Hitler, Buddha, Krishna

Victor and Victoria Trimondi are German cultural philosophers and authors of “Hitler-Buddha-Krishna-An Unholy Alliance from the Third Reich to the Present Day” (2002).
In this book they talk about the aproach of Nazi Germany to hinduism and buddhism. To me is a very interesting issue, due to the evident contradiction between compassive methods of buddhism in particular, and the tangible act of mass agression of the nazi’s.
Also because there is not common to see how an extremely pragmatic and scientific oriented minds of an elite(and the german idiosyncrasy) merge with metaphysical, deep philosophical-doctrinal and in last instance even “mystical” aspects of hinduist and buddhist cultures.
The most evident and vastly known example is the use of the Swastika in the Nazi flag as a main icon.
The not so known evidence of this mix and approach is the practice of meditation and Yoga that Heinrich Himmler imposes to his Obergruppenführer’s and officers in Wewelsburg castle in Paderborn. The interest of Himmler to ancient indian castes like Kshatriya, an aristocratic and warrior elite that were habitual visitors of monasteries to spiritual retreats, in a very similar way that templar knight’s did in medieval age. Even got his own “crusade” sending a nazi expedition to Tibet in 1938. The interest in Samurai and Zen doctrine, etc.
The concept of warrior monk it was very impregnated in the mind of Himmler, who saw his “SS wolves” more like an spiritual elite than a mere special operations unit. He believed in Kamma, reincarnation and always were carrying his pocket Bhagavad Gita. He encouraged the curator of the SS-Ahnenerbe, Walther Wüst, to give discourses about buddhism, in the context of the creation of the new “aryan religion”.

Some people has said and theorized that meditation and Yoga were used as a practical tool to “dehumanize” the ones who where in charge of the most emotionally and psychological shocking act of mass killing; Waffen SS in the concentration camps, and the ones in foreign countries destroying complete towns.

I let you an interview to the Trimondi’s where they extend in the matter:

[Edition after Cara closing the topic:

To Deeele(post N°3);

There are many branches of buddhism, some of them are not extrictly followers of the original path. To my consideration Theravada tradition is the closest to the initial teachings of the Buddha, while “tibetan buddhism” is a mix of Bon, hinduism and buddhism(and even traces of shamanism).
So when I say that there is a contradiction between buddhism and nazism, I am refering to the teachings of Theravada tradition, who NEVER incited to an open war against other sentient beings, nor the extermination of the weakest.
Also, Krishna belong to hinduism, not a buddhist figure. I never say there were a contradiction between hinduism and nazism, actually the original post and the link of the interview let see many similarities.
Finally, it was Himmler rather than Hitler who most interest showed in touching oriental philosophies, religions and doctrines. Adolf even jokes to Heinrich because of his fanatic orientation to Asia instead of being a purely nordic germanic pagan devote.]

1 Like

[quote=“Nomad, post:1, topic:5685”]
Some people has said and theorized that meditation and Yoga were used as a practical tool to “dehumanize” the ones who where in charge of the most emotionally and psychological shocking act of mass killing
[/quote]Japanese Zen monks in favour of the Japanese war effort used to advocate for this questionable application of the teaching. If interested, there is an interesting article on the matter from the Kyoto Journal, and wikipedia has an article on the subject matter, although treat that source as what it is concerning anything related to Buddhism.

Obviously these interpretations, justifications, and practices, are no longer true of Zen Buddhism as a whole.

1 Like

I think the article does not provide any explicit reference to the teachings of the Buddha.

The article refers to two matters that are commonly perceived in the world to be connected to Buddha, namely, Tibetan culture & the common Indian Messianic belief in a Universal Monarch (Chakravarti), which exists in Buddhism, Jainism & Hinduism. The article states:

To Wüst, Hitler appeared as the manifestation of a Chakravartin - “Indo-Aryan world emperor.” Wüst tried to support this particular speculation by verses from classical Indian scriptures. Moreover, in one of his emotion-driven speeches, he compared Hitler with the historical Buddha.

However, we do not know whether Himmler identified himself with Arjuna or not. At the same time, considering the fact that he did indeed compare Hitler to Krishna, it is quite possible that he cast himself as the character of Arjuna.

Bose delivered an emotional speech for British soldiers of Indian origin, who were captured by the Wehrmacht in Africa and who were held in Germany as POWs. He said to them: “Hitler is your friend. He is the friend of the Aryans, and you will return to India as the liberators of your motherland.”

In addition to Hinduism, the Reichsführer SS was also interested in the militant Samurai Zen philosophy of Japan as well as the occult scriptures of Tibetan Buddhism.

It follows, Nazism, Tibetan theocracy & Krishna did share things in common.

  1. Nazism was a ‘nationalist’ political dictatorship that believed its duty was to protect Germany. As the article states, Hitler was regarded by Himmler & Nazis as a righteous universal monarch.

  2. Tibet was also a (theocratic) dictatorship or serfdom (rather than a model compassionate Buddhist land). Himmler sponsored a German expedition to Tibet.

  3. Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita instructed performing sacred duty (dharma) by fighting war to protect family honor (or the nation).

  4. Even the Jewish J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb”, reflected upon the Bhagavad Gita in relationship his own perceived duty.

I find it easy to picture how Himmler, the creator of the four associated Treblinka death camps, would have been influenced by Krishna.

About Tibet, this article (excerpt below) presents some views & historical context:

Many high-ranking members of the Nazi regime, including Hitler, but especially Himmler and Hess, held convoluted occult beliefs. Prompted by those beliefs, the Germans sent an official expedition to Tibet between 1938 and 1939 at the invitation of the Tibetan Government to attend the Losar (New Year) celebrations.

Tibet had suffered a long history of Chinese attempts to annex it and British failure to prevent the aggression or to protect Tibet. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union was severely persecuting Buddhism, specifically the Tibetan form as practiced among the Mongols within its borders and in its satellite, the People’s Republic of Mongolia (Outer Mongolia). In contrast, Japan was upholding Tibetan Buddhism in Inner Mongolia, which it had annexed as part of Manchukuo, its puppet state in Manchuria. Claiming that Japan was Shambhala, the Imperial Government was trying to win the support of the Mongols under its rule for an invasion of Outer Mongolia and Siberia to create a pan-Mongol confederation under Japanese protection.

The Tibetan Government was exploring the possibility of also gaining protection from Japan in the face of the unstable situation. Japan and Germany had signed an Anti-Commintern Pact in 1936, declaring their mutual hostility toward the spread of international Communism. The invitation for the visit of an official delegation from Nazi Germany was extended in this context. In August 1939, shortly after the German expedition to Tibet, Hitler broke his pact with Japan and signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact. In September, the Soviets defeated the Japanese who had invaded Outer Mongolia in May. Subsequently, nothing ever materialized from the Japanese and German contacts with the Tibetan Government.

I suggest to study more about: (i) what were the causes & conditions behind the arising of Nazism; (ii) what was the social structure in pre-Chinese Tibet; and (iii) the Bhagavad Gita.



[quote=“Deeele, post:3, topic:5685”]
Tibet was also a (theocratic) dictatorship (rather than a model compassionate Buddhist land).
[/quote]If I may contend with the comparison you present, this term “(theocratic) dictatorship” has applied to the entirety of most human civilizations since the existence of anything that is traditionally called “civilization”.

To single out Tibet for this seem arbitrary, as all “Buddhisms” have to adapt to being a “religion” within the context of a human culture. Arguably, the Buddha himself had to “adapt” to human culture in his ministries to the householders, for instance. Traditionally, Buddhism has had to historically adapt to being a religion in the context of imperial societies, which has been massively beneficial to the Dhamma (granting it the ability to propagate through sponsorship and the production of texts, in both Theravāda and Mahāyāna contexts alike), and also having its own drawbacks. In Tibet, the institute of the saṃgha and secular governance fused, instead of the usual case, where the saṃgha becomes ultimately obedient to the state, however the Dalai Lama has never been an absolute monarch in the European sense, and thus members of the institution are born into the society they inherit, in this case traditionally feudal, without the ability to unilaterally transform it at will, or indeed the ability to look beyond their own times (as so few can, if any).

Furthermore, the present Dalai Lama would support a democratic government in an independent Tibet, he has said this many times. He is privately a Marxist, but supports democracy. All of this is completely tangential though, because the Dalai Lama no longer advocates for Tibetan independence from China. The efforts of this office and government in exile have instead chosen to focus on the human rights and welfare of Tibetans living in China, as well as advocating for the preservation of traditional Tibetan culture in the face of its new context. For instance, an unfortunate side-effect of Chinese governance and settlement projects in the area, which admittedly bring a higher standard of living than was possible in pre-industrial independent Tibet, is the collapse and endangerment of numerous indigenous Tibetan minority languages, so his office generally focusses resources towards things like that.

Many absolutist monarchies still exist in the world today, all of which derive their authority from “God”, if one will, one way or another.

1 Like

Due to veering from the topic’s original intention towards potentially problematic political matter, this thread has been closed to further replies for now. Posters may edit their existing posts in this thread if they wish to bring the thread back in line with the intention of this forum, which may allow the thread to be opened again.