Now, I try really hard not to get involved in bullshit arguments on Facebook. They never end well, and people are stupid.
But, when it comes to the fields I spend years studying (both in high school independent studies with teachers, as well as my college degrees) – I admit I get testy and will fire back. After all, I did not spend all those years building up an understanding of the subject, to fully understand what was going on…just to have idiots butcher history because y’ah know, it “sounds cool”.
Which is how this particular debate on Facebook started up. Now, I’m not going to explain this idiot’s name on Facebook. I’m not that cruel. And…that is just not how I really go about these things.
Behold this screenshot:
Now first off – a few facts about the NSDAP (Nazi Party).
- Atheistic in theology/religion.
- Militaristic opposition to religion if it did not serve political control aims.
- The earliest political prisoners of the Nazis in Germany, in the earliest of the concentration camps included: Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, German citizens who opposed the Reich/Nazi ideology (all ideologically opposed to the Nazis in some way or another), among others.
- Staunchly anti-Church, they went to the extreme of imprisoning and killing priests and pastors who refused to take the oath to support the Nazi Party and espouse their beliefs.
With that in mind, I’ll continue.
Of course, the upper echelons of the Nazi party were filled with extremely well-educated people; as well as the idiots (just like every government). Just like those who supported the Nazis in countries where Germany swept through during WWII. And those of the upper echelons of every country that opposed the Nazis. Well-educated people have far-reaching interests. That invariably some of the upper ranks of the Nazi party were interested in the occult or read about it, is not shocking. Hell, look at how many people throughout history have been interested in it, while still espousing it as fallacious and wrong? Just having the materials and reading about the occult does not mean that the Nazis were occultists, magicians, wizards, or pagans. Had there been a bonefied, active Pagan/occult community in Nazi Germany, they would have been quashed like everyone else who opposed the Nazis. Or at least, left free to run under a semblance of autonomy until the Nazis felt they were no longer of use, and then they would have been thrown into concentration camps or labor camps, just like every other opponent of the Reich that the Nazis could get their hands on.
As for the Schutzstaffel (SS) and any occult/magical things.
I’m pretty sure (off the top of my head I can only remember this one instance) where witches are mentioned in WWII history. The “Nachthexen” or “Night Witches” of the Soviet Union’s Air Force. They were pretty well feared by the German military on the eastern front. And, (I will admit I do not have any books handy to pull resources) I’m pretty sure it’s the only reference to “witches” in WWII history. Not a German group, but a Soviet group that the Germans named that because they were a group of women who fought extremely well.
The SS was a political and militaristic entity, filled with people from all walks of life. They were, following the religious persuasions of the time, mostly Protestant or Catholic. However, they were, as members of the SS, required to espouse the beliefs of the Nazi party.
But as to what this has to do with paganism online.
“Nazis were black pagans”.
First off: Nazis were not pagans. They were extremely atheistic. Secondly, what the hell did this idiot mean by “black pagan”?
We may never know….
(Seriously, we won’t, because the author screamed murder when he was questioned on his choice of literature [terrible] and to prove his points, and up and deleted some of his secondary comments on this thread, and disappeared)
But really. I find it insulting that people want to make the sheer depths of horror that encompass WWII into something explainable by “magic” or “occult”. Far more realistic, far more true–and by far more terrifying–is that these were people like everyone else at the time in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Christians…agnostics…atheists (among others), who were drawn to a charismatic leader who promised power and not having to bend at the knee to anyone. It makes sense that whole flocks of people came to this. And to me it trivializes the sheer, unadulterated horror of what happened in that time to just brush it off as “crazy Nazis…looking into the occult and magic”.
Posts like this that blatantly fictionalize history do away with the truth. And without the truth of what happened, we lose the story, the thread of what truly happened back then. Every year my university hosts a Holocaust survivor who speaks to the students, staff and faculty that sign up to come and listen. Those are some of the most powerful stories I’ve heard in my life–because they are of people, done by people…regular people that were the neighbor, the nice shop owner that before that awful time you would not have expected capable of such acts.
Fallacious crap like this just harms history. It harms those who lived through it and trivializes what they survived.
Then on the pagan side – this is just awful. Are pagans really so fucking desperate to extend neopaganism history back further into modern history that they’ll grasp at even straws like this? (I suspect a lot are desperate) Because so what if neopaganism is a modern phenomenon without a history that’s longer than 60 or 70 years for most branches? That’s nothing wrong. Hell, all religions started out new at one point or another. It doesn’t matter if neopaganism is not directly traceable back to old “pagan” religions or beliefs. Religion is always adapting and changing, growing to suit the world and people that are following it.
So this offends me on multiple levels.
First as a pagan it offends me that people feel the need to create fallacious historical ties to make pagan history longer in chronology.
As a history student and lover of history it offends me that people would twist history.
And as a student and scholar of German-language, culture and peoples–it offends me that people corrupt things like this. After all, this was a dark enough time in world history, in German history, without idiots creating lies to go along with it.
Not that being pagan is a problem…but the lie about there being some great pagan “group” in Germany at this time is insulting to history, culture and paganism itself. I wish that things like this didn’t pop up all the time in pagan online groups–but they do. (Or at least I happen to notice them) Because I’m seriously tired of having to continuously correct the idiots on the fact that there was no great “occult conspiracy” by the Nazi Party.∗