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Monday, May 7, 2012

Esoteric Nazism in 'Hammer of the Gods'

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David Luhrssen's Hammer of the Gods: The Thule Society and the Birth of Nazism (Potomac Books) evaluates a little-examined element of Nazism and does so with historical accuracy and insightful revelation. The Thule Society was a Munich occult group with political aspirations. Spearheaded by Rudolf von Sebottendorff, the Society espoused a variant of Theosophy, with the racial superiority of Aryans as a core ideology. To disseminate its esoteric ideas to the masses, Thule established the anti-Semitic German Workers' Party, eventually transformed by Hitler into the National Socialist German Workers' Party, aka the Nazi Party. Some members of the Thule Society ultimately were awarded important positions in the Third Reich.

The moral quagmire relative to the killing machine that was the Nazi regime is given clear definition in Hammer of the Gods. This book portrays the invisible foundation for ruthless and preordained politics and speaks to questions of how the Third Reich was able to convince and control an entire German population.

This is a terrifying book. It is educational, indeed, but also rife with delineated and accurate exposure of the mysteries that influenced and conducted the affairs of a nation gone pedagogically mad under the rule of not merely a tyrant, but one possessed and empowered by forces none of us want to acknowledge or confront. The factual accounts, documented thoroughly in copious notes, read as smoothly as would an accomplished novel.

But it is not fiction, although one wishes it were, when traces of the Thule Society are brought into manifest evidence within contemporary examples. "Nazism has become inescapable in popular culture," Luhrssen writes, addressing everything from obscure paperback fiction to one of the most popular Hollywood movies of recent decades, Raiders of the Lost Ark. He adds: "Thule remains an element in the worldwide obsession with Nazism."

Luhrssen provides an updated, even corrected, history of Nazism, and for those of us who ponder the fate of humankind, it's a document of the final horrifying reality relative to the human condition. We are unsafe in ways that remain unprotected, undetected and that can be verified—and that continue.

Hammer of the Gods
is required reading for historians and for every individual who desires to be fully informed on an unnerving time in world history. But it is also on the reading list for those who know that the truth about our future is not as it might seem, and that understanding exactly what transpired within the Third Reich induces wider comprehension of how our very existence is governed by unseen forces in a continual, darkening motion. What is uplifting is the author's research and revelation. What is not is that which is discovered and explicated with the mind of a scholar and the heart of a poet.

David Luhrssen will speak about Hammer of the Gods 7 p.m. May 11 at Boswell Book Co. Glen Jeansonne, author of a new biography on Herbert Hoover, is also on the program.

David Luhrssen is A&E editor of the
Shepherd Express and co-author of Elvis Presley, Reluctant Rebel and Changing Times: The Life of Barack Obama.