Germany’s Esoteric Neo-Nazis

by Thomas Klikauer and Danny Antonelli

Neo Nazis Germany
Photo by Thomas Klikauer

Germany’s right-wing extremists have increased to about 38,000 people in recent years. It is an old threat with a new face, which now also includes Neo-Nazism’s pretty face, Alice Weidel, a Nazi Schlampe (Nazi skank).

NDR (a TV station) is allowed to call AfD top candidate Alice Weidel a Nazi skank – this happened in the satirical program “extra3”. The Hamburg district court rejected Weidel’s application for a temporary injunction.]

Among these extremists is a truly bizarre group: esoteric Neo-Nazis.

This esotericism is the spiritual and mystical reworking of Nazism. Esoteric Neo-Nazis merge other-worldly psychic, spiritual, and semi-religious occultism with the ideology of Hitler’s Nazis. This type of leaning on the occult was encouraged by the Nazi media mill.

Much of today’s right-wing esotericism is an expression of a longing for spiritual enchantment in a world that is perceived as logical and rational, that is, perceived by the lost and lonely as cold and devoid of comforting myths and precious secrets. Myths and secrets are what cognitive dissonance feeds upon.

They are necessary for the distraction and cultification of right-wing ideology, namely because under the focus of rationality and logic the myths and secrets connected to the ideology fall apart.

Esoteric Neo-Nazism is a way of joining simple believers in the esoteric to right-wing extremism. Set against modernity, it encourages the right-wing esoteric “community of mistrust” that also mistrusts rationality, the Enlightenment, democracy, and modern societies.

The most essential ideological link between both is provided by conspiracy fantasies. Virtually all conspiracy fantasies gained currency during the Covid-19 pandemic and the so-called hygiene rallies.

These were held against the government’s Corona epidemic measures and vaccination programs. In Germany, most of these rallies occurred between 2020 and 2022.

As so often in times of crisis or significant events, a deluge of conspiracy fantasies offered easy answers to complex problems for the simple mind. These conspiracy fantasies form a kind of ideological glue between esotericism on the one side, and right-wing populist, anti-democratic, and anti-Semitic worldviews on the other. These spread – often turbo-charged by right-wing online platforms – in a coded language shaped by esoteric attitudes.

During these hygiene rallies it was not uncommon to see Germany’s imperial war flag. Since the open display of Hitler’s Nazi flag is illegal in Germany, the imperial flag has become the preferred insignia of the Reichsbürger.

It is frequently seen all over Germany. Yet these right-wing rallies are an assemblage of what on the surface seem to be extremely different people. There were old hippies, anti-vaxxers, believers in the esoteric, followers of conspiracy fantasies, Reichsbürger, right-wing extremists, hooligans and, of course, esoteric Neo-Nazis.

To all of them the common enemy was the democratic government and the state. Germany’s official institutions were seen as being in cahoots to establish a so-called Worldwide Covid-19 Dictatorship. It never came.

On 29 August 2020, one of their anti-government rallies in Berlin escalated. At this right-wing rally, the prominent leader was Tamara Kirschbaum, a naturopath, believer in the esoteric, and follower of the controversial yoga guru Heinz Grill.

Right-wing esoteric Kirschbaum played a key role in the attempted coup d’état storming of Germany’s democratic parliament, the Reichstag.

Kirschbaum – while on stage with the ultra-violent Reichsbürger – ordered around 300 demonstrators of far-right, anti-democratic, and Neo-Nazi forces to take possession of the Reichstag.

Kirschbaum’s battle cry was, “We are writing world history here in Berlin today” by eliminating Germany’s democratic government. It failed, as did the Jan 6 insurrection in Washington D.C.

Key to the ideology of esoteric Neo-Nazis is the strong us-vs.-enemy mindset and a pronounced tendency towards ideological dogmatism. The missionary zeal of esoteric Neo-Nazis rejects the plurality of opinions, the existence of different interests, and democracy. Virtually all of this is spiced up with conspiracy fantasies.

Beyond that, there are well-networked and personal links between conspiracy believers and esoteric Neo-Nazis, who have created a kind of parallel universe – a filter bubble. Inside these self-re-enforcing echo-chambers, a right-wing version of groupthink works its magic and mutually reinforces its authoritarian ideology.

As a consequence of right-wing propaganda, many people are enticed to fear the so-called – but never clearly defined – “establishment” that is imagined as working toward a new dictatorship. Its machinations go on, of course, in secrecy, behind the scenes, like in The Wizard of Oz.

Esoteric Neo-Nazis argue that this so-called establishment – a.k.a. “the elite” – is scheming to abolish fundamental human rights under the planned and looming Covid-19 dictatorship.

The prophesized Covid-19 dictatorship – that never came – was supposed to lead to total surveillance and absolute control over the individual. The fact that none of these predicted dictatorships ever came to pass did not deter the belief in esoteric conspiracies because these fantasies continue to deliver semi-plausible and simple answers for the simple mind, unlike the esoteric-symbol-filled mystery novels of Umberto Eco, which lead the reader to a rational and logical conclusion by unraveling complexity through the subtle use of satire.

Common to all conspiracy fantasies, including those of esoteric Neo-Nazis, is the idée fixe that there is a kind of secret knowledge that only the initiates know – the select few of the esoteric Neo-Nazis – while those on the outside, seen as sleepers, do not know.

Meanwhile, those on the outside – not be trusted – are representative of the state, democratically elected parliamentarians, experts, and scientists, while insiders, like esoteric Neo-Nazis, spread their conspiracy fantasies through the online right-wing grapevine. Esoteric conspiracy fantasies, above all, are defined by three basic assumptions:

  1. nothing happens by chance;
  2. nothing is what it seems; and,
  3. everything is connected with everything.

What is important for the ideology of esoteric Neo-Nazis is marked irrationalism and a reliance on supposed intuitively acquired spiritual über-knowledge. Believers of esoteric nonsense gain their über-knowledge from higher powers, cosmic energies, and mystical forces that shape individual spiritual consciousness through an extra-terrestrial process.

They fancy the super-human powers of inner-worldly actors whose power can remove the dark machinations of evil-doers.

Right-wing esoteric ideology sets an unnatural and deformed society against “good nature” and destiny. Virtually everything – from the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, to global warming, to the Covid-19 pandemic, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, etc. – is re-interpreted through this lens. And this lens focuses on authoritarian, right-wing, anti-democratic, conspiratorial, and anti-Semitic patterns of thought.

In this way, esoteric Neo-Nazis create their own cosmos of self-cooked and mutually referenced and hence proven convictions. Their über-knowledge is self-referential and shaped by ever new esoteric insights and alternative-spiritual knowledge stories, narratives, and conspiracy fantasies.

It is a crude mixture of esoteric hostility to science – spiced up by a hefty dose of anti-intellectualism – which is, in turn, nurtured by anthroposophy and karma thinking. It is simplistic biologism linked to right-wing conspiracy narratives.

In short, esotericism is a kind of semi-knowledge that is accessible only to those on the inside – the secret of secrets, as it is called. Its claims to higher knowledge are often based on ancient secret traditions, revelations, spiritual experiences, contacts in the afterlife – frequently with higher beings and ancient masters, and – the never missing – archangels.

As a result of all this, esotericism is something like a generic term used for a wide variety of different assumptions, ideas, intuitions, and quasi-religious indications that metamorphose into an ideology.

At its basic level, it claims to gain knowledge in an intuitive way that only the spiritually aware have access to. It is only open to an inner circle of sensitive, mentally enlightened, the spiritually advanced, and, of course, the “initiated” people. In other words, a cultic relationship with the believers is formed.

Esoteric knowledge is offered to those open to magical healing rituals, astrological life consultations, and contacts with angels and higher beings to improve individual lives and for those seeking self-help. Hence, modern esotericism is not a “closed” group. Instead it is an open assemblage of a range of people.

Esotericism is a kind of “open access” institution with accessible events like spiritual seminars, retreats, and workshops. These play a key role in strengthening the sense of togetherness for esoteric Neo-Nazis. Esotericism and its providers use a variety of methods to convert people to esoteric Neo-Nazism, mostly those in the vicinity of alternative spirituality and those seeking self-help.

Meanwhile, in Germany this emerged during the 2020s Covid-19 pandemic. The connecting dots between simple esotericism and right-wing ideology came to the fore rather openly.

At Germany’s so-called hygiene rallies, right-wing followers of the esoteric, anti-vaccine activists, conspiracy theorists, and outright right-wing extremists as well as Neo-Nazis, rallied against state-prescribed hygiene measures, thus rallying against the state and against democracy.

In all this, right-wing anti-vaxx rallies provided an important interface for authoritarian ideologies. Worse, conspiracy ideologies represent an important bridgehead between those rejecting Covid-19 vaccination measures and esoteric Neo-Nazis.

Accordingly, so-called alternative healing methods – e.g. Ivermectin – were put forward. Recommendations for these treatments and drugs were spiced up with esoteric worldviews to convert people to esoteric Neo-Nazism.

Not just through right-wing online platforms that recommended miracle drugs, but also through rallies, right-wing esotericism offers a semi-plausible system which lends meaning to ready-made interpretations. It is a framework for esoteric believers in search of a just world. Of course the “justice” in this “just world” aligns with the right-wing ideology being surreptitiously injected into the seeker’s mind.

Cunningly, right-wing esotericism hardly ever blames the neoliberal capitalist system for global injustice and corporate pathology. Instead, right-wing esotericism prefers to blame the “woke” individual and a specific group like the illuminati, the freemasons and, harmfully evil but in keeping with basic Nazi dictums, blame also falls on a so-called global Jewish conspiracy, since right-wing esotericism has strong anti-Semitic tendencies.

Like anti-Semitism, right-wing esoteric interpretations – including its conspiratorial ideologies – tend to focus on simplistic black-and-white thinking. Their black-and-white ideology tells them that the world is divided into forces of evil and forces of good, very much like the cosmic battle between good and evil in Zoroastrianism. Inside this dichotomy framework, and unlike the tolerant aspects of Zoroastrianism, the usual suspects, the aforementioned culprits, are always quickly identified.

These culprits are the secretive masterminds lurking in the background unseen, the rich and powerful that deliberately put fear into people – for instance the fear of a pandemic like Covid-19. Meanwhile, esoteric Neo-Nazis also believe that since human beings themselves consist of energy, people release certain energy vibrations into themselves and onto others.

This, in turn, makes it easier for “the powerful” to use their evil energies to influence people. Right-wing esotericism can protect people from these evil energies through the reading of auras and the possession of magic crystals for example.

In much of this, online platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter (X), Facebook, etc., work as radicalization machines generating a loss of trust in mainstream media and democratic institutions. These algorithmically guided online radicalization machines benefit the radical fringes of politics, including esoteric Neo-Nazis by pushing the most sensational ideas and the most outrageous claims.

Linked to that is the fact that a seemingly ever-increasing number of online users are turning away from the established media. At the same time, those who express dissatisfaction and disappointment with the quality media do so by completely saying goodbye to quality media.

They often tend to migrate to online platforms that protest against modern society, rationalism, science, democracy, and the Enlightenment. Esoteric Neo-Nazism likes to suck them up.

All in all, the term right-wing esotericism should be understood more like a collective of esoteric ideas, ideologies, and people who are located on the right-wing of politics. In many cases, their esoteric-authoritarian views coincide with unsparing-authoritarian ideologies. This isn’t anything new, as Revisiting the “Nazi Occult” – Histories, Realities, Legacies, so aptly explains.

Since the 1990s, German right-wing esotericism has been present in the form of books, brochures, leaflets, pamphlets, seminars, and workshops. Yet these days, right-wing esotericism relies on online platforms.

On these right-wing esoteric online platforms authoritarian, anti-democratic, racist, and anti-Semitic content is increasingly mixed with esotericism. On such platforms, esoteric Neo-Nazism and conspiracy fantasies are spread tens of thousands of times both by actual humans as well as by pre-programmed bots.

The prevalence of right-wing esotericism – via online platforms and otherwise – has a variety of causes. Their growth is connected to the current socio-political crisis – the global financial crisis, global warming, Covid-19, etc.

These are of course the pathological consequences of neoliberal globalization, and trigger anxiety as well as political alienation, ignite perceived threats such as, for example, migrants, as well as the so-called spiritual homelessness created by cold capitalism.

Unlike Germany’s violent Reichsbürger and Neo-Nazis like the Hammerskins, right-wing esoteric followers have – so far – not been seen to engage in violence and property damage.

Esoteric followers are “nobly” holding back from direct violence and the brutalities of Neo-Nazis. Meanwhile, right-wing esotericism plays the role of an ideology facilitator for authoritarianism and anti-democratic thinking.

Next to this, the esoteric far right also provides an ideological recruitment bridge for simple-minded esoteric people, luring them into the world of right-wing extremists and Neo-Nazism.

In the end, the ideological link between supposedly non-political esotericism and right-wing extremists is provided by conspiracy fantasies. Conspiracy fantasies are the key interface between esotericism and right-wing extremism that is dead set on the destruction of democracy.

Thomas Klikauer is the German born author of German Conspiracy Fantasies – out now on Amazon! He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Danny Antonelli grew up in the USA, now lives in Hamburg, Germany and writes radio plays, stories and is a professional lyricist and librettist.  

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