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Brownshirt Princess

Lionel Gossman

Part II. Serving New Gods

8. After 1945: Unrepentant Neo-Nazi

Texte intégral

  • 1 Margaret Bourke-White, ”Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly”: A Report on the Collapse of Hitler’s ’Thou (...)
  • 2 See note 22 above.

1The catastrophic end of the Third Reich in 1945 had no effect on the Princess’s outlook; it inhibited but did not change the character of her activities. She had to leave Munich, where she seems to have been living, and seek temporary refuge with the daughter of her former publisher Roselius in Bremen.1 As nearly a quarter-century had passed since the publication of Gott in mir, and Roselius himself had died in 1943, it seems likely that the relationship the author had apparently maintained with the publisher and his family over the years was based on their common devotion to National Socialism and the Nordic idea.2

  • 3 See Jens Mecklenburg, ed., Handbuch deutscher Rechtsextremismus (Berlin: Elefanten Press, 1996), p (...)

2Doubtless the Princess’s family fortune had not been completely destroyed, however, for she found her feet again fairly quickly. In 1947 she took part in a conspiratorial meeting of former Nazis in Hameln – known throughout the English-speaking world for its legendary hero, the pied piper – at which it was decided to infiltrate the Free Protestants of Rhine-Hesse and turn their group into a right-wing religious organization to be called the Deutsche Unitarier Religionsgemeinschaft [German Unitarian Religious Community]. From the outset, this organization distinguished itself from other Unitarian communities by emphasizing first, that it was German, and second, that it had nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity. As is made clear by the choice of the Hagal rune (already adopted by the author of Nordische Frau und Nordischer Glaube) as its emblem and by the ideological genealogy displayed on a ”family tree” in a subsequent number of the organization’s journal, the DUR was in fact a continuation of the völkisch, anti-Semitic, neo-pagan religious groups that had been intermittently encouraged, exploited, and held in check or even disbanded in the National Socialist era. As such, it was completely compatible with the pantheistic paganism of Gott in mir as well as with the philosophico-religious writings – which continued to be printed after the war – of another eminent Nationalsozialistin, Mathilde Ludendorff, the widow of the right­wing General Erich von Ludendorff. It was commonly referred to in the post-war Federal Republic as a ”Nazi sect” even though that description was challenged in court on several occasions in an effort to ward off official proscription. What is certain is that its meetings did in fact provide a forum for prominent ex-Nazis and war criminals of all kinds. In the 1950s younger members of the organization were being advised to ”choose their spouses only from among those of pure German blood.”3

  • 4 Jens Mecklenburg, ed., Handbuch deutscher Rechtsextrimsmus, pp. 411-13. Another of Grabert’s publi (...)
  • 5 Kratz, Die Götter des New Age, pp. 307-08. On the DUR and its founding, see Handbuch deutscher Rec (...)

3The Princess’s co-conspirators at Hameln included the ”SA poet” Herbert Böhme, the author and publisher Herbert Grabert, and the writer Eberhard Achterberg. Achterberg had been chief editor of Rosenberg’s Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte and had headed the Department for ”Judentum und Freimaurerei” [Jewry and Freemasonry] in Rosenberg’s ”Dienststelle für die Überwachung der gesamten geistigen und weltanschaulichen Schulung und Erziehung der NSDAP” [Office for Oversight of the Total Spiritual and Ideological Training and Education of the NSDAP]. Böhme, who succeeded the Princess as the organization’s theological leader, also went on to found other extreme right-wing associations, such as the Deutsches Kulturwerk Europäischen Geistes in 1950, the aim of which was the protection and promotion of ”volkhaft-konservative” literature. Grabert had been a leader of the pre-war Deutsche Glaubensbewegung and editor of the neo-pagan monthly Deutscher Glaube, as well as the author of völkisch works such as Die völkische Aufgabe der Religionswissenschaft [How the Study of Religion should Contribute to the Culture of the Volk] (1938) and Der Glaube des deutschen Bauerntums: Eine weltanschauungskundliche und glaubensgeschichtliche Untersuchung [The Religion of the German Peasantry: A Study in the History of Religion and Worldview] (1939). During the War he had served as an official in Rosenberg’s Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Lands; in the post­war period, in addition to his participation in the founding of the DUR, he established an ”Institut für deutsche Nachkriegsgeschichte,” which concerned itself principally with the ”Kriegsschuldlüge” [the lie about German war guilt], and a publishing house (1953), one of the publications of which – the journal Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart – has been judged ”the most important organ of ’revisionist’ falsification of history in the Federal Republic.”4 The Princess’s own role in the DUR was crucial, however. Without her early intellectual leadership, her promotion of the organization through frequent lecture tours in West Germany, and her decades-long participation in its activities, it has been said, ”there would be no DUR today.” As late as 1991 the Princess was still publishing in DUR affiliated magazines.5

4Six years after the end of the war in Europe and the collapse of the National Socialist regime, the Princess made a grand heroic gesture in the aristocratic, self-sacrificing mode of the heroine of Die Overbroocks, where the chapter that tells of Irene’s sacrifice of her twin sons to the National Socialist cause is entitled ”Das heilige Opfer” [The Sacred Sacrifice]. Still recorded on several neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist websites over half a century later, this gesture – if the document supporting it is authentic – seems to confirm the claim in Nordische Frau und Nordischer Glaube that ”even when a woman has been convinced of the unreasonableness of a position, she will hold tenaciously to its forms out of the instinctive need for constancy of her maternally protective nature.”6 In a letter to John McCloy, the American High Commissioner for Germany, dated Bremen, 10 February 1951, the Princess offered herself as a replacement for one of seven SS men from the Landsberg concentration camp who had been condemned to death as ”so-called war criminals” – ”und zwar für den unter ihnen, der die meisten Kinder durch seinen Tod vaterlos machen würde” [and specifically for the one among them whose death would make the largest number of children fatherless]. ”I am an old National Socialist,” she informed McCloy, aristocratically disdaining any attempt to conceal a commitment that circumstances alone, in her view, had rendered inopportune, ”and it is my obligation, in accordance with a pledge I made to the SS-Reichsführer [Himmler] in 1930, to take care of members of the SS wherever and however it is possible for me to do so. I have always done my best to keep a promise made in the happy times of our hope for a better and more beautiful Germany and I want to keep that promise now too, in Germany’s hour of deepest suffering. I do so in the spirit of the words of a song we used often to sing together on festive occasions: ’When all are unfaithful, we still keep the faith…’”7 This astounding document (fig. 20) indicates clearly that, in the Princess’s mind, there was nothing wrong with the ideas and actions of the SS. The allied victory and the regrettable (but perhaps not permanent) triumph of Western liberalism – as in the period after World War I – had simply made those ideas and actions inexpedient. And in such times especially it is the moral duty of truly free, independent-minded Nordic men and women, the heroic elite, not to swim with the tide but to stand up for the ”untimely.”

20. Copy of the Princess’s letter to U.S. High Commissioner McCloy.

5The text reads:

6Marie Adelheid
Prinzessin Reuß-zur Lippe

7Bremen, Berliner Str. 29
den 10. Februar 1951

8An den
Amerikanischen Hochkommissar
Mr. Mc Cloy
Frankfurt a/M

9Tief erschüttert durch die Tatsache, daß sieben der 28 zum Tode verurteilten Landsberger sogenannten ”Kriegsverbrecher” trotz der erwiesenen Fragwür­digkeit der Nürnberger Urteile und trotz aller Proteste und Eingaben in- und ausländischer Stellen weiterhin verurteilt bleiben, bitte ich Sie, falls Sie wirklich der Ansicht sind aus irgendwelchen Gründen auf diese Opfer nicht verzichten zu können, mich als Stellvertretung für einen der Sieben hinzurichten und zwar für den unter ihnen, der die meisten Kinder durch seinen Tod vaterlos machen würde.

10Ich bin alte Nationalsozialistin, und es ist einem Versprechen gemäß, das ich 1930 dem Reichsführer SS gegeben hatte, meine Aufgabe, für die Angehörigen der SS zu sorgen, wo und wie es mir möglich wäre. Dieses Versprechen, in den glück-lichen Tagen der Hoffnung auf ein schöneres und besseres Deutschland gege-ben, habe ich stets zu halten versucht und will es auch nun in den Tage tiefsten deutschen Leides halten, dem Liede entsprechend, das wir damals in mancher Feierstunde miteinander gesungen haben:
”Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu…”
Ich stehe Ihnen jederzeit zur Verfügung.

11gez. Unterschrift

  • 8 Andreas Speit, ”Fieses unterm Findling: Der Nazi-Kultort ’Ahnenstätte Conneforde’ hat einen promin (...)

12As she had been a co-founder of the DUR, the Princess was a co­founder in 1958 of the Ahnenstätte Conneforde, a burial ground in the district of Ammerland, about 30 kilometers north-west of Bremen, in the countryside in which, years before, she had located the Overbroocks’ ancestral farmstead. The term ”Ahnenstätte” [ancestral place] in place of the customary Christian term ”Friedhof” was intended to underline the site’s pagan, Germanic, and non-Christian character. Several such burial grounds, dating from both before and after World War II, still exist, though some have been closed by the civil authorities because of their connection with neo-Nazi movements. They are the favored burial grounds of former local NSDAP leaders. In principle, they are situated far from towns, in areas of wood or heath, weed and wild flowers, approachable only by footpaths. Cut flowers and cultivated gardens are scorned, sometimes expressly forbidden. Dates of birth and death are indicated on the stone grave markers by the runic symbols favored by the SS. (The Old Germanic Algaz-rune or man-rune, which the Nazis interpreted as life-rune, indicates date of birth; turned upside down, it indicates date of death). Swastikas as well as other runic signs can be seen, but no crosses. The Ahnenstätte was and is also a favored locale for pagan religious rites like the celebration of summer and winter solstices. Conneforde had in fact already been a cult site for the celebration of the summer solstice under the Nazis.8

  • 9 Peter Kratz, Die Götter des New Age, p. 256, quotes Sigrid Hunke, a neo-Nazi philosopher, in her E (...)
  • 10 See Peter Kratz, Die Götter des New Age, pp. 249-51.

13The message of the Ahnenstätte – a Blood and Soil interpretation of the Goethean Stirb und werde that the Princess had chosen as the envoy of her Gott in mir of 1921 and referred to repeatedly in her subsequent writings – was and is clear: the dead have not vanished, they have rejoined the eternal natural cycle of birth and death in the soil from which they emerged and from which they and their eternally renewable family line are as inseparable as the local trees or grasses.9 The model Ahnenstätte, also in Lower Saxony, was no doubt Hilligenloh, established in 1932 by the völkisch, racist, anti-Christian, and neopagan Verein Deutschvolk of Erich and Mathilde von Ludendorff.10

  • 11 Archaeological excavations were conducted at various sites in Germany and archaeological and anthr (...)

14There is nothing surprising about the Princess’s role the founding of Ahnenstätte Conneforde. Through her mentor Darré, she had been connected before the War with another institution that was closely related to the Ahnenstätte, namely Ahnenerbe. Founded in 1935, Ahnenerbe was the brainchild of Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, his friend Darré, and Herman Wirth, the Dutch-German champion of the Nordic idea and protégé of Roselius. With headquarters at Himmler’s Wewelsburg Castle, near Paderborn, and with 46 separate departments, many headed by university professors, Ahnenerbe was envisaged by Himmler as the spiritual and scientific center of the SS, which he imagined as a kind of Aryan knighthood, a ”Neuer Adel,” a new aristocracy of Germanic blood and soil. (Though it was not formally incorporated into the SS until 1940, most of its academic and medical research staff – later responsible for some of the horrendous medical ”experiments” of the Nazis – were at least honorary members of the SS.) Research was undertaken into ancient Nordic culture in order to promote the goal – fervently espoused by Himmler, Darré, and the Princess, though for tactical reasons not given very wide publicity – of re-establishing a supposed ancient Aryan religion in Germany as a spiritual basis for the new National Socialist world order, in place of and in opposition to an alien, ”Oriental” Christianity.11 The Ahnenstätte thus contributed to the larger aims of Ahnenerbe.

15Through her writing the Princess continued to play her part in the propagation of right-wing and neo-Nazi ideas. 1960 saw the publication of Weltfrömmigkeit, a volume of poems, some borrowed from the earlier Gott in mir, in which she again gave lyrical expression to the heroic Nietzschean­aristocratic ideal represented in novelistic form in the figure of Irene in Die Overbroocks (and, in the Princess’s eyes, in reality in the members of the elite corps founded by ”Reichsführer-SS” Heinrich Himmler, to whom she declared in her letter to High Commissioner McCloy that she had sworn an oath of allegiance): that of the strong-willed, free-spirited, unsentimental, hard-thinking, and fearless individual, who has cast aside the illusions and petty consolations of the weak and joyfully assumed his or her destiny. Though its specific character may vary, the general shape of that destiny is always the same: it is to play a willing and active part, without thought of what to others might count as success of failure, in the mysterious course, at once ever changing and unending, of the universe – and not least in the course of human history – in full confidence that the individual participates, through his or her volk, in the divine nature of the universe or the ”All” and will be reabsorbed into the ”All” once his or her destiny has been fulfilled.

  • 12 On Barnes, see Deborah E. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (...)

16In 1961, under the title Entlarvte Heuchelei [Hypocrisy Unmasked] (Wiesbaden: Priester), the Princess published her translation into German of Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: A Critical Examination of the Foreign Policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and its Aftermath, a collection of essays edited by the American historian Harry Elmer Barnes, including two by the editor himself. Barnes was one of the earliest ”revisionist” historians. A study of the Great War, in which he challenged the established account of German responsibility, had been published by Knopf in New York in 1926, and had been accepted as a serious work of scholarship by the historical profession. Subsequently, however, Barnes – who bitterly opposed American action against Germany in the late 1930s and 40s – extended his critique to the Second World War, and then to the generally accepted account of the Holocaust. At that point his scholarship began to be perceived as having been subordinated to an ideological agenda; he lost his standing among his fellow historians; and his work had to be published by an undistinguished far-right press. The text translated by the Princess was published by Caxton Printers in Caldwell, Idaho.12

17The Barnes translation was followed in 1965 by a translation into German, under the title Das Drama der Juden Europas: Eine technische Studie (Hanover: Hans Pfeiffer Verlag), of Le Drame des juifs européens (Paris: Les Sept Couleurs, 1964) by Paul Rassinier, a onetime Communist and concentration camp inmate, who was subsequently a Socialist député in the French parliament. In the original French this book had in fact been favorably reviewed in the Journal of Historical Review, the organ of the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review, by none other than Barnes, whom the Institute characterizes on its website as ”the founding father of historical revisionism,” and who went on to translate it into English himself. (It was published as The Drama of the European Jews [Silver Spring, MD: Steppingstones Publications, 1975]). In the introduction to a 1977 republication of this text, together with translations of other works by Rassinier, under the title Debunking the Genocide Myth: A Study of the Nazi Concentration Camps and the Alleged Extermination of European Jewry (Los Angeles: The Noontide Press) the connection between Rassinier and Barnes was clearly spelled out. Rassinier was described here as ”an important revisionist historian in the tradition of the late American historian, Harry Elmer Barnes.” (p. xvi)

  • 13 English translations of Christophersen’s Auschwitz-Lüge appeared with the Liberty Bell Press of Re (...)

18The Princess continued her post-war career as a self-described faithful ”alte Nationalsozialistin” by financially supporting the periodical Die Bauernschaft, launched in 1969 by Thies Christophersen. Christophersen, a notorious neo-Nazi, was subsequently threatened with imprisonment in Germany for spreading Nazi propaganda and race hatred and finally had to leave Germany and settle in Denmark. His periodical, of which the Princess herself assumed the editorship in 1971, kept alive the Blut und Boden ideology fervently promoted both by the Princess’s mentor Darré and, as we have seen, by the Princess herself in her pre-War and wartime writings. In 1971 Christophersen launched another publishing venture: Kritik: Die Stimme des Volkes, a series of explicitly neo-Nazi writings. Typical titles are Die Auschwitz-Lüge [The Auschwitz Lie] (1973) by Christophersen himself, followed shortly afterwards by his Der Auschwitz-Betrug [The Auschwitz Deception], a collection of documents and readers’ letters relating to the earlier publication,13 Ist Rassenbewusstsein verwerflich? [Is Race Consciousness Reprehensible?] (1975) by G. A. Amaudruz, and Rassenethik [Race Ethics] (1977) by René Binet.

  • 14 In accordance with a 1941 decree of Hitler, the novel Die Overbroocks (1942) was printed in Roman (...)

19In 1978 a collection of fourteen poems by the Princess, entitled Freundesgruß (fig. 21), appeared in Christophersen’s series, with markedly traditional woodcut illustrations by the popular Nazi artist Georg Sluyterman von Langeweyde, whose mother was from Lower Saxony (where the Overbroocks had their farm) and whose work is largely devoted to celebrating the hard lives of the region’s peasants as well as heroic figures from German history and legend. Whereas the typographic layout of the earlier post-war collection of poems, Weltfrömmigkeit, had been uncharacteristically modern, somewhat reminiscent of art deco, with Freundesgruß, the Princess reverted to Fraktur, the typeface usually thought of as characteristically ”German” and adopted in all her pre-war writings.14

20The poems in the new collection range in length from 12 to 58 lines and are of varying structure, as in the two previous collections. Some are made up of traditional four-line, mostly rhyming pentameter verses, others use hexameters, others still mix lines of uneven length. Each poem, with only one exception, carries a date, from 1918 to 1964, along with its title. (In two cases the date is the title). Each expresses thoughts and feelings aroused by and associated in the mind of the poet with the historical date in the title. It is, of course, possible that the dates refer to the year of composition of the poem. Two (”Glaube. 1950” and ”Glück. 1946”) had in fact already appeared, untitled, as the opening poems of the earlier post-war collection, Weltfrömmigkeit. It is more likely, however, in my view, that the dates are an integral part of the title of each, so that the collection as a whole, arranged as it is chronologically, should be read as the poet’s reflections on and response to fifty tumultuous years of German history, from the disaster of 1918, through the period of triumphant National Socialism, to the Second World War, the defeat of what she continues to regard as a great and noble ideal by the combined hostile forces of the capitalist West and the communist East, the efforts of the victors to destroy the unity and break the spirit of her beloved German volk, and the irrepressible hope, among a resilient, faithful few, in the ultimate triumph of their cause. By entitling the collection Freundesgruß [Greeting from a Friend] the Princess indicates that it is addressed to a readership of ”friends” – like-minded former Nazis, neo-pagans, readers of Kritik – by whom she can expect her reflections to be immediately understood and shared.

21. Cover of the Princess’s collection of poems Freundesgruß in the extreme rightwing series Kritik: Die Stimme des Volkes (1978).

21A sampling of these poems, albeit in summary or fairly literal translation, will convey at least some sense of the subject matter and the tone. It will be seen that the dominant themes of the Princess’s writing have changed very little: mourning and disillusionment in 1918 at the collapse of the imperial regime, together with willingness to write that old regime off as feeble, corrupt, and having in the end deserved its fate, along with determination to stake everything on building a new Germany; selfless courage, heroism, activism, and readiness to sacrifice what is held most dear as the qualities required for the construction of a New Order that its champions will probably not live to witness; defiant loyalty to the ”dream of the Reich” even after its catastrophic destruction in 1945; joyful acceptance of change as the law of the universe and with it the consoling guarantee that no victory is lasting, no defeat final; victory over death through willing surrender of individuality and identification with the volk and ultimately with the Cosmos. In a word: stirb und werde! And everywhere the pervasive symbolism of fire and light, along with worship of the Sun – the common repertory of neo-Gnostic Christians, neo-pagans, and National Socialists, as well as of those on the Left who also sought to fuse religion and political ideology.

From 9. November 1918

In the west darkness falls and the sun goes down.
Even so does dread sink nightly over Prussia.
Except that the sun smiles anew with the new day,
while here what has been lost will never return.
[Im Westen dunkelt’s und die Sonne sinkt.
So sinkt auch nächtlich Graun auf Preußen nieder.
Nur daß mit neuem Tag neu Sonne winkt,
hier aber kommt Verlorenes nicht wieder.]

Ausblick. 1918 [Prospect. 1918]

The order of the day is: Be strong,
and, head held high,
proudly bear the inevitable.
It is useless to lament and wail
over that of which by favor of fate we have been robbed!
With fresh resolve look ahead!
Let not your courage flag!
Life helps those alone who bravely battle and fight!
The will to act can alone master the world
and lay hands on the horn of salvation.
[Jetzt heißt es: stark sein,
mit erhob’nem Haupt
das Unabänderliche stolz zu tragen.
Es nützt ja nichts, zu jammern und zu klagen
um das, was uns des Schicksals Gunst geraubt!
Frisch vorwärts schaun!
Den Mut nicht sinken lassen!
Das Leben hilft nur dem, der tapfer kämpft und ringt!
Tatkraft allein ist’s, die die Welt bezwingt, vermag allein das Horn des Heils zu fassen.]

Silvesternacht 1918 [New Year’s Eve 1918]

22This poem describes the last day of a terrible year in Germany’s history as marking ”the end of a great era, a glorious era that began in victory and joyfulness.” But the poet sees streak of light on the horizon and she goes ”kämpfend, glaubend” [fighting and firm in faith] toward it. ”Good is victorious!” she cries, despite everything. ”Let me be its warrior!” The poet’s underlying response to the disaster of 1918 is unmistakably the familiar: ”Stirb und werde!”

Pfingstfeuer in Guteborn 1928 [Whitsun Bonfire in Guteborn 1928]

23The point of departure and central image of this poem is the fire that is traditionally lit in many parts of Germany to symbolize the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Pentecost fire is also a symbol of purification and, in some areas, a celebration of the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It is highly likely that it was the pre-Christian origin of that aspect of the ”Pfingstfeuer” that attracted the Princess’s attention. As we saw earlier, she took part herself in a celebration of the summer solstice in 1930. If the traditional Pfingstfeuer adapted pagan customs and rituals to Christianity, the Princess’s poem translates the Christian desire for grace, the sloughing off of the old Adam and entry into a vita nuova, into a political commitment. The Pfingstfeuer that is the occasion of her reflections seems more like a gathering of National Socialists than of Christians. In addition, it is unlikely to have slipped the Princess’s mind that the castle at Guteborn was the scene, on 13 November 1918, of the abdication of King Friedrich August III of Saxony. Something new is thus presented as rising from the ashes of the old (”stirb und werde!” yet again) and the place-name helps to anchor the poem in the concrete history that the collection as a whole is intended to evoke.

We stand around the fire hand in hand.
Songs and fine words fill the air.
Around you there is an intoxicating atmosphere of heroism and honor.
But within you I sense the weight of earthly concerns,
A fervent desire to be reconciled with happiness.
Not so, friends! - Here in these flames
I see a stake raised,
on it all the best and brightest burn.
Subhuman hatred destroys the blood of the North.
You and I and all who stand here
will be sacrificed for the sake of New Life,
and must surrender ourselves and all that is dearest to us
without ever witnessing success or reward.
Have you thought of this and taken it to heart?
Are you still defiant and resolved?
Have you, living still, already conquered death?
Does your heart draw you toward sacrifice?
If so, then sing, friends. Nothing can make us afraid.
From our death God will awaken victory!
Wir stehn um das Feuer Hand in Hand.
[Lieder klingen auf und Worte tönen,
Um Euch ist ein Rausch von Heldenehre,
In Euch aber fühl’ ich Erdenschwere,
Heissen Wunsch, dem Glück sich zu versöhnen.
Nicht so, Freunde! – Hier in dieser Glut
seh ich einen Scheiterhauf sich schichten,
darauf brennen all die Hellen, Lichten.
Untermenschenhaß zerstört des Nordens Blut.
Du und ich und alle, die hier stehen,
werden Opfer sein für neues Leben,
müssen uns und unser Liebstes geben,
ohne je Erfolg und Lohn zu sehen.
Habt ihr dies bedacht in tiefstem Sinn?
Seid ihr dennoch trotzig und durchdrungen?
Habt den Tod ihr lebend schon bezwungen,
Zieht euch euer Herz zum Opfer hin?
Dann, ihr Freunde, singt! Nichts kann uns schrecken.
Gott wird Sieg aus unserm Tod erwecken! ]

Weihelied. 1930 [Song of Consecration. 1930]

Rise up, you beautiful, solemn flames,
out of the mysterious depths of night,
Bring us, who are also born of fire,
and bound together by a single shared desire,
at this ceremony the greeting of eternal light.
We are few, scattered fighters,
around us storms the unreason of the world;
Glorious light, we are those who pave the way
For your brightness to spread further, ever further,
until it illuminates our people’s night.
May our work, begun in joy,
glow with an inner fire.
We know that victory will be ours –
though our lives may be lost to achieve it –
that out of us the new Reich will blossom.
[Steigt empor, ihr schönen, ernsten Flammen,
aus der Nacht geheimnisvollem Grund,
Bringet uns, die auch vom Feuer stammen,
und die gleiches Wünschen band zusammen,
ew’gen Lichts Gruß zur Feierstund’.
Wir sind wenige, versprengte Streiter,
um uns tobt die Unvernunft der Welt;
Schönes Licht, wir sind dir Wegbereiter,
Daß dein Schein dringt weiter, immer weiter,
bis er unseres Volkes Nacht erhellt.
Unser Schaffen, das wir froh beginnen,
sei von Feuer innerlich durchglüht.
Ja, wir wissen’s wohl daß wir gewinnen,
– mag auch unser Leben drob zerrinnen, – daß aus uns das neue Reich erblüht! –]

Schneeflocke. 1944 [Snowflake. 1944]

24In this somewhat longer poem of 37 non-rhyming hexameter lines, the snowflake serves as a symbol of an individual human life informed by love – love for and dedication to a loved one and, at the same time, a larger Whole embracing all individuals. More specifically, the date defines the snowflake’s errant path, destruction, and resurrection in a new form as the fate of the Princess herself and of her fellowship of committed National Socialists.

Shimmering flake, you seem to dance your way down from heaven.
Do you float down impassive, blindly borne by chance?
Are you aware of beginnings and ends? Did you feel pain and,
child torn from your origin, as you left for ever
the cloud that lovingly carried and protected you?
Or, dainty one, are you full of sweet longing
to see again one who left the cloud before you and, bold and fearless, took the path to the unknown? –
How you hurry after him, good-hearted one, unsuspecting – disregarding
the eternal universal law that love admits of no return.
Gleaming, a shining star, you saw your friend disappear.
He still waved laughingly to you as he led, fairer than all,
his round of well-formed playmates.
But you felt your childlike heart contract in sharp longing.
You threw yourself after him and foundered, sank into the bottomless
abyss. –
Raging whirlwinds seized hold of you, thrusting you now downwards
out of the measured path, now up, then suddenly down again into the
Then the loved one slipped hopelessly out of your sight. –
Shimmering, fragile flake, lovely likeness of the stars,
exhausted, deathly tired, fainting and hurting in every limb,
you sought shelter for your tender body on my windowsill.
All around you many others piled up, loved and forgotten like you. –
But the one among them all who had touched your soul,
drawn you to the earth, the source of your pain and your fate –
has long since gone under, nameless, and merged with the mass.
You will never find him again, lovely little sister.
Do not weep now because you are dying, hit by the warm breath of my
Dying is nothing, it is not a final point. Your comrade died too. –
But now your two currents can freely embrace.
Having cast off all weight and need, they will run down
deep into the darkening night of the sheltering, cooling realm of earth,
in order to rise upward again, in fleeting swirls of misty veils,
until, when divinely measured time has run its unknown course,
you will again begin your descent, yet this time as one,
and only as a precious silver drop of quietly contented dew
shimmering tenderly in the starry night on satin moss.
[Schimmernde Flocke, im Tanz scheinst du vom Himmel zu schweben.
Gleitest du fühllos hinab, blindlings vom Zufall getragen?
Kennst du Beginnen und Ende? Leidest du schmerzliche Qual,
da aus der Wolke heraus, du losgerissenes Kind,
scheidest für immer von ihr, die liebend dich trug und behütend?
Oder bist, Zierliche du, voll von süßem Verlangen,
einen bald wieder zu sehen, der vor dir die Wolke verließ,
furchtlos und kühn nahm den Weg Unbekanntem entgegen? –
Wie doch du Gute ihm nacheilst, Ahnungslose – mißachtend
ewiges Weltengesetz, daß Rückkehr versagt ist der Liebe.
Leuchtend, ein strahlender Stern, sahst du den Freund dort entschwinden,
winkte noch lachend dir zu, da er führte den Reigen
wohlgestalteter Gespielen, doch so viel schöner als sie.
Aber dein kindliches Herz krampfte sich brennend in Sehnsucht.
Stürzest ihm nach und versankst, sankest ins Bodenlose. –
Faßten dich wütende Wirbel, aus der gemessenen Bahn
jählings dich schleudernd hinab und hinauf und wieder zur Tiefe.
Da deinen Blicken entschwand hoffnungslose der Geliebte. –
Schimmernde, zärtliche Flocke, liebliches Abbild der Sterne,
todesmatt und erschöpft, schwindlig mit schmerzenden Gliedern
bargst du den zierlichen Leib auf meinem Fenstergesims.
Ringsum türmten sich viele, geliebt und vergessen gleich dir. –
Doch von allen der Eine, der deine Seele berührte,
der dich zur Erde gejagt, schmerzhaftes Schicksal dir wurde –
längst ist er untergetaucht, namenlos in der Masse.
Findest ihn nimmermehr, kleine, liebliche Schwester.
Weine nun nicht, weil du stirbst, vom Hauch meiner Stube getroffen.
Sterben ist nichts, ist kein Ziel. Dein Geselle starb auch. –
Aber nun können sich frei euere Ströme umschlingen.
Bar aller Last, aller Not nieder werden sie rinnen
tief in die dunkelnde Nacht bergenden, kühlenden Erdreichs
um alsdann, flüchtig von dort wallend in nebligen Schleiern,
aufwärts zu steigen, hinauf, bis ihr dann, wenn erfüllt sich
göttlich gemessener Zeit unbekannter Verlauf,
wieder den Abstieg beginnt, diesmal gemeinsam jedoch,
einzig des wunschlosen Taus köstlicher, silbriger Tropfen
schimmernd in sternheller Nacht zärtlich auf samtenem Moos.]

Wintersonnenwende. 1945 [Winter Solstice. 1945]

25In Germany’s darkest winter, the faithful National Socialist finds reassurance in the winter solstice that darkness will be followed by light, winter by spring, and death by rebirth. Stirb und werde once again brings consolation and an austere confidence.

Our hope was struck harder
than any human heart could have imagined.
We had to carry to the grave everything
that had made life bright and joyful.
Freezing and starving through the streets
run those who only yesterday bathed in heroic light,
foreign hatred has robbed them of their well-earned reward
and pressed into their hands the beggar’s staff.
And yet: today is solstice time,
ceremoniously announcing, as for a thousand,
for thousands of years, the eternal truth
that there is CHANGE, but never an END.
Our little human hearts demand
that everything should be arranged as we intend,
thus, much will appear hopeless to us
only because our timidity makes us shrink from it.
Do we know what lies slumbering
in the womb of time, pressing for resurrection?
Our poor, short lives barely capture
a speck of dust of the vast universe.
Before the miracle of this holy night
we bend our knees in the courage of faith:
it will turn out otherwise than we thought,
but whatever serves change is GOOD.
[Unser Hoffen ward so tief geschlagen,
wie kein Menschenherz es je gedacht.
Alles mußten wir zu Grabe tragen,
was das Leben hell und froh gemacht.
Frierend, hungernd laufen durch die Gassen,
die noch gestern Heldenglanz umgab,
den verdienten Lohn raubt’ fremdes Hassen,
drückt in ihre Hand den Bettelstab.
Aber dennoch: heut ist Sonnenwende
wie vor tausend, abertausend Jahr’,
kündet feierlich, was ewig war,
daß es WANDEL gibt, doch niemals ENDE.
Unser kleines Menschenherz verlangt,
daß sich alles fügt, wie wir es meinen,
und so will uns vieles trostlos scheinen,
nur weil uns’rer Zagheit davor bangt.
Wissen wir denn, was im Zeitenschoß
schlummert und zur Auferstehung drängt?
Unsres armes, kurzes Leben fängt
ja ein Staubkorn kaum der Welt so groß.
Vor dem Wunder dieser heil’gen Nacht
beugen wir das Knie in Glaubensmut:
anders wird es wohl als wir’s gedacht
aber was dem Wandel dient ist GUT. –]

From Glück. 1946 [Happiness. 1946]

26The poem opens on an expression of gratitude for the beauty of the world and continues:

Will the pain we are living through
More deeply and fully submit to us?
Is not every defeat a path to victory,
to greater growth, to the rousing of energy?
Happiness does not mean standstill and satisfied contentment.
Happiness, true happiness without end
is having grown into union with the All, being one with it,
its ups and downs, its mountains and deep ravines, –
it is like music, blessed repose of the heart,
even in the face of death,
indestructible and eternal.
[Will sich das Leid uns ergeben,
das tiefer und voller wir leben?
Jede Niederlage, ist sie ein Weg nicht zum Sieg,
zum größer Wachsen, zum Kräfte erwecken? –
Glück heißt nicht Stillstand und sattes Behagen.
Glück, wirkliches Glück ohne Ende
ist Einssein, ist innig Verwachsensein mit dem All,
seinem Hinauf und Hinab, seinem Bergen und Schluchten, –
ist wie Musik, ist selige Ruhe des Herzens
noch im Angesichte des Todes,
unzerstörbar und ewig.]

Die Internierten. 1947 [Those Interned. 1947]

Grieve not that your best years
are slipping away unused behind bars,
that you must stand in the wings, unable to act,
that you are spared no bitterness.
Dear Brothers, our holy Reich
became a pile of ruins without precedent.
Joy had to give place to deepest grief,
fresh cheeks were bleached by care.
Foreign breath blows bitter cold winds.
It has driven away honor, loyalty, and valor,
and the few who stayed true
are like outcasts in the wilderness.
Will there be a resurrection some day?
We here, on the outside, can scarcely hope so,
for our whole land lies exposed to Evil.
and in the darkness no light is to be seen.
You took our beautiful faith with you.
Hold fast to it, hide it away in your ranks,
rescue it for a future tomorrow,
so that one day it may step forward again into the sunlight.
That you exist, that the enemy dishonors you,
is the only guarantee we still retain
that the dream of the Reich to which we dedicated ourselves
cannot fade and will last forever.
We beseech you: whatever you do,
hold fast to the loyalty you once swore;
never let yourself be dishonored by base repentance;
let us know that you are still Germany!
[Trauert nicht, daß Eure besten Jahre
hinter Gittern ungenutzt vergeh’n,
daß Ihr tatlos müßt beiseite steh’n,
man Euch keine Bitternis erspare.
Liebe Brüder, unser heil’ges Reich
ward zum Trümmerhaufen ohnegleichen,
Freude mußte tiefstem Jammer weichen,
Kummer färbte frische Wangen bleich.
Fremder Hauch weht bitterkalten Wind,
Ehre, Treu und Mut hat er vertrieben,
und die Wenigen, die fest geblieben,
wie Verstoß’ne in der Wüste sind.
Gibt es einmal noch ein Aufersteh’n?
Wir hier draußen können kaum noch hoffen,
steht doch alles Land dem Bösen offen,
ist vor Finsternis kein Licht zu seh’n.
Ihr nahmt unsern schönen Glauben mit.
Haltet ihn in Euren Reih’n geborgen,
rettet ihn hinüber in ein Morgen,
daß einst neu ans Sonnenlicht er tritt.
Daß Ihr seid, daß Euch der Feind entehrt,
ist die einzige Gewähr, die uns geblieben,
daß der Traum vom Reich, dem wir verschrieben
nicht vergehen kann und ewig währt.
Wir beschwören Euch: wie man’s auch treibt
haltet fest die einst gelobte Treue,
schändet niemals Euch durch nied’re Reue,
laßt uns wissen, daß Ihr Deutschland bleibt! –]

Glaube. 1950 [Faith. 1950]

27This poem, one of the two that were published earlier in Weltfrömmigkeit, reads like a verbal equivalent of the popular image Lichtgebet [Prayer of Light], first created by the artist Hugo Höppener, better known as Fidus, in the late nineteenth century. Sold as a postcard at the great German youth meeting on the Hoher Meißner in 1913, Fidus’s image was reworked many times and hung in inexpensive reproductions of one version or another in hundreds of thousands of German homes. In the Weltfrömmigkeit version, each of the three verses is followed by a runic symbol, the first by the ”Algiz” or ”Life” rune that has the shape of Fidus’s praying youth with arms outstretched toward the light. (See Appendix B, Image Portfolio 2)

I have no desire to kneel before God! –
No, I will stand tall and erect,
both arms outstretched upwards,
reaching high into the clouds,
helping to bear the radiant sun,
exultant, fearless, humbly blessed,
having surrendered myself completely
to the eternal cosmic round.
I am nothing apart from the All,
nothing apart from its divine workings.
But the world would be lonely and poor
Without me, the loving-seeing soul.
[Nicht zu knieen drängt’s mich vor Gott! –
Nein, hoch aufgereckt will ich stehen,
beide Arme gebreitet nach oben,
bis in die Wolken hinauf zu greifen,
helfend die leuchtende Sonne zu tragen,
jauchzend, furchtlos und demutsvollselig,
hingegeben einzig und ganz
an des Weltenlaufs ewigen Reigen. –
Nichts bin ich ohne das All,
nichts ohne sein göttliches Walten.
Aber die Welt wäre einsam und arm
Ohne mich, die liebend erkennende Seele.]


1 Margaret Bourke-White, ”Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly”: A Report on the Collapse of Hitler’s ’Thousand Years’, pp. 130-32. In conversation with Bourke-White, the American reporter and photographer, the Princess tells of having traveled to Berlin in the final months of the war to see her son, who was severely wounded, and gives a graphic description of the fire-bombing raids on the city.

2 See note 22 above.

3 See Jens Mecklenburg, ed., Handbuch deutscher Rechtsextremismus (Berlin: Elefanten Press, 1996), pp. 378-79 et passim. For a more detailed and nuanced account of the origins of the movement in an English-administered camp for former Nazis, its internal divisions and splits, and the relations of its various factions to völkisch and neo-Nazi ideologies on the one hand, and to Anglo-American Unitarianism on the other, see Ulrich Nanko, ”Religiöse Gruppenbildungen vormaliger ’Deutschgläubiger’ nach 1945,” in Hubert Cancik and Uwe Puschner, eds., Antisemitismus, Paganismus, Völkische Religion (Munich: K. G. Saur, 2004), pp. 121-34.

4 Jens Mecklenburg, ed., Handbuch deutscher Rechtsextrimsmus, pp. 411-13. Another of Grabert’s publications, the Deutsche Hochschullehrer-Zeitung (founded in 1953), aimed chiefly at the rehabilitation of Nazi college teachers. His own postwar writings, all published by his Verlag der deutschen Hochschullehrer-Zeitung in Tübingen – Sieger und Besiegte: Der deutsche Nationalismus nach 1945 (1966), Das Geschichtsbuch als Umerzieher (1967), Volk und Führung: Deutschlands Ringen um Einheit und Bestand (1977) – are attempts to displace war guilt on to the Allies, to challenge accounts of the Holocaust, etc. These themes are also developed in an unabashed rehabilitation of Goebbels published by the Grabert-Verlag, Tübingen, in 1974 – Wilfrid von Oven’s 662-page, illustrated Finale Furioso: Mit Goebbels bis zum Ende.

5 Kratz, Die Götter des New Age, pp. 307-08. On the DUR and its founding, see Handbuch deutscher Rechtsextremismus, pp. 378-79; Peter Kratz, Die Götter des New Age, pp. 294-95, 318-72.

6 Nordische Frau und Nordischer Glaube, p. 3.

7 See The line the Princess quoted is the opening line of a popular poem of 1814 by the nationalist poet Max von Schenkendorf: ”Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu,/ Daß immer noch auf Erden für euch ein Fähnlein sei./ Gefährten unsrer Jugend, ihr Bilder bessrer Zeit,/ Die uns zu Männertugend und Liebestod geweiht.” As American High Commissioner in Germany in 1949, John McCloy had in fact pardoned or commuted the sentences of many war criminals.

8 Andreas Speit, ”Fieses unterm Findling: Der Nazi-Kultort ’Ahnenstätte Conneforde’ hat einen prominenten Grabredner: Bundeslandwirtschaftsminister Karl-Heinz Funke,” Jungle World, 21 April 1999

9 Peter Kratz, Die Götter des New Age, p. 256, quotes Sigrid Hunke, a neo-Nazi philosopher, in her Europas andere Religion: ”Generation and destruction, growing and withering, birth and death – both have their right and their divine meaning for the Whole. […] Hence nothing disappears entirely. Hence death is not a complete stop, not an end, not an annihilation.” Hunke herself claims to have found the elements of her vision, which Kratz compares to Ernst Jünger’s ”Heroic Realism” (i.e. the desire to rejoin the Great All by ”leaping into the air”) in the Elegien of Heinrich Vogeler’s sometime friend, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke she claims, ”does something enormous: he lowers the barrier between life and death, he tears down the wall between the living and the dead, he crosses the boundaries between present and past, present and future.”

10 See Peter Kratz, Die Götter des New Age, pp. 249-51.

11 Archaeological excavations were conducted at various sites in Germany and archaeological and anthropological expeditions were sent to Tibet, Iceland, and the Canary Islands with a view to finding ”scientific” support for various theories of Aryan or Nordic racial superiority, such as that human culture had its origin in ancient Thule (Iceland-Greenland) or in the lost continent of Atlantis or that the culture of the ancient Far East had been an Aryan culture. See Victor and Victoria Trimondi, Hitler-Buddha-Krishna, part 1.

12 On Barnes, see Deborah E. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (New York: The Free Press, 1993), pp. 30-34, 67-83. According to Gill Seidel, The Holocaust Denial: Antisemitism, Racism and the New Right (Leeds: Beyond the Pale Collective, 1986), ”the Holocaust denial movement owes a debt to Harry Elmer Barnes (1889-1968), American historian and sociologist, whom it hails as the father of revisionism.” (p. 66).

13 English translations of Christophersen’s Auschwitz-Lüge appeared with the Liberty Bell Press of Reedy, West Virginia, in 1975 and 1979, and in Toronto and Quebec, Canada.

14 In accordance with a 1941 decree of Hitler, the novel Die Overbroocks (1942) was printed in Roman type. The typeface issue appears to have been considered a serious one in völkisch circles. See Introduction, note 22 above.

Table des illustrations

Légende 20. Copy of the Princess’s letter to U.S. High Commissioner McCloy.
Fichier image/jpeg, 113k
Légende 21. Cover of the Princess’s collection of poems Freundesgruß in the extreme rightwing series Kritik: Die Stimme des Volkes (1978).
Fichier image/jpeg, 46k


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