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Germany Planned to Win WWII By Weaponizing the Occult

Photo Credit: movienutt / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: movienutt / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB

Germany came up with many convoluted plans to help them win the Second World War, including mass breeding potato bugs to be deployed and decimate enemy crops. Undoubtedly, their strangest plan to was use various forms of the occult to help secure victory. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly given the many misguided beliefs of high-ranking officials at the time, there were many German officers who were firm followers of different unconventional beliefs.

Vampires vs. werewolves

Some legends and myths endured over the years. This is especially true when it comes to creatures like werewolves, and vampires. For example, when the future Führer wrote Mein Kampf, he called Jewish people “vam – pires,” “bloodsuckers,” and “demons.” This rhetoric never really went away as the party published a 1943 pamphlet with the English title, The Jewish Vampire Brings Chaos to the World.

Drawing of a werewolf near a tombstone.
Line drawing of a werewolf. (Photo Credit: Mont Sudbury / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Another of these myths that came to life during the war was that of the werewolf. According to historian Robert Eisler, it was under the Third Reich that the idea that Germans could turn into the creature reemerged. Aside from using the name to describe their forces, the party believed that they could turn into these lupine monsters. They thought that they fought on the side of good and were able to defeat the evil of the world.

The Witch Division

Unlike werewolves and vampires, which were viewed primarily as legends, witches were seen in a more realistic way. In fact, an entire research project was established in 1935 to look into the medieval witch trials in Germany. The Hexenkartothek was run by a group of SS researchers tasked with proving that the trials were orchestrated by the Catholic Church to purposefully erase German culture.

Three witches in dresses with broomsticks and masks.
Three witches wearing masks and carrying broomsticks, January 31, 1967. (Photo Credit: Keystone / Getty Images)

This could be a metaphor if it wasn’t for the fact that they took it even further. Thanks to their leader, who completely bought into the idea of witchcraft, Hexenkartothek was also used to gather evidence on how to use this ancient magic. They believed that these women really had supernatural powers, and had passed them down to their modern German ancestors. Trying to use it for themselves, “witch dances,” whatever they may be, were added to SS ceremonies.

Leader of the SS

There was one high-ranking German official who, above all else, was completely invested in the occult. The Reichsführer-SS himself even had his own private occultist, Karl Maria Wiligut, whom he consulted for many things. Wiligut advised the Reichsführer on where to have his SS base and helped create the death’s head rings, covered in runes, that were worn by his troops.

'SS' death's head ring with a skull and ruins.
An SS death’s head ring, or totenkopfring, designed with the help of Karl Maria Wiligut. (Photo Credit: Equirhodont / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)

His name was often at the root of many bizarre occult projects undertaken in wartime Germany – and before – although he certainly wasn’t the only one. Both he and the Führer believed in the World Ice Theory which posited that celestial gods made of ice determined what happened in the world at any given time. They also both believed heavily in astrology, something that they took very seriously.

Houska Castle

It’s clear that the Reichsführer-SS insisted on investigating the occult, in all shapes and forms. This includes Houska Castle in the Czech Republic. Built in the late 13th century, it was said that the chapel covered a gateway to Hell. The builders tested this theory by lowering prisoners into the gaping hole and pulling them to the surface again to see what they saw. One of these men came back out after screaming loudly and had visibly aged 30 years.

Front view of Houska Castle.
Houska Castle in the Czech Republic is said to cover a gateway to hell, 2018. (Photo Credit: Ben Skála, Benfoto/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

The castle was taken over by the Germans during the Second World War, and rumors quickly started. Some said that the only reason they occupied the area was to see if the gateway to Hell was real, while others said it was because they were conducting occult experiments. Supposedly it was a regular occurrence for high-ranking officers to attend secret ceremonies there which were designed to use the power of Hell for themselves.

While it might seem that this perusal of the occult was led by one man, it was actually embraced by many members of German leadership.

The Thule Society

In fact, the occult made up a fundamental part of Third Reich ideology from the very beginning. Many founders of the German Worker’s Party, who would eventually take control of the whole country, were members of the Thule Society that wanted to research the mythological origin of Aryans. They generally adhered to ideas of Ariosophy, which said that Aryans were electrically bred by Theozoa, interstellar deities.

Scene from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' of German soldiers looting a tomb.
Behind-the-scenes shot from Raiders of the Lost Ark depicting German soldiers looting a tomb for occult reasons. (Photo Credit: movienutt / Paramount Pictures / MovieStillsDB/ Blurred)

These offspring once had magical powers but they lost them after breeding with humans. Not only did the Thule Society buy into these ideas, they also thought that their ancestors had once lived in Atlantis. Aside from ideology, Ariosophy beliefs constantly leaked into the Third Reich, including the use of the double “sig” rune in the SS logo. Even the swastika was considered an important symbol to them well before it was adopted in Germany.

More from us: The Secret Role the CIA Played in Producing Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘North By Northwest’

There are many other theories that were created with absolutely no evidence to prove them, like the Führer being possessed by a demon, that he was able to control minds while giving his infamous speeches, or that he owned the spear that crucified Christ which would magically have its wielder succeed at everything they did. Yet these other examples of Germany using the occult to win the war are well documented.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.