Ep 12: Nazi & UFOs [Pt 2]: The Occult & Secret Technology
Note: Embedded videos in this post are necessarily reliable sources and may contain information that isn’t factual. They are included as examples of the sorts of Nazi UFO lore that exists, not as sources or citations.
Welcome back to the UFO Rabbit Hole Podcast. I’m your host, Kelly Chase.
Today we begin part 2 in our 3 part series on the intersection of Nazi and UFO lore. In part 1, we explored the emergence of the modern concept of the UFO which traces its roots back to a string of sightings in 1947, including the infamous alleged flying saucer crash in Roswell, New Mexico. That context is crucial for understanding how Nazi UFO lore evolved, so if you haven’t listened to part one yet, I recommend that you start there.
In this episode, we’re going to begin to dive into the complex web of mythology connecting UFOs to Nazi Germany. It’s a strange world where the occult, art, ancient religions, international intrigue, and secret technology collide to create a dense and potent lore. It speaks to us in the language of our most primordial myths, and yet there is an undeniable modernity to it. The specificity of names, places, and events intertwined with these fantastical stories lends them an uncanny immediacy that one doesn’t often find in legends and scriptures.
Through the refraction of Nazi UFO lore, we can see the shadows of humanity grappling with the incomprehensible. The horrors of modern warfare, the more than 6 million lives lost to an unspeakable Holocaust, and 200,000 more vaporized into nothingness just three weeks after the first successful test of a nuclear bomb—the collective trauma of these events lives in us. These events didn’t just change the world—in many ways they created a new one as the world that existed before became irretrievable.
As a species, we’ve always used myths and symbols to communicate and collectively process the things for which we don’t have words. And so it’s not surprising that a baroque mythology has sprung up around the events of WWII. We have a deep human need to process these things in a way that is more than just historical.
And at the same time that this mythology began to form, a new kind of archetype was emerging in our collective consciousness—that of the UFO. In the form of the flying saucer, ancient symbols of the otherworldly and divine coalesced around a new paradigm—one that was distinctly modern and technological. And as with the gods of old, the UFO became a sort of Rorschach inkblot onto which we projected our cultural hopes and anxieties. We can see this as we track the ways that these stories and our interpretation of them shift and evolve over time.
Which isn’t to say that the UFO phenomenon doesn’t represent something real. I personally believe that it does. When you trace all these sprawling and divergent mythologies to their root, it seems impossible to deny that there’s something real there. What else are we to make of decades of declassified documents that seem to show that the government and military has long grappled with the phenomenon—not as an outside possibility, but as a present and potentially dangerous reality.
The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was fascinated with UFOs largely because of their singular position at the very intersection of the real and the mythical. He had many different opinions on the nature of the UFO phenomenon throughout his life, but near the end he seemed to settle on the opinion that UFOs were “an archetype with physical attributes”.
Now we could spend all day unpacking what that might mean and whether we should approach that statement literally or metaphorically, but I don’t want to get lost in the weeds. What’s most important for today’s purposes is just that we recognize this dichotomy within the lore—that it speaks both to something real and to something mythical. We need that understanding to begin to unpack and deconstruct these stories in the hopes of uncovering the deeper truths that they point to.
The Lore: UFOs, Nazis & The Occult
Alright. So let’s get to the good part—the UFO lore itself. Our goal in this first pass will be simply to take an overview of the UFO lore surrounding WWII. Then we can circle back and begin to deconstruct it to see what it all might mean. But for now, you can take off your critical thinking hat and just marinate in the weirdness.
Madame Helena Blavatsky & Theosophy
And we’ll start with the connection between Nazi Germany and the occult.
In many ways, the roots of the philosophy that would come to underpin the Nazi party, as well as the origin point for many of the most fantastical elements of UFO lore surrounding the events of WWII can be found in the same place—in the writings of a notorious 19th century author and spiritualist, Madame Helena Blavatsky.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was born in what is now Ukraine in 1831. Born into an aristocratic family, Blavatsky was highly unusual among women of her time. Quick-witted and stunningly well read, the largely self-educated Blavatsky traveled widely as a child. During her teenage years her self-driven curiosity and scholarship led her to develop an interest in Western esotericism.
At the age of 17, she agreed to marry a Vice Governor of a province in the Russian Empire who was nearly 30 years her senior. It’s not totally clear why she agreed to marry him, although she was reported to have later said that she was attracted to his belief in magic
However, whatever enthusiasm she may have had regarding the union quickly dissipated. After trying unsuccessfully to stop the marriage, she moved with him to Sardar Palace where she then made repeated attempts to run away. Her husband and family finally relented and plans were made to allow her to travel back to her family with two servants as escorts.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Blavatsky seized the opportunity to escape from her chaperones and bribed the captain of a ship, eventually arriving in Constantinople.
From there she began what came to be decades of globetrotting, traveling to Greece, Egypt, India, America, Canada, and, most shockingly, to Tibet — a country that was strictly closed off to foreigners. Throughout these travels, she claimed to have met and studied under several different esoteric masters.
These masters revealed to her ancient occult secrets and histories that were the basis of a lost religion from a more spiritually and technologically advanced chapter in humanity’s distant past.
She also claimed to be a powerful medium and tales of her astounding paranormal abilities made her a prominent figure in the growing spiritualist movement.
Isis Unveiled & The Secret Doctrine
Madame Blavatsky wrote two books: Isis Unveiled in 1871 and The Secret Doctrine in 1888. These books formed the foundation of a new belief system which she called Theosophy. Central to Theosophy is a belief in the existence of a shadowy group of spiritual adepts known as the Masters who are essentially the guardians of secret ancient wisdom.
Based primarily in underground strongholds in Tibet, these Masters comprised a fraternity of highly evolved men who had attained advanced levels of moral and intellectual development. Due to their enlightened nature, these Masters were said to have gained supernatural powers including clairvoyance, astral projection, telepathy, and more. Through their mastery of secret knowledge they had also achieved extra-long life spans allowing them to live for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Madame Blavatsky claimed that both of her books were more-or-less dictated to her telepathically by the Masters and that what was revealed within them was no less than the one true universal religion. As evidence of the mystical origins of these texts some of Blavatsky’s followers and associates claimed that she had no access to many of the books that she directly quoted in her writing, implying that she had received them word-for-word through paranormal means.
We could spend all day talking through the various sprawling and tangled beliefs outlined in Blavatsky’s work, but we won’t. I will include a bunch of resources in the episode brief if you’d like to explore that further. However, for the purposes of this conversation, there is one belief in particular that is of special importance and that is the idea of root races and subraces.
Races & Subraces
In her writing, Madame Blavatsky claimed that humanity can be divided into various root races, which can be further divided into subraces. Drawing from a variety of ancient traditions, Madame Blavatsky presented the following history of humanity and its various root races on this planet:
The first root race on the planet was the Polarians. They were not physical beings as we imagine them, but existed in an ethereal state of pure spirit and reproduced by dividing themselves like amoebas.
The second root race was the Hyperboreans, who were the first physical manifestation of humans. They lived in a land called Hyperborea in what is now Northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, and Northern Asia.
The third root race was the Lemurians. Lemuria was supposedly an ancient, mostly sunken land mass in the Indian Ocean, the remains of which are modern-day Australia. Due to the prevailing belief that the Earth was 200 million years old, Blavatsky claimed that the Lemurians lived alongside dinosaurs. They also reproduced by laying eggs. I don’t even know what to say about that. Lemuria was wild.
The fourth root race was the Atlanteans—as in, the literal inhabitant of Atlantis. The Atlanteans represent the golden age of human civilization and evolution. These people didn’t just have psychic abilities, but advanced technology including flying machines. However, as is common in Atlantean mythology, the people of Atlantis became materialistic and warlike, with some of them even turning to black magic. All of this led to the eventual sinking of Atlantis, from which only a few of the white magic magicians managed to escape after having been warned of the coming cataclysm by the Masters.
These magicians then became the founders of the fifth root race—the Aryans. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
Aryans were thought to be the literal and spiritual descendents of the golden age of men. As such they were a more spiritually pure, civilized, and intellectually advanced race than other subraces, which were regarded to be more like animals than like the divine, spiritual beings from which they believed themselves to descend.
Blavatsky was not the first to make these claims about the existence of a superior Aryan race descended from the survivors of Atlantis, but she certainly played one of the most significant roles in introducing it to the mainstream—the devastating results of which will be forever etched into our collective psyche.
We’ll come back to this in a bit.
The Rise Of The Occult In Europe
There were other similar ideologies percolating around the same time that both borrowed from and expanded upon the tenets of Theosophy that would also prove to be influential in the coming decades.
Vril: The Coming Race
In 1871, Edward Bulwer-Lytton first anonymously published his book called Vril: The Coming Race. This novel told the story of a wealthy traveler who, while exploring a natural chasm deep within a mineshaft, discovers a subterranean civilization of highly advanced beings called the Vril-ya.
These beings are described as angelic and their city, whose architecture mirrors that of ancient Egypt, is a technological Utopia. The traveler learns that they are the descendants of an ancient people who fled underground thousands of years ago to escape a great flood.
Their technology is powered by an “all-permeating fluid” called “Vril”, a latent source of energy that is in everything. Vril is described as an immeasurable force that can be used for healing, for destruction, and for anything in between. The spiritually elevated Vril-ya people are able to master and control this energy through training of their will, however, the degree to which they are able to do so depends on their bloodline and heredity.
Although this was published as a fictional account, the narrative was well aligned to the emerging belief system at the center of a growing pagan rivivalist movement in Europe. Spurred by the rise of Theosophy and other similar spiritualist movements, many of which adopted “Vril” as the term for a universal power connecting all things, the lines between fact and fiction, and between science and myth were increasingly blurry. This caused many to take this novel as being, if not a direct history, than at least an allegory pointing to a fundamental truth.
In the lead up to WWII this belief in Vril was alleged to be literal among many high-ranking members of Germany’s most influential occult fraternities. One person said to be adept at harnessing this power was a powerful medium named Maria Orsic—a legendary beauty with long blonde hair. Orsic was the leader of a shadowy occult group called The Vril Society which was essentially a black lodge of powerful magicians who allegedly played a major role in eventually bringing Hitler to power.
The Thule Society
Another occultist group that figured prominently in the rise of Nazi Germany was The Thule Society. Thule was supposedly the name of a mystical homeland from which the Aryan people originated. Located at the Northernmost point on the globe, through an entrance to a subterranean world, Thule was said to be populated by a race of light skinned, blue-eyed, blonde haired giants who had once ruled the world.
The primary focus of the Thule Society was an obsession with the origins and protection of the Aryan race. Those who wanted to join the Thule Society had to sign a special “blood declaration of faith” concerning their lineage which stated:
The signer hereby swears to the best of his knowledge and belief that no Jewish or coloured blood flows in either his or in his wife’s veins, and that among their ancestors are no members of the coloured races.
Perhaps not surprisingly, membership into this group reads like a “Who’s Who” of prominent Nazi leaders and sympathizers, the most notorious of which was Heinrich Himmler, a leading member of the Nazi party and the man considered to be the architect of the Holocaust.
Nazis & The Occult
It’s not hard to see how this potent mix of racism, fervent nationalism, and spiritualist awakening took root in Germany in the years after WWI. For a country that was morally and financially decimated in that defeat, this movement offered a compelling remedy in the form of a renewed national pride and identity, a clear group of “others” to scapegoat for their problems, and the insinuation of a forgotten power that, if discovered and properly harnessed, could vanquish their enemies once and for all.
Although there was a lot of variation in the details, the ideas that gained traction among the nativist German cults that arose in the aftermath of WWI took on a predictable shape and shared several basic core tenants.
Core Occult Beliefs Of Nazi Germany
First and foremost was the belief in the existence and superiority of a distinct Aryan race that is directly descended from some kind of more highly evolved beings.
The second is a belief in a true Aryan homeland. This pagan “Garden of Eden” is the point of origin for the Aryan race. Its alleged location varies, with the most common being either Atlantis or some sort of Hollow Earth situation whose entrance is generally considered to be in the arctic.
The third is a belief in ancient and secret knowledge that is somehow associated with unimaginable power that can be both spiritual and technological in nature.
And tying all of this together was a convoluted mix of myth, world religions, emerging science, and virulent racism that was both flexible and wide-reaching enough to seemingly fit any sort of narrative or belief system that you wanted to ascribe to it. Like water, it can find its way through even the finest seam, settling into the cracks and low places. And in the hard freeze of war it destroys everything it permeates from within.
Lost Civilization, Secret Knowledge & Ancient Technology
What followed wasn’t just one of the most gruesome and macabre chapters of our history, but one of the most truly bizarre, as well.
Many leaders and high-ranking officials within the Nazi party believed that a wild hodgepodge of things from Norse gods to ancient Atlantis to the legends of the King Arthur to ancient Hindu texts were literally true. And not only that, they believed that these stories contained clues to locating the supernatural powers and weapons described within them. And this wasn’t just a passing interest, but an obsession into which they poured considerable amounts of resources.
In July of 1935, just four years before the start of WWII, head of the notorious Nazi SS, Heinrich Himmler established the Ahnenerbe, which means “inheritance of the forefathers”. The primary function of the Ahnenerbe was to serve as a think tank devoted to the task of promoting the racial doctrines of the Nazi Party.
Specifically this meant finding “evidence” (in giant air quotes) to support the idea that modern Germans descended from an ancient Aryan race that was biologically superior to other racial groups. That “evidence” could then be turned into propaganda providing a scientific justification for Nazi ideology. To meet its aims, it employed scholars from a wide range of academic fields, including archaeology, anthropology, ethnology, history, musicology, biology, zoology, botany, astronomy, medicine, and more.
However, it was alleged that this wasn’t all that was going on within the Ahnenerbe. Himmler also believed that the group’s investigations might reveal ancient secrets and even ancient weapons which Nazi Germany could use against its enemies in the war. Through the Ahnenerbe, Himmler funded expeditions in search of Atlantis, Thor’s Hammer, and Shambhala, the spiritual kingdom of Tibetan Buddhism.
And Himmler’s hatred for all Judeo-Christian religions didn’t stop him from mining their scriptures and legends in search of whatever ancient secrets may be hidden there, as well. He launched campaigns in search of relics like the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, which he believed to be sources of tremendous otherworldly power.
And according to certain UFO lore, the Ahnenerbe was successful—though what exactly they found is the matter of some debate. Some think they found vast ancient treasures or Templar gold. Some think they found evidence of and blueprints for ancient highly advanced technology and weaponry. Some believe that they found a powerful relic like the Grail which opened up a line of communication between the Nazi leadership and some sort of extraterrestrial or supernatural beings that gave them aid in the war.
But whatever the source, what the Ahnenerbe discovered gave them a staggering technological advantage that very nearly turned the outcome of the war.
Secret Nazi Technology
Or perhaps these technological advantages didn’t come from the Ahnenerbe—or at least, not only from the Ahnenerbe.
According to some UFO lore there are other explanations, as well. Some say that the powerful medium, Maria Orsic, was in communication with advanced beings who telepathically relayed instructions to her for the construction of advanced flying machines that looked very much like flying saucers.
Still others claim that Germany had their own version of Roswell in 1936, just three years before WWII, when a UFO crashed into the Black Forest in Friesberg. The residents of the town allegedly awoke to what sounded like a massive plane crash and found a disc-shaped object that had crashed nearby containing the bodies of multiple humanoid, but definitely not human, crew mem
The story goes that within hours members of the SS appeared and took possession of the craft and its crew, both of which were whisked off for scientific examination. From there German scientists worked to reverse engineer the craft, leading to massive breakthroughs in antigravity technology.
Die Glocke: The Nazi Bell
And, in the lore, there are plenty of stories of experimental Nazi technology including disc-shaped antigravity craft. Perhaps the most notorious of these was Die Glocke, or The Bell, in reference to its shape. This mysterious craft was said to stand 12-14 feet high and 9 feet wide and was made out of a thick ceramic material. When turned on, it was rumored to glow and spin and to have “some sort of anti gravitational effect”.
Although it’s exact purpose is the subject of some debate, it was generally thought to be some kind of Nazi super weapon, antigravity craft, or even possibly, a time machine. It was believed to be powered by a mysterious purplish, liquid, metallic-looking substance called “Xerum 525” which was highly radioactive.
As a result, most of the people who worked closely with Die Glocke died from the effects of radiation, which was convenient for keeping this powerful weapon a secret. At the end of the war it seemingly disappeared, vanishing without a trace.
Other potential evidence of highly advanced Nazi aircraft began to be reported by Allied Pilots over both Europe and the Pacific starting in 1944. Again and again, they described seeing fiery lights in the sky. Glowing red, white, or orange, these lights were reported to follow Allied aircraft conducting impossible maneuvers and moving at impossible speeds. In their movements they seemed to be toying with them.
Could the Nazis really have discovered paradigm shattering technology during the war? And if so, could they have been helped by some mysterious non-human intelligence? These questions form the foundation for the bulk of UFO lore, and there are many who believe that the answer is yes.
Including, by the way, our old buddy, Tom DeLonge. Now granted, just because Tom Delonge believes it doesn’t mean that it’s true. But based on everything we discussed in episodes 6 and 7, I always find it interesting to consider.
Escape To Antarctica
But if the Nazis did develop this technology, where did it go? What happened to it after the war?
According to the lore, top SS officers, including Hitler himself, escaped Germany with their advanced technology at the end of the war to a land they called Neuschwabenland. Established in 1939, Neuschwabenland was a colony in remote Antarctica.
It was said that the Nazis were lead to this vast, icy wasteland from secret knowledge discovered by the Ahnenerbe on their expeditions—perhaps from ancient texts in Tibet.
As for what they found there, and why they would choose to make their new home in such an inhospitable climate, that is a matter of much debate. Some say that the ancient texts revealed that Antarctica was the original home of Atlantis, and that the Atlantean civilization still existed under the ice and deep underground. Others say that Antarctica is the location of a secret alien base.
Whatever the specifics, the same sinister central theme remains the same—the Fourth Reich lives on somewhere in Antarctica, and they are potentially being aided by a highly advanced non-human intelligence with technology far beyond our understanding.
Deconstructing The Lore
Now that we’ve looked at the UFO lore surrounding WWII, the obvious question is—how much of this can possibly be true?
And, as is always the case in this world of high strangeness, the answer to that is complicated.
As we discussed in the previous episode, the modern concept of UFOs didn’t really pop into the wider public consciousness until a few years after the end of WWII. And even then, it took several years and even decades more for the concept to fully evolve into the popular version of the phenomenon that we’re familiar with today. Even the most fundamental tropes such as their extraterrestrial origins weren’t a given in those early days, and only became so after a prolonged period of collective interpretation through the cultural zeitgeist.
So what are we to make of UFO lore that predates what are largely regarded to be the earliest modern UFO sightings?
We recognize that, although 1947 marked the beginning of the modern interpretation of the UFO phenomenon, that this phenomenon wasn’t new at all—it was ancient. Humans have recorded interactions with strange beings and craft that come from the sky since the dawn of history. But whereas in the past these events were interpreted through a metaphysical lens, often being attributed to gods, angels, and fairies, 1947 marked the decisive inflection point where this phenomenon became widely interpreted to be technological, rather than mystical, in nature.
So certainly, there is no reason to believe that there were no UFOs before 1947. We know that there were. And we know for a fact that there were a large number of sightings of anomalous aerial phenomena throughout WWII by the armed forces on every side of the conflict. So the emergence of WWII UFO lore isn’t arbitrary. It clearly has some correlation to actual recorded historical events.
However, it’s also clear that the particulars of this lore as we know it today developed largely through the lens of the understanding of the phenomenon that emerged in the years and decades after the war. More modern interpretations were applied to events in the ever more distant past, and the result—inevitably—are stories that likely point to actual events, but the extent to which they resemble these actual events is hard to say.
Complicating matters further is that in applying modern interpretations to events of the past, one has the advantage of hindsight. The tales that were woven in the second half of the 20th century about UFOs during WWII, in many ways, conform to recorded history. Real people, real events, real secret missions, and real secret technology are woven throughout the fabric of this lore making it hard to tell where history ends and fantasy begins. These tales have an element of “truthiness” that can make them as difficult to fully debunk as they are to believe.
And yet, if you’re at all like me, there’s a part of you that really wants to believe it—all of it. There’s a reason that they based the entire Indiana Jones franchise on this stuff. It has all the stuff of myths & legends wrapped up with the more modern and immediate symbol of evil in the form of Nazi Germany. To grapple with the new technological horrors that emerged during WWII, we instinctively reach for the myths of our past to help us find meaning.
But myths are not meant to be taken literally. Nor are they to be dismissed lightly. For they contain within them potent, primordial symbols that can help us to begin to decode the aspects of human experience of which we do not have the words to speak.
So let’s take a little time to deconstruct this lore and see what new perspectives might be revealed. And we’ll start this exercise where we started before—with Madame Helena Blavatsky.
Was Madame Helena Blavatsky A Fraud?
When we think about the fantastical stories of Madame Blavatsky’s life and her channeling of the tenets of Theosophy from the great hidden masters, the most obvious question is, is this chick for real? Surely, she must have been a fraud, right?
And the short answer is, of course she was. While various biographers have argued both for and against the reality of Blavatsky’s extraordinary claims, it’s difficult for any rational person to deny that entire portions of her history and backstory appear to be largely—if not entirely— fabricated.
For example, the stories of her extensive travels have been often called into question. While it’s not disputed that she managed to lose the chaperones who were escorting her back to her family, what happened next is a matter of some considerable controversy. According to Blavatsky’s later accounts, after arriving in Constantinople she began nearly a decade of globetrotting, visiting multiple continents and even managing to make it into Tibet.
There are a few reasons why her claims are disputed:
The first is that, if Madame Blavatsky really did go to all of these places, it would make her one of the greatest travelers of the 19th century. Traveling in the mid-19th century was grueling and dangerous. Travelers on the road were vulnerable to an almost innumerable set of dangers ranging from disease to animal attacks to high-way banditry.
Travel by boat was equally treacherous — if not more so, for obvious reasons. So you can see how one might question how Madame Blavatsky — a plump, unathletic, aristocratic woman who was often traveling alone — could have managed to make even one of the journeys she later described in her writings, much less all of them.
But that’s not the only reason that her accounts are questionable.
There’s also the fact that the stories that she later told of her travels were fairly fantastical in nature. Among these she claimed to have saved a famous opera singer from being murdered, to have been a concert musician for the Royal Philharmonic in London, to have survived mulitple shipwrecks, and to have encountered and studied under a number of mysterious esoteric masters around the world.
And the final, and perhaps most damning, challenge to Madame Blavatsky’s accounts of her world travels is that her stories are all almost entirely uncorroborated. She kept no personal diary or records during this time period, and virtually no evidence exists to support her claims. Add to that the fact that her accounts often conflicted with each other in terms of chronology and other key details, and there is considerable reason to believe that this chapter of her life was largely a work of self-promotional fiction.
There was also the question of her purported supernatural abilities. Madame Blavatsky made a name for herself in the spiritualist circles of New York City, by conducting seances where she allegedly displayed these remarkable powers. However, investigations that have been done into these claims revealed them to likely be rather cheap and obvious magic tricks rather than mystical manifestations.
For example, letters allegedly sent from the deceased or from the secret masters with whom she was allegedly in contact would often “magically” appear in a box on the wall in her dining room. And once a teacup that was broken during a seance and placed into this box was “miraculously” fixed when it was opened a few moments later. Investigators noted that this box conveniently shared a wall with Blavatsky’s private quarters, and it was claimed that a secret panel was found connecting them.
Why Did Blavatsky’s Message Resonate?
However, while the mystical origins of Blavatsky’s Theosophy were almost certainly fraudulent, her work resonated deeply with many highly educated people. And her books are undoubtedly works of remarkable scope and scholarship, particularly for a woman of her day.
Blavatsky’s ability to blend Western esotericism & Eastern thought with cutting edge science tapped into something potent. In the midst of the ontological chaos of the time period, Theosophy provided a way for people to acknowledge the inroads made in science without abandoning their connection to the mystical. And it gave a new relevancy and weight to spiritual beliefs that had become increasingly under attack from science, using science itself as justification. The fact that much of this “science” consisted of idiosyncratic misinterpretations and misrepresentations of scientific theories didn’t really matter.
The Rise Of Fascism
But to truly understand why this kind of ideology resonated so strongly with many in the lead-up to WWII we need to understand the rise of fascism itself. Because, although Blavatsky is often credited with birthing the ideology that eventually evolved into the core of Nazi belief, I’d actually argue that Theosophy was not the spark that lit that fire. The environment that gave rise to fascist belief systems existed independently of this New Age thought, and what followed upon their inevitable collision was a symbiotic relationship that fueled both movements.
The beginnings of fascist thought began to emerge in the 1880’s as a revolt against the rising emergence of materialism and positivism—which we discussed in the last episode—but also against urban liberalism, and democracy. They condemned individualism which they saw as corrosive to the basic structure of society and believed that each person was only one part of the larger collective. Many believed that civilization was at a dangerous turning point which would require a massive and total solution to avoid the destruction of humanity as we know it.
After Germany suffered a humiliating and financially devastating defeat in WWI, this fascist undercurrent began to gather into the mounting tsunami that would soon crash down upon Europe. In their defeat, Germany lost something vital—a shared national identity of which they could feel proud. And as their economy buckled under the weight of their war debts, many were looking for a scapegoat to blame for their sorry state of affairs.
As is generally always the case, there were those who had profiteered off of the war, which only added to the working class distrust of the urban elite. And due to a rising tide of fervent German nationalism along with virulent anti-semitism, the “urban elite” became more and more synonymous with the Jews. As a result, Jewish people became the scapegoats for all of the ills that had befallen Germany since the end of the war, and were even blamed for the loss of the war itself.
What theosophy and other similar occult and spiritualist movements provided for the Nazis was an ideological underpinning that served to tie together their disparate beliefs, wishes, and deep anti-semitism into one unified narrative.
Within this mythology they were not a defeated and embarrassed people. They were the descendents of the Aryans—a noble race of highly advanced beings who themselves were descended from the gods. And it was very easy within that paradigm to then relegate their enemies to the ranks of “lower races” who were further removed from their divine origins and therefore less civilized, and in many ways, less human. And by positioning these sketchy esoteric histories that were clearly steeped in the prejudices of their own time alongside emerging scientific ideas like the theory of evolution, it lent a weight and credibility to their belief system that it wouldn’t have otherwise had.
That’s a very dangerous combination. It allowed them to think the best of themselves and the worst of their enemies. It turned a political and social struggle into a mystical one with profound stakes. It gave them a destiny that had to be fulfilled, and a birthright that had to be defended—whatever the cost. And it gave them a means to shut themselves off to one of the most essential pieces of their own humanity—our fundamental recognition of the inherent value and sanctity of human life.
And though it’s been 80 years, we still don’t have words for the darkness that followed.
Did The Nazis Really Have Advanced Technology?
The next major piece of UFO lore is the idea that during WWII, the Nazis were in possession of advanced technology far beyond that of any other country—and that this technology came dangerously close to changing the outcome of the war.
So is there any evidence that this was the case?
It turns out that there is.
Wernher von Braun & The German Rocket Program
Although the space race that would follow the war was almost exclusively a race between the Cold War superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union, it was actually the Germans who made many of the early breakthroughs in rocket technology that made space exploration a possibility. And many of these breakthroughs occurred during the war.
In 1942, led by a brilliant young scientist named Wernher von Braun, Germany developed the world’s first ballistic missile, the V2. With a range of 200 miles, the V-2 could travel at 3,500 miles per hour while packing a 2,200-pound warhead. It far surpassed anything that the United States or the Soviets had in their arsenal at the time.
The German high command hoped the weapon would strike terror into the hearts of the British, in particular, and weaken their resolve. However, in the end, the V-2 ended up playing a much more minor role than they would have hoped. Though the first successful test flight took place in October 1942, the V-2 wasn’t prepared for operational combat firings until two years later in September of 1944, meaning that it was only a factor in the last year of the war.
By 1944, the British had already withstood four years of conventional bombing and managed to more or less keep life humming along, so the threat of the V-2 didn’t carry the same weight that it once would have. Which isn’t to say that the V-2 didn’t cause significant devastation during the year that it was in use, or that it wasn’t a formidable weapon. In one particularly destructive attack in Antwerp, a V-2 fell on a cinema in Antwerp, tragically killing 561 moviegoers. However, despite its capacity for devastation, it didn’t prove to be the game-changer in the war that the Nazi’s hoped it would be.
The V-2 did become a game-changer after the war though. The breakthroughs in rocketry that the Germans had made led by von Braun were essential to making space exploration a reality. Without that technology, we never would have made it to the moon.
So how did the Germans manage to beat both the United States and the Soviet Union in the development of this critical new technology? And how did they manage to accomplish these things in such a short period of time? Could the stories be true? Did they really have outside help? And where might this help have come from?
Let’s explore the possibilities. And we’ll start with an easy one—the case of Maria Orsic.
Was Maria Orsic real?
While there is plenty of lore surrounding the beautiful medium who channeled the plans for advanced flying machines from some extraterrestrial or otherworldly source, there is actually very little evidence to suggest that ever existed. Most historians consider her to be either entirely fabricated or perhaps a composite of various other spiritualist mediums at the time.
And as for the Vrill Society, there is evidence that such a group did exist, but it likely didn’t have nearly the power or influence within the Nazi party as is often suggested. It seems to have been a small occultist club whose significance was only conferred upon it years later as the Nazi UFO lore evolved.
So if we’re looking for the source of advanced Nazi technology, we’ll have to look elsewhere.
Did Germany Have A UFO Crash In 1936?
One obvious possibility suggested by the lore is that Germany had a Roswell-esque UFO crash that gave them a starting point from which they could begin to back engineer advanced technology. So what evidence is there that this could actually be the case?
Well, as you might imagine, there’s not much to find.
We’ve discussed in past episodes how notoriously opaque the Roswell case is. There is considerable evidence to suggest that something crashed in the desert in New Mexico that was almost certainly not a weather balloon, and that the government covered it up. But you can’t get much further than that without having to rely on rumor, speculation, or hearsay. There are lots of theories, but so far at least, no real smoking gun.
With the Black Forest crash in 1936, there’s far less to go on than that. In fact, in my research, I wasn’t able to find any mention of the alleged crash before 1993, where it appeared in the book Secret Societies & Their Power in the 20th Century by Jan van Helsing. I was unable to trace it back any further because it appears in this book without citation.
And Van Helsing, it should be noted, is a fairly notorious conspiracy theorist whose beliefs can only be classified as highly anti-semetic. He routinely cites The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in his work as a legitimate source. If you aren’t familiar, The Protocols is an incendiary and entirely fictional text outlining the alleged Jewish plan for global domination which the Nazis used to help justify the holocaust. So not only does Van Helsing expose himself as someone who lacks the discernment to properly vet his sources, but his clear pro-Nazi ideology gives him a clear motivation to advance narratives that romanticize and mythologize the Third Reich despite having no evidence that these events actually occurred.
Another piece of “evidence” for the crash that is often referenced in the lore is the German’s experimentation with antigravity that allegedly began shortly after the crash. But the evidence here is also highly circumstantial and not rooted in any direct evidence.
The German’s antigravity research was supposedly headed up by the Austrian naturalist, philosopher and inventor, Viktor Schauberger. Schauberger, in many ways, was like the Austrian version of Nikola Tesla, though he worked mostly with water instead of electricity in his pursuit of a more powerful and natural source of energy. Like Tesla, his esoteric approach to his research led him to important inventions and innovations, and also like Tesla, speculation about what he may have achieved beyond the scope of known science abounds.
Of particular interest to Schauberger were vortices in water, which he believed to be the key to unlocking these secret energy sources, and perhaps even antigravity. And Schauberger actually designed a craft that was essentially just like a flying saucer using a water-based propulsion system. However, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that this craft was anything more than hypothetical. And repeated attempts by engineers over the years to create a working prototype based on his designs have proved unsuccessful.
I’d also argue that it doesn’t make a ton of sense, especially based on what we know today, that the Germans would have been messing around with water-based anti-gravitic propulsion systems if they were, in fact, in possession of highly advanced, non-human technology. That just doesn’t add up.
So, while we can’t entirely rule out that the 1936 Black Forest UFO crash occurred, it seems pretty unlikely that this was the case.
Was The Die Glocke (Nazi Bell) UFO Real?
OK. So maybe there wasn’t a UFO crash. Maybe they got the technology from somewhere else. Maybe they discovered a lost extraterrestrial relic or maybe they made contact with a non-human intelligence by some other means. After all, what about Die Glocke? If the Nazi’s had paradigm shattering technology like that, we wouldn’t need to know for sure where they got it from to recognize the real possibility that they were helped in some way by a non-human intelligence, right?
And that’s true. However, although Die Glocke is perhaps the most famous example of the Nazi’s alleged advanced technology, it is, unfortuantely, one for which we have very little direct evidence.
In fact, it appears that the very first mention of Die Glocke was in a book that was published in 2000 by Polish author Igor Witkowski. In his book entitled The Truth About The Wonder Weapon, Witkowski claims to have discovered the existence of Die Glocke by reading transcripts from the interrogation of a former Nazi SS Officer named Jakob Sporrenberg.
Witkowskit alleged that he was shown the classified transcripts in August of 1997 by an anonymous Polish intelligence contact who had approached him claiming to have access to information and documents regarding secret Nazi weapons and technology. However, Witkowski claims that he was only allowed to transcribe the documents and was not allowed to make copies, so there is no direct evidence to prove that these documents ever actually existed.
In this way, Die Glocks is an excellent example of how UFO lore can develop long after the actual events that the lore references, and how historical events can be used to anchor stories and ideas that are born out of wild speculation—if not outright fraud—to lend them more weight and credibility.
After the publication of The Truth About The Wonder Weapon in 2000, the lore surrounding Die Glocke exploded, with various authors on the topic each adding their own interpretation and their own spin. For example, in his book, The Hunt For Zero Point, author Nick Cook proposed that notorious SS Officer Hans Kammler, a man who oversaw both the construction of the concentration camps and the V-2 rocket program, had traded Die Glocke to the Americans in exchange for his freedom.
It’s an interesting theory, however, it’s also a convenient one considering that Kammler’s actual fate after the war is unknown. Members of his staff claimed he died of cyanide poisoning in Germany in May of 1945, although there is no evidence for this. And it could easily have been a ruse to cover his escape considering that a body was never produced. Some have claimed that he was captured and taken to the US where he eventually took his own life inside of a maximum security prison—but there’s no real evidence to support this theory either.
And this is how it goes with much of the UFO lore related to Nazi Germany. The flimsiest shred of evidence—sometimes nothing more than a rumor—becomes the basis for a vast and complex mythology. The tendrils of this mythology twist their way through the historical record, co-opting and conforming to the details of actual people, places, and events just enough to give them the seeming weight of credibility.
They say that where there’s smoke, there’s fire—and I tend to agree. But in the case of much of the Nazi UFO lore, I’d argue that it’s not so much smoke as it is a thick fog that quickly burns away in the light of the morning sun.
Were The Foo Fighters In WWII Really UFOs?
But then there’s the case of the so-called “foo fighters”.
On their surface, the anomalous lights in the sky that were reported by Allied pilots during the war would seem like they would be the easiest stories to dismiss. After all, no real contact was made, and these sightings never culminated in any kind of an attack as you’d expect if it were German technology. And considering that the term “foo fighters” first appeared in reports at the end of 1944, less than a year before the end of the war, it doesn’t feel like a stretch to assume that these were fairly isolated incidents that were likely caused by exhaustion, combat fatigue, and simple misidentification.
However, once you dive into it, there’s a lot more to this story than meets the eye. In particular, I’d like to express my gratitude to Graeme (GrAY-um) Rendall for his book, UFOs Before Roswell: European Foo-Fighters 1940-1945, which was an invaluable resource while doing my research. If you are at all interested in this subject, you should absolutely check it out. I’ll leave a link in the episode description.
Rendall’s book is remarkable for compiling what is perhaps the most complete collection of reports concerning the phenomena that would become known as the “foo fighters”. And his research paints a clear picture of why it is that this phenomenon was not studied more closely.
And it wasn’t because these were isolated incidents. In fact, reports of anomalous lights and objects in the sky were recorded in official reports throughout the war both in Europe and over the Pacific. These reports included descriptions of flying “discs”, “torpedoes”, “swarms of bees”, and “balls of fire” of unknown origin, performing maneuvers that should have been impossible.
Airmen and intelligence officials alike were baffled by these objects in the sky, which they generally believed to be some sort of German secret weapon. However, as the war continued on for years without the emergence of a German superweapon that would explain these anomalous events, they only grew more perplexing.
In the fog of war, it was difficult for anyone to connect the dots on these anomalous events—partly because the events themselves were so varied and partly because the explanations for them kept changing to keep pace with the suspected German technology that they were thought to represent. First they were “balls of light” and then “rockets” and then finally “jets”. The name “foo fighters” wasn’t until the end of 1944—at which point some of the crews had become used to the encounters and mostly ignored them.
And then when the war ended in 1945, these phenomena seemingly disappeared. Intensive searches of German aeronautical facilities after the war didn’t turn up anything that might explain the so-called “foo fighters”, so there was no real reason for anyone to pursue the matter further. And when the modern UFO phenomenon emerged 2 years later in 1947, the new paradigm of the flying saucer didn’t seem to have much correlation to the “balls of light” and “swarms of bees” in the skies—and so the foo fighters were mostly forgotten.
However, looking at these reports now, it’s hard to deny that these airmen were seeing something in the skies. The reports are too numerous, and these highly trained aviators and intelligence officials are too credible as observers to be summarily dismissed. And whatever they were, we can be fairly certain that they weren’t secret German technology, because if they’d had it, they would have used it for something more impactful than the benign harassment of Allied pilots.
And looking at these reports it’s also clear that many of these anomalous objects displayed at least one of what Lue Elizondo calls the Five Observables of UAPs: antigravity, instantaneous acceleration, supersonic speeds without signatures, low observability, and trans-medium travel.
So what the heck were they? And what relation, if any, do they have to the modern UFO phenomenon?
There’s simply no way to know.
But I do think it’s interesting to recognize that the reports of the “foo fighters” aren’t unique in the history of warfare. In fact, going back to the time of the Romans, during the Punic Wars in the 3rd century B.C. there were multiple reports over a series of years about gleaming chariots and ships in the sky. There was even one report from 217 B.C. that spoke of a fleet of these gleaming ships that were in the shape of the traditional round, convex shape of a Roman shield—which when turned on its side looks a lot like a flying saucer.
Whatever UFOs are, they’ve seemingly always had an interest in our warfare. It’s a disquieting thought.
Final Verdict On Advanced Nazi Technology & UFOs
So back to our original question—is there evidence that the Nazis had highly advanced technology during WWII?
And the answer is—not really. Most of the evidence exists is highly circumstantial and speculative, with most of it emerging only in the last 30 years or so and rapidly evolving from there. And what credible evidence there is of the existence of anomalous & highly advanced technology during WWII—namely, the foo fighters—is almost certainly not German in origin.
So that just leaves the German rocket program, which admittedly did manage to develop rocket technology that was far beyond the reach of both of the world’s superpowers at the time—and without which we wouldn’t have made it to the moon. Could that be evidence of non-human intervention in the Nazi war effort?
The grim reality of the German rocketry program was that their advantage likely didn’t come from an outside source, but from within. During the war thousands of prisoners of the concentration camps were forced to help build the V-2 factory and assemble the rockets where they were worked literally to death—or worse. At least 10,000 died from illness, beatings or starvation.
Yeah, that’s probably how they beat us.
Did The Nazi Search For Ancient Treasures?
So, given everything that we’ve discussed about the evolution of Nazi UFO lore, you might assume that we can write off the more fantastical accounts of the Nazis searching for powerful ancient relics like the Holy Grail as mere fabrications. I mean, that part doesn’t even really make sense right? Why would anti-Christian occultists be seeking the object of a distinctly Christian myth?
But weirdly, this part of the story does seem to have some real truth to it. As unbelievable as it may sound, certain members of the Ahnenerbe really were on a quest of sorts to find ancient relics from legends of old—like some evil Wario version of the Knights of the Round Table. Some of them believed, not only that these relics were real, but that they represented advanced ancient technology that would give them an advantage in the war and lead them to victory.
Himmler, Thor’s Hammer & The Holy Grail
And chief among them was Heinrich Himmler. Himmler’s racist, supremacist world view was rooted in the most virulent strain of spiritualism as informed by writers like Madame Blavatsky. Himmler believed establishing a new Aryan empire would require resurrecting ancient Germanic myths and iconography. He believed that for the Aryan people to trump over the lesser races they needed to reject traditional Christian morality, replacing it with a new kind of pseudo-religion that drew on chivalry and mysticism.
The SS itself was, in Himmler’s mind, an elite organization in the tradition of the Teutonic Knights – an order which, like the Templars, came into existence during the Crusades. The notorious SS iconography on their uniforms was derived from rune symbolism of the double lighting bolt. In Himmler’s vision, the headquarters of the SS at Wewelsburg Castle was the Camelot of his modern-day order of knights. One of the rooms was even named after King Arthur, while another was designated the ‘Grail Room’.
In one particularly bizarre letter to the Ahnenerbe, Himmler stated his belief that Thor’s hammer was “an early, highly developed war weapon of our forefathers”. Believing that the Third Reich could harness this power if the hammer was found, Himmler demanded that they “find all places in the northern Germanic Aryan cultural world where an understanding of the lightning bolt, the thunderbolt, Thor’s hammer, or the flying or thrown hammer exists”.
He also sponsored and participated in a very literal quest for the Holy Grail in 1940 led by the eccentric medievalist and eventual member of the SS, Otto Rahm. In the Arthurian opera Parsifaval by Hitler’s favorite composer, Richard Wagner, the grail is located in a castle called Montsalvat. This opera was based on a medieval poem called Parzival which was written by Wolfram von Eschenbach. Rahm believed that this poem had the secret to the true location of the Grail, and that it contained clues which linked the story of Parzival with the Cathars.
Catharism was a movement which flourished in medieval Europe, particularly in France. The Cathars revived old Gnostic concepts of Christianity that radically opposed church teaching. They believed, for example, that the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old Testament were separate entities—the latter a jealous, sinful entity, and the former a benevolent entity who would liberate humanity from him. Such ideas led to their excommunication and condemnation from the church, and ultimately to a crusade against them, resulting in their wholesale slaughter.
Eventually the French Royal forces besieged the Cathar stronghold of Montsegur, a remote fortress in southwestern France, for nine grueling months before the Cathars finally surrendered. Hundreds of Cathars were burnt alive in a bonfire after refusing to renounce their blasphemous beliefs.
However, legends have maintained that a number of Cathars managed to smuggle themselves out of the fortress, undetected, before their brethren surrendered—carrying with them an immense secret treasure. And so Rahm, believing in the connection between the Cathars and the legends of the Grail, naturally assumed that the Grail must have been among this treasure. And Himmler, who was particularly biased toward basically everything about this worldview, thought this made perfect sense and so he supported the ultimately unsuccessful campaign to find the Grail’s final resting place.
Hitler, The Ghent Altarpiece & The Grail
According to the lore, Hitler himself was also seriously invested and involved in the search for the Grail. He had a special interest in a 12-paneled painting by Jan van Eyck’s titled Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. More commonly referred to as The Ghent Altarpiece, it was alleged that one panel of the painting depicting a sacrificial lamb standing on an altar while its blood flows into a chalice believed to represent the Grail, contained a secret code that would reveal the location of the Grail.
However, while it’s clear that stories of Hitler’s obsession with this particular work of art are based in reality, it likely wasn’t because he believed that it would lead him to the Grail.
The Ghent Altarpiece, which dates back to 1432, holds quite a significant place in art history for several reasons. The first is that it is recognized as the first major oil painting. Oil had been used to bind pigments to paintings since the Middle Ages, but Jan van Eyck was the first to demonstrate the true potential of oils. Oil-based paints allowed far greater subtlety and detail than largely-opaque egg-based tempera paint that had typically been the norm before. Because of this innovation, it can easily be considered one of the most important and influential paintings ever made.
The second reason that The Ghent Altarpiece has a special place in history is that it’s been stolen more frequently than virtually any other painting. Hitler was just one of many who conducted such a heist, squirreling it away in a salt mine in the Austrian Alps along with a vast treasure trove of other significant works of art that he planned to someday display is a giant “super museum” the size of small city that would be built to house all of the greatest works of art in the world.
And beyond just being significant as a work of art in its own right, The Ghent Altarpiece was of particular significance to Hitler. After the end of WWII, as part of the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, it was forcibly repatriated to Belgium from where it had previously been displayed in Berlin. Hitler was driven by a desire to correct what he saw as the humiliation inflicted on the German people by the Treaty of Versailles, and recapturing the altarpiece would go some way toward that goal. And the fact that it was by a Germanic artist, in the realistic, Northern Renaissance style that Hitler preferred only added to its appeal.
Granted, Hitler had almost certainly heard the rumors about The Ghent Altarpiece containing the secret location of the Grail, and he may have even been intrigued by that possibility. However, that isn’t necessarily evidence that he was directly engaged with the search for the Grail, as the painting had a much more personal and profound significance to him that superseded any of the rumors surrounding it.
Thule, Tibet & Other Quests For Secret Knowledge
There are many other tales in the lore about secret Nazi quests to find secret relics and even lost lands from Atlantis to Hyperborea to Shambala. Some, like their expedition to Tibet to find evidence of the origins of the Aryan race are quite real. While others, with stories of lost continents and subterranean worlds seem to exist only in the dreamy haze of myth.
But there’s one other notorious Nazi expedition for which we have a considerable amount of evidence. And it’s one that occupies perhaps the notorious space within the lore.
Did The Nazis Really Set Up A Base In Antarctica?
On December 17, 1938, the New Swabia Expedition left Hamburg for Antarctica aboard MS Schwabenland. The secret expedition had 33 members plus Schwabenland’s crew of 24. A month later, on January 19, 1939, the ship arrived at the Princess Martha Coast in an area which had recently been claimed by Norway as Queen Maud Land.
But the Germans paid little mind to this claim. Nazi German flags were placed along the icy coast claiming it as their own. They named this territory Neu-Schwabenland.
But what were they looking for a world away at the ice-covered south pole? What was so important that they would divert those resources to make this expedition at the dawn of the second World War? And could the bases that were built there have provided a place for what remained of the Third Reich to escape at the end of the war?
There’s much more to that story than you might think.
And that’s where we’ll pick up next time. I’ll see you then.