Nazi beliefs on Atlantis and how former Nazis contributed to the ancient aliens theory.
The genesis of the ancient aliens theory can be traced to the medium Helena Blatavsky (1831-1891), founder of Theosophy, who wrote in her book The Secret Doctrine (1888) that spirit beings from Venus had come to Earth in the distant past. (Jason Colavito (editor), Theosophy on Ancient Astronauts, JasonColavito.com, Albany, New York, 2012, p x-xi)
Blatavsky also claimed that humans had evolved through several “root races”. These included the Hyperboreans who did not have physical bodies and lived near the North Pole, the Lemurians who lived on Lemuria in the Pacific which sank after they practised race-mixing and the Atlanteans in the Atlantic. After Atlantis sank, the survivors emigrated to the Himalayas where they founded Shambhala. They were followed by the Aryans.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there was a revival of interest in the occult in Germany and Austria. In Hitler’s Monsters, Eric Kurlander writes,
“From cosmopolitan Berlin to Catholic Munich, from Saxony to Schleswig-Holstein thousands of Germans flooded to seances, astrologers, tarot readers, parapsychological experiments, occult bookstores and even esoteric schools and university courses.
The occult revival was not confined to Germany, of course. We have ample evidence of similar trends in France, Great Britain and the United States. But the sheer size and diversity of the occult marketplace in Germany and Austria suggests that it tapped into a mass consumer culture that was unique in depth and breadth when compared to other countries. Berlin and Munich alone were home to thousands of spiritualists, mediums and astrologers who appealed to tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of consumers.” (Eric Kurlander, Hitler’s Monsters, A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2017, p 14)
A lot of nonsense has been written about the supposed influence of the occult on Hitler and the Nazis. There was some influence, but not as much as the more sensationalist books on the subject claim.
A more “Aryanized” version of Theosophy developed in Germany and Austria, known as Ariosophy. They believed the Aryans had lived on Thule or Atlantis in the North Atlantic. Its capital was Hyperborea. After Thule/Atlantis sank, its survivors escaped to the Himalayas (Hitler’s Monsters, p 16)
Hitler appears to have read the Ariosophist journal Ostraa before World War I. It contained many later Nazi themes, such as the importance of Nordic blood, the significance of the swastika and the evils of Jews, race-mixing, socialism and liberalism (Hitler’s Monsters, p 3-4).
However, Heinrich Himmler was the true believer. Peter Longerich writes,
“Central to Himmler’s vision of the world was the restoration of a de-Christianized, Germanic environment, which with the help of myths of Atlantis and Tibet was to be linked to long-lost examples of sophisticated cultures and via the Cosmic Ice Theory/ astrology/astronomy to the history of the cosmos.” (Peter Longerich, Heinrich Himmler, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012, p 285)
“Himmler was also attracted by the myth of Tibet – the idea that was widespread in a variety of versions, that in the mountains of Tibet an advanced civilization had once existed, possibly the product of an original advanced race that had sought refuge there from a global catastrophe. In Himmler’s view it was clear that the civilization in question must have been connected to the legend of ‘Atlantis’, and the stranded ruling class of Atlantis had spread out from there to Europe and East Asia. The connection that Tibet was the ‘cradle of humanity’ accounts for Himmler’s speculations about the common roots of European (in particular Germanic), Asian and other elites.” (Heinrich Himmler, p 281)
In 1935 Himmler founded German Ancestral Heritage (Deutsches Ahnenerbe) to research Nazi theories about the prehistory of the Aryans.
After the war SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Ernst Schafer was interrogated by the Allies who wrote that he said, “Himmler mentioned his belief that the Nordic race did not evolve, but came directly down from heaven to settle on the Atlantic continent.” (Heather Pringle, The Master Plan, Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust, Hyperion, New York, 2006, p 150)
This sounds like the ancient aliens theory.
During 1938-39 Schafer led an SS sponsored expedition to Tibet looking for evidence to support Nazi theories about the origin of the Aryans. (Christopher Hale, Himmler’s Crusade, John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey, 2003)
Himmler found support for his belief in a northern Atlantis in the Oera Linda Book or Ura Linda Book. This supposedly ancient chronicle first appeared in 1867. It claimed that Atland or Atlantis had been in the North Sea and had sunk in 2194 BC. The survivors went on to found other civilizations. Even though the Oera Linda Book has been dismissed as a modern forgery, it has been called “Himmler’s Bible”.
During the 1970s there was a renewed interest in the Oera Linda Book when Robert Scrutton relied on it for his books The Other Atlantis (1977) and The Secrets of Lost Atland (1979).
Both Hitler and Himmler believed in the world ice theory which was developed by Hanns Horbirger (1860-1931) after he had a dream. This was the theory that the universe consisted largely of ice and Earth once had several moons. When one of them crashed, it caused the sinking of Atlantis and the survivors escaped to South America (Hitler’s Monsters, p 150-152).
One supporter of the world ice theory was SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Edmund Kiss (1886-1960). In 1928 Kiss travelled to Bolivia and worked with an Austrian-born amateur archaeologist Arthur Posnansky who believed that the local Aymara people did not build Tiahuanaco.
Christopher Hale writes,
“Although Tiwanaku is less than two thousand years old, Kiss and Posnansky proposed on the basis of some flimsy astronomical calculations that it was a South American Atlantis built by an elite refugee race, abandoned fifteen years ago after calamitous volcanic eruptions and floods.” (Himmler’s Crusade, p 119)
When Kiss returned to Germany, he wrote several novels about the world ice theory and the Nordic survivors of Atlantis in South America. Himmler liked them (Himmler’s Crusade, p 120).
There were plans for Kiss to lead an SS expedition to Bolivia, but it was cancelled when World War II broke out.
Another proponent of the world ice theory was Obersturmbannfuhrer Rudolf von Elmayer-Vestengrugg whom Eric Kurlander describes as “rabidly anti-Semitic and [an] SA leader” who believed the Aryans had founded Atlantis (Himmler’s Monsters, p 153). According to Atlantipedia, after the war he used the pseudonym Hans Schindler Bellamy and wrote on Atlantis, Tiahuanaco, the world ice theory and spoke at the 1975 World Congress of the Ancient Astronauts Society in Zürich. He co-authored two books on Tiahuanaco, including The Great Idol of Tiahuanaco which Erich von Daniken cites favourably in Chariot of the Gods? (Erich von Daniken, Chariots of the Gods?, Corgi, London, 1971, p 34-35)
One of the early proponents of the ancient aliens theory was Robert Charroux. In his 1973 book The Mysterious Past he repeated the Ariosophist belief that Atlantis was Thule in the North Atlantic, its capital was Hyperborea and its inhabitants were Nordic-looking (Robert Charroux, The Mysterious Past, Berkley, New York, 1975, p 25-26)
Robert Charroux was a pseudonym for Robert Jospeh Grugeau (1909-1978). Grugeau was Minister for Cultural Affairs in the Nazi puppet state, Vichy France (Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun, Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, New York University Press, New York, 2002, p 117).
The most famous ancient aliens book was Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken. In The Space Gods Revealed Ronald Story writes about the publishing of Chariots of the Gods?,
“The manuscript was accepted by Econ-Verlag in early 1967. The publisher hired Wilhelm Roggersdorf, a screen writer and film producer who knew the public’s tastes to edit it. The work as published is said to have been extensively rewritten by Roggersdorf.” (Ronald Story, The Space Gods Revealed, New English Library, London, 1978, p 18)
Wilhelm Roggersdorf was a pseudonym for Wilhelm Utermann (1912-1991). Tom DeLonge and Peter Levenda write,
“Erich von Daniken’s editor on Chariots of the Gods? was Wilhelm Utermann, a well-known Nazi author and editor who published dozens of Nazi-themed publications during World War II under the NSDAP imprimatur and worked on the staff of the Volkischer Beobachter: the official Nazi newspaper,” (Tom DeLonge and Peter Levanda, Sekret Machines, Gods, Man and War, Volume One: Gods, To the Stars, Inc., California, 2016, p 228)
In other words, it looks like the most influential ancient aliens book was largely written by a former Nazi.
Hermann Oberth (1894-1989), the father of modern rocket science, worked on the Nazi rocket program at Peenemunde and later at NASA. According to Eric Kurlander, Oberth was “esoterically inclined” and “fascinated by parapsychology and ‘Thulean occultism’ ” (Hitler’s Monsters, p 267). After the war Oberth wrote articles about UFOs for Flying Saucer Review and Fate Magazine.
In the 1970 documentary Chariots of the Gods? Oberth endorsed the ancient aliens theory, saying, “I believe that it is possible for unknown foreign beings of a superior intelligence to have visited our planet at a remote point in time.” ( 4 min)
Another Peenemunde scientist was Otto Muck (1892-1956). In 1954 Muck published The Secret of Atlantis arguing that Atlantis was destroyed by an asteroid in 8500 BC.
(The Peenemunde scientists were not necessarily hard-core Nazis, but if you were in London with the V-1 and V-2 crashing down on you, I doubt you would have appreciated the distinction.)
Josef Blumrich was the author of the book The Spaceships of Ezekiel which argued that the prophet Ezekiel saw a UFO which I have addressed here. According to The Spaceships of Ezekiel Blumrich was born in Austria in 1913. He worked on the design of the Messerschmitt 110 and other planes for Gothaer Waggonfabrik between 1934 and 1944 and served in the German army in 1944 and 1945. In 1959 he emigrated to the USA and worked for NASA.
Frank Joseph is arguably the most prolific author of books on Atlantis. He was also the editor of Ancient American magazine.
Frank Joseph’s real name is Frank Collins. He was a member of the National Socialist White People’s Party in the 1960s. After he was accused of having a Jewish father, he broke away and founded the National Socialist Party of America in 1970.
In 1979 Collins was convicted of child molestation and spent three years in prison.
Posnansky’s theory about the dating of Tiahuanaco was also cited in Atlantis: The Lost Continent by Charles Berlitz (Charles Berlitz, Atlantis: The Lost Continent, Macmillan, London, 1984, p 66, 150, 17, in Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock (Graham Hancock, Fingerprints of the Gods, Arrow Books, London, 1998, p 69, 82-92) and in the Ancient Aliens episode “The Mysteries of Puma Punku”. There is no mention of Posnansky’s Nazi associate.
In Himmler’s Crusade Christopher Hale observes the parallel between Himmler’s beliefs and the theories of Graham Hancock,
“A new development came in the 1990s. There was a popular upsurge in what came to be called ‘alternative history’, and books like Fingerprints of the Gods revived a fascination with ancient lost civilizations. No one is talking about Aryans, of course, but the idea remains the same. Long ago, at the end of the last ice age, there existed a superior godlike people. Their destruction by flood led to the scattering of their culture across the globe and the seeding of the great civilizations from the Nile Valley to the Andes.” (Himmler’s Crusade, p 380)
No one is suggesting that Graham Hancock or people who watch Ancient Aliens are Nazis. Back in the 1970s I used to read a lot of books on Atlantis. It never occurred to me there was anything racist or supremacist about the idea of white survivors of Atlantis bringing civilization to South America and elsewhere. It was just interesting and entertaining. It did not turn me into a Nazi. The Nazis did not invent the Atlantis or ancient aliens theories, but some Nazis and those who worked with them have been responsible for propagating them.
See also my follow-up post Hans Bellamy and the Nazi Influence on Atlantis and Ancient Aliens