Extracted from Nexus Magazine
Volume 12, Number 6
(October - November 2005)
While some high-ranking
Nazis would have known about the haven created in the
ice in Neuschwabenland, after Hitler’s death it
was Grand Admiral Dönitz who held the trump card
with his knowledge of U-boat movements.
With British forces controlling northern
Germany and the ports that went with their sector at the end of
World War II, there was a strong likelihood of their capturing most
of the Nazi hierarchy.
They were also ideally placed because Russia
was more interested in Berlin, and the vast US forces were stationed
mainly in southern Germany where they had been sent to investigate
the supposed "Redoubt". Even so, four years before the end of the
war, Britain had managed to apprehend the Deputy Führer of the Third
Reich, Rudolph Hess, and he was arguably the most knowledgeable of
all the Nazis at that juncture.
Rudolph Hess landed in Scotland on 10 May 1941 and asked to meet the
Duke of Hamilton. His plans for peace talks were quickly rebutted,
and so began his 46-year incarceration. Hess’s imprisonment is one
of the most widely discussed mysteries of the war. Some claim he was
imprisoned because of the damage any revelations he possessed would
inflict on the British monarchy.
Others claim that Britain’s refusal
of his peace proposal led to the nation’s huge losses territorially,
materially, financially and emotionally; because of his silencing,
the British people never heard the peace terms or learned how
beneficial they may have proved. However, as Christof Friedrich
claims,9 some believe that "Hess was entrusted with the
all-important Antarctic file"; but whether this was a paper file or
a mental note, one thing is for certain: Hess, Deputy Führer, would
have known everything about the Nazis’ Antarctic intentions.
Though Hess was dismissed by both Hitler and the British Government
as "insane",10 surely Hess’s insanity would have restricted his
ability in his numerous roles in the Nazi Party and Government. Yet
Hess was chief of the Auslandsorganisation, Commissar for Foreign
Policy, Commissar for All University Matters and University Policy,
Commissar for All Technological Matters and Organization, and also
head of the Office for Racial Policy.11 Hess, in layman’s terms, had
his "finger in every pie".
Rudolph Hess was also an active member of the Thule Society, and his
interest in Antarctica would have been on both personal and
professional levels. Hess, a keen aviator, used his position in both
the Nazi Party and the Thule Society to meet Richard Byrd when he
lectured the personnel who were heading for the Antarctic with the
Deutsche Antarktische Expedition (German Antarctic Expedition) in
1938, and through his channels Hess would have known everything that
had been discovered in Neuschwabenland.
Byrd, a living legend
throughout the world for being the first man to fly over both the
north and south poles, was possibly the most well-informed polar
explorer ever, and he divulged his vast knowledge and details of his
exploits to the Nazis.
Byrd’s advice in his lecture and ultimately the Nazis’ successful
expedition to claim Neuschwabenland
(click image left) may have given the Nazis
conviction enough to establish a viable Antarctic base. Hess’s
flight and eventual capture a few years after the Deutsche Antarktische Expedition meant that plans would have been underway.
His enviable position as Deputy Führer and his close affiliation
with the Thule Society which sponsored the expedition meant, as
Canadian journalist Pierre van Paasen claimed shortly after Hess’s
flight, that "[t]here was no major military plan and secret of the
Third Reich of which he was unaware".12
Of his 46 years in prison, Hess spent the first four totally under
The secrets he gave away in those four years, though dismissed
officially as "lunacy" by the British Government and at the
Nuremberg Trials, were taken seriously in some quarters - particularly
after Britain had caught more of Germany’s most powerful Nazis at
the end of the war. Unfortunately, with Hess being imprisoned until
his suspicious "suicide" in 1987 at the age of ninety-seven,13 all
records about him are locked firmly away under the UK Official
Secrets Act and will be for the foreseeable future. Only
circumstantial evidence can be used to gauge how much or how little
Hess knew about the Antarctic haven.
Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS, was captured on 23 May
1945 by the British. Though he managed to kill himself with a
cyanide capsule and thus evade interrogation, his entourage did not
have that luxury. Himmler was denounced as a traitor by Hitler for
trying to make peace with the US and Britain. But as Himmler had
nothing to bargain with and his heinous past meant certain
execution, could he still have offered the British information that
they desired in the hope of escape or, at worst, a chance to evade
Unfortunately for him, with no chance of a reprieve and with Dönitz
being apprehended the same day, Himmler became an irrelevance; and
with his "disgust" at being treated as just a lowly soldier, he
announced who he was before inducing his death. Britain nevertheless
more than likely gained all the knowledge that Himmler possessed by
interrogating his entourage exhaustively. Whatever knowledge Himmler
had wished to share, was shared - and without the British having to
keep one the vilest men in Europe in their custody.
Himmler, labelled a "half crank, half schoolmaster"14 by
Speer, had managed to rise from being a lowly poultry farmer to
becoming the most feared, reviled man in Europe because of his
system of terror, which made mass murder an industry, and because of
his faithful paramilitary SS who ensured "loyalty" and "obedience"
to the Nazi State.
The SS Ahnenerbe missions which Himmler authorized in pursuit of the
"ancestral Aryan legacy" to such remote places as Tibet, Egypt and
Iraq, and even as close by as the Channel Islands, brought in an
inestimable amount of research. And though the 1938 Deutsche Antarktische Expedition was firmly under
Hermann Göring’s control, Himmler was indeed more than interested in the findings of the
expedition and the possibility of discovering an entrance to the
fabled Hollow Earth - so much so that he surely would have demanded to
have been informed for the sake of furthering the Aryan legacy myth.
Even so, how much Himmler knew that was not already known by British
Intelligence at the end of the war is debatable, though invaluable
to the Allies and Britain in particular were the results of the
numerous SS Ahnenerbe missions.
Even though Dr Ernst Schäfer, who
led the Tibet Expedition, claimed that "Himmler had some very
strange ideas"15 and also that "[t]hey all dabbled in the occult",16
this made no difference to the validity or invalidity of any
research or evidence collected.
Himmler evaded the hangman’s noose by a cyanide capsule, and
also used a cyanide capsule on the eve of his execution.
pills have been supplied by Britain’s SOE in return for information? Hess, Himmler and Göring were all able to commit "suicide" whilst in
custody - two of them being firmly in British custody at the time. All
three "suicides" have an aura of mystery surrounding them,
especially since the three men would have had some knowledge to
share about Antarctica.
Hermann Göring, though captured by US forces, still had a
fair deal of knowledge about the German Antarctic expeditions of
1938–39 and 1939–40, for it was he who commemorated the first
expedition with a medal and bragged to the world about the "German
Göring was the Nazi Party’s number two for so long, but he managed
to cheat death and justice in the most mysterious of circumstances.
Born into affluence as a son of a colonial officer, Göring became
one of Germany’s World War I air aces and ended up highly decorated.
He joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and took part in the Putsch, where
he established himself in Hitler’s favour but also received a groin
injury. As a result of this injury, Göring became addicted to
morphine - an addiction that would have profound consequences.
Göring’s marriage to a wealthy and influential woman helped him
consolidate his position amongst the elite. His connections to the
upper classes assisted the Nazi Party far more beneficially than any
parades. In 1932, Göring was elected Speaker of the Reichstag but,
despite his popularity, he was making enemies because of his
self-obsession, ambition and greed. He became one of Germany’s
richest men, virtually all his wealth plundered from victims of the
Nazis. In 1936, he reached the pinnacle of his career in the Nazi
Party when he became Hitler’s heir apparent. Yet his popularity had
not yet peaked: he would have to wait until the early German success
in deploying the Blitzkrieg against Poland for that short-lived
honour. But, his addiction was starting to plague his judgment and
standing amongst the elite.
The early German victories saw Göring rise in Hitler’s estimation,
but Hitler’s fickle temperament was due to change. When Göring’s
Luftwaffe failed to win the Battle of Britain despite having
superior numbers, Göring fell out of favour. He then found solace
only in his morphine and his vast, plundered wealth.
By 1943, Göring was no longer part of the top Nazi leadership; he
was heavily addicted, a virtual recluse and drastically out of
favour. Any knowledge about Nazi survival plans that he would have
been privy to would have been disputable, but it is highly likely
that he would have been able to divulge to US Intelligence enough
about Antarctica, learned from his time amongst the elite, to have
compelled the United States to consider the possibility of a Nazi
base on Antarctica and to take action. Moreover, the Americans would
have heard rumours about what the British had discovered.
The first Antarctic summer after the completion of the Nuremberg
Operation Highjump launched; but it is quite possible
that the Americans missed the boat because the then most well
informed Nazi, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz, had already been
interrogated extensively by the British. Could a secret deal have
been struck between Dönitz and Britain?
When we look at the facts,
it is more than conceivable that a deal was indeed struck.
Admiral Dönitz: Key to the Antarctic Haven
I believe I fought for a just cause and I refused to run away from
my responsibilities when the Nazis, shortly after their final
collapse, offered to convoy me aboard a submarine to safe refuge
- Major Vidkun Quisling, Nuremberg, 1945
Grand Admiral Dönitz had taken over the leadership of Nazi Germany,
and every U-boat, ship, boat and port still held by the Germans
after Hitler’s death was under his command. He would have been the
perfect successor to orchestrate a tactical escape - an escape that
would ensure that the German deaths and the research undertaken were
not in vain and, in short, that would enable the seeds of a Fourth
Reich to disperse.
Many Nazis chose to stay and meet certain death, in spite of the
Kriegsmarine having the largest submarine fleet in the Atlantic and
the navy’s willingness to continue the fight from Norway; it was not
that they had nowhere to flee, but many yearned for martyrdom and
knew that a greater scheme was being implemented: the emergence of a
Quisling wanted to die as a Nazi and showed no remorse, just as
those who were hung at Nuremberg had. Their assuredness came from a
warped view that they would be deemed martyrs. Hitler, Himmler,
Goebbels and numerous other high-ranking Nazis committed suicide - and
taking one’s own life has been the norm throughout history when the
battle is lost and only public humiliation and execution are
Those who committed suicide in Germany’s final collapse and those
who stood at Nuremberg did so knowing that if they had fled they
would have compromised any secret bases or havens as well as the
expatriot communities that flourished in South America and
throughout the world. The chances of a Fourth Reich manifesting with
so many high-profile Nazis in hiding were minimal, and the Germans,
meticulous and diligent as ever, knew that fact. Sacrifices had to
Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz
(image right), Second Führer of Nazi Germany, and his
government had been legitimized by various countries around the
world when Hitler’s death and Dönitz’s promotion were known.
However, his promotion also meant that he was ideally placed to
assist the Nazis in their plans to escape Europe.
Tried as a war criminal alongside the rest of the Nazi hierarchy,
Dönitz was given a reprieve from the death sentence and instead was
sentenced to serve 10 years in Spandau Prison in Berlin.
his trial, Dönitz claimed that he had only fought in a legal war and
that he was ignorant of any Nazi "atrocities" committed. He also
claimed to have no knowledge of the "Final Solution".
loathed Nazism and was comprehensively remorseful of his part in the
Third Reich, yet he received 20 years!
Dönitz, on the other hand,
wanted his navy to be totally behind the Nazi movement, so much so
that he issued a directive on 14 February 1944, ordering his naval
officers not just to accept but to embrace Nazism:
"The whole officer corps must be so
indoctrinated that it feels itself co-responsible for the
Nationalist Socialist State in its entirety. The officer is the
exponent of the State. The idle chatter that the officer is
non-political is sheer nonsense [emphasis added]."18
Dönitz’s light prison sentence is
strange in view of his unbridled passion for Nazism, but his
directive also contravened virtually every rule amongst the German
armed forces. The army’s leadership and, to an extent, the Luftwaffe
steered clear of politics and focused primarily on the war, but Dönitz asserted that to be "non- political" is "sheer nonsense". His
plea for loyalty could explain the unaccounted-for U-boats and why
so many were seen in the months and years after the war had
ended - especially in light of what Albert Speer noted on 10 December
1947 in Spandau Prison:
"For all his personal integrity and
dependability on the human plane, Dönitz has in no way revised
his view of Hitler. To this day, Hitler is still his
commander-in-chief [emphasis added]."19
In Hitler’s final political statement,
he called for all Nazis "not to give up the struggle in any
circumstances, but to carry it on wherever they may be against the
enemies of the Fatherland". Hitler then named his successor after
denouncing Göring and Himmler as traitors:
"I appoint Grand Admiral Dönitz as
President of the Reich and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht."20
Hitler had chosen his most loyal
military officer and the one person whom he believed could restore
the Reich’s fortunes. As noted by eminent historian Chester Wilmot:
"The importance Hitler attached to
the holding of these U-boats bases reflected the rising power of
Dönitz, who was fast becoming the most influential of his
Hitler favoured Dönitz and was so
fascinated about the new U-boats’ capabilities and the possibility
of turning the tide in the Atlantic that "from the start of 1945
they were almost in daily consultation".22 With the
being able to stay submerged the entire trip from Europe to South
America or Antarctica, the chances of a percentage of the Nazi war
machine escaping were vastly improved, as was the ability to deal
with the British and American navies.
At the Führer Naval Conference on 3 January 1945, Dönitz bragged
about how the new U-boat fitted with the Schnorchel could "achieve
success in waters where Germany was forced to cease operations more
than three years ago". Dönitz’s 1945 claim was nothing new: back in
1943, he had already claimed that the new U-boats would create
"entirely new possibilities"23 and his boasts meant that Hitler
ordered the construction of Dönitz’s U-boats as a top priority.
The faith that the Nazi hierarchy had in the new U-boats never
diminished, even as Russian soldiers were streaming into Germany. On
6 March 1945, Goebbels spoke up about the sentiment shared amongst
the Nazi elite:
"There is considerable hope for us
here. Our U-boats must get to work hard; above all, it may be
anticipated that as the new type gets into action, far greater
results should be achieved than with our old U-boats."24
Goebbels again noted in his war diary
how pleased the Nazi hierarchy was:
"Clearly, the revival of our U-boat
war has made a great impression on the war."
Goebbels’s perceived "revival" was
recorded on 28 March 1945, only a month before his death in supposed
Dönitz, as Hitler’s most trusted envoy after Goebbels, was aware of
Nazi plans for the East as well as the concentration camps. And
though some historians suggest he should never have been tried as a
war criminal, in the face of the raft of evidence to the contrary,
the only aspect that should raise eyebrows about Dönitz’s sentence
at Nuremberg is its length. His light sentence was due to his
assistance in supplying the Allies with information that was
invaluable, especially when he had virtually all knowledge of the mysterious U-boats that were being spotted around the world after
Britain, being the nation to apprehend Dönitz, was the main
beneficiary of Dönitz’s intelligence and, as his arrest on 23 May
1945 was the second time he had been incarcerated by Britain, the
British interrogators would have known just which buttons to switch
to get the answers they wanted.
In 1918, in the closing days of World War I, Dönitz had been taken
prisoner by the British Navy. He was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp
and then transferred to the Manchester Royal Lunatic Asylum. After
extensive psychological tests, he was certified "insane" and was
left to be "treated" for a year.
In spite of Goebbels’s comment that Dönitz was "a very cool and
realistic calculator",25 the time Dönitz spent in the lunatic asylum
would have left mental scars that would have surfaced if he’d again
been threatened with incarceration. That fear and his loyalty to the
Third Reich meant he had no choice but to stall on the notion of
surrender when, on 1 May 1945, he first heard about his succession
after Hitler’s death.
Dönitz then announced to the Wehrmacht:
"Against the British and Americans I
shall continue the struggle so far and so long as they hinder me
in carrying out the fight against Bolshevism."26
With Dönitz still in command of a large
navy and enough Wehrmacht to cause further problems for the Allies,
his announcement was a threat that the Western Allies in particular
took very seriously; it made them realize that peace was still far
from certain and "Unconditional Surrender" might need reassessing.
The London Times, the day after Dönitz’s announcement, advised
"Dönitz may gather a force
sufficiently large to cause trouble. The fighting spirit of the
navy is probably still high. There is a formidable number of
U-boats based on Norway, where the enemy also has 200,000 land
forces and some hundreds of aeroplanes. It is thus likely that
Dönitz contemplates making his stand there rather than in the
overrun Reich or in the southern redoubt now threatened from the
north and south. He may delay somewhat, but cannot alter, the
In light of Dönitz’s pledge to continue
the fight and the vast force still under his command, and
considering Allied fears, could "peace" have been struck - a peace
that had guarantees for all sides? Dönitz could have asked for
Germany to be rebuilt and not humiliated like at Versailles, for the
Western Allies to fight the spread of Bolshevism, and for leniency
if not clemency from the victors, including a whitewash of his
personal wartime history, in exchange for a total surrender and for
passing on extremely sensitive intelligence. Only a week after
Dönitz had declared that the war would continue whilst Bolshevism
persisted, he ordered the surrender of all German forces.
All the facts indicate that Dönitz’s history has been suppressed,
and against all reason Dönitz is still not perceived by mainstream
historians as having been a major player in Nazi Germany. Clemency
was shown with such a short prison sentence, the communist threat
had been realized by the Western Allies, and West Germany rose out
of the ashes of May 1945 to become the powerhouse of Europe, with
many of the major companies that bankrolled the Nazi Party forming
Other than formally calling for a German surrender and bringing the
war in Europe to an end, Dönitz carried on as President of Germany
for a further three weeks and was only arrested on 23 May 1945 by
Dönitz, twice imprisoned by the British and a reluctant admirer of
the British naval tradition (which did nothing to dampen his hatred
for Britain), was the one person who knew the exact state of play
concerning the Nazi U-boats, including the new and formidable
XXI U-boats. Dönitz was also the one person who would have known
where the Neuschwabenland base was and what had been transported
there and elsewhere.
And with information so vital not just to
national security but world security, Dönitz could have chosen to
divulge as little or as much as he wished; no matter how minimal or
sketchy his intelligence, its value was priceless.
Type XXI U-boat U
3008, postwar photo
Dönitz was an impressive character and in the early stages of the
war had impressed Hitler with his loyalty and vision.
received his reward on 31 January 1943 when he was promoted to the
position of Supreme Commander of the Navy. In one of his inaugural
speeches to a select officer elite, Dönitz claimed that "the German
submarine fleet is proud of having built for the Führer, in another
part of the world, a Shangri-La land, an impregnable fortress".29
This was an impressive statement and one that inspired allegiance in
his officers and pride in Hitler and the Kriegsmarine. Dönitz’s
statement spread around the Kriegsmarine with gusto, for all who
heard it believed in the possibility.
Whilst researching Third Reich mysteries, I encountered an East
German source who had served in the Kriegsmarine and has first-hand
accounts about Neuschwabenland. He claimed:
"Neuschwabenland, after Europe, was
in ruins and Norway, completely in German hands, became the only
viable base of operations. When it was decided that for the
German nation surrender was best, those who could, left, and
took their chances in the U-boat convoys.
"Antarctica was a secret but rumours persisted, and only for the
most dedicated was it a haven. Most of those with any intimate
knowledge of Neuschwabenland did not see the end of the war, and
of those who did, the majority were executed, committed suicide
or were sent to the Russian gulags... Only those captured by the
British forces fared better, but after interrogation were
forbidden to mention their wartime exploits again. The threat of
having damaging wartime links brought up kept the Germans silent
and helped the Allies suppress the truth."29
The German naval officer who gave the
account was captured by the USSR and sent to the Siberia for 15
years; when he returned, it was to a communist East Germany. In
contrast, Dönitz served only 10 years and lived in a free West
Germany. This has caused the officer bitterness, especially as
mainstream historians dare not even write about a Nazi Antarctic
haven or Dönitz’s passion for National Socialism.
When Dönitz spoke of a "Shangri-La land" in 1943, was he telling the
truth? With Kerguelen being used as a German U-boat base and
Neuschwabenland still in German plans, Dönitz knew that his
statement would impress Hitler. Unfortunately though, with most of
the documents - including speech notes, memoirs and diaries - relating
to Nazi plans for Neuschwabenland destroyed, disappeared or archived
firmly away, any suggestion of Antarctica being a Nazi haven was
laughed off by nervous governments. It meant that to raise the
subject was to open oneself up to ridicule.
However, Dönitz’s speeches leave enough clues to cause one to
suspect that a whole chapter from World War II has been purposely
suppressed. In 1944, Dönitz announced:
"The German Navy will have to
accomplish a great task in the future. The German Navy knows all
hiding places in the oceans and therefore it will be very easy
to bring the Führer to a safe place, should the necessity arise,
and in which he will have the opportunity to work out his final
The Kriegsmarine was much travelled,
loyal to its cause and daring in its exploits. German U-boats were
frequent visitors to the East Coast of America and they travelled
under the Arctic ice and even up the River Mersey into the Mersey
Estuary in England. But their most interesting exploit was
discovering an underwater trench that went straight through
Antarctica by way of a connection of subterranean lakes, caves,
crevasses and ancient ice tunnels.
The Allies took Dönitz’s statement seriously, especially after
Hitler’s mysterious suicide; they were aware that Antarctica could
have been the "safe place" that Dönitz had spoken of. The British
were already onto it, but the Americans were only compelled into
action after Dönitz made a statement in 1946, supposedly during his
trial at Nuremberg, boasting of an "invulnerable fortress, a
paradise-like oasis in the middle of eternal ice".31
Britain, having already investigated the "invulnerable fortress",
assisted the United States by covertly supplying maps of Antarctica,
whilst overtly, along with Chile, Argentina and other claimant
countries, expressing grievances about the intended Operation Highjump. Britain’s assistance in supplying these maps
- similar to
the Norwegian maps utilized by the 1938 Deutsche Antarktische
Expedition - did not paint the full picture.
Dönitz’s information supplied to the British and the likely
destruction undertaken by British forces of the Neuschwabenland base
meant that Queen Maud Land (Neuschwabenland) was not reconnoitered
meticulously by the Americans. There is no answer to explain this omission, though many have speculated. More than likely it was
because the area had been explored so profoundly earlier in the
century, but one can’t help but wonder whether it was because
Britain had been there first, leaving nothing for the Americans to
find. However, Operation Highjump still supposedly recovered
evidence of other bases - though, similarly to British expeditions on
Antarctica, Highjump’s true findings have also been suppressed?
Dönitz had a unique knowledge of Antarctica, but it was his
knowledge of German U-boat ports in Norway and U-boats stationed
there, as well as the nexus between Norway and Antarctica, that shed
further light on the forgotten Antarctic front.
But, whilst the
importance of Norway to Dönitz, Hitler and the Kriegsmarine was well
known, some of the real reasons for the initial invasion of Norway
are less so and add even more of a mystery to the history of World
War II and the Antarctic front.
The author advises that Operation Tabalan, referred to in
part one of his article, should read Tabarin, and apologizes for this error.
Operation Tabarin was
named after a Parisian nightclub.
9. Christof, Friedrich, Germany’s
Antarctic Claim: Secret Nazi Polar Expeditions, Samisdat
Publishers, Toronto, 1979.
10. Hess’s insanity is just one aspect of the Hess mystery, and
the numerous references to his insanity are too numerous to
catalogue. However, it did not prevent him from standing for
trial at Nuremberg.
11. Picknett, L., Prior, S. and Prince, C., Double Standards,
Little Brown, 2001.
12. Van Paasen, Pierre, Chicago Times, 1941.
13. Britain, France, the USSR and USA took turns to guard war
criminals including Hess in Spandau Prison. Hess’s suspicious
death occurred, so we are led to believe, because the Russians
were going to release him when their turn next came around. See
Picknett et al., Double Standards, for more detail.
14. Nuremberg Trials (1945–1946).
17. This was reported in the German press on 10 April 1939.
18. Officer Naval Directive, 14 February 1944.
19. Speer, A., Spandau: The Secret Diaries, MacMillan, New York,
1976, p. 81.
20. Hitler’s final political testament, 29 April 1945.
21. Wilmot, C., The Struggle For Europe, Wordsworth Editions
Ltd, Hertfordshire, 1997, p. 617.
23. Führer Naval Conference, 8 July 1943.
24. Report sent by Goebbels to Dönitz, 6 March 1945.
25. Wilmot, op. cit.
26. Directive to the Wehrmacht, 1 May 1945, reported in The
Times, London, 2 May 1945.
27. The Times (London), 2 May 1945.
28. The National Police Gazette, January 1977.
29. The former Kriegsmarine officer was from Dresden and was
interviewed in December 2003. I investigated claims that Hitler
and Eva Braun’s child had been born there in 1942.
30. Officer Naval Directive, 1944.
31. Nuremberg Trials, 1946.