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"Zis is vhere mein infamous obzession mit die occult comes in handy!"


With few exceptions, pretty much everyone agrees that the Nazis were very, very bad, what with the socio-political repression, the institutionalized racialist policies, the wars of aggression against their neighbors, the mass imprisonment and murder of dissidents and undesirables, and forever ruining the reputation of eugenics and social Darwinism as serious academic disciplines. So, how do you make Those Wacky Nazis even more intimidating? Why, by giving them magic power and Eldritch Abomination allies, of course!

This is actually more plausible than it sounds. Nazism's roots are arguably traceable to an occult group called the Thule Society, depending on which rumors you listen to, and a lot of the senior Nazis (including Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS) were intensely interested in the occult. Culturally the country was hip-deep in Teutonic tradition: some senior Nazis apparently wanted to gradually abolish German Christianity in favor of Norse gods after the war (the majority of them just wanted the state to absorb all the qualities of a religion instead), while in direct contradiction to the above (but hey, they're Nazis!), Adolf Hitler tried to get his hands on the Spear of Destiny. [1]

One other benefit is that within your fantastical world, the true horrors of the Third Reich can "keep up" with your everyday fantastical horrors, rather than being overshadowed. The downside is that it can be a bit, well, silly, which can diminish the impact of the factual events.

Or you can give the Nazis technology ahead of their time, resulting in Stupid Jetpack Hitler.

Or both.

Examples of Ghostapo include:


Anime and Manga

  • The Hellsing: Ultimate OVAs and the original Hellsing manga feature Nazi vampires en masse, as well as the more specialized Nazi werewolf, magical flintlock sharpshooter, Mad Scientist/Doktor, mesmerist, and quantum catboy fighters. For extra points, they also get advanced technology and weaponry in the form of advanced attack zeppelins armed with V-1 bombs and V-2 rockets, heavy weapons and armor, and microchips which can be used to monitor the location and progress of their troops from afar, and remotely incinerate them.
  • Pretty much the entire plot of Part 2 of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure. Nazis resurrect four ancient vampires known as the Pillar Men, who begin to wreak havoc.
  • The first season of Weiss Kreuz has a pack of enemies called the SS whose leaders are obvious Nazi analogues. Their evil plot revolves around the occult powers of black magic and the main character's sister.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist had the Thule Society show up at the last second of the first Anime, with Nazi attempts to exploit Alchemy driving the plot of the first movie. Notable in how one character ends up helping the Thule Society...
  • Urotsukidouji had a Mad Scientist working for the Nazis on summoning the tentacled demons of Hell with the power of a high-tech rape machine.
  • A zombified Hitler and his army appears in the Dragonball Z movie Fusion Reborn.


Comic Books

  • Hellboy. The titular demon was summoned to Earth by Nazi occultists, and the plans of the Third Reich regularly play upon the plot, in both the comic books and the films. President Truman personally sent the BPRD to Berlin in 1946 to catalog all the data pertaining to the Nazis' obsession with the occult - on account of American soldiers uncovering scores of... bizarre things since the city fell.
  • The DCU retconned away "Why didn't Superman kick Hitler's ass?" by explaining that Hitler had used the Spear of Destiny to brainwash any American hero who entered Germany's borders (In some stories, this extends to the entire Eastern Hemisphere) and send them off to attack the US.
    • A Post-Crisis explanation says the Spear simply turns off super-human powers whenever a superhuman enters territory controlled by the Germans. So the JSA was just a bunch of normal guys if they got 'zapped'.
  • In the Marvel Universe, Hitler was cloned multiple times by a geneticist named Arnim Zola and repeatedly transferred his mind from body to body. In most of these bodies, he called himself the "Hate-Monger", wielded a "hate ray" that could manipulate people's emotions, and wore a costume that looked something like a purple version of the Klan's getup. Marvel eventually tried to distance themselves from the Hate-Monger by having him transfer his mind into a Cosmic Cube that didn't actually work. This being comics, even Hitler couldn't stay dead forever, though.... Marvel has also raised the question of whether this is "really Hitler" or "just a mental copy of Hitler", which somehow never comes up when it's someone else using Zola's process (such as Zola himself).
  • Danger Girl has The Hammer, a terrorist group led by a Nazi war criminal, who collect magical artifacts in order to revive an ancient Atlantean "Aryan superman". Of course, when said being actually appears, he kills most of them.
  • In the Elseworlds story JSA: The Golden Age, it's revealed that an American super villain with a gimmick for switching his brains into other bodies replaced an American superhero and ran for Senate... and secretly transferred Hitler's brain into a Flying Brick to help him take over America.
    • The comic also offered a similar Post-Crisis explanation for why none of the heroes tried to kill Hitler -- the Nazis had their own superhuman who had the ability to nullify any superpower.
  • Even Fables has to get in on the action. One flashback issue told of Bigby Wolf as a commando in WWII, stopping the Nazis for creating an army of Frankenstein's Monster and Werewolf soldiers.
    • Which raises some serious questions about the quality of their Masquerade.
  • The article picture comes from a Russian comic parodying WWII tropes in which Stalin fights Hitler with their respective magical powers.
  • Captain Gravity And the Power of Vrill: The Nazis are looking for Atlantis! It was actually pretty awesome.
  • Atomic Robo fights lots of Nazis with supernatural and/or superscientific powers.
  • The 2000 AD strip Caballistics, Inc. makes mention of Nazi Germany's occult warfare division, Sonderkommando Thule, very frequently. When the titular Caballistics, Inc. was still functioning as a secret department in the British Government at its peak during World War II, as Q Department, Sonderkommando Thule was their biggest enemy. Solomon Ravne is revealed to have been a former member.
  • The premise of The Life Eaters is that human sacrifice can summon ancient deities. The Nazis create their death camps and sacrifice millions of people to build an army of Nordic Gods. By the end of the series, every region on Earth has embraced the practice to summon their culture's ancient deities.
  • Irish indie comic The League Of Volunteers has a group of Nazis summons an ancient Irish demon to serve them in issue 1. It doesn't go as planned.
  • The recent Captain America: Hail HYDRA! miniseries does this, casting HYDRA as an ancient conspiracy who piggyback on the Nazis' conquests to take advantage of their sweeping across Europe and Himmler's and to a lesser extent Hitler's historical interest in the occult to ransack Europe of occult goodies to create their own god and which uses resurrected dead SS troopers as indestructible immortal mooks.
  • In The Secret History, the Nazis are secretly controlled by the immortal Fifth Archon, William de Lecce, who oversees most of their occult projects.


Film

 Professor Broom: 1958, the Occult Wars finally come to an end with the death of Adolf Hitler.

John Myers: 1945, you mean.

(Bruttenholm pauses to stare at him.)

John Myers: Hitler died in 1945.

Professor Broom: (chuckles) Did he, now?

  • The First Squad, a joint Russo-Japanese anime-style movie about the Eastern Front, features the knights of the Teutonic Order, as lovingly resurrected by the SS.
  • In Crimson Rivers II: Angels of the Apocalypse, there are some French (Neo-)Nazi monks trying to find a medieval artifact to help them build a new, pure France.
  • This may fall partially under tech rather than magic, but Outpost has a mercenary team of ex-Royal Marines trying to hold off the seemingly immortal bodies of resurrected SS. There's a half-century old machine within the bunker they were originally hired to search, and it's revealed to have the power to negate the Nazis' immortality when activated. The mercenaries turn it on only for it to promptly break down, the last of the mercenaries (the captain) to die holding the Nazis off, and the scientist to try and escape through the ventilation shafts only to be met by the Nazis' commanding officer and a cut-to-black death.
  • This is how the HYDRA rises to power in Captain America the First Avenger. Originally just a sort of black ops division for the Nazi forces, when they find the Tesseract (a.k.a. Cosmic Cube) in Norway things take a drastic turn as they develop hyper-advanced weapons systems like Fricking Laser Beams that can instantly vaporize their targets or all the Cool Planes that the Nazis designed but never managed to build.
  • Parodied in Night Train to Munich: John Fredericks: Occultist and Ophthalmic Surgeon


Literature

  • British woriter Dennis Wheatley (The Devil Rides Out, among numerous others) used the Ghostapo trope in at least one of his novels: First, in Strange Conflict, in which the Nazis used the services of a Haitian Witch Doctor to get the routes for Allied convoys from the minds of the people who knew about them. The Duke de Richleau and his companions put a stop to it.
  • David Brin's really rather dark Alternate History short story Thor Versus Captain America, later adapted into comic form as The Life-Eaters, has the Nazis murder almost 17 million people as part of a gigantic Necromantic ritual intended to bring the Norse Gods to life, fighting on the side of Hitler. And it works. The Author has said this was an attempt to make Holocaust have some actual sense for the Nazis.
  • Charles Stross's The Atrocity Archives portrays the Holocaust as a gigantic necromantic experiment, Operation Jotunheim, to summon an Infovore, a being of near-infinite cold that feeds on energy and information; the titular archives store the particular artifacts that the public should never find out about. It also features an Alternate Universe where the Nazis succeeded in their goal; unfortunately for them, they weren't in control of it and didn't realize what they'd unleashed until it was much, much too late. As a result, that universe is nearing its entropic heat death in the present days, and the laws of physics themselves were being distorted.
    • A particularly nasty bit involves the description of Nazi necromantic practices, or as Stross dubs it, Algemancy - the magic of pain.
  • The Alternate History novel SS-GB subverts this when the German officer tells the hero that he had to present atomic bomb research as something occult to get high ranking Nazis to fund it. Only by presenting it as Germany's destiny written in the stars does Himmler agree to it. Note that there is no real occult magic or outlandish technology in this novel; everything is extremely plausible.
  • Andrey Lazarchuk and Mikhail Uspensky's Crazy Awesome cryptohistorical novel Look into the Monsters' Eyes has Nazis and their occult preoccupation as one of its main subplots, with Annenerbe Institute headed, essentially, by Baron Samedi.
  • In the Kaiju Deconstruction novel that is Shambling Towards Hiroshima, it is mentioned that the Nazis also were trying to breed giant fire-breathing reptiles, but thankfully they were unable to do so.
  • Michael Moorcock has featured Nazis messing with the occult in at least two of his novels, The Dragon in the Sword and The Dreamthief's Daughter. In the former, the protagonists, while looking for the Holy Grail, meet Hitler, Goering and Goebbels conducting a pagan summoning ceremony. They manage, without really trying, to change the course of the war by giving the trio a "sign" that they should invade Russia before inventing the atomic bomb. In the latter, the Nazis want the protagonist's family sword because they believe correctly that it is a mystic artifact of cosmic significance. The climax of the book features Hitler and his chief stooges, er, conducting a pagan summoning ceremony, where they get the bejeezus scared out of them by Elric of Melnibone. Elric and the protagonist then lead an army of dragons to save Britain from the Luftwaffe. Both instances are a massive Take That, with the protagonists dwelling extensively on what sad little men the senior Nazis are.
  • In Illuminatus!, the Holocaust is part of a ritual whose purpose is to cause Hitler and his immediate circle to ascend to Physical Godhood. Hitler also faked his death at the end of WWII, and lives in Israel. Probably.
    • As part of the same plan, the heroes have to stop a squadron of zombie SS commandos from attacking a Woodstock-like music festival in Germany, which is part of the Illuminati's plan to trigger World War Three.
  • The novel/ comic book series Fiends of the Western Front has Hitler cut a deal with Dracula; the vamps help Germany win the war, and they get all the commies, wounded, and POW's they can eat.
  • Lammas Night, by Katherine Kurtz. The book's primary focus is on Britain's heroic Wiccans (and other occultists) and their Heroic Human Sacrifice that shuts down Operation Sealion, but Hitler is portrayed as a scarily powerful Adept.
  • In the Harry Potter series, the dark wizard Grindelwald is implied to have a connection to the Nazis.
    • It is all but outright stated.
  • In The Dresden Files, the Dark Wizard Kemmler, who came back from the dead 6-7 times, and started WW 1 and WW 2 just for enough corpses to work with.
  • In Percy Jackson and The Olympians, all wars are fought parallel to secret wars between rival demigods, and the human wars are often lead by demigods. There are strong hints that Hitler was a demigod son of Hades - children of Hades are supposed to be charismatic and power-hungry, their fatal flaw is holding a grudge, and Hades mentioned that around the time Nico and Bianca were born, some of his other children were leading the losing side of a war (Nico and Bianca were born during World War II but are younger than the protagonist because they spent decades trapped in the Lotus Hotel)
  • Part of the Backstory of the Rivers of London-Verse is that this was very prominent in WWII. To the point that almost all of the allied magical forces were wiped out stopping them. The things they did are still regarded as too horrific to mention.
  • The Spear by James Herbert is an espionage Thriller about an ex-Mossad agent (though he's neither Israeli nor Jewish) turned Security Consultant who, while investigating the murder of another Mossad agent, uncovers a Neo-NAZI cult who believed Himmler was the real brains behind the NAZI's, and are attempting to bring him back to life using the Lance Of Longinus. It plays it pretty straight throughout. That is, until the very end, where it's reveled they weren't crazy after all and he has to fight Himmlers re-animated corpse.
    • It should probably also be noted that he was sued by another writer named Trevor Ravenscroft, claiming he had stolen elements from his earlier novel Spear Of Destiny. Except Ravenscroft's novel was non-fiction.
  • Barbara Hambly had two magicians in a medievalish time setting responding to a call for help from beyond the Void from a world without magic, they go through to help those mages ... and land in the Third Reich. Luckily the hero is pretty smart and soon figures out they are the bad guys.


Live Action TV

  • Reign Of The Gargoyles from the Sci Fi Channel: The Nazis make a pact with stone-winged killers.
  • In the live-action adaptation of Witchblade, it is mentioned that not only was Hitler a collector of objects of power, including the titular Witchblade, but he was a wielder of the Lance of Longinus/Spear of Destiny, as well.
  • The Burning Zone: “Midnight of the Carrier”: Neo-Nazis plan to use special lenses that can see energy signatures as a weapon. [1], [2]
  • a Season 5 Angel episode had a flashback to the 1940s, where it is revealed that the Nazis have been experimenting with the creation of a vampire army.
    • And as a Shout-Out to its predecessor Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the method by which they were planning to accomplish this goal was very similar to the brain chip put in Spike by the Initiative in season 4.
      • This is because the 'Initiative' was most likely a renamed (Or was just short for) 'Demon Research Initiative', which was the US military group attempting steal the Nazi's research during WWII. They failed in the episode they appeared in, but presumably either succeeded later or just recreated the research.
      • Strangely, in 1940, they have no trouble talking about demons, it's even in their name, but in 2000, the ideas of demons and magic is insane. Either the higher-ups had started lying to the soldiers, or at some point the higher-ups decided all this 'demon' talk was nonsense, in a real-world attempt to Do In The Wizard, regardless of how stupid that is in the Buffyverse.
  • In the Kamen Rider series, particularly in the Showa era, SHOCKER was founded by Nazis who had survived World War II. Among its officer is an ex-Nazi named Colonel Zol.


Music


New Media

  • This archived 4chan thread. It actually features the phrase "Australian witch doctor special forces".


Radio

  • The original, short-lived World War II-set version of the Red Panda Adventures involved Nazi zombies, Ninja Nazis, and a Nazi oil slick as the primary villain. Of course, this was nothing compared to what the heroes had.


Tabletop Games

  • In Hollow Earth Expedition the Hollow Earth is equated with Thule, so the Thule society, and therefore Nazis, are thoroughly interested in it, and trying to use the orichalcum found there as an energy source and/or extremely powerful explosives.
  • The Stargate SG-1 Tabletop RPG supplement for the first season established that the Giza Stargate was used during WWII by Hitler, who, intrigued by its "occult possibilities", transported troops through it to literally "conquer Heaven", establishing an off-world Nazi colony that presumably persists to this day.
  • Noticeably averted in the Old World of Darkness; after a few missteps in 1st Edition, White Wolf came to think that making World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust the master work of any one type of supernatural critter would undermine the utter inhumanity of it. So, if supernatural creatures were involved, they were just picking at the sides of the suffering or trying to stop it (Vampires need human "cattle" to survive, so stopping them from being wiped out is in their best interests), and not the grand architects of genocide. This made it pretty much the only event in the WoD's history that wasn't entirely due to some NPC's master plan.
  • The New World of Darkness game Hunter: The Vigil subverts this with the Loyalists of Thule, made up of the remnants of the aforementioned Thule Society. Not only were they driven out of Germany after the Nazi Party came to power, but they became so horrified by what happened thereafter that they swore to use their occult knowledge to protect mankind from other horrors.
    • Vampire: The Requiem has another subversion with the Dragolescu bloodline, a group of vampires capable of control over ghosts. Their founder was a... bit too enamored with Hitler, but never had any direct interaction with the guy -- if anything, he was a raving fanboy. When the Reich collapsed, he lost his mind and tried to find a way to harness the necromantic potential of the Holocaust, and that's when the rest of his order said, "Fuck that guy" and destroyed him. Since then, the Dragolescu name has a rather bad rep -- partially because of belief that they're beholden to strange spirits, and partially because of the Nazi thing.
  • In the GURPS Infinite Worlds setting, "SS Raven Division" are amongst the major villains, using psychic/mystic world-jumping to infiltrate other worlds, from Reich-5, an Alternate Universe where the Nazis won the war.
    • GURPS also published Weird War II, which discusses and goes into detail everything discussed under this trope and how to use, mix, and blend them together to make a customized Weird Alternate WW 2 for your role playing pleasure.
      • Weird War II is also the name of a setting by Savage Worlds, originally for the D20 rule set, about a world where the mass slaughter and evil of the war had awoken all manner of monsters, old and new. This meant that a player would not only face things like Nazi programs to create zombie or werewolf soldiers, but also haunted tanks and planes, apes with human brain transplants, djinn harassing the troops in Africa, onis fighting on behalf of the Japanese, and more.
  • In the setting of Deadlands, the trope is taken to its logical (?) extreme. One of the Ho E rulebooks explains (from the future perspective) that the Nazis used their own brand of Mad Science, creating devices powered, among other things, by souls of war prisoners. Furthermore, Hitler actually intends to raise the Fear Level all over Europe to such levels that he can bring the Reckoners to Earth. And then control them.
  • The Witchcraft setting uses this trope where the Nazis tried to use Cosmic Horrors to win the War.
  • The Scion companion has a setting where you can play as a scion involved in WWII. Hitler is a titan sponsored Scion but much of the war is Loki's fault, although exactly how much is not entirely clear.
  • Delta Green features the Karotechia, the bare remnants of Hitler's occult program hiding out in South America. They have a perfect example of the Ubermensch (thanks to his discovery of a cannibal tribe's immortality rituals) and Hitler's third book, Mein Triumph -- dictated by the spirit of an "ascended" Hitler himself ( who's actually Nyarlathotep being a dick as usual).
  • In the Nephilim RPG series, Thule Society still exists and is a prominent faction generally hostile to the eponymous Nephilim. The Society is a mix of real-life Thule Gesselschaft and Ahnenerbe with magicians and alchemists added for a good measure.
  • The Tannhäuser board game has Obscura Korps, basically the SS with psionic / magical / demonic powers. The Reich itself, however, is in fact Imperial Germany, led by the Kaiser, and the war being fought is the Great War.
  • In the sixth edition Champions Universe source book, it were the mystic energies released by a backfiring ritual attempted by Nazi mystics that ushered in the age of modern superhumans on May 1st, 1938. While 'costumed adventurers', including ones with the occasional odd talent or unusual technology, had been a part of the setting for decades previous, it was only afterward that the first people across the world started to spontaneously develop genuine superpowers.
  • A throwaway reference in the small-press RPG Shattered Dreams inverts this trope, suggesting that Hitler's global agenda was foisted on him by the game's nightmare-haunting monsters, the Vacyg, who made a run-of-the-mill tinpot dictator into a Complete Monster For the Evulz.


Video Games


Webcomics

  • Irregular Webcomic plays with this trope for all its worth, as indicated by the quote above. In one storyline, Montana Jones and his father try to stop the Nazis from getting their hands on all the world's major occult artifacts. The Nazis, in turn, are being ordered around by Hitler's Brain In a Jar.
    • The really strange thing is that the Montana Jones storyline takes place before World War II.
  • The Good Hitler vs. Space Hitler arc of the webcomic Goats.
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Hitler inexplicably appears in Dracula's moon base. Though that might just be because Dracula apparently collects historical figures.
  • Stalin vs. Hitler does this a great deal both for both Hitler and Stalin.
  • In The Specialists, this is how the first ubermenschen were made.
  • Strange Aeons is a Diesel Punk themed webcomic where the Nazi villains are planning to use the Necronomicon for some yet-unknown evil purpose.
  • Spinnerette has Kugelblitz, a former member of the "Third Reich's Sorcery Batallion" who planned to infuse a Hitler clone with the soul of the real deal.


Web Original

  • In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Heinrich Himmler (who is still alive and kicking in 2010) is a member of the Thule Society, an Ancient Conspiracy of sorcerers intent on releasing Cthulhoid horrors back into Earth's dimension. World War II, and especially the Holocaust, was just one small part of the plan...
  • The notorious Flash adventure game Which Way Adventure (you know, the one with the manticores) contains a scene where Hitler steals your time-traveling helmet and flamethrower and proceeds to fill the world with zombies. Er.
  • In Marble Witch the Nazis use warwitches and dragons. Then again, so do most of the belligerents.
  • In the Whateley Universe, supervillain The Necromancer has actually reminisced about doing occult evil for the Nazis. Although he didn't get that unstoppable zombie army up and running (shambling?) in time.

Real Life

  • In Real Life the Nazi most interested in the occult was Heinrich Himmler, while Hitler personally had very little interest in the subject, only seeing the political implications of secret societies, and banning all that didn't support his reign. While he admired the Teutonic myths, his intention was not to replace Christianity with a dead religion, but to get the state absorb all the properties of a religion, much like the Soviet Union had done, at least for starters - one can only speculate what would have followed if he had won, or ended in a stalemate.
    • And the definition of an "Aryan" is more complicated than you might think. Usually it was a case of I Lied.
    • Occult beliefs varied among the Nazis, for example Albert Speer showed no interest. Also, the Thule Society was shut down after the leadership became politically unreliable.

Notes

  1. This last one was largely for the symbolic value, however -- contrary to popular belief, Hitler himself actually pooh-poohed the mystical notions associated with occultism for the most part, but he certainly appreciated the power and ideological value these myths possessed and took advantage of them however he could.
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