Making Hitler Magic
Unravelling the Spear of Destiny Hoax.
Kevin McClure

From Magonia 92, June 2006

While attacking the `Nazi UFO’ myth a few years ago, I found that many of the sources assuring us that the Nazis went to Mars, or the Antarctic, or used their ‘foo fighters’ to shoot down 200 Allied bombers in one (oddly unidentified) raid also had much to say about the ‘Spear of Destiny’. This led me to concentrate on what is probably the greatest one-book occult hoax ever – Trevor Ravenscroft’s highly successful, highly influential, The Spear of Destiny (‘Spear‘ hereafter). Ravenscroft died in 1989, so I haven’t been able to check this piece with him.

You’ll probably have some idea of the story, because it’s at the heart of most of the belief in Hitler and the Nazis being involved with the occult, and possessing supernatural powers. Pauwels and Bergier, in The Morning of the Magicians, did some of the groundwork, but it is Ravenscroft who has promoted Hitler as not just fascinated by the occult from his time in Vienna onwards, but hugely knowledgeable about it, and imbued with its power through ritual and through his possession of the ultimate magical object. The object concerned is a tatty, much-repaired old spear, constructed from disparate bits, that Ravenscroft says cut short the life of Jesus on the Cross. It didn’t. The most accurate analysis of the ‘Hofburg Spear’ dates its very earliest component to the seventh century.

Ravenscroft’s Hitler fantasy is complex, lengthy, and when analysed utterly implausible. It is a total fabrication, and even the background history he provides is, as recorded in Ken Anderson’s Hitler and the Occult (Prometheus, 1995) wholly undependable.

Like many fantasists, Ravenscroft pretends that he has a source for his story, a source with a unique, personal knowledge of both Hitler and the occult who, for reasons never explained, told only Ravenscroft about what he knew. The name of the source is Walter Johannes Stein, an Austrian and a devoted follower of Dr Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Anthroposophical movement. He had a Ph.D but was not, contrary to the impression Ravenscroft gave at times, a medical doctor. His thesis appears to have been predominantly mystical, as was most of his life’s work. It is likely that Ravenscroft never met Stein, though he may have met his widow, and may also have believed that he had contacted Stein psychically himself, or through a medium.Stein died in 1957, and the first edition of Spear appeared in 1972. In it, Ravenscroft claimed that:

“In 1911 Stein had found a copy of Parsifal that had been annotated with occult insights by the young Hitler, tracked him down, and was impressed by his vast knowledge of the occult and his desire to own the Spear, which they went together to see. As Hitler rose through the ranks of the Right in Germany he was progressively initiated into magic, and the same day that the German army invaded Austria, he went to the Hofburg to take possession of the Spear, which somehow facilitated his power and his conquests Stein left Germany in 1933 because Himmler was going to force him to join the ‘SS Occult Bureau’.”Stein was a British intelligence agent who brought with him from Germany the plans for the German invasion of Britain [in 1933?], and advised Churchill on occult matters throughout the war.”

And much more besides. But Stein never was, and never did, any of those things.

The Internet is of little use – the Ravenscroft version of Stein’s life will take years to expunge – but Stein’s The Death of Merlin (Floris Books, 1990) reprints the autobiography he published in his own magazine The Present Age in 1936. It covers his time in Vienna, but makes no mention of Hitler or the Spear. In The Ninth Century and the Holy Grail (originally published in 1928 but now Temple Lodge Press, 2001) Stein refers to the ‘Holy Spear’ or ‘Lance’ in its role in the Grail Legend. No mention of it in the 20th century, or of Hitler. And in the substantial W J Stein – A Biography (Temple Lodge Press, 1990), Johannes Tautz makes no reference to any of the key elements of Ravenscroft’s account. Spear might be a biography of somebody else entirely. Actually, it pretty much is.

Spear was first commissioned and published by Neville Spearman, the British publisher responsible for so much core ‘alternative’ writing. In his  ’part-autobiography’ Catching Up with the Future, Neville Armstrong describes Ravenscroft as “rather a foolish, twisted chap who had considerable esoteric knowledge wrongly used”, and notes that the only time he took drugs was when Ravenscroft gave them to him. After receiving a £2,000 advance Ravenscroft disappeared, providing nothing in return. Eventually, Armstrong tracked him down and paid him weekly until the book – clearly not yet written more than a decade after Stein’s death – was finished. Armstrong sold the American rights alone for over $50,000, a great deal of money thirty years ago. The wretched thing has been in print, and making money, ever since.

I found that the story wasn’t even Ravenscroft’s idea. It originated in an article by the well-known journalist Max Caulfield, published in the Sunday Dispatch in 1960, apparently using information from Stein’s archives provided by his widow (presumably this was Yopi, his second wife, of whom his Anthroposophist friends do not seem to have approved). That article, too, is wildly inaccurate. In it, the Spear really is the one used on Jesus Christ, an imaginary ‘SS Colonel Conrad Buch, personal adviser to Adolf Hitler on occult matters’  is heavily involved, and Streicher, Himmler and Goering perform ‘blood lodge’ rituals using Hitler’s blood.

But its headings are critical to Ravenscroft’s later claims. Its title is ‘`The Spear of Destiny’, and the sub-headings read, ‘How Hitler lived by the weapon thrust into Christ’, ’Revealed for the first time the incredible truth about Hitler’s worship of the Devil’, and ‘This talisman, he thought, would bring to his aid all the Powers of Darkness.’

One persistent clue to the standard occult hoax is the appearance of gratuitous, imagined cruelty. Two examples will suffice here. First, Ravenscroft pretends that Stein told him about “… the Jews or Communists … sacrificial victims who were murdered … as part of the ritual magic in which Dietrich Eckart opened the centres of Adolf Hitler to give him a vision of and a means of communication … they were incredibly sadistic and ghastly.’”

Eckart never opened Hitler’s centres, and there is no evidence that any ritual sacrifice was made. Yet Ravenscroft creates an even worse, sickeningly violent fantasy. He claims that Stein discovered that Himmler, wanting to continue the Final Solution and rid Europe of Jews, copied a non-existent pseudo-homeopathic experiment he claimed was conducted by Rudolf Steiner to drive rabbits off an estate in Silesia by distributing across it the ‘potentised ashes’ of rabbit testicles in solution.


He explained that The Spear of Destiny had been researched using a combination of empirical techniques and use of a psychic medium

Ravenscroft’s develops his fiction, stating that Himmler ordered experiments in which the ashes of Jews were injected into other Jews. These victims were, he asserts in a cruel, fictional, aside, ”kept inside by the prison foreman Arthur Dietzsche witha cat-of-nine-tails.” The experiments were complicated, says Ravenscroft, because “the potentised ashes only achieved their maximum functional effect at particular times of year, for apparently such potencies were sensitive to extraterrestrial influences in the manner that the phases of the moon affect plant germination and growth.”Then, says Ravenscroft, the potentised ashes of concentration-camp Jews were spread “across the length and breadth of the Reich”. Of the exodus of surviving Jews from Europe he asks, “Was it the result of this diabolical form of pest control?” No, it wasn’t, but the unremitting darkness of Ravenscroft’s fantasies is underlined by this extraordinary passage.

When, in 1980, Ravenscroft successfully sued the horror writer James Herbert for copyright infringement in his novel The Spear (the case reference is Ravenscroft v Herbert [1980] RPC 193), he explained that The Spear of Destiny had been researched “using a combination of empirical techniques and use of a psychic medium”, and was awarded substantial damages.

The 1973 UK edition of Spear says of Ravenscroft,  ”He was captured on a raid which attempted to assassinate Field Marshal Rommel in North Africa.” And he told the court the same. But as the respected war author Michael Asher explains in Get Rommel (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2004), Ravenscroft was already a POW when the raid took place, having given himself up when an earlier reconnaissance went wrong.Recently there have been suggestions that Ravenscroft knew about the importance of Rosslyn Chapel years before the current theories became fashionable, and that his wife had for some unexplained reason had chained herself to the Apprentice Pillar. It’s easy to forget how recent the Rosslyn story is, but even Holy Blood Holy Grail gives it only a brief mention. It will be interesting to see whether Ravenscroft becomes to the Grail/Templar/Mason writers what Stein supposedly was to Ravenscroft.

For anyone who might want to believe that Ravenscroft had the least idea what he was talking about, I’d like to finish by sharing with you his prophecy of the end times, vouchsafed to us at pages 143-144 of the relatively obscure follow-up to Spear, The Cup of Destiny (1982):

“At the end of this century the Order of the Knights Templar will re-emerge to change the whole existing social order. This will take place in the period immediately following the coming world catastrophies, which will commence in 1982 and continue in three terrible waves of destruction up to the year 2001 on an apocalyptic scale. During the struggle to rebuild the civilised world, the anti-Christ and the great dictator will attempt to seize world power. Their adversaries will be the reborn Templars and the souls they shall choose to join them in rebuilding a new world order in which the freedom of the individual spirit will find its true place. Throughout this period, that mighty spirit behind the figure of Parzival will be their heroic and beloved leader.”



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 >>>


The Victorian Charm of the Protong, part 2.
David Sivier

The Victorian Charm of the Protong – Part 2.

From Magonia  88, May 2005

Apart from the demonstrably erroneous nature of the claim that the Passion narrative represents human sacrifice in a real, historic lunar cult, is the highly questionable nature of the proof adduced for it. The theory takes as proof facts, or rather factoids, widely separated in space and time from the centre of the Passion narrative in first century Palestine. For example, there is the statement that Christ was crucified on Friday 13th. Friday has indeed always traditionally been the date of Christ’s crucifixion, and the belief that it occurred on the 13th is a common piece of contemporary folklore, though it probably arose to explain why Friday 13th is considered unlucky. It’s unlikely, however, that Christ was crucified on a 13th, as the Jewish Passover, during which the events of the Passion unfolded, begins on the 14th of Nisan. [34] Although Friday was declared a day of penance for Christians by the medieval church, and there was a concomitant fear that it was unlucky, the particular fear of Friday 13th is actually no older than the 20th century. In fact the superstition surrounding the supposedly unlucky nature of the number 13 dates only from the 17th century, when it was felt unlucky for 13 people to be present at a meal. [35] Similarly, Freya was a goddess worshipped by the ancient Germans, not Semites, and Friday and related terms such as Freitag were used only by the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe. To the Romans, the day was dies Veneris, Venus’ Day, while the Hebrew term was different again. Similarly, for Christians, Christ was resurrected on Sunday, not Monday, as the theory states, though because of its place as the day after Easter Day, Monday was declared a holiday by the medieval church.

As for the argument that the 13 disciples represented the 13 months of the lunar year, this, and the assertion that Christ’s Passion represented the death of the sun, is also reminiscent of yet another 19th century anthropological theory to account for the origins of religion, Max Muller’s Solar Mythology. Friedrich Max Muller was one of Victorian Britain’s most brilliant Sanskrit scholars and students of Indian religion. A trenchant critic of Tylor’s theory that fetishism was the origin of human religion and anthropological evolutionism, he considered instead that sun worship was the primal religion of humanity. He came to this view through his study of the Vedas, particularly of Agni, the god of fire, and tentatively applied his theory of religions origins in a solar cult to the other, savage, societies found elsewhere in the world. [36] 

Muller arrived at his theory of solar origins through his grounding in Sanskrit philology, and he attempted to explain the violent, sensual, ignoble and generally barbarous behaviour of the Greek gods through tracing their origins in the gods of the Vedas, the oldest literature of the Indo-European peoples. For Muller, the mythopoeic conceptions of the gods occurred before the rise of civilisation, before human language could convey abstract notions, so that Dyaus, the supreme god in the Veda, could be understood also as meaning sky, sun, air, dawn, light and brightness, while a number of other words, with different associations, could also indicate the sun. [37]

These linguistic associations led Muller to an allegorical interpretation of the Greek myths. For example, the story of Chronos, Zeus’ father, devouring his children before being forced to vomit the younger god’s siblings back up actually stood for the sky devouring and then releasing the clouds. [38] Nor was the solar cult confined to the Indo-European peoples. Muller later expanded his theory to various extra- European peoples, tracing the origin of various Indian, Polynesian and African peoples back to an alleged solar cult through an analysis of the languages of the tales themselves and the etymology of the terms used for the various gods. [39]

Muller’s pupil, Sir George William Cox, pushed the theory even further, viewing the Indo-European myths as allegories of the contest between sun and night, and comparing the Homeric epics thus interpreted with Christianity: ‘The story of the sun starting in weakness and ending in victory, waging a long warfare against darkness, clouds and storms, and scattering them all in the end, is the story of all patient self-sacrifice, of all Christian devotion.’ [40]

Unlike Gooch, however, he did not believe that there was ever a human reality at the heart of these myths, and viewed such heroes as Grettir, King Arthur, Sigurd, William Tell, Roland, Beowulf, Hamlet and the Biblical patriarch David as purely mythological figures representing the sun. [41]

Muller’s intellectual opponent with whom he carried on a lively controversy over the origins of human mythology was Andrew Lang, a former Oxford graduate and supporter of the ethnological, rather than philological, origins of mythology and folklore. Lang’s 1887 Myth, Ritual and Religion amassed considerable anthropological information to show that primitive peoples everywhere had similar myths, legends, and customs, and that elements of these had survived in modern peasant lore and the Classical Greek myths. [42] Lang never denied that solar, lunar and star cults and myths existed, but that they had independent origins in the animist stage of human culture. As for the bloody acts committed in fairy tales and legends, Lang viewed these purely as storytelling formulae: ‘It is almost as necessary for a young god or hero to slay monsters as for a young lady to be presented at court; and we may hesitate to explain all these legends of an useful feat of courage as nature myths.’ [43]

In the end, Lang’s view of the origins of religion and mythology prevailed, partly due to the immense influence of his Myth, Ritual and Religion but largely due to the establishment of the Folklore Society, whose members favoured and who wrote steadily and voluminously to support the evolutionary origin of myth. [44]

As for Christ and His disciples forming a coven of 13 , this is merely the reading back into Christianity of the religious perceptions that led to the view that witchcraft covens always had 13 members in the first place. In fact 13 , representing the total number of Christ and his 12 apostles was considered the ideal number of friars in a community, and the same model was adopted for the number of suffragans under archbishop and monks in a monastery. It has therefore been suggested that the choice of 13 for the number of witches in a coven was therefore made as a deliberate inversion of the Christian norm. [45] The Middle Ages viewed witchcraft as a satanic parody and inversion of God’s church and the natural order, and the reputed ideal membership of 13 for a coven was a further parody, in line with the blasphemies of the Black Mass, of the ideal membership of Christ’s fellowship with the Apostles and orthodox Christian religious communities.

fishyIn the case of the Grail legend and the Fisher King [left] , although some historians have suggested that the central motif of this story — a genitally wounded king — does indeed come from ancient myth, its ultimate source is Brythonic Celtic, not Semitic. If it does have a mythological origin, then it one from Celtic myth, which has been Christianised to fit the dominant religious culture of Europe at the time. Again, the legend is late, appearing in the 12th century with Chretien de Troyes, who was writing chivalrous fiction. Despite the religious elements, and the claims to be based in history, the legend of the Fisher King appeared 1200 years after the rise of Christianity and was never a part of the religion, however enormously influential it may have been as secular literature.

It is possible to go on and list more of the factual errors, inconsistencies and anachronisms in Gooch’s argument, though this would be missing the deeper, and more important point. At its heart is the assumption that modern folklore represents survivals of lore and knowledge of deep antiquity, and the related belief that humanity passes through a fixed stage of civilisation, inherited from Morgan and the other 1 9 th century anthropologists, of which contemporary primitive, or pre- industrial societies, are survivals.

This view was explicitly stated by Tylor himself in his Primitive Culture of 1871, in which he wrote,’Survivals are processes, customs, opinions, and so forth, which have been carried on by force of habit into a new state of society different from that in which they had their original home, and they thus remain as proofs and examples of an older condition of culture out which the newer has been evolved.’ [46] The reliance on outmoded anthropological theories of mythology as sources for its view of the Neanderthals in City of Dreams was one of the major criticisms made of the book when it was reissued in 1996. [47]

In fact, Gooch is not the only contemporary writer to be convinced that contemporary myths and legends are the remnants of a much older, Stone Age religious system. Adrian Bailey in 1998 advanced the view in his book, Caves of the Sun: The Origin of Mythology, that the original prehistoric religion was a solar cult, which also influenced the Neanderthal cult of the bear through the sun’s apparent retreat in winter into caves in the earth. The book was again heavily dependent on 1 9 th century anthropology and dismissive of the psychological and  century interpretations of the origins of religion. [48] John Grigsby, in his Warriors of the Wasteland of 2003, advanced the theory that the original pre-Indo-European, Neolithic religion was that of a dying and rising man/god, which was usurped by the intrusive solar cult. Although Grigsby similarly brought a wealth of information to bear on his subject, his thesis was nevertheless criticised for its reliance on the 1 9 th century theories of Frazer, among others, for its conceptual framework. [49]

In fact, the notion that contemporary pre-industrial cultures are survivals from an ancient state of human culture has effectively been challenged by developments in anthropology during the  century.

Particularly instrumental in attacking the unidirectional development of cultures through specific phases were Boleslaw Malinowski and Franz Boas. Malinowski based his anthropological theories on his experience of fieldwork amongst the peoples of the Trobriand Islands. Here, he developed a functionalist view of society, considering that no matter how strange a custom or practice was, it survived because it fulfilled a contemporary purpose: ‘Savages aren’t half-rational or irrational, but do things because they work. Customs survive not as throwbacks but because they fulfil some function.’ [50] It’s a view that the probably the great majority of contemporary occultists and New Agers, sharing the belief in the efficacy of magic, would endorse. Nevertheless, it challenges the tendency in some circles to view extra-European cultures as irrational, in contrast to the post-Enlightenment rationalism of contemporary European culture. There are elements of this view in Surrealism, for example.

Although the Surrealists ardently championed the rights of indigenous and subordinate colonial people against the oppression of European imperialism in the Caribbean, French Indo-China and elsewhere, their espousal of the art of primitive, tribal cultures such as those of Black Africa was predicated by the notion that they were much in touch with their subconscious, and by implication, more irrational, than Europeans.

The greatest challenge to the unidirectional view of cultural progress, however, came from Franz Boas. Boas’ fieldwork amongst the Kwakiutl peoples of the American north-west coast led him to attack the doctrine that society moved from a matrilineal to a patrilineal organisation, and the theory of totemism as the origins of human religion. He believed that the positing of a uniform scheme of human development overlooked the uniqueness of individual human cultures. Instead of there being a general sequence of cultural stages amongst humanity, there was instead’a tendency of diverse customs and beliefs to converge towards similar forms, and a development of customs in divergent direction.’ [51]

As a German Jew, he was bitterly opposed to the biological reductionism of the Nazis and the racial interpretation of history, which he saw, along with eugenics, as irremediably dangerous. His book, The Mind of Primitive Man was burned in Nazi Germany and unpopular amongst supporters of apartheid and segregation in the United States because of its assertion that there were no pure races, that racial intermixing did not lead to degeneration, and that Blacks would be perfectly able to fulfil their duties as citizens alongside Whites if the legal restrictions against them were lifted. His views have thus been immensely influential in challenging the racist assumptions of White superiority towards other cultures characteristic of 19th century anthropology. While his anti-racism is praiseworthy, his emphasis on each culture’s autonomy, and demand that anthropologists should not make value judgements about the societies they studied, unfortunately has led to the extremes of postmodern cultural relativism in which practices or beliefs which are untrue or repellent are nevertheless defended and declared valid because of their part in a particular culture. Hence the postmodern view that relegates science to the position of only one of a number of possible interpretations of the universe, none more true than the others.

Attempts to posit totemism and shamanism as the origin of human religion have similar been questioned because of their coexistence with apparently more sophisticated forms of religious experience. Tylor himself recognised that primitive peoples, ‘alongside their magic, ghosts, totems, worshipful stones, have a very much better God than most races a good deal higher in civilisation.’ [52] It’s a sentiment with which many of today’s occultists would no doubt agree, contrasting the apparent benevolence of primitive religion with the cruelties of Western institutional faiths, particularly Christianity. Nevertheless, it does undermine the claim that totemism is somehow a more primitive, primal form of human religious experience.

The idea of Christ’s passion as a mythological treatment of real, primal human totemic sacrifice similarly becomes untenable. Although the consumption of Christ’s body and blood in the transubstantiated bread and wine of the mass certainly performs some of the functions of the consumption of a totemic sacrificial victim in promoting a social and spiritual solidarity amongst members of the congregation, this does not mean by any means that a real, human sacrifice was necessarily performed and consumed, beyond the theological view of Christ’s crucifixion as a paschal sacrifice before God, though this certainly would not have been the intention of the Roman and Judaean authorities responsible for it. Furthermore, people do adopt creatures and objects as symbols for themselves, as in mascots and on coats of arms, without these creatures ever being personally consumed by them. Muller himself pointed to his friend, Abeken, whose name meant ‘small ape’ and who therefore had a small ape on his coat of arms, as the possible possessor of a totemic ancestor. He joked, however, that although he had never actually seen him eating an ape, it was probably due to a matter of taste. [53]

Of course, attempts to shoehorn all forms of religion into the pattern of a solar myth, is also open to abuse. It was satirised even during its high point in the 19th century. Sabine Baring-Gould, for example, illustrated its excesses with an essay, originally produced by a French ecclesiastic, which mischievously attempted to prove that Napoleon was the sun god, citing linguistic, historical and figurative parallels with the myth of Apollo. [54]

Similarly, the arguments for the antiquity of shamanism have also been questioned, with scholars pointing out that the Palaeolithic cave paintings of dancing male figures with animal heads could equally be gods, and that the argument for the universality of shamanism across the globe is weakened by the fact that there is not even a commonly agreed definition of the term. [55] Furthermore, as with totemism, shamanism also exists alongside organised religion in some of the societies in which it is found. [56]

Modern anthropology’s rejection of the theory of a uniform, primitive Cro- Magnon culture based on communism, matriarchy and goddess- worship undoubtedly explains why Gooch has looked yet further back into the Palaeolithic, to the Neanderthals, for his utopia. The sheer scantiness of the evidence and its amibiguity makes them an ideal tabula rasa, on to which contemporary scholars can project their own views of their nature.


Modern anthropology’s rejection of the theory of a uniform, primitive Cro-Magnon culture based on communism, matriarchy and goddess-worship undoubtedly explains why Gooch has looked yet further back into the Palaeolithic, to the Neanderthals, for his utopia.

* * *

Much still remains conjectural and the subject of debate. For example, although there are finds of Neanderthal burials, complete with flowers and a sprinkling of red ochre on the dead, as well as jewellery of animal teeth, to suggest that they had a symbolic culture, and so were not the subhuman creatures of earlier views, this view is hotly contested. Its opponents argue that these practices only emerged after the Neanderthals came into contact with the Cro-Magnons, and so were simply copying their practices without truly understanding them, rather than inventing them for themselves. [57]

At present though, recent findings regarding the Neanderthals tend to disprove some of Gooch’s theories. For example, the greater muscular development on Neanderthal skeleton’s right arms suggests they were right, rather than left handed, using that arm to wield the spear in a stabbing motion suitable for hunting animals amongst woodland, rather than throwing them. [58] On the other hand, analysis of Palaeolithic handprints suggest that the Cro-Magnons, by contrast, had a far greater proportion of left- handers than today. Analysis of the chemical composition of Neanderthal bones similarly suggests that they were almost exclusively carnivorous. [59] If true, these findings prove the exact reverse of some of Gooch’s own view of the Neanderthals.

Aside from these specific points, most anthropologists and historians today, following Franz Boas, would baulk at seeing a racial, biological origin for political institutions, and it is mistaken to project distinctly  century political structures far back into prehistory, long before these political philosophies and social organisations had arisen. As for the specific examples of left- handers’ political inclinations today, there are serious problems with these.

(Although there is considerable interest in the apparently different cognitive and social skills developed by left and right handers, with the genetic differences between the two being wider than those of human races, it’s problematic whether any of the individuals Gooch cites as left-handers can be described as socialist. Radical Islam of the type promoted by Osama bin Laden strongly rejects the present world order and the dominance of America as an oppressive infidel power, but it also vehemently rejects atheist communism and secular socialism.

In Revolutionary Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini abolished political parties from a belief that they were divisive, and that’all Muslims should be brothers’. In some respects, particularly urban planning, the insistence on restricting legislation solely to what can be expressly supported by the Qu’ran has meant that some Iranian policies resemble the laissez-faire economic policies of the Victorian West, rather than the state interventionism of revolutionary Communist regimes. Supporters of the Iranian Revolution vehemently denounced comparisons of the revolutionary regime with Western political movements, particularly Fascism, and it’s almost certain that bin Laden and the others in al-Qaeda would also reject comparisons with Socialism, Communism or other Western philosophies for the same reason.

As for China being a Communist country, this is also problematic. Although China is a one-party state whose official ideology is revolutionary Marxism, in practice the country follows capitalist economics. As with the other countries of the former Communist bloc, it’s problematic whether Communism in China can outlive the increasingly aging members of the ruling party. In any case, most scholars would point to distinct, obvious political and social causes for the rise of Communism in China, such as the political and economic chaos and corruption of the Kuomintang, rather than crude biological determinism.

Beyond the errors and inadequacies of the theory of Christ’s Passion as the central ritual of a prehistoric lunar cult, rather more profound points can be made generally about fringe religious history and its methods of proof and investigation. The first point is that much fringe speculation, despite its wide ranging use of facts, rather than opening up new ground, really does little more than attempt to propound and defend earlier, discredited theories. Just as the above theory recapitulates elements of Victorian notions of the origins of human religion and society, so Ron Pearson’s theories of the subatomic origin of the spirit world relies on a rejection of Einstein’s theory of relativity in favour of a revived insistence of the existence of the ether. Secondly, global assumptions of a universal religious cult in antiquity are almost certainly wrong.

Any assumptions regarding the nature of a historical event, including its religion, requires as proof directly relevant facts to support it. In the case of the above theory of Christ’s passion, this would ideally be Roman, Greek or Jewish eyewitness reports that such a sacrifice did indeed occur, rather than inference from unrelated myths or legends recorded thousands of years later and further north. There also has to be an awareness of the wider history and origins of the events investigated, and a clear distinction between causes and effects. In the above example, this means an awareness that the belief that witches’ covens had a membership of 13 was based on the total number of Christ and His disciples, rather than vice versa. Furthermore, any allegorical interpretation of a myth or legend requires high standards of proof directly relevant to the subject of study.

It is immensely easy, simply by a judicious choice of numbers and mythology, to prove an allegorical meaning behind just about any subject one chooses, as Sabine Baring-Gould’s apparent proof that Napoleon was really Apollo clearly demonstrates. In general, unless there is direct evidence that the subject of study was considered allegorical at the time, or consciously used in such a context, allegorical interpretations of specific historical events are probably best avoided.

It also needs stating that when propounding a particular interpretation of history, the researcher needs to consider the academic history of the subject being discussed, and the origins and history of the ideas surrounding it. Professional academic historians, for example, consider previous treatments of their subject in their monographs, and history courses in higher education teach historiography — the theories and philosophies of historical interpretation, and how these have changed over time — as an integral part of the history course, as these may profoundly affect the treatment of a particular historical event or person, including the type of evidence accepted to support the historian’s view of their subject.

The most important point, however, is that biologistic assumptions of the origins of culture or political organisation and views are both wrong, and have been the basis of brutality, oppression and genocide. No matter how well meant, even by liberals keen to rescue their subjects from the images of savagery, like those, which have been characteristic of the treatment of the Neanderthals, such theories should be strenuously rejected.

The recent history of archaeology has shown how there is a place for fringe theorising, and that when this is done well it can make a valuable contribution to the understanding of its subjects. Archaeoastronomy, despite its origins in fringe archaeological speculation, is now academically respectable, and Paul Devereaux’s theories on the Stone Age use of sound to create altered states of consciousness amongst worshippers at sacred sites has similarly been well received, at least in some quarters of academia. To be accepted by academia, however, researchers in the mystical and occult fringe need to adhere to the same rigorous standards of proof and approach, some of whose characteristics are outlined above, that academics use to assess the value of their own views and theories. unfortunately, with the current furore over the Da Vinci Code spawning a plethora of ever wilder pseudo- historical religious speculation, we may have to wait a long time for that.



    • 35. ‘Friday the Thirteenth’ in J Simpson ans S. Roud, A Dictionary of English Folklore, OUP, 2000, p.61
    • 36. R. M. Dorson, ‘The Eclipse of Solar Mythology’, in A. Dundes, The Study of Folklore, University of California at Berkeley, Prentice Hall, 1965, p.61
    • 37. Dorson. ‘Solar Mythology’, pp.62-2
    • 38. Dorson. ‘Solar Mythology’, pp.64
    • 39. Dorson. ‘Solar Mythology’, pp.69
    • 40. G. W. Cox. An Introduction to the Science of Comparative Mythology and Folklore. 1881, cited in Dorson. ‘Solar Mythology’, pp.72
    • 41. Dorson. ‘Solar Mythology’, pp.72-3
    • 42. Dorson. ‘Solar Mythology’, pp.61
    • 43. A. Lang. Myth, Ritual and Religion, vol.2, p.196, cited in Dorson. ‘Solar Mythology’, pp.67
    • 44. Dorson. ‘Solar Mythology’, pp.83
    • 45. E. Rose. A Razor for a Goat, University of Toronto Press, 1989, p.158-9
    • 46. E. B. Tylor. Primitive Culture, cited in Bennett, op.cit., p.35
    • 47. Review of S. Gooch, City of Dreams, Aulis, London 1995, in Fortean Times  no. 85, Feb/Mar. 1996, p.61
    • 48. M. Jay, ‘Caves of the Sun, The Origin of Mythology’ in Fortean Times 117, December 1998, p.56
    • 49. N. Rooney, ‘Shadows from a Celtic Twilight’, in Fortean Times, 178, December 2003, p.60
    • 50. Bennet, op.cit., p.65
    • 51. Bennet, op.cit., p.71
    • 52. Bennet, op.cit., p.68
    • 53. Dorson, ‘Solar Mythology’, p.68
    • 54 S Baring-Gould, ‘A Satire on German Mythologists’, in p. Vansittart, Voices: 1870-1914, Jonathan Cape, 1983, p.126-9
    • 55. Hutton, The Shamans of Siberia. Isle of Avalon Press, Gastonbury, 1993, p. 14
    • 56 Hutton, op.cit., p.9
    • 57 S. Mithen, ‘Symbolic Humans Started here’, reviewing J. L. Arsuaga, Neanderthal’s Necklace, John Wiley & Sons, 2003, in Fortean Times,  170, May 2003, p.61.
    • 58. See, for example, the BBC Horizon programme broadcast January-February 2005 which attempted to reconstruct the Neanderthals and their lifestyle from fossil remains.
    • 59. See the BBC Horizon programme as above.

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.

Gazurmah’s Sons
The Psychopathology of the Nazi Saucer Myth
David Sivier

First published in Magonia 63, May 1998

The past year has seen a resurgence in the old controversy surrounding the origins of Flying Saucers, though for once it is not the hotly debated ETH. Instead, researchers like BUFORA’s Tim Matthews have provoked debate by claiming that modern UFOs are, or are based on, secret Nazi flying saucer experiments conducted during the Second World War.

It’s an intensely emotive issue as it is intimately tied to the brutality of the Nazi dictatorship, and there are very real dangers to its discussion. First of all, debate surrounding the technology can easily become approval of the technology and its uses. This is something of which Neo-Nazis are well aware, and there is an abundance of evidence to show that the mythology surrounding the saucers’ supposed Nazi origins is being used by Fascist groups for propagandistic purposes. The two main sources for the Nazi saucer myth, Wilhelm Landig and Ernst Zundl, are both Nazis seeking to do precisely this.

Landig’s book, Goetzen Gegen Thule, in particular contains a nasty piece of Holocaust revisionism. A similar motive may underlie Renate Vesco’s book, Intercettali Senza Sparare, translated into English as Intercept but don’t Shoot. Vesco claims to have been a technician working under the guidance of the Italian engineer on the project, Giuseppe Belluzzo. This character seems to be a fiction based on the real Giuseppe Belluzzo, an Italian aeronautical engineer and Fascist senator.

When Vesco’s work appeared, first as a magazine article in 1969, and then in book form in 1971, Italy was beginning a wave of Fascist terrorism intended to bring down the liberal state. By playing up Fascist technological achievement, Vesco may well have been attempting to win support for the renascent Right. There is the problem here, however, of why flying saucers were being used for these purposes, rather than concrete examples of wartime German technological achievements, such as the V2. Why choose machines which, if they were ever built, seem to have been complete failures? Experimental devices allegedly built by Victor Schauberger and Alexander Uppisch either crashed, or completely failed to take off. When a working proto-type was built, it was allegedly destroyed to prevent it falling into the hands of the advancing Russians and Czechoslovaks. The answer must lie in the myth’s ability to fulfil some kind of psychological need both within the minds of Fascists and anti-Fascists.

The first thing to note is that as a myth it is superbly suited for propaganda purposes. Joachim C. Fest notes in his biography of Hitler that up until the very last moment of the War, many Germans were still absolutely convinced that the Fuehrer had a secret weapon which would deliver them from the advancing Allies. Although the modern age of the UFO began two years after the end of the War, it was still close enough to be plausibly claimed as a German secret weapon, especially with its precursors in the wartime Foo fighters. Furthermore, the lack of any firm evidence for their origin as technological objects in the form of wreckage or an unequivocal piece of saucer technology, coupled to the remoteness of the saucers’ supposed bases in Antarctica, means that there is no obvious evidence either against their origin in Nazi technology, except from conclusions drawn from what we know was scientifically possible during the Nazi era. In this vacuum all manner of claims, plausible and ludicruous, can be made, there being just enough material available on aviation experiments within the Third Reich to hint plausibly that such experiments were made. Outside of the Neo-Nazi groups fixated on the Third Reich, the Nation of Islam sees the saucers as a vital part of its racist mythology, though here they serve the movement’s founder, W.D. Fard, in his racial war with the Whites.

There is, however, a deeper psychological dimension to the myth, one that goes to the heart of Fascist notions about technology, gender and sexuality.One of the elements within Fascism has been a fascination with technology. The Italian Futurists, who were one of the movement’s precursors and were later absorbed into it, were obsessed with it. ‘Futurism is grounded in the complete renewal of human sensibility brought about by the great discoveries of science’. [1]

Technology was to be the new, exciting medium by which patriotic Italians would slough off their obsession with the past and become true members of an energised humanity, filled with ‘courage, audacity and revolt’ prepared for the impending and inevitable identification of man with machine’. It was an aggressive, masculine movement whose watchwords were ‘Youth, Speed, Violence!’ and which glorified ‘war – the world’s only hygiene – militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers … and contempt for woman’. [2] From the start the aeroplane was celebrated as part of this new, brave, speedy technocratic world.

marinetti-780588‘We will sing of … the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.’ [3]




‘The Futurist hero was the man of iron, the aviator and the engineer’. [4] The ultimate expression of these ideas was in Marinetti’s book, Mafarka Futurista (Mafarka the Futurist, 1910), which was the subject of a notorious obscenity trial, thanks to the eponymous hero’s possession of an 11 metre long penis which he curled around himself while he slept. His son, Gazurmah, is a giant invisible mechanical bird with wings that embrace the stars. At the end of the book, Mafarka orders his slaves to build him a sailplane, on which he departs for even greater adventures. The identification of aviation with an aggressive, belligerent masculine sexuality is explicit. For Jung, the UFO could also be a masculine symbol, ‘in accordance of reports of … cigar shaped UFOs’. [5)

In all of this there was a complete absence of women. Mafarka was born without a mother, and he, in turn, conceives and bears Gazurmah by himself, in an act of 'exteriorised will'. Futurism followed its artistic predecessor, Symbolism, in having a strong tone of misogyny. This seems to have arisen through a sense of castration, of loss of a role, produced by Edwardian feminist agitation. They preached '(d)isdain for amore (sentimentality or lechery) produced by the greater freedom and erotic ease of women and by the universal exaggeration of female luxury ... The lover has lost all his prestige. Love has lost its absolute worth,' [8]

This fin de siecle ‘crisis in masculinity’ produced a vicious backlash in the Fascist and Nazi regimes, which sought to restrict women’s roles to the traditional, domestic sphere. The slogan ‘children, church and kitchen’ accurately sums up their attitudes to women, and the Nazis sought to remove women from places at university, the military, the legal profession, politics and general employment. Like Futurism, the Nazis inveighed against luxury in women, reserving their fury in particular for the lady, ‘a frivolous plaything who is superficial and only out for pleasure, who decks herself with tawdry finery and is like a glittering exterior that is hollow and drab within.’ [7]

Female sexuality was always a matter of real fear to the radical Right. The occultist Lanz Von Liebenfels, from whom Hitler took most of his racial ideas, felt that women in particular were prone to bestial lusts and preached their subjection to pure aryan husbands as a necessary corrective. Although Nazi concerns with the proper procreation of the race meant that polygyny and pre-marital sex were encouraged, these were a serious business beyond mere pleasure. ‘Choose a comrade, not a playmate’, German girls were lectured on selecting suitable marriage partners.

The ever-present threat of the Jewish incubus was continually held up before their eyes, as shown in the slogans broadcast at the Bund Deutscher Maidler (German Girls’ League): Der Jude ist ihr Unglueck (the Jew is your misfortune). As a necessary discouragement against sexual misadventure, Hitler himself told the assembled maidens to ‘be pure, be vigilant, behave!’ The Nation of Islam and other Black Islamic sects carry on this Fascist agenda of excluding women from public life. Louis Farrakhan deliberately discouraged women from joining his Million Man March because he felt that their place was at home with their children. UFOs, as Jung noted, could also be a feminine symbol, if they were suitably lens-shaped. In that case, a psychoanalytic approach could consider them as a ‘repressed uterus … coming down from the sky’. [8]

Jung, however, did not accept this view uncritically, posing the problem that if UFOs were an essentially feminine symbol, what did that make their masculine pilots? His solution was that although sexuality played an important part in the saucer myth, it still was only a part, ‘not the whole instigator of the metaphor’ .[9] John Keel, on the other hand, noted that ‘(m)any witnesses have the distinct impression that these entities are actually sexless (androgynous). The males with their long hair, angular faces, and mincing manners suggest they might be hermaphrodites and homosexuals’, [10] before going on to speculate that ‘(e)xcep, for those who might be specially constructed for incubus-succubus activities – it does appear that our angels and spacemen come from a world without sex.’ [11]

This asexuality even finds itself in Nazi and proto-Nazi literature. From his close friendship with August Strindberg, who received a letter from his wife rejecting him because she preferred men with longer penises, Lanz Von Liebenfels considered that possession of small genitals was the mark of the pure Aryan, possibly reflecting his own monasticism and undoubted sexual repression. [12] The Nazi movement as a whole, because of its stress on belligerent hypermasculinity and comradeship, attracted a large number of homosexuals. Allegedly 75 per cent of the SA were gay, an accusation more recently levelled by the former NF leader John Tyndall to his erstwhile national comrades after the movements split in 1980.

Given the tendency towards homosexuality in Nazism, the appearance of the Gestapo officer who imparts ‘philosophical guidance’ to Landig’s heroes in Goetzen Gegen Thule takes on a psychological dimension well beyond that of the mentor-friend. [13] Apart from the long-haired blonde Nordics of the Contactees, the short Greys of the Abductionists lack signs of gender or sexuality, yet this does not seem to prevent their repeated rape of witnesses.

No discussion of Fascistic imagery would be complete without a discussion of the sexual aspect of the abduction myth. If the abduction myth is just a secularized version of the old mythology of the incubus/succubus, so too are the racial theories at the heart of Nazism. Hitler’s predecessor, the neo-pagan racist writer Joerg Lanz Von Liebenfels, produced a secularised version of the incubus myth in his work Theo-zoologie oder die Kunde von den Sodoms-Aefflingen and dem Goetter-Elektron (Theo-Zoology or the Lore of the Sodom-Apelings and the Electron of the Gods). In this he posited that humanity, or at least the primitive Aryan races, had possessed electric organs which gave them the power of telepathy. These powers had atrophied due to the Ancients’ addiction to deviant sex with specially bred Buhlzwerge – love-pygmies. In his warped view of the Easter Story, Christ’s passion was really about the attempts by the ancient Satanic cults to pervert Him into copulation with the pygmies, rather than a straight-forward narrative of His crucifixion.

Liebenfels was viciously antisemitic, and the hatred expressed for these mythical Buhlzwerge soon found a concrete object in Jewry. Hitler and his predecessors fulminated against the way the Jews allegedly sought to adulterate the pure Aryan races with their own degenerate blood, sentiments that find their way’ into contemporary Christian Identity and Nation of Islam verbal assaults on Jews as ‘Khazars’ or ‘Mongrels’. Hitler in particular was tormented by a recurring nightmare in which a naked blonde German woman was held in chains, while a Jewish butcher approached her from behind. The abduction myth too contains the element of sadistic helplessness and bondage while a demonically imagined `other’ rapes and violates to produce monstrous children.

The Greys, in their dwarfishness and perverse sexuality, are a new race of Buhlzwerge, come to tempt andseduce pure Aryans. This time, they’ve got the technological upper hand, and they’re breeding us. Its been said that ‘you become what you fear the most’, and Hitler in his fevered combat with miscegenation was quite willing to see suitably blonde children from the conquered races, such as the Poles, kidnapped and raised by Germans as a way of reclaiming allegedly German bloodlines amongst those peoples. The ultimate expression of the Nazi preoccupation with race and biology were the infamous experiments of Dr. Mengele. When the Abduction myth finally arose four decades after the War, it was on this imagery of depraved experimentation that it drew to give a plausible motive for the Greys’ agenda of rape and miscegenation.

The Abduction hysteria also coincided with a period of governmental crisis when a series of released documents and scientific discoveries seemed to suggest that the government and big business were carrying on the Nazi agenda. This was shown in the notorious epidemiological, radiological and drug experiments carried out by the government on servicemen, Blacks, and the poorest ranks of society in general and the scandal over Operation Paperclip and other governmental actions by which scientists and other servants of the Nazi regime came to work in the US. Finally, advances in reproductive technology, such as cloning, in vitro fertilisation and artificial wombs, have raised the spectre of government sponsored racial manipulation ever closer. Brave New World seems just around the corner.

The attempts by some scientists to produce a technology that would allow men to bear babies, explored humorously in the BBC’s play Frankenstein’s Baby and the Hollywood film Junior brings the spectre of homosexual technological birth qua Mafarka ever closer. Bastards of science indeed! The latest version of the myth, which sees the Greys as being three feet tall dwarfs produced by failed attempts to clone the Nazi leaders merely makes the myth’s metaphorical nature obvious. Even the UFOs’ shape, phallic as it is, suggests its role in procreation, penetrating and fructifying the witness, as Jung realised. (14] This is wholly in line with the essentially religious nature of the phenomenon, as even ‘in ancient times the feeling of being ‘penetrated’ by, or of ‘receiving’, the god was allegorized by the sexual act.’ [15]

Following the example of folklore, however, after the victory of Christianity this experience no longer produced demigods and heroes, as in the ancient world, but demons, cambions and changelings. Intercourse with the alien ufonauts now no longer brings beautiful, heroic suitors such as Mdme. Klarer’s alien lover, nor painless parturition, but painful and terrifying rape. Instead of birth, the body is further violated through caesarian section, the child ripped from the womb. In early mythologies, the daemons responsible for the violation would have been portrayed in human or animal form. In our modern technological age, they become cloaked in the guise of machines, such as aeroplanes, cars, or, as Jung might have realised, flying saucers.Paradoxically, in spite of Hitler’s vaunted triumphs of German technology, science and mechanization was another strand in the Nazis’ web of neurotic fears. At the heart of the Nazi Blut and Boden (blood and soil) ideas were the idealisation of the peasants and peasant society as the heart and soul of the German people. The first Nazi electoral successes were as representatives of the agrarian classes of Schleswig-Holstein during the agricultural crisis of 1929. In spite of the mechanised terror marshalled by the Reich against its foes and citizens, the Nazi ideal remained a primitive, idealised society of peasants. This agenda continues today in attempts by the Fascist International Third Position to found agrarian colonies in France and Spain.

In his early speeches, the newly idustrialising giant of America was invoked by Hitler as the epitome of modem urbanism and mass production, a demonic dystopia which would be Germany’s fate, too, unless National Socialism intervened to save it. The image of the flying saucer as the technological tool of mechanised procreation would have been as much a nightmare to the Nazis as a dream.

Deeply entwined with these ideas is the notion of racial decadence. Martin Kottmeyer has shown how 19th century evolutionary theories of racial decay influenced Wells to produce the first proto-Grey image in the form of the Eloi. [16] Beyond the strict concerns of evolutionary biology, the image fitted in with broader contemporary literary theories regarding ‘Decadence’. This fin de siecle literary movement sought justification for its excesses in the medical and biological literature on hereditary decline and morbid psychological states, such as that offered by Paul Bourget in his Essais de Psychologie Contemporaine, published 1883 and 1885. Taking their cues from Lamarck, Moreau and Lombroso, the Decadents saw literary genius as a species of neurological disorder arising from bad heredity, the type of heredity produced by the decline of former great and noble houses as they decayed from the virile splendour of their founders. With their delicate frames and sociological origins in human aristocracy, there is more than a touch of Des Esseintes in the Eloi, especially as the Decadents exalted apathy and ennui among their virtues.

Wells’ description of this aristocratic future race, small, beautiful, graceful, with pointed chins and clad in sandals and knee-breeches, seems curiously elfin. This actually was quite in line with speculation which was then emerging that the fairies were a folk-memory of an earlier race that existed before the Celts, which in turn perhaps was a secularised version of the belief that the fairies were really the Druids, who were being punished by God for their idolatry by shrinking until they would become no more than ants. Both traditional and modern, scientific explanations for the fairies had the idea of racial senescence in common, the belief that these elder beings, in their racial twilight and dotage, were declining both in physique and mental powers away from a former human or superhuman state. Folklore and modem biology met head-on in Wells’ nightmarish imagination.

Mixed in with these fears of racial senescence may be terror of a more individual type of dotage. Male fairies are usually presented as hideous, wizened old men, like the dwarfs in Disney. Larry Niven’s Pak, who like the Greys are asexual creatures with a large cranium, lipless and toothless beak for a mouth and grey in skin tone, are based on his own exaggeration of human aging. They are the monstrous third age of humanity, the Protector, when, after maturity, the individual consumes the fruit tree-of-life, to awaken as a neuter monster bent on racial preservation.

The alien Pak are similarly like the faeries and the Greys in being an ancient, earlier race. In their nonsentient form they are Homo Erecti. Only the Protectors possess intelligence. Humanity is their children, evolved from mutated forms of Pak breeders after a failed attempt at colonisation. The Paks’ loyalty is to their own brood, though, not to their distant cousins on an alien star. They come in powerful spaceships to reclaim their colony and extirpate their racial successors and usurpers.

It’s thus in Niven’s book, published in the mid-seventies, that a science fictional treatment of the themes raised by the Greys most clearly arises: racial and personal senescence and survival coupled with high technology and ruthless expansion. Oh, and the first Pak to make contact with a member of human-ity experiments upon him, feeding him tree-of-life to see what would happen. The Pak are, however, of normal height, and powerfully built, but they contain most of the elements of the Grey myth, nonetheless. It is this feeling of being at the mercy of racial elders that adds an urgency to the Fascist exaltation of youth: mach platz, ihr Alter (make way, you old one!) can never be viewed on the purely personal level.

Decadence invites reaction, though. Its watchwords of apathy, spleen and powerlessness before encroaching decay are not a comfortable state, and the movements’ sexual ex-cesses and over-refinement produced a loud and aggressive opponent in the Futurists who sprang out of it. These, and similar modernistic movements, as we’ve seen, sought to wrench Italian society out of its ‘thoughtful immobility, ecstasy and sleep’ through the harsh, white heat of a technological renovatio. This renovatio, restoration to a previous state of glory and power, was at the heart of all Fascist movements, from Mussolini’s hankering after a new Roman Empire, Franco’s dream of a Spain of Catholic majesty, and Hitler’s nightmare of the Third Reich. Some Decadents, weary of their jaded pleasures, moved beyond it to embrace this reaction.

George Viereck and Hans Ewers, two of Germany’s most prominent Decadents, became staunch Nazis when the movement emerged in the twenties, The Fairies, with their glittering luxury and languid sensuality as portrayed by the Victorians, were part and parcel of a stagnant order that every good political soldier should seek to overturn. Murder the moonlight!

The same restlessness permeates the end of our century. From the point of view of the puritanical nineties, the sexual and chemical excesses of three decades ago are a source of shame, of bitter political reproach. As the millenium itself looms upon us, the same gnawing desire for a new man, another homo faber, eats away at us, though it’s more likely to be the cyborgs of the Extropians than Nietzche’s blonde beasts. The New Age was here before! Compare Fukuyama’s ‘The End of His-tory’ with Marinetti: ‘We stand on the last promontory at the end of centuries!’ [17] The result is millenial ferment, armed Freikorps against racially decadent 8uhlzwerge and the saucers they flew in on.

The flying saucer is, then, the perfect expression of Fascist and Nazi ideals and terrors, as a glittering example of Aryan technological supremacy and aggressive, belligerent masculinity and misogyny. At the same time, it is merely the latest expression of sick racial, sexual, anti-urban and anti-technological fears from which the Nazis themselves suffered and invoked to gain their hold over the German masses. It is this grim fascination which makes the saucers an excellent propaganda tool for the Fascists, and source of terror for the anti-Fascists. The task of the Ufologist should be to cast the cold light of reason on this mass of fears, separating the truth from the fiction, in the hope that once confronted, these myths will evaporate to haunt the world no more.




  1. Marinetti, F.T., Destruction of Syntax – Imagination without Strings – Words-Freedom, 1913.
  2. Marinetti, F.T., The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, 1909
  3. Marinetti, F.T., ibid.
  4. Tisdall, C., and Bozzolla, Futurism, Thames and Hudson, 1977, p. 157.
  5. Jung, C.G., Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth Of Things Seen In The Sky, Ark, 1959, p. 55.
  6. Marinetti, F.T., Destruction of Syntax, op. cit.
  7. Rosten, C., ‘The ABC of National Socialism’, quoted in Fest, J.C., The Face of the Third Reich, Penguin, 1970, p. 404.
  8. Jung, J.C., op. cit., p. 30.
  9. Jung, J.C., op. cit., p. 35.
  10. Keel, J., UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse, Souvenir Press, 1971, p. 222.
  11. Keel, J., ibid, p. 224.
  12. See for example the Channel 4 documentary, Hitler Stole My Ideas.
  13. See Thurlow, R. Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918-1985, Basil Blackwell, 1987, p. 282.
  14. Jung, J.C., op. cit., p. 35.
  15. Jung, J.C., ibid, p. 35.
  16. Kottmeyer, M., ‘Varicose Brains: Entering A Grey Area’, in Magonia, 62, pp.8-11.
  17. Marinetti, F.T., The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, 1909.



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.


Plots Against the World

Steven Woodbridge

Alleged secret plots have dominated ufology since the 1940s, but conspiracymongering has a longer and darker history. Steven Woodbridge throws some light on the disturbing historical background to modern conspiracy theories. From Magonia 67, June 1999

God did not appear on television on 25 March 1998, much to the disappointment of a Dallas-based UFO cult and to the glee of newspaper and media commentators. Throughout that month Chen Hong-ming, prophet and leader of the 150-strong `God’s Salvation Church’ (also known as the ‘True Way’) gained massive media publicity by predicting that the Heavenly Father would appear on TV to announce the date of his descent to earth. Mr Chen also claimed that the world has been corrupted by evil, and would suffer a ‘Great Tribulation’ of economic crisis, floods, and the onset of nuclear war. He also argued that members of his group would be saved from these events by being taken to another planet in flying sau-cers.

The case of the ‘True Way’ is yet another example of the tremendous growth in pseudo-religious cults and other ‘conspiracy’ groups that are accompanying us as we move into the 21st century. Some of these, such as the ‘True Way’, are merely very eccentric and have tapped into the latest burst of Millennial / New Age thought and ufology. Other groups are more sinister and fanatical. Not only are they able to persuade their members that the end of the century heralds Armageddon, but that their way to salvation is through mass suicide. In the 1990′s alone we have witnessed already the tragic activities of the Order of the Solar Temple, based in Switzerland and Canada, and the California-based Heaven’s Gate. Some cult ideologies go even further than self-sacrifice and advocate terrorist tactics against ‘decadent non-believers. The Japanese Aum sect demonstrated the horrific consequences of such ideas with their gas attack on the Tokyo Metro rail system.

There is also another disturbing trend that has arisen out of millenarianism and the calls for ‘salvation’ and ‘survival’ in the face of impending doom. This is the revival of extreme Right-wing conspiracy theory. It is feeding off the idea that present-day society can no longer offer solutions to our problems and that all democratic politics is corrupt and decadent. The massive bomb that destroyed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City on 19 April 1995, claimed 168 lives and shocked American public opinion to the core. Not only did it overturn the illusion that the world’s most powerful nation was immune to domestic terrorism, it also made Americans realise that they no longer afford to ignore the increasing number of their fellow citizens who are resorting to membership of extreme right-wing groups. (1)

In the face of a seemingly more complex age such groups are providing fearful and dislocated individuals in America with a sense of firm ‘belonging’ once again. But there is also refuge in simplistic conspiracy theories about the world as it struggles to cope with the problems that abound at the end of the twentieth century. In fact there is the growing conviction in extreme right-wing circles, and moreover in wider American and European culture (expressed in TV series such as Dark Skies and X-Files) that the world is being controlled by `secret’ forces, shadowy networks of powerful groups who dictate to governments, manipulate populations and cause ‘spiritual’ decline. A variety of methods of control by these anonymous forces are pointed to: governments are supposedly employing mass brain-washing techniques through the media and education, and claims that subliminal messages are being beamed into homes through television sets to control unsuspecting viewers. New secret technologies, which may be extraterrestrial in origin, are sometimes cited. Surveillance by satellites and alteration to human behaviour by drugs or microchips are also mentioned. Timothy McVeigh, who was sentenced to death for his involvement in the Oklahoma bombing, claimed at one point that a microchip had been implanted in his left buttock. (2)

McVeigh’s supporters on the extreme right and the numerous militia groups also voiced their belief that the US government, through the FBI has deliberately blown up the Federal Building in order to justify a nationwide clampdown on any groups who might oppose a takeover of the nation by agents of a new World Government. Such material was disseminated widely by the Internet and was lapped up eagerly by the extreme right in many other countries. In many ways the Oklahoma bombing was a watershed in the development of a new wave of conspiracy theories in the 1990s and in the growth of the groups which advocate such ideas. The FBI reported in December 1997, for example, that it was now involved with more than nine hundred investigations into home-grown activist groups, compared to a hundred before Oklahoma. (3)

The extreme right itself probably perpetrated the bombing partly out of revenge for the FBI’s mishandling of the Branch Davidian siege at Waco in 1993. Although this sect was a religious cult group rather than a right-wing extremist organisation, it did blur some of the differences between pseudo-religious ideas and some extreme right-wing attitudes. It was led by a charismatic leader who had convinced his group of the need for collective armed resistance in the face of a hostile central government. The FBI’s mishandling of the infamous siege at Waco brought sympathy and gave ammunition to other groups that sought for ‘freedom’ from the state. In particular American neo-Nazis argued that it was an example of how the US Government was prepared to trample over the freedoms of any groups who disagreed with the allegedly totalitarian values of mainstream liberal society. At the same time they carefully avoided the evident contradiction contained in their own fascist ideologies, which envision the construction of a strong ‘alternative’ state based on a mixture of Nazism and `Christian’ white supremacy. As far as they are concerned the key ‘fact’ is that Waco exemplified a conspiracy by ‘ZOG’ – the Zionist Occupation Government. To frighten and lie to the general public in preparation for an oppressive New World Order. Sigificantly, Timothy McVeigh had been influenced by a video called Waco – the Big Lie. Although it would be a distortion to lump together all the neo-Nazi, militia and cult groups (many militia groups disassociate themselves from the neo-Nazis) certain common beliefs have emerged.

In general Waco and Oklahoma have taken on mythical proportions among the many US groups who believe that governments cannot be trusted. Outside the USA there has also been a notable growth in ‘cultist’ and New Age groups which, while not always adhering to extreme right-wing viewpoints, often tend to view democratic and materialist society as decadent and corrupt and governments as nothing more than huge lie machines. Furthermore they argue in their propaganda to potential recruits that the only way to escape the slide into societal breakdown is to set up pure elites of selected individuals who must prepare for the supposedly inevitable collapse of ‘the system’. In the meantime secret organisational strategies must be pursued in order to outwit the insidious arms of the State or the outside world, promot-ing a them-and-us mentality.

Indeed, as the century draws to a close there are now many examples of cross-fertilisation between a wide variety of cults and groups who all hold in common esoteric beliefs and conspiracy views about the nature of the modern world. In 1980 Roger Sandell reflected on ‘The World of Conspiracy Theories’ and pointed out that the conspiracy tradition has a long political history. (4) He located the origins of modern conspiracy theory in the 1790s when the fear of revolution, ignited by the French Revolution of 1789-92, had gripped ruling circles in Europe. Simplistic explanations arose about the forces behind revolutions: certain writers blamed the Freemasons or the Illuminati, or their paid agents, who were plotting the overthrow of Europe’s monarchies and of Christianity itself. Sandell records that by the mid-19th century it was the Jews – non-Christian, urban and recently liberated from civic restrictions – who came to be seen as the main enemy by the forces of reaction and clericism.


New forms of antisemitism were combined with older, more traditional anti-Jewish ideas in order to show that Jews were part of an evil secret society out to manipulate world events. One book, World Conquest by the Jews, published in 1875, argued that the most eminent leaders of the ‘Chosen Few’ deliberated on the most suitable means to ensure that Judaism spread from the North Pole to the South. (5) By the early 20th century these antisemitic themes found their strongest expression in works such as the notorious forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion (1905), which had originated from Czarist Russia and was taken up by numerous antisemitic groups in Europe. In Britain a group called ‘The Britons’, publishers of a journal called The Hidden Hand, cited the Protocols as evidence that Jews were out to undermine the nation. This was a period of anxiety about national identity and the supposed decline of society. Some people wanted easy explanations for these perceptions and the Jews were traditional scapegoats.

The English translation of the Protocols had been published in 1920, under the title The Jewish Peril and it received wide coverage through articles in The Times and the Spectator. During the summer of 1920 the Morning Post published a series of eighteen articles supporting the Judeo-Masonic theory and used the Protocols as evidence. Nesta Webster, one of the most infamous conspiracy theorists of the interwar period and whose books are still regularly reprinted by right-wing publishing houses today, remained noncommittal on the Protocols. (6) Nevertheless Webster still put forward a comprehensive conspiracy theory about world history. The Freemasons and Illuminati were supposedly still behind world events, often in alliance with Jews and `Reds’.

Although certain elements on the political left were also guilty of antisemitism (conflating it with anti-capitalism), it was the right who found most comfort in the conspiratorial outlook. Moreover it was the extreme right which subscribed particularly to the simplicities of viewing the events and problems of the world as mere products of manipulation by secret forces. Nesta Webster, for example, was a member of the `British Fascist’ (BF) during the 1920s, a party founded

 in 1923 by Rotha Lintom-Orman, the granddaughter of a Field-Marshall and an admirer of Mussolini’s fascist ‘revolution’ in Italy. Webster also briefly sat on the ‘Grand Council’ of the BF. As well as writing her own books for public consumption, which have since become classics of conspiracy theory, (7) she used her position on the BF to push her all-encompassing theories to other British fascists, reinforcing their siege-mentality about their position in society and future prospects of the nation.

In May 1926 she argued that in the event of a crisis, “or the continuance of slow disintegration”, Britain needed a group who would react against “the forces of destruction”. (8) She clearly had in mind the BF for this task. Its leadership consisted mainly of ex-military personnel who spent many hours training paramilitary street squads for the ‘inevitable’ clash between the forces of darkness and light which they were convinced would come one day. The constitutional government of the day was viewed as weak and corrupt, the democratic system being a front for lies and deception on a mass scale. The real centres of power in the world were Moscow and Wall Street.

There are a number of other examples of conspiracy thought on the extreme Right in Britain during the interwar years. Arnold Leese, leader of the Imperial Fascist League, held a highly detailed conviction that the world was under the control of Jews and Masons. He gave his outlook a pseudo-religious justification rooted in mysticism, irrationality and the racial pseudo-science of German Nazi anthropologists such as Hans F. K. Gunther. At one point Leese argued, “Freemasonry is simply the latest phase of organisation of the forces of Darkness against those of Light, of Evil against Good, in a fight which has been going on since the Jews first conceived of the idea of organising for world control”. (9)

Even as the Nazi death camps were being opened up in 1945, Leese was still convinced that the war had been a “Jewish war for survival”. He argued that the result was the “sheer destruction of the best part of Europe and its domination by Bolshevism”, whilst the British Empire, “nearly ruined and rotten to the core with Jews and Freemasonry” was sinking back into a “second-class power”. (10)

Conspiracy theory did not go away in the post-1945 period. The former Conservative MP Captain Archibald Ramsay, who had been imprisoned by the British Government in 1940, still very much subscribed to the theory that the world was subject to manipulation by shadowy forces. In The Nameless War (1952), Ramsay echoed Nests Webster’s theories on history by pointing to the machinations of the Illuminati, Grand Orient Masons, and `Cabalistic Jews’ (11). He hinted strongly that the conspiracy was ‘international’ in nature and consisted of an “unholy united front” between Jews and certain misguided Gentiles.

Webster, Leese and Ramsay are especially notable because their books and pamphlets have been ‘rediscovered’ in recent years and reprinted. Material by Leese and Ramsay, for example, has been widely distributed by the American ‘Sons of Liberty’ publications group in the 1980s and 90s. This group has also been instrumental in distributing conspiracy literature by more recent right-wing and militia writers. In fact, in the light of the mushrooming interest in wider popular culture in the belief that governments and secret groups are denying people ‘the truth’, the extreme right has done its utmost to cash in on this and infiltrate its own ideas into the maze of esoteric and conspiracy material that now exists. A short visit to the many SF shops that have appeared in Britain and America invariably finds such books in sections devoted to ufology and general conspiracy material. Many newsagents display SF, esoteric and UFO-related monthly titles which wittingly or unwittingly recycle and promote extreme right themes. An example is the Australian-based magazine Nexus which regularly contains articles on the secret networks that supposedly operate in the world and influence governments.

The high demand for such magazines is encouraged by the public’s appetite for historical mystery and fascination with anything ‘Nazi’ or esoteric. A highly competitive market in these magazines means the need of publishers for such material has become acute. The market has expanded with the development of cheap desktop technology, and almost inevitably one can find in this material examples of articles and ideas that have roots in the right-wing, conspiratorial outlook on the world briefly explored above, even though their authors would deny this. A good example is the work of David Icke. He has published articles in the New Age/UFO magazines and distributed his own books, which have appeared in a number of SF and ‘alternative’ bookshops in Britain and the USA. He has also spoken at conferences, including the 1994 Nexus magazine conference in Amsterdam.

When this controversial ex sports commentator and former Green activist conducted his own lecture tour of Britain, the media took a great deal of interest in the number of neo-fascists and other Right-wing individuals who attended his lectures (12). This was not mere sensationalism on the part of journalists and Icke’s squeals of protest at these revelations showed great naivety. Some of the dubious characters who attended the lectures obviously found much in Icke’s ideas that they could relate to. A short survey of his work can give strong clues as to why the extreme Right find it so attractive.

Icke is very much in the Nests Webster tradition of connpiratorial thought when it comes to explaining world events and, whether deliberate or not, he makes use of a number of ideas which have a long pedigree in the history of Right-wing conspiracy theory. To this he adds `technological’ material to give his work a pseudoscientific feel. The basis of his philosophy is that our thought-processes are ultimately controlled by an international network of Freemasons, Jesuits and secretive bankers. He points to subliminal messages transmitted by TV which create ‘mind controlled’ robots, and also to the influence of tiny micro-chips inserted into people. In The Robots’ Rebellion (1994) Icke presented a vision of the world where ‘the brotherhood Elite’ are employing `The System’ and the New World Order to manipulate education and the media in order to crush individual liberty and free thought. Not only was there mention of the ‘Illuminati Protocols’ and the influence of Masons, but also claims that secret technologies were deliberately being kept from the public by faceless companies and groups.

More disturbingly, there was uncritical use in the book of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. Icke claimed, “Almost everything these documents proposed to do has happened in this century” (13). Similarly in his later book, And the Truth Shall Set You Free (1995), Icke continued and developed his conspiratorial outlook further by identifying the `Secret Government’ at work in the world. There was a chapter on ‘The Hidden Hand’, and in a classic piece of historical revisionism lumped the World War II Allies together with the Nazis and argued that “the same forces funded and manipulated them both” (14). The same book also made use of the ever-growing material on the world-wide UFO ‘cover-up’, arguing that “extraterrestrials are at the heart of human history and the events that have shaped that history” (15).

Another example of a body of work which has gone down well with the extreme Right and echoes a number of their ideas is that of the American writer Jim Keith. His material is distributed by the Illuminet Press, which has specialised in bringing a variety of fringe material into the mainstream, including work by the US militias. His work has also been on sale through Nexus magazine. The best and most influential example of Keith’s work is Black Helicopters Over America (1994) which is on sale in large SF bookshops in London. Although more codified in its language, the basic theme behind the book is that there is a conspiracy being perpetrated by a plutocratic elite, backed by the Illuminati and operating through secret networks. The aim of this conspiracy is world domination through a New World Order and the domination of the United Nations. The ‘black helicopters’ are but one sign of this plan, which also involves the creation of a network of detention camps for any groups who might oppose this.

Keith delves back into history to describe the roots of this plan. At one point he argues, “In actual fact, the New World Order is simply the long term game plan of the Fabians and other communists, plans which were most clearly elucidated in Fabian H. G. Wells’ non-fiction books…” (16) The plan would also involve the creation of a ‘World Constitution’ with a world federation, “which would control everything, everywhere, anyhow, period.” (17) In the last chapter of the book all these strands are brought together for Keith to argue that it is evidence that a war will be initiated within the borders of the United States “against the American people by the power-hungry internationalists” (18). By the year 2000 the USA will be merged into a totalitarian and Socialist New World Order (19). In sum, Keith’s work claims that crisis is imminent and only organised resistance will suffice. The ghost of Nesta Webster lives on.

Finally it might be worth analysing Nexus magazine itself. In many ways Nexus has come to exemplify the strange conjunction of New Age, conspiracy and extreme Right thought. As well as promoting the ideas of the US Militia movement, giving space to Linda Thompson a key Militia spokesperson, Nexus has carried a variety of conspiratorial articles ranging from material on UFOs and secret technology through to investigations of the secret elites who operate in the world. Particular interest is shown in the banking elites, in ‘forbidden’ knowledge and in ‘Big Brother’ theories. Indeed, David Icke in Robots’ Rebellion called Nexus ‘excellent’ and the magazine has sought to provide a platform for a number of people with rather conspiratorial views of the world.

A good example came in January 1996. In an article on the Bilderberg Group, Armen Victorian speculated on whether the membership of this, selected from the ‘power elite’ of Europe and North America, are conspiring to establish a New World Order (20). A similar theme occurred in another issue from 1996. David G. Guyatt analysed the ‘Pinay Circle’ and noted its links to intelligence, the military, politics and banking. He argued that the group was perhaps “more sinister and certainly more shadowy than the Bilderbergers” (21). Interestingly Guyatt noted that his theories might be called ‘Conspiracy Theory’, but argued that this “rarely takes into account the underlying evidence” (22). In other words, he implied, critics of such material are not opening their eyes sufficiently. This kind of attitude runs right through Nexus, and the contributions it prints.

A typical issue of the magazine contains a column entitled ‘Global News’ which is often billed as news from ‘behind the news’, the clear implication being that the public will not find this kind of material anywhere else. All in all Nexus functions as a forum for a variety of theories, including highly conspiratorial and dubious material, and makes use of right-wing material which would normally be dismissed by mainstream publications. In one sense this is admirable and can probably be justified in the name of free speech. On the other hand we should be very aware that the authors of articles in Nexus have hidden agendas which are often rooted in the attempt to legitimise right-wing conspiratorial material and make it more acceptable in the wider culture. We should be constantly vigilant.

In conclusion this brief discussion has tried to demonstrate two things. Firstly that right-wing conspiracy ideas have a long historical tradition and are still present in popular culture today, seeking to capitalise on the current fascination with ufology and the esoteric. Secondly, that there has been a cross-fertilisation between more recent New Age obsessions and the idea held by the extreme right that the present world order is a place of hostility and threat for ‘freethinking’ individuals.


  1. On the growth of such groups see Martin Durham: `Preparing for Armageddon: Citizen Militias, the Patriotic Movement and the Oklahoma Bombing’, Terrorism and Political Violence, vol.8, no.1, 1996.Ibid. p.14.
  2. Robert S Robins and Jerrold M Post. Political Paranoia: Psychopolitics of Hatred. London, Yale University Press, 1997. p.209.
  3. US News and World Report, 21 December 1997.
  4. Roger Sandell, `The World of Conspiracy Theories’, Magonia 5, 1980.
  5. Norman Cohn. Warrant for Genocide: the myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1996. p.66.
  6. Ibid. p.1717
  7.  On Webster’s career, see Richard Gilman: Behind World Revolution, the Strange Career of Nesta H. Webster. Michigan, Insight Books, 1982.
  8. Nesta Webster. ‘Communism or Fascism’, Fascist Bulletin, 1 May 1926, p.1.
  9. Arnold Leese. Freemasonry, (1935) (Sons of Liberty edition, n.d.) p.5.
  10. Arnold Leese. The Jewish War of Survival (1945) (Sons of Liberty edition, n.d.) p.92.
  11. A. H. M. Ramsay, The Nameless War (1952) p.26.
  12. See, for instance, ‘Neo-Nazis Rally to “Son of Godhead”, Sunday Times, 9 July 1995.
  13. David Icke. Robots’ Rebellion. Bath, Gateway Books, 1994. p.138
  14. David Icke. And the Truth Shall Set You Free. London, Bridge of Love, 1995. p.147.
  15. Ibid. p.7
  16. Jim Keith. Black Helicopters over America; Strikeforce for the New World Order. Georgia, Illuminet Press, 1994. p.123.
  17. Ibid. p.124. 
  18. Ibid. p.145. 
  19. Ibid. p.148.
  20. Armen Victorian. ‘The Bilderberg Group; an Invisible Power House’, Nexus, vol.3, no.1, December 1995 – January 1996.
  21. David G. Guyatt. `The Pinay Circle; and Invisible Power Network’. Nexus, vol.3, no.5, August – September 1996.


MJ-12: Above Top Secret, Below Top Drawer. Dennis Stacy

From Magonia 28, January 1988

If Neil Kinnock can knock out an American Democratic presidential candidate thousands of miles away without so much as lifting a finger [1], perhaps it’s not too far afield for an American ufologist to comment on Timothy Good’s ‘Above Top Secret’.

In drama, the fatal flaw of a character is often the essential ingredient around which the whole tragic recipe revolves. In the documentary or non-fiction world, however, it is just as often the slam of the oven door that causes the whole soufflé to collapse. The latter seems to be the case with ATS, a prodigious project ultimately marred by reliance on US government ‘UF0′ documents of a considerably dubious nature.

The appearance here of the controversial Majestic Twelve, or MJ-12, material relating to a reputed super secret government UFO agency charged with unlocking the secrets of crashed and retrieved UFOs, along with their alien occupants, is doubly disappointing because it will inevitably detract from what in many regards is an otherwise impressive performance by Mr Good. If the MJ-12 documents in particular turn out to be a complete fabrication, as seems increasingly likely, the farrago will provide sceptics and professional debunkers alike with a new round of potent ammunition, aimed squarely at the ‘best’ that UFO proponents supposedly have to offer. What’s more, they will not even have to pull the trigger; that and the smoking gun will have been provided them by Good in England and Moore and company in America.

Battle lines in the USA have already been drawn. Oddly enough, the sceptics, e.g. Philip Klass, seem as content as the believers to dispute the validity of the material according to whether all the t’s have been crossed and i’s dotted. The result is similar to a recent mock trial held here in which a tribunal of Supreme Court judges argued over the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. In both instances the disputed documents exist. The question is whether they establish the existence of Shakespeare in one case, and UFOs in the possession of the American government in the other. The answers may be forever lost because of our inability in both instances to discover the process whereby the said documents were made public. In other words, where and from whom did the MJ-12 material originate?

Alas, none of our living sources are proving very helpful in the matter, which is not the same as saying they could be. Still, the mystery of how the MJ-12 papers came to be is getting largely overlooked in the race to establish secondary matters, whether they fulfil the form and content of similar documents from the same individuals and ‘agencies of the era in question, and so on. My purpose is to see if we can’t point scrutiny where it belongs, namely at the original source of the documents themselves.

But first, a brief background of ‘MJ-12′. The documents released by Good and William L. Moore (in association with Jamie Shandera, a Los Angeles TV producer, and ETH proponent Stanton Friedman), purport to be a briefing paper prepared by Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter (MJ-1) for president-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was succeeding Harry Truman in office. The cover page, dated ’18 November, 1952′ and headed ‘National Security Information’ was stamped ‘Top Secret/ Majic’ and ‘Eyes Only’. Page 2 characterized Operation Majestic-12 (Majic-12) as ‘a TOP SECRET Research and Development/ Intelligence operation responsible directly and only to the President of the United States’. Majic-12 had been established ‘by special classified executive order of President Truman on 24 September, 1947, upon recommendation by Dr Vannevar Bush and Secretary James Forrestal’. 

A list of all-male membership of Majic-12 followed, led off by Hillenkoetter, consisting of a veritable military and scientific Who’s Who of the day, including noted UFO debunker and Harvard astronomer Donald H. Menzel (shades of Cedric Allingham),

Generals Hoyt S. Vandenberg and Nathan F. Twining, Drs Detlev Bronk, Lloyd V. Berkner, Jerome Hunsaker and five others. On 22 May 1949, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal (‘MJ-3′) had committed suicide while in hospital (more fodder for paranoids), and had subsequently been replaced by General Walter B. Smith. Space prohibits a consideration of all their credentials (see Good, pages 250-252), but those of HiIlenkoetter, presumably the author of the MJ-12 documents, are particularly worth recounting. After a distinguished World War II career in Naval Intelligence, Truman appointed him Director of the new Central Intelligence Group, soon the CIA, on 1 May 1947, a post he held until 1950. More offices and awards followed. Hillenkoetter retired from the Navy in June 1957. In the same year he joined the Board of Governors of NICAP, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, which flourished during the 1950s as the largest civilian UFO group ever (membership at one point, 5000). The fact that the first director in CIA history would later help front a popular UFO group has been considered odd to say the least, and fuelled many a midnight conspiracy theory. A better ‘mole’ could hardly be imagined.


 Admiral Hillenkotter: a better ‘mole’ could hardly be imagined

The Majic ‘briefing’ itself seemingly substantiates the Roswell- incident reported in the book of the same name by WiIIiam L. Moore and ‘co-author’ Charles Berlitz:

‘On 07 July, 1947, a secret operation was begun to assure recovery of the wreckage of this object for scientific study. During the course of this operation, aerial reconnaissance discovered that four small human-like beings had apparently ejected from the craft at some point before it exploded. These had fallen to earth about two miles east of the wreckage site. All four were dead and badly decomposed due to action by predators and exposure to the elements during the approximately one week time period which had elapsed before their discovery.’

The paper also says that:

‘On 06 December, 1950, a second object, probably of similar origin, impacted the earth at high speed in the El Indio-Guerrero area of the Texas-Mexican border after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere. By the time a search team arrived, what remained of the object had been almost totally incinerated.’

The final page of the briefing was a table of contents listing eight attachments, ‘A’ to ‘H’, composed of Truman’s original executive order establishing Majic-12, three status reports, a Preliminary Analytical Report’, ‘Blue Team Report #5′, ‘Contingency, Plan MJ 1949-04P/78: 31 JAN 49′, and ‘Maps and Photographic Folio (Extractions)’. Of the eight attachments referred to, only ‘A’, Truman’s executive order addressed to the late Secretary of Defense, was included with the MJ-12 documents released to the public.

And that is Majic in a nutshell, more than enough to establish the validity of flying saucers from space, alien occupants, crash/retrievals, government cover-up and all the other UFO accoutrements of the last four decades, enough in fact to put ufology out of business forever. All that remained was to convince America’s investigative journalists of the reality of the MJ-12 briefing papers; they in turn would alert the general public and responsible politicians, if such creatures there be, and before Philip Klass could say ‘Bah! Humbug!’ the truth with a capital T would be out, finally!

As events have evolved, however, none of us is out of a job, save Steuart Campbell, who’s already provided his own solution to the UFO phenomenon anyway. The question remains: Whence the documents? As you might have guessed by now, none of the above-mentioned papers have surfaced in the Truman or Eisenhower Presidential Libraries, or the National Archives in Washington. Klass’s counter-arguments have centred on misplaced commas, anachronistic terminology and similar printed peccadilloes as proof of falsification. Moore et al. have retorted by resorting to negative proofs, since they can’t prove the authenticity of the papers themselves. This involves mainly turning up similar gaffes in other papers of the times. What objective evidence has surfaced is itself suspect, which we will get to in a moment.

Again, whence the documents? After devoting over 400 pages of text to a secondary matter (if, after all, Majic is real), Mr Good is strangely reticent on the MJ-12 papers themselves, which appear to have been added to ATS at the last moment. On pace 250 MJ-12 itself is referred to only – as ‘information acquired from an intelligence source in 1985…’ His description of the subsequently surfacing MJ-12 papers is apparently in error here, as he refers to ‘a nine-page document dated 18 September 1947… signed by Truman’. As we have seen, the briefing paper itself was dated November 1952; only the executive order supposedly signed by Truman (‘Attachment A’) dated from September and even then Good has his dates mixed up; the actual copy reproduced in ATS (page 547) carries a date of September 24.

Two pages later Good notes: ‘My enquiries into the authenticity of the Majestic 12 document during a research trip to the United States in 1986 have led me to believe that the group did indeed exist, and the document seems authentic enough. Unfortunately, all the members are now deceased, and my questions addressed to a former director of the CIA, as well as two ex-Presidents, remain unanswered’, which is hardly surprising. Elsewhere, MJ-12 is routinely referenced as an established bona fide fact by Good, with nary a glance over his shoulder. Back on page 250 and again on page 540, Good says copies of the actual documents were only made available to him in 1987. Then how did he enquire into the authenticity of the ‘Majestic 12 document’ during his 1986 research trip to the United States? The only answer is that he was enquiring into a chimera of MJ-12 initially, i.e. word of the agency’s existence from an unnamed source.

William Moore, who first released the same MJ-12 documents to the press in the States, has more to say about their origins, but not much. In his own press release, dated 29 May 1987, Moore writes that ‘the accompanying document arrived in the mail in a plain brown wrapper at the residence of Jaime Shandera in December, 1984′. (‘Plain brown wrapper’ in this country is a standard, stand-up comic reference to X-rated, or adult, material. Does this make MJ-12 the first confirmed example of UFO pornography?) Good gives us no clue as to the form in which he first received his MJ-12 material; Moore tells us it came to Shandera as a roll of undeveloped film, a surprising medium that (cleverly?) leaves a lot to be desired in terms of effectively establishing the authenticity of its contents.

Shandera. it should be pointed out, was hardly a household name in American ufology until Moore’s press release and his subsequent visibility at the MUFON symposium held at the American University in Washington. DC. in June 1987. Moore’s turgid press announcement says only that in 1982, after he ‘had worked more than a year and a half on his own, the three (Moore. Shandera and Friedman) teamed up on a research project that would take them further into the strange world of government involvement with Unidentified Flying Objects than anyone in the civilian field is known to have ever gone before’.

Moore and Friedman are both well-known UFO investigators, frequently before the public at large. It remains a minor mystery. then, why the unexposed roll of film with the MJ-12 document and Attachment A. – apparently exactly the same material that Good received (in person?) an ocean away – was mailed to Shandera. Issues and origins were further complicated when Moore et al, presumably truing to flush out information by a sort of time-release capsule approach, mailed out various copies of the MJ-12 paper with their own simulated blackouts! Did Good receive one of these ‘censored’ copies via Moore or an intermediary? Since our UFO sleuths have fouled the well from which we all drink we may never be able to straighten this one out unless the document is confirmed by a wholly independent third source. At this point it is almost superfluous to compare Good’s version with Moore’s, unless the principals are willing to provide a more accurate and detailed chronology of Majic events.

As if things were not complicated enough as it is, in printed comments on Above Top Secret (ATS) Jenny Randles refers (Northern UFO News No.126. July-August 1987, page 3) cryptically to having been approached ‘by someone offering similar (but actually more extensive) files’, while she was compiling the recent exclamation mark-filled ‘The UFO Conspiracy but ‘concerned.., that it might be a “set up” [she] kept it out of the book, however dramatic it was’.

Meanwhile the ‘objective’ evidence mentioned earlier floated to the surface, from no less an authoritative source than America’s own office of National Archives. Moore had learned that the NA was scheduling a periodic release of files to the public from the period in question and asked to be notified when a date was confirmed. Reportedly, he and Shandera were there on ‘opening day’. After searching through file folders containing more than 1800 documents, nature called. While Moore was in the loo (presumably they took shifts), Shandera found a single page of paper, admittedly unrelated to anything else in the folder, that has since become known as ‘the Cutler memorandum’, after its ‘author’, Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President (Eisenhower).

Dated 14 July 1954, it is addressed to General Nathan Twining (‘MJ-4′) and headed ‘TOP SECRET RESTRICTED/SECURITY INFORMATION’ and ‘SUBJECT: NSC/MJ-12 Special Studies Project’. NSC refers to National Security Council, the selfsame group of inner-circle presidential advisers that would later embarrass Ronald Reagan. The text of the one-paragraph letter says essentially that ‘the President has decide that the MJ-12 SSP briefing should take place during the already scheduled White House meeting of July 16, rather than following it as previously intended’. The memorandum is seemingly authenticated by an official NA stamp in the lower left corner. Even if the Cutler memorandum is real as found, it still does not establish the indisputable validity of Majic as a top secret UFO committee, only that a Special Studies Project MJ-12 did indeed exist. From the memorandum itself. MJ-12 could just as easily have concerned the H-bomb or any other ‘mundane’ subject.

As with the preceding papers, however, arguments as to its validity have focused primarily on wording, watermarks, type-style, print colour and similar minutiae of holographic science. Klass found that Cutler was on a tour of European military bases during the disputed time period when he was supposed to have signed the memorandum. Moore counters that his assistants were left in charge, per normal operating procedure, with orders to clear his ‘out’ basket; signing Cutler’s name to the document in question in no way invalidates its authenticity, and so on, one side scoring a minor point, the other retaliating with an equally minor victory.

As a result of ongoing publicity, so many Freedom of Information Act requests regarding MJ-12 have poured into the Archives that the agency felt compelled to issue an unprecedented report on the subject, denying, of course, any knowledge of same, or the possession of any additional documents.

Meanwhile. the origins of the MJ-12 material slip slowly into the obscurity of history. While the hounds give hunt in one direction, the fox is back in the manor, tumbling the master’s mistress in his own bed. Let the holographic chase proceed apace. But in parallel let’s have a detailed and chronological account of the documents’ origins from the principals involved in making them public.

At the moment the audience is concentrating on the performance itself. But behind every Majic act of note lies a master magician. 

 [1] From Wikipedia: “In September 1987, the [Presiential] campaign ran into trouble when he was accused of plagiarising  a speech by  Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party Kinnock’s speech included the lines: “Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?”

While Biden’s speech included the lines: “I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?”

Deep Secrets: Reviewing the Conspiracy Literature. Peter Rogerson

From Magonia 60, August 1997

Shortly before his untimely death our colleague Roger Sandell had planned to write a major article on the growing influence of conspiracy theories and fusion paranoia. If anything, since his death conspiracy theories have come in even further from their ancient home on the wilder shores of politics, into the cultural mainstream. They form the core of such cult television series as The X-Files and Dark Skies, to say nothing of the numerous commercial spin-offs. Recent issues of both Fortean Times and Big Issue, the magazine sold by the homeless, have featured articles ‘proving’ that the Apollo moon landings were faked. 

Peter Rogerson looks at some recent books that point to disturbing trends below this recent wave of interest.   

While I am not in a position to write that major article that Roger would have done, I am taking the opportunity of commenting on a series of books about conspiracy theories and related topics which have recently been published or reissued. Vankin’s is a reissue with a new introduction and comprises a general review of the topic. The compilation edited by Thomas consists of reprints from back issues of the conspiracy-oriented magazine Steamshovel Press. Lamy’s and Parfrey’s are analyses of the cultural and political milieu in which conspiracy theories flourish; Cohn’s is a long-awaited reprint of his critique of one particularly malignant conspiracy theory, and the rest present individual theories. 

Vankin’s subtitle, ‘From Dallas to Oklahoma’, points to the American origin of most contemporary conspiracy theories. While there is a long tradition in American politics of what the historian Richard Hofstander calls ‘the paranoid style’, it was the Kennedy assassination which in the mid-twentieth century brought conspiracy theories out from the fringes of the radical right. While some of these theories clearly involved ‘realistic’ notions of actions by small groups of political malcontents, many showed the classic hallmarks of Manichean conspiracy theories. A contributor to Popular Alienation sums these up well: 

“The need at the root of all conspiracy questing is to find the root of human pain and suffering… which is held to flow out of some central fountain running in rivulets throughout the world. In most conspiracy theories evil is seen as a metaphysical absolute, almost a substance which can poison life through viral contamination”. 

I would summarise the essence of such Manichean theories as the belief that ‘history as we know it is a lie’ (as the opening titles to Dark Skies puts it), a delusion imposed upon us by a malevolent ‘other’. The real history is very different: there is nothing random in history, all is controlled by ‘them’, and all the pain and suffering in the world is caused by the terrible others, who are the incarnation of cosmic evil. They are simultaneously subhuman and superhuman, possessed of preternatural powers and largely undefeatable. The conspiracy theorist is an illuminous, who can penetrate the maze of deception and see ‘them’ for what they are. The theorist is a soldier in the army of the righteous, filled with what Lamy calls millennial rage. 

This line of thought can be seen in the writings of many who present the Kennedy assassination in essentially religious terms; as an American crucifixion, the slaying of the civic saviour by the incarnate forces of evil who have since usurped the land. The powers of the slayers is immense. They can fix all the evidence – the Zapruder film, the body, the autopsy reports – and wipe away all traces of their own guilt because they control everything. 

Their identity varies according to time and place: witches, Christians, Moslems, Jews, communists, capitalists, liberals, humanists, Catholics, Freemasons, homosexuals, scientists, child-abusers, illuminati, Grays, Nazis, multinationals. Sometimes they are protean creatures merging elements, and flowing into each other: Jewish-communist Freemasons, American bankers in the Vatican. 

This protean nature extends to the conspiracies themselves. Kerry Thornley served with Lee Harvey Oswald in the Marines and wrote a novel in which the central character was based on Oswald before the assassination. He now claims that both he and Oswald were the products of a Nazi breeding experiment, and that he has been bugged by an implant since birth allowing strangers to know of his sexual experiences. Thus the Kennedy assassination merges with stories of mind control and abuse. Another veteran figure on the fringes of the assassination field, Mae Brussel, daughter of celebrity rabbi Edgar Maggin, shortly before her death in 1988, began to link the Kennedy assassination to an international Nazi-Satanist conspiracy associated with CIA mind control. This point of view is shared by an anonymous Popular Alienation contributor who alleged that the false memory hypothesis was being promoted by the CIA to hide their mind control experiments. 

Mind control and child abuse form the central allegations of TransFormation of America, in which the former wife of a country music entertainer claims to have been sold into CIA slavery by her paedophile father, and been the sexual plaything of several US presidents, the mistress of a senator, and abused by several foreign leaders, whilst also acting as a CIA courier. This collection of allegations is known as Project Monarch, and no doubt we will be hearing more of it. Mind Control is fast becoming central to conspiracy theories, and Jim Keith mentions the rumours surrounding Timothy McVey. The point being emphasised here is that people do bad things because ‘they’ make them do it. This concept forms a sort of secular possession, with Nazi-Satanists and so forth replacing the devils and demons of former centuries. 

There are other trends, and Vankin and Popular Alienation have them to meet all tastes. Vankin notes, for example, William Bromley, who has linked conspiracy theories with ancient astronaut speculation. There is the ubiquitous Lyndon La Rouche who lies at the heart of about half the conspiracy theories going and who has a particular fixation with the wicked British, who are the heirs to a conspiracy launched by a group of renegade Templars led by Robert the Bruce! Then there are the Collier brothers who believe that the press agency joint election reporting service in the USA just makes up the figures. 

The volume of Popular Alienation I have reviewed is a re-print of the bulk of the contents of issues 4 to 11 of the journal Steamshovel Press, along with a selection of extra material. This magazine was originally started by people who saw themselves as part of the Beat Generation, disciples of Alan Ginsberg and William Burroughs. It is now a strangely eclectic conspiracy source and I can give no better description of its contents than by quoting from the rear blurb: 

“Abbie Hofman’s death seen as an assassination; the role of President Nixon and George Bush in the death of JFK; Black Holes and the Trilateral Commission… Danny Casolaro and the INSLAW octopus; Mothman, Roswell, Area 51; Bill Clinton and Carol Quigley; the Gemstone File [which claimed that Aristotle Onassis was responsible for the JFK assassination, amongst other things]; anti-gravity; Ezra Pound; Holocaust revisionism; Bob Dylan and mind control…” 

Well, you get the picture. Some of this stuff is possibly true, some of it quite loopy, and quite a lot of it rather sinister. Increasingly those conspiracy theories which used to have a more or less left-wing perspective have become dominated by the agendas of the groups associated with the American freelance militias, which in turn reflect the mixture of macho armed anarchism, anti-feminism and racism associated with the nineteenth century anarchist Proudhon, with a dash of Christian fundamentalism thrown in. 

The conspiracy theories are part of the apocalyptic tradition, they are the signs indicating that the Enemy is on the verge of total victory and only the ‘Saving Remnant’ can stand against it

The general theme of these theories is that the free people of the United States are about to be sold out to UN dominated slavery in the ‘New World Order (an infelicitous phrase used by George Bush, meant to refer to the Pax Americana, but given quite a new meaning by conspiracy theorists). Behind this plot is a mysterious conspiracy, usually referred to as the Illiminati. The original Illuminati were a small, pseudo-Masonic group set up in eighteenth-century Bavaria, dedicated to radical Enlightenment views; a sort of vague populism mixed with sexual liberation. They entered into American politics when they were used as a code word for the Federalist to attack Thomas Jefferson, and others thought to be too friendly towards the French Revolution. Today the term seems to be used as little more than a synonym for any sort of vague elite, or, more sinisterly, as a code word for Jews. 

Jim Keith began his conspiratorial career promoting the Gemstone Files, but has now become a major spokesman for the militias. Black Helicopters over America is a remarkable example of political paranoia. It starts with UFO-like sightings of mysterious black helicopters which first entered the American consciousness in 1973 at the time of the cattle mutilations panic. They have since become a part of UFO lore, and feature as a mysterious, brooding, spying presence in the experiences of abductees like Debbie Jordan and Katarina Wilson. From the late 1980s the helicopters became politicised, as the carriers of the shock troops of the UN invasion; another old fantasy which began in the fevered imaginations of 1960s segregationists who assured their audiences that the UN troops would be Congolese. [For further discussion of the significance and power of the image of the helicopter, see 'The Curious Connection Between Helicopters and UFOs', by Dennis Stilling, in Magonia 25, March 1987] 

Both Keith and Grant Jeffrey display one of the classic signs of paranoia: the inability to accept any kind of evidence which would contradict their views. Both see the UN as being dominated by the communists, rhetoric from the Red-baiting years which has surely been overtaken by events. Probably Cuba is the only country left in the world with a believing communist government, the Confucian regimes of China, Vietnam and Laos merely use communism as a nostalgic slogan. Keith and Jeffrey’s answer to that is that the Reds have not been defeated, they are simply playing possum and just waiting to pounce. The death of devils is surely as hard as the death of gods. (Gordon Creighton’s Flying Saucer Review promotes a similar theory in Britain.) 

For Jeffery the ‘Evil Empire’ is not just a secular enemy, but the very domain of the Antichrist, and he has plenty of Biblical passages – all torn out of context – to prove his point. Like most apocalyptic Biblical interpreters he is unable to grasp the fact that Biblical writers were writing about the events and concerns of their own time, and not some inconceivably remote future. The apocalypticism typified by Grant Jeffrey, born from the imagination of Hal Lindsey and others of that ilk, crops up everywhere. Near-death experience prophet Dannion Brinkley had visions of the Antichrist inaugurating the New World Order, although fundamentalist surgeon Maurice Rawlings sees the NDE itself as part of Satan’s wily attempts to lore us into the New World Order. 

This is the sort of atmosphere in which the militias and survivalist move. Philip Lamy describes their world view as ‘Millennium Rage’, the notion as summarised by Keith in Black Helicopters.., and OK Bomb, that the evil Clinton is about to inaugurate the reign of terror, and all that stands against him are “Conservative pro-Constitutionalists, Christian religious fundamentalists, the second American militia movement…” etc. Lamy, in his important book, argues that these images appeal primarily to those whose lives have been upturned or threatened by social change. 

The conspiracy theories are part of the apocalyptic tradition. They are the end signs, indicating that the enemy is on the verge of total victory and only the ‘saving remnant’ can stand against it. This siege mentality clearly links groups such as the Branch Davidians with the wider militia and radical right community. The survivalists studied by Lamy saw themselves as the remnant in the wilderness. There is an eagerness for a catastrophe which would cleanse the world: a great simplification, the kind of purification extolled in the disaster movies, in which the wicked are thrown down and the righteous exalted in some suburban apocalypse. Lamy places the contemporary apocalyptic tradition in the context of the millennialist currents in American history. This encompassed a range of historical precedents from the benign, meliorative visions of those who saw the American republic itself as a new beginning; the lore of the wilderness (surely a factor in survivalism); the millennialist movements of the Native Americans, such as the Ghost Dance; up to its reappearance in such forms as the Unabomber manifesto and the X-Files.

This brings us back to the visions which I reviewed in ‘Blood, Vision and Brimstone’ (Magonia 53, August 1995), and testifies to the real social power of the rejected folk culture of the ‘New Age’, which, like the term New World Order, itself has clear millennialist overtones. Whether the likes of John Mack or Kenneth Ring might ever be the focus of a millennialist cult such as that of Herb Applewhite, we shall just have to wait and see. 

The Oklahoma bomb was a product of this culture. Jim Keith in OKBomb reviews the rumours surrounding it. Much of the time he raises what seem like sensible points, but eventually falls into paranoid traps. For conspiracy theorists the notion of terrorists from their own tradition is unthinkable, and alternatives were suggested ranging from the claim of one militia leader that it was the work of the Japanese acting in revenge for the Tokyo subway gassing which itself was the work of the CIA. Others suggested it was a government act of provocation, a sort of modern Reichstag fire which could trigger the great UN crackdown; or our old friend mind control, as outlined by Mark Pilkington in Magonia 58. In passing, it has to be pointed out that while in some sense minds are being controlled all the time – by parents, schools, public authority, the media, etc. – there is no evidence of the sort of superhuman mind control as envisaged by conspiracy theorists ever having been, or possibly being, successful. 

If I were to speculate on the motives of the Oklahoma bombers it would be to suggest a compound of propaganda by the deed, and an act of provocation with the intent of trying to provoke the authorities into some ill-judged overreaction and act of repression which would confirm their views and radicalise their followers. 

The post-Oklahoma scene is also discussed in Adam Parfrey’s collection of writings. Although not endorsing the militias, he concludes they have been made the subject of a great deal of hysteria, and that they are no match for the powers of the corporate state. Here he echoes the views of some commentators on Waco: with the old Red Empire gone the American state needs new enemies against which to define itself; whereas for many groups of citizens the state itself has become the enemy. 

The line between tragedy and farce is very fine, and one of the most surreal images in Cult Rapture must be the meeting between the survivalist, ‘identity-Christian’ (and what that means is the subject of a future review) and Presidential candidate for the far-right Populist Party, James ‘Bob’ Gritz (the model for Rambo), and a little old lady in tennis shoes who channels an alarming, nine-foot tall fascist reptilian called Hartoon. Rambo meets Reptilian. Strange days indeed! 

Behind much of today’s conspiracy theories lies the old Big Lie of antisemitism, symbolised by that notorious fraud, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It is a sad thought that when Norman Cohn’s masterful tracings of its origins, and the strange Russian rightists who manufactured it by plagiarising Joly’s Dialogues in Hell, was first published thirty years ago, it was a dissection of a long dead literary corpse. This new edition must be seen more as a stake to be driven through the heart of a newly risen vampire, which I have seen on the shelves of the New Age section of Manchester’s Waterstones’, its nakedness hidden by the covers of Behold a Pale Horse or hiding in the work of David Icke. 

The necromancers who have disinterred this foul thing are behind many of today’s conspiracy theories, using them as bait to trawl the youngsters who follow The X-Files and the like. Conspiracy theories throw a film of confusion over history, about which many people are not terribly informed anyway. If you can persuade people that Marilyn Monroe was murdered by the CIA, or if you can persuade them that the Apollo astronauts never really landed on the Moon, then perhaps you can persuade them that there was no Holocaust, and that maybe Adolph Hitler wasn’t as bad as they say after all. 

By working their way into the fears and prejudices of people whose minds have already been prepared by a diet of conspiracy theories, these hate-mongers are likely to find a more rewarding way of spreading their ideas than trawling a few thuggish football fans. We must not let them.

 Books reviewed in text:


Click on the cover images to buy the books from Amazon 

  • Jonathan Vankin, Conspiracies, Cover-up and Crimes from Dallas to Waco. Illuminet Press, 1996.
  • Kenn Thomas (Ed.) Popular Alienation; a Steamshovel Press Reader. Illuminet Press, 1995.
  • Philip Lamy. Millennium Rage; Survivalists, White Supremacists and the Doomsday prophecy. Plenum Press, 1996.
  • Jim Keith. OKBomb; Conspiracy and Coverup. Illuminet Press, 1996.
  • Adam Parfrey. Cult Rapture. Feral House, 1995.
  • Norman Cohn. Warrant for Genocide; the Myth of the Jewish world conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Serif, new ed.,1996.
  • Jim Keith. Black Helicopters over America; Strike Force for the New World Order. Illuminet Press, 1996.
  • Grant R. Jeffrey. Prince of Darkness; Antichrist and the New World Order. Bantam, 1995.
  • Cathy O’Brien and Mark Phillips. TranceFormation of America. Reality Marketing Inc., 1995.