The key principle of any Nazi party actions is how everything they did was to support a strong ethnic state, and every institution was bent to serve that purpose.
The first thing I want to point out is why the Nazis would have given the time of day to anyone espousing occult beliefs. Nazi ideology was that ethnic Germans were the descendants of an Indian race called the Aryans, who in the past had left north out of India and conquered large swaths of territory (possibly all of Europe though I could find this claim made in explicit detail) with the strongest Aryans settling in Germany. Thus, while Germany was majority Christian, at least nominally, this was considered by Nazi leaders a deficit of the race. For example, Hitler called Christianity a “religion for slaves”. Thus for some Nazis neo-pagan and occultic beliefs were seen as ways to go back to the pre-christian glory of the germanic people. Although as a matter of pragmatism Hitler also considered this occultism “nonsense”. But for both religions Nazi ideologists created their own versions of it that bent their entire meaning towards the supremacy of the german people and their state. The neo-pagan movement that came out of this is called Wotanism, which still exists today among neo-nazis, though it is my understanding there are some neo-pagans that worship Wotan that are not related to neo-nazi groups either. You can even find discussions about this on reddit if you’re interested, but that is quite a digression from the question for now. I’ll talk about the new Christianity invented for this, Positive Christianity, and both of these are discussed a bit more in the third claim below.
A second point is that is often suggested that the Nazi use of the Swastika came from tracts published by the Theosophic Society, an international occult organization that was popular from the late 1800’s until the 1950’s (it technically exists today, but is virtually defunct). Not that the Theosophic society endorsed Nazism but Theosophy was the most popular form of esotericism in Germany and Austria in the first half of the 20th century and any cosmopolitan (i.e. the higher up) officials in the nazi party would have been familiar with it. This may have been the introduction of the popularity of the Swastika for the Nazis although it’s origins in Indian culture were well known to them, indeed the reason they adopted its use, in order to associate themselves with the Aryan race as discussed in the previous paragraph.
A third point is that occultism (worship of ancient germanic or norse gods) were influential to Nazism. This is not particularly true, Hitler called occultism “nonsense”, but some of Hitler’s inner circle, in particular Himmler but also Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg held these beliefs. On the other hand, Hitler saw Christianity as “indelibly Jewish in origin and character” and a “prototype of Bolshevism”, which “violated the law of natural selection”. As stated earlier Hitler personally and Nazi ideology in general was amoral and aimed to shape any institution including religion as much around Nazi ideology as possible. Hitler suppressed both Catholic and Protestant churches and replaced them with a state church (called the German Church) that taught a Nazi designed religion called “Positive Christianity”. “Positive Christianity” posited that Jesus was an Aryan fighting the Jews, that the Bible had been edited by Paul (the Apostle) to hide this fact, and that Jesus’ original message was one of combat and loyalty to one’s race. Hitler made The German Church the only legally sanctioned church in 1937 as he considered christianity proper to be a weakness, and a blight to the german state. He put neo-Pagan Alfred Rosenberg in as official Nazi ideologist. Just to be clear he has no intention of replacing Christianity with occultism though, his state church was largely considered a temporary transitional measure until religion could be extinguished altogether.
That’s about it for the extent of occultism in the Nazi regime proper. Neo-Nazis also largely follow either atheism, Positive Christianity-style churches or Neo-Pagan occultism.
- Hitler’s Table Talk which was a a transcribed series of monologues and conversations Hitler had at his headquaters from 1941 to 1944.
- Hitler: A Study in Tyranny is a 1952 biography of the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. It was written by the British historian Sir Alan Bullock
- Inside the Third Reich is a memoir written by Albert Speer, the Nazi Minister of Armaments from 1942 to 1945. Due to his position, Speer was able to describe the personalities of many Nazi officials, including Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Hess, Martin Bormann and, of course, Adolf Hitler himself.
- Goebbels Diaries, Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister in Adolf Hitler’s government from 1933 to 1945, kept a diary from 1923 until shortly before his death by suicide in Berlin on 1 May 1945.
More information about the Foundation of Positive Christianity in Nazi Ideology and its implementation in the Third Reich can be found in:
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, published in 1960. The author was a reporter working for CBS who reported from within Nazi Germany until 1940. After the war he took his notes and documents from the German Foreign Office, captured by the First Army, as well as diaries, phone transcriptions, and other written records to write this work.
- The trilogy on the Third Reich: The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power, The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans, published in 2005, 2006 and 2009, respectively.
Separating fact from fiction in the life of Grigori Rasputin is quite possibly an impossible task. The so-called Mad Monk was rumored to be a member of the Khlysts, a sect that themselves were subject to rumors about bizarre sexual practices, and despite probably not being true (less than reputable sources still like to claim it to be so), it certainly didn’t help his reputation. When it comes to his death, it reads just as fantastical as his life, and as the only first hand accounts are from those who plotted his death, much of it must be taken with a grain of salt, a story told by men who wished to describe just how inhuman their quarry was.
The close relationship he enjoyed with the Imperial Family of Russia along with his reputation causes all sorts of tongues to wag over the possibility he was sleeping with the Tzarina, and possibly her daughters as well. The apparent influence he held over the Tzarina earned him few friends, and an attempt on his life was made in 1914 presumably over these fears although the assassin was an insane peasant woman who couldn’t be connected to any palace intrigue. Despite the deep stab wound to his gut, Rasputin survived that one.
With the Tzar having left to oversea the military during World War I however, the Tzarina’s reliance on Rasputin became only more pronounced however, and in December of 1916 a new attempt on his life was made. Prince Felix Yusupov was married to the Tzar’s niece, and, along with other plotters including army officers and politicians, invited Rasputin to his family palace. Rasputin was given cyanide laced food and drink, which appeared to have no ill effects on him. Determined to kill the man, Yusupov fetched a revolver and shot him twice in the abdomen, which seemed only to enrage Rasputin, who attacked him, and then fled up a flight of stairs from the basement room he had been being entertained in, and out the door into the Russian winter. Shot twice more outside by Vladimir Purishkevich, a member of the Duma, Yusupov then hit him over the head to ensure he was down. The body was trussed, weighted, and dumped through a hole cut in the ice of a river. his body would be found a few days later, and although the rumors were that he was still alive when disposed of, there was little to suggest he had drowned to death, and the real cause of death was probably a bullet to the head during his escape attempt.
Whether or not he was poisoned has also been called into question. Prince Yusupov claimed he had, but it wasn’t found during the autopsy. As I said at the onset, only his killers know exactly how the murder was conducted, and it is clear that they wished to ensure that their actions were seen as the noble slaying of a monster who threatened the Romanov family, and what better way to do so than describe an inhuman fanatic who survived poison, shooting, and the cold, only to finally die by drowning under the ice.