Karl Maria Wiligut
Karl Bor Johann Baptist Maria Wiligut (b. 10 December 1866 in Vienna, Austrian Empire; d. 3 January 1946 in Arolsen, Landkreis Waldeck-Frankenberg, Hessen), also known as Weisthor, Jarl Widar, and Lobesam, was a German officer of Austria, esotericist / occultist and SS officer, finally SS-Brigadeführer.
Karl Wiligut was born 10 December 1866 at 11:00 p.m. in Vienna. His grandfather, stationed in Budapest, was an officer of the k. k. Armee of the Austrian Empire within the German Confederation. His father Franz Karl Wiligut was born 1838 in Budapest and became a Landwehr-Hauptmann of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. According to some sources, Wiligut’s father was a well-placed man in Imperial circles, who transferred from the Landwehr to police duty upon his marriage.
Karl Maria was baptised as a Roman Catholic in Vienna. At the age of fourteen Karl Maria began to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and enrolled in the Imperial Cadet School (Kadettenschule) in Vienna-Breitensee.
In December 1884, he joined the 99th Infantry Regiment of the Gemeinsame Armee in Mostar, Herzegovina, now in the republic of Bosnia. In 1888, he was promoted to second lieutenant, four years later to lieutenant, to captain in 1903 and to major in 1913.
In 1889, he joined a lodge of the fraternal order “Schlaraffia", which draws inspiration for it's rituals and titles from the germanic Middle-Eve, where he had the initiatic name "Lobesam" ("worth of praise"); he was later raised to the degrees of "Knight" and "Chancellor", before resigning from the lodge in 1909.
Intellectually, Wiligut was active too. In 1903 he published Seyfrieds Runen. This is an epic poem re-telling the legend of King Seyfried of Rabenstein. The legend centers on a geographic region around the river Taja, a tributary of the March (now called the Morava in the Czech Republic). In an introduction dated 1902, Wiligut provides an overview of the story and supplies his own nature-mythological interpretation. Around 1908, Wiligut also became acquainted with Theodor Czepl, a member of Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels’ Ordo Novi Templi (ONT) in Vienna. It is most likely that Wiligut was introduced into the Viennese circle of esotericists by his cousin, Willy Thaler, who was a member of the Liebenfels circle.
During World War I, Wiligut served in different regiments of the k. u. k. Armee at the southern (Italian) and eastern (Russian) fronts . On 1 August 1917, he reached the rank of colonel (Oberst). In May 1918, he was assigned to the command of a convalescents' camp near Lemberg , being finally released from service on the 1st of January 1919.
After his retirement Wiligut moved to Salzburg and had the chance to dedicate himself more deeply to his esoteric studies. During the early 1920s, Wiligut also became increasingly involved in political affairs. He edited a journal, Der eiserne Besen (The Iron Broom), which was aimed at exposing the conspiracies of the Jews, Freemasons and Roman Catholics (especially the Jesuits).
After 1923, he served with the Freikorps „Oberland“ in Bavaria. On 29 October 1924, while sitting at a Salzburg café with friends, an ambulance drove up, attendants emerged and violently took Wiligut into custody—even forcing him into a straightjacket. In a report filed over a year later, the main reasons the authorities gave for Wiligut’s continued confinement had to do with his unfamiliar cosmological and religious ideas, which included the notion that he “traces his descent back to Wodan.” During the time of his “hospitalization”, Wiligut was able to maintain contact with his colleagues in esoteric-nationalistic circles. Chief among these were Emil Rüdiger, Friedrich Teltscher, Friedrich Schiller (ONT) and several members of the Edda Society (founded by Rudolf John Gorsleben), e.g., Werner von Bülow, Richard Anders (ONT), and Käthe Schaefer-Gerdau.
After his eventual release from the asylum in early 1927, Wiligut remained in Salzburg and received visitors from Germany (the Edda circle) and from Vienna (mainly ONT brothers). It was during this period that Wiligut revealed his Halgarita-Sprüche (Halgarita Charms), which were handed down primarily to his student Emil Rüdiger in the years 1928–29. In the fall of 1932 he received Fräulein Frieda Dorenberg. She was a member of the NSDAP even before Adolf Hitler (she carried the membership number 6) and was sometimes called the “conscience of the Party.” She was also deeply involved in esoteric matters, and was a member of the Edda Society. It was she, in cooperation with other members of the Society, who arranged to have Wiligut smuggled into Germany with a false identity.
So, with his children grown, and freedom from observation by the authorities granted, Wiligut fled Austria in 1932 and began living underground near Munich in the wealthy suburb of Bogenhausen and received the German citizenship. There he began teaching in the context of an esoteric circle called the Freie Söhne der Nord- und Ostsee (Free Sons of the North and Baltic Seas). It was during this period that, under the pseudonym “Jarl Widar”, he began to write the contributions to the journal Hagal (originally called Hag All All Hag) translated in this book.
Wiligut, now in his late sixties, was well received and much respected in these völkisch circles. It is likely that at least some of this respect stemmed from his long and distinguished military record and his service in combat in the “Great War”. He nevertheless remained in touch with several esotericists and correspondents, among them Ernst Rüdiger (1885-1952), whom he had met during the war, and members of the Order of the New Templars (ONT), until he finally met Reichsführer-SS Himmler in September 1933 at a conference of the "Nordic Society" (Nordische Gesellschaft), and joined the SS (under the pseudonym "Karl Maria Weisthor").
He was made head of the Department for Pre- and Early History, a section of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA). In April 1934 he was promoted to the rank of SS-Standartenführer (colonel), and then made head of Section VIII (Archives) for RuSHA in October 1934. In November 1934 reached the rank of SS-Oberführer (lieutenant-brigadier). In Spring 1935 Wiligut was transferred to Berlin to serve on Himmler's personal staff. He was promoted to the rank of SS-Brigadeführer in September 1936.
It also seems that Wiligut was instrumental in creating SS-rituals and designing ceremonial objects to be used in the performance of such rituals. A complete transcript has been uncovered in SS archives for a name-giving rite that Wiligut conducted for the newborn son of SS general Karl Wolff, and at which Himmler himself was also present. Wiligut also presided over related rituals at the Wewelsburg. Much of the ritual design seems to have centered on marriage ceremonies for SS-men and their brides. There was a eugenic aspect to these ceremonies in that leading SS-men and their brides had to demonstrate their Aryan heritage by tracing it back at least to 1750 (Deutschblütig). One object which Wiligut designed was a bowl in which bread and salt were presented to the bride and groom—the cover of this vessel was decorated with a “word-sigil for Got”. This is a bind-rune for G-O-T. The commandant of the Wewelsburg, Manfred von Knobbelsdorff, was an enthusiastic follower of Wiligut and enacted many rituals of Wiligut’s tradition.
Throughout the years 1933–39, Wiligut produced a number of reports for Himmler on a variety of topics relevant to esoteric religion, theology, history, and even political policy. One document outlines Wiligut’s ideas on the necessity of re-confiscating properties appropriated by the Church from the indigenous followers of the ancient faith.
In the course of Wiligut’s life, he had encounters with a number of other well-known esoteric nationalists. Some of these appear to have been his teachers, many were his students and others his colleagues. It is uncertain as to how well Wiligut knew men such as Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels. His ties to the latter seem to have been stronger, as so many of his own contacts were members of the ONT. Of course, Wiligut’s chief students were Emil Rüdiger (Edda Society) and Friedrich Teltscher, who further developed and published ideas rooted in Wiligut’s system. But beyond these there are others whom Wiligut encountered during his SS years and who merit discussion. One of the most enigmatic figures of the SS was Otto Rahn. Another esotericist with whom Wiligut had positive relations was Günther Kirchhoff (1892–1975). On the surface this might appear to be an unlikely alliance since Kirchhoff was a member of the Guido von List Society. Wiligut had begun to correspond with Kirchhoff in the spring of 1934, and reported enthusiastically to Himmler about Kirchhoff’s writings. With Wiligut’s good recommendation, Himmler supported Kirchhoff, but the Ahnenerbe, which had a higher level of scholarly standards, rejected Kirchhoff’s writings as “fanciful.” However, Himmler continued to support Kirchhoff, who wrote reports on esoteric matters for the Reichsführer-SS as late as 1944.
Other esotericists of the day were not so well-received by Wiligut. It is said that it was the influence of Wiligut which had Ernst Lauterer arrested and interned in a labour camp. The Italian esotericist Julius Evola (1898–1974) is another figure with whom Wiligut had some differences. Wiligut was assigned to evaluate Evola’s 1933 work Heidnischer Imperialismus (Pagan Imperialism) and his lectures. In a report dated 2 February 1938, Wiligut concluded that Evola was ignorant of true Germanic esoteric history and tradition (as Wiligut saw it) and that his Mediterranean philosophy was fundamentally different from that of the North.
Towards the end
In November 1938, Himmler learnt of of Wiligut's earlier recovery in a mental institution. In February 1939 Wiligut was notified that his retirement request on grounds of old age and health problems had been accepted. The official release was dated 28 August 1939. It is reported that Himmler sentimentally preserved Wiligut’s SS-ring, dagger and sword.
Wiligut later moved to Aufkirchen in 1939, to Goslar in 1940, and near the Wörthersee, in Carintia, now Austria, in 1943. After the end of the war he was assigned to a refugee camp in St. Johann near Velden. Then was given permission to move to Salzburg, from where he went back to Germany in Arolsen in Hesse.
Wiligut had already written and published poetry, but his first book to be printed was : “Seyfrieds Runen”, in 1903 with the Schlarraffia initiatic name of “Lobesam”; the book contains poems about the legends of Rabenstein at Znaim on the Austrian-Moravian border. 'Neun Gebote Gots, followed, in 1908; in this book Wiligut for the first time writes his claims of being the hair of an ancient heritage and knowledge of the german tradition that he calls Irminism (“Irminenreligion”); Wiligut founded the postwar newspaper Der Eiserne Besen (the Iron Broom). During the 1920s, Wiligut composed thirty-eight verses in a sort of old germanic language, the “Halgaritha Sprueche” (Halgarita Charms) which according to some sources, might have been originally more then one thousand, condensing Wiligut's teachings, along with other esoteric elements, in a cryptic form. In 1933 the “Edda Gesellschaft” published a detailed description of a seal that Wiligut claimed to have belonged to his family tradition and, from 1934, articles that he signed “Jarl Widar” about runes, poetry and other occult subjects. Wiligut is also credited, although evidences are missing, for the design of the SS-Ehrenring and the refurbishing in an esoteric, germanic fashion of the Wewelsburg Castle headquarter of the Schutzstaffel () with it's Black Sun.
Wiligut's teachings are within the stream of Ariosophy and esotericism of his time, but also bear characters of their own. He described the strife, in an ancient mythical Germany, between true positive “Irminists”, followers of Krist, and evil “Wotanists”. The fight went on for centuries. During this confrontation an Irminist prophet called Baldur-Chrestos was crucified (although he managed to escape) by the Wotanists in Goslar, Germany where he said the original Bible was written.
Wiligut claimed to be the heir of an age-old Irminist tradition, and delivered a peculiar set of runes, along with seals and symbols which allowed one to decipher the “hidden”, “true” Germanic knowledge and lore, even developing a kind of expansion which allowed the initiate to extract long sentences from words using the name of his runes. In Wewelsburg, Wiligut officiated collective and individual rites for the SS members and families.
Recently, Wiligut's teachings and life enjoyed new popularity, mainly within the esoteric szene, right-wing circles and music bands, and in the contemporary völkisch movement.
In 1906, Wiligut married his fiancée Malwine Leuts von Treuenringen from Bozen (Südtirol), with whom he had two daughters, Gertrud (b. 1907) and Lotte (b. 1910). A twin brother of one of the girls died as an infant. His wife ran his committment to a mental institution (according to her, because of his "aggressive behavior"), after which the marriage was divorced. It was also Malwine who reported to Karl Wolff that her ex-husband was once hospitalized due to "mental issues", which eventually led to his forced SS retirement.
Awards and decorations
- Military Merit Cross, 3rd class with war decoration and Swords (Austria-Hungary)
- Military Merit Medal in Silver and in Bronze, on ribbon of the Military Merit Cross with Swords (Austria-Hungary)
- Military Jubilee Cross
- Jubilee Commemorative Medal
- Memorial Cross 1912/13
- Karl Troop Cross
- Wound Medal (Austria-Hungary)
- Austrian War Commemorative Medal (Österreichische Kriegserinnerungsmedaille) with Swords
- Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer
- SS-Julleuchter (de)
- SS Honour Ring
- Sword of honour of the Reichsführer-SS
- Anschluss Medal (Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 13. März 1938)
- Sudetenland Medal (Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 1. Oktober 1938)
- War Merit Cross, 1st and 2nd class with Swords
- Seyfrieds Runen, Friedrich Schalk Verlag, Wien 1903
- Neun Gebote Gôts, 1908
- Gotos=Kalanda: 12 Gesänge, 1937
- Darstellung der Menschheitsentwicklung aus der Geheimüberlieferung unserer Asa-Uana-Sippe Uiligotis
- Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2003). The Occult Roots of National Socialism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology. Gardners Books. ISBN 1-86064-973-4. ; originally published as Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (1992). The Occult Roots of National Socialism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology; The Ariosophists of Austria and Germany, 1890-1935. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-3060-4.
- Rudolf J. Mund, Der Rasputin Himmlers, Wien 1982
- Lange, Hans-Jürgen (1998). Weisthor - Karl-Maria Wiligut - Himmlers Rasputin und seine Erben (in German).
- Stephen Flowers / Michael Moynihan: The Secret King – The Myth and Reality of Nazi Occultism, Revised ed. Edition, Feral House, 2007
- The Secret King contains: A full-length biographical introduction about Wiligut's turbulent life and exploring his magical worldview -- Translations of all Wiligut's major writings -- Wiligut's mysterious invocations, the "Halgarita-Sayings" -- Translations of private documents Wiligut submitted directly to the Reichsführer-SS, Heinrich Himmler -- Essays on Wiligut's cosmology and traditions by other ariosophists of the past and present -- Himmler's own report of an SS name-giving ritual, attended by the inner circle of SS leaders and presided over by Wiligut -- An exclusive interview with Gabriele Winckler-Dechend, Wiligut's closest colleague from his period of service in the SS.
- Erberinnerung (racial or genetic memory)