Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The LSD Chronicles: The Occult Connection Part I

Welcome to the latest installment in my ongoing LSD Chronicles series, a project examining the history of LSD in the US Intelligence community. In the first series of posts, which can be found here and here, I considered the life and times of biological warfare specialist Frank Olson, the first individual whose death was linked to CIA LSD experiments. In the second series of post, which can be read herehere and here, I examined the origins of LSD in the CIA's various mind control experiments. In this series of posts we will examine some of the major CIA mind control projects involved in LSD research, as well as the origins many of these projects (as well as the CIA itself) had in the occult.

As was revealed in my Origins series of posts the notion of psychedelics as tools of mind control was largely devised (at least among American officials) by an individual known as Dr. L. Wilson Greene. Greene would become obsessed with what he dubbed 'psychochemical warfare,' a kind of bloodless war in which an advisory was made mentally incapable of fighting. This concept would have a major influence on individuals such as Sidney Gottlieb, the notorious director of the MK-ULTRA project that shall be examined in just a bit.

"...Dr. L. Wilson Greene, Chemical Corps Scientific Director, the man largely responsible, along with Stanley Lovell, for the creation of Camp Detrick's Special Operations Division. Dr. Greene, a civilian, was a strong advocate of the use of mind-altering drugs, including mescaline and LSD, covertly and in battlefield situations. Sidney Gottlieb found Greene's thoughts most impressive and worthy of pursuit. Much later, Gottlieb would admit: 
I was fascinated by the ideas Greene was advancing. He was convinced that it was possible to actually win a battle or larger engagement without killing anyone or destroying any property. While I found this to be a novel approach to war, I was somewhat skeptical about it, but I was intrigued by the potential applications of psychochemicals to much smaller conflicts and situations. There I saw tremendous promise."
 (A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, pg. 61)
Greene himself found the inspiration for his concepts from a most curious source: Nazi Germany. According to Albarelli, Greene first conceived of his concepts of psychochemical warfare after examining the captured files of the Ahnenerbe, easily one of the strangest aspects of the Nazi regime. The Ahnenerbe was founded by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the monstrous Schutzstaffel (SS). Superficially the Ahnenerbe was billed as a kind of anthropological society geared toward studying the origins of the Aryan race.
"Himmler gave the Ahnenerbe official status within the Reich in 1935 (thus protecting it and its members from the spate of new laws that were designed to ban occult-related activity); in 1940 it became a formal division of the SS. With over fifty separate sections devoted to a wide range of scientific and pseudoscientific research, the Ahnenerbe became a boondoggle for Nazi scholars of every description. There was a Celtic Studies group within the Ahnenerbe; a group to study the Teutonic cult center Externsteine (near Wewelsberg), which as we have seen was believed to be the site of the famous World-Tree, Ydragsil or Yggdrasil; a group devoted to Icelandic research (as the Eddas were sacred to the Teuton myth, and since Iceland was considered to be the location of Thule itself); a group that was formed around Ernst Schafer and his Tibet expedition; a runic studies group; a 'World Ice Theory' division; an archaeological research group that scoured the earth for evidence of Aryan presence in lands as remote from Germany as the Far East and South America (an idea possibly inspired by the writings of Blavatsky and by contemporary research 'proving' that the Aryan Norsemen had discovered America hundreds of years before Columbus); the list goes on and on."
(Unholy Alliance, Peter Levenda, pg. 182)
the Ahnenerbe logo

But the dynamic of the Ahnenerbe gradually changed, especially with outbreak of the second World War, by which time it was directing some of the vilest crimes of the entire war. Probably the most notorious of these were committed by a division of the Ahnenerbe known as 'Institute for Military Scientific Research,' which carried out several shocking experiments at the concentration camp of Dachau.
"At Dachau, Nazis took the search for scientific knowledge of military value to its awful extreme. There, in a closely guarded, fenced-off part of the camp, S.S. doctors studied such questions as the amount of time a downed airman could survive in the North Atlantic in February. Information of this sort was considered important to German security, since skilled pilots were in relatively short supply. So, at Heinrich Himmler's personal order, the doctors at Dachau simply sat by huge tubs of ice water with stopwatches and timed how long it took immersed prisoners to die. In other experiments, under the cover of 'aviation medicine,' inmates were crushed to death in high-altitude pressure chambers (to learn how high pilots could safely fly), and prisoners were shot, so that special blood coagulants could be tested on their wounds. 
"The mescaline tests at Dachau run by Dr. Kurt Plotner were not nearly so lethal as the others in the 'aviation' series, but the drug could still cause grave damage, particularly to anyone who already had some degree of mental instability. The danger was increased by the fact that the mescaline was administered covertly by S.S. men who spiked the prisoners' drinks... Many must have feared they had gone stark mad all on their own. Always, the subjects of these experiments were Jews, gypsies, Russians, and other groups on whose lives the Nazis placed little or no value..."
(The Search for the 'Manchurian Candidate, John Marks, pg. 5)
one of the infamous Dachau experiments
The mescaline experiments seemingly had a vast influence on the US Intelligence community's post-war ventures into mind control. Of course, it is impossible to know the full extent to which these experiments influenced the US as they remain classified to this very day, nearly 70 years after the war came to an end.
"After the liberation of Dachau, US investigating teams read through the Ahnenerbe and Luftwaffe files on the concentration camp experiments, looking for anything that might be useful in a military application. Marks goes on to note that 'None of the German mind-control research was ever made public.' Other than the hints of it we can discover in Sievers's diary and similar memoranda, that pretty much remains the situation today."
(Unholy Alliance, Peter Levenda, pg. 235)
Perhaps the search for mind controlling drugs is not the only overlap between the Nazis and the US intelligence community. Apparently the SS, which controlled the Ahnenerbe and eventually included it as a branch of the organization, saw itself as a kind of modern day Knights Templar defending the Nazi faith, according to H.P. Albarelli. Under Himmler it became a thoroughly occult order to its very core.
"...the SS functioned as a kind of elite corps of pure-blooded Aryan supermen. Himmler joined the SS when it was still a bodyguard unit with no more than about three hundred members and he marched with Hitler's men during the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, carrying a flag. After he became the head of the SS in 1929, however, he began to reform it along lines that can only be described as cultic, while its membership rose from three hundred to fifty-two thousand by 1933. The very selection of the twin Sig rune as its emblem had its roots in the doctrines of List and Liebenfels... Even the graves of dead SS men were adorned --not with crosses or other more traditional tombstones --but with a German rune symbol (the'mensch' rune) made out of wood. This same rune was used on the cover of the articles of the Lebensborn society, the 'human stud farm' operation of the SS, thus making a curious statement about the life and death cycle as perceived by the official pagans of the Reich."
(ibid, pgs. 168-169)
Interestingly, several of the major figures in the early days of the CIA, such as Frank Wisner, also viewed their organization as akin to the Templars and thus adopted a cultic structure for the fledgling intelligence agency.
"Respected writer and former Newsweek editor, Evan Thomas, writes in his masterful book, The Very Best Men, that William Colby, an OSS officer who later became DCI, 'credited [Frank] Wisner [the former OSS officer who founded the CIA] with creating an atmosphere of an order of Kinghts Templar, to save Western freedom from Communist darkness.' Other prominent early CIA officals strove to perform 'work worthy of the Knights Templar' and to belong to a 'cultish crusade.'
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli, pg. 264) 
Frank Wisner
Is it a stretch to link the SS and CIA because both organizations viewed themselves as modern day Templars? Perhaps, but Frank Wisner, the chief architect of the Templar-like atmosphere of the CIA, had rather dubious ties to the Nazis himself. Wisner, at one time the head of the Office of Policy Coordination (one of the major psychological operations arms of the CIA), is a largely forgotten figure nowadays. When he is remembered, it is usually for his breakdown shortly after the Soviets put down the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Wisner was eventually institutionalized and under went electroshock therapy before returning to the CIA in 1958. He was never the same, however, and retired in 1962. Three years later he committed suicide via a shotgun blast to the head.

Before his down fall Wisner was a close associate of legendary CIA director Allen Dulles. On Dulles's behalf, Wisner oversaw the importation of numerous WWII war criminals, many of them ex-Nazis and collaborators, into the United States.
"The CIA, and Frank Wisner's clandestine action shop (the OPC) in particular, were never content with the immigration to the United States of a handful of especially valuable assets. The 100 Persons Act was simply too restrictive, Wisner believed. The agency was running international programs involving thousands of foreign agents, with tens of thousands of subagents. Many of these men and women were risking their lives for modest paychecks they got from the Americans, as he saw it. The promise of free immigration to the United States was crucial in recruiting new overseas help for the CIA and in retaining the loyalty of many persons already on the U.S. payroll. 
"According to State Department records, Wisner wanted to grant U.S. citizenship as a reward to not just '100 persons' per year, but to thousands, even tens of thousands of informants, covert operators, guerrillas and agents of influence. Whatever else might be said of Wisner, he was never one to let sticky legal technicalities stand in the way of what he believed to be the best interests of the country. He set out to create a wide variety of both legal and illegal dodges to bring men and women favored by his organization into the country.  
"This immigration campaign became an integral part of CIA clandestine strategy of the period. The agency manipulated U.S. immigration laws and procedures on behalf of thousands of favored emigres  selecting some for entry to this country and rejecting others. While only a fraction of this influx appears to have been Nazis or Nazi collaborators (the true number is impossible to know until the agency opens its files), it is clear that a number of identifiable war criminals were brough to the United States with CIA assistance during this period. Equally important, the security agencies of the government gave tacit support to private refugee relief committees the stated goal of which included assisting thousands of Waffen SS veterans in immigrating to the United States."
(Blowback, Christopher Simpson, pgs. 201-202)
Allen Dulles, Wisner's boss and long time friend, also had rather unsavory ties to the Nazis.
"Other Nazis, including an entire division of Ukrainian Waffen SS, are assisted out of Europe and into safe havens in North America, South America, Australasia, and the Middle East by the US State Department, British Intelligence, French Intelligence and the Vatican. This operation will be aided, abetted and covered up by the CIA in the post-war years, and especially beginning in 1953, when Allen Dulles becomes CIA Director. Dulles' Chief of Counter intelligence, James Jesus Angleton, (later the CIA's Vatican liaison), and Frank Wisner are particularly involved, along with thousands of former Nazi 'freedom fighters.' What is variously known as Die Spinne, Die Kamaradenwerke, and ODESSA, is born... 
"In 1945, Dulles --along with his OSS agent Hans Bernd Gisevius, a former Gestapo officer --was accused by the US Treasury Department of laundering Nazi funds from Hungry to Switzerland (where Dulles was based). The investigation was dropped when the US State Department claimed jurisdiction. Gisevius himself was working for the massive intelligence operation being run by a White Russian, General Turkul, and known as the Black Orchestra, a Vatican-linked Nazi intelligence network that was in reality a miracle of Soviet penetration into the Western intelligence services, something that Dulles would not have known at the time. Gisevius, from his position with the Reichsbank, also had excellent connections in the Nazi intelligence services and had been used by Dulles to communicate with Admiral Canaris of the Abwehr during the war."
(Sinister Forces Book II, Peter Levenda, pg. 61)
Allen Dulles
Angleton, Wisner, Dulles... These men are among the chief movers and shakers in the early CIA. Their influence on the Agency would still be felt decades after they left the organization. Dulles in particular has been accused of erecting a kind of good ole boy network within the CIA consisting of OSS veterans that would continue to dominate the Agency long after Dulles was gone. The fact that several of the Agency's most noted directors, such as Richard Helms, William Colby and William Casey, were all close friends of Dulles only lends credence to this claim.

Few would dispute that Allen Dulles had an enormous hand in shaping the CIA into what it is today. What then are we to make of his ties to the Nazis and his continual dependence on them as the Cold War raged on? Did the SS veterans that Dulles inevitably employed have an influence in the shaping of the CIA? If so, did the occult nature of the SS also seep into the CIA?

Given the whole range of esoteric studies the CIA would embark upon over the years, many of which had precedence in the work of the Ahnenerbe, it is hard to deny this link. This connection is especially troubling when one considers that Allen Dulles was one of the chief proponents of mind control and poured vast, unknown sums of money toward this objective.

Dulles was not, however, the individual that initiated the CIA's venture into mind control (though he was undoubtedly a major proponent of such a direction). Still, there were certainly elements of Nazism and high strangeness surrounding the CIA's entry into the mystical realms of mind control. The individual in question who authorized this endeavor was Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, the very first director of the CIA and all around strange character.
"Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter was the first Director of the CIA; he was also later to become a member of NICAP, that organization of professional scientists, military men, engineers and civilians created to uncover the truth about UFOs. Hillenkoetter remained convinced about the reality of the phenomenon all his life. But on April 20, 1950 --ironically enough, Hitler's bithday --he approved the creation of a special project to discover a means to combat the Russian mind weapons, whatever they were. This project was called BLUEBIRD."
(Sinister Forces Book I, Peter Levenda, pg. 187)
Roscoe Hillenkoetter
According to Christopher Simpson in his classic examination of America's recruitment of Nazi war criminals, Blowback, Hillenkoetter was also one of the early proponents for a more offensive role for the CIA, including clandestine operations, as well. This combined with his ties to mind control and UFOs make Hillenkoetter a rather compelling figure, but unfortunately I've yet to encounter a really in depth examination of his life, if one even exists. Hillenkoetter seems to have a very subtle but definite influence on the history of the twentieth century even if it is largely ignored by mainstream historians. The legacy of Project BLUEBIRD is a different story, in an esoteric kind of way. To understand the curious legacy of this project we must first examine the name which is where I will pick up in the second part of this series.


  1. I can't wait to get caught up at your blog in the next 2 or 3 days!
    I will take up where I left off- I left a comment to your reply about how great it is to do actual research but my comment got 'eaten'.
    all the best to you,

  2. Devin-

    Sorry... You're not the first person whose comments have gotten eaten. I think my comments have gremlins or something... though I've had a horid time posting at other blogs on Blogger as well.

    You'd think they'd be more user friendly...:)


  3. Hi again Recluse-I do indeed am starting to think there is some kind of something *haha I know nothing of 'puter codes and such* wrong with Blogger at the very least and maybe some others-I am finding it very hard to post comments just in the last 2 weeks or so -really just came to this conclusion a day ago or so as I just lost another on another Blogger sponsored blog-just happening too much for chance!
    I am here to read more -and I hope you are well my friend!-now lets see if I can post this:-)-