The Nazi Occult & The Christian Response

Tristan Erwin
33 min readMay 4, 2020


The 1889 painting created in the year of the birth of Adolf Hitler depicts the return of Wotan and the coming chaos. The ‘Wild Chase’ by Franz Stuk had long been rumored in occult circles to have been a prophecy of Hitler’s rise to power.

In the words of Sophie Scholl, “When he uses the name the almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell, and his might is at bottom accursed. True, we must conduct a struggle against the National Socialist terrorist state with rational means; but whoever today still doubts the reality, the existence of demonic powers, has failed by a wide margin to understand the metaphysical background of this war.”[1]

The subject of the influence of religion upon the modern world has been so little studied and so thoroughly disregarded by the general narrative of modern history, that its presentation may seem jarring to those unfamiliar to the religious trends occurring in the twentieth century. Whereas mainstream historical narratives have focused almost completely on political trends dominating the movements of the modern world, this research will beckon those who have never considered the continuing religious influence in the modern era to recognize an entirely alternate reality. Indeed, religion has been so thoroughly ostracized from the presentation of the modern era that this research presents a radical alternative, one that advocates for analyzing the immense influence wielded by religion in the Second World War. It is a great omission to think of the Second World War as purely a war of nationalism and a battle against fascism. That narrative omits the more disturbing religious engine powering the conflict and the Nazi cult and thus also downplays the role of the outraged Christian response.

This investigation will examine the Nazi smorgasbord of religious appropriations and attempt to find meaning within the apparent madness. Specifically, it will focus on aspects of the new religion that conflicted most egregiously with Christianity. Many who have dared to enter the mouth of the Nazi madness have succumbed to the sensational, more specifically to the conjuring of facts and hearsay. Indeed, the immense efforts put forth by the German government to destroy and cover up evidence of occult practices has made definitive research on the subject difficult.[2] Crypto-history books such as The Medusa’s Head and Secrets of the Holy Lance relied on rumors and hearsay to create their narratives on the Nazi occult. Indeed, to understand the religious causes of the Second World War is to wholly embrace the task of confronting the irrational. Historians such as Nicholas Goodrich-Clark and Eric Kurland have been among the few to investigate the subject seriously.

This work will omit speculation, relying instead only on written evidence produced by the subjects themselves in order to trace the origins and evolution of Nazism, its conflict with Christianity and the Christian reaction to Nazism, displaying fully that this was a war predicated on the rise of a religion incompatible with any other, and more importantly incompatible with the preeminent religion of the Western world, Christianity.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Christianity was losing its near-universal appeal in European thought. A call for a return to the ancient would see a resurrection of ancient beliefs and religions, along with influence from the East. It was a rejection of Christendom and of modernity. Across Europe, mystery cults were growing in prevalence. It was in Germany, however, that one of these mystery cults came to dominate the landscape, to prove itself a potent challenge to the established religions of the world, and ultimately to fuel the Second World War.

The movement was seeded in 1888, when the mad Madame Helene Blavatsky claimed to have traveled to Tibet, where she was enlightened by a cult that claimed to able to invoke the powers of the ‘first race’ astral beings, or spirits, that could grant powers to those who devoted themselves to such pursuits.[3] She decreed that there were seven root races, one of which, the Aryans, created Ancient Greek society and would one day return to bring spirituality to the modern world.[4] The folk movement of Theosophy that these ideas inspired, a revival of paganism mixed with science fiction, became a world-wide phenomenon, further promulgated by the English magician Albert Crowley. The movement, however, erupted on a significant scale in Germany, eventually evolving into the Nazi cult.

Guido List and Jorg Liebenfels began Germanizing the religion with their radical construction of Armansim, Ariosophy, Volkisch or Wotanism. All declared fallaciously that Germans are descended from the Aryans and imagined them as an ancient super race of people created by alien life forms via electricity.[5] The Germans fell as a race, the story went, because of other races corrupting their bloodline via breeding, and believers held that purifying their German blood was the only way to return the Germans to their rightful place as the master race in order to create utopia.[6] The Jew was condemned as the scapegoat for the weakening of the German race: they believed that the Jew had knowingly done this as part of a Bolshevik plot to take over Germany. Magic, specifically Norse paganism, List believed, was the true religion of Germany; the ancient runes held power, and the old ways must return. The Volkisch or ‘folk’ movement believed that one could become an ‘adept,’ an individual capable of summoning higher powers from the spirit realm or astral plane.[7] Here we see the monstrous seeds sown that would evolve into Nazism; the religion, however, was still in flux; numerous groups sprang up around the movement. The Thule, Ostara, Edda, and Germanenorden orders were the most prominent of the secret societies to arise to popularity. The result was a many headed hydra of cults all stemming from the same beast and ultimately intertwining once again to rally around the future Nazi party.

In a 1938 speech in Nuremberg, the mendacious Hitler, with no prompting, attempted to stifle occult rumors: “National Socialism is not a cult-movement — a movement for worship; it is exclusively a “volkic” political doctrine based upon racial principles. In its purpose there is no mystic cult, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood-relationship…. We will not allow mystically-minded occult folk with a passion for exploring the secrets of the world beyond to steal into our Movement.”[8] Hitler, deft at tergiversation, followed this by once again professing his Christian allegiance. The evidence to the contrary, however, is damning concerning his duplicitous nature, for indeed Nazism was a cult movement.

The cult of paramount importance was the Thule Society, a coven devoted to the German racial theory of Ariosophy and the folk movement. The Thule, unlike the other covens, decided to grow in power by becoming a political party targeting the lower classes. In 1920, it rebranded itself the ‘German Worker’s Party;’ and in that same year Adolf Hitler would join, spearheading the success of the coven turned political party, and reorganizing it as the National Socialist German Worker’s Party or, as it is commonly called, the Nazi Party.[9] Members of the Thule cult and the other cults flocked to the new Nazi Party. Prominent Nazi leaders Rudolph Hess, Hans Frank, Heinrich Himmler, Alfred Rosenberg, Karl Harrer, Gottfried Feder, Julius Lehmann, and Dietrich Eckart would all arise from the ranks of the Thule cult.[10]

Evidence also suggests that Adolf Hitler was a practitioner of Ariosophy. His belief in the ariosophic teachings of the Aryans, who believed themselves to be the master race and Jews to be sub-humans, makes this fact self-evident. What is less well known is that Jorg Liebenfels, one of the founders of the Ariosophic movement, confirmed in 1932 that “Hitler is one of our pupils.”[11] Hitler’s affinity for the other founder of Ariosophy, Guido von List, was noted by Hitler’s friend Josef Greiner, who confirmed that Hitler owned at least fifty Ostara manuscripts written by List.[12] Alfred Rosenberg, close friend of Hitler and an accomplice in his crimes, wrote in his diary on June 19th, 1934, that in a meeting Hitler “repeatedly emphasized that he has been a pagan all along, and the time has come when the Christian poisoning is approaching its end.”[13]

Adolf Hitler, besides surrounding himself with other believers in the occult, employed the legendary magician and occultist Erik Jan Hanussen as his personal soothsayer for a time. This fact is confirmed by German reporter Bella Fromm, who noted in her journal that “neither Hitler nor Goering make decisions without consulting their astrologers. Hitler’s is Jan Hanussen.”[14]

Hitler’s personal medium Erik Jan Hanussen performing an illuminated seance.

The sheer number of books on the occult that Hitler owned should convince even the most incredulous. Among them were Ernst Shertel’s Magic: History, Theory and Practice; Annulus Platonis, a book on the occult sciences; a book on werewolves, The Werewolf: A Peasant Chronicle; a book of Runes titled High Time of Mankind; an occult book titled The German Book of Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Ariosophs, Racial Mystics and Anti-Semites; a book claiming to be a message from the dead, titled Make Up Your Mind: A Wake-up call to Humanity from the Spirit World and Revelation; a book on ancient German pagan places of worship, Germanic Places of Worship between Weser and Ems; a book on soothsaying, Eye and Sight, Their Spiritual, Cosmic and Physiological Significance; a book on the apostate ‘Positive Christianity’ title, Racial Souls and Christianity: An Attempt to Use the Findings of Race Research in Religious Service to the People; a book of witchcraft titled Secret Sciences: Alchemy, Magic, Mysticism; an introductory book on witchcraft titled, Die Toten Leben, which discusses hypnotism, somnambulism, theosophy, and becoming a spiritual medium; and a book titled Prayer, by the well-known pagan spiritual leader Bo Yin Ra.[15] If Adolf Hitler’s words and actions had not been enough, his reading list certainly displays a strong interest in the occult.

The who’s who of Nazism was not the only obvious connection to the Ariosophic cults. The Nazis made the swastika, the symbol of the Ariosophy religious movement, their banner; and after the Nazis took power, that symbol could be seen all across Germany. The Thule newspaper, Münchener Beobachter, would be the primary propogandist newspaper for the Nazi administration and would be renamed Völkischer Beobachter. Unsurprisingly, Thule cultist Karl Herr would remain the editor of the paper for the duration of the Nazi regime.[16]

Ideology, however, was the most obvious connection to the cults. A voracious hatred for the Jews, the belief in the need to sacrifice “sub-humans,” and the belief in the power of magic all remained of the utmost priority for the cult turned political party. The already incredibly popular movement in Germany, would seek to use its new political party to turn Germany into an Ariosophic utopia. Hitler’s appointment to leader of the party, gave it a dangerously charismatic and persuasive leader. Despite being obviously a pagan cult turned political party, Hitler and the Nazis would orchestrate a diabolical ruse, they would nefariously don a Christian veil worn to collect votes and grow party support within the Christian nation of Germany. Hitler was forced to toe the line and would routinely flaunt Christian sympathies in order to get elected. Hitler personally was not able to attend church due to his strong personal revulsion. His minions, however, were to be forced to attend Christian churches regularly once the switch to the Nazi political party had occurred. As Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels confirmed in his diary, “He forbids me to leave the church. For tactical reasons.”[17]

New, equally radical beliefs were injected into the religion as the number of its disciples grew. Blood purity had evolved into a quest for religious purity as well. Hatred for Judaism grew into hatred for Christianity. Deputy Fuhrer Martin Boremann stated that Christianity and Nazism were completely incompatible because the Christian religion originated from Judaism.[18] Heinrich Himmler believed the “principle of Christian mercy” to be a hinderance to the planned war with the subhumans. As leader of the Schutzstaffel he believed the primary duty of the SS was “acting as the vanguard in overcoming Christianity and restoring a “Germanic way of living.”[19] Himmler also stated on the subject of Jews and Christians, “We’ve already removed one of these powers, at least from Germany; the time will come to settle accounts with the other after the war…. Then we’ll unfrock these priests — neither their God nor their Virgin Mary will be able to do anything for them.[20] By 1937, Hitler himself had fully removed his mask and was claiming Christianity to be “the most horrible institution imaginable and one ripe for destruction.”[21] Hitler stated that Christianity was naked Bolshevism, and universally destructive.[22] It was Alfred Rosenberg, the official party ideologist, who drafted the plans for the destruction of Christianity in Germany. Highlights of his thirty-point plan demanded that the Christian cross be removed from all churches and replaced with the Swastika, that all bibles and saints be removed from altars. Publication of the Bible was to cease, and Mein Kampf was to take its place on the altars as the foremost source of ethics. Priests and pastors were to be replaced with national Third Reich orators; and, above all, Christianity was to be exterminated.[23] The Nazi plans to eradicate Christianity had already been in progress for some time within Germany. The Christian community worldwide was not oblivious to this but was instead keenly aware of the Nazi connections to witchcraft and the demonic. Many outspoken priests, ministers, and Christians were killed; and, by 1936, all crucifixes were removed from German schools.[24] Above all, the Nazis were succeeding in turning the masses against Christianity. In one mass demonstration in 1938, a Nazi speaker had rallied over 200,000 people to assail the Cathedral in Vienna, as the crowd demanded the deaths of the priests and clergy.[25] Violence on the streets and Nazi attacks on Christians occurred frequently. However, because of fierce Christian opposition, the official destruction of Christianity, it was decided by Hitler, would have to wait until after the war.

Seemingly every Nazi professed to be Christian while the Nazi Party actively endeavored to destroy Christianity. Fools were fooled then, as many will still be today. Make no mistake, however, this play-acting was a clever ploy to grow, solidify, maintain political power, and beguile the populace. Their inability to destroy Christianity had likely long been recognized by the early Ariosophists. Thus the corruption of Christianity became the primary method of conversion. ‘Positive Christianity,’ an idea touted by Lars von Liebenfels and, later, the occulist Alfred Rosenberg, would be the primary mode of delivery of a cocktail of lunacy. Under this guise a new brand of Christianity was created, one that would convert gullible Christians to Ariosophists without their realizing how they had been manipulated. This ‘Positive Christianity’ taught the Ariosophic messages via the bastardization and effacement of Christianity. In this Germanized insanity, Christ was actually a blonde-haired German, who was, of course, killed by the Jews, the true enemy of Germany. It also taught that Christ’s disciple Paul had corrupted the true teachings of Jesus, and that all forms of Christianity other than ‘Positive Christianity’ amounted to devil worship.[26] The apostacy more profoundly held that the Apostle’s creed was false, and that the divinity of Jesus was irrelevant because “the Fuehrer is the herald of a new revelation.”[27] Only this new German variant of Christianity was the real one. Therefore Protestants, Catholics, and all other denominations were the enemy. The Nazis had successfully converted millions of German Christians into Ariosophists. Those that were mentally incapable of defending themselves against this mind-altering concoction were metamorphosed into Christians by name but cultists by nature.

What was occurring was ‘menticide,’ or brainwashing. After Germany’s tremendous defeat in the First World War and the terrible economic hardship that followed, the German people felt dejected and downtrodden, such that many were susceptible to an anti-reality that the Ariosophists were all too willing to provide. Rejection of reality is a symptom of an unsatisfying existence. When the truth is unsatisfactory, the lie becomes irresistible; and reality itself becomes refutable. And so the Nazis enthralled many with a lie, a lie that became a dream, and a dream that became a nightmare.

It, however, took little ingenuity for un-corrupted Christians to connect the obvious and conclude that the Nazis were the political manifestation of a pagan cult. The Nazis’ continued occult endeavors as a political party proved that they had outgrown neither their origins in the Thule cult nor their occult beliefs, though they were more determined than ever to hide their true nature. The SS created a special task force on witchcraft that was active from 1935 to 1944, called Hexen-Sonderauftrages. Its primary purpose was researching witchcraft and its supposed power. Its most important goal, however, was to discover how the Christians defeated the witches and to use this information to help them in the coming war with Christianity.[28] With Hitler’s approval, the German military would come to employ thousands of soothsayers, psychics, astrologers, and mystics who they believed would win the war with use of magic. The SS, Joseph Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry and even the German navy were the primary employers of the occult. The German navy, lacking radar, used mystics in an attempt to locate allied warships; methods included dowsing rods and even paranormal seances in the hopes that a spirit might assist the mystic in pinpointing the location of a ship.[29] The SS ‘Institute for Occult Warfare’ was tasked with using sorcery to engage the enemy in psychological warfare and to obtain enemy intelligence. The most famous instance of the Institute’s endeavors was to find and locate the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini when he was kidnapped by the Italian resistance. The mystics engaged in necromancy and performed many séances to contact spirits in hopes that they might know the location of Mussolini. Initially this séance was credited with finding Mussolini; it was admitted years later, however, that he was located by the SS via conventional means.[30] The occultists of Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda were tasked primarily with conducting psychological warfare on Britain and further solidifying the myth of Nazi superiority at home. Goebbels stated quite plainly that “we’re employing in every way possible the crown jewels of occult soothsaying. Nostradamus must be believed in again.”[31] The dissemination of occult brain-washing propaganda in the form of astrology or prophecies continued to garner support within Germany. The Nazis employment of mediums, astrologers, necromancers and fortune tellers is a testament to their devotion to the occult.

The state education of children, particularly those in the Hitler Youth, is even more telling with regard to the Nazis commitment to the occult. With control of an entire nation, the cult had great interest in indoctrinating future generations. Rosenberg, long known for his affiliation with Ariosophy and his hatred for Christendom, was placed in charge of the education of German children. Naturally, any semblance of the Christian religion was removed from schools, and Rosenberg’s outlandish book campaigning for the sacrifice of sub-humans was required reading for schoolchildren.[32] The slogan “Blood and Honor” taken from the occultist’s book was inscribed on the children’s belt buckles and pocket knives.[33] Numerous pagan ceremonies resembling witchcraft also occurred in the Hitler Youth organization, particularly the worship of an unknown deity of fire. The titles of such ceremonies include “Requiem for the One Who Has Fallen,” and “Fire Rest Upon This Earth.”[34]

One of the choral songs sung by the Hitler youth was

“We are the joyous Hitler youth,

We do not need any Christian virtue

Our leader is our savior

The Pope and Rabbi shall be gone

We want to be pagans once again”[35]

The Hitler Youth performing a solstice ceremony, dressed in ancient style tunics.

The new neo-pagan religious movement had already evolved into a rapacious chimera of human evil; it was, however, rapidly evolving into a movement embracing inhuman evils. Their rancorous hatred for Christianity and Judaism carried them down a predictable path of idolizing the traditional enemies of Christianity — the devil, the demonic, and witchcraft. The devil would take on the role in Nazi occult circles that can be seen in modern-day devil worship. Lucifer was misunderstood, the thinking went, and was unjustly cast out of heaven. More ominously, the devil might be evil to some but good to others.[36] Heinrich Himmler and the SS would officially endorse this narrative when they commissioned a propaganda book titled Lucifer’s Servants in 1938, in which the argument was made for the worship of Lucifer.[37] Long before this, however, the concept of the demonic had entered into the realm of Nazi theology. The demon was seen as an entity that a sorcerer could conjure in order to increase his or her personal power, as well as magical abilities. The Nazis had not only resurrected what they deemed the old pagan religion, but importantly they were also reviving exactly the type of black magic that had led to the demonization and extirpation of paganism by Christians many centuries earlier. The Nazis embraced this narrative, believing themselves victims of Christianity, and claiming that the true German religion was destroyed by Christian persecution in the witch hunts of the Middle Ages.[38] Strangely, they also adopted the medieval Christian belief that all pagans were in fact witches and consorted with demons, and that witchcraft and the demonic was not only real but had always been the true religion of the German people.[39] Otto Rahn of the SS encapsulates this thinking: “My ancestors were witches and I am a heretic” [40] Alfred Rosenberg, Deputy Fuhrer, stated that “what we denote as good, others see as evil, what we call God, appears to others as the Devil.”[41] A new religion had been born, one based on racism, elaborate science fiction, pagan resurrection, witchcraft, and the demonic. The race war the Nazis sought to instigate had become a religious one as well.

A German folk pagan festival in the 1930's.

Demons and, more importantly, the notion of harnessing of their power had been part of the ideology since the early days of the movement but were becoming increasingly important by the 1920’s. Anton Mayer advocated in his book Earth Mother and Witches that the true and original religion of Germany centered upon an ancient demon called the earth mother and that its demonic powers came from nature.[42] Ernst Schertel, in his book Magic: History, Theory and Practice, advocates for the demonic. In a passage annotated by Adolf Hitler himself, Schertel wrote, “Satan is the fertilizing, destroying-constructing warrior, he who does not carry demonic seeds within him will never give birth to a new world.”[43] The founder of analytical psychology, the renowned Carl Jung, drew conclusions about Adolf Hitler that further fueled anti-Nazi Christian rhetoric. Jung, despite being one of the founders of modern psychology and a staple of the rational, made the case after meeting Hitler, not that he was insane, but that he was, in fact, possessed. In 1938, Jung described Hitler as “a medicine man, a form of spiritual vessel, a demi-deity, or even better, a myth. With Hitler you are scared. You know you would never be able to talk to that man, because there is nobody there. He is not a man, but a collective.”[44] Not wishing to leave his comments open to interpretation, one of the world’s foremost psychologists voiced his belief that Hitler was possessed by the ancient god Wotan, whom Christians would know by another name, the devil.[45]

A religion does not develop overnight; the Arian Nazi religion was no exception. It had evolved from a perverse racial theory paired with beliefs in the occult to an ideology that advocated for first a return to paganism and then to demonic and Luciferian worship. Wotan, Earth Mother, Lucifer, and even Hitler himself appeared to be the primary contenders to become god of the new Arian religion. Hitler was quickly evolving from man to god in the eyes of Germans, and placed in the role of a national messiah. School children were forced to pray to Hitler each morning. Once such prayer reads, “Fuehrer, my Fuehrer given me by god, protect and preserve my life for long. You rescued Germany from its deepest need. I thank you for my daily bread. Stay for a long time with me, leave me not. Fuehrer, my Fuehrer, my faith, my light. Hail my Fuehrer.”[46] Hitler, it seems, was destined to serve as messiah both to Germany and to a religion centering on either Wotan, Lucifer, or indeed both.

Many among the Ariosophy movement had long advocated for the power of demonic union through sacrifice. Schertel would sound this theme when speaking on sacrifice. “It’s importance is the mystical becoming-one with the demon itself. With the sacrifice the demon always gains new fullness of blood and reality, while the acting magician and his community are saturated with new demonic strengths.”[47] Hitler, who owned the book and read it many times over, wrote correlating thoughts on sacrifice in his book Mein Kampf, in which he ominously refers to the extermination of people as a “blood sacrifice.”[48] With this knowledge it is unsurprising that Heinrich Himmler, an expert in the field, a man who had spent decades researching witchcraft, would also be the man appointed to oversee the coming mass extermination. Or, as Hitler himself referred to it, the ‘blood sacrifice.’ The evidence to suggest how prevalent demonic worship might have actually been or how widely it may have occurred among Nazi leadership is not sufficient to be definitive, but it was more than enough evidence for Christian leaders.

The Nazis had done a marvelous job of fulfilling the numerous qualifications in the Judeo-Christian mind for the role of demonic. In the Abrahamic religions the first demons were the real-world historical idols of Moloch and Baal, anthropomorphic bronze idol creations of jackals and bulls. The religion of these demons required the sacrifice of children. The idol would be heated to an enormous temperature, and the child or infant would be placed inside the idol and burned alive. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill astutely connected the demonic affinity for genocide with the Nazi proclivity for it. He stated that Hitler “had conjured up the fearful idol of an all-devouring Moloch of which he was the priest and incarnation.”[49] Indeed, the similarities are apparent. The demons of the Bible promised bountiful harvest in exchange for the lives of children. Likewise, the Nazi cult believed their society was corrupted by the blood of the impure — the inferior — and that the ‘sacrifice’ of these individuals was the path to utopia. Like Moloch and Baal, the Nazis would also use immolation as a means of sacrifice. Indeed, the comparison to the demonic is warranted in the Abrahamic religions, but the Nazi cult did not require the sacrifice of children alone in order to achieve utopia, but seemingly of everyone. The Nazis had not only met the Christian definition of the evils of the demonic, they had surpassed it. Evidence for belief amongst Nazi leadership in demonic worship and human sacrifice is undeniable, but harder however to establish how fervent or widespread such beliefs were. Nonetheless, black magic, or witchcraft, was unquestionably endemic to the Nazi political party, which seemed in the Christian mind to be a coven of witches turned masters of a German war machine.

Though the Nazis savored making Christendom their enemy, they had underestimated just how influential an enemy they were making, and they had perhaps failed to quantify the power of that influence upon the Allied war effort. With full knowledge of the occult and demonic inclinations of the Third Reich, Christian world leaders pounced to demonize them and to make as many as would listen aware that they were fighting not just a political enemy, but a vanguard of evil.

In Germany, Christians had been a thorn in the side of the Nazis since the beginning. Christians had protested, denounced, or attempted to intervene against the Nazi injustices from the very beginning of the Nazi war against the ‘subhumans.’ The removal and execution of Jehovah’s witnesses sent the Catholics and Protestants into a fury; the subsequent denunciations meant the elimination of many Christian priests and ministers, which, in turn, stoked the flames of Christian opposition and led to further resistance.

Most importantly, Christians were keenly aware of the connections of Nazis to witchcraft and the demonic. From the very beginning of the Nazi administration, Christians had been warning of Nazi connections to the occult. They knew who many of these ‘witches’ were, and they were appalled by the fact that Hitler was appointing such people in droves to leadership positions within the Nazi Party. Alfred Rosenberg, the writer of Myth of the Twentieth Century, had long argued for the return of paganism and the blood sacrifice of ‘subhumans.’ The Vatican immediately denounced his appointment as a leader in the Nazi administration. If this had not already made clear Christian feelings towards the ‘modern witch,’ Rosenberg’s visit to London in 1934 certainly would. Rosenberg presented a swastika embroidered in a wreath to the British Parliament as a symbol of peace. Knowing exactly who and what Rosenberg was, a Catholic member of parliament broke the wreath in half and threw it out the window into the river Thames.[50] Renowned Belgian journalist Pierre Van Paassen berated Nazism as “the old pagan demon which the Christian Middle Ages sought to exorcise and to drive out for-ever. German nationalism today is a revolt against Christianity in its broadest as well as in its deepest sense.”[51]

Meanwhile, beyond and even within Germany, Christian opposition to the Nazis proliferated. German Catholics living in exile in France exposed the Nazi-pagan connections in their Kulturkampf newsletters beginning in 1936. Their newsletters called Nazism “a return to paganism.”[52] They denounced and exposed the pagan rituals occurring at the Hitler youth camps and the violent campaigns being waged against Christians in Germany. Pope Pious XI denounced and outed Adolf Hitler and Nazism as evil pagans in a scathing rebuke in his 1937 encyclical: “Whoever follows that so-called pre-Christian Germanic conception of substituting a dark and impersonal destiny for the personal God, denies thereby the Wisdom and Providence of God.”[53] Here, Pious not only declares Nazism a pagan cult but further addresses the brooding conflict between the two religions. “The Church of God is despised and hated maliciously by those who shut their eyes to the light of Christian wisdom and miserably return to the teachings, customs and practices of ancient paganism.”[54] Pious then turns to rebuke Adolf Hitler, “Should any man dare, in sacrilegious disregard of the essential differences between God and His creature, between the God-man and the children of man, to place a mortal, were he the greatest of all times, by the side of, or over, or against, Christ, he would deserve to be called prophet of nothingness.”[55] The pope closes his speech in a solemn warning to Nazism: “The enemies of the Church, who think that their time has come, will see that their joy was premature, and that they may close the grave they had dug.”[56]

These words mattered. The Pope denounced Hitler and outed him and his movement as a pagan one, not only to the world but more importantly to readers within Germany. The Vatican and Christian printing presses published over 300,000 copies of his letter that were distributed across Germany.[57] The Pope’s attempt to reveal Hitler as a pagan would, however, have enormous consequences. In a rage Hitler immediately shut down all Christian printing presses and abducted thousands of priests and convicted them on charges of ‘corruption of the youth,’ many never to be seen again.[58] The Vatican had learned that the denunciation of the Nazis had consequences. Pious wrote in a letter to the Italian Ambassador, “We would like to utter words of fire against such actions [German atrocities,] and the only thing restraining us from speaking is the fear of making the plight of the victims even worse.”[59]

Public scorning had, time and again, proved to have deadly ramifications. Denunciation was quickly therefore replaced by substantial clandestine action. The Vatican, despite its compromised position during the war, sought to subvert and repulse the Germanic nightmare and the sadistic SS at every available opportunity. The churches of Europe worked tirelessly to form an ‘Underground Railroad’ to rescue and smuggle Jews and other targeted minorities out of Nazi-occupied territory. Churches and even the Vatican itself provided sanctuary for Jews during the war — it is estimated that nearly a million Jews were saved by the Catholic Church.[60]

But the Vatican looked beyond its mission of saving innocent lives and actively sought to take one life, specifically that Adolf Hitler. Tyrannicide, an ancient Catholic principle in which murder was not sinful but rather an action of empyrean, was deemed to be not only a necessary but a just and righteous course in the case of the leader of the Third Reich.[61] For the first time since the Crusades of yore, the Vatican was at war. The Vatican, despite retaining its moral supremacy, had long ago lost its capacity for violence. No hospitallers, no templars, no knights or assassins did the church possess. It would have to seek to kill Hitler and turn the course of the war via clandestine means instead. Operationally, this would mean coordinating with members of the Catholic German resistance to achieve a successful assassination. The Vatican would make three attempts to take the life of Adolf Hitler; unfortunately, like the 40 other attempts made primarily by various Christian groups, all would end in failure.[62]

The failure to assassinate Hitler did not stop the Vatican from attempting to turn the tide of war in the llies’ favor. Pope Pious XII would routinely summon Josef Müller of the German resistance, dubbed ‘agent X’ by the Vatican, for information that might help the British war effort.[63] Pious XII would also continue his predecessor’s denunciations of Nazism and would warn the allies of the Nazi’s intentions to invade the Netherlands.[64] Adolf Hitler, knowing full well that the Vatican was attempting to thwart his plans of world domination, made his own plan titled ‘Rabat Fohn,’ which if it had come to fruition would have seen the SS 8th Cavalry division assassinate the Pope and every last Vatican Cardinal.[65]

Outside the Vatican, Lewis Spence, an expert in the occult and mythology, was one of the first Englishmen in 1940 to push the connection between Nazism and witchcraft and the demonic into the public conscience.[66] Well aware of the connections between Nazism and the demonic, a German Christian student organization by the name of the ‘White Rose’ poignantly lambasted Hitler in the leaflets its members distributed: “When he uses the name the almighty, he means the power of evil, the fallen angel, Satan. His mouth is the foul-smelling maw of Hell, and his might is at bottom accursed. True, we must conduct a struggle against the National Socialist terrorist state with rational means; but whoever today still doubts the reality, the existence of demonic powers, has failed by a wide margin to understand the metaphysical background of this war. Behind the concrete, the visible events, behind all objective, logical considerations, we find the irrational element: the struggle against the demon, against the servants of the antichrist.”[67] For publishing this leaflet and others like it, the brave young souls were publicly beheaded by guillotine.

The arrest photos of the 21 year old Sophie Scholl, the writer of the ‘White Rose’ leaflets. Taken in February 1943, hours before she was beheaded by the Nazis.

Outside of Germany the Christian demonization of the Nazis evolved from protest to a mighty roar. The Archbishop Arthur Hinsley addressed the British military in a broadcast, “You are on the side of the angels in the struggle against the pride of the rebellious Lucifer…. You are resisting the onslaught of brutal violence directed against the Christian values on which European civilization was founded.”[68] Anglican Bishop W.G. Whittingham would echo the same view: “We are not fighting flesh and blood, but the devil, in the persons of Hitler and his gang.”[69] Wilhelmina, Queen of the Netherlands, in a radio broadcast to her nation would state that the war “is a war between God and conscience and the powers of darkness.”[70] By 1940, the true nature of the Nazi regime had become undeniable. British author Lewis Spence would publish both a monograph and book in this year titled The Occult Causes of the Present War, in which he would expose the connections between the Nazi Party and the demonic. Spence would proclaim to the British public that “Hitler’s mentality is under the influence of Satanism is evident.”[71] And he remained steadfast in his belief that the current war was caused by the “influences of the Luciferian power upon the Nazi regime.”[72]

The Nazi flirtation with the demonic and its plan to eliminate Christians was not without severe consequence for the Third Reich; not only did it create an even more voracious British war machine, but it deeply affected Americans as well. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a surprise announcement, claimed that he had acquired secret documents that showed Hitler’s thirty-point plan for the destruction of Christianity.[73] He stated the Nazi’s aim was to “to abolish all existing religions — Catholic, Protestant, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish alike” so that “The God of Blood and Iron will take the place of the God of Love and Mercy.”[74] This revelation caused him to extend the lend-lease program to the Soviet Union. Here we see the power of Christianity to influence and dictate American foreign policy and more specifically to change the tune of a leader who despised atheism and the Soviet Union into one willing to aid the Russians in their war against Germany. “We stand ready in the defense of our nation and the faith of our fathers to do what God has given us the power to see as our full duty.”[75] Isolationism, the sinking of the American destroyer USS Kearney, and loss of American lives had not moved him to action to send aide to the Soviet Union; it was instead the revelation of Nazi plans to destroy his religion.

Many Americans were not so slow to embrace conflict, especially once the link between the demonic and Nazism had been established. With the Christian world order on its knees and only America unblemished by the Nazis, it seemed to many American Christians that this was the end. Fundamentalism blossomed into the mainstream. Hitler was believed to be the Anti-Christ, a fulfillment of the end times, and the realization of many of the prophecies of Revelations.[76] This infectious belief consumed many Americans. Brigadier General Éric Fisher Wood declared Hitler to be the antichrist.[77] Fundamentalist Christian leader Frank Norris would become instrumental in drumming up public pressure upon the government to step up its role in the war. By 1939, Norris decreed that “Hitler was Satan incarnate” and that “war was inevitable.”[78] He would cite his primary goal as to “arouse Americans to the Nazi dangers.” Linking the war effort as a war against the devil, he successfully encouraged Christians to invest heavily in the purchasing of war bonds.[79] At his Texas church Norris would even burn a Nazi flag in demonstration. He then began applying pressure on the government to dramatically increase military aid to the allies. His calls were so effective that Roosevelt’s son, Elliot Roosevelt, would join him in the pulpit of his church as a representative of the administration for a defense rally.[80] Christianity, it was clear, was having a tremendous influence on the allied war effort.

An examination of the evidence reveals that Nazi beliefs in the occult were fueling the party’s political actions, from their euthanization of the Jews to their attempts to destroy Christianity, while their belief that they were the master race spurred them to initiate the Second World War. Everything done by the German government, every insidious action undertaken, corresponds to their religious beliefs and the mythology they embraced. Lanz Liebenfels, the witch and one of the founders of Ariosophy and the cult Ostara would even state that “the swastika and fascist movements are basically offspring of Ostara.”[81] The steadfast belief in the purity of the German blood and the need to eradicate and subjugate all other persons meant that capitalism, fascism, communism were irrelevant; and it meant, more importantly, that peace was impossible. The Second World War is not a tale of opposing religious beliefs or of unbridled nationalism alone. It is about the rise of a religion that by its tenets cannot coexist with any other religion, one whose only possible destiny is war and genocide. Most importantly, Nazism was unequivocally the opposite of Christianity. The two religions, morally speaking, were vehemently opposed to one another. Needless to say, nearly every nation the Nazis would invade would be a Christian one. This is, of course, partly geographical coincidence, yet it ensured that the Christian world would find itself pitted against this new religion bent on rising through warfare and destroying and supplanting the Christian world order.

To European and American Christians, Nazism marked a return to the ancient world, as if time had come full circle and civilization itself and all its progress was now being challenged by an evil that Christian nations had thought themselves long rid of. The witches had returned; the demonic had returned; and the old ways of barbarity had returned mass human sacrifice to the world. This new nationalistic religion based on blood purity would threaten the world of the Abrahamic religions — not with conversion but with destruction. Despite the fact that Nazi affiliations with witchcraft and the demonic having been largely erased from the modern narrative of the war, those religious constructs played a large role in the story of the war when it was occurring. At its heart the Second World War was not just a political conflict, but a religious one. A new fanatical religion had emerged that offered no quarter, but battled with the Christian world order to decide the future of the world.


[1] Sophie Scholl, The White Rose, Leaflet 4, 1942.

[2] Linda Barnickel, “Spoils of War: The Fate of European Records during WWII,” Archival Issues, vol. 24, no. 9, 1999: 10

[3] Gary Lachman, Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality (New York: Penguin Publishing, 2012), 71–72.

[4] Gary Lachman, Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality, 256.

[5] Lanz Liebenfels, Ostara and the New Templars (Berlin: The 55 Club, 2019), 11.

[6] Lanz Liebenfels, Theozoology, or the Science of the Sodomite Apelings and the Divine Electron (New York: Europa House, 2004), 86.

[7] Ernst Schertel, Magic: History, Theory, Practice (Berlin: Anthropos-Verlag, 1923), 134.

[8] Adolf Hitler, “On Culture” (Speech, Luitpoldhalle, Culture Convention, Nuremberg, September 6, 1938)

[9] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: A Biography (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2008), 87.

[10] Kershaw, Hitler: A Biography, 138.

[11] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazim: The Ariosophists of Austria and Germany 1890–1935 (New York: New York University Press, 1985), 194.

[12] Goodrich- Clarke The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Theology (New York: New York University Press, 1993), 47.

[13] Alfred Rosenberg, Jurgen Matthaus, and Frank Bajohr, The Political Diary of Alfred Rosenberg and the Onset of the Holocaust (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. 2015), 36.

[14] Bella Fromm. Blood and Banquets: A Berlin Diary 1930–38 (New York: Touchstone Books, 1993), 78.

[15] Translated from The Adolf Hitler Library, Brown University and the Third Reich Library at the Library of Congress.

[16] Roland V. Layton, “The Volkischer Beochater, 1920–1933: The Nazi Party Newspaper in the Wiemar Era,” Cambridge University Press 3, no. 4 (1965): 353.

[17] Joseph Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries 1939–41 (London: Hamish Hamilton Limited, 1982), 340.

[18] Martin Bormann’s “Circular on the Relationship of National Socialism and Christianity,” from which the quotation is taken, is reproduced in John Conway, The Nazi Persecution of the Churches: 1933–1945 (New York: Basic Books, 1968), 383–386.

[19] Peter Longerich. Heinrich Himmler (London: Oxford University Press, 2012), 265.

[20] Felix Kertsen. The Kersten Memoirs: 1940–1945 (New York: Ishi Press, 2011), 155.

[21] Kershaw, Hitler: A Biography, 93.

[22] Alfred Rosenberg, Deitrich Eckart: A German Life (Create Space, 2016), 23–24.

[23] William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (London: Secker & Warburg, 1960), 240.

[24] Anton Gil, An Honourable Defeat: A History of the German Resistance to Hitler (London: Heinemann, 1994), 59.

[25] Richard Bonney and Peter Lang. Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity: The Kulturekampf Newsletters, 1936–1939. (Berlin: Peter Lang AG, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften, 2009), 451.

[26] Alon Confino, “Why Did the Nazis Burn the Hebrew Bible? Nazi Germany, Representations of the Past, and the Holocaust,” The Journal of Modern History. №84 (June 1, 2012): 384.

[27] William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, 238–239.

[28] Gerhard Schormann, ‘Wie enstand die Karthotek, und wem war sie bekannt?” in Himmler’s Hexenkartothek. The Interest of National Socialism in the Persecution of Witches. Sonke Lorenz, Dieter R. Bauer, Wolfgang Behringer, Jurgen Michaek Schmidt. (Bielefeld: Bielefeld Publishing, 2000) 138.

[29] Erich Kurland, Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), 222.

[30] Kurland, Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, 222.

[31] Kurland, Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, 219.

[32] Jacob G. Wiener, Echoes of Memory, Volume 5. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, October 19th, 2008.

[33] Heinz Schreckenberg, Erziehung, Lebenswelt und Kriegseinsatz der deutschen Jugend unter Adolf Hitler (Berlin: Münster 2001), 213.

[34] Bonney, Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity: The Kulturekampf Newsletters 1936–1939, 433.

[35] Carl Friedrich, “Anti-Semitism: Challenge to Christian Culture,” in Jews in a Gentile World: The Problem of Anti-Semitism, ed. Isacque Graeber and Stuart Henderson Britt. (London: Oxford University Press, 1942), 8.

[36] Ernst Schertel, Magic: History, Theory, Practice, 118.

[37] Otto Rahn, Lucifer’s Court: A Heretic’s Journey in Search of the Light Bringers (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2008), 30.

[38] Gerhard Schormann, ‘Wie enstand die karthotek, und wem war sie bejannt?, in Hexenkartothek, 177.

[39] Schertel, Magic: History, Theory, Practice, 47.

[40] Otto Rahn, Luzifers Hofgesind. (Dresden: Zeitwende, 2006), 8.

[41] Samuel Koehne. “The Racial Yardstick: Ethnotheism and Official Nazi Views on Religion,” German Studies Review 37, no.3 (October 2014): 586.

[42] Anton Mayer, Earth Mother and Witches: An Inquiry into the History of Witch Faith and Prehistory of the Witch (Munich: Datterer & CIE, 1936) 11–14.

[43] Schertel, Magic: History, Theory, Practice, 91.

[44] Carl Jung, C. G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, eds William McGuire and R. F. C. Hull (London: Thames and Hudson, 1978), 91.

[45] Carl Jung, Collected Works, Volume 10 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), 185.

[46] Eugene Davidson, The Trial of the Germans: An Account of the Twenty-two Defendants Before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (Columbia: University of Missouri, 1998), 288.

[47] Schertel, Magic: History, Theory, Practice, 33.

[48] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Berlin: Eher Verlag Publishing, 1926), 128.

[49] Winston Churchill, Gathering Storm (London: Mariner Books, 1986), 64.

[50] Jenny Edkins, Trauma and the Memory of Politics (London: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 70.

[51] Pierre Van Paassen, Nazism: An Assault on Civilization (Harrison Smith and Robert Haas, 1934), 144.

[52] Bonney, Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity: The Kulturekampf Newsletters 1936–1939, 38.

[53] Pius XI “With Deep Anxiety” (Papal Encyclical, March 14, 1937), 7.

[54] Pius XII “Mystici Corporis Christ” (Papal Encyclical, June 29th, 1943), 3.

[55] Pius XI, “With Deep Anxiety”, 17.

[56] Pius XI, “With Deep Anxiety”, 42.

[57] Ian Kershaw, Hitler: A Biography (London: WW Norton & Company, 2008) 381.

[58] Kershaw, Hitler: A Biography, 381.

[59] Anthony Rhodes, The Vatican In the Age of the Dictators: 1922–1945 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974), 244.

[60] Joseph Bottum, The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004), 199.

[61] Mark Riebling, Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler (New York: Perseus Books, 2016), 61.

[62] Roger Moorehouse, Killing Hitler: The Plots, The Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death. (New York: Bantam, 2007), 3.

[63] Riebling, Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler, 61.

[64] Patrick J. Gallo, Pius XII, The Holocaust and The Revisionists: Essays (London: McFarland & Company, 2006), 74.

[65] Bottum, The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII, 223.

[66] Lewis Spence, Occult Causes of the Present War, 1.

[67] The White Rose, Leaflet 4, 1942.

[68] Spence, Occult Causes of the Present War, 22.

[69] Spence, Occult Causes of the Present War, 22.

[70] Spence, Occult Causes of the Present War, 22.

[71] Spence, Occult Causes of the Present War, 8.

[72] Spence, Occult Causes of the Present War, 8.

[73] Richard Overy, Why The Allies Won (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1995), 285.

[74] Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Navy Day Address: Attack on the Destroyer Kearney” (Radio Broadcast, October 27, 1941)

[75] Roosevelt, Navy Day Address.

[76] Matthew Avery Sutton, American Apocolypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014), 3.

[77] Louie D. Newton, “Hitler called Anti-Christ in Defense Rally,” The Atlanta Constitution, February 22, 1943.

[78] Frank Norris, “War Conditions Changed Our Route. War is Inevitable.” The Fundamentalist, July 21, 1939, 1.

[79] John R. Rice, “Duties of Christians Concerning Hitler and World War” The Sword of the Lord, August 22, 1942, 1.

[80] Frank Norris, “Calling America to Christian Patriotism and to God: Elliot Roosevelt, Convention Hall, Detroit, June 9, 7:30 PM., The Fundamentalist, June 7, 1940. 1.

[81] Lanz Liebenfels, Ostara 3, №1, 1927. 3.



Tristan Erwin

History student at UNG Military College. Specialist in European history and Mythology. Footnotes and Bibliography always provided. Only scholarly sources used.