Saturday, September 09, 2006

Crossing the Abyss, 1931

While the Third Reich made sure to eradicate the bewildering maze of occult orders, esoteric societies and Volkische movements the minute it came into power, it strangely left that other field with its many connections to the occult underground, that of science fiction, largely untouched.

Thus, when the might of the German war machine unleashed its Blitzkrieg (thunder war) on an ill prepared Europe - its new strategic formula and technological terror tactics were reminiscent of that early subgenre in science fiction entitled the Future War Tale. While the sirens of the Stuka dive bombers, howling like the legendary Walkuren or Banshees, transformed whole cities into hellish cauldrons of the alchemical Prima Materia, other minds in Germany kept on dreaming of soaring space ships and the conquest of space.

Jetzt gehort und Deutschland, morgen das ganse Sonnensystem (now Germany belongs to us, tomorrow the whole solar system), as The Illuminatus Trilogy coyly states, is the apt slogan. One could perhaps remark that, since Germany had lost most of its colonies, space formed the final formidable frontier.

Another edition with its variant title (airship in space) published in 1939
One author who envisioned the path to solar conquest in the dreamtanks of the Third Reich was Walter Heichen (1876 - 1970). His Jenseits der Stratosphäre. Erlebnisse zwischen Mond und Erde. Eine Erzählung für die Jugend (On the Other Side of the Stratosphere. Experiences between the Moon and the Earth. A Story for the Youths) was published in 1931 and was reprinted in 1939 as Luftschiff im Weltenraum (Airship in Space), the year that The Third Reich annihilated Poland.

Heichen, who lived in Berlin, already had published propaganda lecture to kindle pattriotic interest during the outbreak of the First World War. During the Third Reich his pattriotism adhered to the National Socialist cause. In Heichen's book, the protagonists travel to the planet of Sigma, where they encounter highly developed humanoids. Heichen died in Berlin in 1970, having witnessed the landing of the first man on the Moon the year before, made possible by his fellow countryman Wernher von Braun, who had led the rocket development program of the Third Reich before and during World War II.

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