Dr. Carl Kellner - A Personal Reflection
Many families share the interest for their own family history, where are the roots, what is known about the ancestors. This also was the case in our family house. I am a daughter of the oldest grandson of Dr. Carl Kellner, that is his great granddaughter. Of ourse, there was often reminiscience of Dr. Kellner in my family, my father was very proud about his grandfather and admired him a lot, his genius, his inventions, his social commitment and the family man. My father gladly supported the Bavarian Academy of Science with material and documents in 1977 and after in order to publish the life and work of Dr. Kellner in the "Neue Deutsche Biographie". This was well known to me, although I was completely unaware of "the other side" of my great grandfather.
Mabye one can empathise my shock when per hasard I came across an article in the supplement of the "AZ Thema" titled "Krampus und die Postmoderne", Vienna 2 December 1988. The author, Manfred Marschalek reviewed Josef Dvorak's book on "Satanism" and came to find out (as also Dvorak did according to Marschalek) "... that modern satanism started in Vienna at the turn of the century when the Vienna chemist and manufacturer Dr. Carl Kellner founded the "Ordo Templi Orientis" (OTO) in 1901 and celebrated sexmagical rites in a cult room of his villa in Doeblin, which developed into a real satan cult. After Kellner's early death caused by a selfmixed elixir of life also Rudolf Steiner, Swiss residents of Monte Verità and the British satans-poet Aleister Crowley continued the Order ..."
Based on this article I started to research "the other side" of my great grandfather. First I studied the estate of my father (died in 1983): documents, correspondences and factory records. I gained contacts, bought and read books (by Moeller, Frick and the like) and tried this way to come to understand the complete strange matter. I was in Hallein, visited the factory and the "Red Villa" and, of course, was at the grave of my great grandfather.
Throughout the years I closely observed what has been published in its various forms about Dr. Kellner and never said one word about all this, but now I want my stance to be made quite clear.
My first impression was that everyone who touched the topic "OTO" or "Carl Kellner" used to express himself in very inprecise wordings like "apparently", "maybe", "seemingly" (e.g. Frick, "Licht und Finsternis" II, 461). Such and similar speculative expressions always have been used in order to press Dr. Kellner into a scheme according to the current taste, interest and own discretion. Eventually my great grandfather turned into the "ancestor" of sexmagic and satanism, "goldmaker" and "magician" as one sees fit. Added are "oral history" and a "G'schichterl" [a bit of gossiping] (as we say in Vienna) and everything remains without proof and making sense. Prof. Moeller notes in his book "Merlin Peregrinus" regarding Kellner's alleged trip to India (page 140): "... unfortunately, John Symonds does not produce evidence for this story which continues the mystification of the far travelled manufacturer Keller who, as known, never was in India. This mystification started with the death of Kellner." Grotesque I found the descriptions of the cursing of Kellner in 1903 (!) in Hallein and the alleged circumstances of his death. This gossiping is based solely on the tales of his widow who died in 1949 and which remain without proof and therefore only contribute to the mystification.
In January 1999, Herr Peter-R. Koenig sent the "Flensburger Hefte" No 63 "Campaign against Rudolf Steiner" to me and asked for additions and comments regarding Dr. Kellner and the OTO. I completely share Herr Koenig's assumption (and he is surely be considered an international expert on OTO and researches the matter scholarly and seriously) that Dr. Kellner had nothing to do with the development of the OTO under Reuss. One should finally stop ruminating that tradition and now recognise that putting Kellner in the context of the OTO stands on weak ground, and one should finally have only the facts to speak. Everything that cannot be proven should remain outside serious articles and books.
My great grandfather was a genious, far beyond his time, generous and first of all a tender husband and father. I am puzzled that the public draws a partial picture of this extraordinary man.
If I should be wrong with this my assessment I am gladly prepared to correct my picture of my great grandfather, provided that the relevant proof is produced.
Vienna, March 1999
German original: Dr. Carl Kellner — eine persönliche Betrachtung
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