Thoughts for Thursday: Are there Nazis in Valhalla?
I saw this meme a few Thursdays ago shared on FB in one of the larger Pagan groups (of which I am a member).
At the time, I assumed that it had been shared in that group simply because it features Thor…and it was Thursday.
So I didn’t think much about it beyond that, because let me tell you, it can be difficult to find a variety of good artwork featuring Thor.
However, within these last two weeks, I have seen this meme shared within various Heathen and Pagan groups over a dozen times.
In that, I will admit that I have been constantly reminded of it simply because it has been cluttering up my FB feeds.
Though after the third or fourth time seeing it shared, I began to idly wonder if there were Nazis in Valhalla…
But again, I’ll admit that I didn’t think too deeply upon it.
Because, like most memes, I noticed that while it garnered a lot of likes and shares, there was little to no commentary on the premise of whether or not the meme was based on some sort of ‘fact’.
(Yes, sometimes I am the sort of nerd that sees particular memes that share ‘historical’ facts that I know to be untrue…but usually I’ll scroll past. Once in a while, a particularly popular meme will spur me to research a particular topic to satisfy my own intellectual curiosity, but other than that, I don’t put stock in the historical accuracy of Internet memes. I doubt most memes are created to foster intellectual debate; most memes strike me as a vehicle for opinions.)
And so here it is again, on another Thursday, and I awoke to see that the first post on my feed concerned this meme.
Yep, after a week, someone in one of my groups decided to do a dump post meant to call out zir opinion on several ‘popular Viking memes’ – including this ‘No Nazis in Valhalla’ meme.
Evidently this particular meme was the one that set zir over the edge.
So, this meme generated a rather intense discussion upon whether or not there would be Nazis in Valhalla, which touched briefly upon the essence of Valhalla as a training ground for Ragnarok, the role of Valkyries, and what’s most interesting to me, a debate/speculation upon the spiritual beliefs of Hitler.
So…spurred on by that discussion – and based upon the two main premises that Valhalla is a training ground for Ragnarok, and that the Valkyries choose the ‘best’ and most capable warriors – my thoughts wandered in the direction of whether or not the morality/political stance of a warrior ** was part of the equation.
Now, based upon what I’ve gleaned from pursuing a liberal arts education (majoring in English history and minoring in linguistics), as well as the many books, articles, and all the academic discourse I’ve heard and read over the last ten years regarding Norse society, my first response was that there would be no Nazis in Valhalla.
And I will admit that the case against there being Nazis in Valhalla was based upon my vague recall of meme-worthy factoids such as
- the existence of the plain in Niflheim where Nidhogg eats the unrighteous (murderers, rapists, et al)
- the much-shared factoid that Eric the Red was so violent in deed and in temperament that he – and by his extension, his family – was banned from both Scandinavia and Iceland, and therefore they were inspired to seek settlement elsewhere (i.e the New World/America)
And in response to my understanding of what I’d gleaned from that liberal arts education, I felt safe in making that surface conclusion that the Norse may have looked upon the beliefs and actions of the Nazis as violent and unjust.
But then, it occurred to me: as history notes, the Nazis saw their nationalistic goal to overtake Europe as just and righteous, as they felt it was their destiny/birthright as a nation and a race.
And I do not believe that many historians would dispute that the Nazis had any personal qualms about attempting to achieve their nationalistic goals by any means necessary. (“The ends justify the means…”)
And so it is that the Nazis perceived themselves as just, as righteous, as doing ‘right’ and that single-minded determination to achieve their destiny/goals by any means necessary led to genocide and a world war being waged in response to their attempts.
And oddly enough, a stray thought about Odin kicked in:
One of Odin’s by-names is “Glad of War.”
Not “Glad of Righteous War”
“Glad of Just War”
“Glad of War.”
Though the consensus of the discussion concerned the purpose of Valhalla being a place where the most skilled and competent warriors are to be gathered and trained for Ragnarok, no one speculated upon Odin or His agenda at all, so I do not know why this thought occurred to me at all.
Glad of War, glad of war, glad of war….
And yet, I could not shake it.
So which is it?
Are warriors chosen for Valhalla based upon their skill *and* their morality?
Are they chosen based solely upon their skills and abilities?
And if warriors were to be chosen solely upon their skills and abilities, perhaps only then there could be Nazis in Valhalla.
What do you think?