Partisan Runology Within The Nsdap - Runology in the Age of the Third Reich

Revival of the Runes: The Modern Rediscovery and Reinvention of the Germanic Runes - Stephen E. Flowers Ph.D. 2021

Partisan Runology Within The Nsdap
Runology in the Age of the Third Reich

The National Socialists had a general interest in popularizing runes and runic symbolism as an instrument of propaganda. The purpose of this propaganda was to emphasize the distinction of German(ic) culture from other cultures and to suggest that it was, in fact, superior to all other cultures. The runes were useful in this regard for implying that the Germanic people were literate with their own form of writing and that this form of writing was perhaps older than the other writing systems of the world. In this general idea, the propagandists found antecedents in earlier scholarship. But by the early twentieth century, when these notions were being put forward in propaganda, academic runology had already determined the approximate time of runic origins and had some idea about the origin of the runes based on older Mediterranean scripts. Therefore, claims of an indigenous origin for the runes, or that the runes first arose many thousands of years before any known runic inscription, clearly fall under the label of “occultism” or belong to the realm of the esoteric.

Runes found official interest mainly in two institutions of the NSDAP itself: the Rosenberg Office (Amt Rosenberg) under Alfred Rosenberg (1893—1946) and the SS under Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler (1900—1945). Rosenberg, who had become prominent in the Party due to his authorship of the popular 1930 book Der Mythus des Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (The Myth of the Twentieth Century)—an ideological survey of human history from a National Socialist viewpoint—headed up a rather symbolic office in the Party apparatus called the Dienststelle des Beauftragten des Führers für die gesamte geistige und weltanschauliche Schulung und Erziehung der NSDAP (Station of the Deputy to the Führer for General Intellectual and Philosophical Schooling and Education of the NSDAP), commonly referred to as simply “Amt Rosenberg” (the Rosenberg Office). Within this was the Amt für Volkskunde und Feiergestaltung (Office for Folklore and Ceremonial Design).

Publications produced by and for members of the SS, such as Das Schwarze Korps (The Black Corps) or Der Schulungsbrief (The Educational Letter), frequently published articles about runes. The specific part of the National Socialist governmental operations that was most involved with anything runic was the so-called Ahnenerbe, which was part of the SS.