Sunday, May 26, 2024

Spitsbergen Crash/Retrieval and David Grusch

Few days ago, I got an email asking about a tale told by a retired Air Force officer, who claimed he had seen a classified message about a flying saucer crash on the island of Spitsbergen. My correspondent wanted to know if the story was true. I told him, absolutely. I believed the officer had seen the message and that it had been classified. It was at the lowest level of classification, but it was classified, and was about a flying saucer crash on the island.

You can see where the classified marking has been redacted
and the documents is now unclassified.

This tale, which has been around for more than half a century, got me to thinking. Could this be one of those twelve crashes that David Grusch had talked about last year? There is documentation for it and it has been reported in many UFO books and articles. It would be simple for some of those unnamed sources of Grusch’s to  have had heard the tale but hadn’t bothered to dig into it.

The initial tale, as it appeared in the Project Blue Book files, claimed that July 9, 1952, a Berlin newspaper, Saarbrucker Zeitung, reported that the Norwegian Air Force had recovered a flying saucer on Spitsbergen Island. According to the article, a translation of which is in the Air Force files, Norwegian Air Force Captain Olaf Larsen, happened to look down, then entered a dive and “On the white snowy landscape, the crusty surface of which had an icy glitter, there was a metallic, glittering circular disc of between 40- and 50-meters diameter, which was even brighter than the icy snow... While circling for 60 minutes, the jet pilots could neither detect any sign of life nor determine the origin or type of vehicle.”

Document from the Blue Book file giving the basics of the case.

Others, in five “flying boats” landed near the “bluish steel disc.” According to the article, “‘Undoubtedly one of the infamous flying saucers,’ claimed Dr. Norsel, a Norwegian rocket specialist...”

According to the report, the object had a diameter of 48.88 meters with slanting sides and was unmanned. It was made of an unknown metal compound. “After ignition, 46 automatic jets, located at equal distances on the outer ring, rotate around a plexiglass center ball that contains measuring and control devices for remote control, fired.”

The real problem here is that the article reports that the “measuring instruments (gauges) had Russian symbols... [and it] has sufficient room for high explosive bombs and possibly nuclear bombs.”

Finally, in what would make those who believe the Nazis had a flying saucer at the end of the Second World War happy, the report claimed, “After hearing of the description of the disc, the German V-weapon designer Riedel stated: ‘That’s a typical V-7 on whose serial production I have worked myself.’”

The article was signed only with the initials, J.M.M. Ole Jonny Braenne, a Scandinavian researcher tried to find the writer of that original report but was unable to do it. In an article published in the International UFO Reporter, Braenne wrote, “The author of the article... has proven untraceable. Newspaper archives have no useful information on the matter.”

This seems, then, to be the first appearance of the story of the Spitzbergen crash in any of its various editions. The important point here is that they, meaning either the journalists or the witnesses, weren’t talking about an interplanetary or interstellar craft, but something that had been created by the Soviets using technology stolen from the Germans after the Second World War. This is more of a story of an experimental craft that went astray than something from off-world..

Air Force officers, meaning here, I suspect, the Air Attache in the United States embassy, sent a teletype message reporting on what the newspaper said and requested additional information. None appears in the Blue Book files, but the case is labeled as a hoax by them. According to other sources, however, the Norwegian Air Force told the attaché that the story was definitely false.

Another of the Air Force documents that show an
interest in this case.

Here is where we connect with the tale and the question that was posed to me bit all that long ago. An Air Force officer who was on duty in one of the Air Force communications centers told researchers that he’d seen a classified report about the Spitsbergen Island crash come through the center. This was used to prove that the government was hiding something about UFOs in general and crashes in particular. However, the Blue Book files have been declassified for decades and we have copies of those classified reports. The officer was right. There had been classified messages, but other, additional information in the Blue Book files suggested the case was a hoax.

Two years later, the story surfaced in another German newspaper, Hessische Nachrichten, on July 26, 1954. This time, the Norwegian General Staff is involved and was alleged to be preparing a report based on their examination of the crashed flying saucer. The chairman of the board was identified as Colonel Gernod Darnhyl.”

Darnhyl was quoted as saying, “A misunderstanding developed, some time ago, when it was stated that the flying disc was probably of Soviet origin. It has - this we must state emphatically - not been built by any country on earth. The materials are completely unknown to all experts, either not to be found on Earth, or processed by physical or chemical processes unknown to us.”

That wasn’t all Darnhyl said. He promised to release the information and then said that he thought, “within the next twelve months, a solution to these technical problems will be found, or, at least, science will be on the right track towards solving the UFO problem... Scientific results will only be released subsequent to a UFO conference in London or Washington.”

If nothing else, this provided some names including the writer of the article Swen Thygesen and a timeline for the release of information. We know, of course, that neither the information was released nor the UFO conferences held. It has been more than fifty years. Worse still Braenne reported that he had been unable to find a trace of the writer.

The story now switched to South America, which means that South American newspapers began printing articles, and moved the crash to Heligoland. According to an article from Verdens Gang on December 19, 1954, a story from the Uruguayan newspaper El National reported that Hans Larsen Loberg, who, it was claimed, had won a prize in physics in Hungary was now involved. Loberg said that this concerned the same saucer that had been reported to have crashed on Spitsbergen but that it had crashed on a small island that had been a German submarine base during the Second World War.

Loberg said that there had been no Russian writing in the craft, that it had a diameter of 91 feet and a thickness in the middle of 70 feet. Once inside, they found the food pills and heavy water reported in other crashes, books that they thought might be navigational aides, and seven bodies of the crew, burned beyond recognition. The bodies, according to Loberg were between 25 and 30 years of age, were all just over a meter and a half in height and all had perfect teeth. They did not explain how bodies, burned beyond recognition would be determined to be so young. I will note that much of this description smacks of the Aztec tale.

As I mentioned, we see that Frank Edwards, in his book, Flying Saucers - Serious Business gets into this and reports the tale came from the Stuttgarter Tageblatt. Edwards commented that “The story vanished from the newswires as though it had been launched into space... until at last the silence was broken by a spokesman for the government of Norway... the account I [Edwards] quote is typical of the innumerable papers which carried the story:

Oslo, Norway, September 4, 1955: - Only now a board of inquiry of the Norwegian General Staff is preparing publication of a report on the examination of the remains of a U.F.O. crashed near Spitzbergen (sic), presumably early in 1952. Chairman of the Board, Colonel Gernod Darnbyl (sic), during an instruction for Air Force officers stated: “The crashing of the Spitzbergen disc was highly important. Although out present scientific knowledge does not permit us to solve all the riddles, I am confident that these remains from Spitzbergen will be of the utmost importance in this respect. Some time ago a misunderstanding was caused by saying the disc probably was of Soviet origin. It has - this we wish to state emphatically - not been built by any country on earth. The materials used in its construction are completely unknown to all experts who participated in the investigation.

This is basically the same article that had been circulating earlier, and still no one had confirmation of any of it. Edwards wrote, “Therefore Norway, in 1955, was discussing with two of the leading exponents of UFO deception the proposed release of this information which would have exposed the falsity of both the U.S. and British official positions!... It is not difficult to conclude that the Norwegians never released the full report because of the advice they received from two of Norway’s best customers.”

Or, in other words, both the US and UK pressured the Norwegians through the threat of economic sanctions to keep their full report under wraps. Edwards never seems to consider the possibility that the story isn’t true. After all, he had the newspaper clipping about it... Or did he?

We go back to Braenne who reported, “Several authors have used Stuttgarter Tageblatt as the source for their Spitsbergen story. It is, in fact, a nonexistent newspaper. [No researchers] have ever found any trace of either such a paper or such an article published on, or around, the date given...”

So where did this article come from? Braenne has an answer for that question. He wrote in his International UFO Reporter article, that he had learned that a Dutch magazine UFO-Gids published, with minor changes, the article that had appeared in Hessische Nachricten. UFO-Gids lists Stuttgarts Dagblad as the September 5, 1955 source. According to Braenne. “Evidently someone tried to Germanize Stuttsgarts Dagblad and did not investigate his source.”

Edwards apparently used a translation from one of those earlier sources without checking. Edwards did suggest he had tried to learn something more about this, reporting in his book, “In 1964 when I wrote to a member of the Norwegian Board of Inquiry which had investigated the Spitzbergen case, I received, after four months, a cryptic reply: ‘I regret that it is impossible for me to respond to your questions at this time.’”

Edwards, caught up in the paranoia of the UFO field, believes that the reply is more of the cover up. It might just be that there was no other reply that could be made if the case was not real. But Edwards doesn’t identify his source on this, so we are left wondering about the legitimacy of this claim... If there was no Spitsbergen crash, then there was no Board of Inquiry and therefore no board member for Edwards to question.

Ryan Wood reported, in his just updated Majic Eyes Only, “In 1985, the British researcher Philip Mantle investigated the case and was informed by the Norwegian Government that nothing even remotely resembling the Spitsbergen crash had ever occurred. ‘The whole story seems utterly unfounded,’ Mantle was told by Arild Isseg, the head of the Information Division, Norwegian Royal Ministry of Defense.

“Furthermore, several of those people cited in both newspaper articles and official intelligence summaries of newspaper articles on the Spitsbergen story simply did not exist.”

When all is said and done, there seems to be no evidence that the crash took place and the origin of the story seems to be a newspaper that made up the details. I don’t know if the editors of the newspaper trusted their reporters to get the story right, or maybe those editors just made it up to fill space and invented a name or added initials to give it a note of authenticity.

The problem here is the same one that has faced UFO research from the beginning. Each time a case is exposed as a hoax, another person comes along with inside knowledge that they claim will prove the case. No evidence is ever presented, but they still swear by the information.

I don’t know if this is one of Grusch’s UFO crash reports or not. I would hope that he would have done enough research to learn the truth about this case. I just mention this because we’re still working in the dark about that statement that there have been a dozen crashes. Like so much else in the UFO field, this is just one of the many hoaxes and the real irony is the Air Force got it right, but few believed them. 


Adam Wykes said...

thanks for the digging!

starman said...

Decades ago, I read in some book that "Spitzbergen has been eliminated" (from the list of possibly true crash cases).Grusch has already done enough to forfeit his credibility by accepting the 1933 case.

KRandle said...

starman -

Please note that I was speculating about a possible crash/retrieval that might be included on his list of UFO crashes. As noted, there was a classified message that did go through the Air Force message centers. That did give the case a bit of credibility until we learned the rest of the story. Grusch's use of the 1933 Italian crash is problematic, but until we see the entire list, we can't be sure what is on it.

Bob Koford said...

There is that portion of files that keep me from completely discounting it. Also, that region has been a highly contentious region throughout the "cold war".

KRandle said...

For crying out loud Bob, the case is a hoax. Take a look at the IUR article and the investigation that has been conducted by those in the region. There is no doubt that this is a hoax.

Bob Koford said...


I am not arguing with you that it is or isn't. I don't have enough of my own information available any longer (on this case) to do so. I don't have a problem with it being a hoax. I have enough information that keeps me on other cases, that I thought were hoaxes...but I no longer feel that they are. I guess I am saying that for this reason I didn't throw out this case, or discount it completely.

At some point I will go over the International UFO Reporter info you mention.


Bob Koford said...

Ok. After reading the IUR article in full, I am reminded why I kept it in the possible category. It leads me to a question.

Do you know, by any chance, where the General Doolittle/May 1946 version of the story originated? In one UFO publication Dorothy Killgallen was mentioned as the source. I have all of Dorothy's articles, and don't recall her saying Spitzbergen was the source for the saucer recovery.