Anatomy of a Conspiracy Theory

Picture showing Germans planting the Nazi flag in Antarctica.
Germans planting the Nazi flag in Antarctica in the 1930s. Or are they about to receive advanced warfare tech from space aliens, allowing them to build a secret base that persists to this day? I’m just asking questions here!

What do German forays into Antarctica in the 1930s, Admiral Byrd’s Operation Highjump in 1947, American nuclear testing in the South Pacific in the 1950s, and UFOs all have in common? To some, all are part of the most devious and world-shaking conspiracy ever visited upon humanity, one that centers on Germany’s Neuschwabenland and the United States’ Operation Highjump. To the less gullibly-minded, they are all real events that form the basis of the wackiest idea yet invented by the conspiratorial mindset.

How far out? Farther out than the moon landing truthers. Farther out than the anti-vaxxers who thought the COVID vaccine would implant everyone with 5G chips. Even farther out than the flat-earthers. I’ve got all these conspiracy theories in my novel, Ship of Fools (more on that at this link), but on my first draft, I still felt this one was just too much. The bizarre idea starts with a few actual events, and ends up with Nazis riding in space ships in Antarctica. Just too wacky, even in the context of those who believe we live on a flat disk.

Then I saw it being discussed on the nation’s most popular podcast* (currently with nearly three million views and thousands of approving comments), and I knew I had to include it. Besides, who doesn’t love a story with space Nazis?

This conspiracy theory shows how a few facts can be rolled together with outlandish fabrication to create a convincing, but completely ludicrous, tale. All the conspiracist has to say is, “You can look it up!” To the credulous, these several grains of truth prove the whole thing. And when pressed, as in that linked podcast video, the conspiracist can just claim, “I don’t really know if this is true, I’m just trying to connect the dots.”

Here are the facts that get pureed in the conspiracist blender:

  • In the 1930s, the Germans really did explore parts of Antarctica, seeking a base from which to hunt whales for margarine, or perhaps machine oil. They covered an area the size of Texas (also claimed by Norway) with an aerial survey and named it Neuschwabenland, after one of their ships. But then the Germans started World War II, and their attention turned elsewhere (or so They want us to believe, hehe!).
  • Germany had more advanced technologies than the countries it attacked, especially at the start of the war, from buzz bombs to tanks to fighter planes, and, at the end, the V2 rocket.
  • A couple of months after VE day in 1945, two German U-boats showed up in Argentina, their belated arrival the result of their need to move stealthily away from the theater of war.
  • In 1946-47, Admiral Byrd led Operation Highjump to Antarctica. This was an American effort to get ahead of the Soviets in cold region warfare, inspired by the proximity of the USSR to North America via a polar route. It was part research expedition and part military operation, with a large number of ships as well as aircraft. One of the latter crashed, killing three crewmen.
  • In 1958, the US exploded three nuclear warheads in the upper atmosphere of the South Atlantic, with the farthest south being around 49 degrees.
  • And finally, UFOs are real, as recent government reports have shown, but so far there’s no evidence that these are visitors from other solar systems (or even our own).

Those are all actual facts, not the alternative kind. “You can look it up!” as the conspiracists like to say. Now, let’s see how these facts are woven into a tale worthy of the writers of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror.

In the conspiracists’ version, the Nazis stayed in Antarctica after the war started and developed a sophisticated underground base there. Several sailors reported making multiple trips to the continent with boat loads of supplies and tunneling equipment.

As for their advanced technology, the Germans had help — from space aliens! Which makes one wonder, where were the aliens during the bombing of Dresden or the siege of Leningrad? The Nazis surely could have used some flying saucers and space lasers at those crucial moments. Their little green friends really could have turned the war around for them. But maybe aliens are like the eagles in The Lord of the Rings — if you ask for their help too often, they’ll get offended.

Once they lost the war, Hitler (who faked his own suicide), his top lieutenants, and elite troops fled for the Antarctic base. This explains the tardy arrival of those subs in Argentina — they had been to Neuschwabenland and back, escorting a fleet of German ships. This idea was spread almost immediately after their arrival by the Hungarian exile and writer Ladislas Szabo. He later published a book on it, which could explain his motives for such a bald fabrication.

The US took the rumors of the Nazi escape seriously enough that it sent Admiral Byrd’s Operation Highjump to the southern continent to put an end to the Nazis for good. Nothing else can explain such a large number of warships being sent on a supposedly scientific mission — it’s not like this was the beginning of a cold war or something. But the Germans (Neuschwabenlanders?) trounced Byrd’s forces, using alien technology even more advanced than during the war itself. In some versions, four of Byrd’s aircraft were shot down, while others have the whole fleet limping back north with gaping holes melted in the sides of the ships (obviously the work of those Nazi space lasers).

It took ten years for the US to finally wipe out the secret Nazi base, but they finally did so with those nuclear blasts in 1958. Sure, they say the blasts happened far up in the atmosphere and much farther north than Neuschwabenland, but only the sheeple will believe that. Other conspiracists, mainly the neo-Nazi kind, believe that even this assault was unsuccessful, and Hitler and his fellow Nazis survive there to this day.

But wait, there’s a flat-earther version! Of course the Nazi base isn’t in Antarctica, which doesn’t exist, but beyond the Ice Wall that encircles the flat disk of the Earth. No one (except the Nazis) knows what’s really beyond that wall, but many suspect that vast new lands with abundant resources exist there, just waiting to be settled. (That is, if the Germans haven’t already occupied them all. And, Nazis being Nazis, they probably have). This explains the vast conspiracy to conceal the truth from the people. The shadowy elites who control us through resource and land scarcity can’t let the truth be known, or there would be disk-wide rebellion. It also explains the UN troops who guard the top of the Ice Wall and warn any boats away, sometimes even sinking them.

The German ice breaker RV Polarstern unloading research supplies at an Antarctic ice shelf (according to Ireland’s The Journal). Or wait, is this really the Ice Wall that encircles the flat Earth? And are those actually UN troops, ready to fend off any curious civilians? Hey, I’m just trying to connect the dots here.

If your head is spinning, so is mine. But that’s because we’re too concerned with things making sense, with finding logical connections between the points of a story, with claims being backed up with actual evidence, and with the simplest explanation probably being the right one. It’s easy to see how the conspiracy theorists twist the actual facts, always rejecting the plausible, official explanation in favor of the most outlandish one possible. And if that fails, they’ll just make up a quote by Admiral Byrd. The very fact that there is an official (and boring) explanation just shows the lengths to which They will go to keep us in the dark.

To the conspiracists, we sheeple are just too naïve to ask who wants to keep all this arcane information from us. But I wonder if they ever ask themselves, who is it that wants them to believe all these outlandish ideas? Who benefits from inducing large segments of the population to question official history?

I think it must be a conspiracy!

For more on Neuschwabenland and Operation Highjump see:

*View at your own risk, and if you do click on it, please smash that dislike button. Among the most egregious “dots” that Tripoli “connects” is right at the beginning, where he goes from talking about Karl Schwab’s father (apparently referencing a debunked myth that the head of the World Economic Forum is the son of a close confidant of Adolph Hitler) to talking about Neuschwabenland. The only connection between the two is the coincidence of their similar-sounding names. To which the conspiracist will always respond, “There are no coincidences!”

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