Flying Saucers of the Third Reich

A Nazi prototype or someone's backyard project?

Following on from last week’s discussion of hexes, Hitler and cultural appropriation, Phantoms and Monsters brings us a double-shot of Nazi UFOs. That links to a pair of articles about Nazi experiments with UFOs or UFO-like craft. The first, originally published in the Daily Mail, relates the assertion that a “bell-shaped craft was being created by the Nazis” during World War II. The article has some interesting photos, like the one to the right, where the disc-shaped part of the craft is a ring of overlapping vanes that spin to provide lift.

The second article in the blog post relates “Hitler’s Roswell,” an incident in Czernica, Germany — now part of Poland — where some kind of flying craft crashed in a farm field. The Nazis, like all good regimes, gathered up the bodies and scraps, intending to reverse-engineer the technology.

For some reason, Nazis and ultra-technology initiatives go hand in hand in so many role-playing games. Probably because some of their real world efforts were so frightening. Suppressed Transmission‘s column on the topic, “A Dish Best Served Cold: Antarctic Space Nazis,” even worked Neuschwabenland into the mix. The linked articles provide some really excellent documents and images, including German language diagrams of the craft, and some more shots of the alleged Nazi prototype. That would make a great dossier prop to pass around the table.

A Cry in the Darkness

The craft is still there, in the collapsed rubble of the complex in the Gory Sowie mountains. And it’s alive, slowly healing from the injuries wrought by the Nazis’ attempts to reverse-engineer its secrets. Without light or sufficient density of biomass, it’s taken the craft sixty-five years to rebuild its systems to the point where it can call for help. Now its psychic distress signal tears through the mind of every sensitive in eastern Europe. And the reach of its call is growing, at the rate that it will fry the mind of every person with psi talent on the planet long before anyone arrives to deactivate the beacon. A team must descend into the abandoned complex, find the ship and somehow silence it before it liquifies any more minds. Only no one expected that as part of its repair efforts, the ship has co-opted the local biosphere, creating plants and small creatures designed to assist in repairs. And they’re very eager to acquire fresh, well-fed biomass for their work.

Mr Hughes’ Plane

Far from being an extraterrestrial space craft, the prototype bell-shaped craft was based on plans stolen from Hughes Aircraft. The photos leaking out of Germany show that the Nazi aeronautical engineers are unsettlingly far along in realizing the potential of Mr. Hughes‘ design. The special projects division of Hughes Aircraft has scrambled to get their own prototype functional, as it’s the only craft with the speed, maneuverability and stealth capabilities to penetrate that far into Nazi Germany. Its crew, a combination of civilian specialists and military operatives have to not only recover the plans, but extract the prototype or otherwise nullify it.

Friends in the Future

The Czernica crash was the first of a dozen — and unfortunately for the Allies, the only failure. Eleven flying spheres landed somewhat more gently across the German countryside in the summer of 1937. They proved instrumental in the blitzkrieg campaigns of the early days of the war — and the fall of London shortly thereafter.

None of this matches Time Agency mean history, of course. These spheres represent an extra-temporal incursion into the history of twentieth century Earth, presumably instigated by a downtime agency with an interest in altering the course of events to benefit the Nazi regime and their descendants. The Time Agency dispatches a squad of field operatives to the era with a two phase operation: backtrack the spheres to their arrival point, calculate their temporal trajectory from there, then unhappen the secret allies before the changes in the timeline ripple forward far enough to change the Time Agency itself.

Hexing Hitler

This photo series on Life.com depicts a “hex party” convened by some adventurous souls in 1941 with the goal of hexing Adolf Hitler. Yes, hexing — or rather, “to kill Adolf Hitler by voodoo incantation.” The amateur magicians’ supplies included “a dressmaker’s dummy, a Nazi uniform, nails, axes, tom-toms and plenty of Jamaica rum,” along with a manual of sorts, Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today. The dummy and Nazi uniform became an effigy of Hitler, which the rite’s participants cursed, attacked and even pierced with nails through the eyes — to cause blindness — and heart — to cause death, presumably. Make sure you click through the whole slideshow or you’ll miss the shot of the dummy’s decapitation by axe.

I’ve got two initial reactions to this piece. The first is this is very clearly excellent gaming fodder. In a Weird War-like setting — or even in the world of Angel and the Demon Research Initiative — of course there’s going to be a magical front to World War 2. The leaders of the day would be well-protected with layer upon layer of warding spells. (I’m reminded of the super powered alternate World War 2 setting Godlike, where the most sought-after Talents were the Zeds, who had the power to nullify Talent abilities.) In such an instance, the hex rites need to be powered by such overwhelming sorcerous might that they punch through any number of talismans and anti-magic fields, which means globe-trotting adventures to tap into long untouched mana wells or artifacts steeped in same; or they have to be done stealthily, practically on top of the target, where only a few defenses still stand. Reminds me of crashing a conference at Wewelsburg.

My second reaction is cultural appropriation isn’t cool. And that’s an unexpected reaction for me to have, because I’ve been pretty gung-ho about it in the past, cribbing bits of this and that and other things to write about here. Role-playing is, by and large, built on borrowing and stealing different pieces of this and that to make something new. People have argued that doing so trivializes the source by oversimplifying, ignoring meaning or failing to perceive distinctions. And I don’t disagree with that.

So I find myself with the conflicting reactions of “Hey, that’s a great plot seed for role-playing” and “That’s some white people using Hitler and another culture’s customs as an excuse to act like buffoons.” But then, when did people need an excuse to behave like buffoons?