Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fickt nicht mit dem Raketenmensch!

Gather around, younglings, while Uncle Smuts narrate another blood-curdling, spine-chilling, lymph-centrifuging tale of horror and woe. Another cautionary yarn of fictional creation escaping into the realm of consensus reality, or at least into the august pages of the Anglo-American Cyclopaedia [New York, 1917] W.Pedia, which is how these fictive incursions always begin (it must be a tradition, or an old charter or something).

In this case the seminal work of fiction was "German Secret Weapons of World War II" [Samisdat Publishers]. The author, a Bavarian gentleman yclept Ernst Zündel (writing as Christof Friedrich), has elsewhere claimed that he has to make up stupid stuff about Nazi flying saucers at the South Pole because eedjits and barmpots read them, and then he gets invited onto radio shows to talk about his ideas, and he is seldom offered a soapbox on the merits of those ideas themselves (on account of them involving the non-existence of the Holocaust and the misunderstood qualities of Hitler).* This is clearly an excuse, however, and more likely Mr Zündel feels understandable and unassuagable guilt about his fictive inventiveness, which -- like mirrors and procreation -- multiples the superfluity of existence.

Little needs be said about the phantasmic, diesel-fume-delirium nature of the Nazi Himmelstürmer Einpersonnenfluggerät that featured in that pamphlet -- a Nazi jetpack for assisting Heer infantry over minefields and suchlike obstacles, and apparently fueled on Narrativium. Suffice to say that a back-mounted pulsed ramjet has no throttle as such, which makes for an abrupt return to earth after each 50-metre jump; while their absence of activity when not at ram-speed makes ramjets unsuitable for vertical take-off. Also, "The units consumed 100 grams of fuel per second"... yeah right.

The precise sequence and the parties involved in domesticating this wild fantasy are not clear. The germane entry at Grayfalcon.us first came to the attention of the Wayback Machine in September 2007. The author is deeply committed to the notion of Nazi Flying Saucers, so there was nothing about ramjet backpacks that would strain his credulity. Feeling the need for visual corroboration, he provided illustrations, which promptly accreted to the central fantasy and have accompanied it ever since.

In the absence of anything authentic or contemporaneous, our Grayfalcon author amassed one grainy photograph of a child's toy Wehrmacht Action Figure with tubes attached; images of Raketentruppen alt-history figurines and Rocketeer movie-tie-in merchandise; and a sketch in the style of 1960s Eagle or Commando Comix (albeit lacking the canonical speech-bubble expostulations of Englischer Schweinhund!! and Achtung!! Spitfire!!).
Over at the Whackyweedia, WWII Levitation had hovered at the level of childhood movie memories and rumours of war, as a dismissive parenthetical note:
During WWII, Germany made crude early experiments of strapping large firework-type rockets to a man's back; it was very unstable and dangerous.

Until some helpful brownie pasted in the Zündel fabrication on 17 April 2006, fleshing it out with corroborative details to give artistic verisimilitude to the otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. The Riddled library pixies cannot account for their activities on that day, just saying.
During WWII, Germany made late-war experiments of strapping two wearable shortened Schmidt pulse tubes of low thrust to the body of a test flier. These tunes bore no resemblance to the Schmidt-Argus pulse jet that powered the V-1 missile.
The device was called "Himmelsturmer" (Skystormer) and operated as follows: ... A very simple operation and no report of any casualties.

The notion that American post-war jetpack experimenters stole both concept and technology is especially irresistible. The bit at the end about "no report of any casualties" is true but unhelpful.
Whoops wrong Heaven-Stormer
Those paragraphs remained largely intact for the next seven years... a symbolic period of time, the exact duration of Hans Castorp's sojourn within the Magic Mountain. Grammar purists polished the sentences and gave back "Himmelstürmer" its missing Umlaut, and brought the spurious citations into alignment with Pedia conventions. The passage acquired its own separate subheading... initially "The German Flightpack of World War II". It enjoyed the inevitable though short-lived attentions of lovable scamps who tweaked it to read "The French Flightpack of World War II" (while also changing 'fuel' to 'garbage'), and later provided the device with parentage in the form of Dr Arkle, its purported inventor. Unless these are the vestigial traces of otherwise-suppressed alternative pasts (as predicted by the "Garden of Joining Paths" model of converging time-lines).

Peak Nazi Jetpack churnalism occurred in 2010 -- kicking off with a version at DarkRoastedBlend in April. Not to be outdone, Gizmodo regurged DRB (and the Whackyweedia) in the same month, while DieselPunks simply copy-pasted the Grayfalcon account in July 2010.

At last the bubble burst in Feb. 2013 [thanks to Steve Lehto], and the story fell back into oblivion in the manner of a plummeting Wehrmacht infantryman after Brennschluss. In May the Pedia entry acquired a swift and skeptical footnote:
The story of the Himmelsturmer has recently been revealed to be a fabrication. No such device ever existed. [4]

Then the subsection made a final fleeting curtain-call:
German Himmelstürmer of World War II
Christof Friedrich, a psuedonym for Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel, published an book in 1976 claiming that, in World War II, Germany conducted late-war experiments by strapping two wearable shortened Schmidt pulse jet tubes of low thrust to the body of a pilot [3]. However, outside of the unreliable claims of Zündel, no other evidence exists that these experiments. or that the so-called Himmelstürmer ("sky stormer") program, actually existed. What evidence that Zündel supplied was a hoax[4].

...before it vanished from the Whackyweedia completely, and all agreed to pretend that it never happened.

One is left wondering what other of Mr Zündel's inventions escaped from his fictive containment facilities. Please do not shatter my child-like confidence in the reality of the Lippisch P.13b coal-burning ramjet fighter, or the Horten Ho 229 flying-wing jet bomber.
And in the inevitable sequel, as of October 2016, the unkillable Nazi Zombie Jetpack is back!! -- now with its own separate Pedia entry! And with additional embellishments, bearing that freshly-fabricated new-book smell, about the uniforms worn and the weapons carried by the troopers!**
* Mr Zündel's contributions to fiction are not limited to his own creations, for he is also noted for commissioning the Leuchter Report.

** Sadly, in the most recent revision, the author of the entry removed the citation to
Maschek, S. (1950). Kleine Himmelstürmer : Frommfröhliche Lebensbilder f. Kinder. St. Antonius-Verl.
-- belatedly realising that when a Catholic apologist named Salvator Maschek wrote a book called "Little Heaven-Stormer: Pious-Happy Life-Images for Children", it was probably not a memoir about his childhood in the Nazi jetpack infantry.