Mistakes & Fantasies

Ufologists - especially, I suspect, those who want to believe that the Nazis flew high-performance UFOs - can take life dreadfully seriously. Unfortunately, this failing extends to not being able to spot a genuine mistake, or recognise a fantasy or a fiction that was never intended to be anything but that. Two classic blunders involved taking Lusar far too seriously, and undermining the credibility of otherwise serious and respectable books.

German Jet Genesis

The first is in a Jane's publication - a publisher with a fine reputation of dealing with all kinds of arms and armaments. However, in German Jet Genesis by David Masters, published in 1982, the author not only reprints Lusar's claims re flying performance, but also what appear to be pre-Harbinson details from 'Brisant'. Particularly absurd are the three apparently freehand drawings, depicting a 'Miethe flying disc', a 'Schriever flying disc' and a 'Schriever and Habermohl flying disc. Masters sets out some of the traditional array of excuses for the absence of evidence, saying

"Information on this aspect of German jet aircraft development is very sketchy. the project was always highly secret, and documents that may have existed were probably either destroyed, lost or taken by the Russians when the war ended. A last possibility is that the Allies discovered Schriever's work and considered it too important to reveal", [74]

but in reality I'd guess this was one of the publisher's most embarrassing moments.

Robert Jungk

Jungk's 1956 book Brighter than a Thousand Suns was first published in English in 1958. An impressive history of the development of the atomic bomb, it contains (at page 87 in my 1965 Pelican edition) a curious footnote, which has been used to add credibility to the 'Saucer Builder' legends. Referring to a sentence in the text where Jungk says "The indifference of Hitler and those about him to research in natural science amounted to positive hostility", the footnote says

"The only exception to the lack of interest shown by authority was constituted by the Air Ministry. The Air Force research workers were in a peculiar position. They produced interesting new types of aircraft such as the Delta (triangular) and 'flying discs'. The first of these 'flying saucers', as they were later called - circular in shape, with a diameter of some 45 yards - were built by the specialists Schriever, Habermohl and Miethe. They were first airborne on 14 February 1945 over Prague and reached in three minutes a height of nearly eight miles. they had a flying speed of 1250 mph which was doubled in subsequent tests. It is believed that after the war Habermohl fell into the hands of the Russians. Miethe developed at a later date similar 'flying saucers' at A V Roe and Company for the United States."

It is clear that this footnote derives from Lusar, and should therefore not be taken as true. I note that the original book was written in 1956 and I wonder whether, in fact, the footnote was added by someone other than Jungk at the translation stage in 1957 or 1958. It would be interesting to know whether the original Heller als tausend Sonnen (Alfred Scherz Verlag 1956) had this footnote, too. Either way, Jungk - of whose book the Spectator said

"He tells the story brilliantly; no intelligent man or woman can afford to miss it . . Should be compulsory reading for every budding scientist in every sixth form and every university in the world" may be forgiven this lapse, which should not be exploited in order to provide support for the nonsense that Lusar concocted.

The Miethe Legend

In 'Projekt UFO', Harbinson asserts that, of the 'rocket scientists' involved in flying disc development

"at the close of the war, Walter Miethe went to the US with Wernher von Braun, Dornberger, and hundreds of other members of the Peenemunde rocket programme . . . Miethe, though initially working under Wernher von Braun for the United States' first rocket centre in the White Sands Prov-ing Ground, New Mexico, joined the A.V. Roe (AVRO-Canada) aircraft company in Malton, Ontario, re-portedly to continue work on disc-shaped aircraft, or flying saucers just as Habermohl was thought to be doing with the Russians." [76]

These assertions, presumably based on Lusar's, seem to have led to the development of an impressive, but entirely false, history for the elusive Miethe, covering many years. I think we can now dispose of them. . . .

Tim Matthews, in his book UFO Revelation, refers to the

"three years of painstaking research by
UK astronomy, aviation and photographic specialist Bill Rose, which included on-site research in Germany, Canada and the USA . . he was able to discover that Dr Walter Miethe who all sources agree was involved with Schriever, Klaus Habermohl and Guiseppe Belluzzo (an Italian engineer) had been the director of the saucer programme at two facilities located outside Prague. In May 1945, after testing of the prototype had taken place, both Miethe and Schriever were able to flee in the direction of allied forces.

Rose learned not only that test-flights had taken place but that there was film footage of them . . Rose was shown some stills taken from the original 16mm film and, given his expert photo-technical background, concluded, after careful consideration, that this was probably real and historical footage . .

We know a little more about Dr Miethe. One of the important pieces of information came in the form of a rare group photograph showing various young German scientists in 1933. The photograph shows Wernher von Braun and Walter Miethe (or Richard Miethe - different sources mention different first names). It would seem that these two knew each other well” [77]

Rose and Matthews claimed that Miethe worked with von Braun in 1933, and that the photo provided by the person who responded to an advert Rose had placed showed them together with other rocket scientists in that year. Fortunately, this is a well-researched and well-recorded period of history, and it should be no more difficult to find records of Miethe than it is that of von Braun. Indeed, von Braun was born in 1912 and if Miethe was 40 in 1952, they should have been absolute contemporaries. The Rocket and the Reich by Michael J Neufeld [78] covers this period, and von Braun's activities, in detail, as well as detailing rocket and 'secret weapon' development right through to the end of the war. Yet it makes no mention at all of Miethe (Walter or Richard), Habermohl, Schreiver, or Belluzzo, Klein or Klaas. Nor, for that matter, does Philip Henshall in Vengeance - Hitler's Nuclear Weapon Fact or Fiction [79], which covers a similar range in rather less detail. You might think that these people never existed or that, if they did, they played no part in the development of any German flying disc.

SInce his book was published I've spoken to Tim Matthews about this matter, and corresponded with Bill Rose. I don't think either would disagree if I were to say to that it seems that, while Rose is not in a position to disclose details of the elderly West German from whom it appears that both the photos and the surrounding information derived, those photos did not depict a craft in flight or, indeed, fully constructed. In view of the 1952 'France-Soir' interview, the 1957 intelligence report, and the complete absence of anyone called Miethe in the mainstream history of rocketry, I think we can safely set any contrary evidence aside. In view of the considerable influence 'UFO Revelation' and its effective and communicative author have had, particularly in the
USA, I hope that the full story behind Rose's source(s) will be made public. In the meantime, if what was published wasn't exactly a mistake, it may be fair to say that somebody got hold of the wrong end of the stick, but I'm not sure who was holding the stick at the time.


I strongly suspect that a supposed AP release of December 1944 about the Germans having "a secret weapon in keeping with the Christmas season" which "resembles the glass balls which adorn Christmas trees", "are coloured silver and are apparently transparent", and "have been seen hanging in the air over German territory, sometimes singly, sometimes in clusters", was actually a light-hearted bit of fun designed for Christmas. The phenomenon described certainly doesn't bear any resemblance at all to the 'foo fighter' reports.

This item was apparently only published - in similar but not identical versions - in the South Wales Argus for
13 December 1944 and the New York Herald Tribune for 2 January 1945. Any competent historian will be aware that in wartime, censorship ensures that the existence of mysterious, enemy secret weapons is not announced by AP, and published openly by the newspapers of combatant nations. Mainstream history has taken no notice of these reports, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary I suggest they were no more than slight, seasonal jokes, published by just two newspapers out of the thousands that, if the information really derived from a serious AP report, would have taken it up.