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The Final Secret

of the Holy Lance

Part One



Jerry E. Smith and George Piccard



[A somewhat abbreviated version of this article appeared in World Explorer Magazine Vol. 4. No. 4, 2006 under the title EXPLORING THE ANTARCTIC REICH: The Final Secret of the Holy Lance.]




According to the Gospel of John (19:31-37) as Jesus hung on the Cross a Roman centurion pierced His side with a spear.  Christian tradition later named that soldier as Gaius Cassius Longinus. Over the centuries an object claimed to be this Holy Lance has passed through the hands of some of Europe’s most influential leaders including Constantine, Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, the Habsburg Emperors, and most recently Adolf Hitler.  A legend has arisen that "whosoever possesses this Holy Lance and understands the powers it serves, holds in his hand the destiny of the world for good or evil."


Also called the Spear of Destiny, Spear of Longinus, and The Spear of Christ, this strange relic of The Passion of The Christ has been written about for nearly two thousand years.  Eusebius of Caesarea, who became a spiritual advisor to Constantine described the Holy Lance as it was at the height of Constantine’s power in the Fourth Century:


It was a long spear, overlaid with gold. On the top was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones, and within this the symbol of the Savior’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters – those letters the emperor was in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period. From the spear was also suspended a cloth, a royal piece, covered with a profuse embroidery of most brilliant precious stones and which, being also richly interlaced with gold, presented an indescribable degree of beauty to the beholder. The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that it should be carried at the head of all his armies.


Trevor Ravenscroft captured the world’s attention with his 1972 opus The Spear of Destiny, the Occult Power Behind the Spear Which Pierced the Side of Christ. His book dealt primarily with the past lives of the Nazi inner core. His contention was that they had been involved in using the Spear of Destiny for black magic in the eleventh century and were at it again, describing World War II as a wizard’s battle between black and white magicians.  He spent much of his book presenting “evidence” that the principal players in the world drama of the 1930 and 40s were reincarnations of the real life people who had been the models for the characters in Wagner’s opera Parsifal. Since then the Spear of Destiny has held the central place in many novels, scholarly tomes, TV shows (fictional and documentary) and even comic books: including Indiana Jones And The Spear Of Destiny; Hellboy; and Hellblazer, which gave us the 2005 film Constantine with Keanu Reeves.


Ravenscroft was not the only post-war college professor to write about, and add to the Holy Lance mythos. In 1988-89 Dr. Howard A. Buechner, M.D., professor of medicine at Tulane and later L.S.U., added a strange chapter to the tale in his two books Hitler's Ashes - Seeds Of A New Reich and Adolf Hitler and the Secrets of the Holy Lance.  In them he relates that he was contacted by a former German U-boat submariner who claimed to have helped take the Holy Lance to Antarctica in 1945 and to have helped a group of German businessmen who called themselves The Hartmann Expedition recover it in 1979.


Doctor Buechner was a retired Colonel with the U.S. Army who had served as a battalion surgeon in World War II. In the mid-1980s he was presented by the pseudonymous “Capt. Wilhelm Bernhart” with what was claimed to be the log of the equally pseudonymous “Hartmann Expedition,” including a hand-written letter of authenticity signed by “Hartmann,” and photos of some of the objects recovered.


According to Buechner, this former Nazi sailor claimed that he could prove that the famous Spear of Destiny currently on display in the Schatzkammer Museum in Vienna is a fake.  Prior to the war Heinrich Himmler, who would become head of the Occult Bureau of the SS, formed a circle of Knights dedicated to the Holy Lance, called The Knight’s Grand Council.  It has been widely reported that they used a replica of the Holy Lance in arcane black magic ceremonies in a specially appointed castle in Wewelsburg, Germany, which today welcomes tourists with a taste for the macabre.  Capt. Bernhart claimed that during the war Himmler had Japan's greatest sword maker flown to Germany where he created a second and much more exact duplicate of the lance.  The “perfect” copy then went on display in Nuremberg, from whence it was turned over to Austrian authorities at the war’s end, while the real one remained under Himmler’s control – until sent to Antarctica by order of Hitler.


In the final hours of the war, according to this sailor, Hitler personally selected a man who would later be called “Col. Maximilian Hartmann” to send several of his most prized possessions, including the Spear of Destiny, to Antarctica via submarine – the one on which Bernhart said he had served.  Further, Col. Hartmann was alleged to have recovered the real Spear of Destiny, again with aid from Bernhart, in 1979.  According to Buechner and Bernhart the Holy Lance is now in hiding somewhere in Europe, in the possession of the reconvened order of Himmler’s knights, renamed The Knights of the Holy Lance.


After contacting most of the purported members of the 1979 Hartmann Expedition and others involved, including senior former Nazi officials and close personal associates of Adolf Hitler, like Hitler Youth Leader Artur Axmann, Col. Buechner became convinced that the sailor’s claims were true. Either he was the victim of an incredibly elaborate hoax, or the Spear of Destiny really did reside for a while in Antarctica and may well be in the hands of a group of individuals who believe in its power to direct the destiny of mankind – and may be conducting magic rites with it right this moment!


Col. Buechner's story was examined and partially corroborated by the authors of this article in our 2005 book for Adventures Unlimited Press SECRETS OF THE HOLY LANCE: The Spear of Destiny in History & Legend. Common sense, perhaps, would lead one to reject such a wild tale.  Yet, over and over we discover that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.  Although we leaned toward believing that Buechner was the victim of a hoax we agreed that his story was certainly worthy of inclusion in a book about legends surrounding the Holy Lance – and elements of Buechner’s tale did strike awfully close to the truth!  Here then is what we discovered while trying to unravel this final secret of the Holy Lance…





The Prime Meridian, zero degrees longitude, runs from pole to pole passing through Greenwich, England, Western France, Eastern Spain, Western Africa, and the South Atlantic Ocean, before reaching Antarctica in the region known today as Dronning (Queen) Maud Land.  It was named that in 1930 by the Norwegian Riiser-Larsen in honor of the Queen of Norway.


In 1939 Germany and Norway each staked official territorial claims, within days of each other, to this Atlantic coastal area of Antarctica.  The German Antarctica Expedition of 1938-39 over-flew nearly one-fifth of the continent, taking some 11,000 photographs.  The expedition’s aircraft also dropped several thousand small Nazi flags, as well as special metal poles with the expedition's insignia and the swastika, claiming the territory for Germany. 


They named the region Neuschwabenland (New Schwabenland) after Swabia as it is known today, which was one of the original duchies of the German Kingdom.  Swabia was home to one of the most powerful dynasties of European monarchs, The Hohenstaufen Dynasty, which ruled the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries.  Frederick Barbarossa was the greatest of the Hohenstaufen kings, and a wielder of the Holy Lance.  It has been reported that Hitler believed he was a reincarnation of Barbarossa.  He named one of his houses after him and dubbed the invasion of Russia Operation Barbarossa.


The German Antarctic Expedition discovered several ice-free regions with lakes and signs of vegetation (mostly lichen and moss) in the territory’s interior.  The expedition's geologists said that this phenomenon was due to hot springs or other geothermal sources.  This discovery, it is claimed, led Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler to hatch a bold plan to build a permanent base in Antarctica.  For more than sixty years rumors about a base code named “Station 211” have tantalized historians and researchers.  Could it be that it was actually constructed and staffed as an ongoing project throughout the war?  Perhaps Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz announced its completion when, in 1943, he said: “The German submarine fleet is proud of having built for the Fuhrer, in another part of the world, a Shangri-La on land, an impregnable fortress.”


Most of the rumors agree that Station 211, if it really existed, was located inside a prominent ice-free mountain in the Muhlig-Hofmann Mountains of Neuschwabenland (Queen Maud Land).  In 1946-47 Admiral Byrd, America’s most recognized polar explorer may have searched for Station 211.  In what was called Operation Highjump he had at his disposal the largest armada ever sent to Antarctica.  Some 13 ships and 4,700 men, which included an aircraft carrier, a submarine, two destroyers, more than two-dozen aircraft and some 3,500 Marines in full battle gear were sent by the United States to Antarctica on what was officially described as a “training” mission.  Yet persistent rumors insist that the actual purpose of Highjump was to find the Nazi fortress.  It’s unclear if Byrd ever discovered the location of the Fuhrer’s “Shangri-La” -- if it really was there and if he really was looking for it, that is.  


During the period between 1956 and 1960 a Norwegian expedition mapped most of Queen Maud Land from land surveys and air photos.  Tantalizingly they did find an ice-free mountain that matched the description of the one in the Station 211 rumors.  They called it Svarthamaren (the black hammer).  If it truly is the location of Station 211 its secret will be kept well into this century, for it has been designated an Antarctic Specially Protected Area and Site of Special Scientific Interest under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978.  It was listed as an “exceptional natural research laboratory for research on the Antarctic petrel (Thalassoica Antarctica), snow petrel (Pagodroma nivea) and south polar skua (Catharacta maccormicki), and their adaptation to breeding in the inland/interior of Antarctica.”  Access is limited to only a handful of specially selected scientists.  If this is a ruse, anyone and everyone not deemed safe with the knowledge of what really went on there will be prevented from getting too close for many years to come.


Col. Buechner and Capt. Bernhart avoid mention of Station 211 though, perhaps to maintain its secrecy, which would be in keeping with the general tone of their two books.  Indeed, they admit that the names given for all members of the 1979 expedition, including Bernhart and Hartmann, are fictitious and where used to protect their true identities. It is clear that Buechner does not tell us all he knows.


Instead, Buechner and Bernhart tell us that the submarine crew in 1945 placed Hitler’s treasure at the foot of an unnamed glazier in the Muhlig-Hofmann Mountains, dug in and protected with steel plates.  This would have meant them finding one of the few stretches of beach not blocked by miles of shelf ice.  Then to have gone on shore and trekked more than 100 miles deep into the interior, loaded down with a ton or more of steel!  This seemed to us to be the least plausible piece of this whole mad jigsaw puzzle.  Some parts of Antarctica receive as much as sixty feet of snow in a single year.  How deeply would this treasure have been buried after more than thirty years?  And why head for an ice-free region only to stash it in the ice?  No, we rejected Buechner’s cover story, feeling sure that if any of it were true then they must have taken the Holy Lance somewhere from which it would be easily recoverable -- to Station 211.





Surprisingly we uncovered evidence that Hitler’s right hand man, Rudolf Hess, had been entrusted with coordinating the effort to build Station 211.  Historians have often dismissed Hess as a Nazi figurehead, positioned highly because of his total subservience to the Fuehrer, but perhaps this was because his true role was so well concealed.


If so, Hess must have enlisted the aid of Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler.  Himmler had rejected Christianity, as had many of the Nazi inner core and believed in a strange Germanic version of a neo-pagan New Age.  He was a devotee of the German occultist, Dr. Friedrich Wichtl who specialized in Masonic lore and "world conspiracy" theories.  After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 at the end of World War I, Dr. Wichtl wrote a best-selling book entitled Weltfreimaurerei, Weltrevolution, Weltrepublik ["World Freemasonry, World Revolution, World Republic”].  Himmler was drawn into the occult after reading Dr. Wichtl's book in 1919, while a military cadet convalescing after a serious stomach illness. 


Himmler eventually became a believer in the Hindu concept of world-ages or yugas.  He believed that the current age, or Kali Yuga, would end in a global cataclysm, thereby giving birth to a new world-age called the Satya Yuga.  By sending a Nazi colony to Antarctica, Himmler believed that he was ensuring a remnant of the "pure Aryan race" would survive the coming cataclysm with its society and culture intact.  He believed that these survivors would then take possession of Antarctica after the cataclysm had melted the south polar ice cap.


Germany built more than two dozen “super subs” during the war.  Each was the size of an aircraft carrier, but they weren’t built as war ships, they were underwater cargo ships.  Initially they were used to resupply the submarine “wolf packs.”  Later, it would seem, they were pressed into transporting tools, equipment, raw materials, and perhaps even slave labor to the south polar base.  Evidence suggests that the U-boat traffic to Neuschwabenland continued even after Germany’s surrender in 1945, as we’ll see in a moment.


During the war, surface ships were involved in this massive effort, but as the tide of war turned against the Germans the bulk of the transport work fell to the U-boats and their crews.  Some insight into how much activity took place to and from Antarctica might be gleaned from the fact that between October 1942 and September 1944 16 German U-boats were sunk in the South Atlantic.


Several surface ships appear to have been put on “watch dog” duty, resupplying the subs and keeping Allied shipping away.  For example, the raider ship Atlantis, under the command of Captain Bernhard Rogge, made an extended voyage in the South Atlantic, Indian and South Pacific Oceans, from 1939 to 1941, visiting the Iles Kerguelen between December 1940 to January 1941 (burying a seaman at Bassin de la Gazelle).  The ship then adopted a new disguise as Tamesis before being sunk by HMS Devonshire near Ascension Island, on 22nd November 1941 (the Atlantis was also known as Hilfskreuzer 16 and was, at various times, disguised as Kasii-Maru or Abbekerk).


Another sea raider was the Pinguin, under the command of Captain Ernst-Felix Kruder.  She operated chiefly in the Indian Ocean.  In January 1941, she captured a Norwegian whaling fleet (factory ships Ole Wegger and Pelagos, supply ship Solglimt and eleven whale catchers) at about 59° S, 02° 30W.  One of these catchers was renamed Adjutant.  It remained in the Indian Ocean as a tender while the rest of the Norwegian ships were sent to occupied France.  On the 8th of May 1941 Pinguin was sunk off the Persian Gulf by HMS Cornwall, after she had captured 136,550 tons of British and allied shipping.  She was also known as Hilfskreuzer 33, and disguised herself at various times as Tamerlan, Petschura, Kassos and Trafalgar.


Another raider was the Komet, commanded by Captain Robert Eyssen.  She operated in the Pacific and Indian oceans, including a voyage along the Antarctic coastline from Cape Adare to the Shackleton Ice Shelf in search of whaling vessels during February 1941.  There she met the Pinguin and supply vessels Alstertor and Adjutant.  Komet was also known as Hilfskreuzer 45 and was sunk off Cherbourg in 1942.


Possible evidence for this construction project can be gleamed from the story of submarine U-859.  On April 4, 1944 at 04:40 hours, it left port on an unknown mission carrying 67 men and 33 tons of mercury sealed in glass bottles in watertight tin crates.  The submarine was later sunk on the 23rd of September by the British submarine HMS Trenchant in the Straits of Malacca.  Although 47 of the crew died, 20 survived.  Some 30 years later one of these survivors spoke openly about the cargo and divers later confirmed the story on rediscovering the mercury.  The significance being that mercury is usable as a fuel source for certain types of aerospace propulsion, as we will discuss shortly.  Why would a German submarine be transporting such a cargo so far from home?  We suspect that it was en route to Station 211 with “fuel” for a certain specialized type of disk-shaped aircraft!


Further evidence that Station 211 existed, and continued to be inhabited after the war’s end, can be seen in the several accounts of German naval activity after the fall of Berlin.  For example, on July 10, 1945, more than two months after the cessation of known hostilities, the German submarine U-530 surrendered to Argentine authorities at the port of Mar del Plata, one of the closest Argentine harbors to Antarctica.  Similarly, U-977 arrived a month later in Mar del Plata on 17 August.  These were but two of the boats that are believed to have made up the convoy of the “Fuehrer’s Final Army.”  Col. Buechner’s informant, “Capt. Bernhart,” supposedly served on one of these U-boats, but which one is never made clear so as to hide his real identity.


There continued to be accounts of German activity for a considerable post-war period.  The French Agence France Press on September 25, 1946 stated, "the continuous rumors about German U-boat activity in the region of Tierra del Fuego between the southernmost tip of Latin America and the continent of Antarctica are based on true happenings."


Then the French newspaper, France Soir, gave the following account of an encounter with such a German U-boat:


Almost one and a half years after cessation of hostilities in Europe, the Icelandic Whaler Juliana was stopped by a large German U-boat.  The Juliana was in the Antarctic region around Malvinas Islands [The Falklands] when a German submarine surfaced and raised the German official Flag of Mourning - red with a black edge. 


The submarine commander sent out a boarding party, which approached the Juliana in a rubber dingy, and having boarded the whaler demanded of Capt. Hekla part of his fresh food stocks.  The request was made in the definite tone of an order to which resistance would have been unwise.


The German officer spoke a correct English and paid for his provisions in US dollars, giving the Captain a bonus of $10 for each member of the Juliana crew.  Whilst the foodstuffs were being transferred to the submarine, the submarine commander informed Capt. Hekla of the exact location of a large school of whales.  Later the Juliana found the school of whales where designated.


Could it be possible that other German U-boats, in addition to U-530 and U-977 were continuing to operate in the area following the war?  There are no formal records of such activity, however it is known that 54 German U-boats “disappeared” during the war, of which only 11 are likely to have met their fate in collision with mines.


It is reasonable to suppose that once the first phases of construction at Station 211 were complete, a number of experimental weapons research and development programs would have been relocated there.  It is well known that the German High Command hung on believing that the new weapons under development would turn the tide of the war back in Germany’s favor.  With ever increasing Allied bombing and armies closing in on Germany from the east, west and south it would seem prudent to move one’s most precious projects to somewhere beyond reach -- and what could be further from the Allies’ grasp than Antarctica?





By the end of 1944 Himmler's SS had taken over complete control of all advanced weapon’s design and most of their manufacturing.  This included the so-called super weapons projects (like the V-2 rockets and jet fighter planes), and the numerous underground facilities in Germany and elsewhere, and the associated slave labor camps needed to build them.


Nazi ideology wasn’t limited by the established and conventional sciences as taught in American schools.  It is apparent that Nazi technological programs enjoyed a similar leisure.  These programs were the fusion of Nazi madness and the mobilization of Germany’s seemingly endless resources of production and radical concept.


One such program, headed by implosion technologist Viktor Schauberger, developed flying saucers and levitating disks. Schauberger (1885-1958) pioneered a new understanding of the Science of Nature, discovering primary laws and principles unacknowledged by contemporary science.  One can gain an insight into what he discovered in one of the newest books to be published by Adventures Unlimited: HIDDEN NATURE: The Startling Insights of Viktor Schauberger.


The Allies stumbled upon evidence of the saucer program after the war.  At the Peenemuende rocket site, managed by the future head of NASA, Wernher Von Braun, the Allies discovered several photographs of the saucers.  They viewed images of the Mercury powered Flugkriesel, and the luminescent mystery spheres labeled by Allied pilots as Foo-Fighters.  An article in the May 1980 issue of Neue Presse details the recollection of a German engineer from Peenemuende who worked on the project to develop a saucer craft capable of flying manned with weaponry at 3,000 kilometers per hour.  Defecting to the United States after the war, the engineer filed for a patent on a flying saucer of his own design.  Adventures Unlimited has published several books on these craft over the years, most notably Man-Made UFOs 1944-1994: Fifty Years of Suppression by Renato Vesco and David Hatcher Childress, and Hitler’s Flying Saucers: A Guide to German Flying Discs of the Second World War by Henry Stevens.


From 1947 until 17 December 1969, the United States Air Force actively investigated reports and sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) under a program called Project Blue Book.  The project was headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB.  After closing Project Blue Book, the US Air Force has not publicly acknowledged any further interest in UFO sightings.  The man in charge of Project Blue Book, Captain Edward Ruppert, said in 1956:


When World War II ended, the Germans had several radical types of aircraft and guided missiles under development.  The majority were in the most preliminary stages, but they were the only known craft that could even approach the performance of objects reported by UFO observers.


The Allies felt fortunate for Germany’s timely defeat after examining the evidence from their experimental weapons programs.  Sir Roy Feddon, entrusted by the Brits to investigate Nazi aircraft production said:


I have seen enough of their designs and production plans to realize that if they had managed to prolong the war some months longer, we would have been confronted with a set of entirely new and deadly weapons in air warfare.


An early saucer, the long range reconnaissance craft dubbed the Vril-ya RFZ-2, was photographed accompanying the Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean.  It is likely that some of these longer range saucers were used to assist the later U-boat missions.  Before the production of the Elektroboat -- an electric powered submarine -- the U-boats were required to refuel.  The ports friendly to German submarines en route to the South Pole were found in Tierra del Fuego and near the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.  From the onset of the Neuschwabenland development, UFO sightings were abundant around these ports and their surrounding areas and in South America persisted for decades afterward.


After Hess’ ill-fated peace mission to England that resulted in his spending the rest of his life behind bars, Admiral Doenitz may have assumed Hess’ role of leading the Antarctic project.  While giving a commencement speech for graduating naval cadets in 1944, the Admiral ominously boasted:


The German Navy still has a great role to play in the future.  The German Navy knows all the hiding places for the Navy to take the Fuehrer to, should the need arise.  There, he can complete his last measures in complete quiet.


In Part Two of this article we will take up more of the Urban Legends surrounding this alleged Station 211 including rumors of an all out battle on the ice between US Marines and Nazis.  We will also detail how the Hartmann Expedition recovered the Holy Lance and where this so-called Spear of Destiny is today.




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