Werewolves for der Führer
Werewolves for der Führer
Der Führer wanted the Hitler Youth to be like werewolves—cruel, pitiless, and willing to erode thousands of years of human compassion and conscience.
An old folk legend in Germany and the Nordic European countries relates that the common folk kept themselves well hidden behind closed doors on those dark and stormy nights when Wodan and his wolves were abroad on their Wild Hunt. In the opinion of some anthropologists, the legend began when primitive hunting tribes, armed only with sharpened staves, ran through the forests in lupine packs seeking fresh meat. When they found their prey, whether animal or human, they would kill and dismember their victims as much with their teeth and claws as with their weapons. Other, more passive, tribes knew that they had better stay hidden in the darkness when the lycanthropic packs were on the hunt.
The German resistance movement raised against Napoleon in 1813 was known as the Wild Hunt, in an obvious historical allusion to the legend of Wodan hunting at night with his wolves. In 1923 a secret terrorist group known as Organization Werewolf was organized in Germany by Fritz Kappe. Their banner was a black flag with a skull and crossbones in stark white contrast. At first the movement expanded rather quickly across Germany, but as a result of a number of arrests by the Weimar government, the Werewolves never posed any real threat to the establishment.
Adolf Hitler was deeply enamored of wolves and werewolves. The very title führer means “leader” and when compounded with Wolfen denotes the leader of a pack of hunting wolves. And Hitler’s given name, Adolf, means “noble wolf.”
Psychobiographer Robert G. L. Waite states that Hitler was always fascinated with wolves. At the beginning of his political career, he chose “Herr Wolf” as his pseudonym. He named his headquarters in France “Wolfsschlucht” (Wolf’s Gulch) and, in the Ukraine, “Werwolf.” He demanded that his sister change her name to “Frau Wolf.” He renamed the Volkswagen factory “Wolfsburg” and decreed himself “Conductor Wolf.” His favorite tune for whistling in his carefree moods was “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”
It was as werewolves that Hitler envisioned German youth when he dictated, in his program for the education of the Hitler Youth, that they must learn to become indifferent to pain. They must have no weakness or tenderness in them. When he looked into their eyes, Hitler said, he wanted to see “once more in the eyes of a pitiless youth the gleam of pride and independence of the beast of prey.” It was his wish that he might somehow “eradicate thousands of years of human domestication” and allow the werewolves once again to run free and to work their destruction upon the weak and those unsuited to be members of the New World Order that he was creating. The black uniform of dreaded SS, with the skull and crossbones on their caps, were inspired by the nightly terror visited on the people by the Wild Hunt and by the skeletons of the dead left in Wodan’s wake.
Quite likely, the more ruthless German youth responded to their führer’s summons that they should be like werewolves, cruel and pitiless, prepared to erode thousands of years of human domestication.
Hitler gloried in expressing the brutal, wolflike political retaliations that he would visit upon those who opposed him. There are numerous stories about the rages that would possess him—to the point where he would fall to the floor and literally chew the carpet. “If the stories about Hitler’s rages are true,” states Robert Eisler, an Austrian scholar and author of Man into Wolf, “they would appear to have been manic lycanthropic states and not melancholic bouts of repentance. If the accounts were invented, they have sprung from the archetypal depths of the storytellers’ unconscious race-memory and not from the archetypal minds of the doubtless paranoid subjects of the stories in question.”
Toward the end of World War II when the collapse of Nazi Germany appeared imminent, Josef Goebbels revived the Werewolves after Heinrich Himmler’s speech in 1945 called for a new Volkssturm (“People’s Storm”) to operate underground in defense of the homeland. The organization took as their insignia a black armband with a skull and crossbones and a silver SS. Their main function was to assassinate and terrorize anti-Nazi Germans and to harass advancing Allied troops. In Leipzig female Werewolves poured scalding water from the windows of houses onto the heads of Allied soldiers passing below. In Baden they killed a number of French soldiers by ambushing them as they were resting.
Even after hostilities had ended and the war was officially over, the Werewolves continued their terrorist activities. At the Nuremberg trials, several Nazi leaders testified that the Werewolves were now under the control of the notorious Martin Bormann, who had somehow managed to escape capture by the Allies.
The Werewolves resurfaced in 1994 when Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece about the Holocaust, Schindler’s List (1993), was scheduled to open in Russian theaters. Members of the group who were arrested by Russian security forces confessed their plans to firebomb Moscow cinemas showing the film. The Werewolves, estimated at about a hundred members strong, acknowledged that they took their name from the Nazi secret-police operation that went underground once the Allies defeated Hitler’s troops in World War II.