Friday, March 30, 2007
After the initial flurry of interest, International Polar Year (IPY, launched this March) seems to have gone a bit quiet. I propose pepping things up with a good conspiracy theory.
Handily, a recent paper in Polar Record1 describes one. The Nazis, some believe, established a secret base in Antarctica to which they spirited Hitler at the war's end, fought off British special forces and an American military taskforce, partly by shooting down US planes using flying saucers. The Americans eventually destroyed the base with nuclear weapons in the 1950s. Since then, various governments have striven to conceal this.
In this light, it's no effort to re-imagine Antarctic explorations proposed under the aegis of IPY. A quick tour of the website reveals a project entitled 'Exploring Antarctic Dry Valleys in Preparation for Mars Landings'. It seems scarcely less unlikely that this could really be a mission to recover Nazi treasure or technologies.
Like all good conspiracy theories, this one is built on a skeleton of facts. There was a German expedition to Antarctica in 1938-39. There was classified British military activity in Antarctica during the war. In July 1945, two months after VE Day, the German submarine U-530 appeared at the Argentine naval base of Mar del Plata. The next month, U-977 did the same.
In 1946-47 the US military mounted Operation Highjump, the largest ever Antarctic expedition, consisting of 4,700 men and 13 ships. And in 1958, they carried out three nuclear explosions in the southern hemisphere that were meant to stay secret, but didn't.
However, when you see a paper titled "Hitler's Antarctic base: the myth and the reality," you know that reality is going to disappoint. Using documentary evidence and first-hand experience of Antarctica, Colin Summerhayes of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, UK, and Toronto-based Peter Beeching puncture every last bit of the story.
To give just a few of their points: the Germans' pre-war visit to Antarctica, concerned mainly with establishing a whaling base, was fleeting, never spending more than a day on the ice shelf. The wartime British force in Antarctica was tiny, and concerned mainly with observation and securing territorial claims to the islands around the Falklands.
The U-boats were in the southern ocean during the Antarctic winter, when the pack ice would have made it impossible for them to reach the coast. The US atomic tests in the 1950s took place around Tristan da Cunha, thousands of kilometres from Antarctica.
It doesn't help that the various conspiracists haven't got their story straight. The proposed location for the Nazi base (often a cavern under the ice) has wandered around over most of the Norwegian Antarctic territory of Dronning Maud Land. And it's not agreed whether the submarines were carrying Hitler himself, or just his ashes.
Taking 21 peer-reviewed pages to address this looks like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. The story ends up being indulged and damned simultaneously, in the same way that highbrow papers report celebrity goings-on by harrumphing over the lowbrow media's obsession with them (a situation which, I confess, sounds mildly familiar).
And Summerhayes and Beeching face the problem of all scientists trying to engage with unreason. If the people advancing this kind of stuff — one of whom was recently jailed for holocaust denial — cared about the evidence, they wouldn't be where they are in the first place.
But Summerhayes says that he needed to take a stand. "These theories are incredibly popular among Germans and Russians," he says. "You can either leave it alone, or you can say 'hang on...'."
Debunking the story was "a lot of fun — I became hooked", he says. "I'm using it as an exercise to educate people about Antarctic science." Or at least to raise the icy continent's press exposure.
Attracted to the fringe
The polar regions are a particularly good spot for a conspiracy theory. Until recently, the people that went there had a habit of not coming back. And when they did, they told stories of unimaginable cold and wind, freezing deserts, strange creatures and mind-boggling hardship. More recently we've witnessed the collapse of thousands of square kilometres of ice shelf and discovered giant underground lakes.
Small wonder that the ice has become a screen on which to project lurid imaginings. If you can imagine Amundsen's expedition eating their huskies at 40 below, it's not such a stretch to picture Adolf and Eva chipping ice from the walls of their lair to chill their G 'n' Ts. Lob in some UFOs, and all that's missing for the perfect contemporary myth is a link to 9/11.
Polar myth-making has gone on for centuries. The Greeks and medieval Europeans imagined Thule, a land off the northern edge of the map. Off the top of my head, I can think of Frankenstein pursuing his monster to the Arctic, Superman's Arctic fortress of solitude, and the secret alien Antarctic bases in the X Files movie and Alien vs Predator. There's an evening I'll not get back.
Many of the world's pollutants concentrate in the polar regions, carried there by wind and ocean currents. For some reason something similar seems to happen with our fantasies.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
I guess someone made a comic that is only available in PDF format. Here's what they have to say for themselves:
Adolf Hitler - Porn Star is the outrageous new adventure for Macho Women With Guns. Packed with hilarious innuendo and bizarre encounters, Adolf Hitler - Porn Star is guaranteed to brighten up your roleplaying sessions. If you like Macho Women With Guns then you are going to love Adolf Hitler - Porn Star! If you are demure, sensitive or easily offended, step away from the download now. Complete with limited collector's edition Adolf cover (elements of this description may technically be fibs) Adolf Hitler - Porn Star is 22 pages of zany chaos on the Greek Island of Knobbos.
For a mere $5.60, it can be yours. (I'll pass)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tom Cruise has been alienating a lot of people lately, so what better way to get on their good side than by trying to kill Hitler? Production begins this summer on an untitled World War II thriller, starring Cruise and directed by Bryan Singer. The film will be based on actual events, and is said to be about German generals who hatch a scheme to assassinate Hitler at the height of WWII. Cruise and Paula Wagner (who looks like she's blowing up a building with her mind in her imdb photo), recently took over the re-launched United Artists, and they've got a pretty smart strategy for turning the studio around: Have Cruise star in everything!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
More Asian Nazi fascination in Taiwan:
A rally planned for yesterday in Taichung by members of a student group to advocate Nazi ideology and pay tribute to Hitler was canceled without explanation.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday warned the group, called the National Socialism Association (NSA), not to hold the event to revere Adolf Hitler. The ministry said the move would tarnish Taiwan's image and offend countries invaded by Nazi Germany.
"Members of the NSA plan to meet on Saturday at the Taichung train station to pay homage to Adolf Hitler and advocate Nazism. The NSA and this event have been covered by major media outlets worldwide and have given the international community a skewed picture of Taiwan," the ministry said in a statement.
"Although Taiwan respects and enjoys freedom of speech, it is a responsible member of the global village that upholds universal values and respects human rights. Hitler and the Nazis invaded many countries during World War II and murdered 6 million Jews. This violence has been widely condemned by the international community," it added.
"In a world of increasingly frequent international exchanges, this ministry hopes that freedom of speech in Taiwan does not come at the expense of tarnishing our good name as a guardian of freedom and human rights," the statement said. "Making sure that this does not happen is our shared responsibility. Clearly, advocating Hitler and Nazism is both wrong and harmful for Taiwan's international image," it added.
The NSA says it has 20 members and 800 supporters planning to join it. NSA's Web site is emblazoned with an emblem similar to a swastika. The group says it was founded 19 months ago, but only became known recently. It claims to study the "good theories" of Hitler, like building a welfare state and wants to restore Chinese values, but also favors limiting the number of foreign workers. On its Web site, some of the members have signed their names as "Hitler," "Hess," "Colonel," "Nazi Station Master" and "Gestapo." The self-exposure of the NSA has triggered concerns that this could herald the emergence of a neo-Nazi movement in Taiwan.
Israel's de facto ambassador to Taiwan, Raphael Gamzou, earlier this week expressed concern over the group. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has also condemned the NSA for its worship of Hitler. A news broadcast by CTI TV yesterday reported that one person had showed up at Taichung train station yesterday and claimed the planned gathering was simply one for fans of World War II militarism.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
"Look at Hitler's armies" said Mr. Gore gesticulating wildly. "Hitler's armies used horse power, marching, bicycles and trains more than all of the allies put together. While Hitler was limiting the carbon footprint of his troops, the allies used trucks and jeeps which spewed prodigious amounts of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere. The carbon footprint of Hitler's armies was minuscule compared to the allies."
Mr. Gore pointed out that while the allied air forces were in the air spewing tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide, Hitler grounded the Luftwaffe by not providing aviation fuel." Mr. Gore also noted that U-Boats were more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than allied surface ships and that they were the first hybrids since they used electric power while submerged. "There is a direct line from the U-Boat to the Prius and other hybrid motor vehicles" Mr. Gore bellowed.
When questioned by the audience concerning Hitler's policy of genocide against the Jews and other sub-humans, Mr. Gore replied "Everyone is whining about the carbon dioxide spewed from the smoke stacks of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Treblinka. Hasn't any one considered how much more carbon dioxide would have been spewed into the atmosphere if these six million had been allowed to live?"
"Gore has his facts right, " Says Adolph Herman Rudolph Smith, Scientist-In-Residence of the American Nazi Party and a science advisor to Mr. Gore. "He is emerging as our new Fuhrer.., I mean leader. He is the savior of mankind." Mr. Smith notes that Mr. Gore's will soon address other critical issues such as the hollowness of the earth, using UFO technology to stop global warming, and proving that global warming is real by playing rock CDs backward.
Mr. Gore was dressed in an attractive pink business suit with matching pumps. He had a stunning floral silk scarf wrapped around his throat and a colorful corsage of violets and baby's breath. Mr. Gore was under the impression that he was selected as "Woman of the Year" by the Harvard Hasty Pudding Club.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Hitler, who has been dead for almost sixty-two years, was Austrian by birth, and was only granted German citizenship in 1932, a year before he became chancellor of the country. For seven years before that, having been granted release from his Austrian citizenship, he was officially stateless.
Now Isolde Saalmann, a deputy in Lower Saxony's state legislature, has put in motion an attempt to rescind the citizenship – which was granted in Braunschweig, the city that Saalmann represents.
We want to clear this up once and for all.
Ms Saalmann said: 'If the state of Lower Saxony as the legal successor of the then free state of Braunschweig distances itself from it, it could be helpful. We want to clear this up once and for all.'
But she added: 'This should never serve to play down history along the lines of "Look, he wasn't a German at all." That would never be my intention.'
However, others are sceptical of the practicality of her plan. An anonymous justice ministry official told Der Spiegel: 'Dead is dead. You can't take anything more away then.'
Friday, March 9, 2007
BERLIN (Reuters) - The mayor of a small town in Germany on Thursday called on Google Earth to delete a reference to a nearby "Mount Hitler" from its geographic image service, saying it was misleading.
Andreas Wiedemann, mayor of Bad Toelz, south of Munich, said the peak near the Bavarian town had been known as Mount Hitler for a short time during the Third Reich but had been given back its original name of Heigelkopf after World War Two.
Google Earth users who call up a map of the area are given both names for the 1,205-meter (3,950 feet) mountain.
"We've been telling Google for years that they should take it down immediately," Wiedemann told Reuters. "It's misleading as it was only called that for a few years."
Google Germany spokesman Stefan Keuchel said the Hitler name had appeared due to a "technical accident." The company was investigating and would consider deleting the reference if there was no historical reason for its inclusion.