White Lie by Jeanne D'Aout, scene with Otto | Otto Rahn Memorial
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White Lie by Jeanne D'Aout, scene with Otto

Otto Rahn - Blick auf den Eiberg

“The nightmare was complete when I couldn’t even prove I was a pure blood Aryan, because when I researched my genealogy, I realised my mother and maternal grandfather were Jewish. And I must admit, I was a trouble-maker, I got into fights a lot when I saw SS soldiers misbehave and I wanted to make a career, to move further up the ladder. I was attracted by the power of my superiors, like many others, and in this process I gained a few political enemies. This is how my reputation attracted Hitler’s attention. He demanded my presence at the Berghof, Hitler’s base near Bergtesgaden on the German-Austrian border. I can still remember him, sitting behind his desk, wearing his reading glasses while reading my file. I had never seen him with reading glasses before. While Hitler was reading my file I waited for his reaction. My legs nearly gave way. Then he gave me my new orders, which said that I was drafted to be trained as a soldier, “to make a man out of me”, he said, so I took the journey to Buchenwald…”

Otto started to tremble again.

“Now I know it wasn’t just to make a man out of me. Hitler did it to show me what they did to homosexuals and Jews. You won’t believe the things I witnessed…”

He got up and walked to the back of the room, where he turned his back on them. Gabby wanted to go to him, but Fairfax held her back. After a minute of silent weeping with shaking shoulders he took a deep breath and wiped his face with his handkerchief. It was clear that this was an episode in his life that he had emotional problems with. They could only imagine what he must have gone through in the concentration camps, serving there as an SS soldier and not being able to do anything about it. It was horror for the prisoners, but also for a gentle human being like Otto. They knew that the reality of the Nazi state had driven many SS men to suicide. Suddenly, Rahn started to shout, and one of the guards’ hands immediately went to his belt where it stayed, close to his Glock.

“All my ideals were smashed, everything I had been told was a lie! I tried to get out of Buchenwald as quickly as possible, saying that I needed to work on the new edition of Lucifer’s Court. I thought Himmler didn’t know what went on in those camps, but when I confronted him with it, he didn’t only know about it, he even tried to explain why it was necessary! As soon as I got out of Buchenwald I went back to Freiburg and Muggenbrunn and tried to hold on to the marriage act, buying me more time. I also resumed my normal work and did some research on the history of St. Odilien because of its connection with the Grail stories and Parcifal. I stumbled upon a bloodline through St. Odilien to the later European elites. Walter Stein called it the Grail Race. I thought I had finally found the secret of the Grail!”

Otto’s eyes had lit up. He realised that all he had ever wanted was to research Grail lore and he had sold his soul to the devil to be able to pursue this quest. Suddenly he turned and continued.

 “I know that my research and writings were a way to escape. I hid my head in the sand. I was scared and wanted to please the powers I was serving while doing what I love most...”

Rahn slowly returned to his seat and took a deep breath.

Resignation from SS by Otto Rahn“You know, all of us at Thule really thought that Hitler was the long awaited legendary redeemer. We were his fans and even sponsored his Nazi party. Knowing what I know now, I just can’t believe I ever believed in all this shit. I dreamed of a united Europe and of no more wars, no more sickness, no more poverty. But the horrors at Buchenwald and the news I heard there had really opened my eyes. I wanted out more than ever. Two months later I finally had the courage to send a handwritten note to Karl Wolff that I wanted to resign.”

“I had told Wolff that I would explain the reasons for my resignation in person, so I travelled to Berlin. However, they were all too busy to see me. There was a car show going on and Hitler’s Bohemian tour was being organised, so I was given an invitation to the Easter celebration at the Berghof, where we would discuss my future. But when I was just about to leave the building, two members of the secret state police, the Gestapo, pushed me aside and told me that I had two options now. A KZ concentration camp, or suicide. I was shocked! After Berlin I was constantly shadowed and I felt threatened. I begged my friends to help me, but they didn’t. I even asked permission to live in southern France, but it was denied. I decided to hang onto the invitation for the Easter celebration at the Berghof, and travelled to Freiburg to pack my bags. Once I arrived in Freiburg I thought I was no longer followed, so I relaxed. I took the scenic route from Munich to Söll, because I wanted to spend some weeks in Austria to kill some time. Easter was still several weeks away, you see? I also wanted to visit some friends and climb a few mountains. I enjoyed my travels as if there was no tomorrow, to be honest. But one day I was sitting in the bus from Söll to Sankt Johann, when a car drove in front of the bus and stopped it.”

***

Would you like to know what happened next? Then read White Lie

The episode published with the kind permission of Jeanne D'Aout.

On the photo  - View of the mountain Eiberg (Tirol, Austria, near Zöll), at the foot of which the body with documents of Otto Rahn was found. Picture taken in the late 40s. The author is unknown.