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  • 1919

The Thule Society

Most historians believe that the intellectual and political fore-runner of the National Socialist Party was a war-time organization in Munich that went by the name of the Thule Society. This collection of intellectuals and eccentric patriots believed it was necessary to return to some mythical German past in order to unite all the peoples of Germany behind the war. In the immediate shock of the defeat and revolutions of 1918-1919, the Thule Society became even more insistent that Germany's rebirth must come through spiritual and symbolic manifestations.

This particular poster represents one of the earliest known symbols of the Thule society, the Hakenkreuz or Cross with its arms bent (or hacked). Elsewhere, the symbol is called the Swastika, but that is a word unknown in Germany. Its origins are murky, but it appears to be a variety of the rising sun, with the rays reaching out to the four corners of the universe. Here it appears surrounded by the oak-leaf cluster, a traditional German victory symbol.

Central in the image, however, is the dagger, the masculine symbol of the warrior. When the Romans first met the wandering German tribes they were surprised to learn that they did not practice primogeniture and that their leaders did not inherit their office. Instead, leaders were "elected" on the field of battle because of bravery which they had shown. Thus, the dagger, with oak leaves and the Hakenkreuz is a deliberate attempt to restore the "original German" political organization.

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