My Valducan short, Raid on Wewelsburg releases tomorrow as part of Cohesion Press’ SNAFU: Black Ops anthology. I’m very excited about this story because it shows a completely new perspective of the Valducan world with a different cast than any of the other previously released tales. With any story, there is always the defining moment of inspiration – a scene or an image that grew into a narrative. “Raid on Wewelsburg” was a little different in that its inspiration came from an already amazing and unsettling story. It started with a cauldron.
The Chiemsee Cauldron – In 2001, divers discovered a 23 pound, solid gold cauldron at the bottom of Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria. Covered with Celtic symbols, the cauldron was originally believed to be a great archaeological discovery until analysis discovered that it was made in the 20th Century.
Research into the cauldron’s origin revealed that it was a Nazi artifact used by the SS and created by the jeweler Otto Gahr. Gahr is most known for crafting the infamous Totenkopfrings (Death’s Head rings) of the SS.
Death’s Head Rings – The silver rings were the honor rings worn by the SS. The rings were decorated with runes and engraved with the owner’s name. Upon the bearer’s death, the rings were sent to Wewelsburg Castle, the headquarters of the SS, and entombed there.
Wewelsburg Castle – This German Castle was chosen by Himmler to serve as the headquarters for the SS and as the “Center of the World” for the Reich. The enormous remodeling and reconstructions performed are believed to have been in an attempt to make a modern-day Camelot, complete with a round table and a grail. It is also believed that this grail was the Chiemsee Cauldron.
On March 31, 1945, as the Allies were closing in on the castle, Himmler sent Major Heinz Macher in to collect several valuables, including over 9,000 Death’s Head rings. Before fleeing, dressed as civilians, Macher’s men attempted to blow up the castle. They only succeeded in blowing up one of the towers and the neighboring barrack house, but fire destroyed the remaining castle. No one has ever discovered the 9,000 silver rings.
While no one knows why or how the cauldron ended up at the bottom of a Bavarian lake, it is theorized that Macher gave it to an SS Division called the Nibelungen, which was also formed in March of 1945 and consisted primarily of Hitler Youth. The name Nibelungen comes from German mythology about a race of dwarves tasked with protecting a great treasure. Some suspect that the treasure the Nibelungen Division was tasked with protecting included the cauldron.
On May 2, 1945, the Nibelungen were forced to retreat to the shores of Lake Chiemsee. They surrendered on May 8th, and it believed that during their time there, they sank the cauldron before it could be captured.
The Chiemsee Cauldron and its probable link to Wewelsburg has fascinated me. I’d always wanted to write about it and when Cohesion Press contacted me about their anthology, I knew that it was time. Working it into my Valducan mythology was fun because I wanted to keep as much of the incredible truth to the story as possible. In fact, I used every bit of the history above.
But even before the story was written, I knew the cauldron’s place in the Valducan mythology. My original draft of IBENUS had Luc mention the cauldron when he first discussed demons and governments with Victoria. Sadly, that scene was trimmed for pacing. But very observant readers will notice a few other links between “Raid on Wewelsburg” and several other Valducan stories.
As far as any inspiration that might be noticed between “Raid on Wewelsburg” and the Black Cauldron… well, I think I’ve mentioned before just how influential the Black Cauldron was on my young and impressionable mind.
I hope my readers enjoy this newest addition the the Valducan mythology as much as I do. The anthology releases tomorrow, but readers can buy it today for a special pre-order price.