In Nazi Germany and its occupied territories there were many ways to get thrown into an extermination camp. But Friedrich Marby broke some kind of record: he was sent to Dachau for publishing too silly ideas about runes. He survived.
The Nazis themselves were no strangers to occultism, particularly Heinrich Himmler, whose neo-Pagan religious movement I’ve touched upon before. Movements similar to today’s New Age, neo-paganism and occultism flourished in the early 20th century. But Marby was too much even for Himmler: he invented runic aerobics.
Marby’s ideas took off from the cosmic and psychedelic writings of Guido von List and Siegfried Kummer*, and possibly inspired those of Swedish mad professor Sigurd Agrell. His runic gymnastics incorporated astrological ideas. “In Marby’s opinion, the Universe was awash with cosmic rays, which could be both received and transmitted by human beings. In addition, the beneficial influences of these rays could be increased by adopting certain physical postures in imitation of rune-forms (a practice with an obvious similarity to yoga).” (A. Baker, Invisible Eagle, 2000). It didn’t help either that Marby was unimpressed by his country’s anti-semitism.
As Kellgren said so drily, being insane doesn’t mean you’re a genius. And just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. But to my mind, Marby’s fate calls to mind the Falun Gong controversy. Just because you’re persecuted by a totalitarian regime, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t nuts.
* Kummer invented runic yodeling, as pointed out to me by Peter Olausson. Nobody seems to know if Kummer survived the war.