THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: The Templars and their Myth, by Peter Partner
Max Hastings' book: DAS REICH.The March of the 2nd Panzer Division Through France

The Nazis and the occult -- a surprise!

My speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, largely kicked off with a trip to La Rochelle, France, which was the main Atlantic port of the Knights Templar. It's a picturesque place to visit, and I highly recommend it for a  holiday.

The old harbor of the Templars is still there, and it's easy to sit at a cafe and visualize Templars moving past, carrying goods to and from their  ships.  It's also easy to visualize them at the end, when the forces of the King and Pope were closing in, racing to load their ships with the "Templar treasures"--- whatever those treasures consisted of: worldly goods, lost occult wisdom, maybe even the Holy Grail (whatever that really is).

You can sit at another cafe and look across the the Templar Commanderie (headquarters) in many ways unchanged these thousand or so years. The Templar cross still remains carved into the stone of many of the buildings around the Commanderie.

But in La Rochelle, there are also still traces of the Nazi occupation: most visibly the mammoth concrete buildings by another harbor where the German submarines came in for repair and refueling.

Those two strains--- Templars and the Nazi occupation--- fit together for the story. Note that I am not  suggesting that the Templars were in any way predecessors of the Nazis. But it seems that many in the Nazi hierarchy did, and indeed sent teams from the Ahnenerbe or "Occult Bureau" to look for clues . . . and perhaps even the Grail itself.

In the summer of 1943, as one instance, an Ahnenerbe team scoured the area around the last Cathar fortress at Montsegur, south and inland of La Rochelle, looking for the Holy Grail or other supposed secrets of the Cathars. (Mind you, this was in the middle of the war, so it was not as if they were looking for a training exercise to keep the troops occupied.)

This isn't the place to go into  detail, but both the Templars and the Cathars (also known as Albigensians)  were declared heretics because of their supposedly unorthodox beliefs --- and because of envy of their rumored "unlimited wealth." (It was rumored that the Templars were also alchemists! Horrors to the orthodoxy!)

Both groups were alleged to be custodians of the Holy Grail; by one account, the Grail was spirited off the mountaintop that was the fortress of Montsegur, and entrusted to the Templars for safe-keeping away from the hands of the forces of the Papacy and the temporal kings.

It seems that the Nazi team did not find much of any of the Cathar (or Templar) hidden wisdom.

But who might have, how, and what that secret knowledge consisted of is the core of THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.  (Warning: plot point. Among the bad guys in my book are the followers of the rock-group Twisted Messiah, a neo-Nazi force leading an "army" of rootless, malevolent angry young people.)

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The surprise I promised: When I started writing this note on some of the books I used in researching it, I looked them up on Amazon to see if they were still available. And I was shocked at what I saw.

One example: Michael Fitzgerald's STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN: An Occult History of the Second World War is now offered new on Amazon at prices ranging from $849 to $1061, and used at $198 and up. Those prices are not misprints! 

Amazon: Fitzgerald's STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN  (The edition I used was published by Robert Hale, London, (c) 1980.)

Another was Dusty Sklar's THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT. (c) 1977, sorry I don't have it at hand so don't know the publisher. I think mine was the British edition. Amazon carries it under the title GODS AND BEASTS: THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT. When I looked, the only copy available was offered at $250, new.  Amazon: Dusty Sklar's THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT

In Sklar's book this fascinating, chilling, and all-too-true quotation from Hitler: "What luck for the rulers that men do not think."

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About an hour's drive east and inland from La Rochelle are the remains of the small French village of Oradour. On a sunny June Saturday in 1944, a Nazi SS team rounded up everyone in the village and killed them in retaliation for the work of the French Resistance in killing one SS officer. I don't recall the exact number of villagers killed, but it was arond 500 men, women, even children.

The village has been left just as it was, and you can walk the streets and look in at the remains of the butcher's and baker's shops, and the church were the last were rounded up. You'll see rusting cars and cycles that the owners never drove again.

And, as I did, you'll wonder what Force drove the Nazi mindset to the bloodshed of innocents like that. STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN -- Fitzgerald's book title sums it up, it seems to me.

When I got home, I read Robin Mackness' account of it in  MASSACRE AT ORADOUR, (c) 1988.

Amazon: Robin Mackness. MASSACRE AT ORADOUR



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