There's no doubt that the early-to-mid-1950s was the era in which the controversial UFO Contactee, George Adamski, was at his "height." At least, in terms of popularity. By the late fifties, though, things weren't quite so good. In early 1959, Adamski was invited to deliver a series of lectures in New Zealand: specifically in Wellington and Auckland. Notably, this lecture-tour was of interest to the world of government, and his presentations were clandestinely scrutinized by government operatives. A Foreign Service Dispatch of February 1959 was sent from the American Embassy in New Zealand to the Department of State in Washington, D.C., that summarized Adamski’s activities in New Zealand.
Also forwarded to the FBI, the CIA, the Air Force and the Navy, the report was titled "'FLYING SAUCER' EXPERT LECTURING IN NEW ZEALAND" and recorded the following: "Mr. George ADAMSKI, the Californian 'flying saucer expert' and author of the book Flying Saucers Have Landed and others, has been visiting New Zealand for the last two weeks. He has given well-attended public lectures in Auckland and Wellington as well as meetings with smaller groups of ‘saucer’ enthusiasts. In Wellington his lecture filled the 2,200 seats in the Town Hall. He was not permitted to charge for admission as the meeting was held on a Sunday night, but a ‘silver coin’ collection was taken up and this would more than recoup his expenses."
The 2,000-plus people in attendance may have been impressed, but staff from the American Embassy certainly were not: "Adamski’s lectures appear to cover the usual mass of sighting reports, pseudo-scientific arguments in support of his theories and his previously well-publicized 'contacts' with saucers and men from Venus. He is repeating his contention that men from other planets are living anonymously on the earth and, according to the press, said in Auckland that there may be as many as 40,000,000 of these in total. He is also making references to security restrictions and saying that the US authorities know a lot more than they will tell."
In an amusing part of the document we are told: "The report of Adamski’s lecture in Wellington in The Dominion was flanked by an article by Dr. I.L. THOMPSON, Director of the Carter Observatory, vigorously refuting Adamski on a number of scientific points. However, the news report of the lecture called it 'the best Sunday night’s entertainment Wellington has seen for quite a time.'"
Moving on, there is this: "Interest in flying saucers in New Zealand seems to be roughly comparable to that in the United States. There is a small but active organization which enthusiasts have supported for some years. This organization publishes a small paper and receives and circulates stories of sightings. At the Adamski lecture in Wellington, approximately 40 members of the 'Adamski Corresponding Society' wore blue ribbons and sat in reserved seats in the front row. Press reports suggest that Adamski probably is making no new converts to saucer credence in his current tour. His audiences have given forth with a certain amount of 'incredulous murmuring' and are said to be totally unimpressed with his pictures of saucers."
Almost twelve months on, Adamski was yet again the topic of FBI interest when an unidentified American citizen offered an opinion that Adamski was using the UFO controversy as a means to promote communism. In a report on the affair, the FBI recorded the following: "[Censored] said that in recent weeks she and her husband had begun to wonder if Adamski is subtly spreading Russian propaganda. She said that, according to Adamski, the 'space people' are much better people than those on earth; that they have told him the earth is in extreme danger from nuclear tests and that they must be stopped; that they have found peace under a system in which churches, schools, individual governments, money, and private property were abolished in favor of a central governing council, and nationalism and patriotism have been done away with; that the 'space people' want nuclear tests stopped immediately and that never should people on earth fight; if attacked, they should lay down their arms and welcome their attackers.
"[Censored] said the particular thing that first made her and her husband wonder about Adamski was a letter they received from him dated 10/12/59, in which it was hinted that the Russians receive help in their outer space programs from the ‘space people’, and that the ‘space people’ will not help any nation unless such nation has peaceful intent. It occurred to them that the desires and recommendations of the ‘space people’ whom Adamski quotes are quite similar to Russia’s approach, particularly as to the ending of nuclear testing, and it was for this reason she decided to call the FBI."
From then on – as far as can be determined, at least – the worlds of the FBI and Adamski never again crossed paths; he died in 1965. All of the above demonstrates that Adamski and his claims provoked a great deal of commentary and controversy - and for wildly and widely varying reasons. Some years ago I interviewed Colin Bennett, the author of the Adamski-themed book, Looking for Orthon. I asked Bennett for his specific thoughts on why Adamski seemed to attract all kinds of attention. Bennett told me:
"Back in 1952, the FBI regarded Adamski as little more than a pop-eyed hippy nut case. He was, however, beginning to get a certain following, and he was watched as much later, John Lennon, Timothy Leary, Andrija Puharich, and Wilhelm Reich were watched. We can assume all possible cult followers, right up to the present day are taken note of in a similar manner. The flying saucer bit probably did not interest the FBI at all, even if they knew, cared, or understood anything about such things. On the other hand, they might well have been interested in Adamski’s racial and near-Nazi views. He did not make a big thing of such opinions, but he certainly voiced them after the War, at a time when hundreds of thousands of American dead were fresh in the memory, and that could not have gone down well."
Bennett continued: "Another level of Intelligence interest might have been aroused concerning possible observation of unusual airborne devices which might well have been advanced secret surveillance craft of some kind, possibly launched from Russian submarines off the West Coast. There was also another good reason for suspicion. In the 1950s, myriad tests were being carried out on jets, rockets and missiles in the Mojave Desert where Orthon appeared originally. Many of these tests were carried out by imported Nazis rocket-scientists and technological experts, secretly smuggled into the U.S. by means of Operation Paperclip. Intelligence surveillance in this area was therefore high, for by 1953, the race for the moon had just commenced. Reports of exotic airborne vehicles may well have leaked from the Mojave area and created all kinds of 'alien craft' rumors."
Also from Bennett: "Yet another reason for surveillance of Adamski was that security agencies of any and every kind operate on the principle that cults can turn political very quickly, and often in a very nasty way. As we know, countless assassins and terrorists arise from cults of many kinds. Official interest, to my mind, was therefore a passing criminal interest, not an esoteric one; although Adamski in his semi-paranoid act as a rather comical anarchist tried to make it so, implying all kinds of motivations to even minimal gumshoe levels of official inquiry. It must be remembered that before he became a famous author with a best-selling book, he was the kind of guy who sounded off about anything and everything. His murky 'occult' involvements with the esoteric underground on the wild West Coast between the time of his youth in World War 1 and the 1950s marked him out as a very odd character indeed."
Bennett adds with respect to Adamski: "I asked myself: why should we be so alarmed by a man who says he met a supposed extraterrestrial being who stepped out of a so-called flying saucer? Why should such a man be regarded as a threat and be ridiculed for his trouble? It appears that certain kinds of fantastic claim, no matter how apparently ridiculous and plain stupid, somehow get to the core of our belief system, and push aside momentarily all plain practical rationalizations and thoroughly disturb our iron-bound consciousness.
"Most structured, factual arguments just do not have this kind of power. It appears that all things out of the ordinary are mental dynamite. They must be carefully managed by whatever control system is operational at any one time, whether religious, scientific, or military. The original Adamski ‘contact’ story makes us stare into an abyss, and our psychological management system tries automatically to shut this down; if only to allow us to get some sleep at night.”