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Nazi UFOs

Stories of the scientific advances of the Third Reich have circulated for decades. Kevin McClure explains that the flying saucer legend ain’t exactly rocket science.

It’s much easier to dismiss an absurd claim that is fresh and new than one which has been around for a while and taken root. It is, for example, simple enough to assess the credibility of David Icke’s assertion that Dr Josef Mengele – seemingly after he died – used mind-control to make a young American woman go to Balmoral Castle and officiate at rituals where the Queen and Queen Mother turned into reptiles and devoured small children; or to judge whether, as ‘Sir’ Laurence Gardner tells us in an explanation on which his whole ‘grail bloodline’ theory depends, the otherwise unmentioned daughter of Joseph of Arimathea (in this version, the brother of Jesus Christ) popped over to Wales to marry and settle down with Bran the Blessed, a mythical god-figure who spent much of his life as a detached head (and who, even if we take the original myths as a guide, would have been well over 100 years old at the time of the marriage).

Dislodging established and much-repeated nonsense is much more difficult, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And in cases where such nonsense tends to exaggerate or glorify the activities of the Nazis during World War II, I think we should try particularly hard. In that spirit of endeavour, let’s see what we can do about the very untrue story of Viktor Schauberger – builder of flying saucers. The detailed and ever-growing fiction of the Nazi UFO mythos tells us that the Nazis were so technically, creatively and scientifically brilliant that, had the war only lasted a few months longer, they would have won it by using their amazing flying saucers, which were so very nearly ready for combat when the Allied forces entered Czechoslovakia and Southern Germany.

There are two hurdles the mythos has always fought to overcome. Firstly, that there is no historical record that the characters said to have been involved in saucer development – figures like Schriever, Belluzzo, Habermohl, Miethe and Kleinever – had anything to with the development of ‘flying discs’. Only Guiseppe Belluzzo has any verifiable scientific background at all; Schriever was a delivery driver, and it is unclear whether Habermohl and Miethe even so much as existed as identifiable individuals.

Secondly, there is no historical evidence – physical or photographic – of the supposed flying discs. We are repeatedly told of craft of immense power, and sometimes immense size, defying all scientific parameters known before or since. Yet not so much as a bolt or a tachyon drive remains to verify their existence. There are just the oft-reproduced, fuzzy post-war photos taken by those who wished to convince us of saucer reality, but who usually succeeded only in demonstrating the unexplored potential of domestic containers and the art of close-up photography.

The mythos argument is that rather than being extraterrestrial in origin, the discs photographed between 1947 and 1955 were actually developed from captured Nazi blueprints, by captured Nazi scientists. Relocated to America, they chose to have their miracle craft chug unimpressively around the dusty back roads of the USA, sometimes landing, sometimes crashing, and sometimes – particularly the very small discs – utilising conveniently-placed string to hang from trees, swinging gently and photogenically in the wind. Not one claim of flying Nazi discs pre-dates 1949 and the increased US media interest in reports of flying saucers.

Enter Schauberger

Once upon a time, in Austria, there was a forester called Viktor Schauberger (above). He lived from 1885 to 1958, and in his long life he devised and worked on a variety of inventions. He had a keen and original interest in the motion and motive potential of water, and the most notable of his achievements were in the design and development of log flotation methods and flumes in the 1920s. Thereafter, he seems to have tried to develop his ideas towards turbines and cheap natural power and energy. There is little evidence that any of these later ideas ever reached fruition, and although his son and grandson have continued with some more theoretical aspects of his work, it seems that no repeatable demonstration of Schauberger’s supposed flight technology has ever taken place.

For those who want to further the cause of secret Nazi science, or to maintain the flying saucer mystery, or both, Viktor Schauberger has been a prayer answered. Not because he actually built flying discs for the Nazis, but because some round, bulbous inventions he probably worked on were photographed and, with a bit of airbrushing to add Luftwaffe insignia, they looked rather like the round, bulbous inventions that figured in 1950s ufology. That he left no physical or technical evidence of his supposed disc experiments, was at times somewhat confused about the facts (there is evidence that he spent some time in a psychiatric hospital), and kept a diary in a shorthand that was difficult even for his family to comprehend, could only help. He even had a long, impressive beard to suggest that he was a misunderstood genius. History was ripe for rewriting – and not just the once.

The history of a mythology

The ‘Nazi UFO’ mythos has itself had three distinct phases of life, with long fallow periods between. The first was in the early 1950s, when a few individuals, none of them connected with any post-war rocket or aviation programme in Russia, the USA or anywhere else, claimed to be at least partly responsible for the saucer sightings of the period. Schauberger – still alive at the time – didn’t get a mention at that stage, and made no claim of his own.

Then, around 1975, Canadian Ernst Zundel, also known as Christof Friedrich and notorious for his pro-active and well-publicised scepticism about the reality of the Holocaust, published (as Mattern Friedrich) the book UFO – Nazi Secret Weapon? Amid questions like “Is Hitler Still Alive?” and “Did the Nazis have the Atom Bomb?” he set out a range of wild speculations about lost Nazi technology and, for the first time to my knowledge, introduced a number of the key elements concerning Schauberger’s supposed involvement. Zundel writes: “Schauberger did experiments early in 1940-41 in Vienna and his 10 foot (3m) diameter models were so successful that on the very first tests they took off vertically at such surprising speeds that one model shot through the 24-foot (7.3m) high hangar ceiling. After this ‘success’, Schauberger’s experiments received ‘Vordringlichkeitsstufe’ – high priority – and he was given funds and facilities as well as help. His aides included Czech engineers who worked at the concentration camp at Mauthausen on some parts of the Schauberger flying saucers. It is largely through these people that the story leaked out.”

Zundel also provided an account of Schauberger’s later history and death. Although Schauberger actually died at home in 1958, Zundel’s version has it that: “Viktor Schauberger lived for some years in the United States after the war where he was reported to be working on UFO projects. His articles were greatly discussed and then one day in Chicago he just vanished. His battered body was found and as to who killed Schauberger or why has never been discovered. One version has it that gangsters tried to beat his revolution-ising secrets out of him and accidentally killed him.”

Zundel published the first drawings of what he referred to as the ‘electro-magnetically-powered Flying Hats’.

In the next year, 1976, a biography of sorts appeared (Living Water, Gateway Books, 1997), written by Olof Alexandersson, a Swedish ‘electrical engineer and archive conservationist’. While admitting that “the information for the basis of this book is fragile”, he managed, from unlisted sources, to add substantially to the mythos: “After a while Schauberger received his call-up. It was now 1943, and even older men were being drafted. He was eventually appointed the commandant of a parachute company in Italy, but after a short stay, orders came from Himmler that he should present himself at the SS college at Vienna-Rosenhugel. When he arrived, he was taken to the concentration camp at Mauthausen, where he was to contact the SS standartenführer Zeireis, who told him he had a personal greeting from Himmler. ‘We have considered your scientific research and think there is something in it. You can now either choose to take charge of a scientific team of technicians and physicists from among the prisoners, to develop machines utilising the energy you have discovered, or you will be hanged.’

Schauberger understandably chose the first option (insisting that his helpers must no longer be regarded as prisoners) and so an intensive period of study began. After the SS college, where the research was taking place, was bombed, Schauberger and his team were transferred to Leonstein, near Linz. The project they initiated there was a ‘flying saucer’ powered by a ‘trout turbine’.

The results of the research were surprising: it was both a success and a failure. Schauberger later explained this briefly in a letter to the West German defence minister Strauss on 28 February 1956: “The first ‘flying saucer’ rose unexpectedly, at the first attempt, to the ceiling, and then was wrecked.”

Alexandersson offered slightly different pictures of the ‘flying hats’, probably just removing the Luftwaffe insignia Zundel had added, and reproduced drawings of other absurd imaginary wartime UFOs copied directly from Zundel.

Since then, architect Callum Coats has published a series of books reflecting a persistent interest in Schauberger’s theories about water and implosion. In 1996 (Living Energies, Gateway, 2001), he published what appear to be actual photos of the ‘flying hats’, as well as reprinting earlier drawings, telling us that: “Despite its compact size, this machine generated such a powerful levitational force that when it was first switched on (without Viktor Schauberger’s permission and in his absence!), it sheared the six quarter-inch [6mm] diameter high-tensile steel anchor bolts and shot upwards to smash against the roof of the hangar.”

Coats also quotes one ‘A Khammas’, writing in the undated Issue 93 of Implosion magazine: “There are many rumours about what Schauberger was actually doing during this period, most of which suggest he was in charge of developing ‘flying discs’ under contract to the army. It later became known that the ‘flying disc’ launched in Prague on the 19 February 1945, which rose to an altitude of 15,000 metres [50,000ft] in three minutes and attained a forward speed of 2,200 kph [1,370 mph], was a development of the prototype he built at Mauthausen concentration camp. Schauberger wrote, ‘I only first heard of this event after the war through one of the technicians who had worked with me’. In a letter to a friend, dated the 2 August 1956, Schauberger commented, ‘The machine was supposed to have been destroyed just before the end of the war on Keitel’s orders.’”

The tale is a fantasy taken from Rudolf Lusar’s German Secret Weapons of the Second World War (1957). Perhaps it is significant that while we are told that Schauberger twice effectively rewrote the book on aviation technology, we are also told that he was both absent from the demonstrations, and unaware that they had taken place.

The Mythos Returns

The most recent phase of belief in the Nazi UFO mythos began in the last six years. Susan Michaels, in Sightings: UFOs (Fireside, 1997), reproduces a range of palpable fictions from unreliable sources, and introduces some freshly-minted nonsense. Possibly becoming confused by inconsistent, fictional accounts of a meeting with Hitler in 1933, she says: “Also in 1939, German physicist Victor Schauberger developed a design for a flying saucer using energy he claimed could be harnessed from the tonal vibrations, or ‘harmonics’, of the cosmos. As far-fetched as this theory seems, Schauberger’s research attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler, who offered to provide funds to build Schauberger’s own anti-gravity saucer. But Schauberger, who was a deeply committed pacifist, turned Hitler down.”

The following year, UK aviation writer and photographer Bill Rose wrote an article (“UFO sightings – Why you can blame Adolf Hitler”) in the popular science magazine Focus (October 1998). After, apparently, four years of research, he concluded that: “The father of the German disc programme was Rudolph Schriever, a Luftwaffe aeronautical engineer assigned to Heinkel in 1940... a full-sized piloted version, the V2, first flew in 1943 with Schriever at the controls. Thirty feet [9m] in diameter, the V2 had a fixed central cabin around which a ring with adjustable vanes rotated to provide thrust in both the horizontal and vertical planes... Early in 1944, Schriever’s top-secret programme was moved to Czechoslovakia... Schriever was joined by a number of leading aeronautical engineers... Another addition was the Austrian scientist Viktor Schauberger, who just before his death in 1958, claimed to have worked on a highly classified US disc programme in Texas.”

Rose seems to be the first to have suggested that Schauberger actually worked together with the four other ‘engineers’ who, according to the mythos, built flying saucers, but even Rose’s remarkable ‘sources’ pale in comparison to those apparently available to Gary Hyland, author of Blue Fires (Headline, 2001), who says of Schauberger: “The first test-flight of the machine was reportedly amazingly successful (it apparently shot through the roof of the laboratory and had to be recovered some distance away)... [Schauberger] developed his ideas further, to the point where a full-sized, though unmanned flying disc prototype that used his new engine apparently flew under radio control... At the end of the war, the American forces got to Leonstein ahead of the Russians and found Schauberger and his team of experts. After letting the members of his team leave after a thorough interrogation, the Americans held Schauberger in protective custody for six months; it would seem that they knew exactly what he had been up to and wanted to prevent other nations, as well as renegade Nazis, from continuing to use his services”.

The Cook Report

Exceeding even the rich imaginations of Michaels, Rose and Hyland is the much-publicised book The Hunt for Zero Point (Century, 2001) by Nick Cook, a notable freelance aviation journalist who has written for the very respectable Jane’s Defence Weekly. In the course of an investigation lasting, we are told, some 10 years, he appears to have been comprehensively misinformed by a whole series of individuals; or perhaps by individuals acting on behalf of a group with a specific agenda. It seems that for all the informants he gathered along the way, none of them ever warned Cook that people with an investment in making the Nazi regime (and the SS in particular) look good are quite happy to use deception to do so.

Without going through Cook’s oddly directionless book in any detail, it’s worth noting that his primary source about Schauberger was a Polish gentleman named Igor Witkowski. Witkowski, apparently, volunteered to drive Cook around, showing him sites where Schauberger had worked for the Nazis, constructing and testing ‘The Bell’, an experimental device with two cylinders spinning in opposite directions. Cook was told that this glowed blue and destroyed plants, birds, animals, and sometimes humans. Internet searches for Witkowski bring him up in conjunction with the loopy, ‘1930s-crashed-saucer-back-engineered-by-the-SS’ end of Polish ufology, and he has self-published six or more separate items with titles like Hitler’s Supersecret Weapon.

Witkowski told Cook that his extraordinary information came from an unnamable source, which Cook seems to have accepted without question. It seems that a “Polish government official” phoned Witkowski, inviting him to view documents and take notes about the development and concealment of extraordinary Nazi technology as given in a record of “the activities of a special unit of the Soviet secret intelligence service.” Witkowski’s evidence, together with a visit to Schauberger’s grandson, leads Cook to reproduce the material about imprisonment by the US after the war, and the apartment being blown up by the Russians, together with various unlikely claims about Schauberger being offered massive sums of money by (right-wing) Americans in the years before he died. Cook also informs us that Schauberger’s designs had been stolen by Heinkel in the early part of the war; that he had worked on secret projects for the Nazis from 1941-45, sometimes using slave labour; that he had created, specifically for the SS, disc-shaped machines with engines so revolutionary that even Cook, an aviation journalist, fails to explain how they worked.

One of the problems faced by the Nazi ufologists is to explain the complete absence of palpable evidence. Cook chooses to adopt SS General Hans Kammler for this purpose. Kammler used concentration camp labour to build the Atlantic Wall, contributed to the construction of the Auschwitz gas chambers, and was in charge of the V2 missile programme, which again ruthlessly exploited slave labour. He is also, it seems, the person who spirited away all traces of Schauberger’s astonishing technical achievements, allegedly to his own advantage by way of trade with the approaching Allies. However, the earliest version I have found of this story dates from 1989, put about by Nevada Aerial Research, who have done much to publicise the supposed wonders of Nazi technology (and they later came up with the most unpleasant of the tales of dominant and brutal alien beings living below the US air base at Dulce). I do not believe that their account of Kammler had any existence prior to 1989, or that it is true.

There is no period of history more thoroughly examined than 1939-1945, and no subject more closely examined than the Nazis, and more particularly, the SS. Had there been any reality in the claims for the construction and testing (or more) of high-speed flying disc technology by the Third Reich during that period, then we would have every reason to expect that it would have been discovered, reported, and analysed by writers and researchers far more competent than those referred to above. Yet it never has been.

Nonetheless, there is a recurrent and developing counter-cultural argument that insists these extraordinary events actually took place. It is a theory that has sold millions of books and videos, and it continues to fuel a belief that, given just a few more months, the true genius of the Nazis, the fanaticism of the SS, and the inspiration of the Führer would have won through, and the Allies – no, not just the Soviet Union, but all the Allies – would have been defeated.

While I’m happy to be challenged by solid evidence, I’ve found no reason to believe that Viktor Schauberger knew anything of this. I think he died before it was made up. He never built a flying disc, let alone one that flew using some unknown and unprecedented method of propulsion. He wasn’t sought out by Hitler or the SS, didn’t choose slave workers from Mauthausen to assist him, and wasn’t held by the Americans after the war because of his technical knowledge and achievements. If the Russians burned his flat down, I doubt that they even knew whose flat it was. The only truth seems to be that he visited the USA in the 1950s, leaving behind him components of two experimental water turbines; the objects that Zundel (who adorned them with Nazi insignia) said flew.

I have been told, all too often, not to use the term ‘Nazi UFOs’, because this is really about secret and suppressed technology. It just happens that the Germans were clever enough to invent it, and even if Ernst Zundel manufactured or exaggerated some of the facts, then he only did it for the money.

On ‘The Zundelsite’, in the ‘Zundelsite Zgram’ for 26 December 1998, the matter is explained in his own words. He says of his publications and his radio appearances: “I realised I had discovered a potent publicity tool with this topic – which would get me lots of free time on radio and TV shows, to expose other, more ‘politically incorrect’ topics to vast audiences... I slipped in lots and lots of ‘Revisions of History’... I talked about the disinfecting procedures to protect the valuable worker inmates in the Dora-Mittelwerke rocket underground assembly factories... I mentioned the medical facilities in the camps, the calorie count of the meals served, etc... The UFO books themselves also had very important politically otherwise impossible-to-tell messages embedded within them, such as the National-Socialist Party program and Hitler’s analysis of the Jewish question... All that – and I made a fine bundle of money! The money I made from the UFO books I invested in publishing the booklets Die Auschwitz-Luge - a translation of The Auschwitz Lie, Dr Austin App’s booklet The Six Million Swindle and A Straight Look at the Third Reich; and, of course, later, Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood.”

If Zundel’s own account is to be believed – and I think it probably is – then his fictions about Nazi UFOs have funded the distribution of Holocaust revisionist material around a substantial part of the world. So, at the end of the day, there’s more at stake here than just tall tales and technological fantasies; there would appear to be a good ethical argument to stop repeating such fictions and to put the ‘Nazi UFO’ mythos to rest once and for all.

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Author Biography
Kevin McClure wrote The Fortean Times Book of the Millennium (1996), predicting that nothing of interest would happen. His initial investigation of the Nazi UFO mythos appeared in Fortean Studies 7. He edited Abduction Watch and has written for FT, Magonia, Fate and others. He is currently collecting evidence of the manipulative presence of neo-nazi and racist influences in the field. In real life, he works for the government.

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