Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Sun That Never Sets: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Landig Group Part III

Welcome to the third installment in my examination of the Landig Group, some times known as the Vienna Circle. This mysterious group has rarely been addressed by researchers except in the most outlandish literal and outlandish fashion (i.e. Joseph P. Farrell). Despite being largely unknown in the English speaking world, the Group has managed a very wide, if little understood, influence in mainland Europe and South America. Many of the modern mythos involving the Black Sun, Nazi UFOs, "the Last Battalion" and such like were heavily influenced by the Landig Group.

In the first installment of this series I mainly focused on the backgrounds of co-founders Erich Halik and Rudolf J. Mund while only briefly addressing the Group's namesake, Wilhelm Landig. With the second installment I briefly addressed Landig's "Thule novels" from which much of their ideology was spread to the general public and two key elements of said ideology: the Black Sun and Nazi UFOs. With this installment I would like to get back to Landig himself and do a more thorough examination of the man.

Landig's "Thule" trilogy
In the first installment I noted that Landig (like Mund, but not Halik) had been a member of the SS. Now I would like to go into more detail concerning his membership in the SS:
"... Landig was one of Hitler's earliest Austrian supporters and took part in the abortive putsch (coup d'etat) by Austrian National Socialists against the Vienna government in July 1934. In the wake of this failed uprising, the Austrian National Socialists were declared illegal and he fled to Germany. Landig joined the SS, being simultaneously inducted into the Sicherheitsdienst (SD; the intelligence agency of the SS and NSDAP) and the Waffen-SS (militarized component of the SS). He was stationed at the Arbeitswissenchaftlichen-Institut in Berlin (a component of the Deutschen Arbeitsfront [DAF]). Following the March 1938 unification of Austria and Germany, Landig returned to Vienna as an SD specialist under Reichsstatthalter Baldur von Schirach. He claims to have been responsible for coordinating production of a German secret weapon – flying saucers whose motive power was derived from an unknown energy discovered by SS specialist studying esoteric writings and symbols gathered during SS-Standartenfuhrer Ernst Schafer' 1938-1939 expedition to Tibet. While the German certainly worked on a wide variety of unusual experimental aircraft during the war, it is difficult to know from Landig's account where reality stops and fantasy begins; he claims to have overseen security at a military airport in Prague where he witnessed the operation of flying discs. In 1944, Landig was wounded during anti-partisan operations in the Balkans, and sent to a military hospital in Belgrade... He then returned to the Vienna and was posted to Abteilung I (Inland) of the SD. Despite his many years of service, Landig's final rank appears to have been that of an SS-Oberscharduhrer (Sergeant First Class). In September 1945, he was taken into custody by British occupation authorities and later released."
(The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pgs. 465-466)
While the possibility that Landig was involved with secret weapons research for the SS is seemingly highly improbable, acclaimed historian Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke speculated that it was possible that Landig met one of his chief ideological influences while serving in the SS during the final months of the WWII: the notorious occultist and philosopher Baron Julius Evola, who could charitably be called fascism's answer to Aleister Crowley. If ever there was a magician in this past century who could be described as "evil incarnate," the Baron would surely fit the bill. Evola's influence was present throughout the Landig Group.
"... The focus of their discussions were a secret center in the Arctic known as the Blue Island, which could serve as a source point for a renaissance of traditional life. This idea was taken from Julius Evola, whose Erhebung wider die moderne Welt [Revolt against the Modern World] (1935) became the bible of the Landig group. Landig's volkisch ideology of Ario-Germanic superiority was embedded within the high-flown metaphysics of Evola's primordial Tradition. Only the Northern Atlantic races, especially the Aryan Germans, understood the sacred nature of regal authority, the mystery of ritual, initiation and consecration, the divine origins of patrician rule, chivalry and a rigid caste hierarchy. Evola's polar mythology of Thule and trenchant anti-modernity had already been current among German conservative and right-wing periodicals during the Third Reich. As a Waffen-SS officer, Landig may also have met Evola during the last years of the war. After June 1944, Evola had worked in Vienna, helping to recruit a pan-European army of Waffen-SS volunteers from all over Europe to defend the continent against the invasion of the United States and the Soviet Union."
(Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pg. 129)
the Baron
The likelihood of Landig and Evola having met during the latter's time in Austria during the final year of the war is greatly increased when one considers the agency within the SS that Evola had ties with.
"Despite the SS attack, as well as his own hesitation about Hitler, Evola spent World War II working for a section of SS intelligence, called the Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsfuhrers-SS (Security Service of the Reichsfuhrer-SS, or SD) in Rome, Berlin and Vienna. He may even have collaborated with the SD in Romania in the late 1930s. Founded in June 1931 by Reinhard Heydrich, the SD initially spied on the Nazi Party's domestic political opponents. It also ran a press and information service headed by Franz Alfred Six. After the Nazi seizure of power, the SD branched out into foreign intelligence operations. It developed a reputation for recruiting some of Germany's 'best and brightest' lawyers, economists, and academics into its ranks. At the outbreak of the war, the SD became part of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Main Office, or RSHA), which was established in September 1939 to consolidate all SS intelligence operations into one super-agency."
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pgs. 315-316)
an SD patch
Despite the common perception that Evola was at odds with the SS (due in no small part to attacks made by Karl Maria Wiligut while he was in the SS's good graces on the Baron), as indicated in the above quote, he long held the organization in high esteem and seems to have become involved with it in an official capacity at least by the outbreak of WWII. Its possible his ties with the SS began even sooner thanks to the close relationship Evola developed with the Romanian Iron Guard, who long enjoyed patronage from the Nazi Party and especially the SS (I've written briefly on Evola's ties to the Iron Guard before here).

What exactly Evola did for the SS throughout the war is rather vague in general, but especially concerning the period he spent in Vienna as the conflict was winding down. Needless to say, there are some curious rumblings concerning Evola's work during this time.
"Evola's SD work at the end of the war is shrouded in mystery. Historian Richard Drake says that while he was in Vienna, 'Evola performed vital liaison services for the SS as Nazi Germany sought to recruit a European army for the defense of the Continent against the Soviet Union and the United States.' According to his own account, Evola spent his time living incognito while doing 'intellectual' research. But what kind of research?
"While Evola was in Vienna, the SD supplied him with a series of arcane texts plundered from private libraries and rare book collections. The SD bureau that provided him with these documents was Amt VII, an obscure branch that served as an RSHA research library. With this precious archive, Evola closely studied masonic rituals and translated certain 'esoteric texts' for a book called Historie Secrete des Societes Secretes. It never appeared because Evola claimed that all his documents were lost during the Russian bombardment.
"But why would the SD actively involve itself was arcane research at a time when hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers were sweeping into the Reich? And why would Evola choose to live in Vienna under a false name and devote his time to such a strange project? Could the answer to this question be found in the cryptic reference to Evola's 'efforts to establish a secret international order' in the 1938 SS report?
"I believe that Evola's Vienna project was intimately linked to the development of what I will call 'the Order,' a new kind of Knights Templar designed to successfully function sub rosa. Well before the end of World War II, the intelligence and financial networks of the Third Reich were hard at work preparing underground networks to survive the coming Allied occupation. Escape lines to South America and the Middle East were organized. Bank accounts were created in Switzerland and other neutral nations to finance the underground with plunder the Nazis had looted from occupied Europe. But how was this secret empire to be managed, except by a virtually invisible 'government in exile?'
"For years Evola had been fascinated by knightly orders as expressions of the Kshatriya caste of warrior aristocrats. In the formal structure of the SS, he saw the precursor to a new Ordenstaat, a State ruled by an Order. He also understood the great advantages provided by medieval orders of chivalry due to their transnational composition. Crusading orders, like the Knights Templar and the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, were pan-European, with separate national sections ('langues,' or tongues) unified through a Council presided over by a Grand Master. After the collapse of fascist state power, a new Order, an 'invisible college' of sorts, was needed not only to manipulate bank accounts and travel schedules but to have policy-making functions. Nor could it simply be run under the auspices of the Vatican, since Evola believed that Rome's downfall had been caused by the acceptance of Christianity by the dominant faction of the Roman elite. The Emperor Constantine's official embrace of the 'gentle Nazarene' in 313 A.D. had accumulated, a hundred years later, in Alaric's sack of Rome. With the American chewing-gum imperialist threatening in the West, and the new Hun sweeping in from the East, was the situation in 1945 really so different? The Order was a vessel for those 'Hermetic' elements of the Conservative Revolution, old ruling class, and new Nazi elite not entirely beholden to the political, cultural, and religious 'Guelf' wing of the European aristocracy, which remained ideologically loyal to the continued propagation of the ruling Christian mythology.
"This account of the origins of the Order is obviously speculative, and I advance it as hypothesis, not fact. Yet if I'm correct the SD really did have a need for Evola's unique talents. With his extensive knowledge of matters esoteric and occult; his fascination with secret societies and knightly Orders; his Waffen SS transnationalism; his ties to some of the highest figures in fascism, Nazism, and movements like the Iron Guard; and his loyal service to the SD, Baron Evola was a perfect candidate to help theorize a new underground Order. As the SD's equivalent of Albert Pike, the former Confederate Army general who designed the rituals for the Scottish Rite Masons in the late 1800s, Evola's task was to help create the inner organizational and ritual structure for the Grand Masters of a secret Shamballah whose financial nerve center was carefully hidden away in Swiss bank accounts."
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pgs. 319-321)
the Seal of the Knights Templar, who have long held a special place in Esoteric Nazism
While Evola's expertise would have certainly been useful in creating the structure of an underground Order, his extensive knowledge of history, psychology, mythology and the occult would have proven invaluable in crafting a mythos for this Order. That's why its quite suspect that fellow SD man Wilhelm Landig would begin to unveil an ideology in the early 1950s based around a secretive Nazi underground roughly modeled upon the Medieval military orders of old.

So, to recap: Evola and Landig were both SS men who served in the SD, one of the intelligence wings of the SS; they both ended up in Vienna during the final year of the war where Landig claimed to have been working on a secret weapons project while Evola was apparently creating (or "rediscovering") a new fascist mythology for the post-war years. Then, less than a decade after the war ends, Landig begins promoting an ideology based heavily upon Evola's published works and which also echoes a kind of "Black" Order which some researchers have alleged Evola was involved with during his final years in the SS.

increasingly in popular culture this "Black Order" Evola and Landig theorized has appeared in romantic accounts of a "Last" or "Final" Battalion at battle with the "Judeo-Masonic forces"
Obviously, this is quite a series of "coincidences." Further muddying the waters is the possibility that Evola and Landig even worked out of the same section of the SD. Of the mysterious Amt VII bureau that provided Evola with materials for his research into secret societies, the great Kevin Coogan notes:
"Amt VII maintained the RSHA's library, the Freemasonry museum, and other archives. Himmler even got Amt VII involved in the study of witchcraft during the Middle Ages.
"A 24 July 1945 CIC report on Amt VII gives its background:
"'When the SD moved from BERLIN to MUENCHEN late in 1934, it included Zentral Abteilung II and the Presse Abteilung. The former was divided into two Haupt Abteilungen specializing in enemy ideologies. Haupt Abteilung I dealt with Jewry, Freemasonry, and Catholicism; Haupt Abteilung II, with Marxism, Reactionary movements, and the LUDENDORFF movement.'
"After Franz Alfred Six, who headed the Press Department, decided he wanted not just to spy on the German press but to influence it, he made a power play to take over Zentral Abteilung II:
"'SIX succeeded in having himself made chief of this department in 1936 and then wrote articles about Freemasonry, Catholicism, and Judaism, which were sometimes published by the Nordische Verlag in HAMBURG.
"After a time there was friction between the Gestapo and Zentral Abteilung II. Both agencies often issued reports which were mutually contradictory. A re-organization of Zentral Abteilung II took place. It was officially dissolved, its papers and files of operational value were sent to the Gestapo, and what was left of Zentral Abteilung II became Amt VII of the RSHA...'"
(Dreamer of the Day, Kevin Coogan, pgs. 327-328 n. 36)
Franz Alfred Six, one of Nazi Germany's leading "experts" on Freemasonry
As was noted above, Landig served in something known as Abteilung I (Inland) during his time in Vienna working for the SD. Unfortunately, there were several organizations bearing the "Abteilung" name (which seems to translate as "battalion") and I have not been able to determine whether this section was related to the Zentral Abteilung II (which was divided into two sections known as Haupt Abteilung I & II) bureau that eventually became Amt VII.

But it goes without say, the possibility that Landig was aware of Evola's research during this period is certainly present. Indeed, if Landig was working for Evola in some capacity this could explain how Landig was able to to devise such an elaborate mythos so soon after the war when there is scarce evidence of his interest in esoteric topics before or during the conflict. Perhaps Evola's research was the real secret weapon Landig observed rather than his ridiculous claims of Nazi UFOs.

they do make for a great sales pitch, however
Before wrapping things up, there is one last aspect of Landig's early post-war activities I would like to briefly examine: the possibility that he was involved with the so-called "Ratlines" in some capacity.

The Ratlines were routes established originally by forces within the Vatican that enabled Nazi and fascist war criminals to flee Europe for foreign lands, typically South America or the Middle East. By 1947 (if not sooner) the US Military and intelligence community had also become actively involved in these endeavors. One of the earliest Ratlines appeared in Landig's neck of the woods.
"The Ratline can be said to have begun in Austria. Salzburg and Vienna were the hotspots, with an emphasis on the CIC (the US Army's Counter-Intelligence Corps) presence in Salzburg, whose officers invented the term 'Ratline.' The CIC utilized the services of Roman Catholic Monsignor Krunoslav Draganovic as well as other Croatian priests. It is believed by many that Croatian Archbishop Stepinac was also involved in the smuggling of Nazis and Nazi wealth out of the hands of the Communists. Draganovic began the movement of the Ustashe war criminals to Argentina, and then continued with the Nazis in general using the same channels via Rome and Genoa."
(Ratline, Peter Levenda, pgs. 238-239)
Monsignor Krunoslav Draganovic, a Croatian priest who played a key role in establishing the early Ratlines
As was noted in part one, there is evidence that Landig was in contact with US intelligence officers after being released from an internment camp in 1947. Also noted there (and above) was the fact that Landig had established close ties with the Croatian fascists during his time serving in the Balkans to the point that he had received decorations from the Croats for his service. Landig's experience as an intelligence officer while working for the SD, his ties to the Croatian Ustashe regime and his presence in Vienna during a time when the Ratline there was active are highly suggestive. Certainly Landig would have been well suited to assist in such an endeavor, but unfortunately few seem to have considered this possibility.

And with that I shall wrap things up for now. In the next installment I'll begin to examine Landig's post-WWII political career and its curious associations. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Sun That Never Sets: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Landig Group Part II

Welcome to the second installment in my examination of the infamous Landig Group, some times referred to as the Vienna Circle. While largely unknown in the English speaking world, the Landig Group would have a very overlooked influence on mainland European and South American esotericism by the end of the twentieth century. Most notably, the Group is often credited with introducing UFOlogy and the Black Sun mythos to Esoteric Nazism in the post-World War II era. While the ideology of Landig and company was largely unknown to the general public for many years, their mythos have more recently been spread to a wider audience thanks to the efforts of individuals such as Jan Van Helsing.

The Group has largely been ignored by New Agers and the conspiratorial right in equal measures, and when they have been addressed (i.e. by Joseph Farrell) it is typically in the most literal and sensational manner imaginable. This series is an attempt to address this state of affairs, but unfortunately there are many aspects of the Group that do not seem to have been investigated as thoroughly as it surely warrants. However, there are certainly some interesting connections to be made with the data that is available.

With the first installment of this series I largely focused on the backgrounds of two of the three men, Erich Halik and Randolf J. Mund, who co-founded the Group along with its namesake, Wilhelm Landig, in 1950. I began to address Landig in brief at the end of that installment as well.

Before picking with Landig again, however, it behooves me to address his novels and their influence in brief. So here's a synopsis of Landig's "Thule trilogy" to get the ball rolling:
"However, it was Wilhelm Landig's own novels that ensured the revival of occult-nationalist themes among a younger generation of neo-Nazis in the 1990s. The ideas and interest discussed by the Landig group in the 1950s found permanent expression in Landig's trilogy of Thule novels. The first of these, Gotzen gegen Thule (1971), was begun in the late 1950s and incorporated the thought of Julius Evola and Herman Wirth. Theories of Aryan polar origins and Atlantis are mixed with powerful new nationalist myths of 'the last battalion,' secret German UFO bases in the Arctic, alchemy, Grail myths and Cathar heresies, and a Nazi-Tibetan connection involving Himalayan masters and an underground kingdom in Mongolia. In this novel and especially in its successor, Wolfszeit um Thule (1980), a global Jewish conspiracy always lurks in the shadows, seeking to foil the revival of Nordic German rule, but its Judeo-Christian idols are powerless against the resurgence of the Black Sun. The last novel of the series, Rebellen fur Thule (1991), is a wishful fantasy of right-wing radicalism among German youth. A former SS officer, the hero of the second novel, is invited to lecture on the Atlantean heritage of the Aryans at a German secondary school. The pupils reject the liberal views of their despised left-wing history teacher and hungrily embrace the new nationalist myths of Thule."
(Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pg. 137)
the first of Landig's "Thule" novels
While the influence of Landig's work has been relatively broad (in certain regions of the world at least), it was his conception of Nazi UFOs, 'the last battalion', and the Black Sun that have had the most long lasting impact. Of these concepts, its worth addressing the Black Sun and the UFO interest in brief here. Let's start with the legendary Black Sun.

In recent times the claim has frequently been put forth by conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazis alike that the Black Sun is an ancient symbol dating back to humanity's earliest civilizations. But in his exhaustive study of the symbol, The Black Sun Unveiled, researcher James Pontolillo found little evidence of this. While Pontolillo notes that several black suns have been noted in antiquity, they were almost exclusively references to eclipses (i.e. the now infamous reference in the Edda) which have a meaning somewhat different than the modern concept of the Black Sun. Pontolillo's account does not seem to be entirely complete, however, as he makes few reference to the appearance of the Black Sun in Mesoamerican culture prior to European contact. In such circles the Black Sun references seem to be quite striking.
"The Mesoamerican myths are shared, among others by the Aztecs, the Mayas, the Mexicans and the Toltecs. One prominent god common to these people is Quetzalcoatl, literally 'feathered serpent', who incarnates one of the many mystical beliefs of the Black Sun in Central America. After his shinning passage through the sky during the day, he would dive into the Underworld with a Blackened aura.
"The Aztecs compared the passage of the sun into the Underworld with a butterfly, which is an archetype for transformation and reincarnation. The only event when the Black Sun would appear during the day would be a solar eclipse. He would then be identified with the earth goddess Itzpapalotl, also called the 'Obsidian Butterfly' (obsidian is a very dark volcanic stone), who would eat men during that exceptional cosmic event."
(Nazi Secrets, Frank Lost, pgs. 86-87)
Thus, it would seem that the Mesoamerican traditions were also primarily concerned with eclipses as well. This is in contrast to the later cosmic interpretations of the Black Sun, some of which would place it at the center of the universe and credit it with life giving properties. According to Pontolillo, the modern concept of the Black Sun does not seem to have emerged until the Middle Ages. Its earliest manifestation was likely in Sufism.
"Corbin (1971) and others have presented a strong case supporting the idea that the Black Sun and the Green Ray of European alchemical tradition... ultimately derive from Sufi mystical texts which were brought to the West during and after the Crusades (1095 -- 1291 CE). The Sufis theorized that there was a threefold structure to the human soul... On the lower plane [nafs ammara] was the ego or the imperative psyche appearing as a black disk, figure, sun or cloud. On the upper plane [nafs motma'yanna] was the pacified soul appearing as a splendid emerald surrounded by orbs of light. In between the two lay the intellect or soul-consciousness [nafs eawwama] appearing as a great red sun. As early as the writings of the Persian polymath Avicenna (980 -- 1037), the Sufi tradition spoke of an experience variously called the Black Light, the Night of Light, the dark Noontide, the midnight sun, or the 'Darkness at the approaches to the Pole' which was considered to be both the highest spiritual state and the most perilous of initatic steps... This Black Light, which permeates the entire universe, is only revealed to accomplished masters who have vanished themselves in the process known as fana, or annihilation of the ego. With the appearance of the divine Black Light in the mystic's superconsciousness, all things disappear instead of remaining visible. The screen or barrier of matter is overcome. The Black Light is not an Ahrimanic/Satanic darkness in the sense of the negation of or an absence of light, but the invisibility of 'the preorigin of all that is visible... [an] invisibility due to an excess of brilliance, to being too close to the light... ' In mystical terms 'it is the first Intelligence... rising as a revelation over the Darkness of the Deus absconditus... the human soul itself as the light of consciousness rising over the Darkness of the subconscious...'"
(The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pgs. 87-88) 
It is from these roots that the celebrated Black Sun of the alchemists likely emerged. While there can be little dispute that the Black Sun of alchemy is the first true manifestation of the modern symbol, it did not appear in any European alchemical works prior to the Ripley Scroll of the mid-fifteenth century. From there it would appear in the works of several notable alchemists (many of whom being German) including Albrecht Durer, Georgette de Montenay, Johann Mylius, Robert Fludd and possibly Sir Edward Kelley (yes, the same Kelley who was English magician and spy John Dee's assistant on several of his major workings; interestingly Dee used an obsidian stone, which as noted above was linked to the Black Sun in Mesoamerican culture, as a seerer stone).

Edward Kelley
Naturally it was at this point that the modern conception of the Black Sun began to emerge. It went something along these lines:
"Alchemists saw the Black Sun as unworked, primal matter, still to be set on the path of development. To the psychoanalyst, the Black Sun stands for the unconscious, again in its most elemental form."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 950)
Pontolillo confirms the alchemical association of the Black Sun with primal matter, at least during the early stages. But he notes that later alchemists took it down psychological routes later embraced by the legendary Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.
"In several later alchemical treatises it is obvious that the Magnum Opus is increasingly to be understood in mystical terms (or in modern parlance, psychological terms). The alchemists point toward the need to enter into the darkest abyss (the depths of the Black Sun) in order to experience the invisible sun hidden within matter. It is hardly surprising that modern writers on alchemy have tried to forge a link with Sri Aurobindo's ideas on Martanda... The most influential modern description of the Black Sun comes from the alchemical writings of Swiss psychotherapist Carl Gustav Jung, who drew his inspiration from the images in Mylius' Philosophia reformata (1622), when he noted that the Black Sun represents 'a provisional extinction of the conscious standpoint owing to an invasion from the unconscious...' The conscious position is acknowledged to be dead and renewal ('greening') can only be accomplished through the addition of new material from a deeper layer. Some people will experience this as a depression, while others will experience it as elation. Like any mind-altering substance, the effects of the Black Sun's dark fire are user-mediated to a degree."
(The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pg. 103)
an alchemical depiction of the Black Sun
The concept of the Black Sun as a kind of invisible energy hidden within matter would appear indirectly in the writings of various Ariosophists in the early twentieth century. But I'm getting ahead of the game a bit.

After the Black Sun's appearance in European alchemy it began to spread across the continent and appeared in the works of William Blake, Mary Shelley, Victor Hugo, William Hope Hodgson and many others. Its transference to Ariosophy, and by default Esoteric Nazism, almost surely traces back to H.P. Blavatsky's concept of the "Central Sun", however. Blavatsky, as I'm sure many of my readers are aware, was the founder of Theosophy and one of the most important metaphysical figures of the modern era by a wide margin. Her work was widely read in Germany prior to the First World War, laying the foundation for Ariosophy and the notion of a metaphysical "Central Sun."
"In her major opus The Secret Doctrine (1888), Helena Blavatsky occasionally mentioned a 'central sun' in the Milky Ways, 'a point unseen and mysterious, the ever-hidden center of attraction of our Sun and system.' As the energetic center of the galaxy or even the universe, this dark central sun represents the mass of potential energy prior to the Big Bang of modern cosmology. While the Jewish Cabala described its 'black light,' Eastern initiates of Aryan tradition regarded it as the source of 'creative light' and the 'center of Universal life --Electricity.' Blavatsky thus emphasized a distinction between the Semitic and Aryan cosmology: the former materializes and humanizes the mysteries of nature; the latter spiritualizes matter. Blavatsky's ideas were first taken up by volkisch-theosophical authors in Germany before the First World War and after. Guido von List wrote of an invisible 'primal fire' as the ancient Ario-German's notion of the highest divinity. Peryt Shou (1873-1953), a German occult writer, had described humanity's heightened receptivity to the ultraviolet spiritual light of the 'central sun' in the Age of Aquarius and related this to Germany's future in the troubled postwar era."
 (Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pg. 136)
H.P. Blavatsky
As was noted in part one, the Landig Group was based out of Vienna and its three founding figures all had long time ties to the city. Also noted there was the fact that Vienna produced the two guiding lights of Ariosophy, Guido von List and Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels, who also remained close to the city throughout their respective lives. Thus, the Vienna was a major outpost (some may even say heart) of the Ariosophy movement. Its likely that Landig and company first discovered Ariosophy prior to the Second World War while living in and around Vienna. Landig was in several youth wings of the German Freikorps, some of whom were influenced by Ariosophy (as I noted before here), to boot.

While the Landig Group would play a major role in the crafting of the modern conception of the Black Sun, they were of course not the only influence. This strand, tracing back to H.P. Blavatsky, can be traced up through the early twentieth century via Peryt Shou, Karl Maria Wiligut, early "Ancient Astronaut" proponent Robert Charroux, Andre Brissaud, Kenneth Grant and Miguel Serrano. Of these Grant, a close associate of Aleister Crowley, is the most compelling. The system Grant outlined in his 1972 classic The Magical Revival touches on many of the same topics of interest to these proto-fascist and neo-Nazi ideologues and yet reaches very different conclusions in many instances. This shall make for some interesting speculation in a future installment.

As for the Nazi regime itself, evidence of the Black Sun is relatively scarce. There are some intriguing appearances of a black round disk on various German aircraft during the Nazi era, however. They first appeared during the Spanish Civil War and were later seen on German aircraft in the polar region at the close of the Second World War.
"Aircraft of the Spanish Nationalist Air Force and the German Legion Condor had previously employed a black fuselage roundel during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)... There is a prosaic explanation for the presence of a black roundel on German aircraft during the Second World War. Each Luftwaffe air wing (Jagdgeschwader 5 [JG5] in the case of Norway) was subdivided into several consecutively numbered groups (Gruppe I through IV for JG5). The standard Luftwaffe convention (though not always followed) was that all IV. Gruppe aircraft should be marked with a black roundel immediately aft of their fuselage cross."
(The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pg. 357 n. 29)
some of the German aircraft used during the Spanish Civil War that displayed the Black Sun
There is no evidence that there was any esoteric significance to these markings, however. It should also be noted that Erich Halik, a co-founder of the Landig Group, was the first individual to link the black roundels that sometimes appeared on German aircraft with the Black Sun in the magazine Mensch und Schicksal in 1952. But moving along.

A Black Sun also made a curious appearance on the cover of Junges Volk, a youth magazine put out by the German American Bund around 1940. This particular Black Sun is quite unique and does not have a clear precursor. It is unlikely that this symbol had much influence on the Black Sun mythos of the postwar years due to the short lifespan of the Bund as well the relatively limited and largely juvenile subscribers of Junges Volk.

And then there's the sunwheel of the North Tower of Wewelsburg castle. This topic is vastly beyond the scope of this blog, but a few points should be made: For one, there is no evidence whatever that Himmler conceived of the notorious sunwheel as a representation of the Black Sun. In point of fact, its not entirely certain that the SS was responsible for the sunwheel in the first place (though the likelihood is at about 95%) and there are certainly no official surviving documentation concerning its purpose.

Outside of Wewelsburg, there is only one other possible known appearance of this particular sunwheel in conjunction with a Nazi site. One very similar to it appears at a military bunker memorial to Bismark in Hamburg. However, the origins of this sunwheel are even murkier than the one in Wewelsburg and it is not certain who was behind its creation.

the sunwheel at Hamburg
The Wewelsburg sunwheel was not associated with the Black Sun until the postwar years. It is commonly claimed that the first linkage of the Wewelsburg sunwheel with the Black Sun was made by Russell McCloud in his 1991 novel Die Schwarze Sonne von Tashi Lhunpo but this is incorrect. French historian Andre Brissaud was the first to link Wewelsburg with the Black Sun in his 1969 work Hitler et l'ordre noir. Brissaud did not implicitly link the Wewelsburg sunwheel with the Black Sun, however, and gave a rather inaccurate description of it and the castle's North Tower on the whole.

the first public linkage of the Black Sun with Wewelsburg
In 1990 two publications emerged that directly linked the Wewelsburg sunwheel to the Black Sun. The first was produced by the highly controversial British cult known as the Order of Nine Angels (ONA) and was entitled The Black Sun. The second came from an obscure group known as the Freuddeskreis Wulf Sorensen (FWS) via a publication they had influence over known as Wolfszeit. In 1990 several issues of this magazine published articles linking the Wewelsburg sunwheel with the Black Sun.

a 2011 ebook edition of the ONA's 1990 Black Sun publication
And with that, let us move along to the concept of Nazi UFOs. The Internet is of course awash in accounts of these crafts thanks in no small part to works of Henry Stevens and Joseph P. Farrell. While Nazi Germany certainly made some phenomenon technological advances, evidence of Nazi UFOs is pretty slim.
"... In internet Sci-Fi underground lore and, in the thriving world of conspiracy theories, there circulate unsubstantiated claims that the Third Reich somehow managed to produce futuristic flying devices, far ahead of the scientific capabilities of their times. These so-called Nazi UFOs have even names: Rundflugzeug, Feuerball, Diskus, Haunebu, Hauneburg-Gerate, V7, VRIL, Kugelblitz, Andromeda-Gerate, Flugkreisel, Kugelwaffen, and Reichsflugscheiben. Many blueprints of these devices can be found on the internet, all of them grossly concocted in German with 'original Nazi fonts' and precise measurements to add a realistic touch.
"These Nazi UFO fantasies proceed mainly from 3 origins:
"1 - The alleged wider scopes and achievements of the real 1938-1939 German expedition to Antarctica in Neuschwabenland; Colin Summerhayes of the Scott Polar Institute scientifically debunked all claims that there were German bases in Antarctica...
"2 - The great advances that the Germans possessed in rocketry, and the purported findings of Doctor Viktor Schauberger, in the field of breaking new means of propulsion (His famous 'Repulsine' engine). Some scientists proved however that his Repulsine was no more than a water turbine, on which he was working to cool aircraft engines at the Messerschmitt plants.
"3 - The Allied sightings of so-called 'Foo Fighters', allegedly German secret weapons, designed to harass an aircraft through electromagnetic disruption. Though real, the German pilots saw the same phenomenon, and asked themselves what they could be, and where they possibly came from...
"The first links made between UFOs and Nazis are the work of the Italian Professor Giuseppe Belluzzo, a scientist and former Minister of National Economy under the Mussolini regime. He claimed in 1950 that 'types of flying disks were designed and studied in Germany and Italy as early as 1942.
"There have also been subsequent claims that underground FIAT factories, mainly located in vast tunnels around the Lake of Garda in Italy, were used to produce Nazi UFOs. These stories were propagated by the Italian Renato Vesco who claimed, among others, to have studied at a German Aeronautical Institute during the war, but was later discredited because of discrepancies concerning his very young age at the time.
"In 1950 the famous German magazine Der Spiegel tackled the subject of possible Nazi UFO's for the first time, and reported the dubious stories of former engineer Rudolf Schriever and his round flying device. Schriever did indeed show discrepancies in later versions of the same story, notably in 1952 during another interview.
"True enough, some prototypes that never achieved mass production status, like the Sack AS-6, had a shape very close to those of the after war UFO sightings..."
 (Nazi Secrets, Frank Lost, pgs. 72-76)

While this researcher would not totally discount some physical Nazi UFOs thanks to research such as that displayed by Jacques Vallee in Messengers of Deception, the prospect of Nazi UFOs on the whole is on rather flimsy footing. Wilhelm Landig himself claimed to have been involved in secret weapons research toward the end of World War II which he would have us believe is the source of his knowledge of Nazi UFOs. But evidence of his involvement in such projects is scarce, as we shall see in the next installment. In point of fact, his later period work for the SS was likely of an intelligence nature.

Erich Halik, a co-founder of the Landig Group, was an engineer in the field of aeronautical propulsion systems but did not work in such a capacity for the Third Reich during the war. He went on to work for a Austrian defense contractor known as Hirtenberger AG. He claimed to have worked on UFO propulsion system for the defense contractor but there is no evidence for this. He did, however, participate in some of the earliest developmental work for drone aircraft. But unfortunately, not enough information is available in these regards to determine the legitimacy of Halik's claims.

Many would of course dismiss the later interest these ideologues of Esoteric Nazism had in UFOs as a PR stunt at best or a disinformation campaign at worst. Certainly the former is true in the case of individuals such as Ernst Zundel while there are strong indications of the latter in Landig's background. But this researcher does not believe that things are that simple.

Early Ariosophists such as Jorg Lanz von Liebenefels, Peryt Shou and Karl Maria Wiligut all speak of the ancestors of the ancient Aryans as god men and make illusions to them descending from the heavens or the clouds throughout their writings. Shou, in some of his writings from the 1910s, even makes allusions to the Sirius tradition.

Its likely the first modern conception of "Ancient Astronaut" theory (AAT) as it is currently understood derived from Alice Bailey, a Theosophist and the legendary founder of Lucis Trust. Her cosmology was almost surely adopted by Silver Shirts founder William Dudley Pelley, who articulated what was likely the first fascist-tinged take on Ancient Astronaut theory, as I noted before here. Its likely that Bailey also inspired (at least in part) the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, who is also increasingly sited as an early inspiration for AAT.

Pelley was also aware of Theosophy from his time spent living in New York City during the 1920s (and may even have possibly known Bailey). Its also highly likely that Lovecraft was familiar with Theosophy at least from his time in NYC as well. And then, on the other side of the Atlantic, you have various Ariosophists, which derived from Theosophy, such as Liebenfels, Shou and Wiligut making allusions to Aryan supermen from the heavens and clouds.

Needless to say, there's seem to have been something very strange happening within Theosophy (which also played a key role in developing the modern conception of the Black Sun, as noted above) around this time frame. Such a topic is far beyond the scope of this series, but clearly the interests neo-Nazi occultists have displayed concerning UFOs should not be quickly dismissed.

And with that I shall wrap things up for now. In the next installment I will begin examining the curious life of Wilhelm Landig in depth. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Sun That Never Sets: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Landig Group Part I

The Landig Group, which first emerged in Vienna during the early 1950s, never gained much of a following (at least in terms of sheer numbers) during its run and has largely been forgotten outside of certain circles since its membership began to die off in mass during the 1990s. But it none the less managed an enormous influence upon neo-fascist circles in Europe and South America. What's more, its ideology is one of the modern cornerstones of Esoteric Nazism and has even made striking inroads amongst mainstream metaphysical circles.

Despite this, the Landig Group has generated very little coverage from either New Agers or conspiracy theorists. This is not especially surprising as far as the former are concerned (as the presence of so many fascists in 20th century metaphysical circles, especially those concerning "Ancient Astronauts," is rather embarrassing to such individuals) but the silence of the latter is rather striking given the ample indications that there was an intelligence purpose behind the Landig Group's activities.

Even when the Landig Group has been addressed, such as in the case of several of Joseph P. Farrell's ridiculous accounts of post-WWII Nazi survival, they have been presented in the most literal and outlandish light as possible. But then again, given that the Landig Group potentially had ties to some of the "guiding lights" of American conspirology, it may not be that surprising after all that Landig and his merry band have been so widely dismissed or reduced to caricatures by "serious" researchers.

Dealin' with the hogwash, as you know...
Over the course of this series I shall attempt to rectify these lapses. This is not an easy task as very little in the way of scholarly research has been done on the Landig Group, and what is available has largely focused on the esoteric aspects of the Group rather than their potential political agendas. While I am primarily interested in the political aspects of the Landig Group, I shall try to address certain aspects of their esoteric interests (especially in regards to Nazi UFOs and the Black Sun) as there is a lot of nonsense floating around the Internet on such subjects.

With that being said, let us move along to the origins of the Group. It sprung up in Austria's capital at roughly the same time The Third Man was presenting an unforgettable depiction of bombed-out, war-torn Vienna to America audiences. The classic film was true to Austria's capital at the time and it was among these nightmarish surroundings that the Landig Group first emerged.

Vienna as seen in The Third Man
If this did not make the location fitting enough, there's also the fact that Vienna had spawned the two founding pillars of Ariosophy, Guido von List and Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels. Prior to the First World War, Vienna had been at the heart of the broader Volkisch movement in addition to providing fertile ground for its most esoteric and sinister branch. List, Liebnefels, and their followers had operated extensively out of Vienna both prior to and after the First World War. While it is uncertain as to whether any members of the Landig Group encountered Ariosophy and its architects at this point, the latter organization and its members' ties to Vienna makes the earlier residency of the two pillars of Ariosophy even more curious.

List (top) and Liebenfels (bottom)
But I digress --let us move on to a broad over view of the group:
"... [Wilhelm] Landig was also deeply involved in the post-war, underground world of esoteric National Socialism. In 1950 Landig founded the occult, volkisch Landig Group, sometimes called the Vienna Lodge, along with former Austrian SS officer Rudolf J. Mudd... and Austrian engineer Erich Halik... The Landig Group was heavily influenced by the writings of the aforementioned Dutch historian Herman Wirth and Italian esotericist and traditionalist philosopher Baron Julius Evola. From the latter, they adopted the concept of the Blue Island, a secret center in the Arctic which could serve as the wellspring for a renaissance of traditional life... Their activities help to revive interest in the Aryo-Germanic mythology of Thule (the polar homeland of the ancient Aryans) and promoted the idea of the Black Sun as a substitute swastika, an alchemical symbol, and as a mystical source of energy capable of regenerating the Aryan race. They also popularized esoteric ideas current in the pre-war volkisch movement relating to Atlantis, Hans Horbiger's Welteislehre (World Ice Theory), pre-historic floods, Grail legends, beliefs of the medieval Cathars, and secret racial doctrines of Tibet... Along with National Socialist esotericists such as Ernst Zundel (author of UFOs: Hitler's Secret Weapon! and Hitler at the South Pole?), the Landig Group claimed that there were secret post-war National Socialist installations beneath the polar ice caps where flying saucers and advanced weaponry were being developed for use in an eventual bid to conquer the world..."
 (The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pgs. 466-467)
the Baron Julius Evola, a true man of mystery who likely had ties to the Landig Group that went beyond a mere ideological influence; but more on that in a future installment
Its interesting to note that the above-mentioned Ernst Zundel, one of the figures chiefly responsible for spreading the Nazi UFO mythos, is a long time associate of famed "revisionist" historian (and likely fascist sympathizer) Michael A. Hoffman II. While this researcher has been unable to to uncover any evidence that there was direct contact between Zundel and the Landig Group, the latter clearly had an enormous influence on Zundel's esoteric works.

Zundel later alleged that he had incorporated UFOs and other esoteric topics into his work solely to appeal to the emerging New Age movement. Naturally, Hoffman rarely addresses this aspect of Zundel's career when praising one of his favorite "gas chamber skeptics." But moving along.

I shall finish off this installment by giving a brief rundown of the three men chiefly responsible for the ideology of the Landig Group: Wilhelm Landig himself, Rudolf J. Mund and Erich Halik. Let us start then with Halik, a figure whose seems to have had a very underrated influence on modern UFOlogy. Of the three men behind the founding of the Landig Group, Halik was the only one not to have served in the SS during WWII.
"Erich Halik (November 21, 1926 -- May 27, 1995) was born in Vienna, Austria and lived there his entire life. Although numerous print and Internet sources state that he was Swiss, this erroneous claim... probably resulted from the fact that Halik used the pseudonym 'Claude Schweikhart of Basel, Switzerland' as a by-line for a few of his early magazine articles. Halik was married twice and had one son, Claudius, by his second marriage. Once again, contrary to the claims of many Internet sites, he was never a member of the SS... but served as a Wehrmacht infantryman at the end of the Second World War. This erroneous claim of SS membership is probably a direct result of his post-war involvement with the Landig Group... in which several former SS-men held prominent positions. In his post-war professional life, Halik was a graduate in Mechanical Engineering and a licensed Engineer working in the field of aeronautical propulsion systems for which he held several patents... He was also involved in some of the earliest developmental work concerning drone aircraft. In his private life, Halik had a deep abiding interest in esotericism and was one of the leading public figures in Austrian ufology during the 1960s. He played a pivotal role in the development of both the Black Sun mythos and the theory that UFOs were advanced aircraft developed by the Third Reich..."
(The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pgs. 352-353)

Up through the 1960s Halik would remain prominent in the Austrian UFO field while also working as a defense contractor.
"... In March 1959, the Gesellschaft fur Interplanetarik [The Interplanetary Society] was founded with Viennese attorney Dr. Hermann Weyb as President and Erich Halik as Vice-President. One of Halik's responsibilities was to collect all of the UFO reports submitted to the organization... The Vienna-based UFO research group still exists today under the slightly different name, Interplanetarik Austria...
"Throughout the 1960s, Halik made a living as a UFO researcher and defense industry consultant... He performed engineering design work for Hirtenberger AG, a well-known Austrian small arms manufacturer that diversified its business into a variety of technological fields after the Second World War including aeronautical engineering... From 1964-1967, Halik and his German co-patentee, Hans Werner von Engel, applied for and received several Austrian and British patents on behalf of Hirtenberger AG related to electromagnetic controls, aerodynamic shapes, and propulsion systems for flying bodies... There are noticeable similarities between the flying disks illustrated in one of Halik's Mensch und Schicksal articles and his patent work more than a decade later...
"In November 1967, Halik presented his work on UFO propulsion systems at the 7th International World Congress of UFO Researchers in Mainz, Germany... He reviewed the relevant scientific advances from the 1700s forward, especially with regard to electrostatic propulsion systems. Halik stated that his electromagnetic drive design was already proven in principle, but that funds were lacking for a large-scale practical test system... He finished his presentation by observing that we are close to understanding UFO propulsion systems and by stressing the importance of developing and patenting working versions of them. During this time, Halik also held discussions with American  UFO expert Dr. J. Allen Hynek regarding the need to build saucer-like craft and work toward solving the aerodynamic and propulsion problems involved in their use...
"In the 1970s Halik suffered a series of undeserved professional setbacks and was ultimately forced to spend the last 20 years of his life working as a hotel night porter in Vienna... He was buried in the graveyard of Grobjedlersdorf in the 21st District of Vienna... Although many of Halik's esoteric ideas are now largely forgotten, research continues into his use of quartz and silica gel based catalysts in 'repulsine'..."
(The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pgs. 361-363)
Unfortunately, Pontolillo gives no indication as to what the "professional setbacks" were that Halik experienced and how they contributed to him spending the remaining decades of his life working as a hotel porter despite ample evidence pointing to his talents as an engineer. The fact that he was involved early in the development of drone aircraft is especially interesting in the twenty-first century, but there are few details available concerning this aspect of his career. Naturally there is equally little available concerning his development UFO propulsion systems and what became of the research he did along these lines for Hirtenberger AG.

the logo of Hirtenberger AG, the defense contractor Halik was employed by for a time
 Halik's interpretation of the UFO phenomenon was rather novel for his time as well.
"Halik was especially excited about the contemporary postwar UFO sightings. In a series of articles published in the Austrian esoteric magazine Mensch und Schicksal between 1951 and 1954, Halik related the flying saucers to the Black Sun myth. He identified the saucers as manifestations of the Grail, 'a cultic vessel used by the supreme hierarchy of Christian Gnostics.' He analyzed the etheric constitution of flying saucers on the basis of their glowing concentric rings. At the same time, Halik seemed to believe that the Germans had indeed established 'polar empires' in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, under the signs of the 'Golden Sun' and the 'Black Sun.' While the former represented a Luciferic, solar quest (linked with Otto Rahn and the SS Cathars), the latter was driven by Saturnine, satanic lodges of the SS. Halik understood the UFOs not so much as a technical invention as the application of a metaphysical and alchemical principle. The alchemical metaphor of sol niger (Black Sun) was said to represent occultation, blackening, a sinking into the mystery of self-discovery. This was supposedly the idealistic message of SS 'heretics' operating from the Blue Island, harbingers of a millenarian world transformation."
(Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pg. 131)
the magazine in which Halik's UFO-centric articles first began to appear in during the early 1950s
James Pontolillo provided some even more compelling details on Halik's perception of the UFO phenomenon:
"In 'Isles of the Dead over Us', Halik (1952b) began by reviewing the latest attempts of officialdom to dismiss UFOs as misinterpreted natural phenomenon. Halik reiterated that explanations of the UFO mystery generally fell into one of two camps: they are either craft of otherwordly origins or misinterpretations of natural atmospheric phenomena. Since all of his research indicated that UFOs were physical objects which behaved according to esoteric patterns, Halik claimed that a satisfactory explanation of this mystery would only be found in the realm of metaphysics, magic and alchemy. He stressed the importance of the observation that these objects are predominately discoidal, round or heart-shaped; based on this Halik interprets UFOs as symbolic representations of the Grail Table around which the Cathar 'Feast of the Manisola' took place. To him this table is a stylized representation of the generative process (interpenetration of yin and yang) and the Great Mother. It is the primitive Paradise where phallus and yoni (carbuncle...) unite to create the Tree of Life from which all knowledge arises. It is also symbolic of the 'Isle of the Dead' which Paradise has evolved into over time... The Cathar feast is a celebration of the 'Mani-Isola' or 'Isle of Mani' (the carbuncle, or model of Paradise). Thus, the UFOs themselves are models of Paradise and important archetypal vehicles because of their inspirational state which they arouse in humans. Despite their powerfully creative value though, UFOs are also dangerous (a 'Mantrika Vimana'... in the Hindu sense) because they emanate all four levels of the Akasha Tattva... and carry within themselves a strong chaotic element whose power must be mitigated by its partial transformation into other tattvas. 'First' and 'Last' matter meet in an intimate embrace..; this is the secret of the metaphysical Manisola and explains why UFOs are indestructible and not subject to known physical laws. According to Halik, these 'vehicles of the Word' (Mantrika Vimana) are perfectly capable of changing the face of our world and are the 'enemy out of the air' spoken of by mystic Jakob Lorber... Their first appearance coincided with humanity's expulsion from Paradise at the end of the Golden Age and served as a reminder of what had been lost (and might eventually be regained). He also explored the idea that bells in religious tradition represent a parallel to the Manisola and raised the ultimate question: Where is the terrestrial 'Isle of Mani' today?"
(The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pgs. 357-358) 
the heartlands of the Cathars, who have so obsessed various Nazi esotericists over the years
Clearly there is some overlap between Halik's metaphysical take on the UFO phenomenon and ideas later popularized by John Keel and Jacques Vallee that placed the UFO sightings in the context of various esoteric, magical and mythological traditions recorded throughout the ages. Its even possible that Vallee, a long time associate of the above-mentioned J. Allen Hynek, was aware of Halik's research and theories.

Halik was not the only far right ideologue to apply a metaphysical interpretation to the UFO phenomenon during this era either. A year prior to Halik's UFO reports first appearing, former Silver Shirt leader William Dudley Pelley published a work entitled Star Guests that also placed UFO sightings within a metaphysical context. Pelley's book would have an enormous influence of George Hunt Williamson, who would take the UFO phenomenon in an even further metaphysical direction in a series of books published in the 1950s and early 1960s. Williamson would later go on to work for Pelley and would incorporate many of his racist tenants into his cosmology. Much more information on Pelley and Williamson can be found in my examination of Pelley's career.

Pelley (top) and Williamson (bottom)
But let us move along now to Rudolf J. Mund, another of the co-founders of the Landig group. Like Landig himself, Mund had been a member of the SS.
"Rudolf J. Mund (April 4, 1920 -- January 5, 1985) began his political life as a teenage SA member in Vienna during the period when the German NSDAP was outlawed in Austria. In 1939, he joined the elite Waffen-SS and saw his first combat later that year during the Polish Campaign. During the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Mund was wounded and spent time in a Warsaw military hospital after which he returned to service on the Eastern Front. From February 1 -- September 1, 1943, mund underwent officer training at the SS-Junkershule Tolz followed by the Zugfuhrer (platoon leader) course at Beneschau. He was wounded in Holland in 1944 and while recuperating at a hospital in Breslau, Silesia attained his highest rank of SS-Obersturmfuhrer (1st Lieutenant). Mund returned to action and was captured by American forces on January 10, 1945 during the latter stages of the Ardennes Offensive. While in the American POW camp at Saint-Avold (Lorraine, France), he first made contact with Edmund Kiss, a writer of esoteric novels that he had long admired... They would subsequently also be interned together at camps in Augsburg and Gross Zelten. Mund was finally released from captivity in 1947."
 (The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pg. 367)
Edmund Kiss was himself a curious figure. He was a major proponent of the World Ice Theory and had written a series of popular fantasy novels involving Atlantis and the ancient Nordics that incorporated it during the 1930s. When the Nazis came to power Kiss was brought into the SS Ahnenerbe by Heinrich Himmler himself. There he would become one of the leading "authorities" on the World Ice Theory. Later Kiss went into the Waffen-SS (the combat arm of the SS) and achieved the rank of Oberstrumbannfuhrer (Lt. Colonel). Toward war's end he served as commandant of the guard at Hitler's headquarters. But I digress.

By all accounts these encounters with Edmund Kiss in various American POW camps in the post-war years would have an enormous influence on Mund.
"... Mund was deeply impressed by these encounters, which somehow held the promise of far horizons beyond the present calamity of German defeat. Mund remained ever attracted to the esoteric Aryan mystique which he believed had lain behind the SS. As a young Waffen-SS soldier he had no direct contact with mystical SS circles during the Third Reich. However, the comradeship, heroism and sacrifice of his frontline experience in the Waffen-SS were the formative experiences of his life. He had believed the myths of this 'first volunteer European army' in which the bravest young men of Germany and other Western nations had fought a crusade against Soviet communism. Defeat, capture, the shocking discovery of Nazi atrocities and the disgrace of his SS uniform drove him in search of a noble SS that had championed the utopian Aryan world against all that was dark, chaotic and inferior. Throughout the postwar years, Mund pursued occult-volkisch investigations in an attempt to make sense of his former ideals."
(Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pg. 134)
Waffen-SS troops
Mund's studies of esoteric topics would be quite extensive.
"Mund was entranced by Kib's complex tales of an ancient world-spanning Aryan empire that had foundered but would one day rise again. His increasingly serious esoteric studies eventually led him to deceased SS-Unterscharfuhrer Otto Rahn's books on the Holy Grail and the medieval Cather heresy. In 1950 Mund helped to found the occult, volkisch Landig Group in Vienna. Along with his fellow members Wilhlem Landig... and Erich Halik..., he revived the ariosophical Germanic mythology of Thule (the polar homeland of the ancient Aryans) and promoted the idea of the Black Sun as a substitute swastika, an alchemical symbol, and as a mystical energy source capable of regenerating the Aryan race. In 1958 Mund joined the Order of the New Templars (ONT), a chivalrous sect which promoted an eclectic fusion of Aryan racism, Gnostic Christainity and Ariosophy. He went on to become the Order's prior in 1979 and later published the first biography of the Order's founder, Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels. Mund also took a great interest in the esoteric writings of Karl Maria Wiligut... and ultimately went on to become his first biographer also. During the postwar years, Mund maintained contacts with various occult organizations including the German branches of the Ordo Templi Orientis."
(The Black Sun Unveiled, James Pontolillo, pg. 367)
Mund's biography of Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels
The Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) of course famously became involved with Aleister Crowley in 1910s. Crowley eventually took over the OTO but no before incorporating his Thelemic system into it. There have long been speculations that some branch or another of the OTO had some type of involvement with the Order of the New Templars (ONT), but Mund's links are the first concrete ones this researcher has uncovered (though according to Peter Levenda in his classic Unholy Alliance the Swiss branch of the OTO published a memorial notice for ONT founder Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels that described him as a "shining example of unswerving faith and the very highest virtue") between the two Orders.

In 1954 Mund allegedly put together a rough draft of what would become a tome called Vom Mythos der schwarzen Sonne [The Mystery of the Black Sun] that outlined many of the core ideas of the Landig Group. This tract was not published until 1981 and there is little evidence that it was circulated widely before then. It was later reprinted in 2004 with a preface by the current head of ONT and thus reintroducing Mund to a new generation.

the 2004 edition of Mund's The Mystery of the Black Sun
And that brings us to the man whose name the Vienna Lodge adopted, namely Wilhelm Landig. Like Mund, Landig also served in the SS. But his experiences were far more curious than those of his affiliate.
"... Born in Vienna in December 1909, Wilhelm Landig was a staunch pan-German nationalist. As a schoolboy he had joined the youth section of the Freikorps Rossbach and later fought in the Freikorps 'Deutsche Wehr' in Vienna, two of the many private armies formed after the First World War to defend Germany's borders and suppress left-wing revolts. He served in the Third Reich first in 1937-1938 at the Labour Science Institute in Berlin, then until 1941 in a government department in Vienna. From 1942 to 1944 he fought with the Waffen-SS in the Balkans, receiving German and Croatian decorations in fierce anti-guerrilla campaigns against partisans. In 1944 he was directed from Belgrade back to Vienna for 'special tasks' involving new military technology. In autumn 1945 he was subject to automatic arrest as a former SS man and interned in a British POW camp until 1947. Upon his release he entered the world of inter-Allied espionage, hawking low- and medium-grade Soviet intelligence to Western security services..."
(Black Sun, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, pg. 129)
As I noted before here, there is evidence of esoteric and metaphysical interests amongst various Freikorps. Its possible that Landig was first exposed to such subjects during his time with the Freikorps. Then there are of course those long standing allegations that more than a few Freikorps commanders had rather unwholesome interests in underage boys, a prospect that Landig may have possibly faced. I hesitate in making such an allusion, but it may been relevant when we consider some of Landig's later associates in a future installment.

We will also see that passing low and medium grade Soviet intelligence to the NATO powers was hardly the end of Landig's intelligence work, not by a long shot. Nor did his interactions with NATO security services mark his introduction to the world of espionage --he had already entered said world during his time with the SS. His time spent with the fascist Croats is especially interesting in this regard, as we shall see.

But before I can address more of Landig's curious life I must first digress to consider his fictional works and their influence, as they may well be Landig's most lasting impact. I shall pick up with this topic in the next installment of this series. Stay tuned.