World Reaction to the Übermensch
The world was in shock at the prospect of a flying Nazi. No one was prepared for the rumors circulating in north Germany of a flying man to be real. It was difficult for many outside of Germany to swallow—initially, at least. For three weeks, articles sprang up (particularly in British, Polish and French newspapers) about the “Nazi Hoax.” Various theories about how the Nazis achieved the Der Flieger “hoax” circulated in the press, with theories including invisible wires, a concealed flying device, and even mass-hypnosis. The German people, on the other hand, were hooked, and after several unannounced flights for the new Nazi elite in Braunschweig, Berlin and Essen, the country was engulfed in a firestorm of Der Flieger propaganda. The west remained almost evenly divided on the matter—some felt that Der Fliegercould fly, others that it was a complex hoax. That division did not remain in place for long.
In September 1936, Hitler announced a demonstration for invited foreign dignitaries at Nuremberg, Germany. Among those in attendance were Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Joseph Kennedy, Charles Lindbergh, and dozens of others gathered from all points of the globe. In a carefully staged event, dignitaries were allowed to examine Der Flieger up close as he hovered less than a foot off the ground, leading to the famous Joseph Kennedy quote: “Well, I’ll be damned if I know how he’s doing it. But he’s doing it.”
After the dignitaries returned to their countries and filed reports with their governments, the world could no longer deny the fact: A man could fly through the power of his mind alone.
Der Flieger’s World Tour
Following the Nuremberg demonstration, Der Flieger received thirty-seven invitations by foreign governments encouraging him to visit and demonstrate his ability to the world. After careful consideration, Hitler temporarily detachedDer Flieger to foreign diplomatic service. Dr. Goebbels felt that if the Übermensch demonstrated his ability to enough people, the Nazi party would find support all over the globe; but Hitler was cautious. An elite SS group traveled with the super-man to safeguard him from harm.
For four months, Der Flieger traveled the world, visiting Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, the United States, Argentina, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland and Norway, demonstrating his ability to packed stadiums full of disbelievers and fans. Notoriously absent in his tour were the countries of England, Poland and France, who declined offers by the Nazi party for an appearance.
As 1936 drew to a close, and Der Flieger returned to Germany as the most famous man in the world, Nazi Germany looked to be the shining star on the world stage—a country on the verge of greatness just years after a shattering defeat in the world war.
The Nazi State and the Super-man
Initially, the command structure of Nazi Germany was rocked with infighting when the reality of Der Flieger was revealed (infighting which many outside the Reich mistook for political upheaval within the German government). Who would have control over the super-man? Few in the Heer (“Army”) and Kriegsmarine (“Navy”) believed he could be of any use in modern combat, but all saw the propaganda potential he possessed, and all fought tooth and nail politically to gain control over him.
Despite the pleas, maneuvers and double-dealings, Hitler let Der Fliegerjoin the organization he had first approached, the SS. Himmler was unquestionably loyal to Hitler, while the Heer and certain other armed forces preferred to view themselves as independent entities within the German government. With Der Flieger under his personal command, Hitler hoped to finally demonstrate to the armed forces that all power in the Reich lay with him. As a token gesture to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, leader of theLuftwaffe (who wisely made no demands), Der Flieger was given an honorary rank in the air force, and fell in certain limited circumstances under its command.
In summer 1937, Der Flieger reported for SS officer’s training at Bad Tölz.
Dr. Josef Goebbels, leader of the propaganda machine of the Third Reich, was given unlimited access to the super-man during his training. Under his direction the state promoted the “Aryan Ideal” represented by Der Flieger, in thousands of flyers, posters, books and films. Radio programs airing in English, Polish and Russian reported on Der Flieger‘s amazing abilities, while American sympathizers were supplied with German-produced comic books encouraging Nazi ideology in America’s youth. Newsreels were shipped out the country in record numbers to be played in movie houses all over the world—the demand for information on the Flying Man was enormous, and dwarfed any media event which had come before it.
June 8 became a government holiday in the Third Reich, celebratingÜbermenschentag, literally “The Day of the Super-man.” Streets all over the world were changed to Rahn Avenue or Der Flieger Street, and Rahn’s home of Hamburg experienced a huge growth in tourism, as did the nunnery at Lüneburg, where he spent most of his youth. RuSHA SA produced reams of books filled with pseudo-scientific theories on how the super-man could fly, and director Leni Reifestahl produced the 1938 masterpiece Olympia, further fueling Rahn’s already overwhelming blaze of popularity.
By the end of 1938, Der Flieger was the world’s most famous figure—he was, quite literally, the world’s first “super-star.”
The truth of the super-human situation was quickly grasped by Britain’s MI-6, the unit of military intelligence tasked with spying on other nations. Led by the quirky Admiral Sir Hugh Sinclair, MI-6 was an extremely secret program (unlike its home front counterpart, MI-5) and maintained dozens of agents in foreign powers to keep an eye on political conditions within Europe and the Far East. MI-6′s agents in Berlin confirmed the reports of the flying man, and even managed to smuggle blurry photographs of the super-man out of the country. Sinclair summed the situation up in one sentence: “Even Hitler wouldn’t be foolish enough to attempt to defraud the world. There are two possibilities: either he has a man who can fly, or a device which can make a man fly—either way, the situation is dire, gentlemen.”
Sinclair was a believer in the physical sciences, but was also open-minded to the world of the occult. After a careful study of the “super-man” photos, Sinclair came to the early conclusion that Der Flieger could “fly through an unknown process of the human mind,” a startling insight that would not be confirmed by Britain for more than six years. Sinclair recommended the formation of a group to study the phenomenon. Just three weeks after the spectacle in Berlin, under great secrecy, the British High Command formed the Special Sciences Office.
Based at Hedge Manor in Essex, north of London, the SSO would soon grow to the point where it dwarfed even its dark counterpart RuSHA SA. By 1941, with the integration of America’s Talent program, Section Two, the Allies’ parahuman program was far more advanced than the Nazis’, and made significant advances into the science of parahumanity.
The Second Coming
By 1936, the propaganda arm of the Third Reich had long promoted its flawed belief in race, blood and breeding—when Der Flieger appeared, their pursuit of this “science” only intensified. Most in the west felt that Der Flieger was unique, but the population of Nazi Germany held no such illusions. The fabricated myth of the “Aryan race” was, to most in Germany, a plain fact. (Der Flieger’s presence, of course, made the lies far more believable.) By 1938, posters of Der Flieger hung in every train-station, post-office and government office in Germany, stating simply: “Are you his brother in blood?”
The population of Germany breathlessly waited for the next “Aryan birth.”
On May 19, 1940, the second German parahuman was discovered amidst the blitzkrieg in France. Ernst Karsten, known as Feuerzauber (“Fire Magic”) was rushed back to Berlin to meet with Hitler and his “blood-brother” Der Flieger amidst a media frenzy.
By 1942, the Übermenschen population of the Third Reich had topped 2,000, with more appearing daily in war torn areas of Russia and the Balkans. This “re-birth” of the “Aryan race” seemed like a vindication to the race scientists of the Reich; in actuality, it was nothing more than a self-replicating delusion. The crux of parahuman power is belief. In many ways German propaganda fueled the growth of their parahuman population, but the “science” they hoped would explain the phenomenon was completely wrong. They studied the blood, breeding, and “eugenics” of the super-men, while the actual power of parahumans was contained wholly within the mind—lacking physical aspects altogether. Later, desperate attempts to catch up with the Allies led to more experimental methods of research, but such changes proved far too late.
RuSHA SA, the German agency which hoped to harness the power of the super-men, was mostly a collection of unlettered men with ideas that were little more than racism given a thin backing of hearsay, lies and propaganda. It made no significant discoveries about parahumanity during its operation that were not made elsewhere, and yet it held a powerful position within the Reich—while it lasted.