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.
Once 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.
Without 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.