Limited Visibility

Alan Baker. Invisible Eagle, The History of Nazi Occultism. Virgin Books, 2000.
Baker sets out in his book to examine the myths of Nazi occult involvement, and the myths of the Nazi survival conspiracy. Much of the book is eminently sensible, sceptical and good as far as it goes. In the early part of the book where he is guided by the work of real historians such as Nicholas Goodrich-Clarke he is reasonably sure footed, exposing the many myths which have grown around the subject, though the treatment is not original. In the second half, where he deals with the myths of the Nazi survival, UFOs and Antarctic bases, the footing is less sure. The problem is that he appears to have done very little actual research himself, and while he produces a range of interesting information, a glance at the notes shows that this is largely borrowed from a few other writers.

This is not so bad when he is quoting reliable sources, but when, for example in his section on the hollow earth, he quotes liberally from David Hatcher Childress, a man who gives the impression that he thinks he is the reincarnation of Indiana Jones, and who publishes all sorts of wild 'free energy' and conspiracy stuff, one has doubts. In his chapter on the Nazi saucer myth, this reliance leads him to take at face value the fictitious 'biography' of Renato Vesco. Kevin McClure has done research on this subject and found the situation to be very different.

The main popularisers of the notion of 'Nazi occultism' were the writers Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in their books The Dawn of Magic and Morning of the Magicians, and it is perhaps not a coincidence that Pauwels later went to be a significant figure in the neo-Pagan wing of the French radical right. The main import of such views has been to glamorise the squalid totalitarian state that was National Socialism, as well as to provide the comforting message that the Nazi crimes were something radically alien from the human mainstream, which 'couldn't happen here'. The lessons of human history, alas, do not bear that out. -- Peter Rogerson, Magonia 72, October 2000.

No comments: