Neil Armstrong was not the first man on the moon. Hitler was. He beat Armstrong by 27 years, according to a conspiracy theory that festers in the far reaches of the internet.
As far as I can tell, these claims originate in a science fiction novel called Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein. It was published in 1947 and followed three teenagers on a pioneering flight to the moon, where they came upon a secret Nazi base. Of course, conspiracy theorists argue that Heinlein got his ideas from something that had actually happened.
According to the theory, Adolf Hitler ordered a crew of Third Reich astronauts to fly to the moon in 1942, in the middle of World War II, and establish a base there. It’s also said that after the Axis Powers were defeated in 1945, Hitler escaped to this base in a rocket, living out the rest of his days on the dark side of the moon.
Indeed, the idea that Hitler did not blow his brains out on 30th April 1945 is a conspiracy theory in itself (which I covered in a previous article). But I totally get where the conspiracy theorists are coming from on that one. Reliable physical evidence for Hitler’s suicide is non-existent, which is why the ‘myth’ of his escape continues to circulate.
Hitler hightailing it to the moon on a rocket is one of the more far-fetched versions of the escape theory, but the belief endures, particularly in UFO circles.
In recent years, Bulgarian engineer and physicist Vladimir Terziski has been giving lectures all around the world arguing that the Nazis won the Space Race before it had even begun. Terziski says that top Nazi scientists developed a sophisticated space programme with the help of researchers from Japan and flew people to the dark side of the moon from a secret rocket base in Antarctica called Neuschwabenland. According to him, the spate of UFO sightings in the 1940s was actually Nazi craft being tested. He claims:
“The Germans landed on the moon as early as probably 1942, utilising their larger exo-atmospheric rocket saucers of the Miethe and Schriever type. Ever since their first day of landing on the moon, the Germans started boring and tunnelling under the surface, and by the end of the war there was a small Nazi research base on the moon.”
Terziski also claims to have evidence of this Nazi moon base—although he’s never actually revealed what this evidence is (how shocking).
The truth is profoundly uncomfortable
The Nazi moon theory is in the same league as Flat Earth and David Icke’s Royal Reptilians (and has even been parodied in the 2012 sci-fi comedy Iron Sky). But it’s a distortion of a profoundly uncomfortable historical reality: Nazi technology and personnel actually were instrumental in getting Neil Armstrong to the moon.
What a lot of people probably don’t know (because it’s not often talked about) is that after the war, about 1,600 German scientists and engineers were secretly brought to the US as part of Operation Paperclip. The purpose of this operation was to utilise their expertise and gain a military advantage in the Cold War and the Space Race. Among those brought over were former members—and some former leaders—of the Nazis. They included Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team. The V-2s were the ones that rained hell on London and Antwerp during the final year of World War II, killing 9,000 civilians and military personnel (plus a further 12,000 labourers and concentration camp prisoners who died as a result of being forced to participate in the production of the weapons).
Wernher von Braun is a controversial figure because he also ended up being the man behind the Saturn V rocket that took the Apollo 11 crew to the moon. The fact that one of his rockets brought wonder and awe while the other brought death and destruction makes him a difficult man to talk about.
Then there was Arthur Rudolph, another V-2 engineer who worked as project director for the Saturn V engines and later won a NASA Distinguished Service Medal. He actually admitted to a journalist in 1985 to having read Hitler’s Mein Kampf and “agreed with a lot of things in it”.
These men and many others offered their help to the US space programme in order to escape justice for their war crimes.
So was there a dark side of the moon landing by the Nazis? No. Course not. But, thanks to the Nazis, there certainly is a dark side of the moon landing.
Next month: the conspiracy to assassinate King William II
Have you seen the trailer for my upcoming novel, Million Eyes? It’s out January 10th 2020.