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PostBulwer-Lytton's "The Coming Race": Precursor to Nazism? (Brian Blodgett, USA, 01/28/19 3:04 am)
John E asked me to discuss the book by Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Coming Race. This took me a while longer than I expected it to, but you will soon see why.
As background, I occasionally frequent antique stores and it is in one that I found the book, an original published in 1871. After browsing through a few pages, I found it interesting enough to pick up for a few dollars. A few weeks later my wife was actually surprised that I was reading it but once I started, it was hard to put down.
The novel is an early science fiction about a superior matriarchal master race that lived underground in a subterranean world. This race, known as Vril-ya, are telepathic and have other parapsychological abilities. The Vril-ya originally lived on the surface but fled underground thousands of years earlier to avoid a massive flood and in doing so gained great powers by having to live in the harsh conditions of inner earth. They lived in a virtual utopia that much resembled socialism. The Vril-ya were not the only subterranean race and the descendants of an antediluvian civilization, but they were the only ones who mastered a mysterious energy known as Vril, which gave them the power to heal and destroy, with the destructive power being so great that even children using it could destroy an entire city. OK, enough on the book as some of you may want to read it.
However, little did I know that what I had bought was much more than perhaps one of the earliest science fiction novels. It is actually a book whose popularity at the time was so great that it became a bestseller, and much to my surprise, lead to perhaps a secret society known as the Vril Society. This secret society was composed of occultists in pre-Nazi Berlin and an inner circle of the Thule Society, a German occultist group founded in Munich after World War I that is most notably known for sponsoring the Germans Workers' Party and held a strong belief in UFOs and aliens.
Members of the Thule Society was basically, according to some, a Who's Who of early Nazi sympathizers and perhaps included Rudolf Hess, Alfred Rossenberg, Heinrich Himmler, Herman Goring, and of course, Adolf Hitler. According to some sources, the Vril Society was the first German nationalist group to use the symbol of the swastika; linking Eastern and Western occultism. The Vril Society also believed that if one could master Vril, that they could master oneself and others around him, as well as the world. Dr. Ley, a rocket expert who fled Germany in 1933 said that the Vril Society believed that they had secret knowledge which would allow them to change their race and become the equals of the Vril-ya. The Vril-ya were also descendants of the "same ancestors as the Great Aryan family, from which in varied streams has flowed the dominant civilization of the world" (Lytton, 1871, p. 102).
So, in wading through the world of Vril and the Vril-ya, I managed to find links to a superior race (yes this was mentioned/implied in the book as well as the Vril-ya being descendants of those living on Earth prior to the Great Flood and the time of Noah), the first use of the swastika in Germany, Nazi followers of the belief of Vril and, of course, UFO, aliens, and perhaps the desire by Hitler to gain their support. Thank John for this!
JE comments: Fascinating, Brian! Bulwer-Lytton is famous for his "dark and stormy night," but in The Coming Race he unwittingly brought one on. Quite by chance, WAIS of late has been assembling a list of Nazi precursors: first Nietzsche, and now B-L.
I just learned that Sir Edward died in Torquay (1873), the seaside town where our own Ronald Hilton was born in 1911. Uncanny.