Mystic witching card file of the Third Reich

The Third Reich required various experts: executioners and cannon fodder, scientists, engineers, and saboteurs. Mystics were no exception. One of the structures of the 7th RSHA, engaged in research and philosophical justification for terror propaganda was called "Witching Sonderkommando." The task of the department was to study witch trials.

According to one of the versions, the documents dated from the 11-18 centuries were studied for occult purposes. Another version says that the documents were studied to explore medieval methods of interrogation and torture. The real reasons turned out to be trivial and prosaic.

The library of the "special project - the Witch" (Hexen-Sonderauftrag, H-Sonderauftrag) has more than 140,000 books and archival documents collected in the castle of Count Haugwitz, which was confiscated in the summer of 1943 by the RSHA, Reich Security Main Office. The abbreviated name of  the "special team" - H-Sonderkommando (Hexenforschung) - originates from the German word 'Hexe' meaning 'witch,' 'sorceress.' This expensive project was in the works for almost ten years: from September 1935 to January 1944.

It is known that the SS Reichsführer and Chief of German Police, Heinrich Himmler, always showed a sincere interest in everything connected with mystical and occult phenomena. In the spring of 1939, the head of the SS Security Service, on behalf of Himmler, sent a secret directive to his subordinate, which prescribed to find witches in the pedigree of the SS Reichsführer. His family had a legend that was passed from generation to generation about a woman of their clan who was burned in public. Soon afterwards, Himmler received an archival document from which it was clear that on April 4th, 1629, a witch - Margaret Gimbler from Markeisheim was burned in public.

Himmler would often give absurd orders to people with academic education, who had to both carry out the order and to save their reputation in front of the scientific community. However, with the "witch project," the case was assigned not only to the egg-headed men of science, but also to agile and practical guys from the ideological 7th department of the RSHA.

The administration of the project was assigned to SS Brigadeführer Franz Alfred Six. This young Nazi functionary and intellectual (by the time of the formation of the RSHA, he was a little more than 30 years old) has never been engaged in the studies of witch trials. Serving as the first head of the 2nd, and then the 7th departments of the RSHA, he would send regulations and directives to his employees. It is worth of note that Six managed to "excel" in the Eastern front. In summer of 1941,  serving as the SS Standartenfiihrer, Alfred Six, the commander of Sonderkommando SD "Moscow" in the structure of Einsatzgruppen B, took part in mass executions of Jews in the Soviet Union. However, the trial of war criminals did not sentence him to death, and Six lived until 1975.

The "with card file", or Hexenkartothek of Heinrich Himmler still causes conflicting opinions among historians. Some see a lot of mistakes in it that used to be made by people with higher education, who negligently treated the tasks assigned to them. Others insist that the staff of the special department demonstrated a remarkable insight in deciphering ancient documents. Some critics paid attention to the propaganda of the materials collected in the files. It was noted that the project team were disappointed with a small number of victims of repression and not particularly severe sentences against witches and sorcerers.

The department of the "study people and their essence" was directly involved in the research of witch trials. There was absolutely no mystery there in the spirit of medieval inquisitors or the famous "The Hammer of the Witches." The researchers were not interested in the subtleties of the relationship between witches and Satan, or their means of transportation to the Sabbath, or the signs which could easily calculate a witch. The emphasis was placed on the opposition of the Church and of the German people - the "Christian influence" on German culture. Based on the theoretical message of the "guilt of the church" in the persecution of witches, conclusions were made about the negative impact of Christianity on the pagan Germans. It was not only the medieval "witch hunt" that was studied and explored, but also, in particular, "the influence of Christianity on German soldiers during World War II (appeals, sermons, etc.) or the "Jewish idea of ​​the Messiah in Christian incarnation and its stratification on the German the idea of ​​the leader."

Nazis needed the "witching project" not for mystical purposes or for studying the arsenal of tortures. Nazi officers had quite practical ideological problems. Not that long ago, historians of the Third Reich discovered documents that indicated that ideologists of the National-Socialist state attempted to show the hostility of the Christian Church to everything that could be regarded as genuinely German. The materials collected in the "witching card file" would be enough for writing popular books and newspaper articles about the genocide of the German race to fit the historical reality to required political goals.

Igor Bukker


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov