The action in Baron Blackwolf: Dogs of God takes place from 1914 to 1920. The sweep of the story carries us from the Baltic sea coast castle of the von Schwartzwolfs, to the decadent salons of St. Petersburg in the last days of the Russian Empire, through the chaos of Revolution, and on to Siberia and Mongolia during the Russian Civil War -- a conflict fought mostly along the Trans-Siberian railroad and dominated by fantastic armored trains; battleships on rails.

Two historical themes are united in this story:

The savage exploits of a modern Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), the “Mad Baron” Roman von Ungern Sternberg, and the historically documented werewolf tradition of the 17th century “Dogs of God” in the Mad Baron’s own Baltic homeland.

The two themes fit together so well that it not surprising that Baron Sternberg, who slept with his man-eating dogs, was rumored to be a werewolf. His atrocities and tortures were legendary. His mad vision was apocalyptic. If his evil had not been eclipsed by Hitler and Stalin, he would have been infamous as the most depraved warlord of the 20th century.

The Mad Baron

Roman von Ungern Sternberg came from a German-Russian family descended from the Teutonic Knights of old Livonia. The German Knights had sojourned in Hungary after the Crusades, and thus Sternberg could claim descent from Attila the Hun. His family were all robber-barons, pirates and mercenaries. He was a trouble maker as a boy and a brawler in the Russian army. Before World War One he was sent to Mongolia because he was too hot-headed for garrison duty in Siberia. While there he learned the tactics of Mongolian terrorism from the “Two-Gun Lama” Jansang Khan.

But the outbreak of war with Germany called him to the European front where his reckless bravery won him the coveted Cross of St. George and a series of promotions. When the 1917 Revolution broke out Sternberg, an ardent monarchist, sided with the White Russian forces against the Bolsheviks. It is possible that he was allied with the mysterious Buddhist lama spy-master Agvan Dorjieff in a plot to carve out a huge Mongol empire in Central Asia. (One of Dorjieff’s disciples was Sternberg’s supply officer.)

Once in Siberia General von Sternberg invaded Mongolia with a rag-tag regiment of Cossacks, Russian Mongols, and assorted soldiers of fortune. They defeated a Chinese warlord’s army in a spectacular battle for the city of Urga and proceeded to set a new standard for rape and pillage.

Sternberg had received a serious head wound and was disfigured by an angry scar. Perhaps this was what drove him insane, but whatever the cause of his madness, the results were horrific. He fed his enemies, and even his own men, to his vicious dogs. He froze men to death and baked them in ovens. He believed he was the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. He created his own religion that was a mixture of the Biblical Revelation and Buddhist Shambhala. The blind High Lama Bogdo-gegen declared him “The Warlord of Mongolia.”

By this time he was completely mad and wore an array of Buddhist and shamanic fetishes. He was so feared that no one dared to look into his ferocious eyes, and no one dared to disobey his orders.

His mad dream was to raise a Mongol horde and attack the Red Army in Siberia, driving them back to Moscow while hanging a Bolshevik every 100 meters along the way (shades of Vlad the Impaler!). His first battle with the Reds was a victory, but the second was a disaster. In the aftermath his own men turned against and he was captured.

One story has it that he chewed up and swallowed this Cross of St. George before he was executed, the second version is that the Bolshevik firing squad used it as an aiming point. In our version of the legend Gunter von Schwartzwolf becomes “The Mad Baron.”

The Mongolian and Livonian Werewolves

The werewolves in Baron Blackwolf are not unfortunate victims of moon-madness who undergo involuntary physical transformations into beasts. They are members of a very ancient clan of shamanic hunter-warriors who have the wolf as their totem animal, and their spirit double.

Although we can surmise that the cult originated with feral wolf children in the Altai Mountains of what is now Mongolia, the earliest mention of these werewolves comes from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. He connects them with the Central Asian Scythians and places them in the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe.

Successive migrations of peoples from the same Mongolian point of origin into Eastern Europe continued the werewolf tradition: following the Scythians, came the Turks who believed they descended from a man mating with a she-wolf, then came the Huns, and the Magyars, all with wolf legends, and finally the Mongols themselves who believed they sprang from the mating of the gray wolf Borte Chiona, and the red deer, Quaal Maral.

The tradition spread into Northern Europe and spawned German warrior cults who called themselves “Wolf-Coats,” wearing wolf-skins and wielding iron claws. The medieval Teutonic Knights of who fought the Pagan witches and warlocks in the Baltic wilderness where our von Schwartzwolf castle was located had sojourned in Hungary after returning from the Crusades, and had brought the Hungarian “Taltos” shape-shifting shamanic lore with them.

Finally the “Dogs of God” were exposed in the famous werewolf trial of Thiess in late 17th century Livonia. The old werewolf admitted that he and his companions made yearly journeys down to hell on Christmas Eve to scourge the witches and bring back the seeds they had stolen so that the peasants could have a good harvest. The “Dogs” may have been werewolves, but they were good Christians and their trip to hell was certainly a shamanic spirit voyage worthy of Castaneda’s Don Juan.

See a picture of the Baron and listen to his marching song, "To the Glory of the Fatherland."

Copyright 2012 by Old Iron Box Productions.