The Thule-Seminar (Engl. "Thule Seminar") is a cultish neo-Nazi group around the Germanophile French Nouvelle Droite ("New Right") figure Pierre Krebs, which was originally set up as the German branch of the "Research and Study Group for European Civilization" (Groupement de recherche et d'études pour la civilisation européenne, GRECE).1
Established in 1968 in Nice, and largely guided by the far-right ideologue Alain de Benoist, GRECE is regarded as the entity out of which the Nouvelle Droite emerged. The latter became known for cladding its racism and white (European) supremacism in more deflective terms, such as "ethnopluralism," "archeofuturism" or "identitarianism," some of which have entered the Thule Seminar's vocabulary.2
But generally, the Thule Seminar is rather explicit in expressing its affinity to certain proponents of scientific racism and esoteric Nazism, as immediately evident from the group's name and iconography.3 The Thule Seminar's emblem, reminiscent of the Wolfsangel symbol, combines a Tyr rune and a Sig rune, which is alternatively superimposed on a Black Sun, or a stylized Reichsadler ("Imperial Eagle").
Banner of the Thule-Seminar website
According to the Thule Seminar, the "species" of Europe should be protected from the "genetic material" of immigrants. Europe can only be "reborn" once this demand has been implemented.4 On its homepage, the group deplores the formation of a "multiracial, i.e. monoprimitive" society in the "ethnosuicidal" cultures of Europe and declares its aim to be the formation of "metapolitical" ("metapo") cells across Europe.5
Thule-Forum publication by Pierre Krebs titled "The Rebirth of Europe."
A basic goal of the Thule Seminar is the suppression of pluralism and the "open society": "Egalitarianism in its different variants: Christianity, Judaism, Marxism and liberalism, is the main cause of the deep decadence of the modern world."6 According to Ines Aftenberger, the association includes a pronounced neo-paganism and propagates a “European rebirth as a paganistic metaphysical alternative.”7 The association sees itself as an elite vanguard for the modernization of right-wing extremism and the attainment of cultural hegemony, i.e. influencing the public in the direction of their worldview.
In its neo-pagan leanings and its emphasis on a pan-European cultural war, the Thule Seminar is more oriented towards the Nouvelle Droite than its German counterpart, the German New Right (Neue Rechte). Although both currents share certain reactionary platforms, many Neue Rechte proponents are oriented towards the model of a "Christian Occident,"8 while Christianity is clearly deplored by the Thule Seminar. The Thule Seminar honors the following “companions” of their political work on its website9 : Jürgen Rieger, Abelardo Linares y Muñoz, Dietrich Schuler and Dominique Venner.
The group's name is suspiciously reminiscent of the proto-Nazi Thule society, which is regarded as a precursor to the Nazi Party. The Thule Society carried the epithet "Thule Society for the Study of German History and the Promotion of the German Race,"10 bearing also certain similarities to the one the Thule Seminar later opted for. As the Thule Seminar's self-denomination, "Research and Teaching Society for Indo-European Culture" (Forschungs- und Lehrgemeinschaft für die indoeuropäische Kultur) indicates, the group is not aimed at the average jackboot neo-Nazi, but at those who deem themselves as an "intellectual vanguard."11
In its association statutes, the Thule Seminar declared its aim to be "a party of the spirit - a school of metapolitics," indicating the prepolitical orientation of the group.12 According to Pierre Krebs, "It is the task of this novel ideological school, to underline the imminent cultural decisions, from which political goals will emerge."13 Nowadays, the Thule Seminar emphasizes this prepolitical orientation in the subtitle of its new website: "Thule Seminar - New Party of the Spirit" (Thule Seminar - Neue Partei des Geistes).14
Front page of the German Elemente, Nr. 3, June-September 1987.
The Thule Seminar's co-founder and leading theorist is the French publicist Pierre Krebs, who at times has also appeared as editor of the group's magazine, Elemente, while other contributors included well known figures of the (French) New Right, such as Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye (1949-2019), Julien Freund (1921-1993), Sigrid Hunke (1913-1999), Robert Hepp, and Michael Walker.15 Another communication organ of the Thule Seminar is the irregularly appearing "Thule letters - Info sheet for friends and supporters of the Thule Seminar" (Thule-Briefe - Infoblatt für Freunde und Förderer des THULE-Seminars). The magazine Metapo, meant to appeal to a younger audience, appeared in 1999/2000, but was discontinued after only four editions.
Attached to the Thule Seminar is the Ariadne "book and art distribution" arm (f. 1988),16 and the "Ancestors's Wheel of Modernity" (Ahnenrad der Moderne) publishing arm, all based in Bad Wildungen, according to the group's website.11
The items in the imprint of the Thule-Seminar website.
The Thule Seminar describes itself as a “spiritual and historical think tank for a future European reorganization of all European peoples with special consideration of their biocultural and pagan-religious heritage.”17 Germany's domestic intelligence service (BfV), which describes the Thule Seminar as a “right-wing extremist think tank in Hesse,” accuses Krebs because of this self-portrayal of "subordinating politics to racial principles,"18 which lets one wonder, why the organization has not been outlawed, and, as "social welfare" association, still enjoys tax benefits.
Pierre Krebs (born 1946 in Algiers, Algeria) is a French right-wing extremist writer, publisher and former politician, and a theorist of the French New Right. At the age of 21, Krebs became a member of the right-wing extremist French party "European Rally for Liberty" (Rassemblement Européen de la Liberté, REL), which was founded in November 1966 by the Mouvement Nationaliste du Progrès under the leadership of Dominique Venner (1935-2013).
Pierre Krebs appearing as a keynote speaker on an event by the German neopagan neo-Nazi party Der III. Weg in September 2015.
Krebs subsequently moved to Germany and took courses in Romance and ancient Scandinavian studies as well as philosophy and history in Göttingen, and passed the 1st and 2nd state exams for a higher teaching post in the subjects of French, history and politics in Kassel. There, in July 1980,19 20 he was among the co-founders of the self-styled "research and teaching society for Indo-European culture," together with the far-right publicist Wigbert Grabert and his wife Marielouise Grabert, Hans-Günther Grimm, Hans-Michael Fiedler, Claude Michel, Guy Mompert and Uda Wilke.12 Krebs served as the group's first chairman, and remains the leader of the group to this day.
Also in 1980, Krebs co-founded the Thule Seminar as a German branch of GRECE (established in 1968) which according to Krebs “pursues goals similar to ours.” Cited as conducive to GRECE's foundation and the development of its "meta-political" strategy was the vacuum created by the dissolution of the neo-fascist organization Jeune Nation in 1958 and the disappearance of the pro-colonial paramilitary group Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS) in 1962,21 whose terrorist activities had made it difficult to gain the sympathies of a broader mass.
GRECE's aim was to establish a "meta-political"21 "laboratory of ideas" that would influence mainstream right-wing parties and the French society at large,22 a strategy subsequently pursued by the Thule Seminar. In May 1969, they circulated an internal document advising their members not to employ "outdated language" that might associate the group with fascism, and to socialize with Europe's most important decision-makers in order to influence their policies.23 In the tradition of GRECE and the Nouvelle Droite, the Thule Seminar thinly covers its racism in deflective terminology, and also inherited its interest in "Indo-European paganism" from those predecessors.
In 1980, the same year the Thule Seminar was established, another GRECE "cell" emerged in France, which was also in contact with Krebs's group: the "Institute of Indo-European Studies" (IEIE), founded by a group of scholars linked to GRECE, including Jean Varenne, Jean Haudry and Jean-Paul Allard, at the Jean Moulin University Lyon 3 in Lyon,24 where Pierre Vial later obtained a teaching position.25
Krebs could initially rely on the support of the far-right Grabert publishing house (Grabert-Verlag) that Wigbert Grabert had taken over from his father, Herbert Grabert (1901-1978). Initially, "Germany in Past and Present" (Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart), a magazine previously edited by Herbert Grabert, was the communication organ of the Thule Seminar.8 Grabert, a former senior civil servant and lecturer in Alfred Rosenberg's Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories,26 had founded the Grabert publishing house in 1953, originally named "Publisher of the German University Teacher Newspaper" (Verlag der Deutschen Hochschullehrer-Zeitung).27 In 1974, four years before his death, Grabert named his publishing house after himself, and his son Wigbert (born 1941) took over the management, continuing the legacy of historical revisionist and anti-Semitic publications.
The Seminar's first book, “The immortal heritage. Alternatives to the Principle of Equality” (Das unvergängliche Erbe. Alternativen zum Prinzip der Gleichheit) was published by the Grabert-Verlag in 1981. For the publication, which turned out to be the "programmatic" book of the Seminar,28 Wigbert Grabert was able to bring together far-right contributors from several European countries, such as Armin Mohler, Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye and Hans Jürgen Eysenck (1916-1997). The group's influence remained small, however, and its publications were slow to sell, which led to a separation from the Grabert-Verlag in 1983.29 Since the late 1980s, Krebs co-publishes the "Thule Library" (Thule-Bibliothek) series in the Burkhard Weeke publishing house (Burkhard Weeke-Verlag). Weeke had initially been the editor of Elemente, which appears irregularly since 1987.29
Besides the "old guard," there were also younger figures involved, such as the former editor of the "Thule Letters," Thomas Hetzer. In the early 1990s, Hetzer had served as a link to the so-called "Thule network" (Thule-Netz), a neo-Nazi mailbox system founded in 1992, preceding the internet.30 According to a PhD thesis by Thomas Pfeiffer31 :
The then Erlangen-based computer science student (now a programmer) and "resistance" sysop, Thomas Hetzer, became a key figure [in the Thule-Netz]: he is also responsible for the periodical founded in 1990, "The Pig's Pen" (Die Saufeder), which is considered a JN theoretical organ [the youth organization of the neo-Nazi NPD party]; he belongs to the environment of the "German Leadership Circle" (Deutscher Führungskreis), an association of right-wing extremist activists in northern Bavaria; and in 1997 was responsible for the New Right "Thule Letters."
Screenshot from the neo-Nazi Thule-Netz mailbox system from 1993.
Apabiz reported that the Thule Seminar restructured itself in 199516 :
Depending on the financial commitment, after approval by the board one can become a member of a "Munin Circle," geared at regular paying members (annual fees 250 DM), a "Huginn Circle" for active members (500 DM), or a "Gungnir Circle" (1500 DM). The members of the latter are invited once a year to a castle for an internal meeting. All sponsors are part of a convention which meets once a year for a colloquium.
Thomas Pfeiffer provides some more details in regards to the peculiar choice of names32 :
The support circles of the Thule Seminar are named after Odin's ravens Huginn and Muninn as well as after the spear of the father of the gods, Gungnir. The name of the organization picks up on the Thule myth, which in right-wing extremist esotericism stands for a 'vanished Nordic empire, whose scattered survivors later allegedly founded the Germanic or Nordic race.'
Through its lecturing activities, the Thule Seminar maintains contacts to proponents ranging from the militant neo-fascist spectrum, such as the "Nationalist Front" (Nationalistische Front), to the conservative Thomas Dehler Foundation, which is close to the FDP. The self-representation of partaking in "European Synergies," as Krebs calls the network of "closely linked circles of thought" and "cells of intellectual resistance," suggests an affiliation with the newly formed European association Synergies Europeennes. As a representative of the German faction DESG-inform names the former Junge Freiheit employee Gerlinde Gronow, and as a contact person for Austria Jürgen Hatzenbichler is listed.
Starting from the late 1990s, the Thule Seminar made active efforts to appeal to a younger audience. The magazine Metapo, geared at a younger readership, was founded in 1999/2000, but was discontinued after only four editions. It could have been because of a lack of buying customers, or the discovery of the internet, that Metapo was discontinued, and in 2001 the Thule Seminar created a first website (www.thule-seminar.org), which exists to this day.33
Banner of the website ahnenrad.org.
A modernized version named after the Thule Seminar's publishing arm "Ahnenrad" appeared in 2020 (www.ahnenrad.org), and cross-shares a lot of content with the older site.34 The website's new banner makes clear references to the Wewelsburg castle, which after 1934 was used by Heinrich Himmler as a SS cult-site. A floor mosaic inside the castle features the Black Sun emblem so dear to the Thule Seminar.
Today, Pierre Krebs still remains at the center of the Thule Seminar, and to this day liaises with Nazi-affine organizations in Germany and abroad. Noteworthy is his appearance at a conference in Moscow titled "The future of the White World," taking place from June 8-9, 2006, organized by the racist editor of the magazine "Athenaeum," the Russian Pavel Tulaev.35 The conference focused on ideas for the establishment of a political entity in Russia that would function as a new epicenter of the "white race" and civilization, enshrining the "religion, philosophy, science and art" that emanate from the "Aryan soul,"36 either taking the form of Guillaume Faye's "Euro-Siberia," Aleksandr Dugin's "Eurasia," or Pavel Tulaev's "Euro-Russia."37 Tulaev would go all the way to link Russia's history to his beloved "Aryans," including etymological bogus arguments that Russia would hold "the essence of the Aryans" in its own name, since one of the etymologies of Rus being from a root that means "bright."38
Constantin von Hoffmeister (left) and Pierre Krebs (right).
Pavel Tulaev, the organizer of the 2006 Moscow conference.
Participants of the 2006 "Future of the White World" conference in Moscow.
Michael Wittmann (left) and Pierre Krebs (right).
Notable participants in the conference included the notorious American neo-Nazi, David Duke; the "coordinator of the Moscow branch of 'Thule-Sarmatia' Michael Wittmann;" Jose Maria Alvarez from Spain; and the German-born Constantin von Hoffmeister. Wittman and Krebs appear on a picture together, subtitled "two 'Thule' converged."35
Krebs has also appeared as a speaker at the "Memorial Site Guthmannshausen" (Gedächtnisstätte Guthmannshausen), founded by the repeatedly convicted holocaust denier Ursula Haverbeck, aka "Nazi Granny," a meeting place for fellow (neo-)Nazi bigwigs.39
The keynote speaker Pierre Krebs from the Thule Society [Freudian slip by the author], who traveled here from France especially for this occasion, recorded the cultural and historical origins of the Germans in his lecture "Basis of a worldview for a new Reich" (Weltanschauliche Basis für ein neues Reich) and explained the political, economic and military structure of a new, independent Germany.
In the course of the 2017 terror investigations against Bundeswehr soldiers two people associated with the Nordkreuz ("Northern Cross") network, a group of mostly of far-right German veteran as well as active military and police officers, had reportedly sympathized with the Thule Seminar. They planned for "Day X," the moment when a governmental crisis would enable right-wing extremists to take power. Investigations and raids "uncovered weapons, ammunition, enemy lists, and a handwritten order list for Day X that included ... body bags and quick lime," according to the New York Times.41 In June 2017, a few days before Germany's criminal police (BKA) questioned one of the Nordkreuz members, Horst Schelski, as a witness, the latter was questioned by German domestic (BfV) and military intelligence (MAD) about, among other things, his book orders at the right-wing extremist Thule Seminar.42 Another Nordkreuz member, Jörg Scholze, had taken part in an event organized by the group.43
- 1Jan Herman Brinks, Stella Rock and Edward Timms, Nationalist Myths and Modern Media: Cultural Identity in the Age of Globalisation (I.B.Tauris, 2005). 125, https://books.google.com/books?id=eLqVMOmEsisC&pg=PA125.
- 2Cyprian Blamires, World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2006), pp. 665–666, https://books.google.com/books?id=nvD2rZSVau4C&pg=PA665#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- 3 Uwe Backes, The Extreme Right in Europe: Current Trends and Perspectives (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011), 390, https://books.google.com/books?id=RBnmachN8vkC&pg=PA390#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- 4Jan Buschbom, "Ein Europa der Heiden," Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Berlin Brandenburg, 2003, https://web.archive.org/web/20180202035306/http://www.politische-bildung-brandenburg.de/node/6938.
- 5Cited in the yearly report by North Rhine-Westphalia's domestic intelligence service. See: "Verfassungsschutzbericht 2003 des Landes Nordrhein-Westphalen," Innenministerium des Landes Nordrhein-Westphalen, p. 105, https://verfassungsschutzberichte.de/pdfs/vsbericht-nw-2003.pdf.
- 6Pierre Krebs, "Das Deutschtum am Scheideweg: Identitätsschwund oder ethno-ontologische Neugeburt?," In: Elemente Nr. 6 1998, p. 17; cited in Uwe Backes, "Gestalt und Bedeutung des intellektuellen Rechtsextremismus in Deutschland," Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, May 26, 2002, https://www.bpb.de/apuz/25913/gestalt-und-bedeutung-des-intellektuellen-rechtsextremismus-in-deutschland?p=all.
- 7Ines Aftenberger, Die Neue Rechte und der Neorassismus (Graz: Grazer Universitätsverlag, 2007), 55, https://books.google.de/books?id=T6QVAQAAIAAJ&dq="Die+Neue+Rechte+und+der+Neorassismus"&focus=searchwithinvolume&q="europäische+wiedergeburt".
- 8 a b Horst Junginger, "Paganismus und Indo-Germanentum als Identifikationselemente der Neuen Rechten," In: Uwe Puschner and G. Ulrich Großmann, Völkisch und national (Darmstadt: 2009), 285. (not checked)
- 9"Nekrologie. Das Ahnenerbe," Thule-Seminar, http://www.thule-seminar.org/nekrologie.htm.
- 10Hermann Gilbhard, Die Thule-Gesellschaft: vom okkulten Mummenschanz zum Hakenkreuz (Kiessling, 1994), https://books.google.de/books?hl=sv&id=72sTAQAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=%22Thule-Gesellschaft+zur+Erforschung+deutscher+Geschichte%22.
- 11 a b "Impressum," Thule-Seminar, http://www.thule-seminar.org/impressum.htm.
- 12 a b Friedrich Paul Heller and Anton Maegerle, Thule: Vom Völkischen Okkultismus bis zur Neuen Rechten (Stuttgart: Schmetterling Verlag, 1995), 124.
- 13Pierre Krebs, Das Thule-Seminar, p. 19, cited in Heller and Maegerle, Thule, 124.
- 14Thule-Seminar: Die neue Partei des Geistes, https://ahnenrad.org/.
- 15"Profil: Elemente," Apabiz, https://www.apabiz.de/archiv/material/Profile/Elemente.htm.
- 16 a b c "Profil: Thule-Seminar e.V.," Apabiz, 1996, https://www.apabiz.de/archiv/material/Profile/Thule-Seminar.htm.
- 17Pierre Krebs, "Der Gegenangriff der Intelligenz," Ahnenrad, May 16, 2020, https://ahnenrad.org/2020/05/16/das-thule-seminar-stellt-sich-vor/.
- 18"'Kampf um die Köpfe': Intellektualisierungsversuche im Rechtsextremismus," Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz Hessen, February 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20070721134645/http://www.verfassungsschutz-hessen.de/seiten/aktuell/reintell.html.
- 19Registration Nr. 1571/80 at the Amtsgericht Kassel, referenced in Heller and Maegerle, Thule, 124.
- 20Tamir Bar-On, Where Have All The Fascists Gone? (Ashgate Publishing, 2007), 88, https://books.google.com/books?id=OcaHOPaa0iMC&pg=PA88#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- 21 a b Pierre-André Taguieff, Sulla Nuova Destra: Itinerario di un in tellettuale atipico (Firenze: Vallecchi, 2004), 52, 141-143.
- 22Tom McCulloch, "The Nouvelle Droite in the 1980s and 1990s: Ideology and Entryism, the Relationship with the Front National," in: French Politics, Volume 4, Issue, 2, 2006, p. 160. (not checked)
- 23Bar-On, Where Have All The Fascists Gone?, 122.
- 24Henry Rousso, Rapport sur le racisme et le négationnisme à Lyon III, Commission sur le racisme et le négationnisme à l’université Jean-Moulin Lyon III, 2004, p.7, https://www.vie-publique.fr/sites/default/files/rapport/pdf/044000492.pdf.
- 25Rousso, Rapport sur le racisme, 67.
- 26Heller & Maegerle, Thule, 125.
- 27Martin Finkenberger, "Grabert-Verlag (seit 1974)," In Wolfgang Benz (ed.), Handbuch des Antisemitismus: Judenfeindschaft in Geschichte und Gegenwart, Volume 8 (Walter de Gruyter, 2013), 244–245, https://books.google.com/books?id=8RzoBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA244#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- 28Heller and Maegerle, Thule, 133.
- 29 a b Heller and Maegerle, Thule, 129.
- 30Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 150.
- 31Thomas Pfeiffer, Medien einer neuen sozialen Bewegung von rechts (PhD thesis) (Bochum: University of Bochum, 2000), 325, https://d-nb.info/96222281X/34.
- 32 a b Thomas Pfeiffer, "Avantgarde und Brücke: Die Neue Rechte aus Sicht des Verfassungsschutzes NRW," in: Wolfgang Gessenharter and Thomas Pfeiffer (eds.), Die Neue Rechte - eine Gefahr für die Demokratie? (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2004), 62.
- 33Web history of thule-seminar.org, https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.thule-seminar.org/.
- 34Web history of ahnenrad.org, https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://ahnenrad.org/.
- 35 a b "PHOTO REPORT about our participation in the international conference in Moscow "THE FUTURE OF THE WHITE WORLD" (June 8-9, 2006)," Mesogaia-Sarmatia, thule.primordial.org.ua/foto-konf.htm.
- 36Richard Arnold & Ekaterina Romanova, "The White World's Future: An Analysis of the Russian Far Right," Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Volume 7, Issue 1, p. 90-91, https://www.academia.edu/4399156/_The_White_Worlds_Future_An_Analysis_of_the_Russian_Far_Right.
- 37Arnold and Romanova, "The White World's Future," 84-85.
- 38Arnold and Romanova, "The White World's Future," 86.
- 39"Dr. Pierre Krebs Guthamnnshausen 18.07.2015," Europäische Aktion Thüringen on YouTube, August 7, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKdjCmQBbk8.
- 40 a b "Tag der Gemeinschaft 2015: Bismarcks Erbe – unser Auftrag," Der III. Weg, September 24, 2015, https://der-dritte-weg.info/2015/09/tag-der-gemeinschaft-2015-bismarcks-erbe-unser-auftrag/.
- 41Katrin Bennhold, "Body Bags and Enemy Lists: How Far-Right Police Officers and Ex-Soldiers Planned for ‘Day X,’" The New York Times, August 1, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/01/world/europe/germany-nazi-infiltration.html.
- 42Sebastian Wehrhahn und Martina Renner, "Schattenarmee oder Einzelfälle? – Rechte Strukturen in den Sicherheitsbehörden," CILIP, November 27, 2019, https://www.cilip.de/2019/11/27/schattenarmee-oder-einzelfaelle-rechte-strukturen-in-den-sicherheitsbehoerden/.
- 43Matthias Meisner & Heike Kleffner, Extreme Sicherheit: Rechtsradikale in Polizei, Verfassungsschutz, Bundeswehr und Justiz (Herder, 2019), https://books.google.de/books?id=lFKXDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT33&lpg=PT33#v=onepage&q&f=false.