There are recurring tales of the development of disc-shaped aircraft by the German Reich during World War 2. Although some researchers have found, on diligent examination, that the V-7 stories tend to have originated post-WW2, and in fact post 1947, when American private pilot Kenneth Arnold reported his string of unidentified flying objects "skipping like saucers" through the air near Mt. Rainier, Washington, enthusiasts are not deterred.

The accounts given between 1950 and 1957 by Schriever, Belluzzo (or Bellonzo) and Miethe, three of the four engineers supposedly responsible for the "Schriever, Habermohl, Miethe and Bellonzo Flying Disc" , and who supposedly came up with several disc-shaped aircraft designs that used jet engines, are said not to support each other. Each alleged participant gives different information, individually taking the lead in being responsible for what was achieved, and none of them state that they worked with the other three. Essentially, all claim to have been responsible for an assortment of different disc programmes, at a variety of different locations, testing and flying their different discs.

One of Schriever's drawings shows an egg-shaped cockpit surrounded by a rotating fan-like disc that provided the lift; a Miethe drawing depicts a smooth, flat saucer with an elongated hump on its back for the cockpit and a pair of exhausts pointing rearwards.

The Schriever machine was said to have been tested in 1945 and to have reached an altitude of 12 kilometers in a little over three minutes, achieving a top speed of 2000 kilometers an hour. Evidence supporting this claim is at the best rather sparse; and Schriever himself, who moved to the United States after the war, indicated that prototypes of the craft were destroyed before flying as the Germans abandoned their facilities ahead of the Allied advance.

Others interpret Schriever as saying that the craft did not progress beyond blueprint stage, and the planned speed and height figures were subsequently misquoted as ones that had actually been achieved.

The history of German "flying saucers" in World War 2 harks back to designers such as Alexander Lippisch, who supposedly tested circular-wing aircraft designs in 1940-41 wind tunnels at Göttingen, although without obtaining spectacular results.

Even before that, Professor Heinrich Focke was particularly interested in emerging helicopter and autogyro technologies and was involved in the design and production of a number of advanced aircraft designs during the war. The creation of the jet engine encouraged him to design a power system which evolved into what we know today as the "turbo-shaft" engine.

In 1939 he patented a saucer-type aircraft with enclosed twin rotors:

The exhaust nozzle forked in two at the end of the engine and ended in two auxiliary combustion chambers located on the trailing edge of the wing. When fuel was added these combustion chambers they would act as afterburners to provide horizontal propulsion to Focke’s design. The control at low speed was achieved by alternately varying the power from each auxiliary combustion chamber.

Still earlier, in the late '30s, another German was also designing circular aircraft. His name was Arthur Sack, a farmer from Machern (near Leipzig). As a model aircraft enthusiast, he decided to begin work on a model of a flyable disc. Although reputable aeronautical publications, among them RAF Flying Review have published photos of this "Nazi Flying Saucer", all we know is that he built a model of a flat, circular aircraft, sporting the colors of the German Luftwaffe. Only a few other details, barring two photographs, have survived. The militaristic-looking "saucer" had a canopy reminiscent of the Bf-109, the mainstay German fighter of World War Two.

The public presentation of Sack's flying saucer took place during the celebration of the First National Contest for Air Models With Combustion Motors, held on the 27 and 28 of June, 1939 in Leipzig-Mockau (Germany). The model measured 1,250 mm and was powered by a motor driving a 600 mm propeller at 4500 rpm.

The competition seems to have been a complete debacle, no model performing correctly over a short, fixed course and many not even taking off, Sack's among them. Sack had to throw it into the air himself. His disc managed to fly 100 meters.

Here the story takes a dramatic turn, for among the competition's spectators was General-Air Minister Udet. The claim is that he was deeply impressed by the concept and became something of a supporter of the military development of disc-shaped aircraft, apparently overlooking the pathetic performance of the competition models. He promised Sack that he would "smooth the road for further research."

Arthur Sack built some additional "flying saucer" models prior to beginning the construction of a manned aircraft during World War 2 at the MIMO plant (Mitteldeutsche Motorwerke), Leipzig. This design was designated the A-6, (a design which is also attributed, at least in part, to Dr. Alexander Lippisch at the Göttingen Aviation Institute) and work was supposedly completed at the Brandis flight shop (Flugplatz-Werkstatt) in early 1944.

The prototype AS6 was equipped with an Argus 10cc, 140 HP engine, and a 6.40 meter circular wing. Its weight was estimated at some 750-800 kgs.

Flight testing began in April, 1944, at Brandis. On the first attempt the rudder and brake both failed. After various efforts were made to correct the faults, further takeoffs were attempted. The pilot found the rudder very heavy - an experience which repeated itself when, post-war, the first flight took place of the US Chance Vought XF5U disc-shaped aircraft, which the A-6 was said to resemble in principle.

Several subsequent attempts, with accompanying equipment breakage, achieved no better than a few short bounds into the air, and then the fog of war obscures any accounts of further development; although in autumn 1944 a flying saucer was sighted over the Neubiderg aerodrome, near Munich. Perhaps the AS6 achieved a brief success.

In its February 1989 issue, the German magazine Flugzeug published the following report of a "flying saucer" sighting. A German official recorded that, at the Prag-Gbell aerodrome in August/September 1943, he and a good number of flying companions saw inside a hangar "a disk some 5-6 meters in diameter. Its body is relatively large at the center. Underneath, it has four tall, thin legs. Color: aluminum. Height: almost as tall as a man. Thickness: some 30 - 40 cm., with a rim of external rods, perhaps square orifices."

The upper part of the body ... was flat and rounded... Along with my friends, I saw the device emerge from the hangar. It was then that we heard the roar of the engines, we saw the external side of the disk begin to rotate, and the vehicle began moving slowly and in a straight line toward the southern end of the field. It then rose almost 1 meter into the air. After moving around some 300 meters at that altitude, it stopped again. Its landing was rather rough... Later on, the 'thing' took off again, managing to reach the end of the aerodrome this time.

Flugzeug's editors treated the report cautiously, if only because they saw it as "antithetical to those described by Schriever, Habermohl, Miethe, and Bellonzo with their vast basic dimensions."

Perhaps we can gain a perspective on the validity of the Schriever, Habermohl, Miethe, and Bellonzo disc by recognizing that the details first emerged in 1950, in a period when the US, then the world, began taking an interest in outer space and, perhaps not surprisingly, interpreting any strange aerial phenomenon in terms of space ships or flying saucers. Rudolf Schreiever came forward, and claimed that he had worked with a small team at facilities near Prague with a view to developing a flying saucer-type vehicle.

According to Der Spiegel magazine dated March 30th 1950, in an article entitled "Untertassen-Flieger Kombination":

A former Luftwaffe captain and aircraft designer, Rudolf Schriever, who says engineers throughout the world experimented in the early 1940s with 'flying saucers' is willing to build one for the United States in six to nine months. The 40 year old Prague University graduate said he made blueprints for such a machine, which he calls a 'flying top', before Germany’s collapse and that the blueprints were stolen from his laboratory. He says the machine would be capable of 2,600 mph with a radius of 4,000 miles. Schriever is a US Army driver at Bremerhaven.

There is certainly no need to attribute the development of Germany's disc-form aircraft of World War 2 to alien intervention or to pursuit of any mystical beliefs. The designs were explorations of the potential of disc-shaped wings which, in theory, are strong and easy to build. Any occult or alien assistance obviously failed to result in the construction of one provably functioning model of advanced design.

We are left with the sparse evidence that Sack, an aero modeler, built a clumsy flying disc and supposedly worked on a full-scale saucer-shaped aircraft, also attributed to Dr. Lippisch, which according to accounts managed a few awkward hops; an anecdotal record of an accidental sighting of attempts to fly an equally clumsy disc-shaped craft; and the conflicting allegations surrounding designs by Schriever, Habermohl, Miethe, and Bellonzo.

Focke's innovative thinking may have produced a number of advanced aircraft, on paper and in reality, but no flying disc seems to have been among them. Whatever projects to explore disc-shaped aircraft the Germans undertook in World War 2, the evidence does not point to achievement of any particularly outstanding results. Significantly, perhaps, the German disc stories gained recognition in the 1950s, when the popular fascination with flying saucers was growing in the US.

Stories of the scientific advances of the Third Reich have circulated for decades
KEVIN McCLURE explains that the flying saucer legend ain’t exactly rocket science

It’s much easier to dismiss an absurd claim that is fresh and new than one which has been around for a while and taken root. It is, for example, simple enough to assess the credibility of David Icke’s assertion that Dr Josef Mengele – seemingly after he died – used mind-control to make a young American woman go to Balmoral Castle and officiate at rituals where the Queen and Queen Mother turned into reptiles and devoured small children; or to judge whether, as ‘Sir’ Laurence Gardner tells us in an explanation on which his whole ‘grail bloodline’ theory depends, the otherwise unmentioned daughter of Joseph of Arimathea (in this version, the brother of Jesus Christ) popped over to Wales to marry and settle down with Bran the Blessed, a mythical god-figure who spent much of his life as a detached head (and who, even if we take the original myths as a guide, would have been well over 100 years old at the time of the marriage).

Dislodging established and much-repeated nonsense is much more difficult, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And in cases where such nonsense tends to exaggerate or glorify the activities of the Nazis during World War II, I think we should try particularly hard. In that spirit of endeavour, let’s see what we can do about the very untrue story of Viktor Schauberger – builder of flying saucers. The detailed and ever-growing fiction of the Nazi UFO mythos tells us that the Nazis were so technically, creatively and scientifically brilliant that, had the war only lasted a few months longer, they would have won it by using their amazing flying saucers, which were so very nearly ready for combat when the Allied forces entered Czechoslovakia and Southern Germany.

There are two hurdles the mythos has always fought to overcome. Firstly, that there is no historical record that the characters said to have been involved in saucer development – figures like Schriever, Belluzzo, Habermohl, Miethe and Klein - ever had anything to with the development of ‘flying discs’. Only Giuseppe Belluzzo has any verifiable scientific background at all; Schriever was a delivery driver, and it is unclear whether Habermohl and Miethe even so much as existed as identifiable individuals.

Secondly, there is no historical evidence – physical or photographic – of the supposed flying discs. We are repeatedly told of craft of immense power, and sometimes immense size, defying all scientific parameters known before or since. Yet not so much as a bolt or a tachyon drive remains to verify their existence. There are just the oft-reproduced, fuzzy post-war photos taken by those who wished to convince us of saucer reality, but who usually succeeded only in demonstrating the unexplored potential of domestic containers and the art of close-up photography.

The mythos argument is that rather than being extraterrestrial in origin, the discs photographed between 1947 and 1955 were actually developed from captured Nazi blueprints, by captured Nazi scientists. Relocated to America, they chose to have their miracle craft chug unimpressively around the dusty back roads of the USA, sometimes landing, sometimes crashing, and sometimes – particularly the very small discs – utilising conveniently-placed string to hang from trees, swinging gently and photogenically in the wind. Not one claim of flying Nazi discs pre-dates 1949 and the increased US media interest in reports of flying saucers.

Enter Schauberger

Once upon a time, in Austria, there was a forester called Viktor Schauberger. He lived from 1885 to 1958, and in his long life he devised and worked on a variety of inventions. He had a keen and original interest in the motion and motive potential of water, and the most notable of his achievements were in the design and development of log flotation methods and flumes in the 1920s. Thereafter, he seems to have tried to develop his ideas towards turbines and cheap natural power and energy. There is little evidence that any of these later ideas ever reached fruition, and although his son and grandson have continued with some more theoretical aspects of his work, it seems that no repeatable demonstration of Schauberger’s supposed flight technology has ever taken place.

For those who want to further the cause of secret Nazi science, or to maintain the flying saucer mystery, or both, Viktor Schauberger has been a prayer answered. Not because he actually built flying discs for the Nazis, but because some round, bulbous inventions he probably worked on were photographed and, with a bit of airbrushing to add Luftwaffe insignia, they looked rather like the round, bulbous inventions that figured in 1950s ufology. That he left no physical or technical evidence of his supposed disc experiments, was at times somewhat confused about the facts (there is evidence that he spent some time in a psychiatric hospital), and kept a diary in a shorthand that was difficult even for his family to comprehend, could only help. He even had a long, impressive beard to suggest that he was a misunderstood genius. History was ripe for rewriting – and not just the once.

The Mythos Returns

The most recent phase of belief in the Nazi UFO mythos began in the last six years. Susan Michaels, in Sightings: UFOs (Fireside, 1997), reproduces a range of palpable fictions from unreliable sources, and introduces some freshly-minted nonsense. Possibly becoming confused by inconsistent, fictional accounts of a meeting with Hitler in 1933, she says:

Also in 1939, German physicist Victor Schauberger developed a design for a flying saucer using energy he claimed could be harnessed from the tonal vibrations, or ‘harmonics’, of the cosmos. As far-fetched as this theory seems, Schauberger’s research attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler, who offered to provide funds to build Schauberger’s own anti-gravity saucer. But Schauberger, who was a deeply committed pacifist, turned Hitler down.

The following year, UK aviation writer and photographer Bill Rose wrote an article (“UFO sightings – Why you can blame Adolf Hitler”) in the popular science magazine Focus (October 1998). After, apparently, four years of research, he concluded that:

The father of the German disc programme was Rudolf Schriever, a Luftwaffe aeronautical engineer assigned to Heinkel in 1940... a full-sized piloted version, the V2, first flew in 1943 with Schriever at the controls. Thirty feet [9m] in diameter, the V2 had a fixed central cabin around which a ring with adjustable vanes rotated to provide thrust in both the horizontal and vertical planes... Early in 1944, Schriever’s top-secret programme was moved to Czechoslovakia... Schriever was joined by a number of leading aeronautical engineers... Another addition was the Austrian scientist Victor Schauberger, who just before his death in 1958, claimed to have worked on a highly classified US disc programme in Texas.

Rose seems to be the first to have suggested that Schauberger actually worked together with the four other ‘engineers’ who, according to the mythos, built flying saucers, but even Rose’s remarkable ‘sources’ pale in comparison to those apparently available to Gary Hyland, author of Blue Fires (Headline, 2001), who says of Schauberger:

The first test-flight of the machine was reportedly amazingly successful (it apparently shot through the roof of the laboratory and had to be recovered some distance away)... [Schauberger] developed his ideas further, to the point where a full-sized, though unmanned flying disc prototype that used his new engine apparently flew under radio control... At the end of the war, the American forces got to Leonstein ahead of the Russians and found Schauberger and his team of experts. After letting the members of his team leave after a thorough interrogation, the Americans held Schauberger in protective custody for six months; it would seem that they knew exactly what he had been up to and wanted to prevent other nations, as well as renegade Nazis, from continuing to use his services.

The history of a mythology

The ‘Nazi UFO’ mythos has itself had three distinct phases of life, with long fallow periods between. The first was in the early 1950s, when a few individuals, none of them connected with any post-war rocket or aviation programme in Russia, the USA or anywhere else, claimed to be at least partly responsible for the saucer sightings of the period. Schauberger – still alive at the time – didn’t get a mention at that stage, and made no claim of his own.

Then, around 1975, Canadian Ernst Zündel, also known as Christof Friedrich and notorious for his pro-active and well-publicised scepticism about the reality of the Holocaust, published (as Mattern Friedrich) the book UFO – Nazi Secret Weapon? Amid questions like “Is Hitler Still Alive?” and “Did the Nazis have the Atom Bomb?” he set out a range of wild speculations about lost Nazi technology and, for the first time to my knowledge, introduced a number of the key elements concerning Schauberger’s supposed involvement. Zündel writes:

Schauberger did experiments early in 1940-41 in Vienna and his 10 foot (3m) diameter models were so successful that on the very first tests they took off vertically at such surprising speeds that one model shot through the 24-foot (7.3m) high hangar ceiling. After this ‘success’, Schauberger’s experiments received ‘Vordringlichkeitsstufe’ – high priority – and he was given funds and facilities as well as help. His aides included Czech engineers who worked at the concentration camp at Mauthausen on some parts of the Schauberger flying saucers. It is largely through these people that the story leaked out.

Zündel also provided an account of Schauberger’s later history and death. Although Schauberger actually died at home in 1958, Zündel’s version has it that:

Viktor Schauberger lived for some years in the United States after the war where he was reported to be working on UFO projects. His articles were greatly discussed and then one day in Chicago he just vanished. His battered body was found and as to who killed Schauberger or why has never been discovered. One version has it that gangsters tried to beat his revolutionising secrets out of him and accidentally killed him.

Zündel published the first drawings of what he referred to as the ‘electro-magnetically-powered Flying Hats’.

In the next year, 1976, a biography of sorts appeared (Living Water, Gateway Books, 1997), written by Olof Alexandersson, a Swedish ‘electrical engineer and archive conservationist’. While admitting that “the information for the basis of this book is fragile”, he managed, from unlisted sources, to add substantially to the mythos:

After a while Schauberger received his call-up. It was now 1943, and even older men were being drafted. He was eventually appointed the commandant of a parachute company in Italy, but after a short stay, orders came from Himmler that he should present himself at the SS college at Vienna-Rosenhügel. When he arrived, he was taken to the concentration camp at Mauthausen, where he was to contact the SS Standartenführer Zeireis, who told him he had a personal greeting from Himmler. We have considered your scientific research and think there is something in it. You can now either choose to take charge of a scientific team of technicians and physicists from among the prisoners, to develop machines utilising the energy you have discovered, or you will be hanged.’

Schauberger understandably chose the first option (insisting that his helpers must no longer be regarded as prisoners) and so an intensive period of study began. After the SS college, where the research was taking place, was bombed, Schauberger and his team were transferred to Leonstein, near Linz. The project they initiated there was a ‘flying saucer’ powered by a ‘trout turbine’.

One of the problems faced by the Nazi ufologists is to explain the complete absence of palpable evidence. There is no period of history more thoroughly examined than 1939-1945, and no subject more closely examined than the Nazis, and more particularly, the SS. Had there been any reality in the claims for the construction and testing (or more) of high-speed flying disc technology by the Third Reich during that period, then we would have every reason to expect that it would have been discovered, reported, and analysed by writers and researchers far more competent than those referred to above. Yet it never has been.

Nonetheless, there is a recurrent and developing counter-cultural argument that insists these extraordinary events actually took place. It is a theory that has sold millions of books and videos, and it continues to fuel a belief that, given just a few more months, the true genius of the Nazis, the fanaticism of the SS, and the inspiration of the Führer would have won through, and the Allies – no, not just the Soviet Union, but all the Allies – would have been defeated.

While I’m happy to be challenged by solid evidence, I’ve found no reason to believe that Viktor Schauberger knew anything of this. I think he died before it was made up. He never built a flying disc, let alone one that flew using some unknown and unprecedented method of propulsion. He wasn’t sought out by Hitler or the SS, didn’t choose slave workers from Mauthausen to assist him, and wasn’t held by the Americans after the war because of his technical knowledge and achievements.

If the Russians burned his flat down, I doubt that they even knew whose flat it was. The only truth seems to be that he visited the USA in the 1950s, leaving behind him components of two experimental water turbines; the objects that Zündel (who adorned them with Nazi insignia) said flew.

The 'Balkenkreuz is NOT a Nazi Symbol!

I have been told, all too often, not to use the term ‘Nazi UFOs’, because this is really about secret and suppressed technology. It just happens that the Germans were clever enough to invent it, and even if Ernst Zündel manufactured or exaggerated some of the facts, then he only did it for the money.

On ‘The Zündelsite’, in the ‘Zündelsite Zgram’ for 26 December 1998, the matter is explained in his own words. He says of his publications and his radio appearances:

I realised I had discovered a potent publicity tool with this topic – which would get me lots of free time on radio and TV shows, to expose other, more ‘politically incorrect’ topics to vast audiences... I slipped in lots and lots of ‘Revisions of History’... I talked about the disinfecting procedures to protect the valuable worker inmates in the Dora-Mittelwerke rocket underground assembly factories... I mentioned the medical facilities in the camps, the calorie count of the meals served, etc... The UFO books themselves also had very important politically otherwise impossible-to-tell messages embedded within them, such as the National-Socialist Party program and Hitler’s analysis of the Jewish question...

All that – and I made a fine bundle of money! The money I made from the UFO books I invested in publishing the booklets "Die Auschwitz-Lüge" - a translation of The Auschwitz Lie, Dr Austin App’s booklet 'The Six Million Swindle' and "A Straight Look at the Third Reich'; and, of course, later, "Did Six Million Really Die?' by Richard Harwood.

If Zündel’s own account is to be believed – and I think it probably is – then his fictions about Nazi UFOs have funded the distribution of Holocaust revisionist material around a substantial part of the world. So, at the end of the day, there’s more at stake here than just tall tales and technological fantasies; there would appear to be a good ethical argument to stop repeating such fictions and to put the ‘Nazi UFO’ mythos to rest once and for all.

Zündel's real beliefs about UFOs are not clear. Frank Miele summarized it well in his article “Giving the Devil his Due” concerning Zündel's book UFOs: Nazi Secret Weapons?:

The book argued that what are usually described as flying saucers from outer space are actually Nazi secret weapons, still being launched from a hole in the ice in Antarctica. This may be why he jokingly told me...that I was dealing with the "real lunatic fringe." In a later phone conversation, Zündel told me that the UFO book was in fact a ploy.

"I realized that North Americans were not interested in being educated. They want to be entertained. The book was for fun. With a picture of the Führer on the cover and flying saucers coming out of Antarctica it was a chance to get on radio and TV talk shows. For about 15 minutes of an hour program I'd talk about that esoteric stuff. Then I would start talking about all those Jewish scientists in concentration camps, working on these secret weapons. And that was my chance to talk about what I wanted to talk about."

"In that case," I asked him, "do you still stand by what you wrote in the UFO book?" "Look," he replied, "it has a question mark at the end of the title."