A leading force in the proto-Nazi underworld of early twentieth-century central Europe, the Höhere Armanen-Orden (Higher Armanen Order, HAO) rose out of the Guido von List Society, an organization founded in 1908 to promote the ideas of the Austrian racial mystic Guido von List (1848–1919). List, a popular novelist famous for works that glamorized ancient German tribal customs, believed that a caste of priest-kings, the Armanen, had governed all the Germanic tribes before the coming of Christianity. Driven underground by the persecuting Catholic Church, the Armanen had disguised themselves as the Knights Templar, the Freemasons, and the Rosicrucians in order to pass their hidden knowledge down to the future. This pedigree inspired List’s supporters to reconstruct the Armanen mysteries; the HAO was the result. See Armanen; Freemasonry; Knights Templar; Rosicrucians.

Very little is known about the HAO’s teachings and practices, beyond the fact that it conducted pilgrimages to ancient Germanic holy places. It likely shared List’s interest in runes, and seems to have been instrumental in launching and promoting Ariosophy, a racist offshoot of Theosophy that defined the Aryan peoples as the only true humans and saw the struggle between Aryan god-men and everyone else as the driving force behind human history. The membership of the HAO overlapped substantially with that of the Ordo Novi Templi (ONT), another racist secret society founded by Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, and many ONT teachings may also have been common to the HAO. See Ordo Novi Templi (ONT); Theosophical Society.

List himself prophesied during the First World War that a “Strong One from Above” would soon appear to liberate the Germanic peoples and lead them on a crusade against their supposed racial enemies. His prophecy came true in 1933 when Adolf Hitler, backed by many German Ariosophists, became Chancellor of Germany. Ironically, the German takeover of Austria in 1938 meant the end of the HAO and the Guido von List Society, as the Nazis enforced a strict ban on all secret societies other than their own. See Hitler, Adolf; National Socialism.


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