1945: Flight of the Ostara-Nazi flying saucer?
On the grey morning of January 8, 1945, a flock of reporters, pencils and notepads at the ready, hovered around Admiral Jonas Ingram, commander of the Eastern Sea Frontier, in his wardroom aboard a warship in New York harbour. The scribes had come for what Ingram's public-relations staff had promised would be 'a historic press conference.'
Ingram, a heavyset, flat-nosed old salt who had gained national recognition as football coach at the(U.S.) Naval Academy (in Annapolis, Maryland), was one of the Navy's colourful characters--and most outspoken. Seated behind a long table, Ingram said:
Gentlemen, I have reason to assume that the Nazis are getting ready to launch a strategic attack on New York and Washington by robot bombs.
There was a gasp of astonishment from the reporters.
I am here to tell you that these attacks are not only possible, but probable as well, and that the (USA's)East Coast is likely to be buzz-bombed within the next thirty or sixty days.
Ingram eyed his listeners, then added grimly:
But we're ready for them. The thing to do is not to get excited about it.(The buzz-bombs) might knock out a high building or two, might create a fire hazard, and most certainly would cause casualties. But (the buzz-bombs) cannot seriously affect the progress of the war.'
he hard-nosed Ingram added that 'it may be only ten or twelve buzz-bombs, but they may come before we can stop them.'"
'At any rate,' the admiral concluded, 'I'm springing the cat from the bag to let the Huns know that we are ready for them!'.
Coach Ingram's announcement triggered a media sensation.
The following day, January 9, 1945, the New York Times ran the story with the headline
ROBOT BOMB ATTACKS HERE HELD POSSIBLE
But the war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945, and no Nazi rocket came plummeting out of orbit to crash in Manhattan.
Was Coach Ingram given to flights of fancy?
Not at all.
Allied intelligence knew that the Germans were working on a "New York Rocket." At least twenty of these large rockets were built at the SS underground base at Nordhausen. What happened to them is one of the enduring mysteries of World War II.
In his 1952 book, V2--Der Schuss ins Weltall, Major General Walter Dornberger, commander of the Peenemünde Rocket Research Institute, described the "New York Rocket" in detail.
Thus the A-9 came into being...the missile was planned to reach at a height of about 20 kilometres (12 miles), a maximum speed of 4,400 kilometres per hour (2,800 miles per hour) and then go into a shallow curving glide with a peak of nearly 30 kilometres (18 miles).
On arrival over the target at a height of 5 kilometres (3 miles), it was planned to dive vertically, like the" V-1, a primitive rocket-powered cruise missile, best known in World War II as "the buzz bomb."
A better plan, however, and one which greatly improved range, was to construct the A-10, weighing 87 tons and with a total propellant capacity of 62 tons, as the first step of the combined A-9/A-10.
The A-9 was placed on top of the A-10.
The latter had a thrust of 200 tons for 50 to 60 seconds and gave the rocket a speed of 4,400 kilometres per hour.
After the exhaustion of the first step (stage or A-10), the A-9 would be ignited and lift out of the A-10.
Once we reached this stage (in the blueprints), the horses fairly bolted with us. "With our big rocket motors and step (multi-stage) rockets, we could build space ships which would circle the earth like moons at a height of 500 kilometres (300 miles) and at speeds of 30,000 kilometres per hour (18,000 miles per hour).
Space stations and glass spheres containing the embalmed bodies of the pioneers of rocket development and space travel could be put into permanent orbits around the earth.
An expedition to the moon was a popular topic, too.
Then we dreamed of atomic energy, which would at last give us the necessary drive for flight into the infinity of space, to the very stars.
Amazingly, the gang at Peenemünde drew up these blueprints during 1942 and 1943. In his book, Gen. Dornberger, a child of the Nineteenth Century, admits to being a little "disconcerted" by these off-duty bull sessions, in which Wernher von Braun, Willy Ley, Klaus Reidel and even Hitler's favourite aviatrix, Hannah Reitsch, "chatted with such easy familiarity about outer space, the moon, the planets and what forms extraterrestrial life might take."
The question remains: did the A-9/A-10 combo ever make it into space?
There are a handful of clues that it did.
In 1968, Ballantine published a photo on the back cover of their paperback book on German secret weapons of World War II.
It shows a swept-winged A-9 on top of a cluster of rocket boosters. Flames pour out of five nozzles on the array. It has the hazy appearance of being shot with a long telephoto lens.
This photo is similar to the Soviet rockets then being launched from Baikonur. Unfortunately, with nothing in the photo's background to offer a size comparison, there is no telling whether the "customized" Nazi rocket is full-sized or merely a much smaller test model.
On the other hand, on November 19, 1954, Georg Klein, a former scientist at Peenemünde then living in exile in Zürich, said he had worked on a Flugscheibe (flying disc) project at Peenemünde in 1942. The Nazi saucers were built by a team of three scientists --Schriever, Miethe and Bellonzo -- and the vehicle was given the code name V-7.
On October 10, 1952, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that a space rocket had been launched from an SS facility near Prague (now the capital of the Czech Republic) in February 1945. The vehicle sounds suspiciously like an A-9/A-10. And the launch came about a month after Admiral Ingram's press conference in New York City.
During the summer of 1943, the Peenemünde research centre was seized by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. German rocketry became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the SS. During a trip to Berlin on September 6, 1943, Gen. Dornberger met his new boss, 42-year-old SS-Brigadeführer Hans Kammler.
He had the slim figure of a cavalryman, neither tall nor short. In his early forties, broad-shouldered and narrow in the hips, with bronzed, clear-cut features, and a high forehead under dark hair slightly streaked with grey and brushed straight back. Dr. Kammler had piercing and restless brown eyes, a lean curved beak of a nose, and a strong mouth, the underlip thrust forward as though in defiance. That mouth indicated brutality, derision, disdain and overweening pride. The chin was well-moulded and prominent.
One's first impression was of a virile, handsome and captivating personality. He looked like some hero of the Renaissance, a condotierre of the period of the civil wars in northern Italy.
Kammler was Himmler's most trusted aide. He had a reputation of being the man who could get things done. In 1942, for example, Kammler, an architect by trade, had personally designed and supervised the construction of the giant Vernichtungslager (destruction camp) called Auschwitz II, with its capacity for 200,000 prisoners, at Birkenau in southern Poland.
Now Himmler had new work for him. The Reichsführer-SS wanted an underground factory "completely impervious to Allied bombs" that would build all of the contraptions in the Peenemünde gang's "blue sky" blueprints. It is not known if Hitler approved of this or not--it's part of what Colonel-General Erich von Manstein once called "the hermetically-sealed SS-Reich--but Himmler was determined to build a workable spacecraft.
Himmler "urged Pohl to build factories for the production of war materials in natural caves and underground tunnels immune to enemy bombing and instructed him to hollow out workshop and factory space in all SS stone quarries, suggesting that by the summer of 1944 they should have the 'new cavemen' installed in the greatest number of 'uniquely bomb-proof work sites'...
Brigadeführer Hans Kammler succeeded in creating underground workshops and living quarters from a cave system in the Hartz mountains in central Germany in what (Albert) Speer, writing to congratulate him, called 'an almost impossibly short period of two months' a feat, he continued, 'unsurpassable even by American standards.'"
With Kammler at the helm, production of V-1 and V-2 weapons went into high gear. In his book V-1, V-2: Hitler's Vengeance on London, David Johnson noted that
During the (V-1) Flying Bomb assault, from mid-June to early September 1944, 2,419 of the pilotless aircraft crash-dived into London. Rail and transportation networks were seriously disrupted. War production fell off.
Between 8th September 1944 and 27th March 1945, 517 V-2 rockets struck London, with another 378 falling short of their target and impacting in Essex. Throughout southern England, a grand total of 1,054 came down. In London alone over 2,700 civilians were dead from the rockets.
On March 27, 1945, the last V-2 to hit Britain came down on Orpington, Kent, about 20 miles (32 kilometres) south-east of London."
On the night of 17 December (1944) a V-2 crashed into the Rex cinema in Antwerp (Belgium) during a crowded show. When Hitler was informed that 1,100 people, including 700 (Allied) soldiers had been killed, by a characteristic irony he was reluctant to credit the report. 'That would finally be the first successful launch,' he observed sarcastically, 'But it is so fairytale that my scepticism keeps me from believing it. Who is the informer? Is he paid by the launch crew?'
But if Hitler had little faith in the V-2, the same cannot be said of Himmler and Kammler. Himmler gave his aide everything he needed to keep the rocket program going.
Kammler still believed that he alone, with his Army Corps and the weapons over which he had absolute authority, could prevent the imminent collapse, postpone a decision and even turn the scales. The (V-2) transports still moved without respite to the operational area" in the Netherlands, Dornberger wrote. "Convoys of motor vehicles bridged the gaps in the railways. Kammler's supply columns, equipped with infrared devices that enabled them to see in the dark, rumbled along the Dutch highways.
Himmler's interest in space flight grew out of his personal commitment to the occult. When he had been appointed leader of the Schutzstaffel (Protection Squad) in 1929, the group had been a small unit within the larger Sturmabteilung or Brownshirt militia, a kind of Secret Service devoted to the protection of Hitler and the Nazi leadership. By 1945, however, Himmler had transformed the SS into "a state within a state." Under his direction, the SS had become the Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun) , an order of mystics that numbered in the low millions.
In his book Hitler's Flying Saucers, author Henry Stevens pointed out:
The Black Sun to these initiated individuals was a physical body like our visible sun except that the Black Sun was not visible to the naked eye...The Black Sun is sometimes represented symbolically as a black sphere out of which eight arms extend. Such is its most famous rendition on the mosaic floor at Wewelsburg Castle which served as the spiritual home of the SS.
Himmler's scientists were influenced by some ideas originating in Asia. Tibet and India are the suspects in question. UFOs have been reported over Mongolia, Tibet and India for centuries. The ancient Indians even claimed to have constructed aircraft which resembled flying saucers. These saucers are called Vimanas.
Since his days in the mystical group Artamen in the early 1920s, Himmler had been fascinated with the scriptures of ancient India. As a reader of the Rig-Veda and the Mahabharata, he would have been familiar with the tales of rishis (Hindu wizards) visiting other worlds in outer space. So perhaps it's no surprise that he sent the German SS-Ahnenerbe, an organization whose purpose was associated with researching German ancestry, out (on) expeditions to the East with the express purpose of acquiring ancient, hidden knowledge.
Kammler transferred Gen. Dornberger and Wernher von Braun into the Wasserfall anti-aircraft rocket program in late 1944. Meanwhile, work continued on the Schriever-Miethe V-7 flying disc. With help from another mystical group, the Thule Gesellschaft, the project developed a craft called the Haunebu-1. This saucer "had a 25-meter diameter, a speed of 4,800 kilometers per hour (3,000 miles per hour) and carried a crew of nine men."
In November 1943, a second saucer, the Haunebu-2, was built, slightly larger and could travel 6,000 kilometres per hour (3,600 miles per hour) for fifty-five hours.
A year later, in early December 1944, Gruppe Kammler unveiled its showpiece, the Haunebu-3, which "had a diameter of 71 meters (234 feet), and could reach a speed of 40,000 kilometers per hour (25,000 miles per hour)" and remain in space "for up to eight weeks, carrying a crew of 32 men.
Unaware of the progress of the Schriever-Miethe team, Gen. Dornberger proposed to suspend work on the A-9/A-10 "New York Rocket." The order was immediately countermanded. "But now, at the end of 1944, Kammler demanded its resumption," the general wrote, "I had no idea why.
In retrospect, it appears that either Himmler or Kammler--it is not at all clear who--planned to use the A-9/A-10 as a booster to get the Haunebu-3, now referred to as the Ostara (ancient German goddess of the dawn), into orbit rather than have the big saucer make the trip under its own power.
On January 8, 1945, the first version of the A-9...took off. The control failed about 30 meters (100 feet) above the firing table (launch pad), Dornberger wrote, "A few days later, we were unable to launch another missile because the alcohol tank had developed a leak. At last, on January 24 (1945), we had our first success. The rocket, climbing vertically, reached a peak height of nearly 80 kilometres (50 miles) at a maximum speed of 4,300 kilometres per hour (2,700 miles per hour)." (This may have been the rocket in the wartime photo that appeared on the back cover of Ballantine's book.)
All that needed to be done now was to strap two or three A-9/A-10 boosters together, with the Ostara as payload, and launch from Himmler's new SS base near Prague.
The same day the A-9/A-10 had its successful launch, January 24, 1945, Soviet troops of Marshal Ivan Konev's First Ukrainian Front (army group) entered Auschwitz. Russian soldiers saw for themselves the results of Kammler's earlier "big project."
"On April 3, 1945, I had orders from Kammler to evacuate my staff of four hundred and fifty old Peenemünde hands to the Lower Alps near Oberammergau. We moved on April 6, as the American tanks advanced through Bleicherode toward Bad Sachsa," Dornberger wrote, "I parted from Kammler and spent the last month of the war at Oberjoch near Hindelang with my staff and Professor von Braun, who had been injured in an automobile accident."
So, on April 7, 1945, Hans Kammler, the architect of Auschwitz-Birkenau, pulled a disappearing act worthy of Houdini. "There are five different versions of his death," Henry Stevens wrote, "And they all read like pulp fiction."
Did Kammler head for outer space aboard the Ostara? Or did he leave on an even larger spacecraft, the Andromeda? Only one person knows the answer to that question, and he committed suicide with a cyanide pill on May 23, 1945 -- Heinrich Himmler.
But if anybody had a really, really pressing need to leave Earth in April 1945 it was SS-Brigadeführer Hans Kammler.
See the books:
V2--Der Schuss ins Weltall by Walter Dornberger, Bechtle Vertag, Esslingen, Germany, 1952
Hitler's Undercover War by William Breuer, St. Martin's Press, New York, N.Y., 1989
V-1,V-2, Hitler's Vengeance on London by David Johnson, Stein & Day Publishers, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.,1981
Flying Saucers Uncensored by Harold T. Wilkins, The Citadel Press, New York, N.Y., 1955
Himmler by Peter Padfield, MJF Books, New York, N.Y., 1990
Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-1945 by Max Hastings, Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, New York University Press, New York, N.Y.
Hitler's Flying Saucers by Henry Stevens, Adventures Unlimited Press, Kempton, Illinois, 2003