In 1933, SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, the second most powerful man in
Over the years, Wewelsburg has become a symbol of the alleged Nazi obsession with the occult. Some have claimed that Himmler chose the site because it lies on a nexus of 'ley' energies; others have suggested that bizarre rituals were carried out there by cults within the Nazi party. It has even been alleged that the castle's
While the reality is considerably more mundane than some of these outlandish theories would have us believe, it is ultimately no less bizarre.
Wewelsburg lies in
Wewelsburg no doubt appealed to Himmler on many different levels. Originally constructed between 1603 and 1609, the
During the 17th century, the castle played a key role in the witchcraft trials sweeping across
The surrounding area was similarly rich in historical significance. Nearby was the
This combination of historical significance and mythic resonance held an obvious appeal for the Reichsführer, who entertained a lavish fantasy life in stark contrast to his public image of a prim and clerkish bureaucrat.
As a boy, he dreamt of leading the life of a simple farmer, but in adolescence this gave way to the desire for a military career as an officer in the armed forces, an ambition confirmed by the outbreak of World War I. Eventually, in 1918, he was accepted into officer training school with the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment, but the war ended before he could complete his training and earn his commission.
Himmler subsequently gained a reputation for his loyalty and efficiency, and rose rapidly through the Party's ranks. On
Under Himmler, stringent new rules were established regarding recruitment. Enlisted men had to prove the 'purity' of their family line back to at least 1800, officers as far back as 1750. Their wives whether current or prospective, were required to do the same.
In peacetime, the SS was to function as an internal security force responsible for enforcing conformity and spearheading the purification of the race; in wartime, as a ferociously fanatical defender of
The SS was also the means through which Himmler hoped to accomplish an even greater project. Just as Hitler and the Nazi party had replaced the Church in his own loyalties, so Himmler sought to supplant Christianity with a pseudo-pagan state religion based on an idealised view of prehistoric German culture, emphasising racial purity and the innate superiority of the German people.
Himmler saw the SS as the ideological vanguard of this new religion, and the instrument through which the German people would be indoctrinated into it. In addition to 'Party' holidays � the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch and the F�hrer's birthday � Himmler established festivals on the Summer and Winter Solstices incorporating elements of pagan ritual, including sun and nature worship. Such celebrations were always characterised by a strong SS presence.
SS Officers, meanwhile, were wed in secular ceremonies with distinctly pagan overtones, and their children 'baptised' in similarly pagan-influenced naming rituals. Many of these ceremonies eventually took place at Wewelsburg, often presided over by Himmler himself, along with his personal 'magus', Karl Maria Wiligut.
Eventually though, this relatively modest ambition gave way to a much grander vision. In February 1935, the Wewelsburg project was brought under the direct control of the Reichsf�hrer's personal staff, in line with Himmler's evolving conception of it. Himmler had begun to see Wewelsburg as the 'seat' of his Knightly Order � a cross between Camelot and Marienburg � which would eventually evolve into a vast Teutonic Mecca, the spiritual center of the Aryan World.
The estimated cost of Himmler's grandiose plans was an absurd 250 million Reichsmarks. Simply refurbishing the old castle was now just the start; Himmler intended to expand the site so it absorbed the nearby
Such ambitious plans required workers. In 1939, a concentration camp was established in the nearby
The extent to which Himmler realised his vision for Wewelsburg is debatable, although it's clear that the reality fell some considerable way short of the dream.
The focal point of the Wewelsburg complex was to be the Obergruppenf�hrersaal � a stone-lined chamber in the
A stylised Swastika, incorporating a sun wheel design and the SS victory runes, dominated the chamber's floor, while the walls were adorned with the senior Gruppenführers' coats of arms. Of course, most of the SS elite , including Himmler himself, were from middle-class rather than aristocratic backgrounds, and lacked hereditary coats of arms; Ahnenerbe experts were given the job of providing original designs for them.
Directly below the Obergruppenführersaal was the 'crypt' or 'land of the dead', a large, circular chamber with 12 granite columns and a domed ceiling adorned with another swastika design. Here, in a stone well-like structure, the ashes of senior SS officers were to be interred upon their deaths, ensuring they remained with the Order forever. An 'eternal flame' was to be installed in the centre of the room, although this project was never completed. Although there have been rumours of rituals conducted in this chamber, even a cursory glance at it today confirms it was still under construction when it fell to the Allies.
Wewelsburg also served as the repository for the SS Death's Head rings, Totenkopfring, presented to SS officers after three years of service. Formed of a band of oakleaves engraved with a death's head and runes, the rings were further testament to Himmler's obsession with Germanic mythology, in which Thor was said to possess a pure silver ring on which oaths were sworn. When an SS officer died, his ring would be returned to the store at Wewelsburg.
Each of the Gruppenf�hrers' rooms commemorated a different hero from Germanic mythology and history � Widukind, Henry the Lion, and even King Arthur � furnished in period fashion and stocked with books and documents pertaining to the room's subject. Himmler's own room was dedicated to the Saxon King Heinrich I, known as 'the Fowler', who led the German defence against a Magyar invasion during the 10th century, and laid the foundation of what was to become the
Himmler's plans for Wewelsburg were continually evolving, and there was undoubtedly an impulsive, whimsical dimension to his thinking. While inspecting the castle in 1938, he casually requested SS Gruppenführer Taubert, the officer in charge of the site's ongoing development, to look into the possibility of installing a planetarium, another outrageously expensive addition to the project. He also requested a strong room to serve as the equivalent of a medieval treasure keep, in line with his conception of Wewelsburg as the seat of a knightly order.
Neither project was to be completed, however. Work on Wewelsburg came to an abrupt halt in 1943; with the tide of the war turning against the Axis powers, resources were needed urgently elsewhere. It seems that Himmler always held out hope of reviving the project, and in February 1944 he wrote to Taubert to say that in spite of his busy schedule his thoughts often turned to Wewelsburg, and he dearly hoped his plans for it could be resumed after the war. Of course, this was not to be.
In March 1945, the Allied advance reached Wewelsburg and the castle was surrounded by American armour. Himmler, anxious that his dream should not fall into the possession of the enemy, dispatched a hand-picked group of SS commandos to deny it to them. After an initial attempt to slip past the American forces failed, the unit recruited a locally born SS man who guided them past the Allied cordon. On
On 2 April 1945, the Americans freed the remaining 42 prisoners at KZ Niederhagen. Himmler took his own life with a poison capsule just two months later, while in Allied custody.
Wewelsburg was initially an enigma to the Allied forces. Allied intelligence had been largely oblivious to its existence prior to its capture. Whilst it was clearly of great importance to the Reichsführer, nothing was known of its true purpose until SS officers began to testify about it at the Nuremburg trials; in particular, the testimony of Walter Schellenberg provides us with much of what we now know about the site.
There has been much speculation as to whether the Priory of Sion is a shadowy secret society made up of some of the world�s most illustrious figures, a paranoid delusion, or an elaborate (but baseless) hoax. The men and women said to be its Grand Masters are certainly real, most of them key players in science, the arts, and the occult. Yet certain names seem to jump out from the list, seeming at first glance to be so absurdly inappropriate as to cast doubt upon the rest. Two such names would no doubt be those of Leonardo da Vinci and Jean Cocteau. Both Da Vinci and Cocteau were men of genius, and both evinced an interest in the occult/religious matters, but... guardians of the bloodline of Christ?
Thule group a Germanic franchise of the Priory of Sion
This blueprint shows unambiguously the form of a spear whose handle is the road to the castle
There are a few more stunning correspondences that suggest the possibility. First, Himmler�s "Grail castle", the Wewelsberg, can be shown to embody the same pentagonal sacred geometry that is found in the landscape of Rennes-le-Chateau (and elsewhere.) Plans drawn up for the massive construction of a city to have been built around the Wewelsburg would have incorporated the same geometry on a much larger scale. Additional buildings adjacent to the castle would have mimicked the shape of the Spear of Longinus, with the castle as its tip. That this was intentional and not merely some bizarre coincidence can be gleaned from the fact that for a time, the Spear of Longinus was actually kept in the Wewelsberg�s north tower, and was intended to be housed there on a permanent basis after the war. Furthermore, the symbol of the Black Sun, emblazoned on the marble floor of the very same north tower, is not a symbol designed by Heinrich Himmler, but is in fact an emblem used by the Merovingians in early medieval times. Author Nicholas Goodrich-Clarke says that this symbol and its connection to the Merovingians was discussed in a number of scholarly publications during the period of the Third Reich. This is rather amazing, considering the fact that this symbol is said to have represented the esoteric secret doctrine of the S.S., and it can be tangibly linked to the family of the Grail bloodline.
Groups or organizations which use symbols as a means of communication chose their symbols with a very specific intent. The notion that the choice of this sigil was at all arbitrary, accidental or coincidental seems highly unlikely. The stunning confluence of so many ultra-esoteric ideas and symbols seem to permeate this saga on any number of levels. And as examples of these correspondences multiply, it appears possible that the ideological similarities in these groups� worldviews may considerably outweigh any perceived differences.