The Nazis have long been no strangers to insane plots, expeditions, and schemes. Indeed, the actual history of such things is often every bit as colorful and outlandish as anything they have done in the movies. I have talked here before about Nazi involvement in everything from the occult, to secret Antarctic bases, to alleged expeditions to find the Yeti, but there is no shortage of other crazy plans this evil group had on their plates. From brainwashing and strange human experiments, to quests for magical objects and the use of super soldiers and people with alleged actual superpowers, here is a selection of some of the crazier of such plots, which are usually evil, often eyebrow-raising, sometimes totally surreal, and always flat out bonkers. Let’s take a look at some of the stranger Nazi plans that managed to launch out right past the odd to careen out into the stratosphere of the truly weird.
One rather far-out idea was to carry out an extensive program to brainwash the populace through the use of national television. With the help of an engineer by the name of Walter Bruch, a plan was concocted to install an extensive broadband cable that would stretch from Berlin to Nuremberg, and then to set up large TV screens in public places all over the country, such as city streets, restaurants, and even laundromats, where it was hoped that people would gather around to watch the steady stream of pure propaganda that was in the works, ranging from the slightly odd to the downright gruesome. With people watching TV at home and in public at all hours, it was hoped that the constant barrage of propaganda in a visual medium would saturate and condition the citizens’ minds, shape their ideas and opinions, and make them susceptible to suggestion or even obeying direct subliminal orders much more effectively than mere audio transmissions could accomplish, with Joseph Goebbels, leader of the Nazi Party's propaganda unit, saying:
The advantage of a visual image over the audible broadcast is the audible becomes a visual image with the help of an individual's imagination, which can't be kept under control. Regardless, each will always see his own.
The tamer of these mind-control broadcasts would have been various shows depicting the ideal way of life for the typical Aryan family and educational programming showing them how to live their lives. A prototype of one such show apparently planned to be televised was called Family Chronicles: An Evening with Hans and Gelli, which would have been sort of a reality TV type show about a young German couple going about a “proper” Aryan way of life. These various creepy programs would be interspersed with more shocking fare, such as public executions of traitors, designed in order to instill an innate fear and dread in the populace of going against their leader’s orders or disrupting the Aryan way of life in any way, and perhaps even containing hidden coded messages or frequencies. It is a completely insane, Orwellian plan of Big Brother bizarreness, and very likely would have been at the very least attempted had the Nazi’s not lost the war, scrapping the ambitious TV mind-control project before it ever really got off the ground.
Mind control or not, many of the Nazi’s strange and disturbing plans revolved around their irrational, depraved, and fanatical desire to create a totally pure race based on their own conceptions of what that should be, as well as even how these “perfect” citizens should act and live their lives, by whatever means necessary. One of the more shocking of the Nazi’s plans to produce a perfect society of ideal specimens of a master race was to simply to breed and condition everyone to be the way they wanted. To this end the notorious program called Lebensborn, or "Spring of Life," was created in 1935 under the infamous SS leader Heinrich Himmler (remember that because he will pop up quite a bit in these stories of Nazi batshit insanity), in order to essentially enact a planned breeding program and set up a network of what were essentially baby factories, where the resulting children could be preened, groomed, and brought up to the very set ideas of Aryan perfection.
The mothers in many cases were unmarried women, as there was a shortage of men to settle down with and marry at the time, with most of them off at war and all, and the Lebensborn houses operated under the pretense of giving them the opportunity to have their illegitimate babies in a safe environment away from the harsh stigmas they would have normally faced out in normal society. The fathers were often German soldiers passing through occupied nations that were encouraged to go out and impregnate women who fit the mold of good Aryan stock, after which the unwed mothers would find their way to the "safe" houses set up for them. Some of the children were not even born at these houses at all, but rather abducted from families all over Europe, with children having the right look fair game and little the families could do about it.
When a child was born at one of the Lebensborn houses, it was monitored to see if it fit the basic physical requirements of acceptability. If a child turned out to be darker or less Aryan looking than was liked it would likely “disappear” off to a concentration camp. In some cases, perceived physical imperfections were deemed fixable, such as using a regiment of UV light treatments to bombard and lighten hair. The kids who matched the physical criteria were brought up under a strict program of constant Nazi indoctrination and brainwashing, in which they were taught what to say, how to think, and how to act, and were raised on a strict diet and exercise regiment to keep them in peak, ideal physical condition.
In the end, an estimated 8,000 children were actually born in such houses in Germany and around 12,000 in similar facilities in Norway, and many more were brought here against their will, with an estimated total of 250,000 children eventually essentially brainwashed and “Nazified” under the program by the end of the war. When the war ended, many of the orphaned among these children were reunited with their families, but most were not, and some even outright refused to go back, so thoroughly had their minds been filled with delusions of superiority. Unfortunately, as many of the documents concerning the intricacies of the program were destroyed by the Germans, to what extent or depths of depravity this secretive program of baby factories delved is still rather shadowy and unclear.
If creating perfect human beings in state sanctioned baby farms isn’t enough, the Nazis also had a program for creating the “perfect Aryan woman.” To this end, they set up a system of institutions that would more or less serve as “bride schools,” teaching German women how to behave and be a proper woman. Unbelievably, the program was overseen by the highest ranking woman in the Third Reich, a Gertrud Scholtz-Klink, who personally supervised the severe training. Women in the program were all German, and were told how to look, how to talk, and how to be proper Aryan companions, including cooking and housework skills, as well as other domestic skills. Upon graduating from the regiment, these “perfect brides” were given certificates to announce themselves as government approved good wives and mothers, thus ensuring the continued tightly controlled standard that the Nazis had for not only perfect breeding, but every facet of everyday life.
In addition to the crazy schemes of Nazis trying to create their own master race through bizarre breeding programs and mind control, they were also involved with projects to track down ancient, magical artifacts which they believed would help them in some way to take over the world and which often involved very Indiana Jones style weirdness and hijinks. One obsessive drive to acquire such an object may have been for the purpose of such a quest for these mystical items, and it involves Hitler’s absolute total infatuation with a massive painting that was seen by the Nazi’s as possibly holding clues and keys to the location of powerful Holy relics.
The painting in question is Jan van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, also commonly called “The Ghent Altarpiece,” which was completed in 1432. One of the first truly famous oil paintings in the world, and indeed one of the most famous paintings in history, it depicts a heavenly field of over one hundred intricately detailed figures gathered around an altar upon which is a sacrificial lamb being bled into a chalice that is the Holy Grail. The painting is enormous, spread out over twelve massive oak panels and measuring a total of 14 x 11.5 feet, with the whole thing weighing about two tons.
The Ghent Altarpiece is certainly a work of great historical value, but Hitler and his second in command, Hermann Göring, had a driving obsession with it, and constantly plotted to steal it back from Belgium, who had acquired it through Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I and had then hidden it away at a location in southern France called the Chateau de Pau. Officially the Nazis wanted the painting because it was a famous work of art by a German painter that had been forcibly taken from them, and now they had the power to take it back in a show of defiance. To this end the two Nazi leaders challenged each other over who could steal it back first, and although Hitler was the first to manage to steal it, the piece of art was intercepted and re-stolen by the two leaders from each other several times before it finally wound up in Hitler’s hands and stashed away at a salt mine in the Austrian Alps along with the thousands of other priceless works of art from all over Nazi occupied Europe as a part of his plan for a "super museum."
It seems interesting and not a little odd that two different top Nazi leaders should race each other for the painting and steal it from each other time and time again for their own collections, and this might be because it is believed that they may have thought that the Ghent Altarpiece held within its deep symbolism and complex imagery cryptic clues and codes that point to the hiding places of the instruments of Christ’s Passion, also called the Arma Christi, which include such legendary objects as the Holy Grail, the Crown of Thorns, and the Spear of Destiny. Hitler had a well-known interest in the occult and supernatural, an obsession that grew more powerful as his war efforts took a turn for the worse and he became increasingly desperate for magical solutions, and he was convinced that, although each relic was powerful on its own, the Arma Christi when all brought together would grant him vast supernatural powers beyond imagination that would bring him certain victory. It sounds like a plot cobbled together from a Da Vinci Code novel, an Indiana Jones flick, and a superhero movie, but Hitler apparently truly believed all of this, and had put in a lot of money and resources towards finding these fantastical magical relics. In this sense, the possibility that this one painting held the map to all of them would have seemed almost too good to be true. And it was, in a sense.
The problem with the painting he had managed to steal with his personal unit of art thieves was that it was missing one of its panels, which was a crucial portion featuring religious wise men called the “Righteous Judges panel.” The panel had been stolen from Saint Bavo Cathedral, in Ghent, Belgium, in 1934 by a Arsene Goedertier, but it has always been unclear as to just why he would want to steal that one particular panel. In light of any lack of a clear motive for stealing just the one panel, one theory that has come up is that the panel was intentionally singled out for theft before the war by those who were aware that the Nazis would attempt to use it to find the powerful artifacts that would help them succeed and mean the end of the world. It is possible that by denying them this key panel there were certain clues missing and a map to these treasures would be incomplete, and the thief perhaps knew this.
Hitler had supposedly known that this panel was missing when he stole the painting, and had years earlier sent a Nazi art detective named Heinrich Köhn to Ghent to search for it and bring it back by any means necessary. Köhn supposedly meticulously searched practically every inch of the town for it, even reportedly taking apart a portion of the cathedral there in the belief that it had been sequestered away within, but he was never able to locate it. The Nazis never were able to complete the Ghent Altarpiece, and it is unknown if there really was such a map hidden within it, and we will probably never know. If there really was a map that was thwarted by a missing piece, then we also will never know what would have happened if all of those Holy relics had been brought together like the goddam Infinity Stones of Thanos’ gauntlet of power in the Marvel comics and movies. It just all sounds so utterly insane and improbable, but Hitler did have a rather irrationally strong desire to have the painting, and this has stirred quite a fair amount of serious speculation on such things.
Whether Hitler really planned to use some sort of ancient hidden map in the Ghent Altarpiece to find the Arma Christi or not, he certainly did make many attempts to find these relics separately. Far from being merely the plots of movies, the Nazis did in fact look for the Holy Grail and the Lost Ark of the Covenant, but one of Hitler’s main obsessions was possessing the Spear of Destiny, which is said to have been forged by the ancient Hebrew prophet Phineas, as well as being the very one used by the Roman centurion Longinus to stab Christ during the Crucifixion and which is rumored to grant its wielder the power to rule the world. Indeed, the legend states, “whosoever possesses this Holy Lance and understands the powers it serves, holds in his hand the destiny of the world for good or evil.” This legend is perhaps why a long list of leaders, kings, emperors, and conquerors throughout recorded history have sought it out and claimed to have held it, such as Attila the Hun, Herod the Great, Constantine, Maurice the Manichean, Alaric, Theodoric, Charles Martel, Charlemagne the Great, Frederick Barbarossa, Heinrich I the Fowler, Otto I the Great, and Pope John XII, among many others, all of whom reported great successes with the spear, and Hitler wanted in on this legacy.
The problem was, the spear had been lost to history and it was not even certain if these leaders had ever held the actual Spear of Destiny or if it even really existed or not. Indeed, there are scores of conflicting tales of what happened to the spear, where it went, and even what it looked like, all made more confusing by the fact that there were said to be numerous fakes and recreations that had been crafted over the centuries. During Constantine the Great’s alleged tenure with the relic his spiritual advisor, Eusebius of Caesarea, described it thus:
It was a long spear, overlaid with gold. On the top was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones, and within this the symbol of the Savior’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters – those letters the emperor was in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period. From the spear was also suspended a cloth, a royal piece, covered with a profuse embroidery of most brilliant precious stones and which, being also richly interlaced with gold, presented an indescribable degree of beauty to the beholder. The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that it should be carried at the head of all his armies.
Hitler’s own fascination with the Spear of Destiny started long before he was even the notorious Nazi leader, back when he was just a humble art student. As he toured the Hofsburg Treasure House in Vienna in 1912, his eyes fell upon one of the lances rumored to be the actual Spear of Destiny, which had been housed there for safekeeping after a long history of changing hands and being lost and found again numerous times. There was no certainty at all that the gilded lance that was in Vienna, which was referred to as the Holy Lance of Longinus, was the actual legendary Spear of Destiny, and in fact there were other such relics around the world that made the same claim at the time, but Hitler himself certainly seems to have been convinced that it was, saying of first time he saw it:
I knew with immediacy that this was an important moment in my life...I stood there quietly gazing upon it for several minutes, quite oblivious to the scene around me. It seemed to carry some hidden inner meaning which evaded me, a meaning which I felt I inwardly knew, yet could not bring to consciousness...I felt as though I myself had held it in my hands before in some earlier century of history - that I myself had once claimed it as my talisman of power and held the destiny of the world in my hands. What sort of madness was this that was invading my mind and creating such turmoil in my breast ?
Believing this artifact to be the real Spear of Destiny, one of the first things he did when the Nazis took Vienna in 1938 was to steal it for himself and have it sent it off to Nuremburg, and there have even been theories that Hitler’s real reason for starting World War II was to get a hold of it. Whether this is true or not, Hitler got his spear, although it does not seem to have granted him great power when he needed it the most, and his planned invasion of England failed, followed by his devastating defeat at the Battle of Normandy on June 6, 1944. After this it is not clear just what happened to Hitler’s supposed Spear of Destiny. It was supposedly returned to Vienna, but there are theories that this was actually a clever fake and that the real one is still out there.
One theory is that it was hidden away in one of the many underground bunkers, caves, caverns and catacombs that the Nazis used to store the numerous treasures they had looted from their enemies. Another is that it was kept by the Allied forces, and the famous general George S. Patton was allegedly obsessed with it, even believing himself to be a reincarnation of someone who had wielded it in the past, and he made great efforts to convince the United States to retain it and give back a fake to Austria. In this scenario the real spear is still in the possession of the United States, and is even the reason why the country has managed to remain such a top world power for so long. Still another idea was that the SS leader Himmler took it and that it now resides in the care of a secret society he formed called “The Knights of the Holy Lance.”
An even wilder theory was put forward in Dr. Howard A. Buechner’s 1988-89 books Hitler's Ashes - Seeds Of A New Reich and Adolf Hitler and the Secrets of the Holy Lance, in which he claims that the Nazi leader had the spear sent to a secret base in Antarctica after the war, after which it was recovered again in 1979 by an expedition led by a mysterious individual known as Col. Maximilian Hartmann, which has in turn raised conspiracy theories that the real Spear of Destiny is in the possession of this shadowy cabal bent on world domination. In the end, although we know Hitler did steal this lance, no one has any idea of whether it was the real Spear of Destiny, and in fact we have no idea at all of whether it was ever a real object to begin with, or if it is just where the genuine artifact is located. The Spear of Destiny has become a magnet for various conspiracy theories, and the insane stories of Nazi involvement have gone on to become the stuff of movies, comic books, and legend.
With all of the interest that the Nazis had in the occult, it may seem only natural that they would employ actual psychics and occultists within their ranks, and they certainly did, with some of these tales being quite bizarre indeed. The most famous of these was a veritable super villain group by the names of Wilhelm Wulff, Ludwig Straniiak, and Wilhelm Gutberlet. Wulff’s power was supposedly the ability to divine information on the enemy through the use of astrology and psychic gifts, and while this may seem outlandish, it apparently worked on at least one occasion. At one point Wulff was asked to conjure up the location of the Italian leader Benito Mussolini, who was in hiding at the time. Using arcane divination techniques, Wulff allegedly was able to pinpoint Mussolini’s location as being the remote island of Ponti, around 50 miles south of Rome. When this tip was investigated it was found that indeed Mussolini was there just as predicted, as a prisoner of the Allied forces.
Straniak, an architect by trade, supposedly had the power of dowsing. When the Nazis were searching for a battleship he allegedly swung a pendulum over a map and was able to accurately locate the ship off the coast of Norway. Gutberlet, who was a medical doctor, was claimed to have the preternatural ability to sense the presence of Jews and hunt them down. His powers were said to be so acute that he was able to sniff out Jews even in crowded places or in hiding, and reports claim that he rarely missed. This power was supposedly widely tested under “scientific” conditions and he was purportedly able to find who was Jewish almost every time. With this obviously useful power (for the Nazis anyway), he was quickly made a racial consultant for Hitler himself. Whether this was all fabrication and hoax or not, it seems that the Germans at least seemed to really believe it.
Moving on, what is an army bent on total world domination without its very own super-soldier program? Well, the Nazis tried this as well, and considering their long, dark history of human experimentation it may come as no surprise. The Nazis wanted soldiers that were aggressive, fearless, and could go for days on end without rest or sleep of any kind, and one of the solutions they came up with was a drug called Pervitin. Produced by a Berlin-based pharmaceutical company called Temmler Werke, this miracle drug was touted as being able to produce tireless soldiers who could operate under extreme duress at maximum efficiency and ferocity, unencumbered by fear or fatigue. The German government did a brief period of trial testing on university students before quickly deciding to pour huge amounts of money into its production and distribute it to all branches of the military.
What they called “Pervitin” you probably know as methamphetamine, and which the soldiers themselves called “tank chocolate,” and “the miracle pill.” According to many accounts there were millions and millions of these pills being given to troops, where they were first used in the Blitzkrieg against Poland and later against France. The pills were developed to be coated with candy or chocolate to make them easier to ingest, and they pretty much worked as advertised but not without their drawbacks. Obviously methamphetamine is highly addictive, so there was that, but there were also the myriad health problems associated with getting amped up on the stuff, including heart failure, with soldiers becoming junkies or dropping dead on the battlefield not really fitting in with the image of super soldiers the Nazis had. Many of the soldiers experienced intense addiction for years after the war, and even turned to opiates to counteract the effects.
Nevertheless, learning absolutely nothing from this, the Nazis went on to experiment with an even more potent form of the drug, called D-IX, which was tested on prisoners, who showed incredible strength, aggression, and resistance to pain under its influence. These effects might be no surprise, as the drug was basically a noxious and potent mix of methamphetamine, cocaine, and morphine. D-IX was so effective that the Nazis had plans to put it into mass production, the only thing stopping them being the end of the war, before they could unleash their army of coked up super soldiers.
Although some of these plans have been shaded with speculation and conspiracy notions, they all at the very least have some basis in truth, and some of them happened just as described. They are all incredibly far out, and when looking at all of these stories it is not only unsettling to see the things the Nazis believed would actually work, but also impressive just what insane lengths they were ready to go to in order to achieve their own twisted ultimate goals. It is also in a way rather sad that this is by no means even a comprehensive list of Nazi plans that diverted right off the rails into the outer fringes of the bizarre, and there are many more where these came from. Besides being just evil, the Nazis seem to have had such a strange and colorful gallery of weird, occult, and even silly schemes that have rightfully earned them their place as the go to movie villains of choice.