The Mission to Tibet 1938-39

List members , when the Soviet army stormed into Berlin in 1945 , one of their most bizarre discoveries were hundreds of dead bodies of Tibetan monks in SS uniforms , but wearing green gloves - apparently there was some secret society of "The Men in Green Gloves" :-

The Monks in Green Gloves

I've been reading recently about the Soviet forces finding hundreds of dead green gloved Tibetan monks in SS uniform across Berlin when they seized Berlin at the end of the war. No papers or anything, just hundreds of dead Tibetan monks in SS uniform with green gloves. Google lead me to the society green men, supposedly a group of Tibetan occultists who agreed to help Hitler. Something about Agarthi came up, which is the opposite of Shambhala (heaven for Tibetan monks)

First question:
What evidence is there of Hitlers/ the Nazi's link with occultism and Nazi investigation into alternative/paranormal phenomena/groups for the war effort?

Second question: Any reliable sources which confirm/debunk the idea of Tibetan monks in Berlin?

Third question: Any clue as to what Tibetan monks may have been doing with green gloves and SS uniforms?

***Anyhow , this post below is about the last major international expedition to Tibet just before WW II :-

Hitler and the Himalayas: The SS Mission to Tibet 1938-39

Of all the exotic images that the West has ever projected onto Tibet, that of the Nazi expedition, and its search for the pure remnants of the Aryan race, remains the most bizarre.

By Alex McKay

Spring 2001

Hitler and the Himalayas: The SS Mission to Tibet 1938-39

Members of the German SS expedition crossed the Tibet border in December of 1938 and arrived in Lhasa approximately one month later. In this photograph, members of the expedition gather at a makeshift camp during the jounrey. Inner circle, from left to right: Krause, Wienert, Beger, Geer, Schaefer.

On the nineteenth of January, 1939, five members of the Waffen-SS, Heinrich Himmler’s feared Nazi shock troops, passed through the ancient, arched gateway that led into the sacred city of Lhasa. Like many Europeans, they carried with them idealized and unrealistic views of Tibet, projecting, as Orville Schell remarks in his book Virtual Tibet, “a fabulous skein of fantasy around this distant, unknown land.” The projections of the Nazi expedition, however, did not include the now familiar search for Shangri-La, the hidden land in which a uniquely perfect and peaceful social system held a blueprint to counter the transgressions that plague the rest of humankind. Rather, the perfection sought by the Nazis was an idea of racial perfection that would justify their views on world history and German supremacy.

What brings about this odd juxtaposition of Tibetan lamas and SS officers on the eve of World War II is a strange story of secret societies, occultism, racial pseudo-science, and political intrigue. They were, in fact, on a diplomatic and quasi-scientific mission to establish relations between Nazi Germany and Tibet and to search for lost remnants of an imagined Aryan race hidden somewhere on the Tibetan plateau. As such, they were a far-flung expression of Hitler’s most paranoid and bizarre theories on ethnicity and domination. And while the Tibetans were completely unaware of Hitler’s racist agenda, the 1939 mission to Tibet remains a cautionary tale about how foreign ideas, symbols, and terminology can be horribly misused.


Ernst Schaefer, leader of the 1939 expedition. When the expedition began Schaefer’s wife had been dead just six weeks. Schaefer, an expert marksman, claimed that he had shot her accidentally while hunting wild boar. Courtesy of Alex McKay

Some Nazi militarists imagined Tibet as a potential base for attacking British India, and hoped that this mission would lead to some form of alliance with the Tibetans. In that they were partly successful. The mission was received by the Reting Regent (who had led Tibet since the death of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama in 1933), and it did succeed in persuading the Regent to correspond with Adolf Hitler. But the Germans were also interested in Tibet for another reason. Nazi leaders such as Heinrich Himmler believed that Tibet might harbor the last of the original Aryan tribes, the legendary forefathers of the German race, whose leaders possessed supernatural powers that the Nazis could use to conquer the world.

This was the age of European expansion, and numerous theories provided ideological justification for imperialism and colonialism. In Germany the idea of an Aryan or “master” race found resonance with rabid nationalism, the idea of the German superman distilled from the philosophy of Frederick Nietzsche, and Wagner’s operatic celebrations of Nordic sagas and Teutonic mythology.

Long before the 1939 mission to Tibet, the Nazis had borrowed Asian symbols and language and used them for their own ends. A number of prominent articles of Nazi rhetoric and symbolism originated in the language and religions of Asia. The term “Aryan”, for example, comes from the Sanskrit word arya, meaning noble. In the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu scriptures, the term describes a race of light-skinned people from Central Asia who conquered and subjugated the darker-skinned (or Dravidian) peoples of the Indian subcontinent. Linguistic evidence does support the multidirectional migration of a central Asian people, now referred to as Indo-Europeans, into much of India and Europe at some point between 2000 and 1500 B.C.E., although it is unclear whether these Indo-Europeans were identical with the Aryans of the Vedas.

So much for responsible scholarship. In the hands of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European jingoists and occultists such as Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, these ideas about Indo-Europeans and light-skinned Aryans were transformed into a twisted myth of Nordic and later exclusively German racial superiority. The German identification with the Indo-Europeans and Aryans of the second millennium B.C.E. gave historical precedence to Germany’s imperial “place in the sun” and the idea that ethnic Germans were racially entitled to conquest and mastery. It also aided in fomenting anti-Semitism and xenophobia, as Jews, Gypsies, and other minorities did not share in the Aryan German’s perceived heritage as members of a dominant race.

Ideas about an Aryan or master race began to appear in the popular media in the late nineteenth century. In the 1890s, E. B. Lytton, a Rosicrucian, wrote a best-selling novel around the idea of a cosmic energy (particularly strong in the female sex), which he called “Vril.” Later he wrote of a Vril society, consisting of a race of super-beings that would emerge from their underground hiding-places to rule the world. His fantasies coincided with a great interest in the occult, particularly among the upper classes, with numerous secret societies founded to propagate these ideas. They ranged from those devoted to the Holy Grail to those who followed the sex and drugs mysticism of Alastair Crowley, and many seem to have had a vague affinity for Buddhist and Hindu beliefs.

General Haushofer, a follower of Gurdjieff and later one of Hitler’s main patrons, founded one such society. Its aim was to explore the origins of the Aryan race, and Haushofer named it the Vril Society, after Lytton’s fictional creation. Its members practiced meditation to awaken the powers of Vril, the feminine cosmic energy. The Vril Society claimed to have links to Tibetan masters, apparently drawing on the ideas of Madame Blavatsky, the Theosophist who claimed to be in telepathic contact with spiritual masters in Tibet.

In Germany, this blend of ancient myths and nineteenth-century scientific theories began to evolve into a belief that the Germans were the purest manifestation of the inherently superior Aryan race, whose destiny was to rule the world. These ideas were given scientific weight by ill-founded theories of eugenics and racist ethnography. Around 1919, the Vril Society gave way to the Thule Society (Thule Gesellschaft), which was founded in Munich by Baron Rudolf von Sebottendorf, a follower of Blavatsky. The Thule Society drew on the traditions of various orders such as the Jesuits, the Knights Templar, the Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Sufis. It promoted the myth of Thule, a legendary island in the frozen northlands that had been the home of a master race, the original Aryans. As in the legend of Atlantis (with which it is sometimes identified), the inhabitants of Thule were forced to flee from some catastrophe that destroyed their world. But the survivors had retained their magical powers and were hidden from the world, perhaps in secret tunnels in Tibet, where they might be contacted and subsequently bestow their powers on their Aryan descendants.

(Top) A German map of Tibet shows the route that the 1939 German expedition to Tibet followed between Sikkim and Lhasa. the British authorities in India, bowing to diplomatic pressure, did not prevent the expedition from crossing the border into Tibet. (Bottom): Bruno Beger, the expdition's anthropologist, hoped to find evidence of Aryan blood in the Tibetan people. here a member of the expedition measures a Tibetan woman's head. Some German scientists believed that Aryan features were reflected in the dimensions of the skull. © Transit Films GMBH

(Top) A German map of Tibet shows the route that the 1939 German expedition to Tibet followed between Sikkim and Lhasa. the British authorities in India, bowing to diplomatic pressure, did not prevent the expedition from crossing the border into Tibet. (Bottom): Bruno Beger, the expdition’s anthropologist, hoped to find evidence of Aryan blood in the Tibetan people. here a member of the expedition measures a Tibetan woman’s head. Some German scientists believed that Aryan features were reflected in the dimensions of the skull. © Transit Films GMBH

Such ideas might have remained harmless, but the Thule Society added a strong right-wing, anti-Semitic political ideology to the Vril Society mythology. They formed an active opposition to the local Socialist government in Munich and engaged in street battles and political assassinations. As their symbol, along with the dagger and the oak leaves, they adopted the swastika, which had been used by earlier German neo-pagan groups. The appeal of the swastika symbol to the Thule Society seems to have been largely in its dramatic strength rather than its cultural or mystical significance. They believed it was an original Aryan symbol, although it was actually used by numerous unconnected cultures throughout history.

Beyond the adoption of the swastika, it is difficult to judge the extent to which either Tibet or Buddhism played a part in Thule Society ideology. Vril Society founder General Haushofer, who remained active in the Thule Society, had been a German military attaché in Japan. There he may have acquired some knowledge of Zen Buddhism, which was then the dominant faith among the Japanese military. Other Thule Society members, however, could only have read early German studies of Buddhism, and those studies tended to construct the idea of a pure, original Buddhism that had been lost, and a degenerate Buddhism that survived, much polluted by primitive local beliefs. It seems that Buddhism was little more than a poorly understood and exotic element in the Society’s loose collection of beliefs, and had little real influence on the Thule ideology. But Tibet occupied a much stronger position in their mythology, being imagined as the likely home of the survivors of the mythic Thule race.

The importance of the Thule Society can be seen from the fact that its members included Nazi leaders Rudolf Hess (Hitler’s deputy), Heinrich Himmler, and almost certainly Hitler himself. But while Hitler was at least nominally a Catholic, Himmler enthusiastically embraced the aims and beliefs of the Thule Society. He adopted a range of neo-pagan ideas and believed himself to be a reincarnation of a tenth-century Germanic king. Himmler seems to have been strongly attracted to the possibility that Tibet might prove to be the refuge of the original Aryans and their superhuman powers.

By the time Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in the 1920s, the myth of the Aryan race was fully developed. In Chapter XI, “Race and People,” he expressed concern over what he perceived as the mixing of pure Aryan blood with that of inferior peoples. In his view, the pure Aryan Germanic races had been corrupted by prolonged contact with Jewish people. He lamented that northern Europe had been “Judaized” and that the German’s originally pure blood had been tainted by prolonged contact with Jewish people, who, he claimed, lie “in wait for hours on end, satanically glaring at and spying on the unsuspicious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood and removing her from the bosom of her people.” For Hitler, the only solution to this mingling of Aryan and Jewish blood was for the tainted Germans to find the wellsprings of Aryan blood.

It may happen that in the course of history such a people will come into contact a second time, and even oftener, with the original founders of their culture and may not even remember that distant association. A new cultural wave flows in and lasts until the blood of its standard-bearers becomes once again adulterated by intermixture with the originally conquered race.

In the search for “contact a second time” with the Aryans, Tibet – long isolated, mysterious, and remote – seemed a likely candidate.

The leader of the German mission was Dr. Ernst Schaefer, a respected zoologist and botanist. He was accompanied by Dr. Bruno Beger, an anthropologist and ethnologist, Dr. Karl Wienert, a geophysicist, Edmund Geer, a taxidermist, and Ernst Krause, a photographer who at fifty was the eldest member of the group by more than a decade.

Ernst Schaefer was energetic, emotional, and ambitious. Born in 1910, he made his first journey to Tibet when he traveled on two scientific expeditions in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands in 1930-31 and 1934-36. On the first expedition, an American scientist, Brooke Dolan, accompanied Schaefer. Dolan was also to travel to Lhasa. In 1943, he accompanied Captain Ilya Tolstoy (the grandson of the Russian novelist) on a mission for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA. We might suspect the Americans of keeping an eye on the German mission even in those early years, but no evidence of any intelligence involvement in those expeditions has yet emerged.

During the 1930s German scholars studied the material gathered on Schaefer’s early expeditions. This included Tibetan texts from both the Buddhist religion and that of the Bon faith (which in some form predates Buddhism in Tibet). The Nazis naturally had a particular interest in the Bonpo, in the hope that the elder beliefs preserved elements of ancient Aryan religion. But an understanding of the complex nature of Bon and its links to Buddhism lay far in the future and, while they must have hoped to uncover secrets within these texts, their studies of Bon proved of little benefit to the Nazis.

The ambitious Schaefer had developed a network of contacts during the 1930s. He had met the Panchen Lama on his Tibetan travels, and was in contact with most of the great explorers of Tibet and Central Asia. But Schaefer’s membership in the SS brought him his most important connection. His first Tibetan expedition attracted the attention of Heinrich Himmler, who became Schaefer’s patron. Himmler introduced him to SS leaders and to membership in the SS-Ahnenerbe, the Heritage of the SS Forefathers’ Society, which adopted many of its ideas from the Thule Society.

The SS-Ahnenerbe was involved in the mapping of different racial groups. Its members believed that they could classify races into two types: those with Aryan elements in their blood, and those without any Aryan heritage. The latter were to be eliminated. These ideas were the impetus behind both the Holocaust and the Schaefer mission to Lhasa in 1938-39. While the SS-Ahnenerbe society itself faded in prominence, Himmler supported its ideals, and he contributed funds when Schaefer proposed the Lhasa mission.

Schaefer’s interest in Tibet was academic, and it is doubtful that he really shared Himmler’s belief in the ideas of either the Thule Society or the SS-Ahnenerbe. Indeed, he told one British official in India, “I need the sympathy of highest officials in my country to raise funds and to get the money out for future exploration work.” But Schaefer was clearly willing to go along with the Nazi agenda in order to achieve his own ambitions, and he was a member of both the Nazi party and the SS. Included in the expedition, moreover, was at least one ardent proponent of Nazi racial ideology.

Bruno Beger believed that if a race had any Aryan heritage, then evidence could be found in the physical features of the race’s upper classes. Even before Schaefer’s mission was announced, Beger had proposed an expedition to map the characteristics of the peoples of eastern Tibet to ascertain whether they were originally Aryans. But Beger was no mere theorist. During the 1940s his research into the physical characteristics of Central Asian peoples was carried out using concentration camp victims, reportedly placed at his disposal on the orders of Gestapo chief Adolf Eichmann.

The Schaefer mission left Germany in April 1938. The fact that Schaefer himself had accidentally shot and killed his wife while hunting wild boar just six weeks earlier was not seen as reason to delay. The mission received considerable publicity, and the British governments in both London and Delhi were immediately worried about the German aims. The British ambassador in Berlin reported German newspapers as saying, “This large-scale expedition is under the patronage of Reich SS leader Himmler and will be carried out entirely on SS principles.”

Permission for the expedition to travel through British-held India to Lhasa was initially refused. At that time the British imperial Government of India cooperated with the Tibetan government in restricting the number of visitors to Tibet from India. However, the British were also following a policy of “appeasement” toward Hitler’s Germany in the hope of avoiding a major conflict in Europe. Therefore the imperial government bowed to pressure from London, and the British representative in Sikkim was told that it was “politically desirable to do anything possible to avoid any impression that we have put obstacles in Schaefer’s way.” A loophole was found to allow the expedition to continue. Diplomatic pressure kept the British from significantly interfering with the remainder of Schaefer’s mission.

One major problem the Schaefer mission encountered was its leader’s mental state, which had apparently been affected by his wife’s death. Schaefer seemed to transfer his attentions onto one of his Sikkimese servants, a young man referred to in the files as “Kaiser.” The British representative in Sikkim, noting that “Schaefer’s habit with his employees is to pay them well and beat them often,” concluded, “We are all inclined to think that the gentle Kaiser has some sort of special appeal for the dominant Schaefer.” When the German applied to take Kaiser back to Germany with him, permission was quickly refused, as the British feared that Kaiser would become a Nazi sympathizer. Upon reaching Lhasa, the Schaefer mission must have found influential friends in the Tibetan government, for they were able to extend their stay in Lhasa for several months. The British representative in Lhasa, Hugh Richardson, reported that Schaefer and his companions “created an unfavorable impression in Lhasa and by contrast heightened our prestige.” He reported that the Germans were stoned by monks at a festival when they used their camera too blatantly and that they had made themselves unpopular by acting against Buddhist principles in killing local wildlife and ill-treating servants.

Despite this, Schaefer was received by the Reting Regent, the virtual ruler of Tibet during the Dalai Lama’s minority. The Regent was persuaded to write to Adolf Hitler. In his letter, the Regent acknowledged German efforts to create a lasting empire of peace based on racial grounds. He assured Hitler that Tibet shared that aim, and agreed that there were no obstacles to peaceful relations between the two states. So if Schaefer’s mission was a diplomatic one, it was a reasonable success in terms of establishing high-level contacts with Tibet. But, of course, the Tibetans had no real concept of the actual strategies involved in the Nazis’ racial policies.

What the Schaefer mission did not find was any support for the wilder ideas of the Thule Society. The mission did not encounter any mystic masters, find any long-lost Aryan brothers, or obtain any secret powers with which to save Hitler’s Third Reich from ultimate defeat. Indeed, it is doubtful that Schaefer devoted much attention to searching for them. His party did not include any experts on Tibetan religion and must have realized that if the Tibetans had possessed any special powers that might be employed in world conquest, they would already have used them to protect themselves from the Younghusband mission that had marched to Lhasa in 1903-4.

The Schaefer mission finally left Lhasa in May 1939. Returning via Sikkim and India, they arrived back in Germany in August of that year. Within weeks, World War II had begun, and although other missions to Tibet were proposed in wartime Germany, none of them were able to proceed. The Nazis’ direct links with Tibet were thus ended. Schaefer and his colleagues had returned to Germany with more than 2,000 biological and ethnographic specimens, 40,000 photographs, and 55,000 feet of movie film. During the war years they worked on this material, some of which was lost to Allied bombing. Schaefer published several books, which included probably the first full-color photographs of Tibet to be published. A commercial film was also produced and still survives. It includes a brief but chilling segment in which Beger can be seen measuring the skulls of Tibetan peasants. He may have been searching for heads that were “dolichecephalic” (long-headed), a sure sign of Nordic blood according to some Nazi theorists.

In 1942, Himmler ordered an increase in research into Central Asia, aimed toward helping the war effort. Sven Hedin, the great Swedish explorer of Central Asia and a Nazi sympathizer, agreed to lend his name to an institute in Munich where Schaefer, Beger, and others carried out their research. Part of the role of the Hedin Institute was also to offer the German people some escape from the war. Mythical and colorful aspects of Tibet were publicized, often with the implication that Tibet would provide Germany’s salvation. But while Schaefer played a major part in the establishment of the Hedin Institute, the extent to which he believed in the cause remains difficult to ascertain. Many of his statements seem to be little more than necessary rhetoric. Beger, however, who was later to be imprisoned for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials, remained a keen proponent of Nazi ideology.

Although all five members of the mission survived the war and lived on into the 1980s, the only books about their journey were published in German and are long out of print. Within nine months of their reaching Lhasa, Germany had invaded Poland and plunged Europe into World War II, and the expedition was almost forgotten.

In the mid-1990s, when the Dalai Lama hosted a reunion of Europeans who had traveled in pre-Communist Tibet, Beger, the last survivor of the mission, was among those who attended the gathering. When details of his enthusiastic Nazi past emerged, it proved a considerable embarrassment for the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The Nazis’ dreams about Tibet derived directly from the ideas of the Vril and Thule societies, which had constructed an image of Tibet based on fantasies of the type made famous by Madame Blavatsky, Lobsang Rampa, and other mythologizers of Shangri-La. Tibetan Buddhism appealed to the Nazis only inasmuch as its esoteric aspects offered them the promise of acquiring worldly power, just as the Japanese militarists were attracted to aspects of Zen Buddhism that could serve their interests. While their attempts to pervert the dharma ultimately failed, many of their ideas are still alive today. With the spread of Buddhism in the West and the dawn of the information age, however, the ability of hate groups to distort Buddhist symbols and ideas for their own purposes can hopefully become diminished.



That link that you sent along was very informative.

I think that the NAZIs didn't have the understanding of the location of the orifices that we currently have. In fact, they didn't because satellite information, such as from the very precise Radarsat Program, is what has given us precise info just over the last couple of decades.

I don't think that they had the ability to distinguish very well between the cavern world concept and the hollow earth concept because the HE is not accessed through caves and caverns; which are occupied, by the way, by the horrendous creatures of European folklore, and othe folklore.


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@deandddd , yes - the Nazis were obsessed with Tibet and went to extraordinary lengths to fulfill their "objectives" in that direction . It seems they were literally following the old adage "seek for learning even if it is as far as China" .

Whatever secret knowledge they did discover in Tibet , it certainly didn't help them prevent their defeat in WW II . However , if we go by the conspiracy theories out there , it probably did help the Nazi leadership in escaping to Hollow Earth via the South Polar opening in Antarctica...they had actually run out of ALL possible places on the Earth's surface for seeking refuge !


Folks , this may seem incredible, but there may actually be a basis for the existence of something like a secret society of the "men with green gloves" or the "society of green men" :-

Behold the Green Dragon: The Myth & Reality of an Asian Secret Society

By Richard Spence

From New Dawn 112 (Jan-Feb 2009)

History certainly has no shortage of enigmatic or controversial brotherhoods, orders, lodges and societies. The Knights Templar, for instance, are a perennial object of fascination and speculation. Whether the Templars were the inspiration for the no less controversial Freemasons, a band of depraved heretics or the innocent victims of a conspiracy born of greed and envy remains a topic of lively debate.

What no one can contest, however, is that the Knights existed. The beginning and formal end of the Order can be dated with precision, and the names of its leaders are a matter of historical record. Even a dubious organisation like the Priory of Sion can be shown to have had a genuine, if recent, existence, though its claims to centuries of tradition and hidden influence remain unsubstantiated. But there are other groups which seem to exist only in that gray zone between reality and imagination, ones whose origins, number, scope and purpose remain maddeningly vague.

One such entity is the quasi-mythical Green Dragon Society (GDS), also known as the Order of the Green Dragon or simply the Green Dragon. It most often is mentioned as a Japanese secret society, but that is not necessarily the whole story. Other evidence, or at least allegation, argues that its true origins lay in China or Tibet and that its influence extended to the power centres of Tsarist Russia and Nazi Germany. Historical figures from the Emperor Hirohito, to Adolf Hitler to Rasputin have been tied to the Green Dragon, legitimately or not. The waters have been further muddied by role-playing games which have combined the Society with H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and other fictional elements. Determining what is “real” and what is the playful figment of someone’s imagination can be tricky.

What follows will not solve the mystery of the Green Dragon, but it will try to separate fact from fiction and explain where claims and information came from. In doing so, it will offer a tantalising glimpse into a mysterious organisation that may have played a significant role in shaping modern history.

Enter the Black Dragon

The simplest explanation for the Green Dragon Society is that it is a muddled reference to the better known, and definitely real, Black Dragon Society (BDS) or Kokuryukai . The BDS first appeared about 1901 and was an offshoot of another, older Japanese secret society, the Black Ocean or Genyosha . Like its parent, the Black Dragon was a militant, “ultra-nationalist” body which worked to expand Imperial Japan’s influence on the Asian mainland. The BDS initially concentrated on combating Russian interests in the vast Chinese province of Manchuria. Indeed, the Society took its name from the “Black Dragon” or Amur River which separated Manchuria and Siberia. The Black Dragon’s network of spies and saboteurs took an active part in the subsequent Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) and the Black Dragons later expanded their operations and influence throughout Asia and Europe and even the Americas.

The nominal founder and leader of the Black Dragon was Ryohei Uchida, but the true master, or “darkside emperor,” was Uchida’s shadowy and sinister mentor, Mitsuru Toyama, also a founding member of Genyosha . He reputedly was steeped in “extreme Eastern religious beliefs.” 1 That suggests the mysticism and occultism attributed the Green Dragon Society. Might the scheming and secretive Toyama have played a guiding role in both societies?

Were the Black and Green Dragons, if not one and the same, two sides of the same conspiratorial coin? For instance, just as the Black Dragon (Amur) River delineated the northern limit of Manchuria, further south the much smaller Qinglong or Green Dragon River roughly followed the dividing line between Manchuria and China proper. If the Black Dragon Society was primarily anti-Russian in its focus, might the Green Dragon have been anti-Chinese or anti-Western? While the Black Dragon focused on the political side, did the Green deal with the more secretive occult realm?

One obscure but important reference which clearly distinguishes between the Black and Green societies appears in the memoir of Chinese strongman Chiang Kai-shek’s “second wife,” Ch’en Chieh-ju. 2 She recalls that her husband contemplated a “completely secret system of private investigators” and considered as models the “Green and Black Dragon Societies of Japan and the Triad societies of Shanghai.” 3 Thus, in Chiang’s mind at least, the two Dragons were entirely separate (though not necessarily unrelated), Japanese , and appropriate models for secret intelligence gathering.

As noted, the Black Dragon Society was heavily involved in spying and the kindred spheres of propaganda and subversion. As such, it basically functioned as an extension of the Imperial Army’s “special organ,” the Tokumu Kikan . Not to be outdone in anything, the Japanese Imperial Navy maintained its own secret service, the Joho Kyoko . Just as the Army utilised the Black Dragon to augment or handle its “special needs,” might the Navy have used the Green Dragon in the same way?

Trevor Ravenscroft & Karl Haushofer

The identification of the Green Dragon as a fundamentally mystical order most evidently appears in Trevor Ravenscroft’s 1973 The Spear of Destiny . It is not insignificant that Ravenscroft was a follower of Anthroposophy and its founder Rudolf Steiner, and his book is a distinctly Anthroposophist take on the nefarious occult forces behind Hitler and his Nazi Regime. Ravenscroft firmly connects the Green Dragon to German geo-politician and mystic Karl Haushofer, one of Hitler’s presumed spiritual mentors. According to Ravenscroft, Professor Haushofer “gained… extraordinary gifts through membership of the Green Dragon Society of Japan in which the mastery of the Time Organism and the control of the life forces in the human body is the central aim of ascending degrees of initiation.” Ravenscroft adds that “one of the highest tests of this type of initiation in the Green Dragon Society demands the capacity to control and direct the life force in plants in a somewhat similar manner to the former powers of the Atlantean people.” “Only two other Europeans have been permitted to join this Japanese Order,” [and who, one wonders, were they?] continues Ravenscroft, “which demands oaths of secrecy and obedience of far more strict and uncompromising nature than similar secret societies in the Western world.” 4

The major problem with all this is that Ravenscroft’s sources are hazy or non-existent. He likely took a cue from the 1960 work of Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, The Morning of the Magicians . Those authors claim that Haushofer “is said [by whom?] to have been initiated into one of the most important secret Buddhist societies and to have been sworn, if he failed in his ‘mission,’ to commit suicide in accordance with the time-honoured ceremonial.” 5 Assuming this to be an allusion to the above GDS, we are still faced with the lack of any identifiable source for the authors’ information.

Ravenscroft goes on the claim that members of the Green Dragon Society set-up shop in 1920s Germany and there joined forces with a group of Tibetan monks called the “Society of Green Men.” The latter were, in fact, the “Adepts of Agharti and Schamballah” and their leader was a mysterious “Man with the Green Gloves.” 6 It also turns out that the Green Dragons and the Green Men had “been in astral communication for hundreds of years.” 7 The united brethren soon established communication with the rising Herr Hitler.

Others have since elaborated on the above by turning the Green Dragons into an “inner cabal” of both Genyosha and the Black Dragon, and making them “but an outpost of a much larger conspiracy based on the even more secretive group known and the Green Men.” 8 While fascinating, such assertions appear not to have any basis in hard fact.

But that is not to say they may not have a germ of truth. For instance, there was an occult figure in late Weimar Berlin sometimes referred to as the “Magician with the Green Gloves” who did become a short-lived soothsayer for Hitler and the Nazi Party. He was no Tibetan but, of all things, a Jew who went under the name of Erik Jan Hanussen. When he became inconvenient by accurately predicting the Reichstag Fire (or arranging it), his erstwhile Nazi pals killed him. 9

Likewise, there could very well be something to a Green Dragon-Tibet connection. A green dragon, or Zhug , plays an important role in Tibetan mythology where it symbolises the “God of Thunder… bravery and all-conquering force.” 10 More to the point, perhaps, a Japanese Buddhist monk named Ekai Kawaguchi made two visits to Tibet in the years before World War I, around the same time Haushofer was in Tokyo. On the surface, Kawaguchi seemed a simple religious devotee, but he is known to have had contact with at least one Japanese secret agent while in the Land of Eternal Snows, Narita Yasuteru, as well as an operative of British Indian intelligence. 11 Kawaguchi also had links to Annie Besant and her Theosophist sect, another group accused of subversion and general skullduggery. 12 More significantly, Kawaguchi was a devotee of Zen Buddhism.

In his 1989 The Unknown Hitler, Wulf Schwarzwaller claims that Haushofer was a master of various Eastern mystical traditions and “had familiarised himself with the Zen teachings of the Japanese Society of the Green Dragon.” 13 More recent sources emphasise the Green Dragon’s intimate association with Zen, specifically its Soto branch, and claim that the “Green Dragon has had a tradition of secret propagation,” whatever that means. 14

The Buddhist connection may offer some important clues. Buddhism originated in India and spread to Tibet and China, and from there to Japan. Zen ( Cha’an ) doctrine also had its roots in China. One of the most revered Buddhist “saints” in Japan is Kukai, an 8th-9th century mystic who spent years studying in China. Interestingly, his main place of enlightenment was the Green Dragon Temple in Xian where he was trained in occult, tantric traditions originating in Tibet. Returning to Japan, Kukai incorporated these into his version of True Land (Shingon) Buddhism. 15 The problem is that Shingon was and is quite distinct from Zen, so which, if either, is connected to the Green Dragon?

To further complicate the picture, there are numerous references to a Chinese Green Dragon Society. Most are linked to the martial arts. Green Dragon kung fu societies are active throughout the world, but most appear to be of fairly recent origin. Oddly enough, during the 1960s, the Chicago-based Green Dragon Society was locked in a bitter feud with the rival Black Dragon Society! One version of the Chinese Green Dragon’s history pegs it as a Taoist secret society formed in response to the 17th century persecutions launched by the Jesuit-influenced Emperor Kiang Hsi. According to this, the secret society emerged from the Pure Thought Mystical School of Tao, and along with an implacable hatred for the Manchu Dynasty, it remained dedicated to the “practice of Taoist Alchemy and Immortalist Techniques.” 16 That sounds a bit like what Ravenscroft described. The Green Dragon also reputedly operated under numerous aliases and disguises. A secretive and even sinister Green Dragon Society also shows up in at least two martial arts films: ‘The Deadly Sword’ (1978) and ‘Seven Promises’ (1980). Finally, a Green Society or Green Gang was (and arguably still is) a major force in the Chinese underworld.

So, could there be two Green Dragon Society’s, one Japanese and Buddhist and the other Chinese and Taoist? This much seems clear: the inter-pollination of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, and the sects and secret societies they spawned, is centuries old. Within that context, just about anything is possible.

Other oddments, which may or may not mean anything, include the fact that during his marriage to another wife, Chiang Kai-shek paid a visit to a Green Dragon monastery. The late scholar Charles Rice, after sifting through everything he could find on the Green Dragon Society, wondered whether it might be nothing more than the karate club of the Japanese Emperor’s Imperial Guard! 17 Strangest of all, perhaps, is a 2004 article from the South China Morning Post which describes the recent arrest of three members of the “Green Dragon Temple Cult” on charges of running a prostitution ring. 18 The female victims were assured a place in heaven if they earned enough money for the cult.

Seven Heads of the Green Dragon

There is another, more involved, though no less mysterious, description of the Green Dragon Society that predates Ravenscroft by forty years and Pauwels and Bergier by almost thirty. It is almost certainly the source for much of what he and others have had to say about the GDS since. The work in question is the 1933 Les Sept Tetes du Dragon Vert [“The Seven Heads of the Green Dragon”] by Teddy Legrand. The title evokes the dragon with “seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads” mentioned in Revelations 12:3, although that beast is red, not green. At first glance the book seems to be just an obscure piece of French pulp fiction, albeit one replete with real people and real events along with many invented ones.

Basically, the book presents the Green Dragon or, more simply, “The Greens,” a sinister international cabal bent on world domination. An interesting detail is that these secretive conspirators number precisely 72 and were, presumably, the “72 unknown superiors” of conspiratorial legend. 19 To achieve its nefarious aim, the Green Dragon generates war, revolution and chaos, and its hand is the unseen common denominator in such seemingly disparate events as the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the instigation of the Bolshevik Revolution, the murder of the Romanovs, the 1922 killing of German foreign minister Walther Rathenau, the abduction of White Russian general A. P. Kutepov and the apparent suicide of millionaire Swedish “Match King” Ivar Kreuger. All in all, the Green Dragon sounds like another version of the infamous Illuminati who haunt so many conspiracy theories.

At the time of the book’s action, 1929-30, the mysterious Greens are busy facilitating the rise of the “The Man of the Two Z’s” under whose “sharp spurs” Europe would soon tremble. 20 The latter is a thinly-veiled and rather prophetic reference to Hitler who had barely come to power when the book was published. The “Two Z’s” were the interlocking arms of the Swastika.

The central figure of Les Sept Tetes… is a British secret agent, the ace of L’Intelligence Service , James Nobody, who may be the original literary inspiration for James Bond. He had already starred in a series of pot-boiler spy novels by French writer Charles Lucieto, and the latest was an effort to continue the franchise after Lucieto’s recent death. Interestingly, Lucieto was a retired spy, having served the French secret service in World War I. He liked to claim that his Nobody and similar yarns were roman-a-clefs which revealed true, if hidden aspects of recent history and current events. His publishers later implied that this had something to do with his untimely demise.

To no great surprise, Lucieto’s successor, “Teddy Legrand,” was a pseudonym. In fact, the author was Pierre Mariel who turns out to be a rather interesting fellow. Nominally he was a journalist, but like Lucieto he had ties to French intelligence. That has led to the claim that the latter “inspired” or even directed his literary efforts as it had his predecessor’s. 21 More importantly, perhaps, he was a self-proclaimed expert on the occult. Some years later, under the name Werner Gerson, he would author one of the first books on Nazi occultism. 22 Mariel himself was a member of both the Freemasonic Martinist Order and a one-time French grand master of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). 23 Interestingly, in Les Sept Tetes… Mariel paints the Martinist Order as a conspiratorial sect which played a behind-the-scenes role in the French Revolution and later political upheavals, and which just might have links to the mysterious Green Dragon. 24

In the book, brother spies Nobody and Legrand are inspired by their common curiosity about the fate of the Russian Imperial family. The chief object of fascination is an icon on St. Seraphim, supposedly found on the Tsarina Alexandra’s body, which bears a puzzling inscription, in English: “S.I.M.P. The Green Dragon. You were absolutely right. Too late.” 25 They quickly determine that the first element, which is accompanied by a six point “kabbalistic” symbol, stands for “Superieur Inconnu, Maitre Philippe” [Unknown Superior, Master Philippe], a French Martinist mystic who was an early guru to the Tsarina Alexandra. 26 They also note the Tsarina’s predilection for the “Tibetan” Swastika as a good luck symbol. The rest of the story follows the duo’s efforts to discover who or what constitutes the Green Dragon.

Some interest inevitably falls on Maitre Philippe’s successor as royal spiritual guide, Rasputin, who comes across as a tool of the Green Dragon, if not an outright member. Legrand/Mariel correctly observes that during World War I, the dissolute holy man maintained communication with mysterious “Greens,” or simply “The Green,” based in Stockholm in which Mariel portrays as another piece of a larger conspiracy. 27 Interestingly, Colonel Stanislaus de Lazovert, one of the men later involved in the plot to kill the dissolute holy man, claimed that Rasputin was a member of the “Green Hand,” a secret order presumably backed by Russia’s Austrian enemies. 28 Most recently and reliably, Russian investigator Oleg Shishkin linked Rasputin’s mysterious friends to a Berlin-inspired conspiracy which included German occult lodges and members of the ethnic-German Baltic nobility. Their secret brotherhood, Baltikum , used a green swastika as its symbol.

Coincidentally or not, one of the antagonists encountered by Nobody and Legrand is a Baltic Baron, Otto von Bautenas, whom they identify as no less than one of the “ 72 Verts .” Bautenas turns out to have been a very real person: an ex-adherent of Baltikum , a close ally of Lithuanian politico Augustine Valdemaras and leader of the fascistic Iron Wolf movement.

Mariel also implies that Anthroposophy kingpin Rudolf Steiner was mixed-up in all this skullduggery and “secret politics” through his connections to pan-German secret societies. 29 He also drops Gurdjieff’s and Besant’s names in the same murky mess.

While the book’s action stays within the geographic confines of Europe, shifting from Constantinople, to Scandinavia, to Paris to Berlin, there are numerous references to the Orient, especially Tibet. Legrand and Nobody enlist the aid of one of their old antagonists, Jewish-born “international spy” I.T. Trebitsch-Lincoln, whom has transformed himself into the Tibetan lama Dordji Den. Here again, there is at least a kernel of truth; in 1931 the chameleon-like Trebitsch was ordained a Buddhist monk and became “the Venerable Chao Kung.” 30

The pair eventually find themselves in Berlin, in the presence of The Man with the Green Gloves, an apparently Asian soothsayer who has set himself up much as the real Hanussen. They observed an eerie figure that seemed to have “complete mastery of his reflexes.” 31 Was this the “control of the life forces” mentioned by Ravenscroft? Like a living statue, “not a muscle in his face moved” as the weird seer conversed in “excellent Oxford English.” Nobody and friend finally realise that they are standing face-to-face with “one of those famous Greens.” The description has led one recent author, Christian von Nidda, to conclude that the Greens were nothing less than “reptilian” beings! 32

In the end, Mariel never clearly defines just what the Green Dragon Society is and is not. Doubtless, that was never his intention. Interestingly, there is no suggestion of any Japanese connection. However, as the episode with the Man with Green Gloves suggests, there is the spectre of a powerful, mysterious Asiatic hand at work. The true purpose of the Russian Revolution, he believed, was to destroy Europe’s eastern barrier against Asiatic intrusion. Mariel sensed a kind of “permanent conspiracy against the white race – against Western Greco-Latin civilisation – which seeks to sap, fracture and shake the edifice of already unstable Europe.” 33 When the time came, the conspirators would “substitute him ” [the Man of the Two Z’s] as a means of bringing about a New Order.

It also remains uncertain to what degree Mariel intended Les Sept Tetes… to be taken seriously. Clearly, that has not prevented some from doing so. Truth, fiction, or some strange amalgam of the two, Mariel’s little book is undoubtedly the inspiration for most of the claims about the Green Dragon Society which have sprung up since. We are still left to wonder whether, if all the exaggeration, obfuscation, superstitious dread and outright lies were cleared aside, there would be anything there at all. Maybe.