The Spear of Destiny, also known as the Spear Longinus, and the Spear of Christ, is an ancient weapon, supposedly forged by the equally ancient Hebrew prophet, Phineas. Legend has it, is has been passed down from dynasty to dynasty over the centuries.
According to the Gospel of John (19:31-37) as Jesus hung on the Cross a Roman centurion, pierced His side with a spear. Blood and water spurted forth from the wound. The mixture apparently splattered in Longinus' face, restoring his vision, which had been failing.It was then he exclaimed, "Indeed, this was the Son of God!" as recorded in Mark 15:39.
In the oldest known references to the legend, in the Gospel of Nicodemus (of uncertain date, possibly 5th or 6th century), the soldier who pierced Christ's side is identified with a centurion called Longinus. Later Christian tradition further identifies him as Gaius Cassius.
The circumstances surrounding Jesus' crucifixion had such a profound effect on Longinus that he later sought out the surviving Apostles, so he could learn from them. He later moved to Caesarea of Cappadocia and became a monk, where he was eventually condemned to death for being a Christian.
The spear itself became a religious relic. The piercing was seen as proof of Jesus' death and his subsequent resurrection.
Over the centuries an object claimed to be this Holy Lance has passed through the hands of some of Europe’s most influential leaders, most recently Adolf Hitler. A legend has arisen that "whosoever possesses this Holy Lance and understands the powers it serves, holds in his hand the destiny of the world for good or evil."
This strange relic of The Passion of The Christ has been written about for nearly two thousand years.
Among those who are alleged to have possessed the Spear at one time or another are :
Herod the Great (King of Judea, ruled 37 BC-4BC)
Maurice the Manichean (from Egypt, who held the spear until his death circa 306, to keep it from the Emperor Maximian)
Constantine the Great (Roman Emperor, b.337, d.361, carried it into victory at the battle of Milvian Bridge and also while surveying the layout of his new city, Constantinople) Eusebius of Caesarea, who became a spiritual advisor to Constantine described the Holy Lance as it was at the height of Constantine’s power in the Fourth Century:
It was a long spear, overlaid with gold. On the top was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones, and within this the symbol of the Savior’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters – those letters the emperor was in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period. From the spear was also suspended a cloth, a royal piece, covered with a profuse embroidery of most brilliant precious stones and which, being also richly interlaced with gold, presented an indescribable degree of beauty to the beholder. The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that it should be carried at the head of all his armies.
Alaric (who sacked Rome)
Theodoric (the only man to force Attila the Hun to retreat, circa 451)
Justinian, Charles Martel (Frankish ruler, grandfather of Charlemagne, b.688?, d.741)
Charlemagne the Great (Carolingian King of France, Emperor of the West, b.771, d.814), carried the Spear through 47 victorious battles, but died when he accidentally dropped it).
In the early 900's, it fell into the possession of the Saxon Dynasty of Germany, passing from Heinrich I the Fowler (Duke of Saxony, Saxon King of Germany, ruled 919-936, the Spear was present at his victorious battle against the Magyars) to his son Otto I the Great (Saxon King of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor, ruled 936-973, Pope John XII (term 955-963) used the Spear to christen him Holy Roman Emperor in 936 - Otto went on to carry the Spear into victory over the Mongols in the Battle of Leck.
After his death, there are conflicting stories of what happened to the Spear. One tale says it was passed on to his son Otto II (Saxon King of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor, ruled 973-983), then to Otto III (Saxon King of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor, ruled 983-1002), and eventually to Henry II the Saint (Saxon King of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor, ruled 1002-1024). [A purported Holy Lance has been in Krakow since at least the 1200s, though German records indicate that the lance was a copy made from the German lance under Henry II, with a small sliver of the original embedded. Another copy was given to the Hungarian king at the same time.]
Another story claims it was moved to Antioch following the death of Otto I the Great, where it was allegedly unearthed by a Crusader named Peter Bartholomew in 1098 while the Crusaders were under siege from the Seljuk Turks under Kerbogha. Peter Bartholomew reported that he had had a vision in which St. Andrew told him that the Holy Lance was buried in St. Peter's Cathedral in Antioch. At the time some were skeptical, but others were convinced. In any case, after much digging in the cathedral, Peter Bartholomew took a hand and, in a few moments, discovered the lance. For some of the Crusaders this was a marvelous discovery. At the same time, dissension had begun in the ranks of the Muslim army besieging the city. This combination of factors resulted in the Christian army being able to rout the Muslims a few days later when they joined battle, allowing the Crusaders to decisively capture Antioch. That object is now at Etschmiadzin in Armenia. Scholars believe that it is not actually a Roman lance but the head of a Roman standard.
The holy spear that was used by the Holy Roman Emperors (from Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor on and the one most often referred to) as a part of their imperial insignia eventually found its way to Vienna, Austria, where they are kept in a museum.
Eventually, it fell into the possession of the house of Hohenstaufen (descendants of the house of Saxon) and to Frederick Barbarossa (Holy Roman Emperor and conqueror of Italy during the 12th century, ruled 1152-1190, Barbarossa died within minutes after accidentally dropping the Spear into a stream), Henry VI (King of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor, ruled 1190-1197), Otto IV (Holy Roman Emperor, ruled 1198-1218), and Frederick II (King of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor, ruled 1218?-1250). It was allegedly possessed by three other Hohenstaufen Emperors as well.
In 1411 Sigismund was made Holy Roman Emperor. In 1424 he announced: "It is the Will of God that the Imperial Crown, Orb, Scepter, Crosses, Sword and Lance of the Holy Roman Empire must never leave the soil of the Fatherland." This collection of relics, known collectively as the Reichkleinodien or Imperial Regalia, were moved from his capital in Prague to his birth place, Nuremberg.
Photo of lance and golden sleeve where it broke
When the army of Napoleon Bonaparte approached Nuremberg in the spring of 1796 many were terrified that Napoleon would seize the Spear and rule the world with it. The city councilors decided to remove the Reichkleinodie to Vienna for safe keeping. The collection of relics was entrusted to one Baron von Hügel, who promised to return the objects as soon as peace had been restored and the safety of the collection assured.
The Holy Roman Empire was officially dissolved in 1806.
Baron von Hügel took advantage of the confusion over who was the legal owner of the Reichkleinodie and sold the entire collection, including the Spear, to the Habsburgs. Baron von Hügel's perfidy did not come to light until after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. When the city councilors of Nuremberg asked for their treasures back the Austrian authorities' response was a curt rejection.
In the early 20th century, it was briefly in the possession of Kaiser Wilhelm II, before eventually ending up the Hofsburg Treasure House in Vienna.
It was there, in September of 1912, where Adolf Hitler first laid his eyes upon it...
I knew with immediacy that this was an important moment in my life...I stood there quietly gazing upon it for several minutes, quite oblivious to the scene around me. It seemed to carry some hidden inner meaning which evaded me, a meaning which I felt I inwardly knew, yet could not bring to consciousness...I felt as though I myself had held it in my hands before in some earlier century of history - that I myself had once claimed it as my talisman of power and held the destiny of the world in my hands. What sort of madness was this that was invading my mind and creating such turmoil in my breast ?
Adolf Hitler seized the Spear in the name of the Third Reich on March 12th, 1938, the day he annexed Austria. It was shipped via an armored SS train to Nuremberg on October 13th (the same date that the Knights Templar were destroyed centuries earlier).
Hitler's failure to invade England as he had planned was a fatal mistake which even the Spear of Destiny could not remedy. In time, the islands of the United Kingdom became the launching point for the greatest invasion in all of recorded history. On June 6, 1944, Allied forces made history with the landings in Normandy and soon the armies of the Third Reich were forced to retreat into the Fatherland. Hitler's generals realized very early on that the end was near, but history's most notorious tyrant held fast to his belief that possession of the Spear of Destiny would secure his final victory, no matter what the price.
As the Allies advanced ever closer to the German borders, the cities of German came under constant attack from the air as bombing raids continued around the clock. To protect the Spear of Destiny and an unprecedented amount of treasure in the form of gold, jewels, and priceless works of art stolen from conquered nations, Hitler ordered these relics to be placed underground in caves, abandoned mines, and bunkers specially constructed for the purpose. The Spear of Destiny, which some believe was stored at the Church of St. Catherine's for a number of years, was reposited in a bombproof bunker under the city of Nuremburg.
The Allied forces cut through the heart of Germany in the early spring of 1945, the once feared and dreaded German army had all but disintegrated into isolated pockets of resistance. The Allies pressed their bombing campaigns, laying waste to the grand cities of Germany. The end of the "Thousand Year Reich" would come at any moment, it seemed.
Hitler sequestered himself in a bunker under the capital city of Berlin. The Russians had assumed control over the eastern side of the city and the sounds of combat drew ever closer as the Soviet army pressed towards the Reichstag and Hitler's bunker. However close the end appeared to be, Hitler refused to surrender and continued to issue desperate orders to what German troops still remained within the city.
Throughout the history of the Spear of Destiny, those who wielded the sacred relic came to unprecedented position of power and were hailed as kings, emperors, and conquerors. But, as the legends state, the moment men of such greatness let the Spear slip from their fingers, their time on earth as rulers comes to a quick end. And such may have been the case with Adolf Hitler.
In the city of Nuremberg, the fighting had already ceased and a victorious American army began to secure the city. On April 30, 1945, at precisely 2:10 PM, First Lieutenant Walter William Horn (serial number 01326328), an adjutant assigned to the United States 7th Army, took possession of the Spear of Destiny in the name of the United States government. Within 90 minutes of the United States capturing the Spear, Adolf Hitler lay dead in his Berlin bunker after having taken his own life.
Horn, a specialist assigned to the intelligence unit of the 7th Army, held a very unique position within the ranks of the United States military. Very early on in the war, the US government recognized the need to preserve the cultural heritage of Europe by reclaiming the priceless works of art stolen by Hitler's army during their conquests. Horn was assigned to a unit specifically charged with the recovery of these treasures and he may have recognized the importance of his discovery from the moment he first laid eyes upon it. Horn was not the only US Army officer to recognize the value of the artifact.
News of the capture of the Holy Lance of Longinus quickly reached legendary General George S. Patton, who immediately took a personal interest in the relic. It is said that when the general first laid eyes upon the spear which had pierced the side of Christ, he became silent and withdrawn, meditating upon the object in deep contemplation.
Patton was well known for his deep scholarly interests in history and for his intense personal religious fervor, but there was another side to "Old Blood and Guts" which may explain his utter fascination with the Spear of Destiny. Patton was quite well known for his strong beliefs that he had been been reincarnated as a warrior many times over and was quite adamant about being the literal reincarnation of the legendary Carthaginian general Hannibal.
Whether or not his experiences in past lives allowed Patton to readily identify the relic which lay before him as the Spear of Destiny is a matter of speculation, but it is certain that he realized the great worth and importance of the ancient lance. Immediately, he ordered that the history of the artifact be researched and fully documented so that he might be better prepared to give a full report on it to his superior, General Dwight David Eisenhower. Patton personally supervised a great portion of the research efforts, carefully guiding his staff in all aspects of the project. In the end, he presented his findings to Eisenhower.
There is some contention at this juncture of the long history of the Holy Lance of Longinus as to what the conversation may have been between the two great generals, but it is believed that Patton was firmly in favor of claiming the spear in the name of the United States. Oddly, it was during this period in time when Patton began to petition his superiors for permission to begin engaging the Russians in battle, claiming that the threat of communism was every bit as evil as the banished threat of Nazism. Despite the speculation, in the end, General Eisenhower ordered the Spear returned to Austria.
There is another story that in light of the Spear's incredible legend, Patton is said to have become extremely upset at General Eisenhower's decision to return such a great talisman of power to the Hapsburgs. Consequently, some people have theorized that the lance which was actually returned to Vienna may not have been the original spearhead, but that it is, rather, a copy - a counterfeit - of the original which Patton insisted be retained by the United States.
It is interesting to note that George Patton, in his poem Through a Glass Darkly, curiously posits himself as Longinus in a previous lifetime.
Stories, of the power of the Holy Lance have persisted for centuries.
One of the earliest documented uses of the Holy Lance is credited to Attila the Hun, who acquired it as he cut his path of destruction through Europe. When his army was weakened from famine and pestilence 'in Italy, he galloped his horse to the gates of Rome and hurled the lance at the feet of the officers who had been sent out to surrender the city. "Take back your Holy Lance," he said, "it is of no use to me, since I do not know Him that made it holy."
The staff of the spear has long since disappeared. Arculpus, about 670, saw it at Jerusalem, where it must have been restored by Heraclius, but it was then venerated at the church of the Holy Sepulchre. After this date practically nothing is heard any more of it from pilgrims to the Holy Land. In particular, St. Willibald, who came to Jerusalem in 715, does not mention it.
All that remains now are the Spear's head (in two sections), and a bolt used to connect the two sections, rumored to be one of the actual nails from the True Cross.
The Spear hads been in the possession of the Royal House of Hapsburg (de jure Holy Roman Emperors) for quite some time. It now rests, once again, in the Hofsburg Treasure House in Austria, where Hitler first saw it in 1912, and where the public can see it, free of charge, Monday through Saturday, 9am-6pm.
Did Hitler really think possessing the spear would help him win the war? How important was the spear to Hitler - who never really seemed to make a big deal out of it after it was seized from the museum, at least in public - is not clear.
Trevor Ravenscroft captured the world’s attention with his 1972 opus The Spear of Destiny, the Occult Power Behind the Spear Which Pierced the Side of Christ and fixed his version of the legend in the minds of many today. He claims that Adolf Hitler started World War II to capture the spear, hypothesizing that Hitler's interest in the relic probably originated with his interest in the 1882 opera Parsifal — by Hitler’s favorite composer, Richard Wagner — which concerns a group of knights and their guardianship of the Holy Grail, as well as the recovery of the Spear. He spent much of his book presenting “evidence” that the principal players in the world drama of the 1930 and 40s were reincarnations of the real life people who had been the models for the characters in Wagner’s opera Parsifal. His book dealt primarily with the past lives of the Nazi inner core. His contention was that they had been involved in using the Spear of Destiny for black magic in the eleventh century and were at it again, describing World War II as a wizard’s battle between black and white magicians..
Though a number of historians cast doubt on Hitler's obsession with the Spear as it was reported by Trevor Ravenscroft et al, recent work by researcher and author Alec MacLellan has unearthed material from Ravenscroft's original source that seems to validate some of the stranger assertions.
Other historians have found Trevor Ravenscroft’s research in Spear of Destiny suspicious and his book remains controversial. Alan Baker, author of Invisible Eagle, The History of Nazi Occultism, thinks Hitler was more interested in getting hold of the Hofburg treasures for financial, not occult reasons.
Ravenscroft repeatedly attempted to define the mysterious “powers” that the legend says the Spear serves. He found it to be a hostile and evil spirit, which he variously referred to as the Antichrist and the Spirit of the Age.
Ravenscroft claimed that his friend and mentor Dr. Walter Johannes Stein would have written "The Spear Of Destiny" if he had lived long enough to do so. Curiously, several persons who said that they too were friends and associates of Dr. Stein deny Ravenscroft’s claimed friendship with Dr. Stein, saying that they met but once, and then only for an hour. Since Ravenscroft’s death from cancer in 1989 there has been an international debate over how much of his book was actually written from hard facts and how much he simply made up.
Ravenscroft accepted that the artifact on display today in room 11 of the Schatzkammer (Treasure House) was the object that pierced the side of Christ. Dr. Robert Feather, a British metallurgist, who is currently preparing his own book on the Spear, has since disproved this. He was permitted in 2003 to conduct a series of tests on it, which conclusively proved that it had been forged in the 6th or 7th centuries and so could not have been used at the Crucifixion. While Ravenscroft could not have known what Dr. Feather would find thirty years after his book came out, a visit to the museum would have revealed to him that its curators had been convinced of its Carolingian origins for over a century.
He also completely ignored the half-dozen other objects scattered around the world, each of which is claimed to be the real Holy Lance. In so doing he gives us not a book about the spear that pierced the side of Christ, but a book about the Nazi’s obsession with the Spear of Destiny and other matters occult.
Since then the Spear of Destiny has held the central place in many novels, scholarly tomes, TV shows (fictional and documentary) and even comic books: including Indiana Jones And The Spear Of Destiny; Hellboy; and Hellblazer, which gave us the 2005 film Constantine with Keanu Reeves.
Ravenscroft was not the only post-war college professor to write about, and add to the Holy Lance mythos. In 1988-89 Dr. Howard A. Buechner, M.D., professor of medicine at Tulane and later L.S.U., added a strange chapter to the tale in his two books Hitler's Ashes - Seeds Of A New Reich and Adolf Hitler and the Secrets of the Holy Lance. His two books on the Holy Lance, now long out of print, became underground bestsellers in the ‘90s. In them he relates that he was contacted by a former German U-boat submariner who claimed to have helped take the Holy Lance to Antarctica in 1945 and to have helped a group of German businessmen who called themselves The Hartmann Expedition recover it in 1979.
Doctor Buechner was a retired Colonel with the U.S. Army who had served as a battalion surgeon in World War II. In the mid-1980s he was presented by the pseudonymous “Capt. Wilhelm Bernhardt” with what was claimed to be the log of the equally pseudonymous “Hartmann Expedition,” including a hand-written letter of authenticity signed by “Hartmann,” and photos of some of the objects recovered.
According to Buechner, this former Nazi sailor claimed that he could prove that the famous Spear of Destiny currently on display in the Schatzkammer Museum in Vienna is a fake.
Prior to the war Heinrich Himmler, who would become head of the Occult Bureau of the SS, formed a circle of Knights dedicated to the Holy Lance, called The Knight’s Grand Council. It has been widely reported that they used a replica of the Holy Lance in arcane black magic ceremonies in the specially appointed Castle of Wewelsburg, Germany, which today welcomes tourists with a taste for the macabre. Capt. Bernhart claimed that during the war Himmler had Japan's greatest sword maker flown to Germany where he created a second and much more exact duplicate of the lance. The “perfect” copy then went on display in Nuremberg, from whence it was turned over to Austrian authorities at the war’s end, while the real one remained under Himmler’s control – until sent to Antarctica by order of Hitler.
In the final hours of the war, according to this sailor, Hitler personally selected a man who would later be called “Col. Maximilian Hartmann” to send several of his most prized possessions, including the Spear of Destiny, to Antarctica via submarine – the one on which Bernhart said he had served. Further, Col. Hartmann was alleged to have recovered the real Spear of Destiny, again with aid from Bernhardt, in 1979. According to Buechner and Bernhart the Holy Lance is now in hiding somewhere in Europe, in the possession of the reconvened order of Himmler’s knights, renamed The Knights of the Holy Lance.
Spear legend meets Urban legend in the writings of the two conspiracy theory authors, Smith and Piccard. Their retelling of the Spear myth stretches from its purported creation in 3061 B.C. by Tubal-Cain, seventh generation grandson of Adam (the Spear was forged from a meteorite at the same time that he made the sword Excalibur), to Admiral Byrd’s battle (Operation Highjump) in the Antarctic against Nazis in their underground fortress in Neuschwabenland. Their version is replete with Nazi UFOs and the search for Atlantis. They connect the Thule Society (a Nazi secret society) to the Yale University Skull and Bones fraternity and the horrific events of September 11, 2001.
The Prime Meridian, zero degrees longitude, runs from pole to pole passing through Greenwich, England, Western France, Eastern Spain, Western Africa, and the South Atlantic Ocean, before reaching Antarctica in the region known today as Dronning (Queen) Maud Land. It was named that in 1930 by the Norwegian Riiser-Larsen in honor of the Queen of Norway.
Adolf Hitler had authorized several expeditions to the poles shortly before WWII. Their stated objective was to either to rebuild and enlarge Germany’s whaling fleet or test out weaponry in severely hostile conditions. Yet, if true, all of this could have been achieved at the North Pole rather than at both poles and been much closer to home. For some reason, however, the Germans had long held an interest in the South Polar region of Antarctica with the first Germanic research of that area being undertaken in 1873 when Sir Eduard Dallman (1830-1896) discovered new Antarctic routes and the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Inseln" at the western entrance of the Biskmarkstrasse along the Biscoue Islands with his ship Grönland during his expedition for the German polar Navigation Company of Hamburg. The Grönland also achieved the distinction of being the first steamer to operate in the southern ocean.
The First German Antarctica Expedition in 1901 was the so-called Gauss expedition. A further expedition took place in 1911 under the command of Wilhelm Filchner with his ship the Deutschland.
Between the wars, the Germans made a further voyage in 1925 with a specially designed ship for the Polar Regions, the Meteor under the command of Dr. Albert Merz.
Then, in the years directly preceding the Second World War, the Germans laid claim to parts of Antarctica in order to set up a permanent base there. Given that no country actually owned the continent and it could not exactly be conquered as no-one lived there during the winter months at least, it appeared to the Germans that the most effective way to conquer part of the continent was to physically travel there, claim it, let others know of their actions and await any disagreements.
In late 1938 the Germans undertook an expedition to Antarctica, specially retfitting a seaplane carrier, the Schwabenland for the purpose. Around one million Reichsmark, nearly a third of the entire expedition budget - was spent on this refit alone. It was placed under the command of one of Germany's most experienced polar navigators, Captain Alfred Ritscher.
The Schwabenland had been used for transatlantic mail deliveries by special flightboats, the famous 10 ton Dornier Super Wals since 1934.
These Wals were launched by catapult from the Schwabenland and had to be accelerated to 93mph before they could become airborne. At the end of each flight a crane on the ship lifted the aircraft back on board after they landed in the sea.
That the mission was military in nature seems beyond doubt, for the Nazis spared no effort to outfit the expedition as thoroughly as possible.
At a cost of some millions of Reichsmarks, the expedition was under the personal direction and mentorship of none other than Luftwaffe chief, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, which leaves one to wonder what possible purpose Göring would have in sponsoring such an expedition.
[In the 1930s, animal fats were still an important industrial resource and Germany suffered from a shortage of fat. Germany was one of the main purchasers of whale oil from Norway at a considerable expense to the German foreign currency reserves. In 1937 Germany launched a whaling fleet of its own, which set sail for the Southern Ocean. When the fleet returned the following summer, three annual exploring expeditions were planned. Hermann Göring took a personal interest in the project and rushed the preparations through the Reich bureaucracy. Due to the war, only the first expedition took place. During the war, German surface raiders and a few submarines were active in the far southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans near Antarctica. One surface raider, the Pinguin captured an entire Nowegian whaling fleet and sent it to occupied France in early 1941]
It is also to be noted that apparently the then Deputy Führer and Party chief, Rudolf Hess, was also privy to whatever secret purpose and findings this expedition had. Some people allege that this was in part a hidden motivation for Hess's inexplicable flight to Great Britain in 1941 to conduct secret "peace" negotiations with representatives of the British Fascist movement.
The crew was prepared for the mission by the German Society of Polar Research and as these preparations neared completion, the society also made the sensational step to invite Richard E. Byrd, the most famous American Antarctic researcher. On the mid of November 1938 he arrived in Hamburg and showed the crew and a clearly selected publicity of 84 persons his new Antarctic documentation movie in the Urania of Hamburg. Byrd, who had flown across the south pole as the first human in 1929, was already at this time a living legend, a national hero to the Americans and most of the polar researchers. In 1938 he still was civilian. This invitation to the Germans could have been a typical irony of history, for nearly ten years later exactly this Richard E. Byrd - then in the rank as US NAVY Admiral - got the instruction to destroy the secret German Antarctic base 211.
The Schwabenland left the port of Hamburg on 17 December 1938 and followed a precisely planned and determined route towards the southern continent. In little over a month the ship arrived at the ice covered Antarctica, dropping anchor at 4B0 30B” W and 69B0 14B” S on January 20, 1939.
The expedition then spent three weeks off Princess Astrid Coast and Princess Martha Coast off Queen Maud Land. Truly beautiful, Queen Maud Land is dominated by the giant shelf of ice, flowing slowly from King Haakon VII - plateau over the South Pole, down to the ocean. This area is called "Fenriskjeften" after the mouth of the giant Devil-wolf in Norse mythology. According to this mythology Fenris' (the wolf) teeth were very sharp, and they would kill all people on Earth during Ragnarok - the end of the world. Most of the mountains in Fenriskjeften have names with analogies to teeth, or to other parts of the Norse.
The use of wolf symbology is interesting as it touches upon a theme in Nazi symbology which used the wolf as a totem of the hunter-killer: Hitler's retreat in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria was nicknamed "Wolf's Lair" and the tactic used by German U-Boats to defeat convoys during the War was called "Wolfpack."
During these weeks, the two Schwabenland aircraft, the Passat and Boreas, flew 15 missions across some 600,000 square kilometers of Antarctica, taking more than 11,000 pictures of the area with their specially designed Zeiss Reihenmess-Bildkameras RMK 38b.
New canning techniques were invented for the food needed on the voyage from and back to Germany, and new clothing was designed, including allegedly a "grey almost bullet proof seamless and metallic appearing suit...made of whale skin." [Christoph Friedrich, Secret Nazi Polar Expeditions] The inspiration for the expedition may have had hidden occult motivations as well, for the occult Thulegesellschaft or Thule Society subscribed to a Nordic Atlantis hidden beneath the polar ice, whence sprang, so the legend goes, the Germanic race. [This fact would also place the expedition within the brief of the SS Ahnenerbedienst.] In any case, small teams of specially selected biologists and other scientists accompanied the expedition to run laboratory experiments on board the refurbished Schwabenland. [The expedition is the subject of a fascinating novel by William Dietrich called Ice Reich. Dietrich's thesis is that the Germans were after unknown microbial and bacteriological life forms that were frozen in the ice and that could be transformed into biological weapons.]
The Germans chose the region of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land, an area of the continent claimed by Denmark. In blatant disregard for international law, the Nazis overflew the enire area, dropping thousands of little Swastika flags on the region with little spikes to embed them in the ice, and claimed it for Germany, renaming the region Neuschwabenland after Swabia as it is known today, which was one of the original duchies of the German Kingdom.
Swabia was home to one of the most powerful dynasties of European monarchs, The Hohenstaufen Dynasty, which ruled the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries. Frederick Barbarossa was the greatest of the Hohenstaufen kings, and a wielder of the Holy Lance. It has been reported that Hitler believed he was a reincarnation of Barbarossa. He named one of his houses after him and dubbed the invasion of Russia Operation Barbarossa.
But they did more than just fly and drop flags.....
The German pilots extensively photographed the region, and reported mountain ranges in excess of 12,000 feet altitude, rocky crags projecting above the fields of ice. But most amazingly, they allegedly found ice-free ponds, heated geothermally, in which grew various unknown species of algae. They also discovered the southern tip of the fault line that runs from New Zealand, through Neuschwabenland, and up the Atlantic Ocean, the famous Atlantic "trench". The Germans concluded that such features might indicate the presence of rocky caverns on the continent, heated geothermally, the perfect place for a hidden base in the world's most isolated, desolate, and inaccessible wilderness.
Most intriguingly, the scientists aboard the Schwabenland were not idle in analyzing the potential foodstuffs of the continent. It is known that German dieticians were commissioned to prepare tasty and nutritious meals using only what was available in Antarctica.
Emperor penguins were captured for return to Germany for study. Walruses were shot and their bodies dissected. Their bodies were tested for fat, protein, vitamin and other nutrient content. The biological findings made during this expedition would occupy German university scientists for months to come but the aim of this focus was secret .
Clearly, if these allegations are true, then the Germans were preparing for a relatively large and permanent presence on the continent.
Then, via an unusual zigzagging route between Africa and South America - itself one of the intriguing mysteries of the expedition - the Schwabenland returned to Germany, reaching port on April 10, 1939. Göring presented the expedition members with written medals and commemorations. Then, all further mention of the expedition in the German - or any other press - ceased.
Allegations from German writers of known or suspected Nazi sympathies of a continued German presence on the Antarctic continent during and after the war:
There is no conceivable reason, at least on the surface, for such an intense interest in the South Polar regions...
The true purpose of this expedition has never been satisfactorily explained; there is merely a series of puzzles, related reports and snippets of information that are no longer open to verification. What is not open to doubt however, is that in the decade preceding the Second World War, the Germans did almost nothing that did not put the entire structure of the country on a war footing.
This activity affected all aspects of German life; military, civilian, economic, social and foreign policies, engineering, industry etc. Given that the seizing of Neu-Schwabenland occurred on the very eve of the war, it can only be concluded that that the polar expedition was of major importance and significance to the goals and development of the German nation.
Nor did activity end with the outbreak of the war... In fact, it intensified... The South Atlantic, including South Polar waters became quite active...