The Witch’s March: History Fact #6

Heinrich Himmler served Hitler as Nazi SS chief during World War II.  He was fascinated with the idea of occultic, dark magic.  Since the end of the war, his leading the Nazis towards these beliefs made for numerous books, films, and television shows.  The Witch’s March is no different… Urban legends still swirl around Himmler and his beliefs, and many of these stories and theories border on fantasy.  Despite Himmler being the most famous fanatic, there is actually a great deal of evidence that Hitler and his inner circle were very interested in mysticism and dark magic.

Himmler reportedly believed that the occult was the key to Aryan supremacy. As he grew in power and prominence within the German high command, his obsession with the mystic and arcane only increased more and more. He became fascinated by ancient history, but twisted it to fit his own needs and cause.

Not only was he interested in lost civilizations and distant ancestors – some of whom he tried to contact through seances – but he even started seeing his SS officers as a form of holy knights, similar to the Templar and Teutonic orders.

He was not alone in this, of course. Himmler was only one of many Nazi’s who collected books relating to matters of the occult. However, it is generally recognized that Himmler was particularly influenced by this movement. His beliefs influenced the way that he ran the SS and possibly are the reason for their extreme brutality during the war.

A 13,000-volume library – collected by Himmler – was found in a depot of the National Library of Czech Republic near Prague. The depot had not been accessed since the 1950’s.

Bjørn Helge, Norwegian Masonic researcher, told Verdens Gang (a Norwegian newspaper) that some of the books were seized from the Norwegian Order of Freemasons in Oslo during Nazi occupation of the country. Himmler had many occult books taken from countries occupied by the Germans.

Himmler founded the H Sonderkommando in 1935. The ‘H’ stood for ‘Hexe’ which is the German word for ‘witch.’ Their mission was to collect as much information as possible on sorcery, the occult and the supernatural.

In The Witch’s March series, we follow the brutality of Himmler through one of his (fictional) knights, Ehrhart König.  He sees the power of blood magic from our protagonist, and like any good villain, decides he wants it for himself.  For that very reason, though, blood magic isn’t what it’s often made out to be.  It’s a weapon that can be used by both sides – good and evil.  Magic is all about perception…

The Witch’s March: History Fact #5

On October 8, 1941, Stalin gave orders to deploy three all-female air force units.  They followed twelve commandments, the first being “be proud you are a woman.”  However, the women were given the oldest and noisiest airplanes.  Their engines would conk out halfway through their missions so that the women would have to climb out on the wings midflight to restart the propellers.  The planes were so noisy that to stop the Germans from hearing them, they’d climb up to a certain height, coast down to German positions, drop their bombs, and then quickly flee.  The women would fly in groups of three airplanes at night, with two of them acting as ‘spotlights’ and distracting the German planes while the third cut off their engines and then quickly coast down to drop their bombs.  The only noise this action was make was a “whoosh” that the Germans compared to the sound of a witch’s broomstick.  This, combined with their nocturnal attack times, led the Germans to give them the name “Night Witches”.  Additionally, once they learned that the successful Russian air teams were made entirely of women they reasoned two possibilities: (a) the women were a group of criminals and thieves forced to fight on the front as punishment, and were used to killing or (b) they had been injected with some secret serum that gave them the ability to see in the dark.

In addition to the terrible engines, their airplanes also had limited weight capacity and their funding was given very low priority.  This meant that they lacked “luxury items” that their mile counterparts used, including: parachutes, radar, guns and radios.  They were instead given rulers, stopwatches, flashlights, pencils, maps and compasses.   This didn’t stop their success on the front, though, as their leader flew over 200 missions and was never captured.

In The Witch’s March, what kind of urban fantasy war female author would I be if I didn’t include such a powerful group of Allied women that did so much for their country and the war who are SO aptly named?!  In my series, Rada Medved is a Night Witch who also happens to be an actual witch.

The Witch’s March: History Fact #4

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918.

When thinking of World War I, Budapest isn’t a city that often comes to mind, even though it served as capital to its empire.  With energy that rivaled Vienna and café society that rivaled Paris, Budapest entered the 20th century on the rise.  And although it never saw enemy faces inside its walls, the city was destroyed by the Great War all the same.  Although I take liberties to bring a group of Allies into the city, it wouldn’t be fair for me to not divulge into how terrible war can be even when it’s not right at your doorstep…

World War I helped lead to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and not only that but half of the Hungarian population was cut away by the Treaty of Trianon and made part of surrounding nations.  From 1918 to 1919, Budapest was shaken by two revolutions: The Aster Revolution followed by two years of White Terror.

The Aster Revolution received its name because the revolting citizens placed aster flowers in their hats and caps to symbolize support for the Hungarian National Council and Count Károlyi.  They even took it upon themselves to demobilize soldiers in the city.  They murdered the former Prime Minister István Tisza and forced Prime Minister Sándor Wekerle to resign.  By the end of the day, King Charles IV was forced to accept them and Károlyi became the new Prime Minister.  One of his first acts?  Dissolving the Austro-Hungarian union.

The victorious Entente powers then took steps to carve out any ethnicity that wasn’t white, including Czechoslovakia and Romania.  The overall efforts resulted in Hungary losing two thirds of its land area and one third of its Hungarian-speaking nationals.  You don’t have to be an expert in socioeconomics to understand that this drastic change was bound to pull out problem after problems…

The nation’s attempts to form a single stable government failed, and by March of 1919 communists had taken over.


The Witch’s March: History Fact #3

The Lebel Model 1886 M93 model was the main French sniper rifle used during WW1. Pictured is the rifle fited with an original A.P.X. 1916 scope, as used by Maréchal Beachêne in The Witch’s March.

The elfish have evolved with the times, no longer just  legendary for their skill with bow and arrow, but also the rifle.  His rivals have claimed it’s due to his enhanced sight, but that doesn’t mean they can’t argue the simple fact: Beachêne is the best of the best.

The Witch’s March: History Fact #3

 During World War I, or The Great War, the American military created two combat divisions for African Americans.  One, the 92nd Division, was composed of draftees and officers.  The second, the 93rd Division (later known as the Harlem Hellfighters, was mostly made up of National Guard units from cities like New York, Chicago, and Cleveland.

The 92nd Division faced one loss on the field that the world used as confirmation blacks weren’t fit to serve their country in war.  That was until the Harlem Hellfighters’ success.  When they returned to New York City after their victories at war, according to the Tribune, Never have white Americans accorded so heartfelt and hearty a reception to a contingent of their black country-men” and “the ebony warriors” felt it.

Although not introduced until The Witch’s March resolution, Martin Fox served as a Harlem Hellfighter.  One of Hattie’s love interests, he fought during the final Meuse-Argonne Offensive.