From Academic Kids

The hard-to-translate word 'völkisch' has connotations of "folksy," "folkloric," and "populist." It comes from the German word Volk, meaning "people, nation." Essentially, the völkisch movement is the German interpretation of the Populist movement, with a romantic focus on folklore and the "organic."

The völkisch movement had its origins in Romantic nationalism, as it was expressed by early Romantics such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte in his Addresses to the German nation published during the Napoleonic Wars, from 1808 onwards, especially the eighth address, "“What is a Volk, in the higher sense of the term, and what is love of the fatherland?”, where he answered his question, as to what could warrant the noble individual's striving "and his belief in the eternity and the immortality of his work," that it could only be that "particular spiritual nature of the human environment out of which he himself, with all of his thought and action... has arisen, namely the people from which he is descended and among which he has been formed and grown into that which he is" [1] (

The movement combined sentimental patriotic interest in German folklore, local history and a "back-to-the-land," anti-urban Populism with many parallels in the writings of the Vanderbilt Agrarians and also William Morris. The dream was for a self-sufficient life lived with a mystical relation to the land; it was a reaction to the cultural alienation of the Industrial revolution that has evolved into ecology in its modern sense.

In addition, the völkisch movement as it evolved, sometimes combined the arcane and esoteric aspects of folkloric occultism, alongside "racial adoration" and in some circles, a type of anti-Semitism linked to ethnic nationalism. The ideas of völkisch movements also included anti-Marxist, anti-immigration, anti-capitalist, and anti-Parliamentarianism. Their ideologies were influential in the development of Nazism. Indeed, Joseph Goebbels publicly asserted in the 1927 Nuremberg rally that if the Populist (völkisch) movement had understood power and how to bring thousands out in the streets, it would have gained political power on 9 November 1918, Armistice Day [2] (

A number of the völkisch-Populist movements that had developed during the late 19th century in the German Empire, under the impress of National Romanticism, were reorganized along propagandistic lines after the German defeat in World War I, as the word "people" (Volk) became increasingly politicized as a flag for new forms of ethnic nationalism.

The secret society called the Teutonic Order or the German Order, representing pathological nationalism in an extreme form, was founded in Berlin in 1912 by Theodor Fritsch, Hermann Pohl, Philipp Stauff as a splinter group formed from the Masonic Germanische Glaubensgemeinschaft ("Community for German Beliefs"), founded in 1907 by Professor Ludwig Fahrenkrog of Bremen. A typical Völkisch organization, it required its candidates to prove that they had no non-Aryan bloodlines and required each to promise to maintain purity of his stock in marriage. Local groups of the sect met to celebrate the summer solstice, an important neopagan festivity in Völkisch circles and later in Nazi Germany, and more regularly to read the Eddas as well as some of the German mystics [3] (

Another Völkisch society, the Thule-Gesellschaft (Thule Society), was founded August 17, 1918, by Rudolf von Sebottendorff. Its original name was Studiengruppe für Germanisches Altertum (Study Group for German Antiquity), but it soon started to disseminate anti-republican and anti-Semitic propaganda. The Thule Society was instrumental in the foundation of the Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei (German Workers' Party, or DAP) which later became the NSDAP (Nazi Party). It had members from the top echelons of the party, including Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg, though not Adolf Hitler(he was a visiting brother). Its press organ was the Münchener Beobachter (Munich Observer) which later became the Völkischer Beobachter (People's Observer). Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (My Campaign) "the basic ideas of the National-Socialist movement are populist (völkisch) and the populist (völkisch) ideas are National-Socialist."

Another völkisch movement of the same time was the Tatkreis.

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