Military Encounters with Extraterrestrials: The Real War of the Worlds
Frank Joseph | 320 pages | Bear & Company | Sept. 11, 2018 | ISBN: 9781591433248 | $20
At some point, a reckoning is going to come. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but this situation cannot continue. Every day, we watch as darkness overwhelms our country, and much of the West, a sort of self-created madness where one specific group—conservative whites—are increasingly willing to blow up everything America and the West ever stood for in service of the politics of ethno-nationalism and fear. This happens regularly in America, and the story usually plays out the same way. But while we wait for the better angels of our nature to undo some of the damage, I cannot help but think that the people who give aid and comfort to the worst among us must pay a price for their contribution to the wounds they inflict on our society. That is why I cannot but think that Inner Traditions International, the parent company of Bear & Company, needs to be dissolved.
I have tried being amused by their enormous output of ridiculous New Age and fringe history sludge, but bemused resignation isn’t the right reaction when for the second time this year they publish another book by Frank Joseph, the former head of the National Socialist White People’s Party, a neo-Nazi, and a convicted child rapist. We live in a world where Nazis march through the streets and members of the current presidential administration give aid and comfort to them and their views. It is neither funny nor cute that a white supremacist should put out book after book to propagandize under the cover of “aliens” repugnant Nazi views.
It is worth stating again and explicitly and as loudly as possible: INNER TRADITIONS PUBLISHES BOOKS BY AN ACTUAL NAZI. It doesn’t matter that Joseph got kicked out of the Nazi party, since he has spent the past three decades subtly infusing his fringe history books with Nazi ideologies about lost white races, the inferiority of minorities, and other touchstones of the white nationalist movement.
The book under consideration today is Military Encounters with Extraterrestrials: The Real War of the Worlds, due out later this year. The book was originally supposed to be published by Red Wheel / Weiser in 2017 under the title The Real War of the Worlds, but Red Wheel declined to release the title for reasons I have not been able to discover. The current version comes with a glowing endorsement from John Brandenburg, a talking head from the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens. Brandenburg wrote a preface praising Joseph’s work and Joseph returned the favor by devoting part of the opening chapter to praising Brandenburg’s ludicrous claim that prehistoric Martians engaged in nuclear warfare. Brandenburg’s endorsement of Frank Joseph should have him banned from the History Channel for life, but sadly, it will not. Everyone will smile and nod and pretend that it’s perfectly OK to praise Nazis, and then go back to making Hitler fetish history porn programs.
But let us repeat this carefully: The History Channel is OK with the people it pays to appear on its air praising Nazis.
As for the book itself, it is a compendium of hearsay torn from the pages of tabloids. To give but one example: Joseph quotes Peter Waitzrik, who supposedly fought alongside the Red Baron in World War I, as claiming that the Baron shot down a UFO and that space aliens ran out. Even Joseph admits that the story doesn’t match the historical record, but he tries to rehabilitate it anyway, despite the fact that it was first published in the Weekly World News on August 11, 1998 (and later reprinted in 1999). “His appearance in a notorious American tabloid was enough for most historians to dismiss him as the perpetrator of an obvious hoax,” Joseph writes. But he said that Waitzrik only turned to the Weekly World News when no other paper would touch his story.
Now, as it happens, I went to college with the son of one of the executives in charge of American Media, Inc., the parent company of the Weekly World News, in those days, and I got to see how the sausage was made back during the time when the tabloid still pretended its stories were true. (The Weekly World News admitted its stories were fake in 2004.) As I’ve mentioned before, I was sworn to secrecy not to reveal the truth about Weekly World News stories, but that expired when the tabloid admitted their own pieces were fake. The fact of the matter is that nobody working there much cared what they wrote. They would make up stories from whole cloth as needed, and they’d massage bizarre claims into humorous articles without doing much to check facts. Even though Waitzrik might have been a real person, the story from the Weekly World News is probably, at best, a “creative” interpretation of a very old man’s fantastical tall tales.
There is little to say about the motley collection of shopworn UFO anecdotes that Joseph assembles. Most are familiar to those who have read any of the innumerable earlier works on military UFO encounters. Virtually none have any evidence to support the idea that they represent encounters with actual space aliens. Most are taken directly from earlier books. Virtually nothing is original. And, by the way, by “military,” he largely means the U.S. military, despite there being something like nearly 200 other militaries in the world.
One chapter reviews a staple of Ancient Aliens, the allegation that the Admiral Byrd and the U.S. military engaged with UFOs in Antarctica. I’ve mentioned before that the claim comes from F. Amadeo Giannini's book The Worlds Beyond the Poles (1957). Giannini had use part of the script of the action movie The Lost Horizon (1937) and presented it as a transcript of a conversation between space aliens and Admiral Byrd, though the story was first told about the North pole before being revised to the South Pole.
Joseph, of course, breaks from a focus on America long enough to devote a chapter to the Nazi military, and a second to the “German connection” between Nazis and space aliens. “The Axis experience with off-world vehicles was fundamentally similar to those confronted by the Allies, which lends these shared incidents some measure of credibility,” he writes. He takes some time to praise the Nazis for engaging in “exclusively an economic and scientific affair in Antarctica instead of a military one, like the United States, and he rhapsodizes over Nazi military feats and speculates about whether the Germans nobly tried to protect the world from the “truth” about space aliens at the South Pole.
Due to his steadfast belief in noble, selfless Nazi heroes, he draws the most ridiculous possible conclusion about Byrd’s trip to Antarctica: He was helping ex-Nazis contain evil space aliens.
From the foregoing facts, however incomplete, the most credible possible reconstruction of events, at least in general outline, begins in 1938 or 1939 with the accidental find by German Antarctic Expedition members of a base near the coast of New Swabia built and occupied by beings from another world who possessed highly advanced flight technology. Returning with this disclosure to Hamburg, Ritscher began organizing a return trip until its cancellation by the advent of war. One year following its conclusion, the former Kriegsmarine captain arrived in Washington, D.C., to share the Deutsche Antarktische Expedition’s discovery with his prewar American colleague, Richard Byrd.
Somebody spent too much time watching The Thing from Another World and The Thing. And how is it that nobody at Inner Traditions objected to the idea that a Nazi author is writing a book praising Nazis as scientific and humanitarian heroes?
As the book meanders on, Joseph makes plain his commitment to accepting the testimony of anyone who once wore a uniform, however ridiculous, and equally his refusal to conduct any original research to confirm any of the claims. Instead, he accepts basically at face value absurd claims about dead aliens at Roswell, and the hoax Majestic Twelve documents. He also managed to get Stanton Friedman to help the Nazi author to make his case. Friedman told Joseph via email that a U.S. military craft had collided with an alien craft, and that there were three different UFO crashes in New Mexico in the twelve months surrounding 1947.
The later chapters cover more recent encounters and are consequently more detailed, since the claimants are still alive to elaborate and because they are steeped in UFO lore and consequently fill their tales with greater detail. He includes some Canadian and Soviet material in later chapters, and a few references to the rest of the world, but he has a stubborn refusal to imagine alternative explanations beyond space aliens. At least some of the encounters described would have involved astronomical events, secret military weapons, spy planes, and even outright propaganda. What makes this book particularly strange is that Joseph’s writing is more detailed and clearer than his ancient mysteries writing. One might put it down to his fetish for the military, or that he is not really cut out to think holistically about the past, but the writing style is notably different. I hesitate to say that this is a better book—because he is a Nazi child molester, after all—but it is more engaging and better written than some of his others. Ultimately, I think that this is due to the fact that he is copying here from better books and has more detailed source material to work with, material he understands better. There is still too much Nazi fetishizing, and some projection of aliens as space Nazis. He suggests that aliens see humans as vermin who are despoiling the planet and should be eradicated: “No doubt, like good surgeons everywhere, they have already pondered prophylactic measures,” he says, apparently without irony. His solution to the “problem” of aliens is also a bit disturbing, suggesting that the United States—which he seems to view as the heir to Nazi Germany via its incorporation of Nazi scientists—should gain technological parity with aliens by shooting down their craft and reverse engineering their technology.
The star rating for this book represents how I would judge it if it were written by an unsullied author. It is the star rating for the book as a book. As a work by Frank Joseph, it deserves negative stars—back hole or dark matter ratings.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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