Karl Johannes Germer
|Born||January 22, 1885|
|Died||October 25, 1962 (aged 77)|
|Known for||Frater Superior of the Ordo Templi Orientis, 1947 - 1962|
Karl Johannes Germer (22 January 1885 – 25 October 1962), also known as Frater Saturnus, was a German occultist and the United States representative and later a successor of author and occultist Aleister Crowley as the Outer Head of the Order (OHO) of Ordo Templi Orientis from 1947 until his death in 1962. He was born in Elberfeld, Germany and died in West Point, California.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Immigration to the United States: 1926–1935
- 3 Holocaust and the aftermath: 1935–1940
- 4 Later life: 1941–1962
- 5 Germer Estate
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Legacy
- 8 References
Germer studied in a university, worked as a military intelligence officer in the First World War and received first and second class Iron Crosses for his service. In 1923 he sold his Vienna property and founded the publishing house Pansophia Verlag in Munich. Germer stayed with his first wife at the Abbey of Thelema from the beginning of January until February 1926.
Immigration to the United States: 1926–1935
In 1926, Germer got married for the second time and immigrated to the USA, his wife being an American citizen. By 1927 Germer and his wife Cora Eaton were living in New York where Germer worked as a merchant of machinery. There, in his capacity of Grand Treasurer General of the O.T.O. Germer begun raising funds for the Order. Money was always a problem but Germer saw that Crowley must have it so that the work could go on and the books could be published. He raised funds for Crowley in one way or another, his own or the money of O.T.O members whom he could interest in donating it to the O.T.O.
By 1930, Germer and his second wife travelled to Europe had stayed with Crowley for a short while to raise funds for the exhibition of Crowley’s paintings in Germany. Germer wanted to help Crowley to be published, and help Thelema to be put across by his art work and by the distribution of Crowley’s publications. Since he had business experience, he did well at this, even though he did not have enough funds during much of that time.
Holocaust and the aftermath: 1935–1940
Rise of Nazi Germany
Germer's US visa expired and he had to return to Germany in 1935. When Adolf Hitler came to power, Germer came under suspicion because of his association with Crowley and teaching Thelema in Germany. Hitler was given a copy of Liber AL, the Holy Book of Thelema, by Martha Kuntzel who enjoyed a high reputation in Germany amongst aristocrats. Kunzel had been working for some years on translations of Crowley's works into German. She had also presented Liber AL to Hitler as she thought highly of him before he came to power. Liber AL was known well enough in higher German circles after Kunzel translated and introduced it to German public and soon after the start of World War II, Hitler banned it in Germany, as well as the books on religion, qabala, astrology, esoteric studies and gematria.
Hitler knew enough about Thelema to ban Liber AL in Germany and thus Germer became his enemy when his religious beliefs became known. On Hitler’s orders Germer was arrested by the Gestapo on 13 February 1935 in Leipzig and incarcerated. He was first held at the Columbia-Haus prison in Berlin. There he was allowed to work a short time on an architect’s office.
Esterwegen concentration camp
Having seen too much of Hitler’s brutality at Columbia-Haus, Germer wrote to his wife about it. At around the same time, his wife Cora contacted the American Consulate in Berlin who pleaded for Germer’s return to the US as his wife was a US citizen. This was seen as a crime by the Nazis and they punished Germer even further, deporting him to the Esterwegen concentration camp on the Dutch Frontier where thousands of Hitler’s so-called political enemies were deported by the Nazis. Germer remained there for seven months, witnessing cruelties of various sorts on the Nazi side. His wife Cora now did not know where he was and there was nothing else for her to do but to return to America, where she again began her appeal to various US authorities. When they helped her to find out where he was, she sent Germer a cable. Germer wrote a reply to her and it was read by the Nazis which resulted in Germer being placed in solitary confinement. He was no longer allowed to read and for six weeks, he never saw the day nor was allowed in the open air.
Years in Belgium and France
At the end of August of that year Germer was temporarily freed from detention at Esterwegen, his case being that be had been a Major in World War I on the German side and was also of pure German blood, therefore the charges were too vague to get any real case against him. Germer moved to Belgium where he took an apartment and started working as an exporter of heavy farm machinery in Brussels, making frequent trips to England and Ireland. This was with great difficulty as the war and Hitler's movements were making travel difficult. In Brussels Germer had the means to store his personal belongings, his diaries and other things at a friend's house. Between 1939 and 1940 he wrote 223 pages of his autobiographical book "Protective Prisoner No 303" about his experiences in the concentration camp, which he wanted to publish. On May 10, 1940, when the Germans marched into Belgium Germer was again incarcerated. As the Germans advanced, Germer was transferred to the French authorities who held him in a French concentration camp of Lévitan and was later sent to the camp of Saint-Cyprien camp in the Pyrénées-Orientales where 90,000 Spanish refugees were interned in March 1939. It was officially closed on 19 December 1940 for "sanitary reasons". Its occupants, including Germer, were transferred to the Camp of Gurs where in October 1940 thousands of Jewish women, children, and the elderly, who had not gone to the Nazi concentration camps in Germany, were deported from the Baden region of Germany as per official Nazi policy which was overseen by Adolf Eichmann.
Liberation and return to the United States
On September 1, 1941 a non-quota immigration visa had been obtained for Germer by his American wife. But French authorities made it almost impossible for Germer to obtain the permit before, despite all kinds of urgent steps that were undertaken by his wife and the American Ambassador and Consul. French authorities only gave him permission to go to Marseille to see the American Consul four months after the visa was granted. After being released from the Nazi concentration camp in February 1941, Germer returned to the United States. Securing a job as a merchant of machinery upon his return to New York, Germer continued his fundraising activities for Crowley who appointed him his personal representative in the United States.
Later life: 1941–1962
Grand Treasurer General of O.T.O.
Germer had seen that Crowley needed aid to finish his publishing work in his later years. In his capacity of Grand Treasurer General of Ordo Templi Orientis, Germer raised over $25,000 for publishing Crowley's works, as well as support and maintenance. In July 13, 1942, Germer's wife Cora Eaton died of a heart attack. Two months later, on September 23, 1942, Germer married Vienna piano teacher Sascha Ernestine Andre. For many years, he and Sascha sent at least $200 monthly to Crowley, being Crowley’s most devoted supporters of their time.
O.H.O. of O.T.O.
In 1942, Crowley appointed Germer as his successor as the Head of Ordo Templi Orientis and he fulfilled that position after Crowley's death in 1947. Germer was also a special appointee of the Order with jurisdiction over Agape Lodge. Germer had had a lot of trouble getting reports from Agape Lodge and answers to his letters from Wilfred Talbot Smith who was the lodge master. Instead, Germer kept in touch with Jane Wolfe who was one of the founding members. Through Wolfe he made acquaintance and good friendship of Phyllis Seckler. Their friendship begun by correspondence when Seckler was in college.
Crowley died on December 1, 1947. Since his death, Germer became the Outer Head of the order (O.H.O.) and started working on preservation of Crowley’s literary remains and getting his books published. At the time of Crowley's death there were still many important manuscripts which had not been published and Germer sent those to various publishers, getting these works of Crowley published for the first time.
Move to Southern California
In 1954 Germer retired from his job in New Jersey and moved to California on advice of Jane Wolfe and her student Phyllis Seckler who were his confidants. After about 2 years he found a house in West Point, California where he set up a Head Office of the O.T.O and put together the Order’s library containing Crowley works and O.T.O. files which later became a subject of a dispute due to Germer’s will being lost or stolen after his death. In January of 1957 Marcelo Motta visited Germer at his new headquarters in West Point and in the early January of 1957 Germer, Jane Wolfe and Motta visited Phyllis Seckler at Livermore, California. It was their last meeting before Germer died.
In his letters Germer often mentioned his task in life was to support Crowley, and to do his best to publish Crowley's writings. He did not expect to die before accomplishing this task the way he envisaged it, and therefore did not name a successor in his will.
Germer died as a result of prostate cancer in late October 1962. By 1962 the average rate of cancer among Holocaust survivors was nearly two and a half times the national average, while the average rate of colon cancer, attributed to the victims' experience of starvation and extreme stress, was nine times higher.
The will Germer made to dispose of Crowley's literary remains kept at his estate provided that all of the Crowley materials should go to the Heads of the Ordo Templi Orientis. Sascha Germer and Frederick Mellinger of Swiss O.T.O. were appointed to act as executors of the will. All Germer’s personal property was to be left to Sascha Germer.
Over the course of his life, Germer married and divorced three times; his late wife Schasha Germer was named as one of the executors of his will, in charge of his literary remains. He had no children.
Germer, who was a Holocaust survivor, worked tirelessly to preserve and publish Crowley’s work. For quite a few years he had been Grand Treasurer of the Ordo Templi Orientis in charge of Crlowley’s literary remains, and was so named in Crowley's will.
During World War II, at the time of oppression and tyranny by the Nazi party, Germer memorised Liber AL, Liber LXV, and Liber VII, reciting it daily from memory. When Hitler confined him to a solitary state in a German concentration camp, he recited the Holy Books of Thelema to himself, which aided him in performing one of the central tasks of the A∴A∴, being the attainment of the experience known as "the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel”, the attainment of which is the central theme of the order's official instructions.
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