Vom Mars zur Erde (From Mars to the Earth) in 1914. Albert Ludwig Daiber (1857 - 1928) was born in Germany but died in Chile. Apparently the reactions to his succesful book Elf Jahre Freimaurer (Eleven Years Freemason) that was published in 1905 were such that he decided to emigrate to Chile.

In Daibers' books we encounter Martians called 'Marsites' who live in a scientific utopia. And where certain rumours have it that in 1944 or 1945, towards the end of World War 2 a secret German SS mission to Mars was actually undertaken in a 74 meter diameter Haunebu 3 flight disc, in Daiber's book the journey to Mars is started in 1942. The names of the seven world sailors, German scholars and professors, all begin with the same Letters. Thus we have a Paracelcus Piller, A Bombastus Brumhuber and so forth. The main protagonist, the leader of the expedition and its spiritual father is named Siegried Stiller or SS.

Noordung's solar space station, 1928

A beautiful museum was erected in Slovenia to preserve and honor the work of early space pioneer Herman Potočnik (pseudonym: Noordung).

In 1925, a chronically ill and impoverished engineer in Vienna devoted himself entirely to space travel. His name was Herman Potočnik (1892 - 1929), and in 1928 his only book, Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums - der Raketen-motor (The Problem of Space Travel, the Rocket Motor) was published.

In it, he gave detailed plans for the construction of a geostationary space station, solar powered and manned, called Wohnrad (Habitat Wheel). The design consisted of a ring with an outer diameter of 164 feet (50 metres) for living quarters, two large, concave mirrors for solar energy assembled to one end of the central axis, and an astronomical observation deck. His was among the first to propose a wheel-shaped space station in order to to create artificial gravity. The book did not bring Potočnik fame or fortune, however. Engineers in Vienna dismissed his ideas as sheer fantasy, although it was of influence on the German Verein für Raumschiffahrt (The Space Flight Society) that was located in Berlin. Founded in 1927, it counted amongst its members Hermann Oberth and Wernher von Braun.

The Verein für Raumschiffahrt also published a magazine titled Die Rakete (The Rocket), from 1927 till 1929, sporting some evocative covers as seen below.

Potočnik too was a member of the Verein für Raumschiffahrt. He died in Vienna on August 27, 1929 of pneumonia, in great poverty. Parts of his magnum opus were translated and in English, in the July, August and September issues of Gernsback's Science Wonder Stories in 1929. Oberth coined the phrase 'space station'to describe Potočnik's concept. Let us here, make place for Hermann Noordung as he wished himself to be known, and give the last words to him:
"Conquering space! It would be the most grandiose of all achievements ever dreamed of, a fulfillment of the highest purpose: to save the intellectual accomplishments of mankind for eternity before the final plunge into oblivion. Only when we succeed in transplanting our civilization to other celestial bodies, thus spreading it over the entire universe, only when mankind with all its efforts and work and hopes and with what it has achieved in many thousands of years of striving, only when all of this is no longer just a whim of cosmic events, a result of random incidents in eternal nature's game that arise and die down with our little Earth so large for us and yet so tiny in the universe will we be justified to feel as if we were sent by God as an agent for a higher purpose, although the means to fulfill this purpose were created by man himself through his own actions."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Garden of Orchids

The first issue of Weird Tales, March, 1923.

It is often claimed that the first magazines devoted to science fiction and the fantastic orginated in the United states and exerted their influence on the emerging fields of ufology, the paranormal and the fortean. The venerable Weird Tales was launched in March 1923 and is often held as the first magazine published devoted to the weird. But Austrian magazine Der Orchideengarten (The Garden of Orchids) preceded the American venture with four years.

First published in 1919 under the editorship of Karl Hans Strobl (1877 - 1946), an Austrian writer of dark and unusual horror tales who also was the publisher together with Alfons von Czibulka, it ran until 1921. Der Orchideengarten was more than a magazine devoted to the fantastic; appropriately founded in the year that across the ocean, Charles Fort would publish his Book of the Damned, the magazine too, devoted space to anomalous phenomena: "...we no longer dismiss as nonsense all things that are not explicable in terms of the known laws of physics. Mysterious connections between human beings, independent of spatial and temporal separation, spooks, the appearance of ghosts, all are again in the realm of the possible..." as the editorial in the second issue of Der Orchideengarten explained.

Der Orchideengarten featured some truly lurid and haunting covers, and since I originally wrote this post, has achieved recognition as 'the world's first fantasy magazine'. Many of its striking covers can be admired online such as the following ones, beautifully scanned by Will Schofield.

Some of the absolutely striking interior illustrations of Der Orchideengarten can be found here, also owing to the good grace of Will Schofield who has curated an incredible selection from his private collection. Seeing these images, one can only wonder what it would have been like, had Der Orchideengarten also published the tales of Clark Ashton Smith and Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Some of the interior illustrations in Der Orchideengarten certainly merit such a thought. Lee Brown Coye would have felt at home.

Strobl published his gruesome, unusual and haunting tales in a number of books with titles like Lemuria (1917) and Gespenster im Sumpf (1920) (Spooks on the Moor). Swedish science fiction magazine Hugin (1916 - 1920) preceded Der Orchideengarten with three years and Gernsback's magazines like Wonder Stories, Air Wonder Stories, Science Wonder Stories (first issued 1929) and Amazing Stories (started in 1926) with even a decade. Hugin's cover art though definitely lacked the dark fantastic and visionary strain so apparent in Der Orchideengarten. 

Hugin, October 1919, featuring a swastika in an advert for an electrotechnical company in Sweden. 
The editor of Hugin, Otto Witt (1875 - 1923) studied at the technical university of the German town of Bingen, at the same time that Hugo Gernsback studied there. Gernsback, born in 1884 as Gernsbacher, at ten years of age was an insatiable reader. At that time he found a translation of Percival Lowell's Mars as the Abode of Life. He devoured the book and went into a delirious phase that lasted two days, during which he rambled almost non-stop about the Martians and their technology, a theme to which he would return in later years. This experience would prove a pivotal point in the life of young Gernsbacher.

Covers and interior illustrations of Gernsback's magazines were predominantly done by Frank R. Paul (1884 - 1963).
In 1904, then still named Gernsbacher, he went to the United States and changed his name into Gernsback. There he would come to know inventors like Tesla, de Forrest, Fessenden and Grindell-Matthews. Gernsback would also publish an impressive list of science fiction magazines and coin the very phrase 'science fiction'. As such, a case is to be made for Germany as the birthplace of 20th century weird and science fiction magazine publishing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Alien technology in Germany, 1920

Recent years have seen the emergence of a rumour that float around the internet like moths to a flame about a crashed UFO in the Black Forrest in 1936 which was spirited away to the dark heart of Nazi Germany. There it was to be dismantled and dilligently studied by, it is claimed, the members of the Vril Society. While no historically verifiable evidence for this tale has come to light, the idea of alien technology that has fallen into the hands of a select group, was already the subject of a film in Germany in 1920.

Just two years after the defeat of Germany in the First World War, a little known silent film was released. Entitled Algol, it tells the story of a superior extraterrestrial from the Dogstar, who donates incredible technology that enables a wealthy industrialist to enslave the world by this free energy device.

Lost for decades, copies of the film have surfaced in recent years. The first image is of the alien being, poised far away in the eternal blackness of the universe. The second the industrialist poised over the weird extraterrestrial technology.

One wonders how a film like Algol helped transform the ancient intelligences, the angelic beings and the demons of old, into alien entities from far away planets. All in the strange and feverish undercurrents of the German occult.

See the trailer here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

the roots of the Andromeda-Gerät

In the relatively modern variant of the Vril Society saga, it is claimed that, amongst others, in 1944 a huge, 139 meter long cylindrical mothership called the Andromeda-Gerat (depicted on the illustration at the bottom) was constructed by the Vril Society or by means of the technology of this highly secret society.

Again we stumble upon an echo of the large Adamski-type motherships, but a number of German language science fiction ideas preceded the Andromeda-Gerat. One of these is the cilindrical spaceship featured in Nils Meyn's Die Reise zur Venus (the Voyage to Venus), published in 1930. Obviously, the concept of an Andromeda Device is nothing new.

In Germany in 1908, readers were introduced to Captain Mors who flew through space with what may be considered the precursor to the Andromeda-Gerat (depicted on the illustration at the top). Captian Mors was a proto-science fictional hero who encountered various aliens, crystal robots with strange devices and discovered new planets with extraterrestrial life between 1908-1911 in 165 adventurous installments published in Germany. As with the Andromeda-Gerat, we find blueprints of Captain Mors' spaceship on many of the installments of the series.

Blueprint of Captain Mors' Lenkbares Luftshiff 
Nils Meyn, Die Reise zur Venus, 1930
Before Captain Mors took flight, there was the beautifully produced book Mac Milfords Reisen Im Universum. Von Der Terra Zur Luna Oder Unter Den Seleniten. Astronomische Erzahlung, (Mac Milford's Voyages in the Universe. From the Earth to the Moon. Or under the Selenites), published in 1902. Written by Oskar Hoffmann, it also features a cylindrical spaceship as seen in the left upper corner on its cover.
A cylindrical spaceship in 1902
As such, the fabulous Andromeda-Gerat of the Vril Society, Captain Mors' Lenkbares Luftshiff (manoeuverable airship), his Meteor, a Weltenfahrzeug (World vehicle) and the cylindrical spaceship of Mac Milford may be considered as exemplary extrapolations in a fantasmagoric world where the occult, avant-garde science and the sense of wonder meet.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The occult technology of the Ark

In their article Re-engineering the Ark which was published in Fortean Times 207, authors Michael Blackburn and Mark Bennett speculate on the Ark as being a source of electrical energy.

This theory appeared much earlier in Nazi Germany. In 1936 a slim book written by Konradin Aller was published, entitled Moses Entlarvt: die Wunder Moses als Luftelektrische Vorgange (Moses Unmasked: The Miracles of Moses as Atmospheric Electrical Events), with a series of evocative drawings by Werner Graul. The booklet appeared as part of the series of the Werner Graul Bildbucher. The premise of the book was that Moses was a hoaxer; all the divine miracles that accompanied him were the effects of laws of nature. Thus the Ark was nothing more than a repository of electricity. This knowledge Moses had acquired in ancient Egypt.

Aller also alluded to the work of Estonian engineer and inventor Hermann Plauson. Plauson was director of the Fischer-Tropps Otto Traun Research Laboratories in Hamburg during the Weimar republic in the 1920’s. He built on Nikola Tesla’s ideas of connecting machinery to the wheelworks of nature, and 1920 saw the publication of Plauson’s book Gewinnung und Verwertung der Atmospharischen Elektrizitat (Production and Utilization of the Atmospheric Electricity). Plauson’s ideas were also published in the March, 1922 issue of Hugo Gernsback’s Science and Invention magazine. Gernsback was an intimate friend of Tesla – he arranged for a death mask to be made when Tesla had died.

Metropolis, film poster design by Werner Graul
Friedrich Hermann Werner Graul (1905 - 1984), was a sketcher and engraver by profession. Graul gravitated towards volkische circles and became a member of the NSDAP in 1933. He founded the periodical Sigrune and a publishing house of the same name. He specialised in drawings which represented the conversion of the ancient Germans to Christianity - drawings which clearly demonstrate his affection for the old religion. Graul also had designed the film poster for Fritz Lang's 1926 dystopian classic science fiction film Metropolis. The film was produced by German film production company UFA.

Gate drawing by Albin Grau, published in Saturn Gnosis
From Graul to Grau: A design and set painter named Albin Grau worked at UFA around that time. Grau, a mysterious person to whom we shall return in a later installment, was a freemason and a spiritualist with a deep passion for the occult. He became a member of the Fraternitas Saturni, founded in 1928 after a rather tumultuous visit by Aleister Crowley to Germany. The order specialised in an unusual mixture of avantgarde technology and magical ritual partly based, or so it claimed in the pages of its official organ Saturn Gnosis, on Tesla’s theories. Aller had not postulated a new theory; Tesla wrote in his article A Fairytale of Electricity, published on September 9, 1915 in Manufacturers' Record:
"...Moses was undoubtedly a practical and skillful electrician far in advance of his time. The Bible describes precisely, and minutely, arrangements constituting a machine in which electricity was generated by friction of air against silk curtains, and stored in a box constructed like a condenser. It is very plausible to assume that the sons of Aaron were killed by a high-tension discharge, and that the vestal fires of the Romans were electrical..." 
 Grau's paintings and drawings adorned several of the five lavishly produced Saturn Gnosis issues. The last issue was published in 1930, the Berlin order disbanded not long afterwards, due to the prohibition imposed by Nazi Germany on the esoteric societies. Grau would die at Buchenwald concentration camp in October, 1942. To conclude in biblical terms; UFA had its ateliers at Babelsberg.