Turkish-German Relations: Rudolf van Sebottendorff

Christopher Jones writes: Turkish German relations go back a long way.  The Kaiserreich financed the construction of the Berlin to Baghdad railway, and other mega projects; the Kaiser himself visited Istanbul and a monumental portrait of the monarch in full regalia of a general in the Ottoman army can be seen in the German embassy there. Present day socialists (SPD) and other luminaries of the Federal republic have since courted the Kemalist Turks.  But perhaps there is no better and more uncomfortable reminder of that special relationship than the strange story of Rudolf von Sebottendorff (1975-May 8, 1945), the founder of the esoteric Thule society.  Von Sebottendorff lived in Turkey until 1914, and became a Turkish citizen.  It was there that he began to study the works of Helena Blavatsky and conceive his ideas for the ultra-anti-semitic Thule society, a secret cult dedicated to the superiority of the Aryans.  When he returned to Germany, he founded the society in Munich and soon, Alfred Rosenberg, Heinrich Himmler and Rudolf Hess became members.  Hitler attended some meetings, but it remains unclear if he actually joined.  Once the Nazis were firmly in power, v. Sebottendorff took up residence again in Istanbul, returning to Germany on and off during the war.  Some said he was working for German intelligence, while other claimed he was a double agent.  On May 8, 1945 his body was found floating in the Bosphorus.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: November 25, 2004