The True History of Space Nazis

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The first teaser for the sequel to Iron Sky came out this week and the internet by and large failed to give a shit.

That’s understandable. Critical consensus about the original Iron Sky, the science fiction comedy about the discovery of Nazi colonists living on the moon, was that it was a fantastic concept marred by the fact that it was a terrible, terrible movie. For those who missed it, the trailer is great. Skip the movie.

But enough about the failings of Hollywood. Let’s talk about space Nazis.

The novel concept behind the film’s premise isn’t actually that original. The idea that the Nazis had escaped to space and that UFOs were Third Reich war machines was a real part of ufology in its early days after the war. The Nazis really did apparently toy with the idea of saucer-shaped aircraft, and although there’s no evidence that they had a space program, Nazi scientists were interested in the concept of space travel (before they got distracted by the whole genocide thing.)

Some of the first UFO sightings to have been classified as “UFOs” were made by Allied fighter pilots during the war. Back then they were called “foo fighters,” unidentified and bizarre flying objects that went on to become a popular 90s rock band after they got bored of buzzing jet fighters. The actual reality of foo fighters is that they were probably mostly the same phenomenon that we attribute to UFOs today – reflections, lens flares, the light of Venus shining off some swamp gas, etc. But before they were attributed to aliens, witnesses thought that they might be some kind of hitherto unknown secret flight technology being tested by the Germans.

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Belief in Nazi UFOs persisted after the war, although it soon got mingled up with the growing pseudoscience of ufology and alien visitation. It’s a relatively obscure fact that Nazism in its early days was driven in part by the occult leanings of some German white supremacists. Cults existed in pre-war Germany that share some of the same roots as the modern New Age movement. The Thule society, whose members included some who would later become notable members of the Nazi party, believed that the white race owed its origins to refugees from Atlantis, and that they were naturally the superior race. Some believed that a far superior race of white Atlantians escaped underground, where they meddled in extremely advanced technology, which they provided to the Nazis to help them conquer the world.

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Some believe that the Nazis escaped after the war in their UFOs and set up secret bases in Antarctica and, yes, the moon. Prominent neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel believed that the Nazis were alive and well inside the hollow catacombs of the Earth, forever plotting, and that UFOs were really Nazi flying machines. Bulgarian “researcher” Vladimir Terziski believes that the Nazis landed on the moon as early as 1942 and have been in contact with aliens and/or subterranean supermen ever since. And as if there aren’t enough Nazis in our solar system already, they might also be on Mars.

The writers of Iron Sky were certainly aware of this mythology. Regarding the sequel, The Coming Race, the director has revealed that it draws from Hollow Earth theories about underground Nazis, and that it might involve “Adolf Hitler riding a dinosaur in the centre of the Earth.” As much as that sounds like more camp-for-the-hell-of-it geek bait like Nazi zombies or snakes on a plane, it’s fascinating to think how much of this people have actually believed.