In 1871, List's writing talents were given full rein as he became a correspondent of the Neue deutsche Alpenzeitung ("New German Alpine Newspaper"), later called the Salonblatt. He also began to edit the yearbook of the Österreichischer Alpenverein (Austrian Alpine Association), of which he became secretary in that year.
List was an ardent, enthusiastic mountaineer and hiker. On one of these adventures List came very close to losing his life. While climbing a mountain on May 8, 1871 in the Großes Höllental (Larger Valley of Hell) leading up to the Rax mountain in Lower Austria, a mass of ice gave way under his feet and he fell some distance. He was apparently saved only by the fact that he had landed on a soft surface covered by a recent snowfall. In memory of his good luck and to help others, at his own expense List had the track equipped with a chain put up and officially opened by him on June 21, 1871. It was also named (now called Gaislochsteig) after him the "Guido-List-Steig."
On June 24, 1875, List was camping with four friends near the ruins of Carnuntum. As the 1500th anniversary of the Germanic tribes' defeat of this Roman garrison in 375, the evening carried a lot of weight for List. Carnuntum became the title of List's first full-length novel, published in two volumes in 1888. After its success, it was followed by two more books set in tribal Germany; Jung Diethers Heimkehr ("Young Diether's Homecoming", 1894) and Pipara (1895). These books led to List being celebrated by the pan-German movement. Around the turn of the century, he continued with several plays.
Nobility and title
Between 1903 and 1907, he began using the noble title von on occasion, before finally settling on it permanently in 1907. As this was only permitted for members of the aristocracy, he faced an official enquiry. Here he produced evidence supporting his claim, which was accepted by the officials heading the inquiry.
In late 1918, the 70 year old List was in poor health during the final stages of World War I in which the naval blockade of the Central Powers created food shortages in Vienna.
In the spring of 1919, at the age of 71, List and his wife set off to recuperate and meet followers at the manor house of Eberhard von Brockhusen, a List society patron who lived at Langen in Brandenburg, Germany.
On arrival at the Anhalter Station at Berlin, List was too exhausted to continue the journey. After a doctor had diagnosed a lung inflammation, his health deteriorated quickly, and he died in a Berlin guesthouse on the morning of May 17, 1919. He was cremated in Leipzig and his ashes laid in an urn and then buried in Vienna Central Cemetery, Zentralfriedhof, in the gravesite KNLH 413 - Vienna's largest and most famous cemetery (including the graves of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss.) in Vienna's 11th district of Simmering.
Philipp Stauff, a Berlin journalist, good friend of List and Armanist, wrote an obituary which appeared in the Münchener Beobachter called "Guido von List gestorben" on May 24, 1919, p. 4.
Guido von List was strongly influenced by the Theosophical thought of Madame Blavatsky, which he blended with his own racial religious beliefs, founded upon Germanic paganism.
List called his doctrine “Armanism” (after the Armanen, supposedly the heirs of the sun-king, a body of priest-kings in the ancient Ario-Germanic nation). Armanism was concerned with the esoteric doctrines of the gnosis (distinct from the exoteric doctrine intended for the lower social classes, Wotanism).
List claimed that the tribal name Herminones mentioned in Tacitus was a Latinized version of the German Armanen, and named his religion the Armanenschaft, which he claimed to be the original religion of the Germanic tribes. His conception of that religion was a form of sun worship, with its priest-kings (similar to the Icelandic goði) as legendary rulers of ancient Germany.
List claimed that the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria-Hungary constituted a continuing occupation of the Germanic tribes by the Roman empire, albeit now in a religious form, and a continuing persecution of the ancient religion of the Germanic peoples and Celts.
This conception bears strong resemblance to many other 19th century romanticised ideas of ancient polytheistic religions in Europe; a comparatively similar text in the thematic elements and overall textual bias is the famous Oera Linda forgery from the Lowlands region of western Europe.
He also believed in magical powers of the old runes. In 1891 he claimed that heraldry was based on the magic of the runes. In April 1903, he had sent an article concerning the alleged Aryan proto-language to the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna. Its highlight was a mystical and occult interpretation of the runic alphabet. Although the article was rejected by the academy, it would later be expanded by List and become the basis for his entire ideology.
Among his ideological followers was Lanz von Liebenfels. More controversially, some allege that, in his pagan-Theosophical synthesis, List developed the direct precursor of occult Nazism. His defenders counter that any influence was indirect and inconsequential; in Nazi Germany the strongest occult influence upon Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was Brigadeführer Karl Maria Wiligut who believed List's Armanism to be a heresy from his own ancestral religion of Irminism and had various of List's followers interned in concentration camps.
List's concept of renouncing Christianity, a Semitic religion intertwined with Judaism, and returning to the pagan religions of the ancient Europeans did nevertheless find some supporters within the Nazi party and is favoured by some advocates of Neo-Nazism and White Nationalism in their turn. Germanic paganism has, as a result, been linked to Nazism since the early twentieth century — unfairly, in the eyes of many pagan revivalists.
List’s Ariosophy was closely related to the philosophy of the Thule Society which founded the German Workers’ Party (DAP), the predecessor of the Nazi party (NSDAP). List’s prophecy that a “German Messiah” would save Germany after World War I was popular among Thule members. Thule member and publicist Dietrich Eckart expressed his anticipation in a poem he published in 1919, months before he met Hitler for the first time. In the poem, Eckart refers to ‘the Great One’, ‘the Nameless One’, ‘Whom all can sense but no one saw’. When the Thules met Hitler in 1919, many believed him to be the prophesied redeemer. As most Thule members were socially and politically influential, their faith was crucial to Hitler’s meteoric rise.