Nazi Soldiers…in America?

On February 15, 1944, Private Dale H. Maple picked up two passengers in Colorado, and headed for Mexico. He was promptly arrested and charged with treason. Why? Because the two passengers weren’t Americans…they were Nazi prisoners of war.

The 620th Engineer General Service Company: Nazi Sympathizers…in the U.S. Military?

After enlisting in February 1942, Maple was deliberately assigned to the infamous 620th Engineer General Service Company. In a real-life example of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” the 620th was made up of suspected Nazi sympathizers. By keeping them in one location and denying them access to weapons, the military hoped to maintain control over the sympathizers and make it difficult for them to hamper the war effort.

But Maple had his own ideas. And when the 620th was assigned guard duty at Camp Hale, a prison for Nazi POWs, he decided to take action. After buying a car, he picked up two Afrika Korps Sergeants from work detail and drove toward the Mexican border. The car broke down 17 miles short of the goal so the three men hoofed it the rest of the way.

The Trial of Dale H. Maple?

But after arriving in Mexico, they were quickly arrested and sent back to America. Maple was originally charged with treason. Later this was changed to “relieving, corresponding with or aiding the enemy.” He was found guilty and given a sentence of death by hanging. However, the Army Judge Advocate General intervened and convinced President Roosevelt to imprison Maple instead. Maple was released in 1951 and apparently passed away in the early 2000s. Here’s more on Maple and the 620th from Foreign Policy:

Yep. Gather round, little grasshoppers, and I will tell the strange tale.

I know it sounds like the reverse of a Quentin Taratino movie, but it is true: During World War II, the Army intentionally formed a unit chockablock with fascisti and their suspected sympathizers. What a sensible idea — much better than kicking them out into society and losing track of them.

This is all discussed in the new issue of Army Lawyer , where Fred “Three Sticks” Borch has a fascinating article about PFC Dale Maple, a brilliant young man who was born in San Diego in 1920 and who graduated from Harvard with honors but then, because he was bad, was found guilty of treason and sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead…

(See more on Maple, the 620th, and Nazis in America at Foreign Policy)

The Pearl Harbor Code?

Seventy years ago, the Japanese Navy launched an attack on Pearl Harbor. The vicious assault killed over 2,000 people, damaged some 300 planes, and crippled 18 vessels. In the aftermath, FBI Agents conducted a secret raid on the New Yorker magazine’s offices. They were searching for clues related to a code…a code which may have been used to alert Japanese spies to the attack. What was the Pearl Harbor Code?

The Deadly Double & Pearl Harbor?

Sixteen days before the Pearl Harbor attack, a “teaser advertisement” appeared in the New Yorker. The text read “Achtung! Warning! Alerte!” Underneath, readers were encouraged to “See Advertisement Page 86.” The ad also contained two dice and was apparently placed by a company named Monarch Publishing Co. A second advertisement ran on page 86. It contained a strange picture of people playing dice in an air-raid shelter, repeated the “Achtung! Warning! Alerte!” text, and referred to a game called “The Deadly Double.”

After Pearl Harbor, American civilians became extra-vigilant about foreign spies and saboteurs. Thousands of rumors and tips flooded into FBI Headquarters. One of the most prominent tips was in regard to “The Deadly Double” advertisement. Hundreds of readers suspected it was a coded message, designed to alert Japanese and Nazi spies about the upcoming attack.

Was the Deadly Double a Coded Message about the Pearl Harbor Attack?

According to John Costello’s The Pacific War: 1941-1945, the numbers on the dice might have meant “0” hour for a “double cross” on “12”/”7″ at “5” out of “24” hours. Another interpretation comes from the 1982 Reader’s Digest book, Mysteries of the Unexplained. That work concluded that the numbers 12 and 7 refer to December 7. 5 and 0 were suspected to be the planned time of the attack. XX, or 20 in Roman Numerals, was the approximate latitude for Pearl Harbor. The purpose of the number 24 was unknown (although possibly some sort of code designation).

On the Page 86 ad, the top part of the drawing was viewed as a depiction of three airplanes flying over Pearl Harbor, complete with searchlight beams, antiaircraft shells, and even an exploding bomb on the surface of the water. “The Deadly Double” was believed to stand for two of the Axis Powers, namely Germany and Japan. And finally, the double-headed eagle at the bottom of the ad appeared to be a combination of the two versions of the Nazi’s Iron Eagles.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, was the Pearl Harbor Code a real attempt to warn Japanese and Nazi spies about Pearl Harbor? Or was it just a coincidence? According to Reader’s Digest, the advertisement turned out to be legitimate. The ads were supposedly placed by a Mr. and Mrs. Roger Craig. The investigation of the Craig family was kept under wraps until 1967 when Ladislas Farago broke the story prior to the release of his book, The Broken Seal. At the time, Craig’s widow was said to have stated that any connection between the ad and the attack was nothing more than a coincidence.

However, that’s just one side of the story. According to William F. Breuer’s book Unexplained Mysteries of World War II

“FBI agents discovered that the advertisement had been placed by the Monarch Trading Company (a dummy corporation). A white male, who had not given his name, had brought the plates for the ad to the New Yorker offices and had paid in cash. He had not given his address. Curiously, the man the FBI would identify as the suspect apparently met a sudden, violent death a few weeks later.”

Which story is correct? Did the FBI truly get to the bottom of the incident? If so, was the Code just a big coincidence? Or was it something more? Unfortunately, the available evidence is contradictory. So, until more information comes to light, the Pearl Harbor Code will remain one of the great unsolved mysteries of World War II.

The Nazi Atomic Bomb?

In 1937, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman split the atom, giving Nazi Germany an early edge in the race to build the world’s first atomic bomb. Just how close did Hitler get to developing the most powerful weapon mankind has ever known?

The Chaos Book Club

Today is Day 15 of the Chaos book club. Chaos is an adventure thriller along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. Thanks to those of you who’ve bought the novel already. If you haven’t already done so, please consider picking up a copy at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

The Nazi Atomic Bomb?

At first, the Nazis weren’t fully aware of the military potential of Hahn’s and Strassman’s work. But that changed after they conquered Poland in 1939. Almost immediately, German military leaders banned the export of uranium and attempted to increase the importation of it via the Belgian Congo.

After conquering Norway in June 1940, the Nazis got their hands on the Hydro-Electric Company’s Vemork-based electrolysis plant. Suddenly, Europe’s only source of heavy water, a key ingredient for an atomic bomb, was in their hands.

By early 1942, Nazi scientists had built their first atomic reactor. However, when Hitler realized that the atomic bomb would not be ready in the near-term, he switched resources away from the Uranverein, or Uranium Club. The project lost numerous scientists to more pressing military concerns.

In June 1942, Germany’s atomic reactor exploded. His interest renewed, Hitler told Field Marshal Erwin Rommel that Nazi scientists were close to developing a “new secret weapon” which could “throw a man off his horse at a distance of two miles.”


Although research had slowed, it hadn’t stopped. But a series of sabotage attacks on the Vermok plant by the Norwegian resistance movement hampered heavy water production. The plant was finally bombed into submission in February 1944. Nazi leaders ordered the remaining supplies to be delivered to Germany. 613 kilograms of heavy water and 14 tons of fluid were subsequently loaded onto the ferry Hydro and the vessel sat out across Lake Tinnsjo.

But unbeknownst to the Nazis, a Norwegian commando named Knut Haukelid had planted explosives on the boat. 45 minutes after leaving shore, the Hydro exploded, causing a tremendous echo that was heard for miles and killing a number of innocent Norwegians in the process. The boat sank into the 1,300 foot deep lake, putting a dramatic end to the Nazi effort to build an atomic bomb.

The Nazi Atomic Bomb in Chaos

Nearly all scholars agree that the Nazis never got close to building an atomic bomb. Even the cache of heavy water aboard the Hydro was far short of the amount needed to fuel an atomic reactor. Thus, it’s no surprise that author Rainer Karlsch turned some heads when he published Hitlers Bombe, in which he claimed that Hitler built and tested a non-standard nuclear weapon, possibly a “dirty bomb,” near the German town of Ohrdruf. However, the soil revealed relatively normal radiation levels and historians have generally dismissed the claim.

The Uranverein and the Nazi atomic bomb isn’t a major plot point in Chaos. However, it plays an important off-screen role in the sense that it serves as the backdrop for the creation of die Glocke, or the Bell. And the Bell’s mysterious existence, described in the pages of an old, weathered journal, haunts my hero Cy Reed to the edge of insanity…

I looked at Beverly. Her solemn expression told me that something was on her mind. “Last chance,” I said. “Any reason we should keep it around?”

She furrowed her brow. “Maybe.”


“Remember what Jenson told us? He said the Sand Demons couldn’t or wouldn’t destroy the Bell.”

I shrugged. “So?”

“So, if it’s the former, maybe we should keep the journal around. If we find the Bell, the journal might help us figure out a way to destroy it.”

I exhaled loudly. A single brush against the flint would send tiny sparks hurtling toward the journal, igniting it instantly. Tiny, golden flames would lick the air, adding light to the dim station. It would take just a moment. And then, I could forget all about Hartek’s journal.

Do it. Do it already.David Meyer, Chaos

Chaos by David MeyerAlthough he doesn’t know it yet, Cy’s decision will have gigantic ramifications. If you want to see how, please consider picking up a copy of Chaos at one of the links above.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we’re going to take another curious trip through history, one that will bring us to a strange, top-secret 1964 operation called the Nth Country Project. The results of that project were…to say the least…startling. Stop by tomorrow to find out what I mean…I hope to see you then!


Chaos Book Club

Die Glocke & Nazi Wonder Weapons?

During World War II, Nazi Germany worked on an astounding array of futuristic weapons including heat-seeking missiles, a gigantic 1,000 pound tank, a stealth fighter, and an acoustic cannon. But perhaps the most spectacular and mysterious Nazi super weapon of all was known as die Glocke.

The Chaos Book Club

Today is Day 11 of the Chaos book club. Chaos is an adventure thriller along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. Thanks to those of you who’ve bought the novel already. If you haven’t already done so, please consider picking up a copy at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

Die Glocke?

Die Glocke is German for “The Bell.” The original die Glocke was constructed from metal, shaped like a bell, and measured 9-12 feet wide and 12-15 feet tall. The Bell contained two counter-rotating drums and an internal stationary shaft. Prior to operation, a liquid substance codenamed “Xerum 525” was placed into the shaft. Then the entire structure was cryogenically cooled and fueled with high-voltage electricity.

When in operation, die Glocke gave off lethal field effects and supposedly killed five scientists during its initial tests. According to Joseph P. Farrell‘s book, The Philosophers’ Stone: Alchemy and the Secret Research for Exotic Matter, survivors reported strange recurring symptoms such as “the sensation of ‘pins and needles’ on their skin, of sleeplessness, and a persisting metallic taste in the mouth.”

Die Glocke was supposedly tested at “The Henge,” an outdoor metal framework located near the Wenceslas mine in Poland. But these tests would prove tragic as well…

“Approximately sixty of the scientists and technicians connected with the project were murdered by the SS prior to the end of the war, and the device, and all its project documentation, along with General Kammler and a massive six-engine Junkers 390 heavy lift ultra-long-range aircraft went missing at the end of the war.” ~ Joseph P. Farrell, The Philosophers’ Stone

Now, before I get into what the Bell’s purpose was, I should point out that its very existence remains up for debate. To the best of my knowledge, there is no primacy source documentation that discusses it. Die Glocke was first described by Igor Witkowski in his 2000 book Prawda O Wunderwaffe. Witkowski claims that he learned about the Bell from classified transcripts detailing an interrogation of a former Nazi SS officer. Supposedly, he was only allowed to transcribe the documents. Thus, it remains impossible to verify Witkowski’s story.

Die Glocke has since taken on a life of its own, inspiring books by Nick Cook and Joseph P. Farrell, among others. Still, most mainstream scientists doubt the Bell ever existed. They consider it a fabrication and believe that the sole surviving piece of physical evidence, the Henge, is nothing more than the remnants of an industrial cooling tower.

Die Glocke in Chaos

Assuming it existed, what was die Glocke? Other than the fact that it was some kind of Nazi wonder weapon, no one knows for certain. A wide variety of answers have been put forth over the years including an antigravity device, a device to create “free energy,” a time traveling machine, and even a machine capable of viewing the past.

Die Glocke, or at least a version of it, plays a very important role in Chaos. It certainly exists but its true purpose will surprise you…

The seats were punctured with small holes and splattered with bloodstains. Closing my eyes, I could almost picture the gunfight between the Rictors and the Sand Demons.

I turned my attention to the back half of the subway car. A wide thick blanket hung from the ceiling, cutting off my view into the rear portion.

I knew Beverly was behind me, but I could no longer feel her presence. The blanket dominated my attention. While unremarkable on its own, it carried heavy symbolism for me.

It was the last remaining barrier between the Bell and me.

I walked over to it. As I grasped its coarse edge, I wondered what secrets I’d find on the other side. Would the Bell look the same as I’d imagined it? Could we destroy it?

I pulled the blanket out of the way. My beam lifted, casting into the space.

I froze.

The flashlight fell from my fingertips. It bounced on the floor and rolled. I felt a sudden reverence as if I stood before the Almighty Himself.

“Oh my God,” Beverly whispered. “Is it…?” ~ David Meyer, Chaos

Chaos by David MeyerCome on now, you didn’t expect me to give away the secret that easily did you? Suffice it to say die Glocke is at the source of a mystery that extends back to the Second World War. Some people will kill to have it, others will kill to keep it hidden. And my hero Cy Reed, well, he’s got his own plans for the Bell.

That’s all for today’s entry in the Chao book club. Tomorrow, we’ll be looking at the history of a very strange urban sport…buildering, or the practice of free-climbing skyscrapers. I hope to see you there…it’s going to be exciting!


Chaos Book Club

Nazi Treasure & ODESSA?

During World War II, Nazi Germany systematically looted occupied Europe. After the war ended, the Allies attempted to locate the art, gold, and other items in order to return them to their proper owners. How successful were they? Does any of this Nazi treasure remain lost today? Or did it escape into the clutches of ODESSA?

The Chaos Book Club

Today is Day 6 of the Chaos book club. Chaos is an adventure thriller along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. If you haven’t already done so, please consider picking up a copy at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

Nazi Looting

So, during World War II, Germany conquered much of Europe. While occupying this enormous territory, the Nazis looted on an unprecedented scale. Public and private collections of gold, silver, jewels, paintings, ceramics, and other items were stolen and transported to the Museum Jeu de Paume in Paris. After examination and cataloging, the plunder was forwarded to Germany.

Some of these items were intended for the never-built Führermuseum, which was a planned museum complex for Linz, Austria and a fascinating story in its own right. Other things were appropriated by officials or traded for wartime funds. Initially, most of the plunder was stored in Paris or Munich. However, as defeat became inevitable, the Nazis began to hide artwork and other relics in salt mines, tunnels, caves, and castles. This protected them from bombing raids while also keeping them hidden from the advancing Allied forces.

The Formation of ODESSA

At the same time, Nazi officials were growing increasingly worried. The war was coming to an end and it was only a matter of time before they would be tried for war crimes. Out of this fear sprouted ODESSA (Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen). ODESSA was an organization formed by SS officers in 1946. Its purpose was to help fugitive SS members escape to sympathetic countries in South America and the Middle East (this network may have even helped Hitler fake his death and escape Germany). There is some debate about whether ODESSA was a single, centrally-planned organization or a series of loosely-connected groups. Regardless, it’s believed that as many as 10,000 SS members escaped in this fashion.

But ODESSA wasn’t just used for escape. Scholars believe it was also used to move Nazi plunder out of Germany. This plunder may have been intended to fund a sort of “Fourth Reich” consisting of remote Nazi colonies in other countries. Regardless, over 100,000 objects remain missing today. Although a large portion of this sum consists of low-value items, many important and valuable objects have yet to be found.

Nazi Treasure, Odessa, & Chaos

The full extent of ODESSA will most likely never be known. The same goes for the location of much of the missing Nazi plunder. However, in Chaos, I provide a little speculation on the former and a possible answer for the latter.

His face betrayed his steady voice. There was something else driving him, a reason he didn’t want to share. I considered pressing him on it but ultimately, decided to forget it. “Aren’t you worried I’ll steal the treasure?”

“I doubt you could, even if you wanted to. We believe that ODESSA supplied Hartek with nearly half a ton of gold.”

The staggering figure swirled in my brain. “How do you plan to conduct a treasure hunt under New York anyways? The moment the news gets out…and it will…you’ll have a full-fledged riot on your hands.” ~ David Meyer, Chaos

Chaos by David MeyerThat’s right. A gigantic Nazi treasure is buried deep underground, somewhere in the maze of tunnels that rests beneath Manhattan. Recovering it seems easy…until things go very, very wrong.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we’ll be taking one step deeper into the mysterious world beneath New York City. But not to visit the tunnels. Instead, we’ll be looking at the denizens who reside there…the legendary Mole People. I hope to see you then!


Chaos Book Club

What was Operation Paperclip?

Immediately following World War II, America’s Office of Strategic Services began to quietly recruit former Nazis via Operation Paperclip. What was the purpose of this program? And why does it rank as one of the most controversial programs in U.S. history?

The Chaos Book Club

Today marks Day 5 of the Chaos book club. Chaos is an adventure thriller along the lines of Indiana Jones or books written by Clive Cussler, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, or Steve Berry. If you haven’t already done so, please consider picking up a copy at one of the following locations:

Kindle * Nook * Kobo * iBooks * Smashwords * Paperback

Operation Paperclip

During World War II, Nazi scientists developed an impressive level of technical expertise, which manifested itself in a series of brilliant war-time inventions and weapons. As the war drew to a close, American officials began to realize that this knowledge could be extremely valuable in the post-war world. At the same time, with the Cold War looming, they also wished to keep it out of Russian hands.

Unofficially, American recruitment of Nazi scientists began shortly after Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945. It wasn’t until August that President Harry Truman formalized Operation Paperclip. His order expressly forbade recruiting anyone who had been “a member of the Nazi party and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazism.” Background investigations were to be conducted by the newly-established Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA).

Bending the Rules

However, this restriction would’ve made attractive scientists ineligible for recruitment. As such, the JIOA concealed incriminating information about these scientists. It also created fake employment and political records for them. Thus, while official policy was to prosecute war criminals, the JIOA worked to bring many of them into America instead. Here are three particularly famous examples…

  • Wernher von Braun: Member of the SS and held the rank of major under Hitler. Helped design the deadly V-2 rocket. After coming to America, he worked on the IRBM program before joining NASA. He was chief architect of the astonishingly successful Saturn V launch vehicle, which helped land Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on the moon.
  • Arthur Rudolph: Operations Director of the Millelwerk factory where 9,000 workers died from exhaustion, 350 were hanged, and another 10,000 or so died from disease, starvation, or execution. After coming to America, he helped Wernher von Braun develop the Saturn V rocket. When the truth of his wartime record came out, he agreed to leave America and renounce his citizenship in 1984.
  • Hubertus Strughold: Physician who is believed to have been involved with the Dachau concentration camp. At Dachau, inmates were subjected to water immersion, air pressure experiments, the forced drinking of seawater, and freezing temperatures. After Operation Paperclip, Strughold became known as “The Father of Space Medicine.”

These three men are believed to be just the tip of the iceberg. Proponents of the program justify the illegal recruitments by pointing to their numerous achievements, such as Saturn V. However, there was a dark side to the program as well.

The Dark Side of Operation Paperclip

Between 1950 and 1974, Operation Paperclip scientists conducted experiments on U.S. soldiers at Edgewood Arsenal. Participants were exposed to chemical and biological agents as well as LSD, THC, and BC. The three latter substances were part of a top-secret CIA mind-control project known as MKULTRA.

All told, at least 7,120 U.S. soldiers were involved in these experiments although the exact number may be much higher. So, while the recruiting of Nazi scientists had some good outcomes, it also resulted in horrible treatment of American servicemen, reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps. In addition, PaperClip scientists were far from loyal and there are numerous examples of these scientists smuggling classified American documents out of the country. Worst of all, the Nazi mentality toward human experimentation was subsequently adopted by some American officials. As Linda Hunt put it in her work Secret Agenda: The United States Government, Nazi Scientists, and Project Paperclip, 1945 to 1990

“The Machiavellian attitude behind these operations was born when a World War II ally became a new enemy and the world axis shifted. To fight the Russians we turned to the men responsible for the horrors committed under Hitler and hired them to work as scientists, saboteurs, and spies. Over time these operations took on a life of their own….No matter how necessary intelligence activities may be, they cannot be allowed to operate unchecked, in secrecy and darkness, shielded from the democratic process of accountability. Otherwise, in the end we become our own worst enemy. Edgewood already has provided us with a horrifying example of the true legacy of the cold war, which lies in the stories of James Stanley and other soldiers who were treated like laboratory rats. In essence we used Nazi science to kill our own people.” ~ Linda Hunt

Operation Paperclip and Chaos

The morality of Operation Paperclip remains a hotly-debated topic even today. But regardless of your feelings on it, it’s a part of American history that deserves to be told. Operation Paperclip doesn’t play a giant role in Chaos, at least not directly. However, it enabled a brilliant and mysterious physicist named Dr. Karl Hartek to come to America, setting in action a course of events that lead to devastating consequences.

Chase lifted an old color Polaroid from the desk and passed it to me. The faded image depicted a strange-looking fellow, with puffy eyes, a bulbous nose, and misshapen shoulders.

Sort of like the love child of an ostrich and an ape.

“His name is Dr. Karl Hartek,” Chase said. “He was a German physicist during the Second World War.”

“What happened to him?”

“He emigrated to the United States in 1945, shortly after the surrender of Nazi Germany. He was a part of Operation Paperclip.” ~ David Meyer, Chaos

Chaos by David Meyer

Only Cy Reed, a former urban archaeologist turned treasure hunter, is capable of undoing the potential disaster wrought by Dr. Hartek’s strange invention, die Glocke.

That’s all for today. Make sure to come back tomorrow when we’ll be discussing two more topics that play crucial roles in Chaos…namely, lost Nazi treasure and the mysterious ODESSA program. I hope to see you then!


Chaos Book Club

The Great Holocaust Mystery?

Broadly defined, the Holocaust is a catchall term used to describe the deliberate murder of as many as 17 million Jews, disabled people, homosexuals, Freemasons, political prisoners, POWs, and other so-called undesirables by Nazi Germany. How could ordinary Germans let this happen? Were they unaware of it? Or did they turn a blind eye to it?

The Mysterious Diary of Friedrich Kellner?

On September 13, 1939, a rather extraordinary man sat down to write. It was his first entry in a secret journal that would eventually encompass six years of his life, ten volumes, 861 pages, and over 500 newspaper clippings. That man was Friedrich Kellner. And his diary has ignited a controversy about the role of ordinary Germans in the Holocaust.

Prior to World War II, Kellner campaigned against Adolf Hitler and the Nazis while working for the Social Democratic Party of Germany. After Hitler came to power, Kellner refused to join the Nazi Party. Instead, he took a position as a mid-level justice inspector in and started his now-famous diary which he entitled Mein Widerstand, or My Opposition.

“I could not fight the Nazis in the present, as they had the power to still my voice, so I decided to fight them in the future. I would give the coming generations a weapon against any resurgence of such evil. My eyewitness account would record the barbarous acts, and also show the way to stop them.” ~ Friedrich Kellner, 1968

Kellner’s diary is particularly interesting to Social Historians. It provides incredible insight into the information that was available to ordinary Germans about the Holocaust and other atrocities.

“The decisive thing is that he is not an intellectual, he is an ordinary employee sitting in the provinces who reads the newspapers. He is full of anger about what is happening.” ~ Sascha Feuchert, Head of the Research Unit for Holocaust Literature at Giessen University

What did Ordinary Germans know about the Holocaust?

Through “personal conversations, news reports and keen observation,” Kellner educated himself on the horrifying crimes committed by the Nazis. His diary is chilling to read. Check out these two entries…

“In the last few days Jews from our district have been removed. From here it was the families Strauss and Heinemann. I heard from a reliable source that all Jews were taken to Poland and would be murdered by SS brigades.” ~ September 16, 1942

“Ten years in the penitentiary for a ‘radio crime.’ According to the newspaper that was too little for the chief justice. He sent back the verdict to the original court and demanded the death penalty. Just think: the death sentence for listening to a foreign broadcast on the radio.” ~ April 14, 1943

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the most infamous entry. It’s dated October 28, 1941 and is at the heart of much of the recent controversy.

“A soldier on vacation here said he witnessed a terrible atrocity in the occupied parts of Poland. He watched as naked Jewish men and women were placed in front of a long deep ditch and upon the order of the SS were shot by Ukrainians in the back of their heads and they fell into the ditch. Then the ditch was filled with dirt even as he could still hear screams coming from people still alive in the ditch.”

Why didn’t Ordinary Germans try to Stop the Holocaust?

That entry in particular has been cited by Holocaust experts as proof that ordinary Germans were privy to the horrors being conducted by the Nazi regime at concentration camps throughout Occupied Europe.

“These diaries … represent a towering refutation of the well-worn refrain of so many Germans after the war — ‘We knew nothing of the Nazi horrors’.” Elan Steinberg, The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants

Kellner’s silent opposition did not go unnoticed. He came quite close to being sent off to a concentration camp himself. According to a Nazi official from 1940, “If we want to apprehend people like Kellner we will have to lure them out of their corners and let them incriminate themselves. The time is not ripe for an approach like the one used with the Jews. This can only take place after the war.”

Kellner’s diary has reopened a longstanding debate among historians about the role of ordinary Germans in the Holocaust. After World War II ended, these people separated themselves from the Nazis by claiming they had no knowledge of the atrocities. Of course, Kellner’s diary doesn’t necessarily prove anything. Still, it shows that information about war crimes was accessible to his countrymen. They read the same newspapers he did and it’s reasonable to assume they heard similar first-hand accounts of the horrors. And yet, they did nothing.

But why? Why didn’t more people speak up?

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The answer to that mystery may lie in a book written by Milton Mayer in 1955. It analyzed the lives of ten ordinary German Christians during the War and their peculiar relationship with the Nazi government. After World War I and the stupendously wrongheaded Treaty of Versailles, Germany was ruined. As such, the ten men eagerly joined the Nazi party, which seemed to offer economic improvement, a sense of community, and national pride.

The Nazi regime encouraged them to, in essence, become one with the state. Love for their country was carefully manipulated into love for their government. This became an issue of absolute importance. Opposing the state meant one was a traitor to his country and thus, to its people. It led to societal exclusion, which was unthinkable to many civilians. Unfortunately, the alternative was to essentially accept the government’s activities as good and righteous. And that meant turning a blind eye to Nazi atrocities or even participating in them.

Mayer’s work gives us valuable insights into the nature of fascism and the role it played in causing ordinary people to embrace hatred, violence, and murder. Incidentally, Mayer conducted his interviews eight years after Nazi Germany had fallen. He discovered that the ten men continued to idolize Hitler as a sort of Savior of Germany. They missed the sense of community, security, and national pride. When he asked them what it was like to live under tyranny, they provided a universal response, which informed the title of his book. And what was that title you ask?

They Thought They Were Free

Did Hitler Fake His Death?

According to history books, Adolf Hitler shot and killed himself on April 30, 1945 while residing in an underground bunker in Berlin. His remains were subsequently burnt. But this story has long been questioned. Did Hitler truly die in the bunker? Or did he escape to somewhere else, unidentified and unpunished? Was there a Hitler Death Conspiracy?

The Hitler Death Conspiracy?

While most people believe the official version of Hitler’s suicide, others are unconvinced. Perhaps the most diligent and respected researcher in this area is Argentina-based journalist and historian Abel Basti. In 2010, Basti published El exilio de Hitler / Hitler’s Exile: Las pruebas de la fuga del fuhre a a la Argentina, in which he claimed that the official story was a fabrication. In fact, he believes in a Hitler Death Conspiracy.

According to an interview with Deadline-Live, Basti believes that Hitler escaped the Allies and fled across the ocean, ultimately taking up residence in Argentina.

“Hitler escaped via air from Austria to Barcelona. The last stage of his escape was in a submarine, from Vigo, heading straight to the coast of Patagonia. Finally, Hitler and Eva Braun, in a car with a chauffeur and bodyguard—a motorcade of at least three cars—drove to Bariloche (Argentina). He took refuge in a place called San Ramon, about 15 miles east of that town. It is a property of about 250,000 acres with a lake-front view of Lake Nahuel Huapi, which had been German property since the early twentieth century, when it belonged to a German firm by the name of Schamburg-Lippe.”

Evidence Supporting the Hitler Death Conspiracy?

Here is some of the evidence Basti uses to back up his various claims of a Hitler Death Conspiracy.

  • Hitler escaped to Spain?: Several eyewitnesses, including a still-living Jesuit priest “whose family members were friends of the Nazi leader,” spotted him in Spain after his supposed death. FBI documents indicate they were looking for Hitler in Spain after the end of World War II. And an “authenticated secret German document…lists Hitler as one of the passengers evacuated by plane from Austria to Barcelona on April 26, 1945.”
  • The Secret Submarine?: A British secret services document indicates that a Nazi submarine convoy left Spain around that time. It stopped in the Canary Islands before finally reaching Argentina.
  • Life in Argentina?: Hitler’s post-war life appears to be a bit of a mystery. Basti has met numerous South American eyewitnesses who say they had known Hitler. They state that the former Nazi leader shaved his head and mustache and had several meetings with other Nazi officials. Also, FBI documents show that there were claims of Hitler living in Argentina after the war.

All in all, the evidence supporting a Hitler Death Conspiracy is pretty flimsy. And yet, so is the evidence that Hitler died in the bunker. It rests on testimony provided by fellow Nazis who were fanatical devotees of Hitler. As such, its not hard to imagine they might’ve lied to help their former leader. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that major intelligence agencies believed that Hitler might’ve survived the war. The FBI conducted “an extensive 11-year probe into the possibility that Hitler faked his own death with a bogus suicide in 1945.” Soviet officials gave conflicting reports on whether or not they had found Hitler’s remains. Meanwhile, Joseph Stain, Premier of the Soviet Union, maintained a strong belief that Hitler escaped Germany, a fact which he relayed to President Truman in 1945.

As for physical evidence, the Soviet Union has long been in possession of skull fragments taken from the bunker. These have always been considered definitive proof that Hitler committed suicide via gunshot. In 2009, forensic investigators examined these fragments and determined that they came from a woman instead. And just like that, all physical evidence pointing to suicide vaporized into smoke. If there is other physical evidence pointing to suicide (or to his escape), its either lost to time or locked away somewhere (the U.S. government continues to keep many of its Hitler-related files classified, supposedly for National Security purposes – this same obsession with secrecy led to the nearly century long classification of World War I documents showing how to create invisible ink).

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, did Hitler fake his death and escape to Argentina? Was there truly a Hitler Death Conspiracy? While it’s impossible to say for sure, it certainly seems reasonable. Lesser Nazi officials successfully fled Germany and took up residence in South America. And the testimony supporting the suicide theory seems questionable at best.

Basti is presently searching for Hitler’s grave in Argentina, hoping to prove his case once and for all. We here at Guerrilla Explorer wish him the best of luck. If Hitler escaped, the world deserves to know the truth about how he got away…and why his escape remained a secret for so long.

Was the French Resistance a Myth?

The French Resistance is a term used to describe the loosely-connected French freedom fighters who conducted secret raids and sabotage attacks against the occupying Nazi forces during World War II. For many years, they’ve been celebrated for their heroic sacrifices and efforts to help the Allies defeat the Axis Powers. But not everyone believes this portrayal. Was the French Resistance nothing more than a myth?

Was the French Resistance just a Modern Myth?

In 1997, military historian Douglas Porch published The French Secret Services: A History of French Intelligence from the Drefus Affair to the Gulf War. His book blew a gigantic hole in the legend of the French Resistance and caused tremendous controversy in France. A review published by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1996 prior to the book’s publication sums up a few of its arguments as follows:

“Those few French who helped downed airmen often did so for the money. The standard reward for getting an escapee into Spain was about $50,000 in today’s money.”

“Contrary to the myth, the French Resistance didn’t rise up after D-Day, June 6, 1944, to attack Germans behind the front lines. Sabotage of the Nazi war machine was minimal.”

“Only about 5 percent of the French were even nominally members of the underground. Of these, scarcely any ever fired a shot in anger, dynamited a train or sent a clandestine radio message.”

How Large was the French Resistance?

I first learned about the heroics of the French Resistance many years ago. So I found the revelations in Porch’s book surprising to say the least. But as I read more on the subject, I learned that his statements weren’t that unique. In fact, many historians today believe that the movement was quite small and ineffective. That’s not to say that resistance fighters didn’t exist in France nor that some of them didn’t take great risks. But still, the image of the French Resistance propagated by popular media and even many text books appears far different than what actually occurred. As “Old Werther” wrote…

“for most of the war, the 30—50 German occupation divisions took no part in anti-resistance activities…the number of actual anti-resistance security forces in France (the Feldsicherheitsdienst) probably did not exceed 6,500 at any stage of the war. That in a country of over 40 million!”

According to Porch, the myth of the French Resistance originated with Charles de Gaulle. While serving as the leader of the Free French government and the French Communists, de Gaulle worked to create a certain image of the French citizenry in order to improve his own position with the Allies. But if Porch is right, then how do we explain President Dwight Eisenhower’s opinion?

“Throughout France, the Free French had been of inestimable value in the campaign. They were particularly active in Brittany, but on every portion of the front we secured help from them in a multitude of ways. Without their great assistance the liberation of France and the defeat of the enemy in Western Europe would have consumed a much longer time and meant greater losses to ourselves.” ~ President Dwight Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe

Porch claims that Eisenhower deliberately inflated the value of the French Resistance as a favor to de Gaulle. Apparently, he felt bad for how other wartime leaders treated de Gaulle and wanted to make amends.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

The true value of the French Resistance remains a subject of some debate. However, it seems clear that its general worth has been greatly inflated over the years. As for whether the media or popular history will ever reflect that fact, well, we will have to wait and see.

Shipwreck Located with…Psychology?

In November 1941, Australia’s HMAS Sydney engaged Germany’s HSK Kormoran. The ensuing battle sent both ships plummeting to the bottom of the Indian Ocean. After decades of fruitless searching, two unlikely scholars stepped into the picture. How did cognitive psychologists unravel one of the great unsolved mysteries of World War II?

Where did the HMAS Sydney and HSK Kormoran Sink?

None of the 645 Australians serving aboard the HMAS Sydney survived the battle. In contrast, 317 Germans managed to stay afloat until they were picked up by other Australian ships. The Australian military, eager to locate the wrecks, began questioning the captives about the HMAS Sydney. But the Germans seemed confused as to exactly where the two ships had sank.

“…About 70 Germans did come up with a location. But those locations, taken together, didn’t make much sense – the positions were spread out, smeared over hundreds of miles. One survivor even placed the sinking almost halfway to Antarctica.” ~ Alix Spiegel, How Psychology Solved a WWII Shipwreck Mystery, NPR

The Australian military assumed that the captives were lying. Thus, most of the testimony was ignored. Decades of searching would follow, with nothing to show for it.

Using Psychology to find a Shipwreck?

In the 1990s, cognitive psychologists Kim Kirsner and John Dunn decided to throw their collective hat into the ring. After reviewing the testimony, they realized that the German accounts contained more truth than most realized.

“We wanted to make the case – show that the characteristics of these reports were the right kind of characteristics. That is, that the inconsistencies in the reports were precisely the kind of inconsistencies that occur naturally from failures of memory and the vagaries of transmitting information from person to person.” ~ John Dunn

Experiments performed during the 1930s by psychologist Sir Frederic Bartlett showed that people have a tendency to make consistent, predictable mistakes when recalling the past or passing on stories. For example, they will recall a confusing story differently so that it makes more sense to them.

Kirsner and Dunn subjected the German accounts to pattern analysis and found that they looked quite similar to Bartlett’s experimental data. This discovery indicated that the Germans were telling the truth. Most likely, only a few surviving officers knew the ship’s exact location at the time of the sinking. That information “probably spread to the other surviving crew members during and after their rescue,” leading to the confusing data set.

Next, Kirsner and Dunn used the various accounts to suggest a probable location for the two shipwrecks. By 2004, they handed over their findings – along with their guess at the location – to the “Finding Sydney Foundation. So, how close did they come to pinpointing the shipwrecks?

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

In 2008, David Mearns used his own methodology to locate the shipwreck of the HSK Kormoran. Amazingly enough, it was just 2.7 nautical miles from Kirsner’s and Dunn’s predicted location. The HMAS Sydney was discovered a short distance away.

Now, of course, Kirsner and Dunn didn’t actually find the ship nor was their expertise used to locate it. Mearns and his team deserve all the credit in that respect. However, he did benefit from a similar methodology in which a study of primary sources led him to the conclusion that the Germans had been telling the truth.

Regardless, this example shows that cognitive psychology can be a powerful tool to weed through disparate memories and conflicting stories. Maybe, someday soon, it can be used to answer other unsolved mysteries of history.