A collection of 13,000 occult and witchcraft books has been found recently in the National Library of the Czech Republic in Prague. It belonged to Heinrich Himmler, a SS Nazi chief. The collection was forgotten in the library since at least the 1950s. According to the Daily Mail, the Norwegian Masonic researcher, Bjørn Helge Horrisland said that the books had been mostly stolen and collected during World War II.
The collection contains texts connected with witchcraft and occultism. Some of the volumes are very rare. The value of all of the books is unknown. They were gathered as the Nazis were searching everywhere for texts connected with magic and tried to accumulate everything in one place. Some of the books were taken from the Norwegian order of Freemasons in Oslo.
SS Nazi chief Heinrich Himmler took about 6,000 books from the Norwegian Order of Freemasons as part of his research into witch hunts. (Public Domain)
In 1935, the SS created a special section called ”H” (H-Sonderkommando, so named for the first letter of the German word Hexe, meaning ”witch”). This section was looking for documents on witchcraft, the occult, and the supernatural. They sought the information amongst at least 260 libraries and archives. Their work took place from 1935 to 1944. As a result, they accumulated the greatest concentrated collection on witches and their persecution in medieval Germany. This was the largest survey of witch-trial records to be found in the history of Europe.
1627 engraving of the malefizhaus of Bamberg, Germany, where suspected witches were held and interrogated. (Public Domain)
Horrisland, a Norwegian Freemason historian, participated in the identification of some of the books in Prague. After he recognized many of them as ones which belonged to the central Norwegian Order of Freemasons library in Oslo, he summarized: “In all likelihood, many of these books were part of Himmler’s so-called ‘witch library’.
The books were collected for the institute Ahnenerbe, which was also created to research the archaeological and historical roots of the Aryan race. It was founded on July 1, 1935 by Himmler, Herman Wirth, and Richard Walther Darre. Apart from gathering texts, they also conducted experiments and expeditions to prove that they were the ancestors of the Nordic population which had once ruled the world.
Heinrich Himmler believed that the power of the old occult masters would help the Nazis to rule the world. He followed the Witch-Cult hypothesis, created by Margaret Murray, a famous researcher in this field. He believed in a scientific point of view on a witchcraft and with time he became obsessed with it. He trusted that the Celto-Germanic Nature religion would bring him all that he desired – but the simple version of purely traditional aspects was not enough for him. The Nazis created the dirtiest and most corrupt version of ”witchcraft” to have ever existed.
Himmler thought that the actions of the Catholic church’s Inquisition were purposefully trying to repress an indigenous German pagan nature-based religion, völkisch, in a conspiracy against the Aryan race. He even tried to find proof for his own magical roots, and according to biographers on Himmler, he discovered that one of his ancestors was burned as a witch. His anger at these acts appeared in anti-Christian propaganda. He began to hate Christianity and believed that he owed his “successes” against it to the ones who were murdered for having a knowledge of magic.
According to Georg Luck, the cult which Himmler followed had its roots in late antiquity. In his book, Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds, he described the basis of the beliefs which became an important part of the political life of Nazis. The cult worshiped the Horned God of Celts and a Greco-Roman Pan/Faunus. It was a combination of gods which gave roots to a new deity, an early conception of the Devil.
Witches’ Sabbath by Francisco de Goya. (Public Domain)
Himmler is credited as a founder of ”Esoteric Hitlerism”. He was also deeply involved in astrology, and tried to construct a new pseudo-Germanic Neopagan religion, based on a cult created in his imagination. He approved officially pagan holidays and manipulated the facts connected with traditional pagan cults.
Researchers still debate about the roots of these behaviors. It is uncertain why these kinds of religious actions and collecting witchcraft and occult books became so important for the people who worked for Adolf Hitler.
All of the Nazis, including the Furher, attended ceremonies of the new cult. Many of them happened in the castle Houska, 47 km (29.2 miles) north of Prague. Built in the 13th century, the castle still contains a Gothic chapel, a green chamber with Late-Gothic paintings, and a knights’ drawing room. According to local folklore, it is believed that Houska Castle also contains a ”Gate to Hell”.
Houska Castle, Česká Lípa District, Liberec Region, the Czech Republic. A renaissance fresco in the Green Room. (CC BY SA 3.0)
Featured Image: Baroque library hall in the National Library of the Czech Republic in Prague. A collection of 13,000 occult and witchcraft books that were once part of Himmler’s “witch library” were found in the library. (CC BY 2.0) Insert: Example of a 1533 account of the execution of a witch charged with burning the German town of Schiltach in 1531. (Public Domain)