The Myths of Thule and Vril
The first element of Nazi occult beliefs was in the mythic land of Hyperborea-Thule. Just as Plato had cited the Egyptian legend of the sunken island of Atlantis, Herodotus mentioned the Egyptian legend of the continent of Hyperborea in the far north. When ice destroyed this ancient land, its people migrated south. Writing in 1679, the Swedish author Olaf Rudbeck identified the Atlanteans with the Hyperboreans and located the latter at the North Pole. According to several accounts, Hyperborea split into the islands of Thule and Ultima Thule, which some people identified with Iceland and Greenland.
The second ingredient was the idea of a hollow earth. At the end of the seventeenth century, the British astronomer Sir Edmund Halley first suggested that the earth was hollow, consisting of four concentric spheres. The hollow earth theory fired many people’s imaginations, especially with the publication in 1864 of French novelist Jules Verne’s Voyage to the Center of the Earth.
Soon, the concept of vril appeared. In 1871, British novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in The Coming Race, described a superior race, the Vril-ya, who lived beneath the earth and planned to conquer the world with vril, a psychokinetic energy. The French author Louis Jacolliot furthered the myth in Les Fils de Dieu (The Sons of God) (1873) and Les Traditions indo-européeenes (The Indo-European Traditions) (1876). In these books, he linked vril with the subterranean people of Thule. The Thuleans will harness the power of vril to become supermen and rule the world.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) also emphasized the concept of the Übermensch (superman) and began his work, Der Antichrist (The Antichrist) (1888) with the line, “Let us see ourselves for what we are. We are Hyperboreans. We know well enough how we are living off that track.” Although Nietzsche never mentioned vril, yet in his posthumously published collection of aphorisms, Der Wille zur Macht (The Will to Power), he emphasized the role of an internal force for superhuman development. He wrote that “the herd,” meaning common persons, strives for security within itself through creating morality and rules, whereas the supermen have an internal vital force that drives them to go beyond the herd. That force necessitates and drives them to lie to the herd in order to remain independent and free from the “herd mentality.”
In The Arctic Home of the Vedas (1903), the early advocate of Indian freedom, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, added a further touch by identifying the southern migration of the Thuleans with the origin of the Aryan race. Thus, many Germans in the early twentieth century believed that they were the descendants of the Aryans who had migrated south from Hyperborea-Thule and who were destined to become the master race of supermen through the power of vril. Hitler was among them.