Occultism, Race, and Politics in German-speaking Europe, 1880-1940: A Survey of the Historical Literature

Document Type




Format of Original

24 p.

Publication Date



SAGE Publications

Source Publication

European History Quarterly

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1177/0265691408097366


In recognition of a recent renewal of scholarly interest in nineteenth- and twentieth-century German occultism, this review essay surveys the variety of existing historical treatments of the topic and points to possible directions for further research. Sources examined range from the 1960s to the present, in German and English, with attention to broader European parallels. Among other debates, a central focus is the nature and extent of the historical relationship between occultism and the völkisch milieu as well as National Socialism. In addition to a detailed overview of the available literature, the essay appraises the strengths and weaknesses of current scholarship on the modern German occult revival and argues for several specific interpretive possibilities regarding contentious issues of racial theory and the political affiliations of occult and esoteric thought.


European History Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 1 (January 2009): 47-70. DOI: 10.1177/0265691408097366