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The Spear of Destiny
THE OCCULT POWER BEHIND THE SPEAR WHICH PIERCED THE SIDE OF CHRIST
By Trevor Ravenscroft
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 1973 The Estate of Trevor Ravenscroft
All rights reserved.
TALISMAN OF POWER
"Adolf Hitler stood in front of me and gripped my hands and held them tight. He had never made such a gesture before. I felt from his grasp how deeply he was moved. His eyes were feverish with excitement. The words did not come smoothly from his mouth as they usually did, but rather erupted, hoarse and raucous. Never before and never again have I heard Adolf Hitler speak as he did in that hour.
"I was struck by something strange which I had never noticed before, even when he talked to me in moments of greatest excitement. It was as if another being spoke out of his body and moved him as much as it did me. It was not all a case of a speaker carried away by his own words. On the contrary; I rather felt as though he himself listened with astonishment and emotion to what burst forth from him with elemental force.... like floodwaters breaking their dykes, his words burst from him. He conjured up in grandiose inspiring pictures his own future and that of his people. He was talking of a Mandate which, one day, he would receive from the people to lead them from servitude to the heights of freedom—a special mission which would one day be entrusted to him."
Young Hitler—The Story of our Friendship: August Kubizek.
This scene, which illustrates Adolf Hitler's early vision that a world-historic destiny lay before him, took place in his fifteenth year. After listening with burning enthusiasm to Wagner's Rienzie, which tells the story of the meteoric rise and fall of a Roman 'Tribune of the People', Hitler had tramped up to the top of the Freinberg overlooking his home town of Linz. Behind him barely able to keep up, walked his only friend, Gustl Kubizek, the son of a poor upholsterer. And there under the brilliant starlight of the summer's night, he had poured forth the prophetic words which were to be fulfilled with such a staggering concreteness.
Four years later when Adolf Hitler and Gustl Kubizek were sharing a bug-ridden bedsitter in a Vienna suburb, it looked as though Hitler's youthful hopes were to prove no more than a tissue of dreams.
He had failed to gain entry into the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts because his sketches were not up to the required standard, and the School of Architecture had also refused him through lack of qualification. And now, unwilling to take a job, he was eking out a starveling existence on his dead mother's savings, which were almost spent, and on a diminutive Orphan's Pension granted in respect of his father's service in the Customs Department, now shortly to be stopped.
"People who knew him in Vienna that year could not understand the contradiction between his well-mannered appearance, his educated speech and self-assured bearing on the one hand, and the starveling existence that he led on the other, and judged him as haughty and pretentious. He was neither. He just did not fit into a bourgeois order.... In the midst of a corrupt City, my friend surrounded himself with a wall of unshakeable principles which enabled him to build an inner freedom in spite of all the temptations around him.... He went his way untouched by what went on around him. He remained a man alone and guarded in monkish asceticism the 'Holy Flame of Life'."
Thrown back on his own devices and, unable to make friends, Hitler became day by day a more solitary and embittered figure. His disappointment had been made yet more acute by Gustl Kubizek's astonishing success at the Music Convervatoire. Yet despite his lack of prospects, he had impelled himself into self-directed studies with a grim determination. Nobody could rightly accuse him of idleness that year, though many believed his efforts were along misguided lines.
Many hours were spent every day in the Hof Library studying Nordic and Teutonic mythology and folklore, and reading broadly in German history, literature and philosophy. But Hitler's main efforts at this time were still concentrated on architecture and he drew up plans for a number of ambitious building projects that would never have the least chance of materialising:
"The old Imperial City changed on the drawing board of a 19-year-old youth who lived in a dark insanitary bedroom of the Mariahilf suburbs, into a spacious sunlit exuberant City which contained five, eight, and sixteen roomed houses for working-class families."
During the long summer vacation when Kubizek was back home in Linz, he began to worry about his friend living all alone in a state of perpetual hunger in the tiny ill-appointed room, and he persuaded his mother to send a number of generously large food parcels:
"I wondered what he would be doing all alone in the room, and I often thought of him. Perhaps he took advantage of the fact that he now had the room to himself to start, once again, on his building plans. He had not long before decided to rebuild the Vienna Hofburg. Many of the ideas were already formulated and only needed putting on paper. It annoyed him that the old Hofburg and the Court stables were built of brick, not a solid enough material for monumental buildings. So these buildings must come down and be rebuilt in stone in a similar style. Adolf wanted to match the wonderful semi-circle of columns of the new Burg with a corresponding one on the other side, and thus magnificently enclose the Heldenplatz.... Across the Ring, two mighty Triumphal Arches should bring the wonderful square and the Hof Museum into one design."
Gustl Kubizek was to go on wondering what Hitler was doing for a very long time. He did not see his friend again until, twenty-four years later, he had become the undisputed Führer of the Third Reich. For while Kubizek was away on holiday that summer, Adolf Hitler made a most important discovery—a discovery which was to change his whole way of life and set him off on the lonely road to total power.
It was while he was working on his drawings outside the Hofburg Museum that Hitler's spirits reached their lowest ebb. All day he had been shivering with cold and fearing the reappearance of the bronchial catarrh which might once again confine him for a long spell in his miserable lodgings. The sky was overcast and the first cold wind of autumn was driving the rain in his face. His sketchbook had become sodden. It was a moment of painful self-knowledge. He saw with a stabbing clarity that all his grandiose architectural plans, into which he had thrown himself body and soul, were utterly worthless. Who would even look at them? Suddenly he saw himself for what he was—a hopeless failure. He tore up his sketch book in disgust, and walked up the steps to the Schatzkammer where he knew he could find warmth and shelter and the possibility to reassess his hopeless situation.
Adolf Hitler had been inside the Hapsburg Treasure House on many previous occasions and regarded all but a very few of the exhibits as a load of meaningless junk. Not even the official Crown of the Hapsburg Emperors was of German origin. The only Insignia the Hapsburgs could find when they became Emperors to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the ruby and sapphire Crown of Bohemia, which the family had held since the seventeenth century. Yet the beautiful history-laden Crown of the German Emperors, the central piece of the Reichskleinodien, never found recognition in their eyes as a symbol of the Germanic people within their realm. "How could one remain a faithful subject of the House of Hapsburg whose past and present policy was a betrayal of its German origin."
The very sight of the gaudy regalia in the Treasure House increased his aversion to the whole Hapsburg Dynasty. As a fervent German nationalist, Adolf Hitler could never accept their idea regarding the equality of all races. He felt a great and terrible loathing for the seething rabble of mixed races who swarmed into the Treasure House in the summer months to gawp unthinkingly at the symbols of the decadent and tottering Empire which stretched from the Rhine to the Dniester, from Saxony to Montenegro.
Adolf Hitler stood in the central gangway barely even aware of the Crowns, Sceptres, and jewelled ornaments all around him, so deeply was he locked in his own thoughts about the hopelessness of his personal situation. He claims that he hardly even noticed an official party moving down the exhibits towards him, a group of foreign politicians on a conducted tour under the guidance of some expert from the Museum Archives.
"These foreigners stopped almost immediately in front of where I was standing, while their guide pointed to an ancient Spearhead. At first I didn't even bother to listen to what this expert had to say about it, merely regarding the presence of the party as an intrusion into the privacy of my own despairing thoughts. And then I heard the words which were to change my whole life: 'There is a legend associated with this Spear that whoever claims it, and solves its secrets, holds the destiny of the world in his hands for good or evil'."
Awakened by inherent instincts of tyranny and conquest, Adolf Hitler now listened intently as the academic-looking guide explained that this legend of world-historic destiny had arisen around the Spear which a Roman Centurion had thrust into the side of Jesus Christ at the Crucifixion. There was, he said, only an unproven tradition that this was the particular Spear in question.
Apparently it could only be traced back as far as the German Emperor, Otto The Great; the Nail, secure within its blade, one of hundreds around the Churches and Museums of Europe, had not been added until the thirteenth century. Some of the German Emperors of the Middle Ages had associated the legend with this very Spear, but nobody had given credence to the legend anyway during the last five hundred years or more, except, of course, Napoleon, who had demanded it after the Battle of Austerlitz, before which it had been secretly smuggled out of Nuremberg and hidden in Vienna to keep it out of his tyrannical hands.
The party moved on while a fascinated Hitler walked a few paces closer to look at this object which apparently had so strange a legend.
The solitary iron Spearhead, black with age, rested on a faded red velvet dais within an opened leather case. A long tapering point was supported by a wide base with metal flanges depicting the wings of a dove. Within a central aperture in the blade a hammer-headed nail was secured by a cuff threaded with metal wire. On the side of the lowest portion of the base golden crosses were embossed.
"I knew with immediacy that this was an important moment in my life," said Adolf Hitler when he later recounted his first sight of the Spear. "And yet I could not divine why an outwardly Christian symbol should make such an impression upon me. I stood there quietly gazing upon it for several minutes quite oblivious to the scene of the Schatzkammer around me. It seemed to carry some hidden inner meaning which evaded me, a meaning which I felt I inwardly knew yet could not bring to consciousness. The words of Richard Wagner's 'Meistersinger' ran through my mind:
And still I don't succeed. I feel it and yet I cannot understand it. I can't retain it, nor forget it, And if I grasp it, I cannot measure it.
"It was a verse I had formerly believed to be an expression of the want of others to understand me and the meaning of my destiny, a daily exhortation and a never failing comfort in my darkest and most solitary hours."
And now this pale and sickly-looking youth, who had so quickly forgotten his earlier mood of hopelessness and despair, felt these mystic lines summed up his own incapacity to understand the illusive message that this ancient talisman of power brought to him and yet at the same time withheld from him.
"The Spear appeared to be some sort of magical medium of revelation for it brought the world of ideas into such close and living perspective that human imagination became more real than the world of sense.
"I felt as though I myself had held it in my hands before in some earlier century of history—that I myself had once claimed it as my talisman of power and held the destiny of the world in my hands. Yet how could this be possible? What sort of madness was this that was invading my mind and creating such turmoil in my breast?"
Adolf Hitler was still standing bewitched in front of this ancient weapon when the doors of the Weltlichc Schatzkammer were closing and it was time to depart.CHAPTER 2
THE SPEAR OF DESTINY
"They may be called Heroes, in as much as they have derived their purpose and their vocation, not from the regular course of things, sanctioned by the existing order; but from a concealed fount, from that inner spirit, still hidden beneath the surface, which impinges on the outer world as on a shell and bursts it to pieces."
Philosophy of History: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
Adolf Hitler knew his way around the shelves of the famous Hof Library as well as any University graduate for he had spent the better part of a year avidly studying in the warmth and the hush of its huge well-appointed reading room.
"Books were his whole world. In Vienna, he used the Hof Library so industriously that I asked him once, in all seriousness, whether he intended to read the whole library, which, of course, earned some rude remarks. One day he took me along to the library and showed me the reading room. I was almost overwhelmed by the enormous masses of books, and I asked him how it was he managed to get what he wanted. He began to explain to me the use of the various catalogues which confused me even more."
The morning following his discovery of the Spear of Destiny, Adolf Hitler had not come to browse as was his usual custom through a random selection of books to give substance and support to a precarious castle of dreams. On this occasion he entered the reading room with measured tread and one singlepointed intent—to trace the Reich's Lance in the Schatzkammer of the Hofburg back through the centuries before it was mentioned openly in history during the reign of the German Emperor, Otto The Great.
It was not long before a capable use of the catalogues and various works of historical reference uncovered a whole number of Spears which had made greater or lesser claims in some period of history to be the Spear which pierced the side of Jesus Christ at the Crucifixion.
Adolf Hitler quickly overcame his consternation at this unexpected turn of events. He was sure that a diligent search would soon reveal which was the actual Spear of Longinus. He had always been passionately fond of history, the only subject at which he had shone at school. He had only contempt for all but one of his former teachers—"They had no sympathy with youth; their one object was to stuff our brains and turn us into erudite apes. If any pupil showed even a small trace of originality, they persecuted him relentlessly."
Only his history teacher, Dr. Leopold Potsche, a fervent German nationalist, whom Hitler claimed had a profound effect on his formative years, was exempt from his scathing criticism: "There we sat, often aflame with enthusiasm, sometimes even moved to tears.... The national fervour which we felt in our own small way was used by him as an instrument of education. It was because I had such a professor that history became my favourite subject."
The earnest youth, who was later to claim that "A man without a sense of history is a man without ears and eyes", found little difficulty in sorting out the merits of the various Spears, purporting to be the weapon of the Roman Centurion Longinus, which were scattered around the palaces, museums, cathedrals and churches of Europe.
Excerpted from The Spear of Destiny by Trevor Ravenscroft. Copyright © 1973 The Estate of Trevor Ravenscroft. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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