The Maria Orsic Hoax

The truth about Maria Orsic, the Vril Society and ancient aliens from Aldebaran.

While I was researching the connections between the Nazi esoteric beliefs and modern beliefs about Atlantis and ancient aliens, which I have written about here,  I came across references to Maria Orsic, an Austrian Medium and member of the Vril Society. In 1919 Maria claimed to have received telepathic messages from the planet Sumi-Er in the Aldebaran solar system, about 68 light years from Earth. These messages said that the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia had come from Aldebaran 500 million years ago and the Aryans were their descendants.

I did not believe that aliens from Aldebaran really had communicated with Maria Orsic, but it did look like I had come across evidence for belief in the ancient aliens theory in pre-Nazi Germany.

I soon realized the story of Maria Orsic is a hoax.

There are a lot of dodgy and unreliable claims about the Nazis and the occult. In my research I had come across numerous references to the Vril Society. According to Michael Fitzgerald, its members included Hitler, Hess, Goering and Himmler (Michael FitzGerald, The Nazi Occult War, Hinkler, Victoria, 2013, p 40).  I assumed they were a real group, like the Thule Society whose members included Nazi leaders Rudolf Hess and Hans Frank. However, some doubt that there ever was a Vril Society. Wikipedia says, “there is no evidence for the existence of such a society.”

The name comes from a 1871 novel The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1871). This is the story of a man who discovers an advanced underground civilization which is powered by an energy source called Vril which gave it inhabitants telepathic powers.

This was taken seriously by Helena Blatavsky, founder of Theosophy in her books Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888). Another Theosophist William Scott-Elliot wrote in his 1896 book The Story of Atlantis  that the Atlanteans’ airships were powered by Vril energy (W. Scott-Elliot, The Story of Atlantis, Theosophical Publishing Society, London, 1896, p 51-54). In Germany an Aryanized version of Theosophy developed, called Ariosophy.

Willy Ley, a former German rocket scientist, wrote in a 1947 article “Pseudoscience in Naziland” that there had been a group in Berlin which believed in Vril.

In a 2002 book Black Sun, Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, Nicholas Goodrick-Clark says that there was a Vril society,

“German researchers have recently established that such a group did exist in association with the astrological publisher Wilhelm Becker. This wholly obscure “Reichsarbeitsgemeinschaft ‘Das Kommende Deutschland'” published a short brochure Vril: Die kosmische Urkraft (1930), which described the Atlanteans as possessors of a spiritual “dynamo-technology”, superior to the mechanistic notions of modern technology, Based on Vril energy, this technology also enabled the Egyptians and Aztecs to build their pyramids.” (Nicholas Goodrick-Clark, Black Sun, Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, New York University Press, New York, 2002, p 166)

While it does appear there was some sort of Vril society or society which believed in Vril, there is no evidence it was as influential as some claim. They are making it up. Vril: Die kosmische Urkraft , which can be read in German here, says nothing about Maria Orsic.

In an article The Vril Mythos Shannon LeGro writes that two Austrians Norbert Jurgen-Ratthofer and Ralf Ettl wrote a book The Vril Project in 1992 which contained the first mention of Maria Orsic and Aldebaran . Ettl was a member of the Temple Society in Vienna, a Gnostic group which was founded by neo-Nazis and claimed to be successors to the Knights Templars. The origin of the Maria Orsic story is also described by Nicholas Goodrick-Clark (Black Sun, p 164-169).

The Vril Project has not been published in English. However, in 1994 Jurgen-Ratthofer and Ettl  made a  “documentary” called U.F.O. Secrets of the Third Reich which claims that  the Vril Society was founded in 1919 and Maria Ortisch, who was played by Simone Bernhard in the dramatizations, received telepathic messages from Aldebaran. These included instructions to build a time machine which was not completed, but were the inspiration for the Nazi flying discs which were first built in 1934. This documentary can be found on YouTube.

If the Nazis really had this advanced flying disc technology which they received from aliens, one wonders how they could have lost the war. Claims that the Nazis had built the original flying saucers have been around since the 1950s. A critique of these claims can be found here. Before the Maria Orsic story the claims were that the Nazis had built these flying discs themselves. Some of these came from neo-Nazis who were trying to show how advanced the Nazis were. Much in the same way that the ancient aliens theory assumes that people in the ancient world could not build ancient monuments and buildings themselves and needed the help of aliens, the Maria Orsic story assumes the Nazis could not build their own flying discs and needed the help of aliens

Subsequent writers, websites and documentaries built on and embellished the Maria Orsic – Aldebaran story, such as The Aldebaran Mystery, UFO Secrets of the 3rd Reich and World War II and the Ancient Aliens episode “Aliens and the Third Reich” which claim that Maria was taken on a spaceship to Aldebaran at the end of the war. This sounds like an attempt to explain why there is no evidence for her existence.

The 1994 documentary U.F.O. Secrets of the Third Reich contained this drawing of what Maria Orsic was supposed to look like.

This sketch appears to be  based on the 1994 original

The photo  below is supposed to be of Maria Orsic

It appears that the face from the second picture was superimposed onto this photo and then reversed. I do not know who the woman in original photo is.

Then, there is this supposed photo of Maria Orsic.

This is a woman’s face superimposed on a photo of Hitler. Here is the original.

[After I had posted this, someone said the woman’s face in the above photo is Kate Moss.]

If you search for photos of Maria Orsic on the Internet, the results include

Nena von Schlebrugge (b, 1941), a former model who is  Uma Thrman’s mother

Chalize Theron in Prometheus

Alexandra Maria Lara as Traudl Junge in Downfall

and Claudia Black, star of Farscape and Stargate SG 1

There is no evidence from before 1992 for the existence of Maria Orsic or the claims the Vril Society were in contact with aliens from Aldebaran.

Hans Bellamy and the Nazi Influence on Atlantis and Ancient Aliens

Hans Bellamy, aka Rudolf von Elmayer- Vestenbrugg, aka Elmar Brugg, aka Elmar Vinibert von Rudolf

In an earlier post Nazis Atlantis and Ancient Aliens I discussed how Nazi ideas about Atlantis were recycled by later writers on Atlantis and ancient aliens and some proponents of the ancient aliens theory were former Nazis or supported the Nazi war effort.

Robert Charroux, who wrote several books on Atlantis and ancient aliens in the 1960s and 70s, was a pseudonym for Robert Jospeh Grugeau, Minister for Cultural Affairs in the Nazi puppet state Vichy France. Erich von Daniken’s editor and ghost writer for Chariots of the Gods? was Wilhelm Utermann, a former Nazi journalist. Peenemunde rocket scientist Hermann Oberth endorsed the ancient aliens theory in the 1970 documentary Chariots of the Gods?  Josef Blumrich, who wrote The Spaceships of Ezekiel, worked on the design of the Messerschmitt 110 and served in the German army. Frank Joseph, author of several books on Atlantis and editor of Ancient American magazine, was born Frank Collins and was founder of the National Socialist Party of America.

After writing that post I learned that Brinsley Le Poer Trench, who was an editor of Flying Saucer Review and author of the 1960 ancient aliens book The Sky People, was a member of the British fascist group, the Right Club.

Heinrich Himmler believed that the Aryans had come from Atlantis. He believed in the World Ice Theory which was developed by Hans Horbirger (1860-1931). This said that the universe consisted largely of ice  and that Earth once had several moons. When one of them crashed to Earth, it sank Atlantis.

One Nazi believer in the World Ice Theory was Rudolf von Elmayer-Vestenbrugg. In his book Hitler’s Monsters, Eric Kurlander wrote about him,

“Another prominent supporter of the World Ice Theory who experienced a career renaissance in the Third Reich was the rabidly anti-Semitic writer and SA leader Rudolf von Elmayer-Vestenbrugg  (or Elmar Brugg). Like Himmler, Elmayer insisted that World Ice Theory provided the ony ‘scientific basis for a true Nordic worldview’. In his most influential book, The Enigma of Universal Phenomena (1937), Elmayer argued that World Ice Theory  would replace Darwin’s now ‘defunct’ theory of evolution and that the Aryan race had been incubated in the arctic world before founding the civilization of Atlantis. No wonder that Elmayer, despite his utter lack of scientific credentials, would later be tapped by Himmler to head the World Ice Theory division within the Ahnenerbe.” (Eric Kurlander, Hitler’s Monsters, A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2017, p 153).

Another proponent of the world ice theory was Hans Schindler Bellamy. His books were;

Moon, Myths and Man, A Reinterpretation, 1936 (This can be found online here)

The Book of Revelation is History, 1942

Built Before the Flood, 1943

In the Beginning God, 1945

The Atlantis Myth, 1948

Life History of our Earth, 1951

The Calender of Tiahuanaco, 1956

The Great Idol of Tiahuanaco, 1959

According to Atlantipedia, Hans Bellamy appears to have been a pseudonym for Rudolf von Elmayer-Vestenbrugg and he spoke at the World Congress of the Ancient Astronaut Society in Switzerland in 1975.

The world ice theory was too bizarre for the ancient aliens movement, which is saying something. Nevertheless, Bellamy appears to have been quite influential. The following ancient aliens and other fringe writers cite Bellamy’s books and his ideas about Atlantis and Tiahuanaco;

Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovksy, 1950

Atlantis and the Giants by Denis Saurat, 1957

The Road in the Sky by George Hunt Williamson, 1959

The Sky People by Brinsley Le Poer Trench, 1960

The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, 1960

Timeless Earth by Peter Kolosimo, 1964

Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken, 1969

Our Haunted Planet by John Keel, 1971

In Search of Ancient Mysteries by Alan Landsburg, 1974

Gods and Spacemen of the Ancient West by Raymond Drake, 1974

Our Ancestors Came from Outer Space by Maurice Chatelain, 1978

Atlantis, The Eighth Continent by Charles Berlitz, 1984

Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock, 1995

From the Ashes of Angels by Andrew Collins, 1996

The Atlantis Blueprint by Colin Wilson and Rand Flem-Ath, 2000

The Destruction of Atlantis by Frank Joseph, 2004

Ancient Technology in Peru and Bolivia by David Hatcher Childress, 2012

Knowledge Apocalypse by Jason Martel, 2012

Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier mentioned both Elmar Brugg and Hans Bellamy on the same page. They were not aware that they appear to be the same person (Louis Pauwels and Jacques Begier, The Morning of the Magicians, Destiny Books, Vermont, 2009, p 224).

I am not suggesting that all these writers were pro-Nazi. The problem is they have ben unwititngly citing a former Nazi and they are not aware of the Nazi assumptions behind his ideas.



Nazis, Atlantis and Ancient Aliens

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,, Albany, New York, 2012, p x-xi)

Helena Blatavsky

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.

Symbol for the Ahnenerbe

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).

Hanns Horbiger

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.

Gate of the Sun at 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

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 today

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.

Frank Collin (Frank Joseph) in the 1970s

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 into a Nazi. The Nazis di 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