Herman Wirth

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Herman Wirth (alternatively referred to as Herman Wirth Roeper Bosch, or Herman Felix Wirth or Hermann) (6 May 1885 Utrecht – 16 February 1981, Kusel) was a Dutch-German lay historian and scholar of ancient religions and symbols.


Born in Utrecht, Wirth studied Flemish Dutch philosophy, literature, history and musicology, receiving his doctorate in 1910 from the Utrecht University with a dissertation on the demise of the Dutch folk song. He then taught Flemish Dutch philosophy at the University of Bern.

At the outbreak of World War I, he supported the Flemish separatists in German occupied Belgium, and volunteered at the front. In 1916 he was appointed by Wilhelm II as a professor. After the war ended, he founded a nationalist organization in the Netherlands.

In 1923 Wirth settled in Marburg, Germany, and in 1925 joined the NSDAP, which he left the following year. He then wrote a paper, advocating the swastika as a "nutritional healing sign".[1]

Nazi Pre-history[edit]

Wirth then published a paper about the "Prehistory of the Atlantic Nordic race" (German: Urgeschichte der atlantisch-nordischen Rasse), which found appeal in völkisch circles. In 1932 the NSDAP in Mecklenburg-Schwerin established the Institute for prehistory in Bad Doberan. Headed by Wirth, it was extremely controversial in professional circles as well as among noted NSDAP intellectuals.[1]

After the rise to power of the Nazi party, he rejoined the party in 1934. Given SS, membership number 258.776, his former NSDAP number (20.151) was awarded to him again personally by Adolf Hitler.[1]

Between 1933 and 1935, there was a large philosophical clash encouraged by the Nazi party between the churches, and neo-paganism supported by völkisch theories.[2] Wirth was among those who tried to reinterpret Christianity in terms of ethnic Nordic origin of original monotheism.[2] The free-thinking neo-pagans founded a supporting group in 1933, and included Wirth, Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, and until 1934 Ernst Bergmann and numerous ex-Communists.[3]

From 1935, sponsored by Heinrich Himmler and Richard Walther Darré, Wirth co-founded and the headed the Ahnenerbe, which was to "research community German ancestral heritage", of the SS. As his work general supported the historical folk religion of Germany, and not the state of Nazi Germany or the goals of Hitler's regime, he was replaced in 1937 by Walter Wüst and subsequently forced into exile along with other German mystics that did not support National Socialism. He continued his research with state-funded aid, but being excluded from both academic and Nazi circles, was not considered by anyone as part of the Nazi regime.

Post war[edit]

Captured in 1945 by the U.S. Army, he was detained and interviewed for two years. He then moved to Sweden, before returning to Marburg in 1954, where he lived as a private scholar.

Although he continued to defend National Socialist principles, Wirth's teachings about "Urkulturen" found resonance in the evolving alternative scene, and in the 1970s gained support from North American native groups. Along with Wirth's disciple and SPD member Roland Häke, in 1979 Willy Brandt and the Rhineland-Palatinate government supported a project to set up a museum with to show Wirth's ethnographic collection in the tithe barn of Lichtenberg Castle.[1][4][5]


Wirth claimed that civilization is a curse that only a simpler way of life, as documented in archaeological findings and historical records, could lift. He has been criticized for romantic nationalism and Germanomania.[6] He was also criticized by German scholars of his time, like Bolko von Richthofen, Gerhard Gloege, Arthur Hübner and Karl Hermann Jacob Friesen, for gullibly refusing to accept the scientific evidence that proved Ura Linda chronicle (a supposedly 6th–1st century BC chronicle of a Frisian family that he translated) a forgery.[7]

Written works[edit]

  • Der Aufgang der Menschheit (Accession of Mankind), 1928
  • Die Heilige Urschrift der Menschheit, 1931-1936
  • Die Ura Linda Chronik (Ura Linda chronicle), Hrsg., 1933


  1. ^ a b c d Vgl. Literatur: Ziege, Wiwjorra, Hieronimus.
  2. ^ a b Die Missionsanstalt Hermannsburg und der Nationalsozialismus: der Weg einer lutherischen Milieuinstitution zwischen Weimarer Republik und Nachkriegszeit von Gunther Schendel, LIT Verlag Münster, 2008 S.300 ff
  3. ^ Die Nation vor Gott. Zur Botschaft der Kirche im Dritten Reich. Hrsg. Walter Künneth; Helmuth Schreiner, Berlin 1933
  4. ^ Schenkel der Göttlichen. In: Der Spiegel. 40/1980 (29. September 1980)
  5. ^ Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft für europäische Urgeschichte
  6. ^ Kater, M. (1974). Das Ahneherbe der SS 1935-1945: ein Beitrag zur Kulturpolitik Des Dritten Reiches, Studien zur Zeitgeschichte/Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Stuttgart, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, pp.11-16 (as cited in Arnold, Bettina, Pseudoarchaeology and nationalism, a contribution in Archaeological Fantasies' (ed. Garrett G. Fagan), Routledge, 2006, ISBN 0-415-30593-4, p. 163
  7. ^ Kater (1974), p.16 (as cited in Arnold (2006), p. 163)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]