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Hitler's MonstersA Supernatural History of the Third Reich$
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Eric Kurlander

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300189452

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300189452.001.0001

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The Third Reich’s War on the Occult

The Third Reich’s War on the Occult

Anti-Occultism, Hitler’s Magicians’ Controversy, and the Hess Action

(p.99) 4 The Third Reich’s War on the Occult
Hitler's Monsters

Eric Kurlander

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the regime's policies toward occultists in the early to middle years of the Third Reich, including ‘Hitler's Magicians' Controversy’ — a debate over whether to allow professional anti-occultists to debunk ‘magic’ and occultism. When the regime worked to repress or ‘coordinate’ esoteric groups, it had more to do with controlling than eliminating occult ideas. Indeed, like border scientists generally, many Nazis worked carefully to distinguish between commercial and popular occultism on the one hand and ‘scientific’ occultism on the other. While the Nazis indicated considerable hostility toward commercial occultism, practitioners of the scientific variety enjoyed remarkable latitude, even sponsorship, by the Third Reich. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the ‘Hess Action’ against the occult and its longer term consequences.

Keywords:   occultists, Third Reich, Hitler's Magicians' Controversy, anti-occultists, occultism, border scientists, scientific occultism, commercial occultism, Hess Action

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