A core element of the underground of racist secret societies that laid the foundations for the Nazi party, the Germanenorden (“Order of Germans”) was founded in 1912 by Hermann Pohl, a German antisemite and right-wing political activist who belonged to the Reichshammerbund (“Reich Hammer Society”), the most influential antisemitic organization in Germany. Like most reactionaries of his time, Pohl believed devoutly in the existence of a vast Jewish conspiracy. He believed, though, that the only way to successfully counter this alleged conspiracy was to turn its own methods against it, and organize a secret society to oppose it. See Antisemitism.
By 1910 Pohl drafted an initiation ritual for a German antisemitic secret society. His sources include the rituals of the United Ancient Order of Druids (UAOD), a fraternal secret society that had a large presence in Germany at that time; the Ariosophical teachings of Guido von List (1848–1919), an Austrian racial mystic whose writings were a major influence all through the German far right of the time; and the musical and philosophical works of composer Richard Wagner. In 1911 Pohl and a group of fellow antisemites organized the Wotan Lodge around the new rituals. In the following year the Germanenorden drew up its bylaws and began recruiting members through the Reichshammerbund, and by the end of the year it had six lodges and over 300 members. See United Ancient Order of Druids (UAOD).
The Germanenorden quickly became a significant force on the German far right. From the beginning, though, its members disagreed on the approach the order should take. Pohl himself argued that the Germanenorden should concentrate on fostering an “Aryan-Germanic religious revival” through its ritual and occult work, but a majority of the membership wanted to concentrate on secret political action instead. These differences finally came to a head in 1916, splitting the Germanenorden in two. The more occult half, under Pohl’s leadership, took the new name Germanenorden Walvater of the Holy Grail and began a systematic campaign of expansion using cover names to camouflage its existence. Walvater member Rudolf von Sebottendorf founded what would become the order’s most successful local lodge in Munich, under the cover name Thule-Gesellschaft (Thule Society), which played a crucial role in bringing the Nazi party into being. See Thule Society.
As the Nazi party grew into the dominant party on Germany’s far right, members of both branches of the Germanenorden joined it, while others helped it directly or indirectly. Adolf Hitler’s inauguration as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 was thus the fulfillment of the Germanenorden’s ambitions, but it also proved to be the end of the road for the order. Along with all other secret societies outside the Nazi party the Germanenorden was ordered to dissolve shortly after the Nazi takeover.
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006