The Nazis Came From Middle Earth (and Possibly Still Live There)

Illustration by DarrowPhoto: Hubertus Kanus/Getty Images (snow); Christopher Hope-Fitch (jacket); Roger Viollet/Getty Images (Hitler)

In 1871, under anonymous cover, the writer-politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton published the novella Vril: The Power of the Coming Race. Bulwer-Lytton is now most famous for coining the phrase “The pen is mightier than the sword” and the opening line “It was a dark and stormy night,” but Vril, too, has had a long afterlife. A conflation of Verne-esque hollow-Earth sci-fi, proto-occult theories, and Darwinism, it’s narrated by an American who stumbles on an underground race, descended from ancient Aryans, that’s harnessed a source of infinite power called Vril. Its possessors, the Vril-ya, have transcended war, envy, and even democracy to establish a classless utopia. But of course, they have a dark side; lacking the imperfections of humanity but also its empathy, they may one day destroy it.

The myth of Vril was quickly co-opted by the same Victorian mystics who inspired it, then passed down into the hands of nativist German cults. One of them, the Thule Society, backed Hitler and the Nazis. After the war, writers both pro- and anti-Hitler theorized that, the Führer’s impatience with occultists notwithstanding, something called the Vril Society had actually engineered his rise. In a 1960 book, two French authors asserted that the Nazis had sought to build UFOs powered by Vril. From there it wasn’t too much of a leap for others to suggest that, perhaps, Hitler had actually fled to Antartica, made contact with underground Aryans, and begun plotting a Vril-powered reconquest. A few influential Holocaust deniers celebrated the coming Fourth Reich, while more recent American writers have incorporated the theory into the right-wing, New World Order mainstream of conspiracy thought. In short: the Nazis and/or aliens are already here.

And in New Jersey sits the Church of Vrilology, a neo-Norse cult led by a Joe Pesci–like figure named Robert Blumetti, teaching Vril-abetted positive-thinking techniques. Alas, Vrilology is “NOT FOR EVERYONE,” per the church’s website. It is “A NEW FAUSTIAN FOLK RELIGION FOR EUROPEAN MAN AND WOMAN.”

And They’re Running Everything!

According to Dave Emory’s radio programs, nearly every figure in world politics is a tendril of the “Underground Reich,” a network including Hitler’s personal secretary. There’s no denying that IBM and Volkswagen had ties to the Third Reich or that German spies were absorbed into Western intelligence agencies—but Emory’s present-day analysis is a little more paranoid, even for the age of WikiLeaks (a Nazi data-mining operation).

The Nazis Came From Middle Earth (and Possibly St […]