THE NAZIS ALSO LOOKED FOR THE HOLY GRAIL
Two characters have a main role in this fascinating search of the Holy Grail in the years of the WW2. Otto Rahn, who would be the Nazi relic-hunting explorer, literally on the payroll, and Heinrich Himmler, leader of the Third Reich, who would commission him this assignment in exchange for 1,000 reichsmarks a month. The two had something in common, they were obsessed with the same themes, the occult and the Holy Grail.
After having searched for it in other countries to no avail, Heinrich one day decided to go to Spain where some indications marked as a possible place where the Grail could be hidden. He first went to Toledo, a place full of esoteric references and two days later to Barcelona, convinced that the Benedictine monks of the Monastery of Montserrat hid the coveted cup. And so he presented himself, in person, on an impromptu sudden visit in October 1940, with the feared intention of getting the relic “by hook or by crook”.
But he was in the wrong place because by then the Holy Chalice was not in Montserrat, but had already been transferred, after a stay in Barcelona, to the Cathedral of Valencia where it is still on display today.
When Himmler arrived at the sanctuary of Montserrat, he promptly requested to visit the underground passages of the mountain and demanded to consult all the documents related to the Holy Grail, but was refused by the reverend. The unexpected visit cost the city council of Barcelona between banquet and lodging at the Ritz hotel at the exchange rate of now about 155,000 euros.
PARZIVAL AND THE CATHARS
But all this bustle began because of the fascination caused by a work by the famous German poet Wolfram von Eschenbach, the Parzival, of which we have spoken in another of our articles. In the poetic tale the minstrel tells the life of Sir Perceval, one of the knights of King Arthur’s Round Table who obtained the Grail although he never returned to Camelot. The connection with Montserrat comes because in it he alluded to a place called Mountsalvats located in the mountains of the Pyrenees where, according to him, the Holy Grail was secretly hidden.
Otto had been carried away by the beliefs of Catharism, and was obsessed with its ideas and its history. A Christian religious movement of an ascetic and Gnostic character that arrived from Eastern Europe through the trade routes to Western Europe in the early 11th century and was maintained during the 12th.
This Christian sect took hold in the south of France in the thirteenth century, they believed in the duality of Good and Evil, the Visible world and Nothingness, and that all souls would know eternal salvation reaching the knowledge of quintessence. They denied the final judgment and hell among other beliefs.
It spread throughout different countries, specifically it prospered in the south of France where it resisted with determination the persecution of the Catholic Church who considered it heretical.
It was definitively suppressed with violence during the Crusade of Extermination thatbegan in 1209 in Béziers, where all its inhabitants were killed indiscriminately, a first exemplary massacre that had 7,000 to 8,000 people killed.
This first blow of terror intended to cause the panic and get the submission without resistance from other villages and fortresses. After years of massacres and sieges, the Inquisition tookup the witness of the extermination crusades and was in charge of continuing with the persecution until the last Cathar, who died burned at the stake in 1321. Since then the sect subsisted in hiding.
The Cathars pretended to be good people, and so they called each other, “good men and women” or “Christians and Christians”, those who managed tolive an ascetic life without being corrupted were called the Perfect, heirs of the apostles, capable of nullifying the sins. But depending on the region they were nicknamed in different ways, weavers, bugres, Albigenses, Manicheans, Pifles and Arians.
According to this doctrine there is a radical dualism, the universe would be made up of two opposing worlds. One spiritual created by God and the other material forged by Lucifer or Luzbel (the bearer of light). A creative duality between God and Satan. The reincarnation would get them to a mystical wisdom so that they would attain the knowledge of the quintessence and ultimate union with the universe.
Otto, inspired by the poetry of Wolfram and obsessed with the Holy Grail and the ideas of this doctrine, wrote two related works. The first relates mainly brutal persecution that the Churchmade against the Cathars entitled Crusade against the Grail, where herecounts his research trips in the region of southern France where they had stage the terrible events that led the crusade begun in 1209 against the Cathars.
Places like Minerve, which was one of the last refuges of the Cathars, which was besieged until they destroyed its well with the Malvoisine (meaning “bad neighbor”) catapult and surrendered. On July 22, 1210, the Cathars refugees there, around 150 men and women were burned alive in a large bonfire, it would be the first great collective bonfire of many that would come later, until reaching the last in Montsegur, 34 years later.
The castle of Montsegur had also become a refuge for “good men”. A first unsuccessful siege of the fortress gave way to a brutal and definitive one from May 1243. After nine months of siege, they surrendered, and on March 16, 1244, the Cathar refugees there were burned alive at another common bonfire, the last of this cruel crusade.
Currently there is in their memory a stone monument with the inscription “To the Cathars, to the martyrs of pure Christian love”, called the wake, located in the Camp dels Cremats (field of the burned) where that day on a gigantic pyre they wereburned alive between 140 and 200 people.
THE AHNERERBE, THE SECRET SECTION OF THE SS
It could be said that it was an elitist section of archaeologists and anthropologists inthe service of Nazi occultism. But they also carried out all kinds of experimental medical atrocities, but we will tell about that in another article.
Heinrich had joined the SS and led it for some years. The SS began as a guard unit called Saal-Schutz, made up of volunteers from the NSDAP party who provided security at party meetings in Munich.
Under his direction it was expanded, thus various sections were formed, each one dedicated to a particular area. There was the one in charge of the concentration and extermination camps, the intelligence, the secret police called Gestapo, the latter with more than 20,000 members in charge of ensuring the security of the state, who tortured, deported and murdered hundreds of thousands of people.
But the Ahnererbe in its beginnings was a covert and reserved society, which Heinrich created separately, then in 1940 itwas integrated into the SS of pseudoscientific and secrecy, he was responsible for investigate the German ancestral legacy, the origin of the Aryan race.
His investigations were focused on demonstrating their racial superiority. He channeled their activity towards expeditions that took him to different parts of the world such as the Himalayas, Brazil, Argentine, Chile, France and Spain. Archaeological, anthropological and ethnological investigations, but also of a hidden and esoteric nature. A furtive and arcane nature of the Ahnererbe driven by Heinrich’s obvious obsession with the occult and magic, which led him to the legends of King Arthur and to search for the Holy Grail. His intention was to turn the SS into genuine and legitimate Teutonic knights like the original ancestors he sought. The resurgence of the new Aryan race.
That is why the Ahnenerbe desperately wanted the Holy Grail, because they believed that the powers that this object possessed would give their race a superior advantage over the world, and because if they drank from it, it would give them immortality. But surely they would not have been the first to try drinking from it to see if it worked and see if they became immortal, many will have done so in the past. Who would miss an occasion like that? And some recent Vatican and religious popes have tried it too, but it doesn’t seem to work because some are already deceased. (Or so they say?)
Joseph of Arimathea was supposed to have taken it to Great Britain and from there it was guarded in different places until it reached the Languedoc region, in the coastal south of France bordering the Pyrenees. Where he looked for him with the help of Otto, his new employee.
The Cathars could have been the last guardians of the relic. Otto looked for it among the ruins of the castle of Montsegur in the Midi-Pyrenees, south of France, near Andorra, the last stronghold of the Cathars, but did not find it. After his failure, Himmler went to Montserrat on other leads.
Some clues led him there. According to the legend, the Holy Grail could have been brought to Spain by the Templars through the Aragonese Camino de Santiago, also called French. Precisely one of its routes begins in the southern region of France, the same where the Cathars settled for the last time, and passes through Jaca, a town near some places where it was guarded. Another clue tells that José de Arimatea, before he was burned, ordered the relic to be taken to his homeland precisely in Huesca.
As we say, it passed through various refuges in the Pyrenees mountains, such as the Yebra de Basa cave, the San Pedro de Siresa monastery where it was hidden in an apse wall, the San Adrián de Sásabe church where the bishops of Huesca hid it there after fleeing from the Muslims, San Pedro de la Sede Real de Bailo, the Cathedral of Jaca, and the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña in Jaca (Huesca) where it had its longest stay, from 1071 to 1399. It is precisely on record that they had moved it there to attract the pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago who passed through Jaca. From 1399 it spent more than twenty years in the Palace of the Aljafería in Zaragoza, and after a stay in Barcelona, it was taken to the Cathedral of Valencia. Unfortunately, this latest tournée Himmler had overlooked, because he apparently ignored it.
Two days before going to Montserrat, Himmler had visited Toledo. There were signs there too, of the Templars who settled in this area could have guarded it.
TEMPLARS IN SPAIN
Hugo de Payens with eight other knights founded the Order of the Templars and would arrive in the Holy Land in 1118. After a few years in 1170 the order had more than 30,000 knights scattered throughout different countries of Europe. In 1220 the order was powerful and extremely wealthy, owning countless possessions, castles, serfs and even a marine fleet.
The Templars arrived in Spain through the Camino de Santiago preceded by their fame as great warrior monks of the First Crusade. They settled mainly in Aragon, Castile and also in Toledo, and participated in the crusade against the Muslims in Navas de Tolosa in 1212 among many others. But what interests us is that the Templars could have been the last custodians of the relic.
The fame of the successes of the First Crusade had traveled all over Europe, the crusader ideal became a stimulus for the kings who then ruled the regions of Spain, and similar orders were even created to defend the different territories imitating the brave Templars of Jerusalem.
But it was the testament of the influenced Alfonso I of Aragon that granted possessions and even the government to the Templars in Spain for the first time. However, this donation contrasted strongly with the rights of the owners of the lands and properties (since by inheritance law they had to pass to their legitimate family successors) and the interests of the nobles.
When the Templars settled in Aragon, they actively participated both in politics and in many battles of the reconquest against the Muslims. And all the collaborations were greatly rewarded with donations of possessions and money, among them numerous castles such as Miravet in Catalonia in whose Treasure Tower the secret archive of the Order and its treasure were guarded. Or that of Monzón in Huesca of Arab origin that passed to the Templars in 1143. And it is that the collaboration of the warrior monks was decisive for the reconquest.
The Order was officially approved by the Catholic Church in 1129. But after their expulsion from the Holy Land they were isolated. Then taking advantage of the moment of crisis within the organization, King Philip IV of France, too indebted to them as a result of an old debt of his grandfather and frightened by the growing power and wealth that the organization already possessed, strongly pressured Pope Clement V so that extinguish the order.
Around the temple numerous rumors and more than a hundred accusations against the Templars converged, about their supposed secret ceremonies of worship to Baphomet. Conspiracies and heresies of all kinds, including idolatries (one of them to a cat that frequented their assemblies), magic, betrayal and sodomy, among others. The Pope Cement V yielded to pressure from the king and initiated a process against the Templars, ordering its final dissolution in 1312, but was not convicted. Before the popular Friday the 13th of 1307 hehad started a persecution against the Templars with arrests, torture and killings at bonfires. The possessions of the Templars were seized and passed conveniently into the hands of clergymen of the Church.
THE ORDER OF THE TEMPLE IN TOLEDO
The Templars lived in Toledo, particularly in the well-known neighborhood of San Miguel, full of intricate streets, close to the Alcazar and the Cathedral.
In the Church of San Miguel there are clear indications of the presence of the Templars. A symbol, the unequivocal shield of the Order of the Templars on one of the Gothic capitals indicates that the temple was associated with them.
Calle de la Candelaria, and especially Calle de la Flor and Calle del Can (in ancient times called “Espinar del Can” are undoubtedly reminiscent of the presence of the Templars. The rose and the thorn are clearly identifying Templar symbols in this area, there is also the so-called “House of the Temple” in memory of their presence.
But there are also sinuous underground galleries that connect the Church of San Miguel with other houses in the old area (in which the members of the order supposedly lived). The tunnels were carved in the hard granite rock with rudimentary tools of the time, so it is believed that such efforts had to have a strong motivation, to offer an escape route in case of need and to cover up the furtive and clandestine traffic of its members towards the church.
THE FRIARS OF SANTIAGO, THE WARRIORS PROTECTING THE GRAIL
But the Castillo de San Servando, is the greatest exponent of the presence of the Order in Toledo. Located on the access route to the city, it became a strategic and key point for the defense of the city. Protected by the Alcántara bridge, it was a Templar castle since 1085 when Alfonso VI, after the conquest of Toledo, handed it over to the Templars, who occupied it until 1308, when it passed into the hands of the pristine friars of Santiago.
A year earlier the persecution against the Templars had begun and the end of the order was near. So before being reached they abandoned it. The castle was then inhabited by the friars of Santiago who carried out their benefaction work very close, in the Toledo hospital. It served them for a few years to solve the needs of space that were constantly increasing, and then they also abandoned it, just before the complete dissolution of the Order of the Temple. Later it was abandoned for some time, until it was rebuilt between 1380 and 1386. But the legend points to the friars of Santiago as something more than simple “squatters”.
Warriors like the Templars are said to have received the mission from the Templars to guard the Holy Grail shortly after (a year after) starting their hunt, but also the other relics that they had hidden in the castle walls, none other than the Table of Solomon andthe Ark of the Covenant.
The Order of Santiago had many similarities with the Templars, in its beginnings in 1170 it was of a military nature like them. A group of thirteen knights known as the Fratres de Cáceres or Caballeros de Cáceres defenders of the city of Cáceres who later abandoned when it was conquered by the Muslims.
Apparently repentant for their depraved and licentious life, they decided to form a more upright religious congregation, with the mission of defending the pilgrims onthe Camino de Santiago who were on their way to see the apostle’s tomb in Compostela, Galicia. They also participated in the Reconquest, and as the Templars owned lands and possessions in various kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, including Toledo, received as a reward for the services they offered.
The numerous hospitals are a sample of its humanitarian vocation that was maintained mainly by the alms of the pilgrims and the royal donations. The Hospital of the Captives of Toledo belonged to them. Donated in 1180 by King Alfonso VIII, specifically, it cared for the war wounded, the poor and the elderly, but its main mission was to rescue the captives.
But the rapid spread of the Order was because the rule was not as rigid as the others, was the only one in which its members could get married, then thought the better way to avoid temptation and therefore sin impudence was allowing it.
Throughout history, the Castillo de San Servando suffered several destruction and transformations. It is known from the composition of its foundations that it was originally a Roman fortress, later it became a Visigothic church and then a Mudejar military construction, and the Christian Castle was built on the Muslim foundations.
Knowing all these indications, it is not surprising that the Nazis, specifically the Ahnererbe of the SS, also sought the Grail in Spain. Interested like others in all kinds of magical objects that could possess extraordinary powers. Some authors affirm that in 1944 a year before the end of WWII, the Germans found the Grail, a cryptographic stone where superior knowledge would be guarded, and they took it to Berchsienenden, a restricted area where high officials and Hitler, in addition to resting, planned his decisions, where they managed to interpret it. But apparently that can be also called a legend.
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