Rudolf Hess and the Thule Society
Not to be confused with Rudolf Hoess, the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hess was one of the highest-ranking Nazi officials. He was with Adolf Hitler when he tried to initiate a coup in Bavaria in 1922’s failed Beer Hall Putsch, and the two served a prison sentence together. While in prison, Hitler dictated much of his autobiography, Mein Kampf, to Hess. Once they got out of prison, Hess stood beside Hitler as he took control of the NSDAP (known merely as the Nazi Party) and, when Hitler became Fuhrer, became his Deputy Fuhrer. He was second in line for succession.
Hess’ spiritualism may have actually exceeded that of Himmler. He was a member of the Thule Society, an esoteric organization that was so named after a mythical country in the north -presumably Germany – that Greek mythology spoke of. The Thule Society was founded during World War I by German nationalists who, like Hitler, found Germany’s capitulation at the end of the war to be an abomination. At the center of the organization were beliefs about the Aryan race, a pseudoscientific assertion that the German people had descended from the same people as those of the Iranian-Indian plateau. To join, people had to swear to a pure Aryan lineage.
Anton Drexler, the leader of the right-wing National Socialists and mentor to the young Adolf Hitler, was a member of the Thule Society. Many have asserted that Hitler was also a member, but there is no evidence that he attended any of the meetings or shared in any of its esoteric beliefs and practices. However, he certainly subscribed to its extreme right-wing nationalism. For members of the Thule Society, this nationalism was undergirded with esoteric beliefs, particularly regarding pagan German religion, and practices associated with the occult. Rudolf Hess was probably the highest-ranking Nazi official who was an avowed member.
Hess’s involvement with the Thule Society, and with Nazism, ended in 1941 when he undertook a solo flight to Scotland. No one knows the exact reason behind the flight that he took, but many believe that he wanted to hand the United Kingdom over to Germany. Possibly he was trying to garner favor with Hitler, as his influence within the Nazi Empire had begun to wane substantially. He told Scotland’s Duke of Hamilton that he was there without Hitler’s knowledge, and in doing so, sacrificed any political immunity that he might have had.
The British imprisoned Hess, and he never got out. Seeing the flight to Scotland as a personal betrayal, Hitler completely disavowed his Deputy Fuhrer and made no effort to have him released. Also, he had many of Hess’s associates rounded up; a large number of them had, like him, been members of the Thule Society. All of its esoteric practices, such as fortune-telling and engaging in black magic, became contraband. As a result, the influence of the occult in the Nazi Empire came to a close, except for other members of the Nazi party who, like Himmler, had positions of power.