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NEUSCHWABENLAND: The Lost Colony (Of Nazi Germany)
Forgotten Battle of World War II ^ | FR Post 1-21-2004 | Editorial Staff

Posted on 01/21/2004 2:08:56 PM PST by vannrox


Seal of the German Antarctica Expedition

    There have always been tales floating around that the Germans were involved in some kind of plot to claim Antarctica as a territory, or at least use it for some kind of research or base for military operations. Little is known of these strange expeditions, but they did in fact take place. Available information is scanty, so if you know anything about this or other subjects on this site, please see the Contributors Wanted page.

    The very first German Antarctic expedition was carried out in 1873, under Sir Eduard Dallman who was working on behalf of the newly founded German Society of Polar Research. On that voyage, he discovered new Antarctic routes, and the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Inseln" at the western entrance of the Biskmarkstrasse along the Biscoue Islands. Within 60 years, 2 further expeditions took place, in 1910 and 1925.

    In the years leading up to the Second World War, the Germans tried to establish control over parts of Antarctica, and their desire to posses bases there grew stronger. At this time, Antarctica was not politically stable due to international treaties, and a the only way Germany could stake a claim over that territory would be actual occupation. Hitler was anxious for a foothold in Antarctica, and such an action could be used for the Propaganda Board as a further demonstration of the coming "Superpower Germany."

    On the other hand, further provocation of the Allies had to be avoided for some time. Germany's actions in Austria and other countries had pushed to the limits the relationship between Germany and the Anglo-French Allies. As much as Hitler wanted lands in Antarctica, he was not prepared to go to war over them.

    Thus, the idea of a semi-civilian expedition in cooperation with Lufthansa came into being. Command of the expedition was given to Captain Alfred Ritscher, who had already led some expeditions to the North Pole and proved courageous and skillful in dangerous situations. The expedition's ship was the called Schabenland, a special freighter capable of carrying and launching aircraft. It had been in  use since 1934 for trans-Atlantic mail delivery. The aircraft it carried was the famous Dornier Wal (Whale). These aircraft were mounted on steam catapults on the deck of the ship, and thus could be started and refueled on board the vessel. The Schwabenland was prepared for the expedition at the Hamburg shipyards, carrying a cost 1 million Reichsmark, nearly a third of the total expedition budget.

The Schwabenland at sea. Visible on the stern of the

vessel is the crane and a Dornier Wal aircraft.

    Meanwhile, the crew was assembled and trained by the German Society of Polar Research. The society also invited Richard E. Byrd, the most famous American Antarctic researcher, to join the expedition. Byrd arrived in Hamburg in mid November of 1938 and was given a tour of the expedition preparations, including meeting the crew. In the end, though, Byrd declined and returned to the US, later becoming an Admiral in the USN and fighting the Germans during the war. There are unsubstantiated stories that Byrd was assigned to destroy a secret German base in Antarctica towards the end of the war (supposedly called Base 211) but I have not verified these accounts.

    The Schwabenland left Hamburg on December 17, 1938, and headed to the Antarctic on a precisely planned route (see map below). She reached the pack ice on January 19 1939 at 4° 15´ W and 69° 10´S. Over the following weeks, 15 Wal flights took place over roughly 600,000 square km. These were photographic missions, and using the special Zeiss Reihenmessbildkameras RMK 38 cameras, they mad more than 11,000 pictures of the area. Old Norwegian maps from 1931 were proven to be wrong and changed accordingly.

Left: Map of the Schwabenland's journey

Right: Aerial photo taken of Antarctica

Click on either image to see a larger version

    Nearly one fifth of Antarctica was observed and charted this way. Valuable information was documented for the first time, but the lands were simultaneously claimed to be German territory. To stress this claim to the other powers, the two Wal aircraft dropped several thousand small Nazi flags, as well as special metal poles with expedition's insignia and the swastika. The whole territory now got the name Neuschwabenland (New Schwabenland). This name is actually still valid and is often used to describe the area in question.

    Interestingly, the expedition apparently discovered several ice free regions with lakes and small signs of vegetation. The expedition's geologists said that this phenomenon was due hot sources in the ground.

A Dornier Wal leaving the Schwabenland's launch rails

    In mid February of 1939, the Schwabenland left the Antarctic. It took two months to get back to Hamburg, and Ritscher used this time to organize the results, maps and photos. Captain Ritscher was so surprised by the results of the flights that he immediately planned second, fully civilian, expedition, using  lighter airplanes with skis. These plans were, however, canceled with the onset of World War 2.

    After the war, most parts of Neuschwabenland were renamed according to the Antarctic Treaty of 1957. The new names of Queen Maud Land, Princess Martha Coast and Princess Astrid Coast appeared on the map. Yet even today many of the mountains in the northern Antarctic area carry German names: Mühlig-Hoffman Mountains, Wohltat Mountains and so on. They stand as the last monument to the German colony of Neuschwabenland.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Germany; Government; Israel; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; Russia; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: allied; axis; battle; germany; ii; nazi; neuschwabenland; war; world
Very Interesting stuff.
1 posted on 01/21/2004 2:08:56 PM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
What's with all the boxes with red Xs?
2 posted on 01/21/2004 2:18:37 PM PST by Howie66 (Lead, follow or git the hell out of the way!)
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To: vannrox
Neuschwabenland for the Neuschwabenlandians!

3 posted on 01/21/2004 2:22:29 PM PST by tet68
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To: vannrox
Here in Pa, my yard borders the Schwaben creek. I've got a little Neuschwabenland of my owm. I've always been interested in hearing about these alleged German secret expeditions, but have never found anything of substance. Seems like every good story involves a "secret Nazi base" from WWII.
4 posted on 01/21/2004 2:24:21 PM PST by somemoreequalthanothers
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To: somemoreequalthanothers
owm = own
5 posted on 01/21/2004 2:25:25 PM PST by somemoreequalthanothers
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To: vannrox
A few short years ago a Seattle Times science writer wrote a rather poor novel about this. I forgot his name, but he does live in the Pacific Northwest; Anacortes, WA I believe. I donated the book to Goodwill about a day after I read it. Contact the Seattle Times magazine, "Pacific Northwest" at
6 posted on 01/21/2004 2:29:14 PM PST by doxteve
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To: vannrox
To stress this claim to the other powers, the two Wal aircraft dropped several thousand small Nazi flags, as well as special metal poles with expedition's insignia and the swastika.

Unfortunately, none of the links work for me and I had hoped to see old photos of penguins hopping around with Nazi flags in their beaks. :)

7 posted on 01/21/2004 2:30:53 PM PST by xJones
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To: Howie66
The website containing the pictures has a bandwidth limitation placed on it, meaning that the pictures can only be seen a certain number of times per day (that's the result, not the intent necessarily). Merely clicking on this FR posting will now count against that limitation.
8 posted on 01/21/2004 2:37:23 PM PST by FormerLib (We'll fight the good fight until the very end!)
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To: vannrox
Varom kaput diese photos?
9 posted on 01/21/2004 2:38:13 PM PST by Kenny Bunk
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To: FormerLib
10 posted on 01/21/2004 2:45:00 PM PST by Howie66 (Lead, follow or git the hell out of the way!)
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To: xJones
"...penguins hopping around with Nazi flags..."

The red armband would look real sharp on a penguin's black and white 'uniform'.
11 posted on 01/21/2004 3:52:02 PM PST by beelzepug ("It'll ooze a bit, 'eads do, ya know.")
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To: vannrox
Obviously something greatly interests the governments of the world, as evidenced by the constant scientific attention and the whispered rumors of unreported massive activity.

Strap on the tinfoil, and you can read all sorts of things about alien bases and resonance points. Natural resources? Ancient forgotten knowledge buried by the ice? Future real estate purchases after massive 'global warming?' There is something about this southern continent that we are not being told.

I have never understood why people are fixated by this frozen wasteland. Seems like a really cold dead end.

12 posted on 01/21/2004 4:18:48 PM PST by JOAT
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To: vannrox
Vebsaiten fotografen sind kaput! Perche?
13 posted on 01/21/2004 4:25:23 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything!")
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To: tet68
Neuschwabenlandians for DEAN!
14 posted on 01/21/2004 5:26:36 PM PST by jaz.357 (We should be more open-minded toward people trying to kill us.)
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To: vannrox
So, um, how does one determine what part of Antarctica is "northern"? Wouldn't that be the entire coastline?
15 posted on 01/21/2004 5:31:15 PM PST by HostileTerritory
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To: vannrox
I think Operation Highjump was the name of the Byrd operation which allegedly attacked the German bases.
16 posted on 01/21/2004 6:01:06 PM PST by gd124
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To: jaz.357
Neuschwabenlandians should just sit down!
17 posted on 01/21/2004 6:07:04 PM PST by KOZ. (i'm so bad i should be in detention)
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To: Kenny Bunk
Darum! Alles kaput!
18 posted on 01/21/2004 6:24:46 PM PST by Temple Owl
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To: somemoreequalthanothers

I have found some information on the expidition, unfortunatly it is in polish and you will need to translate it. Here it is:
Have fun!

19 posted on 02/07/2011 3:22:53 PM PST by handsmcml (New Szwabia)
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