Otto Höfler

Otto Höfler (10 May 1901 – 25 August 1987, in Vienna) was an Austrian scholar of German studies. He was a student of Rudolf Much, and adopted Much's "Germanic Continuity Theory," which argued for continuity of ancient Germanic culture into present-day German folklore. His contributions center on studies of Germanic paganism, the continuation of Germanic cultural strata, sacral kingship and Männerbünde (secret societies) in a Germanic context, and Germanic historical phonology.


After lecturing at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, he was appointed professor in Kiel from 1935 to 1938, in Munich from 1938 to 1945, and after World War II in Vienna from 1951 to 1971. Höfler was a friend of Jan de Vries and Georges Dumézil.

Höfler published his professorial thesis of 1934, "Kultische Geheimbünde der Germanen" (Secret Cultic Societies of the Germanic Peoples) with volkisch publisher Moritz Diesterweg in Frankfurt. (Two volumes were projected but the second never appeared.) Its argument met with opposition from Friedrich von der Leyen and Friedrich Ranke, but the book became a favorite of Heinrich Himmler's, and Höfler became a very active collaborator in Himmler's cultural project "Ahnenerbe" and a regular contributor to the magazine Germania. Höfler had been a member of the Nazi Students' Organization since 1922; in 1937 he joined the NSDAP, and he became a prominent National Socialist academic, overseeing the German translation of Vilhelm Grønbech's The Culture of the Teutons. In 1938 his treatment of "Germanic continuity" in the spirit of Much appeared as the lead article in the prestigious Historische Zeitschrift.

Despite his active party membership and support of the ideology of the SS, after the war Höfler was officially categorized as a "geistiger Mitläufer" ("intellectual fellow traveler"), an official category for people judged to have been neither actively involved with nor actively opposed to Nazi crimes.


Arminius (German: Hermann; 18/17 BC-AD 21) was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci tribe who commanded an alliance of Germanic tribes at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, in which three Roman legions were destroyed.

His victory at Teutoburg Forest would precipitate the Roman Empire's permanent strategic withdrawal from Magna Germania, and made a major contribution to the eventual fall of the Western Roman Empire. Modern historians have regarded Arminius' victory as Rome's greatest defeat. As it prevented the Romanization of the Germanic peoples, Arminius' victory has also been considered one of the most decisive battles in history, and a turning point in world history.Born a prince of the Cherusci tribe, Arminius was made a hostage of the Roman Empire as a child. Raised in Rome, he was drafted into the Roman military at an early age, during which he was granted Roman citizenship and became a Roman knight. After serving with distinction in the Great Illyrian Revolt, he was sent to Germania to aid the local governor Publius Quinctilius Varus in completing the Roman conquest of the Germanic tribes. While in this capacity, Arminius secretly prepared a Germanic revolt against Roman rule, which culminated in the ambush and destruction of three Roman legions in the Teutoburg Forest.

In the aftermath of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, Arminius fought off retaliatory invasions by the Roman general Germanicus in the battles of Pontes Longi, Idistaviso and the Angrivarian Wall, and deposed a rival, the Marcomanni king Maroboduus. Germanic nobles, afraid of Arminius' growing power, assassinated him in 21 AD. He was remembered in Germanic legends for generations afterwards. Roman historian Tacitus designated Arminius as the liberator of the Germanic tribes and commended him for having fought the Roman Empire to a standstill at the peak of its power.During the unification of Germany in the 19th century, Arminius was hailed by German nationalists as a symbol of German unity and freedom. Following World War II, however, Arminius was omitted from German textbooks due to his association with militaristic nationalism, and many modern Germans are unaware of his story. The 2000th anniversary of his victory was lightly commemorated in Germany, which has replaced traditional nationalism with "an easy-going patriotism that mainly manifests itself at sporting events."

Bernhard Kummer

Bernhard Kummer (21 January 1897, Leipzig – 1 December 1962, Bad Segeberg) was a Germanist who was appointed to a professorship in the Nazi era and whose writings have been influential among postwar neo-Nazis. He was a prominent representative of Nordicism, the view that the so-called Nordic race was inherently culturally advanced, and in books including his best known work, Midgards Untergang, he argues that the conversion of the Germanic peoples from their native Germanic paganism, particularly the Christianisation of Scandinavia, was detrimental to European culture.


A Burschenschaft (German: [ˈbʊʁʃn̩ʃaft]; abbreviated B! in German; plural: B!B!) is one of the traditional Studentenverbindungen (student fraternities) of Germany, Austria and Chile.

Burschenschaften were founded in the 19th century as associations of university students inspired by liberal and nationalistic ideas.

They were significantly involved in the March Revolution and the unification of Germany.

After the formation of the German Empire in 1871, they faced a crisis, as their main political objective had been realized. So-called Reformburschenschaften were established, but these were dissolved by the National Socialist regime in 1935/6. In West Germany, the Burschenschaften were re-established in the 1950s, but they faced a renewed crisis in the 1960s and 1970s, as the mainstream political outlook of the German student movement of that period swerved to the radical left. Roughly 160 Burschenschaften exist today in Germany, Austria and Chile.


In Norse mythology, Dagr (Old Norse "day") is day personified. This personification appears in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Dagr is stated to be the son of the god Dellingr and is associated with the bright-maned horse Skinfaxi, who "draw[s] day to mankind". Depending on manuscript variation, the Prose Edda adds that Dagr is either Dellingr's son by Nótt, the personified night, or Jörð, the personified Earth. Otherwise, Dagr appears as a common noun simply meaning "day" throughout Old Norse works. Connections have been proposed between Dagr and other similarly named figures in Germanic mythology.

Georges Dumézil

Georges Dumézil (French: [ʒɔʁʒ dymezil]; 4 March 1898 – 11 October 1986, Paris) was a French comparative philologist best known for his analysis of sovereignty and power in Proto-Indo-European religion and society. He is considered one of the major contributors to mythography, in particular for his formulation of the trifunctional hypothesis of social class in ancient societies.


Guðmundr (Old Norse, sometimes anglicised as Godmund) was a semi-legendary Norse king in Jotunheim, ruling over a land called Glæsisvellir, which was known as the warrior's paradise.Guðmundr appears in the following legendary sagas:

Bósa saga ok Herrauðs

Helga þáttr Þórissonar

Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks

Norna-Gests þáttr

Þorsteins þáttr bæjarmagnsHe also appears in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum (Book VIII) and in Samsons saga fagra, one of the chivalric sagas.Guðmundr shared the same name with his father; Úlfhéðinn was added to the son's name to differentiate father from son. According to some sources, Guðmundr Úlfhéðinn's son was Heiðrekr Úlfhamr. However, in Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks Guðmundr's son was Höfund, who married Hervor, and their sons were Angantýr and Heiðrekr. Saxo Grammaticus, in Gesta Danorum (VIII), referred to Guðmundr Ulfheðinn as Guthmundus, calling him a giant and the brother of Geruthus (Geirröðr).

He is sometimes given the epithet faxi, 'the one with a mane', i.e., a horse. This suggests a connection with the army of the dead who roam Norway at Yule, the Oskorei. Otto Höfler, drawing on earlier theories of Nils Lid, argued that it was actually a word found in modern Norwegian dialect as both fax and faxe and referring to a kind of grass, and that it referred to the fertility symbol of the sheaf in Norwegian Yule celebrations. According to Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, the Norwegians came to see Guðmundr as a god; Höfler argued that in both the wolf-form suggested by Úlfhéðinn and the horse-form suggested by faxi, Guðmundr was a death-demon and his death-horse the prototype of the death-horse Sleipnir portrayed on the Gotland picture stones.Ingemar Nordgren regards the first Guðmundr as "a cult-god" and his son, the Guðmundr of the sagas, as portraying him in theriomorphic form, and suggests that he is either an earlier fertility god who came to be identified with Óðinn and that Glæsisvellir was influenced by Valhalla, or that he is a local variant of a precursor of Óðinn.Guðmundr and the Lombards are said to have battled Helgi and Sinfjötli; it is Guðmundr who engages in the flyting with Sinfjötli from shore in Helgakviða Hundingsbana I. The latter are called the Ylfings, the 'wolf clan'. As Höfler noted, both armies are spoken of as animals, and Paulus Diaconus identifies the Lombards with mares with white bands around their legs symbolising fetters (they did in fact bind their legs with white bands). Since Óðinn is patron of the Lombards, this is another Odinic connection.

Einar Ólafur Sveinsson thought Guðmundr was Irish in origin while Geirröðr was native Scandinavian.

High German consonant shift

In historical linguistics, the High German consonant shift or second Germanic consonant shift is a phonological development (sound change) that took place in the southern parts of the West Germanic dialect continuum in several phases. It probably began between the third and fifth centuries and was almost complete before the earliest written records in High German were produced in the ninth century. The resulting language, Old High German, can be neatly contrasted with the other continental West Germanic languages, which for the most part did not experience the shift, and with Old English, which remained completely unaffected.


The Hundings (Old English: Hundingas, the "hound-clan") are a legendary tribe or clan in early Germanic sources, mostly mentioned due to their feud with the Wulfings (the "wolf-clan").


Höfler may refer to:

Konstantin von Höfler, German historian

Otto Höfler, Austrian scholar of German studies


Indigenism can refer to several different ideologies associated with indigenous peoples, is used differently by a various scholars and activists, and can be used purely descriptively or carry political connotations.


In Norse mythology, Kára is a valkyrie, attested in the prose epilogue of the Poetic Edda poem Helgakviða Hundingsbana II.

The epilogue details that "there was a belief in the pagan religion, which we now reckon an old wives' tale, that people could be reincarnated," and that the deceased valkyrie Sigrún and her dead love Helgi Hundingsbane were considered to have been reborn as another Helgi and valkyrie couple; Helgi as Helgi Haddingjaskati and Sigrún as the daughter of Halfdan—the valkyrie Kára. According to the epilogue, further information about the two can be found in the work Káruljóð, which has not survived.The name Kára either means "the wild, stormy one" (based on Old Norse afkárr, meaning "wild") or "curl" or "the curly one" (from Old Norse kárr). Otto Höfler theorizes a connection between the "curl" etymology and the Odinic cult name Odinkar that appears in runic inscriptions, which means "the one with the (long?) Odin's curls."

Legends about Theoderic the Great

In legends about Theoderic the Great that spread after his death, the Gothic king Theoderic became known as Dietrich von Bern, a king ruling from Verona (Bern) who was forced into exile with the Huns. The differences between the known life of Theoderic and the picture of Dietrich in the surviving legends are usually attributed to a long-standing oral tradition that continued into the sixteenth century. The majority of legendary material about Dietrich/Theoderic comes from high and late medieval Germany and is composed in Middle High German or Early New High German. Another important source for legends about Dietrich is the Old Norse Thidrekssaga, which was written using German sources. In addition to the legends detailing events that may reflect the historical Theoderic's life in some fashion, many of the legends tell of Dietrich's battles against dwarfs, dragons, giants, and other mythical beings, as well as other heroes such as Siegfried. Dietrich also appears as a supporting character in other heroic poems such as the Nibelungenlied, and is frequently referenced and alluded to throughout medieval German literature.

Poems about Dietrich were extremely popular among the medieval German nobility and, later, the late medieval and early modern bourgeoisie, but were frequently targets of criticism by persons writing on behalf of the church. Though some continued to be printed in the seventeenth century, most of the legends were slowly forgotten after 1600. They became objects of academic study by the end of the sixteenth century, and were revived somewhat in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, resulting in some stories about Dietrich being popular in South Tyrol, where many of the legends take place.


The Nibelungenlied (Middle High German: Der Nibelunge liet or Der Nibelunge nôt), translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem from around 1200 written in Middle High German. Its anonymous poet was likely from the region of Passau. The Nibelungenlied is based on an oral tradition that has some of its origin in historic events and individuals of the 5th and 6th centuries and that spread throughout almost all of Germanic-speaking Europe. Parallels to the German poem from Scandinavia are found especially in the heroic lays of the Poetic Edda and in the Völsunga saga.

The poem is split into two parts: in the first part, Siegfried comes to Worms to acquire the hand of the Burgundian princess Kriemhild from her brother King Gunther. Gunther agrees to let Siegfried marry Kriemhild if Siegfried helps Gunther acquire the warrior-queen Brünhild as his wife. Siegfried does this and marries Kriemhild; however Brünhild and Kriemhild become rivals, leading eventually to Siegfried's murder by the Burgundian vassal Hagen with Gunther's involvement. In the second part, the widow Kriemhild is married to Etzel, king of the Huns. She later invites her brother and his court to visit Etzel's kingdom intending to kill Hagen. Her revenge results in the death of all the Burgundians who came to Etzel's court as well as the destruction of Etzel's kingdom and the death of Kriemhild herself.

The Nibelungenlied was the first heroic epic put into writing in Germany, helping to found a larger genre of written heroic poetry. The poem's tragedy appears to have bothered its medieval audience, and very early on a sequel was written, the Nibelungenklage, which made the tragedy less final. The poem was forgotten after around 1500, but was rediscovered in 1755. Dubbed the "German Iliad", the Nibelungenlied began a new life as the German national epic. The poem was appropriated for nationalist purposes and was heavily used in anti-democratic, reactionary, and National-Socialist propaganda before and during the Second World War. Its legacy today is most visible in Richard Wagner's operatic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, which, however, is mostly based on Old Norse sources. In 2009, the three main manuscripts of the Nibelungenlied were inscribed in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in recognition of their historical significance. It has been called "one of the most impressive, and certainly the most powerful, of the German epics of the Middle Ages."


Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) or Siegfried (Middle High German: Sîvrit) is a legendary hero of Germanic mythology, who killed a dragon and was later murdered. It is possible he was inspired by one or more figures from the Frankish Merovingian dynasty, with Sigebert I being the most popular contender. Older scholarship sometimes connected him with Arminius, victor of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. He may also have a purely mythological origin. Sigurd's story is first attested on a series of carvings, including runestones from Sweden and stone crosses from the British Isles, dating from the eleventh century.

In both the Norse and continental Germanic tradition, Sigurd is portrayed as dying as the result of a quarrel between his wife (Gudrun/Kriemhild) and another woman, Brunhild, whom he has tricked into marrying the Burgundian king Gunnar/Gunther. His slaying of a dragon and possession of the hoard of the Nibelungen is also common to both traditions. In other respects, however, the two traditions appear to diverge. The most important works to feature Sigurd are the Nibelungenlied, the Völsunga saga, and the Poetic Edda. He also appears in numerous other works from both Germany and Scandinavia, including a series of medieval and early modern Scandinavian ballads.

Richard Wagner used the legends about Sigurd/Siegfried in his operas Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. Wagner relied heavily on the Norse tradition in creating his version of Siegfried. His depiction of the hero has influenced many subsequent depictions.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Siegfried became heavily associated with German nationalism.

The Thidrekssaga finishes its tale of Sigurd by saying

[E]veryone said that no man now living or ever after would be born who would be equal to him in strength, courage, and in all sorts of courtesy, as well as in boldness and generosity that he had above all men, and that his name would never perish in the German tongue, and the same was true with the Norsemen.


In Norse mythology, Singasteinn (Old Norse "singing stone" or "chanting stone") is an object that appears in the account of Loki and Heimdall's fight in the form of seals. The object is solely attested in the skaldic poem Húsdrápa. Some scholars have interpreted it as the location of the struggle, others as the object they were struggling over.


Svipdagr (Old Norse "sudden day") is the hero of the two Old Norse Eddaic poems Grógaldr and Fjölsvinnsmál, which are contained within the body of one work; Svipdagsmál.


Svipdagsmál or The Lay of Svipdagr is an Old Norse poem, a part of the Poetic Edda, comprising two poems, The Spell of Gróa and The Lay of Fjölsviðr. The two works are grouped since they have a common narrator, Svipdagr. Moreover, they would appear to have a common origin since they are closely similar in use of language, structure, style and metre (ljóðaháttr). These two poems are found in several 17th-century paper manuscripts. In at least three of these manuscripts, the poems are in reverse order and separated by a third Eddic poem titled Hyndluljóð. For a long time, the connection between the two poems was not realized, until in 1854 Svend Grundtvig pointed out a connection between the story told in Grógaldr and the first part of the medieval Scandinavian ballad of Ungen Sveidal/Herr Svedendal/Hertig Silfverdal (TSB A 45, DgF 70, SMB 18, NMB 22). Then in 1856, Sophus Bugge noticed that the last part of the ballad corresponded to Fjölsvinnsmál. Bugge wrote about this connection in Forhandlinger i Videnskabs-Selskabet i Christiania 1860, calling the two poems together Svipdagsmál. Subsequent scholars have accepted this title.

Walter Baetke

Walter Hugo Hermann Baetke (28 March 1884, Sternberg in der Neumark – 15 February 1978, Leipzig) was a German professor of Scandinavian studies and religious studies. He was Professor of the History of Religion at the University of Leipzig.

Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt is a folklore motif (ATU E501) that historically occurs in European folklore. Wild Hunts typically involve a ghostly or supernatural group of hunters passing in wild pursuit. The hunters may be either elves or fairies or the dead, and the leader of the hunt is often a named figure associated with Odin (or other reflections of the same god, such as Alemannic Wuodan in Wuotis Heer ("Wuodan's Army") of Central Switzerland, Swabia etc.), but may variously be a historical or legendary figure like Theodoric the Great, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd, biblical figures such as Herod, Cain, Gabriel or the Devil, or an unidentified lost soul or spirit either male or female.

Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it. People encountering the Hunt might also be abducted to the underworld or the fairy kingdom. In some instances, it was also believed that people's spirits could be pulled away during their sleep to join the cavalcade.The concept was developed based on comparative mythology by Jacob Grimm in Deutsche Mythologie (1835) as a folkloristic survival of Germanic pagan tradition, but comparable folk myths are found throughout Northern, Western and Central Europe. Grimm popularised the term Wilde Jagd ("Wild Hunt") for the phenomenon.

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