Apollo 20: A Space Absurdity
Curtis Peebles


From Magonia 97, April 2008.

Beginning in April of 2007, an individual with the user name ‘retiredafb’ began posting a series of video clips on YouTube. These were described as from ‘Apollo 20′, a secret joint U.S./Soviet space mission in 1976 to examine a crashed UFO near the crater Izsak on the far side of the Moon. The Apollo 20 story offers a chance to examine the methodology and mindset of exopolitics advocates regarding evidence and its use in reaching conclusions.

The postings drew the attention of Italian journalist Lusa Scantamburlo, who conducted an on-line correspondence with ‘retiredafb’ over the spring and summer. Retiredafb said his real name was William Rutledge, and that he had been born in Belgium in 1930, emigrated to the U.S., and worked for the aircraft manufactories Avro and Chance Vought. He later worked for Bell Laboratories and the U.S. Air Force. Rutledge said that he had studied Soviet technology, such as the N1 Moon rocket, the ‘AJAX plane project’, and the ‘Mig Foxbat 25′. He said that he was skilled in computer navigation and had volunteered to be an astronaut for the Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory. This was a space station for reconnaissance missions, cancelled in 1969, and never flown. He was not selected and worked on the KH-11 reconnaissance satellite before retiring.

The Apollo 15 mission, according to Rutledge, photographed a crashed alien mothership on the far side of the Moon, which was never visible from Earth. The following year, the Apollo 17 mission also photographed the alien ship. Plans were made for two secret NASA/U.S. Air Force Space Command Apollo missions to examine it. These were Apollo 19 and 20, which were launched from Vandenberg AFB in California, rather than the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (The Apollo 18 mission was the American half of the joint U.S./Soviet Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) flown in 1975.)

The Apollo 19 mission was to explore the roof of the spindle-shaped mothership by climbing the ‘Monaco hill’. Rutledge gave few details of the mission. He did not give a launch date, or the full crew list. Rutledge did say the name of the Apollo 19 Command Module (CM) was Endymion, while the LM was called Artemis. He also said that one of the crew was ‘Stephanie Eilis’, the first U.S. black woman in space. According to his account, Eilis was born in 1946 in the Ivory Coast and arrived in the U.S. at the age of seven months. She worked at Grumman on the Apollo Lunar Module (LM) navigation system. Rutledge also said that she was his girlfriend. [1]

The Apollo 19 mission ended in tragedy. Rutledge said that telemetry was lost at the end of the engine burn to send the spacecraft to the Moon. The reason was not understood at the time, but Rutledge believed it was due to a collision with a ‘quasi-satellite’ or a meteor. [2]

Despite the loss of the first mission, plans went ahead for Apollo 20. Rutledge was the mission commander; Lena Snyder, also from Bell Labs, was the CM pilot; while Alexei Leonov was the LM pilot. A Soviet cosmonaut, he was the first man to walk in space, and the commander of the Soyuz which docked with Apollo 18 during the ASTP mission. The Apollo 20 CSM was named Constellation, while the LM was Phoenix. The mission control was at Vandenberg rather than Houston. The call sign ‘Vandenberg’ was used in the audio posted on YouTube videos. Three hundred people were involved with preparing the Saturn V at Vandenberg. Why Rutledge, Snyder, and Eilis were selected for the Apollo 19 and 20 crews was not made clear. Rutledge said only that he had been picked because he did not believe in God.

The Apollo 20 launch was made from Vandenberg AFB on August 16, 1976. The launch was seen, but people did not know it was a Saturn V booster. The YouTube videos included shots of Snyder entering the capsule (with his back to the camera), the launch itself, video from the LM as it prepared to land, photos of the mothership from orbit, and surface photos of a city on the Moon. This was described by Rutledge as only debris, except for one building.

Rutledge and Leonov entered the alien ship and found “…many signs of biology… vegetation in the ‘motor’ section, special triangular rocks which emitted ‘tears’ of a yellow liquid which has some special medical properties, and of course signs of extra solar creatures.” Two alien bodies were still in the mothership – one was in very poor condition, while the other was an intact female body. Dubbed ‘Mona Lisa’, she was 1.65 meters tall. Unlike her earthly namesake, Rutledge said she had six fingers on her hands. ‘Piloting devices’ were attached to both her fingers and eyes, while two cables were on her nostrils. Rather than clothes, she was covered in a thin transparent protective layer. Rutledge commented that the body “seemed not dead not alive.” He and Leonov attached their biomedical sensors to her body, and telemetry was received by mission control.

In all, Rutledge said he and Leonov spent seven days on the Moon exploring the alien ship. This was about twice as long as the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 crews had each spent on the surface. Rutledge said that since 1990, he had lived in Rwanda under a false identity, and had not spoken English during that time, only Kinyarwanda and French.

Rutledge gave little explanation as to why he released the videos, saying only that it was because of “The wonder of it all”, and “2012 is coming soon”. As for the secrecy of the two Apollo missions, he claimed the reason was “not a problem of panic, but simply a problem of economy”. Rutledge said that all currencies on Earth are based on the value of gold, but exploding stars spread large amounts of gold in young star systems. “This means that it is the most common substance in the universe, no more value than a piece of plastic”. [3]

Acceptance, Doubt, and Excuses

Scantamburlo was impressed by Rutledge’s videos and information, calling them “coherent and plausible, and it shows a detailed knowledge of Aerospace history, of Geology, Chemistry and of Space exploration history….” He continued, “Waiting for the rest of Rutledge’s testimony, we should prepare ourself for the wait and new Copernican revolution: we are not alone in the Universe and, at last, historical and technical evidences are supporting it beyond any doubt.” [4]

In attempting to support the claim that secret Apollo launches were made from Vandenberg AFB, Scantamburlo wrote that the Saturn V booster was listed in an April 19, 2006 Air Force report, and claimed that documents from the 1960s indicated Air Force interest in using the Saturn V booster. From this, he argued, “The fact that the Apollo 20 would have been launched from Vandenberg AFB, according to Rutledge’s testimony, is now supported by strong circumstantial evidence.” [5]

Despite his comments, Scantamburlo did note a problem with the YouTube video of the Apollo 20 liftoff. This clip had an opening frame listing it as film of the Apollo 11 launch, made in July of 1969. Rutledge explained that he was no longer in Africa, and that the videos were being converted from analogue to digital by friends in Rwanda for uploading to YouTube. They apparently made a mistake. [6]

Dr. Michael E. Salla, a leading figure in the exopolitics faction of ufology, wrote a commentary about the Apollo 20 videos on June 24, 2007. Dr. Salla was impressed by Scantamburlo’s work, saying his report “…demonstrates a sincere effort to verify a number of the details provided by Rutledge….’”

Salla also found inconsistencies in Rutledge’s account. One of these dealt with the Apollo 20 mission patch. Salla noted, “…the Apollo 20 insignia that is shown in a number of his films shows only the names of the three astronauts (Rutledge, Synder [sic] and Leonov) and the name of the Apollo mission. This is inconsistent with the 1975 insignia of the joint Apollo-Soyuz mission which had both the ‘Apollo’ and ‘Soyuz’, and the names of the three [sic] astronauts/cosmonauts on them.”

The second inconsistency was Ingo Swann’s account of his remote viewing of artifacts and aliens on the far side of the Moon for a “covert intelligence agency” in 1975. Salla wrote that, “Swann deduced from what he had been told that there was a concerted effort to gather intelligence using remote viewing since physical access to the moon had been curtailed.”

According to Swann, this was probably because the aliens had decided no further landings would be permitted. Salla continued that other whistleblowers had also indicated that this “…is the real reason why the Apollo moon landings were quietly terminated after the 1971 [sic] Apollo 17 mission.”

Salla noted that if Swann’s statements and conclusions were true, they would be inconsistent with a secret Apollo 20 landing on the Moon. This, combined with the Apollo 20 patch error, “…could lead to the conclusion that Rutledge’s testimony and videos are a sophisticated hoax to deceive the public.”

Yet having said this, Salla continued, “…Rutledge’s video evidence and testimony may be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back concerning UFO secrecy.” If Rutledge’s claims were proved to be true, and the inconsistencies were successfully explained, Salla predicted that, “…this will lead to an escalation of public disclosures. More officials will recognize that the secrecy system is imploding and will wish to be on the winning side of history as that part of the government
that played a proactive role in preparing the public for disclosure of the extraterrestrial presence.”

The same was also true, Salla wrote, if the Apollo 20 story proved to be a hoax, as it may be “…an attempt to raise the public’s awareness of extraterrestrial life through partially valid information.” Salla concluded his commentary by writing: “I recommend considering Scantamburlo’s report due to the possibility that this is a genuine disclosure of a secret mission to investigate an ancient extraterrestrial mothership….” [7]

Only four days later, Salla posted an update of the Apollo 20 commentary. Salla noted that the video of the ancient Moon city used a sound clip from the Apollo 15 mission. He initially wrote that this suggests that Rutledge’s story and videos were nothing more than an elaborate hoax, and that “…this discovery will suffice to dismiss the whole affair.” But he added, “However, this does raise the question of what the underlying agenda of Rutledge is in performing such an elaborate deception? Is it merely to disinform the public or to direct the public’s attention to something important?”

Salla preferred the second option, noting that “…the natural starting point is the … Apollo 15 photo … That is a genuine photo and may depict an extraterrestrial artifact as Rutledge claims.” He also noted “…that a joint mission insignia was not correctly depicted in Rutledge’s Apollo 20 videos.” Salla suggested that Rutledge was “…suggesting that there may have been [a] joint secret mission to discover more about the artifact depicted in the Apollo 15 photo, but that its actual name was not Apollo 20 which would have signified solely a US space mission.” [8]

Scantamburlo also acknowledged the falsehoods in Rutledge’s account in an August 22, 2007 paper. He noted a YouTube user had identified the city on the Moon photo as being a composite of images from the Apollo 17 mission with the fake ruins added. Scantamburlo, like Salla, offered a mixed analysis of the Apollo 20 case. On one hand, he wrote: “…there is the slight possibility that the fake was fabricated on purpose to provide us with a clue in investigating a lunar anomaly.” Yet Scantamburlo added: “However I am aware that now the contradictions of the Apollo 20 case are too many to be simply mistakes made by inexperienced helpers who would live in Rwanda…”

But Scantamburlo then asked, “Is it possible that behind the William Rutledge’s identity [sic] there is an agent of some Secret service of a European country who is trying to push (or to drive) the US government to reveal what it knows about the possible extraterrestrial in the Solar System? Or is he a person in control of some shadow Government scheme to subject the public to a psychological and sociological test in the context of the unofficial and rumoured `Public accommodation program.”‘ [9]

Eine Kleine Rocket Science

To assess controversial issues, modern society draws upon the heritage of the Greeks, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution. These include rules of evidence, procedures to test a hypothesis, and methods of limiting biases and errors. These are applied on a daily basis to settle scientific, historical, journalistic, and legal questions.

The process has three basic steps. The first is to determine what is required for the claim to be valid or false. The second is to determine what evidence is available regarding the claim. The third is to analyze the collected evidence, and decide what conclusions can be drawn regarding the claim’s validity or falsehood.

If Rutledge’s basic claim is true, the Apollo 20 mission should follow the patterns of the known Apollo flights. This would include the hardware, ground support facilities, and mission profile. Another requirement is that the use of Vandenberg as the launch site would keep the missions secret. If he is a hoaxer, the Apollo 20 mission profile would not match that of earlier flights, and his evidence would have inconsistencies, falsehoods, and errors. To see which best fits the available evidence, we need a little rocket science.

Launching a Saturn V from Vandenberg would require the existence of support facilities for the booster like those at the Kennedy Space Center. The Saturn V was the largest U.S. booster ever built. It stood 364 feet tall, consisted of three stages, and produced 7.5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff. The Saturn V was assembled inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). When the VAB was built in the mid-1960s, it was the largest enclosed space on Earth. Once the Saturn V was assembled, it was moved from the VAB to the launch pad on the crawler-transporter. This vehicle is the size of a baseball infield and moves on eight caterpillar tracks. The launch pad is a large concrete mound rising above the Florida swampland. A large launch control center would be needed, and there would be supplies of liquid oxygen, kerosene, and liquid hydrogen to fuel the booster.

A possible option was that an existing launch pad, used for another large Air Force booster, was modified to support a Saturn V. The Titan IIID was the largest rocket being launched from Vandenberg in 1976. This consisted of a modified Titan II ballistic missile “core stage” with two solid fuel strapon rockets. (These were called “Stage 0″ and were on each side of the core stage.) The two strap-on boosters were ignited at lift-off and produced a total of 2.36 million pounds of thrust. After the stage 0 rockets burned out, the first stage engines ignited in flight. The rocket stood 155 feet tall. The core stage and the strap-on boosters were each ten feet in diameter.

The question then becomes what evidence is available that Saturn V support facilities existed at Vandenberg in the mid-1970s? The Saturn V and the Titan IIID had different configurations. The Saturn V had over three times the Titan IIID’s thrust and was more than twice as tall. The Saturn V’s first stage was also circular, was 33 feet in diameter, and had five F-1 engines. Four of the engines were arranged in a square, with the fifth in the center. All five engines ignited on lift-off. With the Titan IIID, only the two solid boosters are ignited at lift off. Because of the difference in thrust, engine arrangement, size, and other factors, the existing Titan IIID pad would have to have been completely rebuilt for use by a Saturn V booster. [10]

No evidence exists that any facilities ever existed at Vandenberg that could have been used to launch a Saturn V. Such facilities would be distinctive, and their use would be apparent. They would take years to build and check out, and involve a large number of people.

Rutledge also claimed that while the Apollo 19 and 20 launches were seen, witnesses did not realize the boosters were Saturn Vs. For his claim to be valid, there could be no public or press access to Vandenberg, and the site would have needed a sufficient buffer zone so that the facilities, preparations, and launches would be hidden from public view. As a result, while outsiders were aware the launches occurred, they did not understand they were secret Apollo missions, and not regular satellite or ballistic missile test firings.

The evidence is that Vandenberg does not meet the security requirements for the claim to be valid. A public road runs by Vandenberg’s main gate, and the city of Lompoc is nearby. Even in the 1970s, reporters were allowed on the base to cover civilian satellite launches. Finally, a railroad line runs through the base itself and past many of the launch pads. On September 20, 1959, a passenger train carrying Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev passed through Vandenberg during his state visit to the U.S. The three nuclear-armed Atlas ballistic missiles at the base were clearly visible from the train. Given the access to the base, hiding a VAB, launch pad, and Saturn V booster would not have been possible.

Nor is it possible to ‘hide’ a Saturn V launch from Vandenberg. It would have been visible not only from Lompoc and other nearby cities, but throughout central and southern California. The sound of Saturn V launch, which was only exceeded by a nuclear explosion, would have caused Lompoc residents to realize this was not a Titan HID or ballistic missile launch. [11]

Another requirement for Rutledge’s claim to be true would be that the Apollo 20 mission would meet the same requirements and limitations as the earlier flights, and share the same limitations as to hardware, duration, mission plans, and timing of events. The Apollo program completed six successful Moon landings between 1969 and 1972. The Command Module and Lunar Module were proven spacecraft, and there would be little time or need to make major modifications to the booster and spacecraft hardware, or to the Apollo mission profile, for the secret lunar missions.

There is ample evidence available that the Apollo 19 and 20 flights would have required fundamental changes in all aspects of their mission plans, compared to the other Apollo landing missions. The most basic difference is launch direction. The Apollo launches from Florida were to the east, so the rocket could take advantage of the Earth’s rotation to increase its payload. Also, both expended stages and malfunctioning rockets would fall into the Atlantic Ocean.

If an easterly launch from Vandenberg was made, the Saturn V would fly over the continental United States. The Saturn V’s first stage, called the “S-1C’” was 138 feet long, 33 feet in diameter, and had an empty weight of 370,000 pounds. After separating, it would break up during the reentry and debris would impact about 355 nautical miles down range. This would be along the Colorado River, on the border between California and Arizona. The falling SAC debris had the potential for causing deaths and injuries. Additionally, the reentry would be visible from the ground. The S-II second stage would impact off the U.S. east coast. Should a launch abort occur during the ascent, debris could potentially fall on cities and towns anywhere along this flight path. [12]

To avoid such possibilities, launches from Vandenberg are made at azimuths between 158 degrees and 201 degrees (an arc from the south south west to the south west). This avoids passing over land, and results in the satellite entering a polar orbit. (A launch to the north would head toward the USSR.)

While these range limits avoid dropping debris on the American southwest, polar orbits have a payload penalty. The rocket cannot take advantage of the Earth’s easterly rotation. For a Saturn V polar orbit launch from Vandenberg, the maximum payload was calculated to be 40 metric tons. The smallest payload for the early Apollo Moon landings was 44 metric tons. This would rule out a Vandenberg launch. If the Saturn V had been launched due west, an azimuth of 270 degrees (which is outside the range limits), the payload penalty would be 13 metric tons, as the rocket would be going the opposite direction to the Earth’s rotation. [13]

A little rocket science also allowed the landing time of the Apollo 20 LM on the Moon to be calculated. Apollo landings took place soon after sunrise. The low sun angle allowed the crew to spot the long shadows cast by obstacles. Therefore, the timing of all the mission events, from launch to the actual touchdown, was determined by the time the Sun was at the proper elevation at the landing site.

The video of the Apollo 20 launch on August 16, 1976 showed that it took place in daylight. Sunset at Vandenberg AFB on that date occurred at 7:49 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (2:49 a.m. GMT on August 17). The Apollo 12 mission took 110 hours and 32 minutes from liftoff to the landing on the Moon. Using this as the maximum, the Apollo 20 landing at the alien mothership at the Izsak crater would have occurred no later than 5:22 p.m. GMT on August 21, 1976.

Sunrise at Izsak crater was calculated to have occurred at about 2:00 p.m. GMT on August 22; nearly a day after the maximum flight time. [14] This is extremely poor mission planning. Rutledge and Leonov would have had to make a night landing on the Moon, with only starlight to illuminate the surface. (As the landirig site was on the far side of the Moon, there would have been no earthlight to provide illumination.)

If a morning landing was made, the crew would have had to spend a day or more waiting in orbit. This required additional hydrogen and oxygen for the fuel cells to generate electrical power, as well as food and other consumables. The claim that Rutledge and Leonov spent seven days on the lunar surface also required an additional 1,500 pounds of payload for the LM. A Saturn V launched into a polar orbit lacked the payload for even a normal landing mission. [15]

The second hypothesis is that the Apollo 20 story is a hoax. For this to be valid, evidence would have to be found that the claims were false beyond that which could be explained by Rutledge’s age, faulty memory, and simple mistakes. Scantamburlo and Salla both noted various problems with the YouTube videos and images. The Saturn V launch video, for example, was from the Apollo 11 mission, but had been edited so it started with the rocket in flight, rather than lifting off the pad. This hid the views of the Florida swamps. Vandenberg has hilly terrain with brush and grasslands. An audio clip from the Apollo 15 mission was also used. Other video and photos were either faked outright or were altered. This includes the “flyover” video and the Moon ‘city’ photo. The ‘alien mothership’ itself appears to be a natural geological feature, such as a landslide.

Ironically, Salla’s two objections to Rutledge’s claims were flawed. Salla believed the Apollo 20 patch should have read ‘Apollo Soyuz’, to signify a joint mission. (Soyuz was the name of the Soviet spacecraft that the U.S. Apollo 18 docked with on the ASTP mission.) But since Apollo 20 did not involve a Soyuz spacecraft, the word ‘Soyuz’ would not have appeared on the patch. His other objection, that the aliens had forbidden landings on the Moon, has several problems. Using an unproven phenomenon, like remote viewing, as evidence about the reality of a disputed event is not valid.

Apollo 20, Exopolitics, Evidence, and the Question of Belief

In reaching a conclusion as to which of the two hypotheses is valid, one must rely on the available evidence. There is no evidence to support the Apollo 19 and 20 missions as real events. Without Saturn V facilities at Vandenberg, the booster could not be assembled, checked out, fueled, or launched. Without the ability to launch the booster, the whole Apollo 20 story is false on its face. There are also the issues of range safety, lost of payload capability, the landing time vs. sunrise time on the Moon and the added consumables the mission plan entailed. These indicate the claim is false in its details.

In contrast, the hoax hypothesis is supported by the evidence which Rutledge himself offered. The videos and stills were altered or outright forgeries. Assessing the accuracy or falsehood of a controversial theory is based on evidence that can withstand critical examination. In this case, the claims by Rutledge fail the test on numerous levels. This has implications beyond Apollo 20. Ufologists frequently complain that the scientific community is blindly refusing to accept their evidence. The Apollo 20 story implies the problem is not with the scientific community’s outlook, but rather that the UFO evidence lacks sufficient merit to be accepted.

Scantamburlo and Salla made only limited and informal analyses of Rutledge’s claims and evidence. Scantamburlo, for example, pointed to 1960s documents about Air Force interest in the Saturn V as representing “strong circumstantial evidence” that the story was true. These documents are not provided or quoted, nor do they indicate a Saturn V launch capability ever existed at Vandenberg.

The approach taken by both Scantamburlo and Salla in analyzing the Apollo 20 story does not reflect the procedures used by scholars to analyze controversial theories. They accepted the story immediately. In Salla’s case, this was based on his assessment of Scantamburlo’s work. He wrote that it “…demonstrates a sincere effort” to check out the story. Sincerity is not evidence. Both individuals made grandiose predictions that the Apollo 20 story would soon bring about “disclosure.” Very soon, however, they had to backtrack when the flaws, inconsistencies and falsehoods became clear.

Both Scantamburlo and Salla papered over these flaws by claiming they were deliberate falsehoods added to a true story. In short, they claim that obvious falsehoods prove the story is true, rather than a crude hoax. At best, this is wishful thinking. At worse, it is a rejection of the basic tenets of scholarship.


  1. Lusa Scantambudo, “An Alien Spaceship On The Moon: Interview With William Rutledge, Member Of The Apollo 20 Crew,” httpa/www.angelismarriti.iU ANGELISMARRITIENG/REPORTS ARTICLES/Apollo20-InterviewWith WilliamRutledge.htm
  2. ibid, and Scantambudo, “Apollo 19 And 20: New Clues And Revelations On The Case, http//www.angelismarriti.it /ANGELISMARRITIENG/REPORTS_ARTICLES/ Apollo19-20-NewClues.htm
  3. Scantamburlo, “An Alien Spaceship On The Moon: Interview With William Rutledge, Member Of The Apollo 20 Crew.”
  4. Scantamburlo, “New Evidence Provided By William Rutledge, CDR Of The Apollo 20 Crew, httpalwww.ufodigest.com/phprint.php
  5. Scantambudo, “The Apollo 20 Case: Debunking Or A Trojan Horse For The Truth?” http//www.angelismarriti.it/UANGELISMARRITIENG/REPORTS_ARTICLES/Apollo20-TrojanHorsefortheTruth.htm
  6. Scantamburlo, “New Evidence Provided By William Rutledge, CDR Of The Apollo 20 Crew”
  7. Dr. Michael E. Salla, “Did the USA/USSR fly a Secret Joint Mission to the Moon in 1976 to investigate a crashed extraterrestrial mothership?” http//www.exopolitics.org/ ExoComment-51.htm. Snyder’s name was misspelled, and the ASTP mission involved three U.S. astronauts and two Soviet cosmonauts. The Apollo 17 mission was in December 1972, not during 1971.
  8. ibid, “Update: June 28, 2007.”
  9. Scantamburio, “The Apollo 20 Case: Debunking Or A Trojan Horse For The Truth?” The wording is that used in the original posting.
  10. Charles D. Benson, William Barnaby Faherty, Moonport A History of Apollo Launch Facilities and Operations (Washington, D.C.: NASA SP-4204, 1978), and Kenneth Gatland, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology Second Edition (London: Salamander Books, 1989), p. 305.
  11. In April of 1981, I was at the Kennedy Space Center for the STS-1 shuttle launch, and saw the VAB, Pad 39A, and the crawler-transporter. I was at Vandenberg AFB in June and December of 1996 and saw a number of abandoned launch sites. I also watched the launch of a NRO reconnaissance satellite from the press site on December 20, 1996.
  12. Apollo Spacecraft News Reference, North American Aviation ca. 1966 (Apogee Books reprint, 2006) p. 9, and ApolloHoax.net, httpa/apollohoax.proboards21.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=theories&thread =1178402817&page=l The specific posting was: Reply #44 May 23, 2007; “Count Zero” .
  13. ApolloHoax.net, “Bob B.” Reply #45 May 23, 2007, Reply #47 May 25, 2007, and “Count Zero” Reply# 51 May 26, 2007.
  14. Ibid, and Bob B.” Reply #54 May 26, 2007; “nomad” Reply #65 June 7, 2007.
  15. Robert Godwin, Apollo Advanced Lunar Exploration Planning (Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Apogee Press, 2007) p.’15.


Spectres Meeting in a Cemetery. Part One.
David Sivier

From Magonia 96, October 2007. David Sivier discovers that The Da Vinci Code is just the latest in a long series of attempts to re-write the Bible.

Undoubtedly one of the strangest features of the conspiracist worldview, at least to those rooted in the Rankean tradition of historiography, where documents are the unequivocal route to established, objective facts, is its mutable, post-modern nature. Fact and fiction meet and merge, with the latter being takenn over as solid, indisputable fact, to be studied and analysed by the secret initiates into the conspiratorial worldview. Its most notable contemporary expression is Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. A global best-seller, it’s been denounced by Roman Catholic cardinals, become the subject of TV interviews, features and documentaries, stimulated a burgeoning tourism industry in which the book’s fans and readers travel in the footsteps of their fictional heroes to exotic locales such as St Sulpice in Paris and Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh. These pilgrimages are as much genuinely spiritual as literary, as some of the book’s readers have gone in search of the secret, mystical legacy, hidden and suppressed by the Roman Catholic church’s falsification of religious history in pursuit of its own ideological and political programme, a false history ruthlessly enforced by the murderous papal thought police of Opus Dei.

According to the American pollster George Bama, of the American adults who finished the book, 53 per cent said it was helpful in their personal spiritual growth and understanding, while a Canadian survey conducted by National Geographic concluded that 32 per cent of those who read it believed its theories. [1]

None of this is remotely new. The confusion of fact and fiction has been a feature of the worldview since disaffected young Americans in the 1970s took over the satirical novel Report from Iron Mountain in the 1970s, in which Soviet and American spies were satirised as secretly co-operating, to keep their respective populations in the dark about the real nature of global politics, while providing pork-barrel jobs for the defence industries, as a real, suppressed report, unveiling the cynicism and venality of the world’s secret states. Brown’s idea, that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children, has strong affinities with Lincoln, Baigent and Leigh’s The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, and succeeding works of religious pseudo-history, like Picknett and Prince’s The Templar Revelation.

Even as fiction Brown’s novel is unremarkable. The Vatican has long been a subject for fictional intrigue because of its role as the nerve centre and powerhouse, spiritual and temporal, of the Roman Catholic Church. Most of these authors have based their plots on the murky world of Vatican banking, particularly the allegations that the Vatican bank acted as a conduit for Nazi funds to be smuggled out of Europe after the Allied victory to expatriate Nazis who had fled to South America.[2] When aging Nazis started to seem passé, the Vatican could always be cast in the villain’s role again as the fictional enforcer of oppressive, institutional falsehood and evil. One novel from the early 1990s had the Vatican, CIA and KGB jockeying for power after the clandestine discovery of Christ’s body in the Middle East. The 2001 film The Body featured Derek Jacobi playing a fugitive Roman Catholic priest who had stumbled on the secret truth of Christ’s body, and so was hunted by violent enforcers of his spiritual masters’ will, determined that this disruptive fact never leak out to explode the fabric of the Roman Catholic faith.

Yet while all these books were bestsellers, none have had quite the commercial success of The Da Vinci Code, a situation that says much about the relative status of fiction over dry works of ostensible fact in the public’s literary appetite, and the deep, spiritual needs of Western humanity at the beginnings of the twenty-first century. Part of the book’s success lies in its engagement with deep issues of Christian historical and scriptural authenticity going back to the compilation of the established, orthodox Christian canon. However, in its treatment of these profound religious anxieties, The Da Vinci Code owes less to the debate within Roman Christianity between the Catholic and Gnostic churches, than to the Reformation and Protestant perceptions of Roman Catholicism as a false, oppressive religion. These perceptions and prejudices were sharpened by the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century and the social and intellectual dislocation of the new, mass, industrial and democratic societies of the nineteenth century.

This changing social and intellectual world presented challenges to Christianity as a whole, as religious doctrines were challenged by scientific scepticism and new forms of textual criticism of the Bible, including the discoveries of variant Biblical texts, which cast doubt on the authority of the canonical scriptures. Roman Catholicism, however, felt these dislocations particularly acutely because of its perceived alliance with reactionary, monarchist and anti-democratic regimes. Within Roman Catholicism, certain specific orders are perceived as particularly authoritarian and repressive. Brown’s villains in The Da Vinci Code are Opus Dei, genuinely the subject of contemporary anxiety because of the founder’s links with Franco’s regime in Fascist Spain. Behind their fictional brutality and machinations, however, are earlier, Reformation and Enlightenment images of sadistic and repressive monks, and specifically the fear of the Jesuits, an order haunted by accusations of political intrigue, fanatical loyalty and black magic.

The date of the establishment of the New Testament canon is more problematic, as the first list, which exactly corresponds to the modern New Testament dates from the fourth century AD

The compilation of the Christian canon of scripture – the collection of books regarded as authoritative – predates Roman Catholicism, if this is understood as a distinctct ecclesiastical denomination, by several centuries. Early Christianity already possessed a canon of Old Testament scripture in the form of the Septuagint, the Greek translation compiled in Alexandria, in common with most Diaspora Jews outside Palestine by the end of the first century AD. [3] The date of the establishment of the New Testament canon is more problematic, as the first list, which exactly corresponds to the modern New Testament dates from the fourth century AD. [4] The Diatessaron of Tatian, an attempt to harmonise the four gospels by placing them parallel to each other in rows, and ieferences to the New Testament by the early Christian fathers Irenaeus and Tertullian as scripture, indicate that something like the modern Christian New Testament had been formed by AD. 200. [5]

Christianity at the time was a network of autonomous congregations, largely centred on the towns, under the direction of a bishop, who was served by a staff of presbyters and deacons. These diverse independent churches formed a united community by the mutual recognition of each other by the bishops, and by the ordination of each bishop by at least three bishops from the neighbouring communities.[6] The formal recognition of the claim by the Bishop of Rome, propounded in 341 AD, to leadership of a wider Christian church did not occur until 451 AD, when the Council of Chalcedon established the superiority of see of Rome over the Christian church, two and a half centuries after the establishment of the Christian canon. [7]

The doctrinal unity of this early church was threatened by radical attacks on the canon by the Gnostics. Here, however, the Catholic church acted to preserve its scriptural heritage from innovation. For the heresiarch Marcion, the good, compassionate God revealed in Jesus Christ was in stark contrast from the harsh God of the Old Testament, a God he saw as separate and evil, so that he recommended the rejection of the Old Testament altogether, and employed only a severely edited verston of the New Testament. [8]

Other Gnostics went further and began compiling, in addition to commentaries on the canonical scriptures, other gospels of their own. [9] Far from being seen as the representations of authentic Christianity, in contrast to the catholic scriptures, these works were later. It’s possible that the entire corpus of New Testament books had been written by 70 AD. [10] Valentinus, one of the main Gnostic heresiarchs identified by Irenaeus and the early church, and the probable author of the Gospel of Truth, began teaching in Rome in the second century under the Emperor Antoninus Pius. [11] Rather than preserving Christ’s original teachings, catholic Christian scholars such as Hyppolytus saw the Gnostics instead as confusing Christ’s doctrines with the metaphysical speculations of earlier Pagan philosophers, a view that is endorsed by many modern scholars. [12]

Yet if Gnosticism did not represent the preservation of an authentic Christian witness, nevertheless anxieties about the accuracy and status of the canonical scriptures remained, to become acute with the rise of Humanism and scepticism during the Renaissance. The rediscovery by the Humanists of more complete ancient texts, and their emphasis on studying the Bible and the Church fathers in new and more correct editions were a vital stimulus to the Reformation. Erasmus’s Greek edition of the New Testament with its glosses on the original meaning of words such as ecclesia and presbyter, ‘church’ and ‘priest’, pointed to the immense difference between the early church and contemporary, European Catholic piety.

Erasmus himself believed that salvation could come only through the Christian’s imitation of the life of Christ, rather than through the miracles and ceremonies of traditional religion. [13] He was particularly stinging about contemporary scholastic theology and its practitioners, whose heads were “so swollen with these absurdities, and a thousand more like them.” [14] While Luther went far beyond the Humanists in his attack on Roman Catholic doctrine, undoubtedly the rise of Humanist speculation and its assault on traditional theology and piety assisted the spread of Protestantism as the recovery of the spirituality of the early Christian church. [15]

The Reformation’s immediate effect on the canon of scripture, however, was to exclude the books of the Apocrypha – 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Manasses and 1 and 2 Maccabees, as well as the Song of the Three Holy Children, the History of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon from the Book of Daniel – because they were found only in the Septuagint, rather than the original Hebrew scriptures, and so considered unreliable. [16]

In reacting against church tradition, Protestantism viewed only the Bible as the authoritative source of faith. Thus, when twentieth century scholars such as F.C. Baur discovered Early Catholicism in the New Testament, following Schleiermacher they considered it a corruption of Christ’s original message by Greek philosophy and Roman legalism, and sought to purge scripture of this contamination in order to return to the ‘historical Jesus’. [17]

One product of the Protestant project to return to the pristine Christianity of the New Testament was its automatic rejection of the papacy as the antichrist, beginning with Luther’s denunciation of his opponents within the papal curia in his tract ‘Against the Execrable Bull of Antichrist’. [18]. It was a stance, which became explicit with his depiction of the Whore of Babylon wearing the papal tiara in the 1522 edition of the Bible. [19] Subsequent attempts to curb the spread of Protestantism by violence by princes such as Philip II of Spain and Francis I of France, culminating in the wars of religion of the seventeenth century, seemed to confirm to European Protestants that the papacy was indeed the brutal persecutor of true, authentic Christianity. From this background of religious violence, political intrigue and terror, the Jesuits emerged as particular targets for suspicion and vilification by both Protestants and Roman Catholics alike.

As the case of Jean-Baptiste Girard and Catherine Cadiere in 1731 reputedly showed, at least to the authors of Spiritual Fornication, A Burlescue Poem and The Wanton Jesuit, they also used magic and invocations to the Devil to seduce their young female charges.

They were accomplished assassins, training fanatics through the use of their spiritual authority to murder their eneemies without remorse. According to the 1610 pamphlet, A Discoverie of the Most Secret and Subtile Practices of the Jesuites, they did this by presenting their chosen assassin with an ivory casket, decorated with an Agnus Dei, and inscribed with ‘sweet and perfumed characters’, containing a knife wrapped in a scarf. The Jesuits removed this weapon in an elaborate ritual in which it was sprinkled with holy water, and five or six beads added to the haft, to represent the number of stabs the weapon was to make, and the numbers of souls released from Purgatory by the murder. The Jesuits then invoked God’s angels to fill the future assassin, strengthening him for his task, informing him that he was now no more a mortal man but a kind of deity and that he would pass immediately into heaven without entering purgatory. [20]

The 1759 pamphlet The Doctrine and Practices of the Jesuits declared that the order possessed a master poisoner, able to equip assassins with poisons to place in eating utensils which remained lethally effective even after they were washed ten times. [21]

They were masters of equivocation and dissimulation, and immensely wealthy. The order reputedly had vast, highly profitable gold and silver mines in Latin America, as well as a deliberate policy of targeting wealthy widows, persuading them after their bereavement to take up a life of prayer and contemplation and give their monies instead to the church. [22] They were masters of disguise, present in every company, from the highest to the lowest, in inns, playhouses and taverns. [23] They worked their way into the company of princes, manipulating the minds of their proteges and former pupils through their control of education in the schools and lay sodalities. [24]

They were omnivorous perverts of monstrous sexual appetites. The schools, naturally, were hotbeds of homosexuality and paedophilia. [25] As the case of Jean-Baptiste Girard and Catherine Cadiere in 1731 reputedly showed, at least to the authors of Spiritual Fornication, A Burlescue Poem and The Wanton Jesuit, they also used magic and invocations to the Devil to seduce their young female charges. [26]

This last allegation was particularly tenacious. In 1846 Johann Scheible in Stuttgart published a manual of magic attributed to them, the Verus Jesuitarnm Libellus, or True Magical Work of the Jesuits. This was supposedly first published in Latin in Paris in 1508, along with the Praxis Magica Fausti, or Magical Elements of Dr. John Faust, Practitioner of Medicine, of 1571. [27]

As the Jesuit order was only founded in 1540, although its roots go back to an informal association of St. Ignatius de Loyola and his friends, including Francis Xavier, there’s no real doubt that the Libellus is a forgery. The Praxis Magica Fausti, allegedly printed from an original manuscript at the Weimar Municipal Library, is also forged, as at the time there wasn’t a library there either. [28]

Prefiguring twentieth century rhetoric and fears of brainwashed cults, Jesuits were similarly seen as indoctrinated automatons, crushed of independent thought and will, accusations supported by Loyola’s recommendation that a member of the company should resemble a cadaver and have no desire for self-determination, or the staff used by an old man, serving him in whatever way he pleased. [29] As Loyola was a former soldier, and the Society headed by generals, the order was viewed as a military machine of ruthless and sadistic discipline.

The order possessed a vast ‘library’ of instruments of torture with which the Order’s superiors tormented novices should they show any sign of disaffection or individuality. If a novice seemed to be wavering in his absolute commitment to the order, or was likely to desert and betray their secrets, he was immediately placed in the stocks until he almost perished from hunger and cold. [30] In this the myth of the Jesuits prefigured contemporary suspicions about Opus Dei, and the cilice, the curious studded garter members are required to wear for about an hour a day to mortify their flesh. And needless to say, like Opus Dei, they were also fanatically loyal to the Pope. Thus, to the anonymous author of the 1615 A True Relation of the Proceedings against John Ogilvie, in addition to their usual monastic vows they had a fourth: ‘to make the pope the lord of all the earth, emperors, kings and princes his dependents, to be removed, altered, changed, deposed and killed, when it pleaseth his holiness to give commission. [31]

As a result of this, Jesuits were perceived to be at the heart of plots against Elizabeth I, Charles I and Charles II of England, William of Orange, Henry III, Henry IV and Louis XIV of France, the American presidents William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, James A. Garfield, William McKinley and Abraham Lincoln. [32] They were responsible for the French Wars of Religion, the Gunpowder Plot and Great Fire of London, governing France through their puppets Cardinals Mazarin and Richelieu, and attempting to subvert decent British society through the creation of the Quakers. Their conspiracy was truly global. They were accused of Machiavellian political intrigue in Ethiopia and their model Indian colonies in Paraguay were seen as an attempt to create their own power-base within that country, a Jesuit state within a state. [33]

While it is easy to see why Protestants should fear the Jesuit order for their missionary activities and attempts to reconvert those peoples to Roman Catholicism, suspicion of the Order was also extremely common in Roman Catholic countries. They did have an enormous range of commercial activities – banking, mining, real estate, and involvement in the spice and silk trades, as well as vast and extremely lucrative agricultural estates in Mexico. [34] They also produced theoretical political tracts, such as that of Juan Mariana’s De rege et Regis institutione, which argued that ultimately a monarch’s power derived from the people, and which was duly burned by the Parlement of Paris as a threat to the French constitution in 1610. [35]

Rival Roman Catholic orders resented the Jesuit’s competition for students at the universities, as confessors to the great and powerful, and as missionaries in the conversion of the heathen. [36] Ordinary parish priests and bishops resented the Order’s intrusion into local parish and diocesan affairs and refusal to pay tithes and other ecclesiastical taxes. [37]

In the fraught political atmosphere of Elizabethan England, ordinary Roman Catholic priests who sought to maintain a nonconfrontational ministry bitterly resented the appearance of Jesuit missionaries and their aggressive campaigns to win back heretics for bringing secular priests, and “other more honest and single-hearted Catholics” into “a gulf of danger and discredit”. [38]

The Church within the various independent Roman Catholic nations resented the Jesuits as representing transmontane, papal intrusion into their specific ecclesiastical affairs, while Roman Catholic monarchs resented the papacy itself as a rival axis of power. [39] Thus, “whenever a national government grew tired of Roman behaviour … it was likely to voice its dislike of the Society of Jesus, a body with (notionally at least) a supranational identity who even went so far as to swear a special fourth vow of obedience to the pope.” [40] The result was a series of arrests and suppressions of the Order: Portugal in 1758, France 1764 and Spain in 1767 before the Order was finally dissolved. by papal decree completely in 1773.

Although the Order was reformed in 1814, the legacy of suspicion and dish ust remained. In addition to political attacks from governments from Spain, France and America, radical authors such Eugene Sue, in his Le Juif Errant, serialised in the French newspaper Le Constitutionnel in 1844-5, launched fresh attacks on the Jesuits. [42] Tellingly, one of the anti-Jesuit characters in the book is a German nationalist, dreaming the Enlightenment dream of a rational, liberating religion, purged of priestcraft and superstition. [43] Thus, in addition to the previous accusations directed against the Society, the Jesuits were now viewed also as the agents of stifling theological irrationalism and reaction. This view was especially popular in America, where Roman Catholicism in general and the Jesuits in particular were widely resented because of concerns over immigration. In contrast to American democracy and reason, Roman Catholicism was reviled as ‘a system of darkness and slavery, mental, bodily and spiritual’ completely antithetical to ‘republican civic theories in legislation and political economy. [44] Dan Brown’s depiction of the Roman Catholic church, and Opus Dei in particular, are merely the latest permutation of this American perception of irrational and repressive Roman Catholicism.

Traditional fear of the Jesuits is only one of the historical factors behind the appearance of The Da Vinci Code and the various related works of religious pseudohistory. Equally important were the Victorian crisis of faith and the emergence of Theosophy. Although the Deists of the eighteenth century had argued for a Deus absconditus, an absent God who had created the world, which He had then left to run itself according to the laws of Newtonian mechanics, it was in the 19th century that such religious scepticism became acute. Late nineteenth-century radicals, such as ‘Scepticus Britannicus’ and Thomas Paine, followed William Godwin in viewing God and religion as repressive institutions, which would be removed by democracy and scientific progress. [45]

Charles Hennell argued that there was nothing mysterious in Christ’s life. He was merely a religious teacher attempting to regain the throne of David

The Romantics retained this deep alienation from traditional Christianity, preferring instead a celebration of nature as leading to a feeling of transcendence. Keats’ Endymion, for example, articulated a Platonic notion of spiritual ascent to the divine through encountering natural ‘symbols of immensity’, which point to their platonic archetypes. Keats himself was bitterly hostile to the established church, arguing in his ‘To Percy Shelley, on the Degrading Notions of Deity’, that the Anglican church had created its idea of God from fear, vested interests and bigotry. [46]

In addition to these Romantic, radical sentiments the Enlightenment project of demythologising and producing a rational religion, as expounded in such 18th century works such as J. Toland’s Christianity Not Mysterious (1696), continued with the publication of works such as Charles Hennell’s 1838 An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of Christianity. Hennell argued that there was nothing mysterious in Christ’s life. He was merely a religious teacher attempting to regain the throne of David. After His execution by the Romans, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, as a precautionary measure, removed his body from the tomb, which the early church mistook as the Resurrection.

While this view also suffers from logical inconsistencies and contradictions, it was very influential. The radical German writer, David Friedrich Strauss, had presented much the same image of Christ three years earlier in his Life of Jesus. Both Hennell and Strauss had a profound effect on leading intellectuals in Victorian society, such as George Eliot [47]

The impetus for this attack on the historicity of the Incarnation – the central tenet of mainstream Christianity – came largely from the German philosopher Lessing, who argued that no rational basis could be found for such developments, which were completely unreasonable. As a result, writers such as Ernest Renan could construct a life of Jesus, which portrayed Him as a mere human being with a case of megalomania. [48] Other Victorian intellectuals, such as J.A. Froude, Matthew Arnold and F.W. Newman lost their faith through repugnance at theological doctrines such as original sin, predestination and substitutionary atonement. [49] As a result, the holy God and man of the Gospels was reimagined as nothing more than a moral
teacher. [50]

Continue to Part Two >>>>


References for Part One

1. ‘Book is All Wrong, Critics Say’, The Sun Herald, 12th May 2006, at httpa/www.sunheralbd.com/mld/thesunheraldlliving114560165/htrn? template contentlV.
2. ‘Odessa (Organisation de SS Angehorige)’ in Taylor, J., and Shaw, Warren, A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London, Grafton 1987), p.265.
3. Williams, R., ‘The Bible’, in Hazlett, I., ed., Early Christianity: Origins and Evolution to AD 600 (London, SPCK 1991), p. 83.
4. Bray, G., Creeds, Councils and Christ (Leicester, Inter-Varsity Press 1984), p. 44.
5. Williams, ‘Bible’, p. 86; Bray, Creeds, p. 44.
6. Hall, S.G.,’Ministry, Worship and Christian Life’, in Hazlitt, Early Christianity, pp. 106-7.
7. Chichester, D., Christianity: A Global History (London, Penguin 2000), pp. 160-1; Hall, ‘ Ministry’, p. 107; ‘The Claims of Rome 341′, in Bettenson, H., ed., Documents of the Christian Church, (Oxford, Oxford University Press 1963, p. 79.
8. Williams, ‘ Bible’, p. 85; Bray, Creeds, p. 45.
9. Williams,’Bible’, p. 85.
10. Bray, Creeds, p. 44.
11. Eusebius, The History of the Church, G.A. Williams, trans., and A. Louth, ed., (London, Penguin 1989), pp. 113, 425.
12. Wiles, M., ‘Orthodoxy and Heresy’ in Hazlett, Early Church, p, 202; Dillon, ‘Monotheism in the Gnostic Tradition’, in Athanassiadi, P., and Frede, M., Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Oxford, Clarendon Press 1999), p. 74.
13. Elton, G.R., Reformation Europe 1517-1559 (London, Fontana 1963), p. 31.
14. Erasmus, D. Praise of Folly, Radice, B., trans, and Levi, A.H.T., ed., (London, Penguin 1971), p. 163.
15. Elton, Reformation, p. 33.
16. ‘Apocrypha’, in Evans, L. H., Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (Cassell, London 1959), p.42
17. Bray, Creeds, pp. 18-20.
18. Bainton, R., Here I Stand by Martin Luther (Tying, Lion Publishing 1978), p. 81.
19. Bainton, Luther, p. 333.
20. Wright, B, The Jesuits: Missions, Myths and Histories (London, HarperCollins 2004), p. 134.
21. Wright, Jesuits, p. 135. 22. Wright, Jesuits, p. 139. 23. Wright, Jesuits, p. 140. 24. Wright, Jesuits, p. 137.
25. Wright, Jesuits, p. 133.
26. Wright, Jesuits, pp. 128-31.
27. Libellus Magicus, at Metareligion: http/Iwwwmetareligion.comlEsoterismlMamicklCeremonial-magick/libellus magicus.htm.
28. Libellus Magicus, Metaretigion.
29. Wright, Jesuits, p. 138.
30. Wright, Jesuits, p. 138.
31. Wright, Jesuits, p. 136.
32. Wright, Jesuits, p. 135.
33. Wright, Jesuits, p. 137.
34. Wright, Jesuits, p. 148.
35. Wright, Jesuits, pp. 148-9.
36. Wright, Jesuits, pp. 151-2.
37. Wright, Jesuits, p. 152.
38. Wright, Jesuits, p. 152.
39. Wright, Jesuits, p. 153, 201.
40. Wright, Jesuits, p. 203.
41. Wright, Jesuits, pp. 171, 175, 176, 179.
42. Wright, Jesuits, p. 219
43. Wright, Jesuits, p.22.
44. Wright, Jesuits, p. 226.
45. McGrath, Atheism, p. 114.
46. McGrath, Atheism, p. 120.
47. McGrath, Atheism, p. 129.
48. McGrath, Atheism, p. 139.
49. McGrath, Atheism.p. 131.
50. McGrath, Atheism, p. 141.


Continue to Part Two >>>>




Stretching Credibility.
Christopher Allan

Crash at Corona is the third book on the infamous Roswell ‘UFO crash’ in twelve years. The US UFO community, when not deeply involved in abductions seems to be truly besotted with Roswell, with three known separate groups competing in producing a seemingly endless proliferation of books, articles, symposium reports, tape recordings, TV documentaries and even in attempts to persuade Congress to hold hearings with witnesses free to testify.

Crash at Corona takes a look at this overblown affair (Corona being a small town in New Mexico much nearer the original crash site than Roswell), but is far less credible than the Randle-Schmitt book of 1991, with biased choice of data and wild speculation raging all through.

As if one crash were not enough, the authors tell us that there were in fact two separate saucer crashes on that day in July 1947: one in the desert near Corona consisting of three crash sites within a small radius on a sheep ranch, and another on the Plains of San Augustin, a plateau some 125 miles to the west. Althogether eight alien bodies plus several plane loads of wreckage were recovered by the military, under conditions of utmost secrecy, from the four sites including one, possibly two, live specimens. Their subsequent fate is unknown.

Friedman and Berliner, however, go much further than Randle and Schmitt; they accept the Majestic 12 (MJ 12) papers as genuine, and even suggest (p.39-40) that Stalin knew all about Roswell in 1947 and “called in several of his top scientists” (this is at the very time everything was being hushed up from the American public), having been tipped off by his network of Soviet spies in New Mexico. The authors speculate that he may even have set up his own MJ-12-like committee in Russia Stalin, it appears, also had several women secretly translate “a pile of foreign books and materials” on UFOs for him. (Recall that Stalin died in early 1953 when only three UFO books had appeared. APRO was the only UFO group then extant, and the number of articles or newsletters then in print was negligible).

In their discussion of the MJ-12 papers the authors say that the other crash mentioned therein. which occurred on the Texas-Mexico border on December 6, 1950, accords well with the fact that “a high state of alert was noted in several books about the Truman administration” (without naming any of the books or the fact that the unidentified objects producing the ‘alert’ were merely unusual radar blips). They mention an FBI teletype sent on December 8, but omit to say that this teletype originated from Richmond, Virginia, i.e. nowhere near the crash location and, furthermore, that it makes no reference to any downed UFO (p.67).

The Smith-Sarbacher `connection’ is given with great emphasis being placed on Wilbert Smith’s ‘Top Secret’ Canadian memo naming Vannevar Bush. All the MJ-12 members are named, yet again, with brief descriptions of each, and a very one-sided discussion is given of the documents themselves. Dr Roger Wescott’s favourable ‘analysis’ of the Eisenhower briefing paper is presented once again, without any indication that Wescott later changed his mind on the affair and has long since dropped out of the controversy; or that Wescott was only chosen for this analysis because of his longstanding belief in things paranormal. (The authors also omit to say that Wescott was not a supporter of the ETH). The authors propose a simple, have-it-bothways answer for the omission of the San Augustin `crash’ from the Eisenhower paper – the second crash was omitted “because at the time this had been given only limited credence; in this way the briefing paper could well be both genuine and fake” (my italics); the second crash was thus deleted from the paper before its copy and release. They also say: “admittedly, this is pure speculation”. They do concede, however, that “the final answer to the question of the legitimacy of the MJ-12 documents is not yet in” (p.69)

Regarding the two ‘crashes’, the authors prop up the myth of the July 2, 1947 date when there is not the slightest support for this in any contemporary report (this date is in fact an assumption made over thirty years later by Friedman and Bill Moore); they take the fact of the crash(es) as proven, again despite there being no first-hand witnesses and no mention of such a thing in the press reports (all that was mentioned was a ‘landing’ or `recovery’ of a light instrument). They change the date when Bill Brazel Jnr is said to have been visited by the military and had his few UFO fragments confiscated. The two previous books give the date of this incident as 1949, two years after the crash. Friedman & Berliner insist it took place merely a few weeks after the crash. Despite this, Brazel’s memory of the events surrounding the Corona crash is said to be “clear and sharp” (p.86).

On p.87 they say Barney Barnett died in 1969, long “before anyone had heard of a crash in western New Mexico, and long before anyone was taking stories of crashes seriously”; thus conveniently ignoring Frank Scully’s 1950 best-seller which was, the authors imply (p.48-9), indeed taken seriously by Wilbert Smith, Dr Frank Sarbacher and Dr Vannevar Bush if no-one else. This raises another question: the authors accept the MJ-12 papers as genuine. Therefore surely the MJ-12 committee members, having taken part so assiduously in the recovery of a crashed saucer in New Mexico in 1947, would have regarded Scully’s 1949-50 diclosures extremely seriously and redoubled their efforts. Why then is there no mention of Scully’s New Mexico crash in the Eisenhower briefing paper? How could the MJ-12 group possibly afford to ignore such a story when they knew the Roswell crash was genuine and they had recovered wreckage and bodies? Another `limited credence’ case perhaps?

On p.80 (again with the wrong date) they say rancher Brazel’s press interview “bore little similarity to his original story”. In fact only one Brazel interview was ever printed in the press and there was thus no “original story”.

The Lydia Sleppy teletype story is given a new twist. The first version of this appeared as far back as 1974 in Saga magazine, in a simple form. Every version thereafter differs from, and improves upon, the earlier ones. This time Sleppy says the “mysterious” interupt was caused by the FBI who were, according to Friedman and Berliner, monitoring teletypes at the time. No mention of the FBI occurs in any previous account of this incident.

On p.100 we are told that Jesse Marcel says “beyond that, I did not actually see him hit the matter with a sledge-hammer”, but further on: “we even tried making a dent in it with a 16-pound sledge-hammer”. On p.169 we hear that the wreckage was so extra ordinary that even “cattle and horses reportedly shied away from it… something told them it wasn’t anything normal”. (N.B. Brazel’s cattle and sheep escaped the mutilation suffered by later generations of farmers at the hands of alien visitors).

Roswell should provide much interesting entertainment and speculation for the forseeable future.

The evidence of Gerald Anderson, who only came forward in 1990 after seeing the Unsolved Mysteries TV documentary. is given full credence. This alleged first-hand witness was only five-and-a-half years old at the time, but has the most phenomenal memory ever known, recalling everything in perfect detail 43 years later, including the alien creatures’ faces, the ship itself, the surrounding terrain, the archaeologists present who got too nosey, the military planes, trucks, even their insignia and names. He recalled his uncle Ted taking exception to the excessive military interference at the crash site and that he “smacked one of them and knocked him right on his ass” (p.106).

His older brother, possessing truly amazing insight, realised straightaway the nature of the craft, remarking “that’s a goddamn spaceship; them’s Martians!” The four members of his family who were present are now, alas, all dead; although an alleged copy of a diary (not the original) survives as supporting evidence. Naturally, Anderson has passed a polygraph test with flying calours.

Likewise, Friedman and Berliner accept without question the testimony of Glenn Dennis, a local mortician who heard about the alien bodies from a nurse now deceased. Dennis tells us elsewhere (in a recorded interview, not reproduced in the book) that the USAF warned him to keep his mouth shut or he might “make good dog food”.

The authors also accept the Robert Emenegger – Linda Moulton Howe story (without naming them) of secret movie footage of a meeting between the USAF and alien beings at Holloman Air Force Base, saying it “could very well be true” (p.187). Although Friedman and Berliner don’t tell you, there are at least two versions of this story: one had a mere 800 feet of film, the other over 12 miles!

Some daft speculations accompany the narrative all through. Dr Menzel was enlisted as a UFO disinformation agent early on (p.152), thus explaining his three anti-UFO books; the invention of transistors in late 1947 is linked to discoveries made from the Roswell wreckage (p.67). No journalist would dare reveal the story even if he knew it because it was “too big” and he could lose his job, thus it would not be worth the trouble! (p.155) Finally, the government dare not let the truth out for fear of a disastrous stock market crash with a deep depression and massive unemployment to follow (chap.15).

THE San Augustin Controversy report is the proceedings of a conference in Chicago during Feb 15-16 1992 to try and get to the bottom of the second alleged saucer `crash’ on the presumed date in July 1947. It consists of the two protagonists Friedman and berliner on the one hand, against Kevin Randle, Donald Schmitt and Thomas J. Carey on the other, with Professor Michael D. Swords as moderator.

the main topic for discussion is the credibility of the witness mentioned above, Gerald Anderson, who only came forward in January 1990 after watching a TV documentary. A host of supporting documentation in the form of diaries, photos and exhibits is given and a very fair and reasonable analysis by the moderator which leaves no doubt in the mind of the reader (and of just about everyone else in the UFO movement) that Anderson is a complete fraud, having obtained all his vast knowledge of the case from reading The Roswell Incident by Berlitz and Moore, the TV documentary, plus other bits and pieces inadvertently passed onto him by Friedman. Naturally, Stan Friedman rejects this and still promotes Anderson as the star Roswell-San Augustin witness.

Considerable discussion centres on a Dr Winfred Buskirk, alleged by Anderson to be the leader of the team of archaeologists at the site at the time of the crash. In fact, due to Tom Cary’s painstaking investigation, it turns out that Buskirk was an anthropolgy teacher at the very school in Albuquerque that Anderson attended ten years later! Needless to say Buskirk, who is still alive, has never seen or heard of any UFO crash in New Mexico in 1947 or any other time. Friedman’s response, naturally, is that Buskirk has to say this because he is sworn to secrecy.

Let us admit that there has been a lot of research and investigation over Roswell by many dedicated ufologists over the past thirteen years; with some 400 people connected with the case (some very remotely, it must be said) being interviewed altogether. This number is still rising. Unfortunately the key evidence that could provide the final proof, i.e. actual UFO hardware, alien bodies or irrefutable official documentation, has never turned up. Nor is it likely it ever will. It is impossible to say how much contamination of witnesses by interviewers has occurred, how their memories have been distorted by time, how much some are motivated by the desire for publicity, how much their minds have been conditioned by the UFO subject forty years on, and so on.

Some debris was undoubtedly found on Mac Brazel’s ranch in the summer of 1947, and the military were involved in its retrieval. There is one and only one official document that has ever surfaced (and this only thirty years later), an FBI teletype dated July 8, 1947. This leaves no reasonable doubt that the object was an octahedron shaped radar target with an attached balloon, which is precisely what the USAF told the press on the same day. The FBI got their information via a phonecall from the USAF at Fort Worth, Texas. There was no conceivable reason for the Air Force to lie to the FBI.

The other associated `crash’ (San Augustin) is entirely fictitious, being merely a secondhand tale told to Stanton Friedman over thirty years later by someone who could not remember the date, even the year, and who cannot even recall when he was first told the tale himself. Friedman assumed the event was in the summer of 1947 for one reason only, because he wanted it to fit in with the so-called Roswell incident.

Randle and Schmitt are planning a second book. More articles will undoubtedly appear, with a promise of final `breakthrough’ being imminent. It will never happen, of course, but at least Roswell should provide much interesting entertainment and speculation for the forseeable future.


Friedman, Stanford and Don Berliner. Crash at Corona: US Military Retrieval and Cover-up of a UFO Paragon House, New York 1992.

The Plains of San Augustin Controversy. Published Jointly by CUFOS and FUFOR. June, 1992 (88 pp.)


Satanism and Class Conflict
David Sivier

magonia-66From Magonia 66, March 1999

One of the aspects of the Satanism scare that is least commented on is the part class antagonism and stereotypes seem to play in the construction of the archetypal Satanist. Although the victims of the modern Satanism scare, like their predecessors in the European witch craze, may come from any social class and part of society, the stereotypical Satanist according to rumour legends and the professionals and clergy engaged in hunting them belong to two extremes of – the social spectrum.

They are young people from working class families, drawn into the occult either through such Satanic influences as Hard and Gothic rock music, or else they are wealthy businessmen. It was in Magonia 51, that Roger Sandell (‘Still Seeking Satan’) noted that the therapists seeking out the Satanic abusers had declared that most cases of ritual abuse came from families on council estates, especially those in which children are “shouted at rather than talked to”. At the opposite social pole are wealthy businessmen, using their power and influence to corrupt society and preserve their immunity from prosecution for their crimes.

proctor-gambleThe quintessential example of this latter Satanic group is the American company, Proctor and Gamble, whose logo of the Man in the Moon surrounded by 13 stars was popularly considered to indicate the company’s Luciferian inclinations. If looked at carefully, the number of the Beast in Revelations, 666, could allegedly be found in the curls of the old man’s hair, while the 13 stars obviously represented the number of members in a black coven. Proctor and Gamble naturally vigorously deny any such allegations. Their logo evolved over a number of years and with differing numbers of stars since the company’s founding over a hundred years ago. The 13 stars actually represent, according to their public relations staff, the 13 founding colonies of the USA. Nevertheless, they have been forced to redesign it to remove any possible Satanic symbolism, which largely meant straightening out the Old Man’s hair so that the offending numeral can no longer be seen. Despite this, the rumour is remarkably persistent amongst Christians of all denominations and geographical areas, and the company has resorted to a policy of vigorous prosecution in order to restore its tarnished image.

Beyond this are rumours of organised Satanic groups such as ‘Scorpio’, long the target of parliamentarians such as the late Geoffrey Dickens, who allegedly abduct and kill young children as part of Satanic orgies. I have even heard stories from those with connection to the Class War anarchist group that Anarchist subversives have saved several children from death by decapitation at the hands of such groups. These gangs, allegedly, killed their victims in such a way as to make demons speak through the children’s violated bodies. I have to say that beyond this rumour I have neither seen nor heard anything to corroborate the story. It seems significant, however, that this myth of Satanic covens of businessmen is believed passionately both by Conservatives such as Dickens, and anarchist radicals.

The immediate justification for such suspicion and rumours among Christian groups is rooted strongly in the Bible. A certain antipathy towards the state and the wealthy and powerful has always formed a strong component of Christianity. Christ may have admired the faith of the centurion whose servant he cured, (1) and declared “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, give to God what is God’s”, (2) and St Paul urged good Christians to obey the authorities, (3) yet the central message of the Gospels was aimed strongly at the poor and oppressed. Parables such as the story of the rich man and Lazarus (4) and Christ’s meeting with the rich young ruler (5) exalt the humble against the wealthy, a position made clear in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are you who are poor” (6) and “But woe to you who are rich”. (7) This identification of Christianity with the poor was explicit in the names and attitudes of a number of Christian sects, such as the Ebionites, who took their name from the Hebrew word meaning “poor”, and the Waldensians, who, when they emerged in the 12th century, were called the Poor Men of Lyons after their town of origin.

Such attitudes have played a large part in popular rebellions against unjust rulers from the time of the Circumcellions’ revolt against Rome in fourth-century Africa onwards. It’s also played a very large part in socialist movements since the Digger communities of the Interregnum. Against this is the identification in the Bible of Satan as the lord of this world. Thus, those who are most closely connected with worldly affairs, such as business, risk guilt by association with its master.

This populist attitude is not limited to Christianity, however.  A common African proverb, often seen displayed on lorries, is “no king as God”. (8) Some Islamic sects, such as the Druze, believe that they are condemned to poverty and suffering until the wrath of God overturns the present order and makes their former oppressors their slaves, an attitude that permeates much of the millenarism in modern radical Islamic movements. More recently, some members of new religious movements such as the Wiccans have constructed a mythology of the ‘burning times’ by which they represent an indigenous folk religion oppressed by the wealthy Christian elite. The best example of this attitude is in Leland’s Aradia, the gospel of the witches. In this Aradia, Diana’s daughter by Lucifer, is sent by her mother to bring her rites and gospel to the escaped slaves of the rich, who are explicitly identified with the Christian nobility and clergy. This seems to borrow much from popular Albigensiansim, especially as in its later heretical forms such as Luciferianism in which the Devil was explicitly worshipped in the hope that those participating in the rites would also take part in his kingdom when he was restored to power.

Sects are primarily protest movements, and these early heresies with their stress on poverty and abstinence represented a popular protest by the poor peasantry and burgers against the worldliness of the medieval church. This aside, modern witches take great pains to dissociate themselves from Satanists, viewing themselves as survivals of a pre-Christian native religion distinct from Christianity, rather than a competing Christian heresy. Modern pagans, according to the Occult Census collected by Christopher Bray and his staff at the occult shop, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, are predominantly young, between twenty and thirty-nine years old, whose political alignments tended to be towards the Green and Liberal Democrat parties. Most were comfortably off. Only 10% were unemployed. (9) They are thus very far from the historical stereotype of the witch as a poor, lonely old woman.

It is, however, problematic as to the extent the European witch movements represented popular peasant religious traditions and how far they were creations of the witch founders’ own fantasies. Practically the only cases where the evidence is unambiguous are the case of La Voisin, who celebrated black masses for one of Louis IV’s mistresses in 1680, and the aristocratic occultism of the fin de siecle Decadence. Decadence, and the related Symbolist movement, were largely snobbish aristocratic cults, which, following the theories of Paul Bourget, saw literary genius as a type of madness. This madness was the result of the gradual enervation of the aristocracy through in-breeding as the civilisation they founded moved towards its inevitable decline.

This pessimistic view of society, taken from Montesquieu’s essay on the fall of Rome, Considerations sur les Causes de la Grandeur des Romains et de leur Decadence, encouraged those convinced of their civilisation’s decline to adopt a cynical, hedonistic lifestyle in which every fevered and forbidden pleasure was to be indulged. Decadent literature, beginning with Les Fleurs du Mal, exalted the joys of drugs, sexual perversion, luxury and artifice. Many of its members also experimented with Satanism. Baudelaire wrote his Litany to Satan, Felicien Rops produced his etchings Les Sataniques, and the great theorist of Decadence, Joris-Karel Huysmans, explored its aristocratic underworld in La Bas (the Lower Depths).


The great theorist of Decadence, Joris-Karel Huysmans,

Huysmans himself had been a follower of the Abbe Boullan, a perverted priest widely believed to be a Satanist. This Satanic strain in literature even reached pre-Revolutionary Russia, where some of its greatest exponents included the poets Zinaida Hippius and Fyodor Sologub. There it probably performed the same service that the novels of De Sade and other works of dire pornography had done in France on the eve of their Revolution in promoting the image of the bloated, corrupt aristocrat.

The social elevation of the Satanist from impoverished crone to wealthy aristocrat parallels the same treatment of the vampire. Before Polidori’s novel The Vampyre of 1816, the vampire was conceived generally as the corpse of a peasant called back from death to prey on his former neighbours. After Polidori, the vampire became, at least in literature, an aristocrat. This social elevation was no doubt intended to appeal to the aristocratic milieu which read and wrote such fiction. Polidori, remember, wrote the novel as his entry in the competition between himself, Byron and Mary Shelley which produced Frankenstein. Byron himself was a member of the aristocracy, and Polidori’s vampire may well have taken on the aristocratic origin of this “great, bad man”.

It has also been suggested that the vampire may also be a symbolic treatment of contemporary social conditions. As an aristocrat, he literally and metaphorically sucks the blood of his victims. Gothic literature was a favourite of the French Decadents, so its image of the supernaturally depraved aristocrat may well have influenced their own inclinations towards such pleasures. Regardless of their precise literary origins, these images are remarkably persistent. They inform such characters as the debauched Jarvis of Newman and Baddiel comedy fame, while those from a privileged background are still suspected of having indulged homosexual impulses, at least at public school. This latter is the result of descriptions of public school bullying and homosexuality in books as diverse as Tom Brown’s Schooldays and Brideshead Revisited, spiced up with scandals reported in newspapers such as the News of the World. From sexually debauched aristocrat it is only a short step to the image of a Satanically depraved aristo, especially as this century has seen a gradual decline in traditional religious observance and a resurgence of heterodox beliefs including occultism.

Although many Christians were active in the early socialist movements, socialism, at least in the early 19th century, contained a powerful secularist, anti-Christian component. Robert Owen was a spiritualist, and many of his political disciples also adopted his religious beliefs. Thomas Spence, another Utopian theorist, had moved from Christianity to deism, while the Communists, even before Marx, had a militantly atheist weltanschauung. British Socialism never achieved the status of continental Social Democracy, which between the 1890s and the 1930s formed an alternative society (10) in Germany and Austria, but did tend “to become a complete way of life, which largely superseded the churches in their social role”. (11) The political inclinations of the urban working class can, however, be overstated. Socialism was always a minority creed in the 19th century, and the long reign of Mrs Thatcher, among others, has shown that a large number, even the majority, of the working class voted Conservative.

There is a distinct social break between town and country which has informed many rightwing movements this century. The Nazis’ earliest electoral victory was in the rural area of Schleswig-Holstein where they represented the grievances of the farming community hit by the agricultural crisis of the 1920s. To them, the Nazis presented the image of upright German peasants bringing healthy village values to socialist Babylons such as Berlin. In Italy Fascism had earlier gained massive support in primarily agricultural areas such as Ferrara for similar reasons. Although it would be wrong to equate Evangelicalism and Christian Fundamentalism with Fascism, they do have certain traits in common. In the Satanism scare, both represent beleaguered social groups seeking simple, emotional solutions to complex problems, and fear and hostility towards organised labour has become a marked feature of American Evangelicalism and forms a strong component of their political beliefs.

Any discussion of the Satanism scare has to include the American dimension. Evangelicals are far more likely to view Satan as a concrete, tangible being, in contrast to more mainstream Christians who may regard Auld Clootie as an impersonal force or a metaphor for evil acts and impulses at the personal level. Much Evangelical literature and ideology is American in origin, exported through tapes and the comics produced by the notorious Chick Publications, amongst others. Here, the class nature of much of the Evangelicals’ world view is quite clear. There’s a marked hostility to big business, especially the global financial capital as personified by the Rothschilds, while working-class movements such as trade unions, socialism, communism and anarchism are also denounced as part of Satan’s dominion.

Although these attitudes are more commonly associated with the Protestant white supremacist component in the militia movement, politically Evangelicalism is markedly conservative. The heartland of American Evangelicalism is, of course, in the Deep South, and it was primarily a creed of poor whites. Before the 1970s, 43.7% of Evangelicals lived in towns with fewer than 2,500 inhabitants, (12) and in 1978, 25.3% of them earned less than $4,000 a year. (13) This agrarian background strongly influences their political conceptions. Most still seem to see the world in essentially 17th-century terms. The ideal communities are those like their own, small towns run by paternalistic industrialists or self-reliant farmers which feel threatened by big business on the one hand and organised labour on the other. Many of the sects originally settled in America to escape persecution in Europe, and the poverty of their members would ensure that they absorbed the Biblical hostility to the wealthy and powerful without necessarily turning towards secular ideologies such as socialism. This base in America’s agrarian heartland may also contribute a deep-seated suspicion of urban politics which may, in its turn, account for the conception of Satanism as especially prevalent amongst the urban poor.

Despite the occult trappings of the Satanism scare, it is poverty, especially urban poverty, that forms the motor for the panic. Roger Sandell’s article mentioned above noted the similarity between the modern witch hunters’ attitudes to the urban poor and that of the Victorian missionaries to their slums. The continuity of such ideas reflects both concerns with urban decay and the similarity of housing policies in Britain and America, as opposed to continental Europe. The post-war response to the housing crisis in Britai and America has been to build estates of reasonably well provided suburbs while leaving the inner cities to decay. Continental countries, however, conceived the suburbs in terms of solely providing housing, concentrating amenities and industry in the centre of towns. Thus, discussions of urban poverty in Britain almost invariably centre around inner-city decline, in contrast to the Continent, where it is the banlieu which are the deprived areas.

This similarity, however superficial, between Britain and America could partially explain why the Satanism scare, although certainly not unknown on the Continent, has translated most easily into the British context. In these terms, the Satanic panic represents a confrontation between traditional, agrarian values and those of the modern, secular, urban environment.

The Satanism scare gained prominence in the early 1980s after the publication of the book Michelle Remembers and a gestation period in the 1970s when, as all good Magonians will recall, Satanists and other occult groups were held responsible for the cattle mutilations plaguing the Midwest. It is not coincidental that these panics began when the West was entering a period of economic crisis which result in political and economic retrenchment. Most of those holding traditional moral views in America come from the same background as the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, the membership of both groups overlapping to a large extent.

They are generally people from the small towns and bluecollar areas of the big cities, frequently poorly educated, and “at greatest risk of losing their jobs due to economic dislocation”. (14) These people feel powerless against a political order dominated by the wealthy and powerful. These feelings of alienation have been growing steadily since the 1960s. In 1986, 60 per cent of Americans expressed feelings of powerlessness in contrast to only 29 per cent in 1966. (15) Periods of economic stagnation produce a powerful need among people to find a scapegoat for their problems.

Racism is a typical example of this need. It has, for example, been noted that the areas of America which have a higher incidence of racist behaviour are those where there is a great disparity of income amongst the white population. In the parts of the country where there is less difference in income, racist incidents are far less frequent. (16)

And the gap between rich and poor in America and Europe is increasing. Faced with economic and military challenges from outside, the West is once again turning in on itself seeking scapegoats for its decline. The political and economic elites against whom so much animosity is focused are especially suitable for this role as their ethical values are frequently at variance with those of the majority of the working class, especially over issues such as abortion, sexual permissiveness and homosexuality. The Financial Times noted some time ago that large sections of the American population had still not caught up with the sixties. In Britain newspapers like the Daily Mail regularly attack the “liberal establishment” for promoting, among other things, homosexuality and the decline of family values.

The result is that there is a general, widespread belief in the moral decline of society. According to Gallup polls, the percentage of Americans expressing dissatisfaction with current standards of behaviour in 1987 was 71 per cent, a massive jump from the 58 per cent who held the same views in 1963. (17) Economic hardship can produce marital strife and family breakdown, but the Evangelicals’ belief in the innate virtue of the free market and that morals are purely a matter of private responsibility divorced from social or economic influences prevents them from taking a pragmatic approach to these problems based on state intervention. A scapegoat in the form of a Satanic other becomes a necessity as they are unable to countenance any failing in free-market economics as a system.

By and large, the Evangelicals still preach a prosperity gospel which would have been familiar to the Victorian missionaries, in which economic wellbeing follows as a result of God’s favour to His followers. If this does not occur, then it can only be that the worshipper is either being punished for his sins, an explanation some Evangelicals found for the Great Depression, or that there are Satanic enemies working against them. In the cultural sphere, this increased distrust of big business is particularly clear.

The square jawed heroes firm in body and values played by Cary Grant and James Stewart were honest businessmen. Now those days are gone, and businessmen are now frequently the villains, such as the corrupt executives of OCP in RoboCop, and the Company in Alien. In Dracula (1972) they’re explicitly Satanic. This memorable little flick from the Hammer stable had Dracula himself as the leader of a multinational corporation leading a Satanic cabal of businessmen dedicated to the extermination of humanity. If ever there was an explicit metaphor for contemporary attitudes, it was that. The rumours surrounding many big companies appeared after that little epic, however.

The rumours by and large began as a response to concrete concerns about the influence of various new religious movements which first emerged in the sixties. The rumour about Proctor and Gamble first emerged in the mid eighties, with the difference that the cult running the company was supposed to be the Unification Church (‘Moonies’), which had a more obvious logic considering the company’s logo is a Man in the Moon. This then evolved into the far more powerful and persistent version which dogs the company today. Other rumours about companies include the belief that Marlboro cigarettes are involved in the Ku Klux Klan, and that McDonalds’ supports the IRA. The IRA does indeed turn up in the deductions on their American staff’s payslips, but it’s a pension scheme called Individual Retirement Account rather than any Irish terrorist group.

These rumours are expressions of distrust of big business, but the link to secular organisations has allowed them to escape accusations of Satanism, while, of course, being part of the climate which makes such accusations plausible.

It was the 1980s which saw a number of financial scandals tarnish the reputation of American big business. These included the Savings and Loans scandals under the Reagan administrafion, and the deregulation of the banking system which led to many farmers in the mid-West facing bankruptcy. These events are paralleled in Britain by the numerous “fat cat” managers attacked in the press, who have awarded themselves colossal pay rises after closing down factories and sacking many of their work force.

The Satanism scare’s historical precedents in medieval anti-Semitism and 19th-century panics about Freemasonry are particularly significant. The Jews in medieval Europe formed an urban, mercantile class amongst primarily agricultural societies. Hatred of the Jews was present throughout the Middle Ages, but became particularly vehement during periods of economic and social crisis, such as the Black Death when they were accused of poisoning the wells. As the magnates’ consumption exceeded their income from taxation, many became indebted to Jewish moneylenders. In the 16th and 17th centuries the schuetzjuden, or protected Jews, were a feature of many German noble courts. The image of the Jews as a demonic force corrupting Christendom through its control of financial capital became a strong one.

This prejudice swiftly became passed to the Freemasons after the French Revolution. The first publications to point a finger at them were the Abbe Barruel’s Memoirs of the History of Jacobinism and Proofs of a Conspiracy, published at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th respectively. Freemasonry was an obvious suspect as the secrecy of its meetings meant that it became the conduit for dangerously subversive ideas, such as democracy and freedom of conscience. The alleged subversive nature of Freemasonry was given a verisimilitude with the attempts by Adam Weishaupt’s Illuminati to infiltrate them in the late 18th century. Although this conspiracy was stamped out, suspicions of its survival continue, largely as a result of it being used as a term of abuse by some of the American Founding Fathers for their political opponents.


Nesta Webster declared that the Freemasons were the true successors to the Jewish threat as at their core were the mystic secrets of the Jewish cabbalah and the Jewish programme to destroy the Christian, aristocratic order and replace it with bourgeois, atheistic democracy.

To Nesta Webster, a novelist who contributed much to British and American Fascist ideology, the relationships between Judaism, Freemasonry and the French and Russian Revolutions were obvious. Partly drawing on information given to her by the Duc d’Orleans (despite him being dead for over a hundred years) she declared that the Freemasons were the true successors to the Jewish threat as at their core were the mystic secrets of the Jewish cabbalah and the Jewish programme to destroy the Christian, aristocratic order and replace it with bourgeois, atheistic democracy.

Although it’s easy to dismiss such fears as nonsense, they are remarkably persistent. The past decade has seen a resurgence of fears surrounding Freemasonry, beginning with the murder of Roberto Calvi and the publication of books such as Inside the Brotherhood. There have even been claims that Masons are secretly Satanists, the god they worship being allegedly YahBulOn, a mixture of the Hebrew Yahweh, the Egyptian god On, and the Semitic Baal, the origin of the Beelzebub of the Bible. Initiation into the upper levels of Freemasonry is supposed to involve the ritual inversion and breaking of a cross as in admission to a Satanist coven. Freemasonry is thus popularly perceived as a Satanic cult.

From that point on, it is only a short step to the gangs of Satanic businessmen conjured up by the Satan hunters. More justified concerns over undue influence of the Freemasons in the business community, judiciary and police force are still very much part of contemporary British politics and are the subject of parliamentary enquiry before which several prominent Freemasons have appeared. Finally, in the extreme theorising of the American Right, both financial capital and labour movements are linked in a Satanic conspiracy. Noting the Rothschilds were important backers of the United Nations, and that many big industrialists, such as Armand Hammer, have shown some sympathy for left-wing causes, it’s now argued, following Hitler, that the Rothschilds are using labour movements to create the one world state, under Satan’s direction, of course. Other permutations of this tale involve the Vatican, but the story is, lamentably, much the same.

Regardless of this, it appears that the main forces driving the Satanism scare are economic pressures as they affect an impoverished, rural mittelstand which, in the absence of an appropriate secular ideology, uses the Bible to articulate its intense discontent. This explains its hostility to both organised labour movements and suspicion of extreme wealth, the images of which are appropriated ultimately from both the French Decadence and propaganda material from the French Revolution.

This scare has become plausible owing to recent government scandals, such as Watergate, economic decline due to globalisation of capital and the clandestine activities of fringe religious organisations. Other groups have been able to seize on aspects of it as American and Western culture breaks down into a collection of competing social and ideological communities motivated by the ‘culture of complaint’. Secular feminists, for example, may reject the religious aspect of the Satanism scare, but be convinced by the tales of paedophilia and rape through the concern with male violence against women and children.

These economic and social pressures, extend far outside the milieu of American Evangelism. The rock and occult groups, by no means synonymous, have also felt them. Much of the panic revolves around youths corrupted by ‘Devil’ rock, by which is meant Black Metal and Gothic Rock, which is permeated with demonic and vampiric imagery. This is a curious parallel to their own movements, a sort of Jungian shadow of American Evangelism. It’s been noted that as a symbol of hostility to authority, “it is during the periods of greatest social flux that the vampire – especially the woman vampire – seems to thrive”. (18) The problem is to channel this discontent into more constructive ideologies.



  1. Matthew, 8:10
  2. Matthew, 22:21
  3. Romans, 13:1-8
  4. Luke, 16:19-31
  5. Matthew, 18:18-30
  6. Luke, 6:20
  7. Luke, 6:24
  8. Parrinder, G. African Mythology, Hamlyn, 1967, 35
  9. Hough, P. Witchcraft: A Strange Conflict, Lutterworth, 1991, 191
  10. McLeod, H. Religion and the Working Class in Nineteenth Century Britain, MacMillan, 1984, 56
  11. Ibid.
  12. Kepel, G. The Revenge of God, Polity Press, 1994, 123
  13. Ibid.
  14. Victor, J.S. Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend, Open Court, 1993, 193
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid., 199
  17. Ibid., 187
  18. Serif, C. The Vampire in 19th Century Literature, Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1988, 151, cited in Smith, P. (ed.) Contemporary Legend, Vol. 3, Hisarlik Press, 1993, 151



Moore and the Military
Dennis Stacy

From Magonia 34, October 1989

In the July 1989 Magonia Peter Rogerson postulates an interesting, but largely incomplete scenario regarding John Lears’s UFO ravings, particularly the latter’s call for the impeachment of the President and Congress for having entered into a ‘diplomatic’ arrangement or treaty whereby the little ‘greys’, the malevolent aliens, were allowed to abduct humans for their own purposes in exchange for advanced ‘alien’, i.e. UFO technology.

When a witness in this country is called before a judge in the course of a criminal trial, he or she is asked whether they testimony they are about to give is “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Or at least that’s the way it’s presented on the TV, and we know the telly wouldn’t lie.

And so it is with Rogerson’s interpretation of the influences at work on Lear’s psyche. It might well be true, too, that Lear is driven by archetypal, psychological demons that cause him to cast the UFO in paranoid terms. But it is not, to quote the bailiff of the court who does the swearing-in, the whole truth. That, as always, is more, or in this case Moore, complicated.

Just how contorted events can be surfaced at the summer symposium of MUFON held the first weekend in July in Las Vegas, the giant casino gambling strip and oasis in the desert considered the quintessential American crap-shoot. The theme of the symposium, to give Rogerson his due, was ‘The UFO Cover-Up: A Government Conspiracy?’ William Moore had been scheduled to speak Saturday night in front of Stanton Friedman, but was nowhere in evidence, nor had his paper been submitted previously to MUFON for publication in the symposium proceedings. Instead, Friedman and Moore switched slots, Moore arriving only about 15 minutes before his talk was scheduled to begin.

To the dismay of many, and the active consternation of several, Moore’s talk turned out to be a lengthy refutation of, and ‘confession’ to, charges made by one Robert Hastings, which appeared in an article in the June issue of MUFON Journal. Hastings questioned, in part, whether Moore might not be a ‘mole’ or other agent in the hire of a government or military intelligence agency. Moore confessed that, indeed he had been, but largely in an unwitting role, an entirely unexpected revelation that resulted in angry catcalls from some of Lear’s more fervent followers, and once or twice threatened to bring the whole thing to a confused standstill

Space may not permit a complete sorting out of the personalities and events involved but I’ll try to be as brief and succinct as possible for those operating under the handicap of not being backgrounded in the intricate twists and turns of contemporary American ufology.

Our summarised story begins ten years ago in the summer of 1979. Flush from having co-authored (with Charles Berlitz) the successful Philadelphia Experiment, Moore moved his family from Minnesota to Arizona, where he joined the board of directors of APRO. One of their more colourful constituents or contacts was a man named Paul Bennewitz, a physicist of sorts with his own small electronics concern, Thunder Science, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, home to Kirtland Air Force Base, the Manzano Nuclear Weapons Storage Facility and nearby Sandia Laboratories. Albuquerque then was a hotbed of government-military activity and research, particulary relating to SDI, the so-called ‘Star Wars’. Bennewitz’s house in the fairly affluent Four Hills section of town actually overlooked Manzano and Kirtland, which ajoins the city’s municipal airport. It is not uncommon for commercial visitors to see the B-1 take off and land, as I have, at one of the runways Kirtland shares with the city. Kirtland is also the site of one of the world’s largest wooden structures, a hangar sometimes used in the testing of EMP effects, the electromagnetic pulse storm associated with a nuclear explosion and capable of fusing the delicate electronic components employed in most space age weapon and communication systems.

Albuquerque then was a hotbed of government-military activity and research, particulary relating to SDI, the so-called ‘Star Wars’.

It was also not uncommon for Bennewitz to see UFOs from his rooftop; in fact, he had countless stills and feet of film to ‘prove’ it. Unfortunately, according to Moore Bennewitz also had an overactive imagination and an absence of any sort of psychic governor that might have turned off or reduced some of his more extravagant and outrageous speculations. To others however, especially the flood of eager (and eventually influential) ufologists and researchers who soon beat a path to his door, Bennewitz, at least early on, gave the outward appearance of an educated ‘scientist’ who knew whereof he spoke. It was this aura of high-tech hipness, as much as anything, that no doubt lent Bennewitz much of the influence he would later come to exert on American ufology as a whole.

At about the same time he would come into contact with Bennewitz, Moore claimed, he was also contacted by “A well-placed individual within the intelligence community who claimed to be directly connected to a high-level government project dealing with UFOs”. This bird of prey, of course, is ‘Falcon’, the identity of whom has been the subject of much speculation, along with that of another of Moore’s secret sources, ‘Condor’. Moore maintained in Las Vegas that Falcon was not the much-rumoured Richard Doty, with the Air Force Office of Special Intelligence (AFOSI) Kirtland, but that in fact Doty was only the ‘middle-man’, though he would later allow himself to be identified as Falcon to throw some hounds off the scent. Reportedly, Falcon and others were dissatisfied with government handling of the UFO subject. They indicated to Moore that they would like to help his “research into the subject in the hope and expectation that I might be able to help them find a way to change the prevailing policy and get the facts to the public without breaking any laws in the process”.

But Falcon and his fellow avians, as it turned out, were also interested in Bennewitz, and for reasons that ostensibly had nothing to do with UFOs. “It became apparent”, said Moore, “that my supplying information to the government, through Doty, on the activities of Paul Bennewitz, AFRO and, to a lesser extent, several other individuals, was to be part of this equation.” Moore’s own rational for getting involved was simple enough: “Being a very small part of that process,” he said, “gave me, I thought, something of an advantage. It became my intention to play that advantage for all the information I could get out of it.”

Why our feathered friends were interested in Bennewitz, to the best of my knowledge, is as follows: Bennewitz had become intimately involved in an abduction case being investigated by Dr Leo Sprinkle, then a professor of psychology at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. the case, involving a woman and her young son, tied UFO occupants to animal mutilations, which were more or less rampant at the time in the American desert Southwest. Puritans may prefer that it was the reports themselves that were rampant, of course, and not the actual mutilations. Be that as it may… their testimony was largely obtained via regressive hypnosis performed by Sprinkle, with Bennewitz apparently sitting in on some of the episodes.

Bennewitz became convinced that the woman witness had been the victim or recipient of an ‘implant’, a minuscule device the greys only too routinely insert in the brains of humans to control their thoughts and actions. How was that contact maintained? Bennewitz believed by means of low frequency electromagnetic waves. At one point, allegedly, in an effort to cut the woman off from her captors, he even wrapped her in foil of some sort. Subsequently he took to trying to intercept the signals himself, apparently with some success. That is to say Bennewitz actually began intercepting ELF waves. Unfortunately for him, they were our waves and not ‘theirs’, probably a by-product of EMP testing going on at Kirtland, but perhaps a side-shoot of any number of Star Wars technologies, from lasers to particle beams.

In some manner, the Air Force learned of this. They approached Bennewitz directly, and presumably asked him voluntarily to halt his monitoring. As for Bennewitz, being in the frame of mind he was, this only confirmed his worst and deepest suspicions: the Air Force was in it too!

Subsequently, Bennewitz got on the horn, as we say here, and was soon beaming his message of dire UFO invasion to anyone who would or wouldn’t listen, from fellow ufologists to members of the media, Congress and even the President. Not only did he not cease his monitoring, he promptly composed a computer program which purportedly ‘translated’ the incoming alien signals. Bizarre as his warnings were, they made perfect sense to a growing claque of ufologists camped outside Bennewitz’s door.

If Air Force officials can be forgiven anything at this point, it is the lack of awareness that what they had on their hands was a potential raving loony; else they might not have adopted their next strategy which, according to Moore, was to bombard Bennewitz with “as much disinformation as he could personally absorb” in an effort to discredit him personally, should he receive any unwanted public attention”. In effect the position at this point was of a civilian citizen spying and electronically evesdropping on his own government, instead of the usual vice-versa. Bennewitz could be defused, however, if he were made out to be a UFO nut, if an when the occasion warranted.

As sometimes happens, the disinformation ploy resulted in unexpected side effects, namely a nervous breakdown on the part of Bennewitz, whose business, as well as his mental and physical health, suffered a serious decline. Moore said that Bennewitz was hospitalised under psychiatric care, but I heard this disputed by someone who said they had spoken to Bennewitz’s son. Other eyewitnesses to events agreed, however, that his mental state deteriorated considerably, even if stopping short of actual confinement.

On the face of it, most Europeans may be already baulking, not necessarily given, as are their American counterparts, to an inherent distrust of government and military officialdom. Even Europeans who do routinely take official pronouncements with a grain of salt, may well want to stop short of ascribing such behaviour to anything remotely involved with UFOs. Fortunately, the sceptics, in the form of James Oberg, have already ridden to our rescue. Oberg, for one, has long argued that the pre-perestroika Soviet hierarchy routinely engaged in the manipulation of UFO reports, mainly as a way of letting pass reports that were actually civilian observations of covert military activities not subject to shielding.

You have to ask yourself, ‘where do UFO reports go?’ and its corollary, ‘Whatever becomes of them?’, and the answers are nowhere and nothing,

The important point to remember here is that said government officials and policy were not actively engaged in a conscious cover-up of the UFO phenomenon itself. But that UFO reports, as a category, are much easier to dismiss and ignore than the real phenomena! As evidence, you have only to ask yourself, “where do UFO reports go?” and its corollary, “Whatever becomes of them?”, and the answers are nowhere and nothing, not to the investigative media, not to the Houses of Congress (or Parliament), and certainly not to the military authorities themselves. They are sui generis dead-end, in and of themselves, save for socially ‘safe’ and ‘acceptable’ civilian UFO organisations and individuals, which can be dismissed as misguided ‘crackpots’, who, after all, are only exercising their rights within a democratic society, even if that right is the privilege of self-delusion.

European ufologists as a whole have a way of looking down their snoots at Americans who mention the military and conspiracy in the same breath as UFO, which we all know is only space age folklore. But even as I write, the Sunday New York Times (“All the News That’s Fit to Print”) of August 9, 1989, is before me. On the front page is an article headlined ‘Retribution Seen in Atom Industry’ followed in smaller type by ’4 Who Cited Safety Say They Were Told To See Therapist’. May I quote the first two paragraphs:

“At least four workers who complained about safety and environmental problems at four military nuclear plants run for the government by private contractors say they were ordered by their superiors to see psychiatrists or psychologists.

“The workers and their lawyer all say that they believe the orders came as retaliation for the allegations they made. In two highly publicized cases the allegations against the contractors were confirmed; in the others they have been’ rejected.”

The Land of Opportunity is also where we learned, twenty years after the fact that the Army in the early 1950′s experimented with LSD on the citizens under their nominal protection, resulting in at least one known suicide. If we have a collective proclivity for paranoia maybe it’s justified and maybe it’s not. Colonel North is either a national hero or a political scoundrel, depending on who you interview.

None of the aforementioned is by way of saying that the government knows more about UFOs than the average civilian ufologist, or that there is anything about UFOs to know, least of all that they represent the vanguard of an alien invasion force, hell-bent on mutilating humans. But it is to say that the scenario outlined by Moore, in its generalities and particulars, has its own peculiar precedents and in no way lies outside the realm of everyday possibility. In short, no deep psychological interpretation of the individual and collective American psyche need be conjured up or called forth to explain the events described by Moore other than real-time occurrences involving real time people.

The fly in an already sticky ointment at this point was Bennewitz himself. Obviously the Air Force knew they had a loose cannon on the deck, and just as obviously they underestimated the degree of looseness by a magnitude or two. The best that can be said in their favour is that they probably had no way of knowing their own activities would drive Bennewitz over the edge. In any event, should the case ever come to court, their defence would be that Bennewitz had driven himself crazy. Knowing he was the subject of AFOSI surveillance only confirmed 8ennewitz’s penchant for paranoia.

By mid-1982, according to Moore, “Paul’s story contained virtually all the elements found in the current crop of rumours being circulated around the UFO community. there were two groups of aliens, one malevolent, one more friendly. the malevolent ones, which Paul referred to as the ‘greys’, were really in control, and they were the ones responsible for the cattle mutilations, for human abductions and the implanting of sinister control devices in humans, for maintainin a secret underground base under Arculeta Peak near Dulce in northwestern New Mexico, and for having supplied the U.S. Government with alien space hardware and weapons which ultimately proved defective or were caused to crash, thus leaving human civilization virtually defenceless against invasion.”

Most of the paranoid scenario promulgated by Lear and his small circle of followers, then, had its genesis in the fevered brain of Paul Bennewitz, aided to a (unwitting?) degree by AFOSI machinations, and Moore himself, as the agent who passed doctored, and in some cases wholly fabricated, ‘official’ UFO documents from Doty to Bennewitz.

Moore’s confession drew a few ugly utterances from Lear and Bennewitz followers in the audience and from those who felt their worst suspicions about Moore confirmed.


Moore’s confession drew a few ugly utterances from Lear and Bennewitz followers in the audience and from those who felt their worst suspicions about Moore confirmed. In such an atmosphere misunderstandings were almost inevitable. A few participants I talked to believed that Moore admitted willingly and knowingly participating in the spread of disinformation, this would not seem to be the case, and once Moore learned what was really going on, sometime in 1984, he declined any further participation. By this time at least one other individual, Lee Graham another UFO researcher, had also come under surveillance because of his persistent Freedom of Information Act requests for documents dealing with Stealth technology.

Ordinarily, that might have been the end of it, but these were hardly ordinary circumstances or times. Fast forward to Linda Moulton Howe, an independent Colorado producer of TV documentaries who became involved with animal mutilations in the late 1970′s. Her research resulted in the 1980 hour-long video A Strange Harvest, focussing on cut-up cattle, and the massive, just published Alien Harvest, a 455-page hardback replete with colour microphotographs of laserlike incisions in Arkansas cattle, pictures of anomalous lights from the same area, adjoining Texas, a Foreward by Jacques Vallee, and much regurgitated Bennewitz, mostly in the form of commentary by one Bill Coper, a Lear confidant. Subtitled ‘Further Evidence Linking Animal Mutilations and Human Abductions to Alien Life Forms’, Harvest also contains a 33-page transcript of a hypnosis session conducted by Leo Sprinkle on the women and boy who said they witnessed aliens mutilating animals, the very same case in which Bennewitz was originally involved.

Alien Harvest is in fact the printed version of the UFO documentary Howe herself originally had in mind when she signed a production contract with the cable-TV network, Home Box Office (HBO), in March of 1983. That proposed documentary, UFOs: the E-T Factor, was never made, for reasons that will soon become apparent. A prime source for the film Howe had in mind was none other than Bennewitz, whom AFOSI had assumed defused or decommissioned. Now, no doubt to their chagrin, he was about to ‘star’, or at least be featured, in a UFO documentary to be hyped and shown on national TV!

According to the scenario Moore outlined, something akin to controlled panic must have broken out within AFOSI. Unknown to Moore, apparently, the same disinformation intended to discredit Bennewitz was dusted off and reused, this time with Howe as the recipient, and Doty doing the duping in person. A good deal of Harvest is in fact given over to Howe’s ‘doublecross’ at the hands of Doty, happy to be taken as Falcon. According to Howe, Doty not only showed her ‘official’ documents similar to the Presidential briefing papers which later surfaced as MJ-12, he also intimated that certain officials within the government hierarchy charged with UFO policy were dissatisfied with that policy, and might well welcome a measured release of much of the revealing ‘Top Secret’ stuff in their files, including film footage of an actual encounter between alien bein s and U.S, military personnel, alleged to have taken place at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.

If Howe was flattered, her superiors at HBO must have been flabbergasted to an equal degree; the planned documentary was rapidly rising above the realm of a normal ‘eyecatcher’ to the rarefied heights of scoop of the century.

But it was not to be. The benefit of hindsight makes it appear that Doty and his superiors simply strung Howe along with a series of postponed deadlines for delivery of the epoch making material. Eventually, one might say inevitably, HBO officials grew disenchanted with the delays and cancelled the contract. Taken at face value, Howe’s runaround experiences with Doty, as well as the wealth of ‘information’ conducted through the AFOSI disinformation conduit that was Bennewitz, permeate her book. Moore, somewhat gratuitously, and disregarding entirely the data out of Arkansas, which Howe presented in her own symposium speech, referred to Allen Harvest as “a dismal crop failure”.

Outside the lecture hall before his talk, Howe greeted Moore with fire in her eyes: “This has gone on long enough,” she said, ” I want to know who’s being used and why?”

“I know the answer to that one”, Moore said. “We both were.”

All of Moore’s direct quotes are taken from his printed paper UFOs and the US Government,- Part 1, which he read word-for-word in person.


Cathars and Templars.
Roger Sandell

From Magonia 28, January 1988.

Southwest France in the 12th century was an area marked by a unique culture. It had first been civilised by Greek settlers, it had escaped the worst of the barbarian invasions. As a result it had preserved continuities with Roman civilization and it was a neighbour of Islamic Spain. It was also an area where the religion of the Cathars, regarded by the Church as a diabolic heresy had been embraced by much of the population. As is often the case, Cathar theology may have been less important to many of its adherents than the assertion of a distinctive national identity by the adoption of a religion different from that of their neighbours, particularly the kings of France.

Catharism was one of a series of heresies that had surfaced since the early years of the Church that preached that the world was the creation of an evil demiurge not the true God. Salvation consisted of transcending the flesh and being reunited with God, rather than a future resurrection of the bo that the Church looked forward to.

This combination of heresy and national consciousness excited the hostility of French kings and the Papacy, and by the beg inning of the 13th century the Cathars were depicted as idolaters and participants in orgies. In 1209 a crusade was launched against them, that proved to be the beginning of fort years of poradic warfare that brought about the end of the Cathars and the distinctive culture in which they flourished.

catharsAs is so often the case, a lost cause exercised a fascination for subsequent generations. After the Reformation, some Protestant writers saw the Cathars as martyrs and precursors of the Reformation for their opposition to Rome, although their beliefs had no more in common with the Protestant churches than the Catholic church. After the French Revolution and amid the political divisions of 19th century France the Cathars were rediscovered by writers who saw them as pioneers of anti-clericalism and antimonarchism.

Those most keen to rediscover the Cathars were involved in the explosion of interest in occultism that began in France in the 19th century. In the hands of these writers the Cathars were transmuted from Chistian heretics to occult masters, and their traces were found in unlikely locations. The tarot pack, which existed from the Middle Ages simply as a device for game-playing become a repository of the Cather secret wisdom. The architecture of Southern French castles was studied for proof that they were really Cathar temples.

The first part of The Treasure of Montsegur  [1] is devoted to an examination of the growth of the Cathar myth and the collection of occultists and eccentric scholars who fostered it from the 19th century to the 1930′s. The story told has many parallels with the growth of the Druid myth in Britain which also seized a limited number of historical facts about a defeated culture and interpreted them in nationalist, romantic or occultist ways.

At the heart of the Cathar myth lay the tale of a mysterious treasure, said to have been spirited away from their stronghold at Montsegur before it fell. Occultists searched for it in caves, and variously believed it to be the Holy Grail or a lost Gospel. This aspect of the story has may parallels with other hunts for mysterious treasures by occultists and fringe theorists (it is curious how those who claim to be antimaterialist seem to be so keen on validating their beliefs by discovering material objects). The search for a variety of mysterious objects by Andy Collins and his associates is a contemporary example, and such quests are favourite themes of pop occultism, from Dungeons and Dragons type games to Raiders of the Lost Ark (indeed one 1930′s searcher for the treasure of Montsegur, Otto Rahn, occultist, mountaineer and SS officer, seems straight out of that film).

R. A. Gilbert describes all of this in interesting detail and in the end he touches on more recent incarnations of the Cathar myth, Arthur Guirdham the Bath psychiatrist who has made the surprising discovery that the problems of most of his patients seem to stem from being reincarnated Cathars, and the appearance of the Cathars in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. I would have been interested to see more on this part of the story since in a talk he recently gave, Gilbert convincingly demolished part of the underpinning of that book, showing that the alleged mysterious decorations of the church at Rennes-la-Chateau are in fact in keeping with church furnishings of the period, and the cost of its building was raised by local churchgoers, not some mysterious occult brotherhood.

The second half of the book is devoted to an examination of the roots of Catharism, seeing it as art of an alternative Christian tradition going back to New Testament times. Without detailed knowledge of early Christian history it is difficult to comment on this section in detail. However, his conclusion, that the treasure of Montsegur was in fact the escape of sufficient Cathars from the stronghold to maintain the transmission of the doctrine to future generations is, whether or not historically correct, in line with the archtupe of the treasure which lays undetected because it is of a quite different nature to what the treasure seekers assume.

Also with strong mythic and archetypal overtones is the epilogue by the book’s co-author Walter Birs, who described how he became involved in the 1930′s Cathar revival, and after becoming disillusioned with others involved, served in the Middle East in World War II. Here he discovered the Syrian Muslim sect of the Nosairi who preserve traditions very similar to the Cathars, and who unlike other claimants to Cathar wisdom do have a genuine continuity of doctrine to the Middle Ages. Here again, whether or not there is anything in the suggestion that these ideas may have been imported to France by returning crusaders, this acount resembles the recurring myth of the pilgrim searching in vain for wisdom or enlightenment only to stuble over it by accident.

Half a century after the crushing of the Cathars, French kings and Popes saw their authority being challenged from another source, the Knights Templar. The story of the Knights is told in Edward Burman’s study. [2] They had originally been formed as a crusading order to protect pilgrims to the Holy Places, but with the loss of the Holy Land returned to Europe. Here they became a military elite with no clear function and nor usefullness to anyone but its own members, and as such a potential source of trouble. Their military power was complimented by financial power since they acted as bankers and received bequests from the wealthy.

templarsIt was hardly surprising that they made enemies. When the French king and the Pope moved to supress them in 1314 the reasons given were the same as those cited for the persecution of the Cathars: accusations of being idol worshipper and engaging in satanic orgies. The evidence for these charges were confessions that were contradictory, extracted under torture and in many cases repudiated later by those who had made them. As a result the Templars were executed en masse but as with the Cathars, their execution proved to be the beginning of a legend that has persisted to the present day.

Peter Partner’s [3] book is largely concerned with that legend, the development of which is rather different from that of the Cathars. While the austerity and saintliness of many of the Cathar clergy enabled them to be claimed as forerunners by later religious reformers, the wealthy, aristocratic and warlike Tempiars were hardly promising in this respect.

However, it was just those aspects of the Templars that appealed to another audience. In 18th century Europe the traditional aristocracy was being replaced by new elites drawn from the merchant class. Monarchs created new orders of chivalry to legitimise these new elites and cement their loyalty, while Freemasonry cast an air of mystery and tradition over the new elites’ increased distance from Christianity, and their fondness for clubs and similar institutions. In these circumstances the Templars were rediscovered and their origins in the Holy Land were seen as proof that they had preserved their secret traditions from biblical times. After their destruction these traditions had been maintained by guilds and other secret societies, which had transmitted them to the Masons.

With the reaction against the idea of the enliqhtenment following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars a new stage was added to the Templar legend. Some clerical writers took seriously the claims of Templar origins made by Masonic and quasi-masonic groups, and proclaimed secularism and radicalism as the latest fruits of the diabolic Templars, who in turn were seen as part of an unbroken line of satanic opponents of Chritianity embracing the Cathars and earlier heretics. Some Radicals took up this argument but reversed it so the Templars became precursors of anti-clerical and democratic ideas. The French occult revival saw yet more interest in the Templars, and Aleister Crowley’s many secret societies included a Templar Order.

The myth can be traced onward into the 20th century. Nesta H. Webster, whose 1920′s works World Revolution; the PlotAgainst Civilization, and Secret Societies and Subversive Movements are key texts in the development of the modern ultra-right, revived the idea of the continuity between Cathars, Templars and modern revolutionaries, although this idea seems to have had little influence on the right-wing groups that still distribute her writings in Britain and America. (Although the Templars do put in an appearance in the demented and constantly shifting conspiracy theories of the ultra-right wing American millionaire Lyndon LaRouche.) By contrast the curious French cult of Synarchy which flourished between the wars and had some influence on the Vichy regime saw the Templars as an idealised theocratic elite in whose steps they hoped to follow.

The myth’s influence has not been confined to politics: T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land was partly inspired by From Ritual to Romance, by Jessie Weston, a book offering a highly dubious interpretation of the Grail legend and Templar traditions. British earth-musteries researchers probe the alleged sumbolism of Templar churches, The holy Bloos and the Holy Grail has taken the Templars into the best-seller lists and most recently a study of the Shroud of Turin has claimed it to be the mysterious idol the Templars were accused of worshipping. The legends are still very much alive.



  1. Gilbert, R. A. and Walter Birks The Treasure of Montsegur: Study of the Cathar Heresy and the Nature of the Cathar Secret , Crucible, 1987.
  2. Burman, Edward. The Templars: Knights of God, 1986.
  3. Partner, Peter. Murdered Magicians, The: Templars and Their Myth.Crucible, 1987.

[Click on the highlighted titles above to order the book from Amazon.]




06. The Nazi UFO Mythos: False Histories

An Investigation by Kevin McClure: CORE 6. False Histories

Project Uranus

In another careful analysis of a dubious element of UFO history, Andy Roberts says:

“We have at least one outright hoax in foo-fighter lore. For years rumours had been flying round that the Germans had been fully aware of the foo-fighter phenomenon and that they had a special study group formed to look into the problem under the name of “Project Uranus”, backed by a shadowy group by the name of Sonderburo 13. This was first detailed in La Livres Noir De Soucoupes Volantes (The Black Book of Flying Saucers – 1970) by French ufologist Henry Durrant. The rumour spread in Europe and eventually took physical form in the English language in Tim Good’s acclaimed book Above Top Secret where it is used to help substantiate further vague rumours of an Anglo/American foo-fighter study. Good had not checked his facts and had in fact just copied the information direct from Durrant’s book.

When I checked this out with Durrant he informed me that the whole “Project Uranus” affair was a hoax which he had inserted in his book precisely to see who would copy it without checking. The hoax apparently had been revealed in France some years before but hadn’t percolated its way through to English speaking ufologists. Perhaps other foo hoaxes await discovery.” [37]

The ‘Schweinfurt Raid’

This tale involves, well, little flying saucers, in a B-17 raid on October 14 1943, aimed at the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt in Germany. It was publicised by popular US author Frank Edwards in Flying Saucers – Here and Now [38] in 1967, but I understand that the original glamourised version comes from one Martin Caidin, in his book Black Thursday, published in 1960. Caidin reports that

“During the bomb run of several groups, starting at about the time the Fortresses approached the Initial Point, there occurred one of the most baffling incidents of World War II, and an enigma that to this day defies all explanation.” “As the bombers of the 384th Group swung into the final bomb run after passing the Initial Point, the fighter attacks fell off. This point is vital, and pilots were queried extensively, as were other crew members, as to the position at that time of the German fighter planes. Every man interrogated was firm in his statement that “at the time there were no enemy aircraft above.”

“At this moment the pilots and top turret gunners, as well as several crewmen in the Plexiglas noses of the bombers, reported a cluster of discs in the path of the 384th’s formation and closing with the bombers. The startled exclamations focused attention on the phenomenon and the crews talked back and forth, discussing and confirming the astonishing sight before them.”

“The discs in the cluster were agreed upon as being silver colored, about one inch thick and three inches in diameter. They were easily seen by the B-17 crewmen, gliding down slowly in a very uniform cluster.” “And then the `impossible’ happened. B-17 Number 026 closed rapidly with a number of discs; the pilot attempted to evade an imminent collision with the objects, but was unsuccessful in his maneuver. He reported at the intelligence debriefing that his right wing “went directly through a cluster with absolutely no effect on engines or plane surface.”

“The intelligence officers pressed their questioning, and the pilot stated further that one of the discs was heard to strike the tail assembly of his B-17, but that neither he nor any member of the crew heard or witnessed an explosion.” “He further explained that about twenty feet from the discs the pilots sighted a mass of black debris of varying sizes of clusters of three by four feet.” “The SECRET report added: `Also observed two other A/C flying through silver discs with no apparent damage. Observed discs and debris two other times but could not determine where it came from.”

“No further information on this baffling incident has been uncovered, with the exception that such discs were observed by pilots and crew on missions prior to, and after, Mission 115 of October 14, 1943.” [39]

Caidin’s account is footnoted “1 Memorandum of October 24, 1943, from Major E.R.T. Holmes, F.L.O., 1st Bombardment Division, Reference FLO/IBW/REP/126, to M.I.15, War Office, Whitehall, London, SW (copy to Colonel E.W. Thomson, A-2, Pinetree)”, but Andy Roberts actively investigated the reference, and reports that

“a letter to the M.O.D at their Air Historical Branch 5 came to nothing, suggesting that either of the documents may be held at the Public Records Office at Kew, London. A professional researcher was despatched to try to find the document. She searched all relevant Air Force records available (some are still bound by various `rules’ with embargoes on viewing of up to 100 years) but could find nothing, despite the help of staff there and noting that “the reference FLO etc. does not correspond with any references at the record office.

In the USA, Dennis Stacy (then MUFON UFO Journal editor) had taken an interest in the case and followed up several leads, aided by the Freedom of Information Act. Firstly the A.F. Historical Research centre at Maxwell AFB searched their 8th A.F. files but could come across no documentary record of the event (interestingly enough I tried the same source and whilst they gave me squadron histories of the 415th Night Fighter squadron and their documented foo-fighter sightings, they could provide nothing on the Schweinfurt raid — odd if the Schweinfurt events were real).

The National Archives (Washington) searched their files but drew a blank. A letter written to French researcher J. M. Bigorne from the National Archives stated “A search in records of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), European War, Target Damage File, 11a (2606), Schweinfurt, failed to disclose any documentation or information regarding little flying discs by B-17 pilots.” All this presents us with a quandary. If the Archives are quite free about some foo-fighter info why, if it exists at all, should they be that bothered about concealing the Schweinfurt material? So far three independent researchers over the past ten years have had the same answer — none of the flight records for that day record the event in Caidin’s book. As I have seen other pilots’ logs which mention unusual UFO-type sightings during missions it would be inconceivable for at least a few aircrew on that raid to have mentioned it even in passing – especially as in this case it was obviously something of an item at de-briefing.

Letters in numerous aircrew magazines (UK & US) requesting info on the raid were placed and despite many replies no-one knew anything. Aviation writers Martin Middlebrook and Chaz Bowyer who have written many highly detailed books about the air war, and have interviewed thousands of aircrew, wrote to say they had never heard of the incident, despite having had foo-fighters mentioned to them in other contexts.

Dennis Stacy contacted the 384th Bombing Group survivors association and with no account of the UFO sighting forthcoming from them was put onto General Theodore Ross Milton who led the raid that day and went in first with the 91st Group Formation. He wrote; “I don’t recall seeing black discs or hearing about any strange phenomena from any of my group.” [40]

Roberts and Stacy pursued the source further

Martin Caidin, originator of the rumour also presents problems. His book Black Thursday was first published in 1960 and yet quotes an alleged SECRET report. How did he get hold of it then and why has it not been seen since? As for Caidin himself, several people have tried to get in touch with him without success. Both myself and (then) MUFON Journal editor Dennis Stacy have tried to track him down via his publishers and a UFO magazine he has written for, but to no avail. He last appeared in the dodgy US magazine UFO Universe where he was featured on the front page as having ‘chased bogies at 20,000 feet,’ (an astonishing spectacle no doubt!), but whilst the article gave details of UFOs he’d seen post-WWII, government film of UFOs, cover-ups, and you name it (along with mucho promotion for his many books, including UFO based novels) the Schweinfurt raid was never mentioned. Funny that, really.” [41]

However, with the terrier-like tenacity for which he is renowned, Roberts kept searching, and in September 2000 finally found, in the Records Office at Kew

The document which Caidin obviously based his account on. It reads as follows. All spelling and punctuation is in the original. The file in which the document can be found is: AIR 40/464. At the top right of the document is a rubber stamp giving details of circulation to:

1. Col Kingman Douglas
2. A.I.3. ? (W/Cdr Smith)
3. A.I. 2. ? (W/Cdr Heath)

(Author’s note: the ? refers to a squiggle or letter I cannot decipher, although it could well be ‘to’. Also the background of the stamp on which the above was written says:

“Received 17 Oct 1943″
“Copies sent to A.I.8 (USA))

The rest of the document is as follows:

Recd. AMCS. 171129a hrs Oct.43


From – OIPNT


8 BC 0-1079-E
Annex to Intelligence Report Mission Shweinfurt 16 October 1943

306 Group reporta partially unexploded 20mm shell imbedded above the panel in the cockpit of A/C number 412 bearing the following figures 19K43. The Group Ordnance Officer believes the steel composing the shell is of inferior grade. 348th Group reports a cluster of disks observed in the path of the formation near Schweinfurt, at the time there were no E/A above. Discs were described as silver coloured – one inch thick and three inches in diameter. They were gliding slowly down in very uniform cluster. A/C 026 was unable to avoid them and his right wing went directly through a cluster with absolutely no effect on engines or plane surface. One of the discs was heard striking tail assembly but no explosion was observed. About 20 feet from these discs a mass of black debris of varying sizes in clusters of 3 by 4 feet. Also observed 2 other A/C flying through silver discs with no apparent damage. Observed discs and debris 2 other times but could not determine where it came from.

Copies to:-

P.R. & A.I.6.
War Room
A.I.3. (USA) (Action 2 copies)

“Presumably Caidin must have seen a copy of this document from one of the American recipients . . . The Rubber stamp clearly states it was received on 17 October, pre-dating Caidin’s reference by seven days. But the sheer number of channels through which documents went could be the reason for this confusion and now the original document has been located I don’t think we need get hung up on the original reference any more. I have found no record of most of the personnel listed. However a Squadron Leader Heath was involved in the UK’s investigations of the Scandinavian ‘ghost rockets’ in 1946.”

He concludes

At least we now know Caidin’s reference exists! Besides that there is little to say really. The objects reported are intriguing but not completely mystifying. There were many types of flak being used by the Germans in W.W.II and several files in the PRO refer to coloured flak, flak which threw off unusual fragments, and so on. This explanation is made more likely by the fact that the ‘F.L.O.’ in Caidin’s reference stands for ‘Flak Liaison Officer’, at least suggesting that the Air Ministry were treating it within a flak context. The objects could also have been some kind of ‘window’ dropped by the Germans in an attempt to disrupt radar or radio communication among air crew. The explanation as to what the small objects were is now more of a task for the air historian than it is for the ufologist. What is clear from the original account is that the discs, whilst unusual, were clearly not any type of ‘craft’, under intelligent or purposeful control or dangerous to the air craft or crew.

In my opinion these objects do not belong in the category of sightings referred to as ‘foo-fighters’, both by their physical description and by their behaviour and characteristics. Although often lumped in with foo-fighter reports they are clearly different. This story has been a staple of UFO writers for the past three four decades. Now we have further clarification and I believe that this particular mystery is more or less laid to rest.

Andy Roberts is more charitable to Caidin’s exaggerated and redefined version of the report than I, but Caidin is nowhere near as foolish as those who put together the second block (1998 release) of ‘Majestic 12′ documents. Nevertheless, Nick Redfern and Jonathan Downes present a copy of a section of these silly documents, which says

“Aerial interference with military aircraft has demonstrated the ability to observe our air operations in war and peacetime conditions. During the war over 900 near-miss incidents were reported by allied pilots and crews in all theater of operations. One of the most dramatic near-miss encounters occurred on 14 October 1943, 8th AF Mission 115 over Schweinfurt, Germany, B-17 crews reported many formations of silvery discs flying down into the B-17 formations. Several times during the bombing mission, large objects were seen following the discs descent into the formations. Unlike previous reports, no engine failures or airframe damage was reported. After the surrender of Nazi Germany, GAF fighter pilots were interrogated by AF intelligence concerning Mission 135. GAF did not have any aircraft above our bombers at that time.” [42]

I’ve never found the whole ‘MJ-12′ idea credible, but at least the first release of documents was prepared with sufficient care to provoke meaningful discussion. This ridiculous exaggeration of an already elaborated tale makes the second release of documents look absurd. I would also point out that the Nazi UFO mythos and MJ-12 are essentially incompatible: if the Americans had already gained the ability to build high-performance flying discs from the Germans, why would they have become so excited about crashed ET discs? And why didn’t all those portentous ‘first-release’ documents mention them at all?

The Massey Project

Redfern and Downes continue to publicise another claim made by Frank Edwards, just before his account of the Schweinfurt Raid. Despite being aware of the negative outcomes of research conducted by both Andy Roberts and Tim Good, they say

“As far as the British Government is concerned, there is strong evidence to show that extremely rigorous investigations were made into the Foo Fighter phenomenon by an elite team of Air Ministry and Royal Air Force operatives.” [43]

They quote Edwards

“As early as 1943, the British had set up a small organisation to gather information on these objects. It was under the direction of Lieutenant General Massey, and it had been inspired to some extent by the reports of a spy who was in reality a double agent, working under the directions of the Mayor of Cologne. He had confirmed that the Foo Fighters were not German devices, which of course the British knew they were not. The British Air Ministry, in 1966, told me that the Massey project was officially terminated in 1944. Perhaps it is only coincidence that the double agent was exposed and executed in the spring of 1944.” [44]

Three problems arise immediately. Tim Good has established, from a dependable source, that there was no Lieutenant General Massey. Almost all the foo fighter reports date from 1944 onwards, so it’s not clear why “extremely rigorous investigations” should start in 1943 and end in 1944. And what on earth was a spy doing being controlled by the Mayor of Cologne? On the evidence, the ‘Massey Project’ sounds like a complete, and deliberate, fabrication.

Crashed saucers and back-engineering

Nick Redfern makes a great deal of limited evidence in suggesting that there has ever been one extra-terrestrial flying craft crash on Earth since 1900, let alone more than one. He has not, however, been unwilling to suggest that the Nazis had access to one or more crashed flying saucers, and back-engineered technology from them. This, supposedly, was how they were able to develop such sophisticated flying discs! Of course, he is not alone in making suggestions of this kind, but I hardly need point out that when the evidence suggests that Germany had no sophisticated flying discs, then there is nothing to explain. Anyway, Redfern concludes from the rather desperate, and generally quite implausible intelligence reports that he has collected

“If . . the data related in official FBI memoranda of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s is accurate, how were the Nazis able to develop technology that, years later, was still defying America’s finest” As I will later show, there are firm grounds for believing that a number of extra terrestrial vehicles crashed to earth on US soil in the late 1940s. Is it stretching the bounds of possibility to speculate that a similar event may have occurred on Nazi territory several years previously? If such an event did take place, and the Germans were able to grasp the rudiments of the technology, this would perhaps go a long way towards explaining their pressing desire to perfect a man-made flying saucer. The truth may ultimately turn out to be far stranger than has previously been realised.” [45]

Well, yes, it really does stretch the bounds of possibility, but that doesn’t stop Corso from reporting, in ‘The Day After Roswell, what he and General Twining had wondered about after inspecting the crashed saucer at Roswell

“At the very least, Twining had suggested, the crescent-shaped craft looked so uncomfortably like the German Horten wings our flyers had seen at the end of the war that he had to suspect the Germans had bumped into something we didn’t know about. And his conversations with Wehrner von Braun and Willy Ley at Alamogordo in the days after the crash confirmed this. They didn’t want to be thought of as verruckt but intimated that there was a deeper story about what the Germans had engineered. No, the similarity between the Horten wing and the craft they had pulled out of the arroyo was no accident. We always wondered how the Germans were able to incorporate such advanced technology into their weapons development in so short a time and during the Great Depression. Did they have help? With an acceleration capability and maneuverability we’d never seen before, this craft would keep American aircraft engineers busy for years just incorporating what you could see into immediate designs.” [46]

While we’re in a corner of reality that accepts the reality of the Roswell crash, and its cargo of dead or possibly living entities, I have to mention the analysis of Polish writer Zbigniew Blania-Bolnar in Alien Encounters for April 1998. Telling us that ” . . the post-war American Army had at its disposal a considerable number of V2 rockets, several V3 and V4 prototypes, and about 30 kugelblitzes of different kinds”, he concludes that the dead entity in the Laredo crash (the Laredo crash?) was “a laboratory monkey used by the Air Force in a secret experiment.” And, of course, “if a tested kugelblitz crashed at Laredo, then a similar object could have crashed at Roswell.” [47]

None of the suggestions that the Germans back-engineered crashed alien craft pre-date the Lazar and Lear back-engineering stories. Three more have come to light already. In her book ‘Sightings: UFOs’ Susan Michaels reports that writer Jan Van Helsing (a contact of the inner circle of the ‘Montauk Project’)

“describes the discovery of a crashed saucer in the Black Forest in 1936 and says that this technology was taken and combined with the information the Vril Society had received through channeling and was made into a further project called the Haunebu.” [48]

There is also a report of a crash in Italy in 1933, the details and information of which were made known to Mussolini, and which assisted Belluzzo in his design and development. [49] And at the ‘Gdansk UFO-Marathon’ in October 1997, it was announced that there had been a crash in Poland in the summer of 1938, in Czernica. Evidence and wreckage recovered from the crash was seized by Nazi Germany after the invasion of Poland the next year, and the information so gathered was used in the building of the ‘Haunebu’ and ‘Vril’ craft. [50] The current popularity of back-engineering is such that I expect to see more such reports.

Part 7: Unnamed Soldiers >>>


Organ Snatchers.
Peter Burger

From Magonia 56, June 1996

For almost ten years a horrible story has haunted the world’s media: in Latin America children are robbed of their kidneys and corneas for the benefit of wealthy Americans. On closer examination these horror stories turn out to be based on rumours and legends. Organ-napping, the contemporary version of an age-old and universally known legend.

The first images of the documentary show a man with a wispy beard rocking his head back and forth as if he is in a trance. The camera zooms in on his face, showing us that his eyes lack irises and pupils. The next shot is an indoor scene. A younger relative asks in Spanish: “What did they remove?” The blind man answers: “My corneas”. The boy pulls the eyelids of the right eye apart. Superimposed on the cloudy white tissue the title floats into view: Organ Snatchers.

The name of the blind man is Pedro Reggi. He is 26 years old and lives in a small village 60 miles from Buenos Aires. His corneas, the voice-over says, were stolen during a period he spent in the Montes de Oca mental institution.

Organ Snatchers (‘Voleurs d’yeux’) is directed by French journalist Marie-Monique Robin, one of the most influential disseminators of the shocking message that in Latin America the organs of the poor are stolen for the benefit of the rich. The recipients may be wealthy Americans, but stolen corneas are also procured by transplant surgeons in France. Robin’s message does not fall on deaf ears. Her documentary has been aired in a number of countries and shown three times at United Nations meetings. A re-run on French television in January 1995 drew more than three million viewers.

Robin also sold her story to foreign magazines. In Life (October 1993) she describes Reggi as having “the emaciated face of Jesus Christ”. In a Dutch weekly [1] Reggi features as “the angel-faced boy” who “once had a pair of beautiful brown eyes, where now only two gaping holes remain”.

This last statement is an exaggeration: Reggi’s eyes may look horrible, but anyone can see that they are not gaping holes. What’s more his corneas are still there too, as someone with expert knowledge of eye surgery might tell you. I watched Organ Snatchers with Dutch ophthalmologist Mrs H. Volker-Dieben, board member of the Dutch Cornea Foundation. “The corneas are clouded”, she told me. “This looks like scar tissue caused by old infections, as far as I can judge from the video images. To be completely sure, I would have to examine the eyes myself, using the right kind of lamp”.

So Reggi’s corneas have not been stolen? No, the alleged theft would indeed have left his eye-sockets empty. Normally, to remove the cornea from a deceased donor a transplant surgeon will extract the eyeball in its entirety, replace it with a plastic ball of the same size and eventually glue the eyelids together.

The Dutch ophthalmologist’s observation tallies with medical records that became public after Reggi’s appearance in a previous British-Canadian documentary about organ traffic, The Body Parts Business: Reggi was born with bilateral glaucoma. He lost his eyesight due to eye diseases. [2]

Jeison’s Eyes

The story of Pedro Reggi is not the only controversial episode in Organ Snatchers. On closer inspection the documentary’s emotional climax, the story of 10-year-old Jeison Cruz Vargas, the photogenic little blind boy with the flute, turns out to be equally doubtful.

In the documentary Robin meets Jeison in the Institute for the Blind in Bogota, Colombia. His mother Luz recalls taking Jeison to a hospital in the slums when he needed treatment for diarrhoea; when she saw him again the next day, his eyes had been removed. Her son’s medical file had been destroyed, she says. “It is a hospital for the poor, that’s why things like this are happening here. It’s the worst hospital in the world.”

Ever since Robin went public with Jeison’s story, this version of events has been vehemently contested by both the hospital involved – Salazar de Villeta – and the Colombian government. According to a statement (February 4, 1994) by the Colombian ombudsman for Health and Social Security, Jeison never underwent an eye operation. Barely four months old, he was hospitalised, suffering from severe malnourishment, dehydration and a number of serious ailments, including infection of the eyeball with Pseudomonas and infection of the cornea. Probably because his parents were very poor, they stopped the treatment and took the infant to a herb doctor. The infection destroyed his eyesight.

The row over Jeison’s eyes reached a climax after Robin’s documentary was awarded the Prix Albert Londres in May 1995, the most prestigious distinction for French journalists. Conscious of the fact that statements by Colombian doctors and officials do not carry much weight in France, the Colombian embassy had Jeison (now a 12-year-old) flown to Paris in August 1995 in order to have his eyes examined by two renowned French specialists in ophthalmology and infectious diseases. A pediatrician assessed the boy’s medical records. [3]

In their report the French doctors note that the eyeballs, although atrophied, are still there, as are parts of the cornea. The infection that irreparably damaged his eyesight is quite common for malnourished infants in the Third World. Again, Jeison’s eyes have not been stolen.

Moreover, the doctors argue, it is impossible to remove the corneas from a live donor without causing a severe haemorrhage, and no surgeon in his right mind
would use Jeison’s infected corneas for transplantation as they would kill the recipient. It might be added that with its 28,000 violent deaths per year, Colombia has no shortage of donors anyway. According to Colombian law, everyone is a potential donor unless the family objects. [4]

Embarrassed by the outcome of the medical examination, the Albert Londres jury suspended Robin’s award and promised to take a second, more thorough look at her documentary. [5] Robin, meanwhile, does not budge. To maintain that Jeison’s eyes have been stolen she has resorted to increasingly unlikely conspiracy theories and ad hominem arguments. The files could be forged – after all why did it take the Colombian hospital two years to produce them? “What is worth more” she asked, when confronted with the report, “a mother’s oral testimony, or the word of a group of experts who intervene twelve years after the fact and in whose interest it is to make people doubt the existence of organ traffic (for reasons of professional solidarity, a proven taste for secrecy, international friendships established during the course of their careers)?” [6]

Nor does she think the medical establishment is the only culprit. When I spoke to her in February 1995, Robin claimed that Jeison’s mother and other witnesses and authorities have all withdrawn their accusations under pressure from the United States Information Agency. [7]

In fact the USIA, a government institution that fights anti-American propaganda, does wage a campaign against Robin. Since 1988 it has published a number of reports systematically repudiating allegations of organ theft. This started out as a reaction to cold-war KGB propaganda, in which the United States were held responsible for the murder of South American children. The KGB has vanished but the atrocity stories are still with us and so is the USIA’s anti-rumour campaign. Robin blames the responsible USIA staff officer Todd Leventhal for much of her setbacks, and has even suggested that he was implicated in the theft of her car. She later received death threats by phone and on the Internet. As she repeatedly said to me: “It’s like a thriller.”

Hansel and Gretel

Marie-Monique Robin was not the first to call attention to the organ mafia. Stories about organ-napping first appeared in the world press in 1987. [8] On January 2 of that year a Honduran paper reported that disabled children were sold in the USA as a source of `spare parts’. Thirteen child victims had been discovered in four casas de engordes (`fattening houses’ – shades of Hansel and Gretel). The source of these reports was Leonardo Villeda Bermudez, secretary general of the Honduran committee for social welfare. On January 3, however, this official retracted his allegations, explaining that he had merely repeated the unconfirmed assumptions of social workers.

Later cases in Guatemala and Peru followed the same pattern: alarming but unsubstantiated reports which were withdrawn as soon as they were published. As bad news is more newsworthy than good news however, the initial disclosures were often reported by the press, whereas the subsequent denials were ignored. This is a professional vice of journalists, which may be even stronger in those who have an ideological axe to grind. Unsurprisingly, in the late eighties the horror-stories about organ theft were eagerly picked up and published by the Soviet media, which in the same period gave weight to the rumour that the HIV virus had been artificially created in an American biological warfare laboratory. [9]

The European Parliament too has twice spoken out against organ theft. In 1993 it passed a resolution condemning organ traffic. The resolution was based on a report by socialist Europarliamentarian Leon Schwartzenberg. In this report the former French minister of public health describes the medical, ethical and social consequences of the lack of donor organs and stresses the existence of a homicidal organ mafia.

The very idea that cynical traffickers literally sell the flesh of third world children evokes strong feelings of dismay and compassion. This does not make a detached, clinical took at the facts any easier. Schwartzenberg even disqualified sceptics by classing them with Holocaust deniers: “To deny such traffic is comparable to denying the existence of the gas chambers in the last war.”


In general, organ theft is implausible because clandestine transplantations require numbers of highly skilled medical personnel and sophisticated equipment that are not to be found in the countries where the organ thieves are said to operate

Nobody denies that in some countries (for instance Brazil, India and Egypt) poor people offer their organs for sale. In this respect organ traffic is a reality. Transplantation experts however are not prepared to assume the existence of a large scale mafia-controlled organ trade. Individual cases, like Pedro Reggi’s and Jeison’s do not stand up to scrutiny. In general, organ theft is implausible because clandestine transplantations require numbers of highly skilled medical personnel and sophisticated equipment that are not to be found in the countries where the organ thieves are said to operate. As Eurotransplant’s medical director Guido G. Persijn told me:

Of course it is possible to kidnap people, anaesthetise them and steal one of their kidneys, but to do that you also need a recipient, the recipient needs to have a matching blood group and tissue group. You need an HLA-typing… And how can you be sure that this Mr. X you’ve snatched off the street makes a suitable kidney donor in the first place? Isn’t he suffering from a renal disease, nephritis, HIV? You would need an immense organisation. It’s just not worth it.

Even the strongest evidence for organ theft, such as the reports of kidney-napping in India that emerged in February 1995 [10], is ambiguous at best. Poor inhabitants of a Bangalore village applied for jobs in the city and were robbed of their kidneys under the guise of a routine medical check-up. A specialist, a GP and two middlemen have been arrested. The German magazine Der Stern broke the news with an article headlined ‘Organ theft in India proven for the first time’.
Actually, Der Stern’‘s pictures of Indian men and women sporting huge scars merely prove that India has a markedly higher proportion of inhabitants with only one kidney than richer countries. By March 1995 more thin eighty alleged victims had registered with the Bangalore police. Yet according to the town’s police commissioner only a small fraction of those have really been robbed; the others supposedly sold one of their kidneys and are hoping to receive a higher remuneration by lodging a complaint. [11]

But why wait for conclusive evidence to be found? When I called him in February 1995, Stan Meuwesse, Director of the Dutch branch of the Defence for Children International (an organisation that fights child labour, child slavery, child prostitution and other forms of child abuse) asserted that organ theft is a reality. “The accepted facts and figures about child abuse are so overwhelming, that this has to be true too”, he argued, repeating an argument voiced by other representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations in the human rights field. Who would believe, Meuwesse asked, that 6-year-old Pakistani boys are forced to work as camel-jockeys in the Arab Emirates? Still, this is an undisputed fact.

Meuwesse emphasised that he had never seen a “consistent, reliable, clear” report about stolen corneas and kidneys. All there was to go on are the stories that are being repeated over and over again: stories Meuwesse said, that convince everyone in the children’s rights community.

Legendary Criminals

In Organ Snatchers one of those recurring stories is told by Mexican parliamentarian Hector Ramirez, a member of the parliamentary commission charged with the investigation of illegal organ traffic. Ramirez recounts the case of a little boy who was kidnapped on the market in the Extapalapa quarter and turned up two months later on the same spot, a scar on his back marking the place where one of his kidneys had been extracted.

Ramirez: “His mother had him examined by a doctor. This confirmed her suspicions. When the little boy returned to her family, he brought $2,000 with him. I contacted his mother, but she wouldn’t tell anything at all. She was very scared. With the money she could take care of him.

For lack of names, pictures or documents, it is impossible to check this story. The official report by Ramirez does not mention it. Robin’s team could not locate a single victim or witness in Mexico. The story sounds improbable: why didn’t these supposedly ruthless criminals simply kill the eye-witness instead of delivering him to the scene of the crime with $2,000 – for pocket money? Random acts of kindness like this one have never been reported from other branches of crime.

If this story is convincing at all, the appeal lies not in its realism but in the moral point it makes. The story graphically expresses a message that speaks to the hearts of both poor Mexicans and human rights activists worldwide: Americans think that they can use the inhabitants of Latin America any way they like in return for a little pocket-money.Everything points to Ramirez’s story being a contemporary legend: a tale that surfaces time and again in different forms, but always appears to have happened recently just round the corner from where the story-teller lives. Unreal stories like this one can have real consequences though. In Colombia, Argentina, France, Switzerland, The Netherlands and other parts of the world, organ donations have dropped off as a result of these rumours, claim transplant organisations.

And “it has had a devastating, effect” on international adoptions, says Susan Cox, president of Holt Adoption Services in Oregon, one of the agencies that annually help place about 8,000 children with US parents. In Turkey, officials outlawed foreign adoptions after the organ-thieves myth took hold. [12] As sociologists are wont to observe: Whenever people experience a situation as real it will become real in its consequences. The truth of this dictum is brought out even more dramatically by the Guatemala organ theft scare of 1994.

Lynch Justice for Child Snatchers

Guatemala, March 8, 1994. [13] American tourist Melissa Larson (37) is sipping a glass of pineapple juice in the market of the village Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa. Suddenly she finds herself surrounded by angry villagers and accused of being a child snatcher. To protect her from the mob, Larson is arrested and smuggled out of the village by the authorities. When the inhabitants find out that she has gone, they turn on her protectors, burning down the police station and setting fire to ten cars. It takes five hundred riot police, army reinforcements and armoured cars to restore the peace. Larson, after 19 days in prison, has a lucky escape.

Less fortunate is 51-year-old June Weinstock, who came to San Cristobal to watch the Easter celebrations. On March 29 villagers spot her photographing children in the market and caressing a little boy. A woman who has lost sight of her 8-year-old son in the bustle looks at Weinstock with suspicion. “Maybe the gringa keeps the boy in her suitcase,” the ice-cream vendor jokes.

Weinstock becomes the centre of an increasing crowd: there is an American child stealer in town! She too needs police protection, as one thousand inhabitants lay siege to the police station. Five hours later she is dragged outside and brutally beaten. Weinstock lapses into a coma and has to be hospitalised. She suffered eight stabwounds, a fracture of the base of the skull and two broken arms. By then the lost boy has been back with his mother for some time.These incidents would never have happened without the rumours that preceded them. Long-haired foreigners were said to prey on children. A street urchin had been robbed of his corneas; his pocket was stuffed with US dollar bills. Eight babies were found with their hearts cut out. One had a hundred dollar bill stuck in the gaping wound with a note saying “Thanks for your co-operation”.

Graffiti warned Americans that they were not welcome: “Gringo child stealers go home”. Hysteria was fuelled in La Prensa Libre (March 13, 1994), Guatemala’s largest circulation daily, depicting the organ trade in the form of an advertising pamphlet. Ten usable organs are displayed like meat in a supermarket, with the prices they would fetch in the United States. The price-tag on the heart reads $100,000; a kidney is worth $65,000 and a cornea would fetch a mere $2,500 on the black market.

A Children’s Exodus

So, where do these stories come from? How did Jeison’s and Pedro Reggi’s families come to believe that their child’s blindness was caused by thieves? Apparently these stories have not been inspired by actual crimes. So, could they be leftist propaganda spread by deceitful journalists, as the US Information Agency has repeatedly suggested? In its most recent report on The Child Organ Trafficking Rumour (December 1994), the USIA does not come down as hard on ‘Soviet front groups’ as it used to; it provides much useful information but still does not explain the phenomenon.

Both parties – humanitarian believers and US Government sceptics, but most of all the believers – underestimate the power of the people themselves to develop and circulate unofficial explanations as a reaction to actual circumstances and tensions. In other words they underestimate their ability to create rumours. These stories originated in Latin American cities, not in a communist-era Russian ministry.

The most detailed study of these rumours has been made by folklorist Véronique Campion-Vincent of Paris. Campion-Vincent, who has been monitoring the organ theft rumour for years, maintains that it is much more than cynical propaganda. Rather, the rumour is the unreal synthesis of two real consequences of the poverty that afflicts Latin America: adoption and organ traffic. [14]

Children from Latin American countries are much in demand on the adoption market. At the times of the attacks on American tourists in Guatemala, on average twenty children per week were adopted from that country, half of them by Americans. Not all requests from American and European couples for the adoption of a Latin American child are met by legal means. Documents are forged, mothers sell their babies and even kidnappings occur. Clandestine foster homes do exist and are frequently discovered by the authorities. The people themselves regard this children’s exodus with mixed feelings: what will the future of the children be like? Do they not rather belong in our country?

As we have seen, the selling of bodyparts belongs to the reality of third world countries too. Rumours about organ theft, says Campion-Vincent, posit an imaginary connection between the two phenomena: according to the rumour, the adoptions serve the organ trade as well.

A third fact of life in Latin America that feeds the rumour is the high level of everyday violence, vividly described by anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes in a chilling chapter of her book Death Without Weeping. [15] Scheper-Hughes shared the life of the poor in a community in North-East Brazil, a region where ‘disappearing’ is a frightful and by no means imaginary way of departing this world. The anonymous bodies of the victims may turn up on the side of the road, their genitals cut off and their eyes plucked out. Violence is such a routine feature of the world these people live in, that they cannot even take ownership of their own body for granted. And so, starting in the mid-1980′s, the anxiety of the poor produced rumours of organ traffic.

It was said that the teaching hospitals of Recife and the large medical centres throughout Brazil were engaged in an active traffic in body parts, a traffic with international dimensions. Shantytown residents reported multiple sightings of large blue or yellow vans driven by foreign agents (usually North American or Japanese), who were said to patrol neighbourhoods looking for small stray children whom the drivers mistakenly believed no-one in the overpopulated slums and shantytowns would ever miss.” [16]

According to Scheper-Hughes, inhabitants of the first and third world hold incompatible views of organ donation:

“While Western Europeans and North Americans persist in thinking of organ transplants as ‘gifts’ donated freely by loving and altruistic people, to the people of the Alto, whose bodies are so routinely preyed on by the wealthy and powerful (in economic and symbolic exchanges that have international dimensions), the organ transplant implied less a gift than a commodity [...] The Brazilian rumours express poor people’s perceptions, grounded in an economic and biotechnomedical reality, that their bodies and the bodies of their children may be worth more dead than alive to the rich and powerful. [17]

These feelings of powerlessness in the face of ruthless exploitation predate the introduction of transplant su-gery. In fact, stories of white killers stalking poor South Americans for their bodyparts fit a native tradition which already existed long before adoption and transplantation became important issues. One of the white ogres that abound in these traditional legends is the ‘pishtaco’ of the Andean Indians, a night prowler who collects human fat. [18] He sells his booty to factories (as a lubricant) or to pharmaceutical companies (as a basis for medication). Indian fat was also said to be used to start up jet engines. The monsters have kept up with the times and are presently hunting for corneas and kidneys.

The EuroKidney Gang

The fear of cutthroat physicians that thrives under the corrugated iron roofs of South America exists as well in American and western European luxury apartments. Although emotions do not run as high as in the third world, the Dutch, for instance, have their own rumours about stolen bodyparts. In 1990 a contemporary legend circulated in The Netherlands that is the mirror image of the Latin American versions. A widely known and believed story told how a businessman or tourist visits Brazil (or Tunisia or Turkey), is anaesthetised by kidnappers and on recovery finds that one of his kidneys is missing. [19]

Since 1992 a new version is doing the rounds, this time starring a child rather than an adult victim. On a daytrip to Disneyland Paris parents lose sight of one of their children. After a while the little boy [20] is found on a bench, pale and dazed, with a big scar marking the spot where his kidney has been extracted.

Such stories surfaced within two weeks of the Paris theme-park opening its gates in 1992. They do not only scare Dutch parents: German, Swiss, Austrian and Swedish parents too fear for their toddlers’ safety in EuroDisney. In spite of this, not one single victim – or his parents – has ever come forward. Disney denies that the incident ever took place (but they would, wouldn’t they?). The story is a textbook example of a contemporary legend. [21]

Typically legend-like too, is the way the story adapts itself to its surroundings. The EuroDisney kidnap scare does reflect a certain amount of xenophobia, but it is not the expression of a people that feels exploited. So, like their Mexican counterparts, the Parisian kidney thieves kindly return their victims to the scene of the crime, but in contrast to their Latin American colleagues, they never give them thousands of dollars for pocket money.

The Blood Carriage

Moral panics caused by tales about strangers who kidnap and kill children have been around at least since the Blood Libel legend accused Jews of mixing their Passover matzo dough with the blood of Christian children. Among those numerous historical rumour panics there is one that is the spitting image of today’s organ theft scare. [22]

Paris, May 1750. The city is in uproar, because under the eyes of the populace police are arresting children on the streets, taking them away in shuttered carriages, destination unknown. The people resist; riots ensue. Police officer Labbe is caught redhanded as he grabs an 11-year old boy. The boy is liberated by the mob and Labbe has to run for his life. He enters a house and tries to hide under a bed, but his pursuers drag him out into the street. Guards come running, prise him from the hands of his captors and take him toa police commissioner’s residence. The people lay siege to his refuge and demand those inside to surrender the kidnapper. In the end, they kick in the door. There is an exchange of gunfire, the furious crowd wrestles Labbé away from his guards and puts him to death with sticks and stones.

In a way the Parisians are not mistaken: policemen do randomly arrest boys and put them in jail without granting them a proper trial. This is part of an operation to clear the streets of vagabonds. As the police receive a reward for every arrested child, they are not particular about the ones they arrest; even those whose age, behaviour or social status does not fit the description run the risk of being apprehended.

Ambiguous situations like these are ideal breeding grounds for rumour, and indeed, in no time rumours do emerge. The children are cut open, it is said, and bled to death in a tub because an ailing prince – or a princess or even the King himself – has to bathe in children’s blood. This story did not originate in Paris in 1750. It was already told about the Emperor Constantine, who refused to be cured in this un-Christian way and saw his health restored by God as a reward for his righteousness.

In Paris, the then king, Louis XV was one of the targets of the rumour. For his atrocities he was compared with Herod, the murderer of the innocent children. According to the French historians Arlette Farge and Jacques Revel, the fact that the people pointed to King Louis as the perpetrator reveals their hatred of a ruler who had turned from a benefactor into a Herod.

The rumour was known in 18th century Antwerp too. [23] Parents used to warn their children against staying out late by telling them about the ‘Blood Carriage’, a beautiful horse-drawn carriage. Inside is a rich lady who offers sweets to children playing in the street and asks them to accompany her to her castle and play with her daughter. If this approach does not succeed, she’ll just drag them inside. In her castle, their big toes are chopped off and they bleed to death in a tub for a king who suffers from a severe illness and can be cured only by the blood of children under seven.

Parisian children forced to donate their blood for an ailing member of the royal family find an exact counterpart in Third World children who are robbed of their organs for the benefit of rich Westerners – in fact, the rumour had not really changed in two and a half centuries. One version of the rumour, that stirred trouble in 1768 Lyon, even involved transplantations. [24] To provide a mutilated prince with a fresh arm, a new child was kidnapped each day. Day after day surgeons tried to graft a new arm, but each time the operation failed.


Earlier versions of this article appeared in the Dutch magazines Wetenschap, Cultuur & Samenleving (April 1995) and Skepter (September 1995), and in my collection of contemporary legends and rumours, Der Gebraden Baby (Amsterdam 1995). Véronique Campion-Vincent, Todd Leventhal and Eduardo Mackenzie were very generous in sharing their opinions and research materials.



  1. Panorama (no. 50, 1993)
  2. Report by Dr Patricia Rey, Buenos Aires, 6 Dec. 1993
  3. Renard, G., M. Gentilini, A. Fischer, Rapport d’examen de i’enfant Wenis Yeison Crus Vargas. Paris, 10 August 1995. For reactions of Robin and other parties involved see: Gillot, Nathalie, ‘Polémique sur l’enfant aveugle.’ France-Soir, 12 August 1995; Nau, Jean-Yves, ‘Un reportage sur les greffes de cornées en Colombie suscite un polemique.’ Le Monde, 17 Aug. 1996; Proenza, Anne, ‘Un document violemment critiqué a Bogota.’ Le Monde 17 Aug. 1995; Bantman, Beatrice, ‘Jeison, aveugle mais pas victime.’ Liberation, 18 Sept. 1995; Fritisch, Laurence,‘C’était une maladie,’ France-Soir, 19 Sept. 1995; Nau, Jean-Yves, ‘Un rapport medical contredit un reportage sur un traffic d’organes en Colombie.‘ Le Monde, 19 Sept. 1995.
  4. Proenza, op. cit.
  5. Mackenzie, Eduardo,’Suspendido premio a Marie Monique Robin.’ El Espectador, 26 Sept. 1995
  6. Bantman, op. cit.
  7. This is contradicted by her one-time collaborator, Colombian human rights activist Hector Torres, who agreed to keep an eye on Jeison’s mother. According to him she has not been threatened. (Proenza, op, cit.)
  8. The most comprehensive overviews of the rumour’s history have been written by Campion-Vincent: ‘The Baby-parts story: a new Latin American legend’ Western Folklore 49, (Jan. 1990), pp.9-25 and Leventhal, Todd: The child organ trafficking rumour: a modern ‘urban legend’. USIA, Dec. 1994
  9. Soviet Active Measures in the Era of Glasnost, USIA, Washington, July 1989, pp.12-13. For a less patriotic perspective on the Aids rumours, see Turner, Patricia A.,  Heard it through the Grapevine; rumour in African-American culture, Berkely [etc.] 1993, pp. 151-164.
  10. Penberthy, Jefferson, ‘An abominable trade’, Time 20 Feb. 1995; Ulli Rauss & Jay Ullal, ‘Nieren-Klau in Indien’, Stern, 23 Feb. 1995.
  11. Leventhal, Todd, ‘The illegal transportation and sale of human organs: reality or myth?’ Paper read at the annual meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Ghent, 25 Apr. 1995.
  12. Frankel, Mark, John Barry & David Schrieberg, ‘Too good to be true.’ Newsweek, June 26 1995.
  13. Main sources for the Guatemala organ theft scare: ’Foreigners attacked in Guatemala.’ New York Times, 5 Apr. 1994; Carol Morello, ‘A nation in the grip of panic’. Philadelphia Inquirer, 10 Apr. 1994; Mark Frankel & Edward Orlebar, ‘Child stealers go home’ Newsweek, 18 Apr. 1994; Laura Lopez ‘Dangerous Rumors’, Time, 18 Apr. 1994; Gleck, Elizabeth, ‘Rumor and Rage’, People, 25 Apr. 1994; ‘Body parts panic in Guatemala’ FOAFtale News 33/34 (June 1994), pp.17-18; Shonder, John A., ‘Organ theft rumors in Guatemala, some personal observations’, FOAFtale News 35 (Oct. 1994), pp. 1-4.
  14. Campion-Vincent, op. cit.
  15. Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, Death Without Weeping: the violence of everyday life in Brazil, Berkeley [etc.] 1992, chapter 6: ‘Everyday violence. Bodies, death and silence.’ pp. 216-267. Pages 233-239 deal with rumours of organ traffic.
  16. Op, cit, p. 233
  17. Op. cit. p. 238-239
  18. Oliver-Smith, Anthony, ‘The Pishtaco, Institutionalised fear in highland Peru’, Journal of American Folklore 82 (1969), pp. 363-368; Caro, Frank de. ‘The body parts panic and the Peruvian pistaco tradition.’ FOAFtale News 36 (Jan. 1995), pp. 1-2.
  19. Burger, Peter, De Wraak van der Kangoeroe. Sagen uit het Moderne Leven. Amsterdam 1992, pp. 23-2620 Whenever the tellers specify the child’s gender, it’s always a boy. Why?
  20. Numerous collectors of contemporary legends in all parts of the world have recorded versions of the kidney heist legend. See, for example, Brednich, Rolf Wilhelm, Sagenhafte Geschichten von Herute. Munchen 1994, pp 215-217, 310-311; Brunvand, Jan Harold, The Baby Train and other Lusty Urban Legends. New York 1989, pp. 149-154; Czubala, Dionizjusz, ‘The “Black Volga”: child abduction urban legends in Poland and Russia’, FOAFtale News 21 (March 1991), pp 1-2; Goldstuck, Arthur, The Leopard in the Luggage. Urban legends from Southern Africa, Johannesburg, 1993, pp. 99-101; Klintberg, Bengt af, Den Stoma Njuren, Sagner och Rykten i var Tid. Norstedts, 1994, pp. 15-22, 66-68; Seat, Graham. Great Australian Urban Myths, Sydney 1995, pp. 133-135; Toselli, Paolo, La famosa invasione delle vipere valanti e altre leggende metropolitane dell’Italia d’oggi. Milan 1994, pp. 149-164.
  21. Forge, Arlette & Jacques Revel. Logiques de la Foule. L’affair des Enlevements d’enfants Paris 1750, Paris 1988. (English translation The Vanishing Children of Paris, Cambridge, MA, 1991)
  22. Roodenburg, Herman. ‘The autobiography of Isabella de Moerloose: sex, childrearing and popular belief in seventeenth century Holland.’ Journal of Social History 18 (1984/5) pp. 522-524; ‘More on body parts abductions’, FOAFtale News 32 (Feb. 1994), p.10.
  23. Campion-Vincent, op. cit



Conspiracy Theory in American History
Mike McHugh

From Magonia 79, October 2002

I was reading through the Feature Review on witchcraft books on the Magonia website [not currently online], where I was pleased to find a review of one of Robert Thurston’s books. Thurston was one of my professors in graduate school and I was an assistant in one of his classes on Modern Russian History, which is his speciality. He always theorised that the Stalinist purges and show trials of the 1930s were very similar to the witchcraft persecution of the 16th and 17th Centuries, in the sense that the masses really DID believe that agents of evil were at work in both cases: literal agents of the Devil in the witchcraft trials versus agents of Germany, Japan and other imperialist powers in the case of Stalin’s Russia. In other words, the ruling elite did not simply orchestrate these situations, and even shared in the delusions themselves, in a mutually reinforcing cycle of paranoia.

I should point out that some of the older Cold Warriors in the Department grumbled that Thurston was a ‘Stalinist’, trying to absolve the ‘Genius Leader of All Mankind’ of his crimes charge which Thurston angrily rejected. The History Department itself had a history, as all of them do, in this case going back to the Vietnam War. At that time, my major professor along with most of the younger faculty, were opposed to the war and were even involved in the occupation of the ROTC building in 1970. The Chair of the Department fired some of them and wrote a letter to the New York Times saying he should have fired even more.

Well, to make a long story short, by the 1980s, the younger faculty had taken over the Department and hired professors like Thurston, who shared their progressive views. The older, more conservative faculty were always grumbling about this, and even condemned the younger, leftist professors who ran the Department as the ‘Gang of Four.’ (Thurston was not part of the Gang, although a well-known British ex-pat professor was.) I mention all of this by way of background, not to imply that politics could ever be in-olved in matters of purely ‘objective scholarship and social science. We all know that that could never happen!

Be that as it may, Thurston’s theory led me to speculate about the Salem witchcraft trials and other examples of conspiracy thinking in American history, which is my speciality. Now the first graduate class I ever took in colonial American history, was with an ancient, curmudgeonly professor who was completely sick of the Salem trials and always warned students that he did not wish to read any more papers about that subject. He was more interested in the new social history, in counting things based on old church and probate records. He was of the school of thought that regarded the outbreak at Salem as the result of a conflict between the older, more traditional part of the community based on agriculture and the newer, more liberal one based on commercial capitalism.Indeed, this town/country conflict runs through all of American history from the 17th Century to the 20th, and is sometimes simplified as “western” or rural populism versus “eastern” or urban liberalism, with populism giving rise to all sorts of radical, anti-modern movements of the Right as well as anti-urban, anti-capitalist movements of the left. One can find it in Jefferson’s writings, just for starters, in his idealisation of the small farmer and artisan and hostility to banking, cities and the industrial revolution.

Not coincidentally, a healthy portion of American conspiracy thinking originates in populist, agrarian movements, with their focus on the east coast and European ‘Money Power’ that is out to destroy the American Republic. There are many variations of this ‘Paranoid Style’ in American politics, as the historian Richard Hofstadter described it, and some very noxious movements like the Ku Klux Klan and McCarthyism are part of it.



There are many variations of the ‘Paranoid Style’ in American politics and some very noxious movements like the Ku Klux Klan and McCarthyism are part of it. In McCarthy’s case, though, the Soviet agents were members of the Eastern Establishment.




In McCarthy’s case, though, the Soviet agents were members of the Eastern Establishment, the Ivy League elite, working with the Soviet Union to destroy the United States from within. In the case of the 20th Century Ku Klux Klan, the ‘enemy’ was also Communism, but also modernism in general: the city, the university intellectual, the Darwinist biologist, as well as the Jews (especially ‘Jewish bankers’), Catholic immigrants, foreign ‘influences’ in general. There is not much in American conspiracy theories today that cannot be traced to earlier movements, going back to the 18th and 19th Centuries.

I have thought a great deal about the origins of this Paranoid Style, which I would trace back to the very Calvinists (‘Puritans’) responsible for the Salem outbreak. One should remember that North America was a Calvinist society, and that evangelical Protestants were the majority here well into the 19th Century. Their hostility to the Roman Catholic Church ran deep, and they did not grant Catholics citizenship anywhere in colonial North America, except in Quaker Pennsylvania. (And the Calvinists despised the Quakers for their tolerance as much as their pacifism.) American history is full of anti-Catholic movements, such as the ‘Know Nothing’ parties of the mid-19th Century and the Ku Klux Klan of the 20th, which sometimes went so far as to burn Catholic Churches and convents.

They also consistently tried to block immigration by Catholic immigrants, and were quick to adopt ‘scientific’ racism and eugenics as soon as such tools became available to them in the late 19th Century. The earlier anti-foreign, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic urges could now be buttressed by ‘science’ in order to restrict immigration and citizenship to ‘Nordics.’ The National Origins Act of 1924 attempted to do exactly that, and remained the law of the land until 1965. The Puritans of the North and South could unite around a racist programme on this basis, and even had ‘scientific’ IQ tests to prove that the groups they hated were genetically inferior.

In my opinion, the very dualistic religion of Calvinism was one the main intellectual influence in North America, responsible for this well-known tendency to divide the world into saved/damned, good/evil, light/darkness, the Elect and the Sinners. For the early Puritans, of course, the Catholic Church was the Devil, the Antichrist, the Great Satan of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Even the free thinking Unitarian Jefferson shared this hatred, if not the Calvinism that inspired it. As the British know very well, the Puritans also hated High Church Anglicanism and the Toryism of the Stuart monarchs, which they (rightly) suspected was only a thin veil disguising their Catholicism.

They had fled England for express purpose of setting up a Protestant Utopia in the colonies, a Holy Experiment that would be free of Catholics, bishops and nobles, although many of them returned to support Cromwell during the Civil War, and gave refuge to those went into exile again after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The government in London was never in any doubt about where the sympathies of most colonists lay, and the more pragmatic kings and ministers sought to placate the dangerous Puritans who controlled most of the colonial legislatures and led opposition ‘factions’ against the royal governors.

King James II was not pragmatic, though, and the American Puritans always distrusted him for his Catholicism and pro-French sympathies. In North America, the French in Quebec also had the sympathy of the Indians, whom the colonists had also despised as Devil worshipers and robbed of their land. The North Americans fought in four full-scale wars against the French and Indians from 1690 to 1760 and many smaller skirmishes, and feared that any ‘Tory’ government in Britain would be too sympathetic to their enemies. In their minds, Catholic, Tory and Indian were all Satanic, and their mission was to war against ‘hell and Rome.’

James II had also imposed a military government on the colonies, under the dictatorship of Sir Edmund Andros. Although carried out in the name of administrative efficiency, the Calvinists feared that James and Andros were plotting to impose absolute rule permanently, destroying both the colonial legislatures and the Protestant religion, and perhaps even delivering the colonies to the French and Indians. Andros had also suspended the colonial charter of Massachusetts, under which the colony had existed in virtual autonomy from the Mother Country for decades. Not surprisingly, the Puritans quickly overthrew Andros after they received would of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. They sent representatives to London with an appeal that their old charter be restored, but this did not happen. Instead, Massachusetts was required to accept a royal governor.

 This was the larger context for the Salem witchcraft hysteria that began in 1692. Few popular writers mention any of it, preferring to concentrate on the more sensational aspects of the Aflicted Girls and their fits and hysterics. It was a terrible time for the colonies, given that war with the French and Indians had begun in 1690 and they were still uncertain about what charter the new king would impose on them and whether their Bible Commonwealth would survive. In their minds, of course, God was had been severely testing their faith, upbraiding them for their sins and shortcomings, and allowing agents of the Enemy to attack them from without and subvert them from within until they repented of their sins. This is a common enough pattern in American history.

The facts of the case are well known, how the Afflicted Girls and their clerical supporters moved from town to town, naming hundreds of witches and agents of the Devil. The trials were a farce, with no chance of acquittal for the accused, and in the end nineteen people and several dogs (imps) were hanged. Hundreds of others were imprisoned, tortured or coerced into confessing, and only the arrival of the new governor, Sir William Phips, prevented a much larger bloodbath. Phips himself was a Puritan, a former merchant and ship’s captain from Boston, but simply did not believe the accused were guilty.

salem1Belief in evil forces out to destroy America developed over time from a purely religious world view to a belief in secular, earthly threats, and finally to high-tec ET ones


It is often pointed out that these trials were the last government sanctioned persecution of ‘witches’ in North America, and this is true as far as I know. As Robert Thurston said, the belief in witchcraft and literal agents of the Devil died out by the early 18th Century – at least among members of the elite. From that point on, most conspiracy theories involved more secular notions about political and ideological enemies.

Of course, this is true only of the elite. There is plenty of evidence that the common people of rural, small town America still believed in witches, demons, goblins, ghosts and ghouls well into the 19th Century, and that evangelical Protestants in the hinterland still regarded the Catholic Church as Satanic. Many of them still do today. Secular liberals of the post-Enlightenment élite regarded Toryism and Catholicism as ultra-conservative, intolerant and undemocratic, while the masses still maintained their older ‘folk’ beliefs in a literal Devil. I know of cases as late as the 1770s, in enlightened Philadelphia, where mobs stoned accused witches to death and I’m sure that is not unique. One could already see the great split between élite ‘scientific’ opinion and popular, ‘religious’ opinion, even in the 18th Century. It is still not clear which will prevail in America.

Historians like Bernard Bailyn have described many of the popular conspiracy theories during the American Revolution, and how even the liberal élite shared them to one degree or another. For the Calvinist masses, still ‘superstitious’, it was easy enough to portray George III and his ministers as satanic, as evil incarnate, much as they had viewed James II and Andros in the 17th Century. But even liberals like Washington, Jefferson and Franklin believed that George and Parliament were conspiring to suppress American liberties and impose absolute rule on the colonies.

In the absence of ‘scientific’ polls, there is no way to know how many people shared this conspiratorial view of the British government, but professors I studied with thought that two-thirds to three-quarters of the colonists did, and that perhaps only 10-15% remained loyal to the king. It shows just how powerful such an ideology can be, given that contemporary historians no longer regard George III as evil so much as hapless, bumbling and ineffectual. In this case, if one believes Bailyn, the notion of sinister Tory forces conspiring against America made a truly popular revolution possible.

One could say the same thing about the Civil War of 1861-65, in which more Americans died than all the other wars combined. In the decade leading up to that war, many Northerners had become convinced that the Southern ‘Slave Power’ was attempting to take over the U.S. government completely, open all the Western territories to slavery. and even force the Northern states to allow it in areas where it had long since been abolished. In the popular mind, the aristocratic southern slave owner had become a potential tyrant and dictator, in the same league with James and George.

The genius of Lincoln and the other Republican leaders was not in convincing a very racist population to sympathise with black slaves — a sympathy most of them had conspicuously lacked throughout American history — but in getting them to believe that the South now wanted to suppress the liberties of white people, perhaps even reduce them to slavery. By the time of the Civil War, of course, it was no longer fashionable to literally demonise one’s political and ideological opponents, but it was not difficult to turn them into secular devil’s. And so it remains today, except for people like Christian and Moslem fundamentalists, who can still get aroused by belief in a real Devil at work.

By way of disclaimer, none of this should be read as a defence of Stuart Toryism or slavery; liberals in 2002 don’t defend such things. Rather, I only wanted to point out how often conspiracy thinking has been mainstream thinking in America, particularly during times of great political and economic tension or social upheaval like the 17th Century religious wars, the American Revolution and Civil War, not to mention Cold War ‘McCarthyism.’ It was not just a fringe or marginal cult that affected only the pathological few, but a phenomenon shared in some degree by the élite — or at least manipulated by it. I have not even mentioned all the conspiracy theories that emerged out of the Vietnam Watergate period, both among the New Left and Counter culture and the Right-wing backlash against them. Suffice it to say that those are still affecting American politics and society today.

I am sorry that I have not mentioned UFOs, although it should be clear enough that I regard them as just a smaller subset of this larger phenomenon I have been discussing. It is not surprising that belief in such objects as devices operated by ETs from Planet X emerged during and right after World War II. That was the first time that the majority of people could take the idea of space travel seriously, given the spectacular development of jets, missiles and nuclear power during those years, and the paranoid, hysterical atmosphere of the Second World War and early Cold War years.

As a historian, I know that before the mid-20th Century, one hears very little about possible ETs and alien visits in American popular culture. I just don’t believe the idea was very widespread at all. This is not to say that people jumped form believing to angels, witches and demons into believing in invaders from outer space. That is a terrible distortion and simplification of a very complex historical process.During the 18th and 19th Centuries, I do not know of many (any?) people who seriously believed in alien visits, but there were many who believed in secular demons and earthly threats and conspiracies. Basically, I think there was an evolutionary process at work here, and that belief in evil forces out to destroy America developed over time from a purely religious world view to a belief in secular, earthy threats, and finally to high tech, ET ones.

I do believe that the American mind is still profoundly Calvinist, despite the 1960s ‘liberation movements’; maybe even because of them, since the populist backlash against them gave new life to fundamentalism and evangelical Puritanism. And yes, I think the Calvinist mind is a dualistic mind, one prone to see dark, sinister, menacing forces in the world — it is often a paranoid mind. Such a mind may be receptive to any kind of conspiracy theory, depending on the political, social and historical circumstances. ETs and X Files types of stories are simply more grist

 to the conspiracy mill.

The Schauberger Error
Kevin McClure

From Magonia 81, May 2003

It’s much easier to dismiss an absurd claim that is fresh and new, than one which has been around for a while, and has taken root. It is, for example, simple enough to assess the reliability of David Icke’s assertion that Dr Josef Mengele – seemingly after he died – mind-controlled a young American woman to make her 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 in the relevant myths, 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 where that nonsense tends to exaggerate and glorify the activities of the SS 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-increasing fiction of the Nazi UFO mythos tells us that the Nazis, whatever the actual outcome of the Second World War, 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 went into Czechoslovakia and Southern Germany. My essay ‘Phoney Warfare’, available on the Magonia website, records my research into the Nazi UFO mythos up to mid-2000, since when I have continued to try to evaluate each new account as it emerges.

There are two hurdles the mythos has always fought to overcome. Firstly, that there is no historical record whatever of the standard characters said to have been involved in saucer development. Names like Schriever, Belluzzo, Habermohl, Miethe and Klein appear regularly, but there is no evidence for the involvement of any of them in 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 discs of immense power, and sometimes immense size, defying all scientific parameters known before and since. Yet not so much as a bolt or a tachyon drive remains. The only evidence presented – and repeated so often – is by way of the tinny, fuzzy post-war photos taken by those who wished to convince us of saucer reality, but who usually succeeded only in persuading non-believers of 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 were actually developed from captured Nazi blueprints, by captured Nazi scientists. Relocated in 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 a single claim of flying Nazi discs predates either 1949, or media interest in flying saucers in the USA.

schauberger1Once upon a time, in Austria, there was a forester called Viktor Schauberger. 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 probably in the design and development of log flotation methods and flumes in the 1920s. Thereafter, he appears to have attempted to develop his ideas of the motion of water and air towards the production of turbines and of cheap, natural power and energy. There is little, and possibly no evidence that any of these later, more ambitious 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 technology has ever taken place. He died in 1958, and no tangible example of his supposed wartime or post-war experiments survives him.

For those who want to further the cause of secret Nazi science, 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 may have worked on were photographed and, with a bit of airbrushing, adding Luftwaffe insignia and so on, they looked rather like the round, bulbous inventions that featured 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 assist in using his name. He even had a long, grand beard to suggest that he was a misunderstood genius. History was ripe for rewriting, and not just the once.

The mythos itself has had three distinct phases of life, with long fallow periods between. The first was in the early Fifties, when a handful of 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 Ernest Zundel, also known as Christof Friedrich and Mattern Friedrich, and notorious for his pro-active and well-publicised scepticism of 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 (I could easily be wrong), introduced a number of the key elements of Schauberger’s involvement. Zundel says:

“Schauberger did experiments early in 1940-41 in Vienna and his 10 foot 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 high hangar ceiling. After this `success’ Schauberger’s experiments received vordringlichkeitsstufe’ - high priority – and he was given adequate funds and facilities as well as help. His aides included Czechoslovak 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 invented an account of Schauberger’s later history and death. Although he actually died at home in 1958, Zundel’s story is 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 revolutionising secrets out of him and accidentally killed him.”

Zundel also published the first drawings – presumably from photos – of what he called the ‘electromagnetically-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 standartenfuhrer (standards leader) 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 (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. Viktor Schauberger later explained this briefly in a letter to the West German defence minister Strauss on 28 February 1956:

“I preferred the first alternative, and about a year later, the first ‘flying saucer’ rose unexpectedly, at the first attempt, to the ceiling, and then was wrecked.”

Alexandersson produced 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 which cover that confusing territory between science and esotericism, reflecting a surprisingly 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, and tells 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 diameter high-tensile steel anchor bolts and shot upwards to smash against the roof of the hangar.”

However, the sight of the objects themselves only underlines the unavoidable truth that the only factor uniting all those who tell us about the reality of the Schauberger flying saucers is that none of them have the least idea of how or why they flew. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how they could.

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 19th of February 1945, which rose to an altitude of 15,000 metres in throe minutes and attained a forward speed of 2,200 kph, 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 2nd August 1956, Schauberger commented, ‘The machine was supposed to have been destroyed just before the end of the war on Keitel’s orders.’”

Perhaps we should find it significant that, while we are told that Victor Schauberger effectively rewrote aviation technology with two extraordinary demonstrations of the power of the engine he invented, we are also told that he was both absent from the events, and unaware that they would take place.

The most recent phase of belief in the Nazi UFO mythos began in the last five years [as of May 2003]. 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, aviation writer and photographer Bill Rose wrote an article, tagged as ‘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 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 the mythos says built flying saucers. Actually, even when those who actually said anything made their claims – Klaus Habermohl never said anything, probably because he didn’t exist, and Richard Miethe may have been someone else entirely who lived in Egypt – they never made that one. But even Rose doesn’t have the same remarkable sources as, it seems, did Gary Hyland, the 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) … he 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.”

Exceeding even the rich imaginations of Michaels, Rose and Hyland lie those who provided the information underpinning 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 ten years, he appears to have been comprehensively misinformed by a series of individuals, or perhaps by individuals acting on behalf of a group of people with a specific agenda. It seems that for all the informants he gathered along the way – informants he often protects with anonymity – nobody ever warned him that those who want to make the Nazi regime, and the SS in particular, look good, are unsurprisingly happy to deceive to do so.

schaubergerufoWithout going through Cook’s oddly directionless Hunt 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’, a supposed 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 connection with the loopy ‘crashed saucers’ end of Polish ufology, and he has self-published six or more separate items titled something like Hitler’s Supersecret Weapon.

Witkowski tells Cook that his extraordinary information comes from an unnameable source, which Cook seems to accept 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. And 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 through to the end of the war, working at a number of factories, sometimes using slave labour. That he had created, for and with the support of the SS, disc-shaped machines with engines so revolutionary that even Cook, an aviation journalist, cannot explain how they worked.

As I mentioned, one of the problems with the Nazi UFO mythos is explaining away the absolute 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 wonders of supposed Nazi technology. They later came up with the first and 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 within the Nazis, 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 this recurrent and developing counter-culture argument that says that these extraordinary events actually happened. It is a theory that has sold millions of books and a number of deeply unpleasant videos, and it continues to fuel a belief that, given just those few more months, the true genius of the Nazis, the drive of the SS, and the inspiration of the Fuhrer would have won through, and the Allies – no, not just the Soviet Union, but all the Allies – would have been defeated. Just imagine how that would have been.

While I’m happy to be challenged by solid evidence, I’ve found no reason to believe that Viktor Schauberger knew anything of all 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. He never worked for years in the USA, and wasn’t offered any sums of money to do so. If you want a real mystery to solve, try working out who invented all these tales, and why, and whether anyone apart from the authors involved has gained materially, or in achieving political or personal aims, as a result of their dissemination.