Saturday, July 28, 2007

At the dark heart of Lemuria, 1917

In 1917, a book with strange and uncanny tales that bore the remarkable title Lemuria was published in Germany. The horrible blackness and the almost pathological nature of its haunting illustrations closely connected to the spirit of the German nation, as the fatherland was desperately struggling to survive the onslaught that was the First World War. Lemuria struck a chord in the German psyche and was reprinted well till after the Great War that should have ended all wars, but didn't.

The name Lemuria was introduced in the 19th century by geologists speculating on a lost continent in the Indian ocean. The term was quickly seized upon by occultists and theosophists in the wake of Blavatsky's unveilings. Blavatsky saw the Lemurians as reptilian in nature, being the Third Root Race, having followed the Hyboreans, The Second Root Race. However, the Lemurians used black magic and corrupted themselves by intermingling with other species, necessitating the gods of destroying Lemuria after which they created the Fourth Root Race, that of Atlantis. One notes the origin of much current speculation on the reptilians, but also the influence on Ariosophy. The nucleus of Blavatsky's theories on Lemuria are similar to those of Lanz von Liebenfels, founder of the Ordo Novi Templi, an order modelled partially on The Knights Templar. Liebenfels also edited the antisemitic periodical Ostara of which it is claimed that an impressionable Adolf Hitler read these during his years in Vienna.

In Lemuria we encounter one short story, entitled Der Bogomilenstein (The Stone of the Bogomil), that may betray some of Strobl's cultural predilections. The Bogomils were spiritual forerunners of the Cathars and, some say, the Knights Templar. German author Hanns Heinz Ewers wo would later write the National-Socialist anthem the Horst Wessel Lied published Lemuria in a series titled Gallerie der Phantasten (Gallery of the Fantasts) with publisher Georg Muller Verlag in Munich. The author of Lemuria was Austrian writer Karl Hanns Strobl (1877 - 1946), who during his life also was the editor of Der Orchideengarten, about which I posted earlier on this blog.

Strobl wrote many unusually dark, strange and gruesome fantastic tales, collected in, amongst others, Lemuria and, For instance, his book Od that was released in 1930. 'An adventure-romance of Baron von Reichenbach. A Zeileis-fate 50 years ago. The discovery of the magical man', it's blurb read.
During the First World War , Strobl was a messenger, a position not unlike that of his fellow Austrian Adolf Hitler. After the war, Strobl developed a strong sympathy for the Nationalsocialist cause. In 1938 Strobl worked in an important position in the Ostgau, leading a department of Goebbel's Reichsschrifttumskammer. This lead to his arrest by the Soviet troops in 1945. Strobl was forced to work at road construction for a while. He was released due to age and very poor health.

Impoverished, Strobl died a year later in a home for the elderly near Vienna. At the time of his death, the Allied forces had prohibited his works to be published. Once his more than hundred published book titles commanded multiple reprints and huge successes. Strobl formed, with Gustav Meyrink and Hanns Heinz Ewers the three dark princes of the German horror and supernatural.

4 comments:

siderealpress said...

Hi Theo,
I have often meant to write to you concerning this author and book as you seem
a) to be a fan, and
b) to be the only source of info!

have you ever considered translating it?

Paul said...

Great post.

CO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CO said...

Hello,

Recently I stumbled upon your blog, and find its contents most enlightening. I am a master's student studying German history - increasingly interested in the history of science fiction and its relation to the occult and metaphysics.

Living in the U.S., I have little access to the rare periodicals/literature you mention here. I have appreciated the web links that you have provided. As this is a topic on which I want to expand my research, could you direct me to publications regarding the origins of German science fiction and/or fantasy and supernatural themes? (Of course, I would prefer primary sources, but I am open to all publications.) I can read in English and German.

Because sources are so scarce in this field of historical research, I am in great need to find any material on this subject. Any advise or direction that you can offer is most appreciated.


Warm regards,

ZVBXRPL