Jun 21, 2008

The Secret Glory

The Secret Glory is an exceptional documentary directed by Richard Stanley on the extraordinary life of SS officer Otto Rahn. When one speaks of members of the SS, they automatically think of a devil in human form. Rahn was not your typical SS man as he was a sensitive artist that joined “the club,” as he put it to a friend, “dear paul, one has to eat.” SS leader Heinrich Himmler recruited Otto Rahn due to Rahn’s study of ancient Germanic cultures. Rahn was also able to confirm Himmler’s ancient Aryan ancestry.

After watching The Secret Glory it is made clear that Otto Rahn was a loner and an individualist. Someone that certainly had no interest in supporting collectivist governments such as the National Socialists. On the other hand, like the National Socialists, Rahn wanted the great European nations to unite (including France where he did much of his research). Otto Rahn inevitably had a falling out with the SS and had the audacity to quit the cult-like organization.
Otto Rahn’s emotionally cold mother sewed him a sweater with an SS lighting bolt on it that he wore very often. This is quite ironic considering that Rahn’s mother was Jewish. Like almost all of the major Nazis were rumored to be Jewish (and conveniently almost all of their ancestral records were destroyed after World War II), Otto Rahn, like SS founder Emil Maurice, is confirmed to be of Jewish ancestry.

Otto Rahn was a homosexual as well, and this also led to his unfortunate downfall. The SS gave Otto Rahn two options: to enter a concentration camp or commit suicide. Rahn was forced to work at two concentrations camps (including Dachau) as punishment and he was well aware what was going on in them. Naturally, Otto Rahn committed suicide by taking sleeping pills and freezing to death at a mountainside in Austria.

Many rumors live on today about Rahn’s suicide being faked. As The Secret Glory demonstrates, Otto Rahn had a very interesting life full of many mysteries. The documentary left me with many questions that I know will never be answered. Out of all the Nazi players I have read about, Otto Rahn is without doubt one of the most interesting (if not the most interesting). He is also much more worthy of notoriety than Indiana Jones (and the overrated banal actor the plays him), the Hollywood character whose life parallels (as Nigel Graddon’s recent book on Otto Rahn insightfully demonstrates) Rahn's.

The Secret Glory
brings up high probability that Otto Rahn believed that Lucifer was “the son of God.” It is also interesting to note that Rahn never said the word “God “ out loud (also a Jewish belief). He was verily an individual that had his own ideas and theories. It was only appropriate that Otto Rahn would die by his own hand.

The structure of The Secret Glory is a very dark yet soothing experience. Director Richard Stanley interweaves interview footage, vintage photographs, and early films (Fritz Lang’s M, Aleksandr Nevskiy, etc) in a seamless manner. The music featured in The Secret Glory is very melancholy and gloomy. This is a soundtrack that perfectly compliments the image of a timeless (and for the most part neglected) figure.

Otto Rahn was an individual whom many said was always searching for something. The urge this young man had ultimately led to his death. One could say that Otto Rahn was doomed from birth, but very few could claim that they led a life as interesting as this unconventional SS man. I have yet to see a clear photograph of Otto Rahn in his black SS uniforms (if one even exists) and I find that only fitting.

-Ty E

No comments: