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The Myth of National Socialism: How the Nazis Distorted the Nordic Past


National Socialism is one of the most unusual and documented regressus ad uterum historical events in modern times. It’s a unique case in history when a modern political party returned to its mythological past and built its essence around it. The Third Reich created their roots in Nordic mythology and their unilateral interpretation of it.

It’s impossible to understand National Socialism and its overarching objectives without knowing the roots of such a terrible ideology: unexpectedly they penetrated history much deeper than most people believe and they sank their foothills into the land of Mithos, the mythological heritage of northern European peoples.

The runes, for example, constitute one of the most important links with the Nordic past: they are part of the cultural recovery and restoration project of National Socialism that attempted a direct connection with a lost mythical Aryan legacy, bypassing thousands of years of history.

Hitler Youth Proficiency badge with a Tyr rune, runic legend, and a swastika. Tyr, or the Tiwaz rune, was the symbol of Týr, the Norse God of single combat and heroic glory. Latins transformed him in Mars Thingsus. Tuesday, or “Tīw's Day", was the day of Tiw or Týr God. (Auckland Museum/CC BY 4.0)

The Holocaust and the Enigma of Consensus

Why did Germany accept Hitler and Arianism, the doctrine according to which the Herrenvolk, the Aryan master race, had the “natural right” (given by God, as stated in ‘ Mein Kampf’) to subdue and eliminate other races?  How is it possible to explain the Holocaust and the almost absolute consensus with which Hitler was welcomed in the 1930s?

The classical answers refer to historical, economic, and social reasons such as the crisis in which Germany was struggling immediately after the First World War, forced by the Treaty of Versailles (signed on June 28, 1919) to live in a chasm of hunger and misery due to the debts of war that were impossible to pay and with an army reduced to a tiny symbolic unit. But there is another answer, a most important one, suggested in the years leading up to Hitler by the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, who studied the Germanic psychic substratum and National Socialism in-depth, and considered a mass psychic epidemic.

His exceptionally advanced conclusions are aligned with the latest specialist studies of historians such as Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Giorgio Galli, etc. - academics who have brought to light the behind-the-scenes core that generated every decision of the Third Reich and their ideology with causes stemming from a very particular political and social situation.

A Fragmented History: A Nation in Pieces

In the case of Germany, the political division is always closely linked to the psychological and social one. The Holy Roman Empire, the 1st (German) Reich, officially began on December 5, 800, when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Despite the high-flown name, it was not able to keep Central Europe united and throughout the course of the Middle Ages, until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars, the heart of the Empire, Germany, remained fundamentally divided into many small regions ruled by local lords always at war for dominance.

‘Imperial Coronation of Charlemagne,’ by Friedrich Kaulbach, 1861. (Public Domain)

In time the unfulfilled search for unity caused strong emotional, social, and political tension. It intensified in the years 1848-1870 and brought with it, in the wake of Romanticism and the fervor of the most intense emotions, a growing opposition to the modern industrialized world. This was felt as a strong obstacle to German unity.

Unable to find resolution of this now very strong need in the present or future, the Germans began to look for it in their past; back into the history of Tacitus' Germany, to the unstoppable force of the “barbaric” populations of Arminius, comprised of berserk wolf-warriors who destroyed three entire Roman legions in the Teutoburg forest in 9 AD.

The Torslunda helmet: Odin followed by a berserker. (Public Domain)

This continuous tension towards a social and spiritual unity of the völkisch people grew over time until it transformed in a real messianic expectation, again completely disregarded by the 2nd Reich, the Bismarck government. In fact, despite the proclamation of King William I of Prussia as emperor by Bismarck at Versailles in 1871. The enormous popular enthusiasm for the birth of the new Reich, Bismarckian Realpolitik focused on practical, bureaucratic problems, which contrasted heavily with the highly-idealistic tension of the unity movement that proved to be what it really was: the need for a people, or a mind, to find itself again.

The Emergence of the Völkisch Movement

The word Volk in German has a very particular semantic root and perfectly expresses these aspects: it does not only mean people, or race, but it includes the whole community of individuals who feel bound by the same blood, united by a " transcendent essence" described sometimes as " myth", sometimes as " nature", other times as " cosmos," but always one with the most intimate spiritual personality.

It is basically the tragedy of a people in search of itself, which perceives his essence as fragmented or confused, like fragments of a broken mirror scattered on the ground and reflecting a shattered reality. In time, the perception of the Volk began to become clearer thanks to writers and philosophers, who in their writings tried to give a clear explanation of these feelings. Increasingly complex theories began to develop with a common denominator: the peoples’ link with nature and a mythological past.

According to völkisch theorists as Paul de Lagarde and Julius Langbehn, belonging to a specific Volk is essentially linked to the nature of the birthplace, or rather to the essence of it. For example, the Norse people, precisely because of their longing for the light that distinguishes their lives in the midst of the mists and forests, would be true Lichtmenschen, (men of light, also in search of light).

They could ideally identify themselves with the sun wheel or the swastika, with solar qualities of energy and strength, depth of thought, within itself the pure life force and the possibility of giving rise to bloodlines of great vitality. This return to the Volk needed a return to its mythological and cultural origins, those of the ancient Nordic peoples and to nature.

Sun wheels found in a Bronze Age tomb within the cairn of Kivik, Sweden. (Schorle/CC BY SA 3.0)

Regressus Ad Uterum Effect

This was the way out of political disappointments, an escape beyond human reality, to achieve in the spiritual field a higher yearning for self-realization: the Volk. It became the link between man and superior reality, the tangible and evident vehicle of the life force, a conception close to the future Bergsonian positions and those of G. B. Shaw. Man had to himself be permeated and guided by the natural instinct of his own Volk.

In 19th century Germany, and especially after the defeat of WWI up to the years immediately preceding Hitler, with Fichte, Hegel, Wagner, Nietzsche, and the völkisch philosophers we observe a crisis of rationalism and of the security of the goddess Reason. Along with the frustration of a felt but never achieved unity and the disastrous economic depression, this had a far-reaching effect on the collective unconscious of the Germans.

From this there emerged the instinctive search for a catalyst, a special person, generically called Starke von Oben, (the Strong One from Above); a real messiah of Germany, able to unite the nation, politically and spiritually, and bring the fate of the Volk to fruition.

The absolute power and the consensus that National Socialism acquired essentially derived from having been able to collect this psychological and spiritual impatience and to have given certain answers to the emotional distress of the population. It is no coincidence that the Nazis gathered the largest common consent in the most cultured sections of the people, those who possessed the tools to understand the present status of things and its cultural implications.

This highlights the most extraordinary case of regressus ad uterum in modern times; that is, the spontaneous turning back towards a time and a situation in which a person or an entire people felt like a child in the womb of their mother, safe and realized in following their inner nature. So the legendary myths, the heroes, the Valhalla, and the Norse gods and legends become a model to look at with admiration. Richard Wagner, the true German bard, was able to bring this visionary universe, the Mythos, to the forefront as a part of the collective unconscious of a people-race, the Volk.

Portrait of Richard Wagner, circa 1862, by Cäsar Willich. (Public Domain)

"Anyone who wants to understand National Socialist Germany must first understand Wagner." This statement by Hitler clarifies the link between National Socialism and the power of the dramas of Richard Wagner. To Hitler only a direct connection with the Mythos and Norse mythology could awaken Germany to itself and fate.

Return to Mythos: Wagner, Runes, and Norse Gods

Wagner's dramas, the tetralogy ‘ The Nibelungen Ring,’ were based upon old Norse Mythology and linked the mythical past to the present as the two ends became one in a ring. The past returned to the present in “a ring of eternal return” that took on the appearance of the Nibelungen Ring.

This process was the re-actualization of the mythical act of the hero in illo tempore (the mythical age) every time a public rite was performed, as in the case of the mass ceremonies of the Third Reich. Wagner himself was convinced that some basic (archetypal) characteristics resided in the depths of the German people, and these had not degraded over time. Therefore the old Norse sagas were seen as a way to model the present.

In Wagner’s interpretation of Norse mythology with the magic gold stolen from the dwarf Alberich, a ring is forged, leading to the conquest of the world. Wotan, the god of the gods, finally recovers the gold by throwing a curse on the ring. But the mythical figures of the Valkyries, the dramatic tragedy of the hero Siegfried (Sigurd in Norse mythology), the destructive final burning of the Walhalla (the Norse Ragnarök, the destruction of the cosmos and its consequent regeneration), and from its ashes a new order of Gods.

‘Brünnhilde and Siegfried’ by Arthur Rackham. (Public Domain)

“Wotan's sons” rediscovered their ethnic-cultural origin in Norse mythology and before it the Aryans: Hitler's choice of the swastika symbol is to be understood in this context.

The Connection with Norse Mythology

The Third Reich opened the door to Mythos and allowed it to manifest itself by replacing the Christian religion with a new Germanic neo-paganism that reinterpreted Nordic mythology. It used the swastika, the ancient solar wheel of the Germans and the runes, the ancient alphabet that was considered a source of power, on the banners of the ministries, the combat units, in Hitler's youth insignia, pins, etc.

Original WWII German military buckle "GOTT MIT UNS" (Wehrmacht). The text on the metal testifies to the deep belief in God: as Hitler stressed: “A National Socialist is by definition a believer in God.” (Public Domain)

The so called "Consecration of the Name" was one of the clearest examples of replacing traditional religion with Nazi neo-paganism. The swastika is the new cross and the blessing icon is not Jesus, but Adolf Hitler the new “Messiah” for the Nazis.

Photo showing a child's baptism (christening) ceremony/ritual; conducted by members of the SS at a "Lebensborn e.V." maternity care home in Rheinhessen sometime between 1936-1944. (CC BY SA 3.0)

Swastika, Sun wheel, and Thor’s Hammer

In Norse mythology, the Swastika is closely tied to two other symbols, the sun wheel and Thor’s hammer (Mjolnir) spinning. Thor was the dominant sky and thunder god of Norse religion and his hammer was a symbol of power and protection since Thor used it to destroy the Giants and forces of Chaos menacing his fatherland Asgard.

The Mjolnir symbol was found together with the swastika and sun wheel (another graphic representation of the swastika) in runestones and tombs. The swastika has always had a positive meaning of good fortune and prosperity. However, the Third Reich used it as a representation of the national socialist man moving to his völkisch self – realization. The four arms could be seen as two arms and two legs walking to their origin point, their Aryan pure essence, conceived by the Third Reich as the essence of God. They thought Hitler would lead the world to a total war - as if it were Ragnarök - to recreate a new Aryan world.

Ragnarök. Johann Gehrts. (Public Domain)

Yggdrasil and Irminsul

The Ahnenerbe ( Ahnenerbe Forschungs und Lehrgemeinschaft, Ancestral Heritage Research and Teaching Society) was founded in July 1935 by Heinrich Himmler, the high-ranking SS leader, with the aim to retrace ancient Aryan artifacts supporting the master race theory. The institute organized several expeditions in Tibet, Italy, Iceland, Brazil, France, and many other countries to find the presumed migration of the ancient Aryans from the North Pole to the south.

Its symbol was the Irminsul, or Yggdrasil, an epithet of Odin (Yggr was one of Odin’s names), the sacred pillar-like object representing the fundamental tree, or axis mundi, whose trunk rises at the geographical center of the Norse spiritual cosmos.

Top Image: Symbolism of Nazi’s were based in the Nordic past.  Source: CC0

By Pierluigi Tombetti

Pierluigi Tombetti is the author of Hitler’s Occult Enigma – The Third Reich and the New World Order (in Italian). Visit his website at


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Born in 1966, is a historian, author and writer who has thoroughly investigated the ideological and social reasons and motivations of National Socialism. Writer, columnist and editor in the historical and archaeological field, he is the author of reportages, articles... Read More

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