In the 1981 Steven Spielberg film “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”, Indiana Jones pursues Nazis who have recovered the Ark of the Covenant, a religious relic with great powers. The plot of the film was created and written by screenwriter Philip Kaufman who based it on Adolf Hitler’s World War II obsession with recovering supernatural religious artifacts, including his supposed possession of the ‘Spear Of Destiny’.
Used by the Roman centurion Gaius Longinus to pierce the side of of Jesus upon the cross during his crucifixion, Hitler obtained the relic and later knowing the end of the Third Reich was near, German U-boats were supposedly loaded up with Nazi treasure including the Holy Lance and spirited away to a secret base in Antarctica. A story perhaps worthy of another Indiana Jones film, but upon further research in to this fantastical claim it turns out there actually was a secret Nazi mission to Antarctica. A recent WikiLeaks Document (10.1017/S003224740600578X) exposes a 2006 report that explains in great detail the very real…
RAIDERS OF ANTARKTIKA
Published in 2006 by the Scott Polar Research Institute and written by Colin Summerhayes from the University of Cambridge and a Canadian who does corporate research in predictive trend analysis, Peter Beeching, the expose entitled “Hitler’s Antarctic base: the myth and the reality” explains in great detail the actual events of a Nazi expedition to Antarctica, the supposed secret WW2 British task force sent to flush them out, the mysterious disappearance of German U-boats after the war, their appearance in Argentina months after the German surrender, a subsequent post war operation by the United States and the mysterious detonation of nuclear weapons in the sub-continent. It is all quite marvellously unbelievable, and after sifting through the information, some startling evidence brings to light what seems to be a real-life Indiana Jones movie.
With much conspiracy speculation swirling around, it is hard to isolate what actually happened in Antarctica and what the Third Reich was actually up to there. According to the WikiLeaks report there is concrete evidence that the Nazis did indeed conduct a secret operation in Antartica in 1938-39 under the guise of a “scientific operation” but it was in fact a survey mission to claim parts of the relatively unknown continent for Germany.
This expedition was organized to claim a piece of Antarctica for Germany and to find a place suitable for a whaling fleet. Authorized by Herman Goering as part of the German four-year plan for economic development, on 17 December 1938 the “New Swabia Expedition” left Hamburg for Antarctica aboard the MS Schwabenland, an expedition with 33 members plus the Schwabenland’s crew of 24.
MS Schwabenland was a German catapult ship owned by the Deutsche Luft Hansa company (the predecessor to the modern day airline Lufthansa, but legally not associated). The Cambridge document publishes very rare photos of this Nazi expedition and the aircraft used to claim parts of Antarctica when they arrived in January 1939. Survey “bombs”, aluminum cylinders emblazoned with the Nazi swastika were air dropped from the Lufthansa Dornier D15 seaplanes launched by catapult from the Schwabenland ship.
Altogether the Nazi expedition flew over hundreds of thousands of square kilometres and took more than 16,000 aerial photographs, some of which were published after the war along with colour photographs of the operation. This indeed actually happened and to this day those 1939 survey markers are probably still there buried under the ice in Antarctica. Germany made no formal territorial claims to New Swabia, and no whaling station or other lasting bases were apparently built there. Yet, the myth continues perhaps in part to the 1943 statement by Admiral Donitz of the German Navy who said “The German submarine fleet is proud of having built for the Fuhrer, in another part of the world, a Shangri-La on land, an impregnable fortress.”
It is now known that during WW2 another expedition was sent to Antarctica, but this time the British sent in a team under the name OPERATION TABARIN, perhaps to flush out any Axis bases since the Kriegsmarine (German navy) was known to use remote Antarctic islands as rendezvous points, and for sheltering U-boats and supply ships. Unknown to Churchill at the time and led by Lieutenant James Marr, on Saturday January 29, 1944 a team of 14 from the Admiralty and the Colonial Office left the Falkland Islands in two ships, HMS William Scoresby and Fitzroy, for Antarctica. The British operation saw the first ever bases to be constructed in Antarctica completed.
THE COLLAPSE OF THE NAZIS AND THE MYSTERIOUS MISSING UBOATS
After the defeat of the Nazis, Admiral Donitz, Hitler’s successor after his death, gave the order for all U-boats to surrender to Allied forces. Almost all did except for U-530 and U-977, two German subs that vanished for two months after the official surrender, but later appeared in an Argentinian harbour, one without log books and missing crew lists. Speculation arose, and the Toronto Star even published an article “Hitler’s On Ice in Antarctica”.
Reports began to circulate that Hitler knowing his imminent demise had ordered documents and artifacts loaded aboard U-boats to take them to Antarctica under “Project Valkyrie 2”. A book by Nigel Braddon “The Mystery Of U-33: Hilter’s Secret Envoy” describes how four lead lined bronze boxes were loaded aboard the U-boats and ordered to cache them in Antarctic caves.
U-530 did go missing after the war, her captain, Oberleutnant Otto Wermuth, had decided to surrender in Argentina but did not explain why it had taken him more than two months to reach there, nor why the submarine had jettisoned its deck gun, or why the crew carried no identification, nor what had happened to the ship’s log. After interrogation and explanation of the reasons behind the delayed appearance in Argentina, the German sub was taken by the US Navy and sunk during target practice in 1947.
The other sub, U-977 left for waters south after the war with its captain, Oblt.z.S. Schaffer, deciding to sail to Argentina rather than surrender. The U-boat made various stops along the way and later Schäffer wrote a book: U-977 – 66 Tage unter Wasser (“U-977 – 66 Days Under Water”), the first postwar memoir by a former U-boat officer. That sub was also sunk by target practice by the US Navy in 1946.
The WikiLeaks document continues to explain the various conspiracies surrounding stories of a Nazi base in Antarctica and tells of a very real US task force sent there in 1947 under the code-name OPERATION HIGHJUMP, officially titled The United States Navy Antarctic Developments Program. In 1946–1947, the United States Navy organized an operation by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd Jr. with Task Force 68, an operation involving 4,700 men, 13 ships, and 33 aircraft.
Operation Highjump’s primary mission was to establish an Antarctic research base. Another US led task force returned in 1947 under the code-name Operation Windmill, the United States Navy’s Second Antarctica Developments Project, an “exploration and training mission”.
The extensive report by Summerhayes and Beeching seems to successfully disprove any notion of an “Antarctica Conspiracy” and thoroughly researches all angles of the Nazi connection and the post-war military operations. You can read the full document here. Peppered amidst the snowbanks of speculation are flakes of truth, and even though its likely fiction, a secret Nazi submarine base in Antarctica certainly makes for a good script to propel Indiana Jones back to the big screen in a unique new adventure. Below are some composite photographs based on these stories that bring that idea to life in Indiana Jones and the Raiders Of Antarktika.
National Post: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2356e6bb-5122-47f1-844a-047a13f2db1d