The Thule Society, or Thule-Gesellschaft, was an occult group in Munich which was originally known as the Studeiengruppe für germanisches Altertum (Study Group for German Antiquity). The occultist society is widely noted for being the organization that patronized the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which was later remodeled into the Nazi Party by Adolf Hitler.
The Thule Society was established in August 18, 1918 by Rodulf von Sebottendorff as a Munich branch of the secret society Germanenorden, also called “Order of the Teutons”. This group can trace its origins to as far as 1912. Sebottendorff initially used the society to promote his own occult practices and theories.
The term “Thule” was taken from the works of Greco-Roman geographers. “Thule” was the name given to the land on the furthest northern regions of Iceland. Its origins can be further traced to the word “Ultima Thule”, used by Roman poet Virgil in his rustic poems Georgics. Virgil may have used the word to denote the land towards the edge of the world; what could be present day Scandinavia.
The Thule Society defines the “Ultima Thule” as the capital of an ancient landmass known as Hyperborea. Hyperborea was believed to have been lost near the northern regions of Iceland or Greenland. The Thule Society truly believed that Aryans originated from this fabled landmass and devoted much of their studies to proving this origin.
As time went on, the Germanenorden evolved towards nationalistic, political, and racist propaganda. For example, one of the primary focuses for the Thule Society was researching their claims on the origins of the Aryan race. Their claims were so inherently racist that prospects who wanted to enlist themselves in the Germanenorden had to pledge a “blood declaration of faith” before they were allowed to join. The pledge was an oath that the applicant was a true Aryan descendant and held no colored ancestor or wife.
Although the Thule Society are known as the originators of the Nazi Party, their original beliefs were more occultist and new-age in nature. In addition to their beliefs on Aryan supremacy, they also believed that the earth was hollow. It is also said that they kept a close association with the followers of esoteric philosophies such as Theosophy and other famous occultists of the previous century.
The Thule Society was able to attract 250 followers in Munich and 1500 followers in the region of greater Bavaria. They held most of their meetings at a luxury hotel named Hotel Vierjahreszeiten (The Four Seasons). This hotel still stands to this day in the streets of Munich.
The Thule society acquired the local weekly newspaper Münchener Beobachter (Munich Observer) in an attempt to spread their influence across Germany. They soon changed the name of the newspaper to Münchener Beobachter und Sportblatt (Munich Observer and Sports Paper) to gain wider circulation.
The name was changed again when the newspaper’s influence grew. The newspaper became Völkischer Beobachter (People’s Observer), this would later become the main Nazi propaganda newspaper. Karl Harrer, one of the founding members of the Nazi Party, served as its editor.
As the Thule Society expanded, members of the Thule Society had grown connections with extreme right-wing worker organizations in Munich. Karl Harrer founded the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP) in 1919. Adolf Hitler joined the party around the same time, though not as a Thule Society member.
April 1, 1920. A year later the DAP reorganized itself and transformed itself into the National Sozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or “National Socialist German Workers Party”. This is the same party that will later come to be known as the Nazi Party.
Some of the Thule Society’s founding members, including Von Sebottendorff, had left the society and had little to no interest in political affairs. Some of the important Thule Society members who came back as Nazi members were: Dietrich Eckart, Rudolf Hess, Alfread Rosenberg, Julius Streicher, Gottfried Feder, Karl Harrer, and Hans Frank.
Adolf Hitler was never part of the Thule Society and hardly attended any meeting. Nonetheless, Dietrich Eckart (a prominent Thule Society and Nazi Party member) tutored Hitler on his public speaking skills and Hitler even dictated Mein Kampf to him.
Hitler’s rise to prominence heralded the suppression of the Thule Society. During Hitler’s reign, Von Sebottendorff returned to Germany to publish a book about the Thule Society titled Bevor Hitler Kam (Before Hitler Came). He was soon arrested and the book prohibited. Von Sebottendorff somehow managed to escape, likely with the help of ex-Thule Society members in the Nazi Party).
However, the ideas of the Thule Society lived on in the party’s ideology and some of them were even incorporated with the Third Reach. Heinrich Himmler had a great interest in Nazi mysticism and was said to favor some of the occult ideas which were a part of the Thule Society. Nevertheless, the Thule Society was completely dissolved before the beginning of Second World War.
Just like with any other occultist society of the past, there are bound to be rumors about is revival. According to one source, the Thule Society was revived at a meeting during the time of Wagner festival in 1966 in Bayreuth. An American student named Gene A. Statler was among the participants and his account of the meeting in his unpublished diaries is the only sources that point towards the revival.
A famous occult group such as the Thule Society is bound to have some conspiracy theories surrounding it. Most of the theories are about the time during Nazi Germany, and speak of secret weapons, spacecraft and Nazi UFOs. Some of conspiracy theories even claim that the society had granted Hitler with magical powers to improve his public persona. These, like many other conspiracy theories, have a life of their own and likely to intrigue us for years to come.