Rahn, Otto Wilhelm .

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Rahn, Otto Wilhelm, born 18-02-1904 in Michelstadt, German Empire , to the justice clerk Karl Rahn (1875-1959) and his wife Clara, born Hamburger, Rahn, (1881-1971), from an early age, became interested in the legends of Parzival, the Holy Grail, Lohengrin and the Nibelungenlied. While attending the University of Giessen, he was inspired by his professor, Baron August von Gall,  to study the Albigensian (Catharism) movement and the massacre that occurred at Montségur.

In 1931, he travelled to the Pyrenees region of southern France where he conducted most of his research. Aided by the French mystic and historian Antonin Gadal, Rahn argued that there was a direct link between Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival and the Cathar Grail mystery. He believed that the Cathars held the answer to this sacred mystery and that the keys to their secrets lay somewhere beneath the mountain peak where the fortress of Montségur remains, the last Cathar fortress to fall during the Albigensian Crusade.

Rahn wrote two books linking Montségur and Cathars with the Holy Grail: Kreuzzug gegen den Gral (Crusade Against the Grail) in 1933 and Luzifers Hofgesind (Lucifer’s Court) in 1937. After the publication of his first book, Rahn’s work came to the attention of Reichsleiter Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, who was fascinated by the occult and had already initiated research in the south of France. Rahn joined his staff as a junior non-commissioned officer and became a full member of the SS in 1936, achieving the rank of SS Obersturmführer.

Journeys for his second book led Rahn to places in Nazi Germany, France, Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Iceland. Openly homosexual, frequenting anti-Nazi circles, and having fallen out of favour with the Nazi leadership, Rahn was assigned guard duty at the Dachau concentration camp in 1937 as punishment for a drunken homosexual scrape. He resigned from the SS in 1939.

Death and burial ground of Otto Wilhelm Rahn.

The SS would not allow anyone to resign without consequences. Soon, Rahn learned the Gestapo was after him, and he was even offered the option of committing suicide. He vanished. On 13-03-1939, nearly on the anniversary of the fall of Montségur, Rahn was found frozen to death on a mountainside near Söll (Kufstein, Tyrol) in Austria. His death was officially ruled a suicide.

The mountain on which Rahn died, the Wilder Kaiser, is somparatively low and it is rare to find life-threatening conditions there. (However, it is 40 km from Adolf Hitler’s ‘eagle’s nest’ at Berchtesgaden, and was in the defensive zone surrounding it.) There were said by many to be no traces of Rahn’s body, neither at the civic facilities at Kufstein nor at Michelstadt. There is no known tomb. Others, such as Otto Vogelsang, editor of Kreuzzug gegen Gral , believe Rahn to be buried at Mayence, giving the date of death as 10 May 1939 and interrment on 20 May. Vogelsang had dined with Rahn a few days before his death and had found Rahn to be happy and confident about the future.

Rahns Family Grave In Darmstadt, with death date 13-03-1939.

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