THE book about one of the most controversial topics in occult history: the relationship between Nazism and occultism. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke did ground breaking research for this book, and it’s of essential importance to anyone trying to understand the place of esotericism in the cultural history of the 20th century.
Little known sides to the Nazi culture
Few people outside the occult or Neo Nazi subcultures (which don’t have a large overlap, fortunately) know much about the topic in this book. It is important both as a permanent warning to occultists, as well as for those interested in the history of ideas and rationalizations of evil.
There was, so Goodrick-Clarke amply shows, a subculture to Nazism which had esoteric roots. In this subculture the superiority of the German Race was rationalized with occult theories and ideas borrowed from Social Darwinism.
Unfortunately when one googles one of my personal inspirations – H.P. Blavatsky – one is likely to find her mixed up in this as well.
The Occult Roots Of Nazism
My personal interest in reading this book was to see what basis there is to claims that Blavatsky had anything to do with Nazi Germany or Hitler himself. Given that she lived and died in the 19th century any connection is obviously indirect. However, it is clear from Goodrick-Clark’s book that some of Blavatsky’s readers did not keep their hands clean.
This book covers more than just Blavatsky. Which one of course would expect – Blavatsky’s work is only one strand in the occult tapestry even of the 19th century (though an important one there).
20th century Europe had many cultural strands, some of which harking back to the late 19th as much as theosophy did. The main scientific basis of Nazism was ‘Social Darwinism’. It is clear from the book that Hitler himself based his ideas solely on that philosophy.
But for some of his followers esoteric ideas and practices also played a major part.
Goodrick Clarke follows the many strands of people and ideas with documented sources like fringe newspapers and magazines. This book is essential reading for anybody interested in the cultural background of Nazism or the blacker sides to the history of science and spirituality.
Blavatsky and Nazism
On the Internet you will find people praising Blavatsky for having been a Nazi influence. You will of course also find people damning Blavatsky for the same.
Careful reading of Goodrick Clarke’s book shows that neither the praise nor the blame fits the target. Anyone who knows anything seriously about the Theosophical Movement would have known this in advance, as whatever Blavatsky wrote about Race, she was also a big advocate of interracial and inter cultural brotherhood and dialog. In fact, she could be said to be one of the first to try inter religious dialog. She was an opponent of the Caste system and its abuses as well.
Also by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
Hitler’s Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism
The whole terrible Nazi experience had many oddities, and this relatively unknown woman is one of them. Born in France in 1905 as Maximiani Portas, she became a strong admirer of Hitler in the 1920s, moved to India in 1932 because of its caste system, and took a Hindu name. After the war she traveled through a devastated Europe and was a vocal apologist of the Nazis, their horrific atrocities notwithstanding. Her early writings were republished by far-right-wing publishers, and she gained new fans in the 1970s as neo-Nazism spread. Devi died in 1982, but the author writes that her combination of Hindu religion and Nordic racial ideology became “a bridge between neo-Nazism and the New Age” movements. (For more on this subject, see also Goodrick-Clarke’s The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology, New York Univ., 1992). This work will be useful for understanding the ideological background of the neo-Nazis.