A brief introduction before we begin. The following account has been translated and partially abridged by myself for the sake of brevity. It was written by my grandfather who disappeared sometime in the early 1970s. As far as I know, no one other than myself and a few select others are aware of the existence of this document.
I have held on to it for many years, not entirely sure what to do with it. If the contents of my grandfather’s last words are anything to go by, then I may very well be putting myself in a compromising situation by publishing this. I am willing to take that risk though, because I – like him, believe the world deserves to know.
The planet Mars has been a center of discussion for quite some time now. NASA and SpaceX among others are already well at work on developing programs designed to reach the planet. Prominent philanthropists and scientists alike such as Elon Musk, Michio Kaku, Stephen Hawking and Jeff Bezos have voiced their support for such endeavors.
As you may have guessed from the title however, we have already visited the red planet. This is my grandfather’s claim anyway. I won’t lie though, there is little to support his story, at least in the way of concrete mainstream evidence. The work my grandfather took part in was centuries ahead of it’s time, and for that reason, was classified above top secret.
My knowledge of my grandfather’s upbringing is limited, but I was able to gather a few details from his document and his remaining family members. He was born in Pullach, just south of Munich on May 7th, 1904 in the Kingdom of Bavaria, present day southern Germany. He was an aerospace engineer, in the time when the profession was still just in its infancy. He grew up in the midst of world war one, with Germany ultimately losing and suffering a decades long depression.
For any of you history buffs out there, you may have already surmised where this is going. It’s not something I’m proud to admit, especially considering the current political climate, but it is the truth nonetheless. Yes, my grandfather was at one time a member of the National Socialist Party for Germany. He was a Nazi affiliate, and subservient to the will of the Third Reich.
As you can imagine, this discovery of my own family heritage has not exactly been easy to digest. I do not know the extent of what my grandfather knew or took part in beyond what he chose to, but of course we all know the ramifications.
I never got to meet him personally, but those who did know him described him as friendly, but always distant. Like he knew a great many things which deeply troubled him, but refused to speak of. My grandmother called him an honest, hard-working man. Always kind to his children, but stern, and not at all reserved in revealing unfortunate truths for their perceived betterment.
My aunt Jacqueline: his oldest daughter, says he was a man dead set in his ways. He would speak his mind to those who would listen, but also knew the apt moment to reveal his insight. Jacqueline even recalls him chastising her one summer, after she put on a few pounds. She recalls crying extensively because of it, but admits now that he only ever meant it to help her.
For these reasons, I place immense gravity upon the contents of his manifesto. My grandfather didn’t even leave behind a certified will, but he made sure that his confession was left untarnished. The following is a translated excerpt from his personal autobiography. I have added pronunciation in parenthesis for certain German terminology when it crops up.
My name is Robert M. Hughes. At least that is my American name. My real name is Klaus Herrmann Günther (goon-tar). I am an aerospace engineer, having started my career in Peenemünde (pee-neh-moon-duh) and later moving on to Munich. Our research originally consisted primarily of the development and improvement of ballistic missile technology such as the Aggregat 4 program, but all of that changed in the summer of 1925.
Radar scans from the military picked up the signal of an unknown aircraft that had entered German airspace. Before a plan of action could be devised, the unknown craft crash-landed somewhere in Deisenhofer (dy-zen-ho-fah) Forst. I felt the rumble of the impact all the way from the center of Munich.
Recovery teams were dispatched to investigate and secure the scene. When they arrived, they discovered a sight which left them quite puzzled. The scene was a wreck, with debris and broken foliage scattered about. Immediately they encountered a bizarre sight. Around the wreckage crimson flames had begun to burn the vegetation, but on the craft itself azure flames sprouted from it’s carcass.
The blue fire was heavily resistant to the efforts made to douse it, but eventually the brush fire was contained. Locals were in a tizzy from the strange event, but they were told to remain calm and stay indoors while the situation was dealt with. One of the operatives who was on site for the initial recovery was a good friend of mine. I met up with him a few days later, and I will never forget what he told me.
“It wasn’t Soviet…” He said it almost in a whisper, as if terrified of what the implications of his statement could be. He grasped his glass and downed the remainder of his lager, eyes brimming with uncertainty.
“What was it?” I asked. He rubbed the scruffy, golden beard on his face and removed his corduroy cap.
“I don’t even know how to describe it. It was round, but also square and long…” He trailed off, unbuttoning the shirt pocket on his beige Reichswehr (rykes-wair) uniform. He pulled out a small flask, and dumped the contents into his empty mug.
“I swear Klaus. The thing fucking moved while we were there, like it changed shape, but never when I was looking directly at it.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I stayed quiet and hoped he would continue. After a gulp of his cup he did.
“It was like nothing I’ve ever seen…” He finally admitted after a few moments of thick silence. His eyes seemed to quiver in their sockets as he reminisced on the sight.
“What about the pilot? Did you see who was operating it?” My friend just shook his head, seeming to deny the question, but also adding a peculiar detail.
“Eyes shouldn’t be that big.” He guzzled down the remainder of his drink, leaving rather hastily a moment later. I didn’t get much more out of him, but a few days later I realized I didn’t need to.
I was a mere 21 years old at the time, and had just begun my internship with the lab in Munich after a time at Peenemünde. Do to the strange events and shortage of men in my field of study, my education was accelerated substantially. I would play my part and assist in the rebuilding of my devastated nation, which at the time was still reeling from the aftermath of the Great war.
I reported for work much like any other day, and was brought into a meeting as soon as I arrived. There were several prominent figures present at the congregation, all of them with stern looks. We were informed of the development from days previous, and told vehemently, that the things we were about to see were never to be revealed to anyone.
We all had our preeminent suspicions, but nothing could’ve prepared us for the sight they unveiled. We were led silently down the corridors of the laboratory, deep below the earth into a section which was normally off-limits to those without proper clearance. Military personnel guarded each entrance, and thrice we were stopped to ensure our cooperation and test our loyalties. It is there that I first saw it. The wreckage of the craft in all it’s wonders.
It was smaller than I imagined, about 6 meters from bow to stern and approximately 8 meters wide. It was triangular, greyish in coloration, and almost polished to gleam as a mirror. The right wing was heavily damaged from impact, making precise measurements difficult to ascertain.
Parts of it appeared to be comprised of some sort of translucent material which reflected light directly through it. It would sporadically alter it’s pattern, giving it the perceived alterations in appearance that my friend had eluded to. The leaders of the institution left us to our own devices, and we set to work.
It quickly became apparent that the technology of the craft was eons beyond that of any aircraft known to exist at the time. It was robust yet pliable, able to be molded into other shapes yet solid enough to retain form upon a heavy collision. It was metallic, feeling lukewarm to the touch at all times.
We found separating fragments from the craft to be rather difficult, as whenever a chunk was chiseled off, it would be magnetically pulled back and regain it’s form. Whenever a piece was heated and bent, it would cool and return to it’s initial form. How it was that the right wing didn’t manage to recover from the impact, we never found out.
Microscopic and chemical analysis revealed something incredible. The metal was comprised of an element just barely known to science at the time. It had been predicted to exist by a Russian scientist named Dmitri Mendeleev, but never officially discovered. Unofficially it was called ‘Element 75’, but my contemporaries: Walter and Ida Noddack and Otto Berg named it ‘Rhenium’.
Rhenium is incredibly rare, even by the standards of the modern world. It’s properties are also quite interesting, a superconductor with a hexagonal close-packed crystalline structure and density only rivaled by Platinum and a few select others. It is heavily resistant to oxidization, abrasion and heat. It’s melting point was also the third highest ever catalogued, only just behind Tungsten and Carbon at 3,185 degrees Celsius.
I think it was then that we realized what exactly the discovery entailed. The way it retained power and form made it an enigma to behold. A craft like that, built sturdy and able to withstand incredible temperature and pressure fluctuations had been built with one purpose in mind. Interplanetary travel. Whatever it was that crash landed that summer’s eve, it had not come from the earth.
I never heard any mention of a pilot either. Although I suppose that information would not be easily bestowed, especially if the pilot were not human. My superiors never mentioned it, though no doubt they knew a great deal more than us. I questioned my friend extensively about it, but he always declined to answer. He only ever reiterated the single detail. ‘Eyes shouldn’t be that big.’
Years went by, and we continued our soiree into unraveling the craft’s secrets in hopes that we may reverse engineer it to suit our own needs. Progress was slow, and each discovery seemed only to raise more questions.
It was eventually discovered that the craft produced a minuscule amount of electromagnetic radiation. Harmless in low doses, but prolonged exposure without adequate protection ran the risk of cell mutation.
The type of radiation itself was unique, having never before been discovered. It had low penetration qualities similar to Alpha radiation, but with greatly enhanced wavelengths and travel distance that even surpassed Gamma. We ended up calling it ‘Zeta’ radiation.
Rhenium is an element with stable isotopes and by itself does not undergo radioactive decay. The question then became, how was the craft producing radiation? No fuel source was ever discovered, and the craft only ever made a slight humming noise while remaining in a powered state.
Of course, we soon learned that the radiation itself was likely responsible for powering the craft. Some sort of elaborate cause and effect Ouroboros which allowed the craft to both create and consume the energy required. We never learned much about the craft’s origin, but in time we did learn how to replicate it’s functionality to an extent.
There was no engine onboard the craft either. There were apparent propulsion vents on the rear bank, 6 in total, being little more than small 3-inch rectangular slits. When we finally managed to crack the shell of the craft and pier inside, we discovered something interesting.
There was a series of microscopic Zener diode-like components and small transformers, but no wiring or circuitry to connect them. They were organized in a rather strange formation, with a single one in the center and countless others spiraling around it outwards. Around the inner formation was the outer ring, a series of apparent transformers in a perfect dodecagon shape.
Further analysis revealed that the inner spiral of diodes coincided with a logarithmic formation know as the golden ratio, or Fibonacci’s spiral. A mathematic equation which spirals outward exponentially at a perfectly consistent rate. Zooming in or out from the spiral gives it the appearance of symmetrically repeating itself ad infinitum.
It became clear then that the Zeta radiation was not a natural phenomenon. Analysis of it’s properties soon unveiled another strange discovery. It was everywhere, existing within almost every square inch of space at small doses. The craft – as it turned out, was not producing the radiation, but instead being powered remotely by it. In time we also learned that other technology could be synchronized to the frequency by mimicking the pattern of the diode array.
It was a remarkable discovery, but not without its seriously disturbing insights. The Zeta radiation was without a doubt, being synthesized by something. Something artificial. However, no known method to directly produce the radiation was ever found, only the ability to power machines with it. It became clear that some kind of generator was being used to produce it. In time we even managed to triangulate it’s approximate location. The data seemed to pinpoint that the origin was not on earth, and the most likely candidate turned out to be the planet Mars.
That was when a new man rose to political prominence in Germany. A man who promised to unite the country and restore her to her former glory. That man’s name was Adolf Hitler.
The rest of course is history, with Germany plunging headlong into the bloodiest war the world had ever seen. The fields and cities of the European front were set ablaze by men, aircraft and tools of war. Soon enough the march for global conquest had begun, and the final solution orchestrated by Heinrich Himmler and Adolph Eichmann was underway.
It was a time of the great contrasts. On the one hand, science had progressed leaps and bounds in fractions of the time, but the price paid to attain it could never be justified. At least six million died in agony in the death camps, because those in power had deemed them unworthy.
Sadists and madmen hid behind the moniker of ‘scientist’ as crude justification for the atrocities they practiced. Men like Walter Rauff took the disabled and mentally unfit, torturing them in the most depraved ways imaginable. While Josef Mengele conducted ungodly trials upon children and in particular, twins. Of course, none of this was common knowledge at the time, even for us. It was all just rumor and speculation.
The propaganda machine ran day and night to ensure the antics of the powerful would not reach the ears of the commoner. If there’s one thing I learned from that period in my life, it’s that science implemented under the guise of curiosity and rejecting of empathy, will only ever yield crimes against humanity. Government has always been, and always will be the single greatest threat to life, liberty and prosperity because their laws will always justify their actions.
Yes, it’s true, I was once a member of their ranks. I was not a soldier or a man of violence. Never saw a battle, and never killed a man, at least not with my own hands. But I was there, naïve and concerned primarily for my own future. Had I the ability to go back, it would’ve been better for me to turn the Luger on myself rather than be complicit in the advancement of the nefarious regime.
I was an only child, and lost both of my parents during that time. My mother had passed away years earlier from tuberculosis, while my father was killed when his destroyer went down at the battle of Namsos. Suddenly I was an orphan, without any family to turn to. I leaned heavily on my coworkers and became close with several of them. Wernher von Braun and Hans Scheffler becoming two of my closest companions.
The war raged on for years, and our group continued to experiment. Soon enough we had developed our own prototype craft designed to break through the boundaries of our planet. It was modeled after the same technology of the Deisenhofer craft, or at least a crude replication of it, and utilized the Zeta radiation for power.
In 1941 we launched our first rocket, followed by another in 1942 and then again in 1944. The first erupted into a ball of blue flame soon after launch, but the second broke into the upper atmosphere and proceeded to orbit the earth for 13 hours before disintegrating upon reentry.
It was the third however, named: Dritter Forscher (drit-uh for-sha), that was our first initial success as it managed to escape entirely from the earth’s gravitational pull and drift aimlessly into the reaches of space. We marveled at the images it sent back, fuzzy and low resolution as they were, but nonetheless spectacular. Unfortunately, a failure in communication technology led to the probe being lost somewhere between the earth and Mars.
Almost twenty years after Germany’s loss in the war, the Soviets would proclaim themselves the first nation to put men into space, while the Americans would claim the first to put men on the moon soon thereafter. Both claims are wrong however, and when a new nation finally lands men on Mars and claims themselves as first, they will also be wrong.
The administration stifled our success, and refused to allow us to publish our findings. They wanted no other nation to know of what we had managed to achieve, in fear that a groundbreaking tactical advantage would be exposed. Almost thirty years later, and this charade has continued with no sign of it ever coming to light. It’s part of the reason why I have chosen to write this confession. I believe the world deserves to know.
A fourth and fifth craft were also constructed, with enhancements to thrust propulsion systems and overall durability improved considerably. This time however, cockpits were designed to allow for the passage of two individuals onboard either craft. There was to be two men and two women, with one of each onboard either craft.
They were paraded as heroes and given warm regards and pats of admiration as they suited up for their celestial journey, but I was not fooled. They were not willing participants after all. They were prisoners. Despite their warm smiles and constant reassurances, their eyes betrayed them.
All four were young, Jewish heritage, rather thin and with curly dark brown hair and equally dark eyes. What promises they were given, and lies they were told I cannot say. But truly it had to be something tremendous to force them into so compromising a situation. They had no choice in the matter, and if they resisted, then surely, they would’ve forfeited their lives and possibly the lives of others.
They were outfitted with our primitive space suits, which in truth were basically just reinforced polyester jumpsuits with added stuffing. The helmets offered little more protection than that of a motorcycle helmet, and even resembled them to a certain extent. We might as well have sent them in a pair of long johns and a tin can on their heads. We honestly did the best we could to adequately prepare them for the journey, but research on the effects of space on the human body at the time consisted of almost nothing.
In January of 1945, it became abundantly clear that Germany was not going to win the war. The Allied forces had begun to tighten the noose around us, with the American, Canadian and British forces marching on the western front while the Soviets advanced from the east. Nonetheless our project continued.
On March 23rd of that year, the fourth probe named Vierter Forscher (fe-yeh-ta, for-sha) was launched, followed by her sister probe Fünfter (foof-ta) Forscher on March 29th. Both probes succesfully escaped the earth’s gravitational pull and jettisoned onward towards their destination. Vierter was sent to the moon, while Fünfter was aimed towards Mars.
The probes performed well, surpassing even our most generous of expectations. When free from the confines of earthly gravity, they reached speeds upwards of 100,000 kilometers per hour. Vierter reached the moon in just over four hours, safely touching down upon the crater of Mare Crisium.
Radio comms were maintained with the crew aboard Vierter, and a small celebration ensued. Others cheered, but I did not. It just seemed entirely callous. Sure our machine performed well, but the two pilots would never know that. The last thing they would know, was that they were the sacrificial lambs upon the altar of expansionism.
The crew relayed what they saw. The moon was a flat, desolate and lifeless rock, much as we expected. The man and woman aboard the craft were audibly nervous throughout the entire escapade. After several hours of observation, the call was made by one of the administrators. The crew was to open the doors of the craft and step out onto the moon.
I wanted to protest the decision, but I didn’t. The crew resisted at first as well, but were then threatened to adhere to the command or their contract would be voided. With shaking voices, the man onboard the craft agreed. He and the woman said a quick prayer, with fear dripping from their voices. A few seconds later, and the warning came through that the main hatch had been opened. That’s when the screaming began.
We all listened, powerless to assist as the man and woman onboard clammored and shrieked in agony, before falling forever silent moments later. They never responded to any further messages. It was clear to us, that our protective suits were not nearly enough against the vaccuum of space. We held a brief moment of silence for two of the first astronauts. With nothing left to be done, we turned our attention to the other probe.
Fünfter travelled according to plan, with both occupants alive and well and responsive to our questioning. Our estimates put them at arriving on the red planet in a little over 24 days. For two weeks we watched those numbers on the screen slowly tick down as the probe inched closer to Mars. On day 18, something happened.
“Munich you copy?“ Came the voice of the man over the intercom.
“Go ahead Reisender1 (ry-sin-na).“ Silence ensued for a couple moments as the lag time dictated.
“I think we’re being followed.“ The man finally responded. I shot an unnerved look with von Braun, but he only appeared excited.
“Can you clarify what you mean?“ The operator responded.
“It’s… there’s something circling us…“ No response was issued as we waited for them to continue. “It’s like… it looks like a rock but… It’s too perfect.“
“I think it’s getting closer.“ The voice of the woman codenamed: Reisender2 chimed in.
“How long has this been going on?“ The operator asked. No response came for a very long time.
“It’s definitely getting closer… it’s going to hit us!“ Reisender1 replied now audibly concerned. Our group discussed our options behind the scenes, but there was little that we could do to assist. We wondered if perhaps a stray asteroid had been locked into orbit around the craft.
“Wait… it stopped.“ Reisender2 finally spoke back. “It’s just sitting there now.“ That was when my heart officially sunk, no asteroid could simply stop it’s orbit at will.
“It’s… opening…“ Reisender1 spoke again.
“Say again Reisender1, can you describe the object in anymore detail?“
“It’s not a rock…“ Reisender2 spoke almost in a whisper. Before we even had time to reply, a shrill ear-piercing sound echoed through the radio. The sound was like nails on the chalkboard of my brain, and struck me with an instant and excruciating migraine.
Screams were heard soon after from both Reisender1 and 2. The sound then changed pitch into a bizaare altogether foreign sound. The only way I can possibly compare it would be the sounds of Buccina played underwater through a megaphone. I’ve never heard anything like it.
The pained screams continued for several minutes, as did the screeching noise. Mission control flew into a panicked uproar as the tones frequency elicited agonizing headaches for all those in attendance. I felt as though my head was about to burst like a balloon. Finally, someone in the group muted the audio feed. The migraine immediately subsided, and all of us took a moment to re-orientate ourselves. We exchanged a series of perturbed glances, and debated about reestablishing radio comms. Finally, we did just that several minutes later after our superiors demanded it.
“Reisender1, Reisender2 do you copy?“ We were met with only static, but then a faint sound emanated through the radio. It took me a moment, but I realized it was the sounds of crying.
“Reisender1, are you there? Reisender2 respond.“
“He’s dead…“ The female voice of Reisender2 reverberated through the radio and the blood turned to ice in my veins.
“What happened Reisender2?“
“We never should’ve come here.“ Reisender2 relayed several more obscure and worrying tidbits of information.
“I don’t want to die, I don’t want to live.“
“Go home. Must go home.“
“They’re all dead.“ And perhaps most intriguing of all, at least to me.
“Too many eyes.“ The operator was poised to respond when his words were once again interrupted.
“Mama… please mama… let me come home. Papa please. I just want to go home…“ Her words were followed by another bout of sobs. Heartbreaking, doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Truth be told, even if we wanted to, we had no way to return the probe to earth. Our computing capabilities at the time were severely limited compared to years later, and we had no way of bringing the craft home. The voyage was always meant to be a one way trip.
I felt my heart deflate in my chest, and for the first time in my entire career I began to seriously question the people I had aligned myself with. I scanned each one of their faces, but few showed anything resembling remorse. Even my dear friend: Wernher von Braun showed nothing but excitement.
The operator tried communicating further with Reisender2, but she just continued sobbing pitifully. We began discussing our options amongst the group, when something truly unnerving happened. Reisender2 began to cackle and laugh maniacally as her fragmented mind devolved into a fit of hysteria. She switched between sobs and laughter as a loud metallic banging sound echoed through the radio.
For several minutes it went on like that, before a new altogether terrifying sound replaced them. It was like a gurgling, almost clicking sound. I shudder to think about it, and never have I heard anything even vaguely similar to it. Then things went silent, and Reisender2 refused to make any further noise.
Fünfter Forscher successfully touched down on the surface of Mars on April 21st 1945. A mere 9 days before the Americans sacked the city. Reisender2 had not established communication since the day of the incident with the unknown object. She was presumed dead, but nonetheless the radio connection was maintained.
On April 30th, 1945 the Allied forces stormed into Munich. Our superiors demanded all our research be destroyed to prevent it from falling into the hands of our enemies. It was done without hesitation but with great remorse. I watched as decades of work burned into nothing but ashes. The Deisenhofer craft and it’s containment chamber was detonated by a series of explosives. I doubt it was destroyed, but the rubble entombed it deep beneath the earth.
The only thing spared was a portable audio relay connected to the frequency of the probe. It was moved to a private location outside of the lab so that a connection to Fünfter could be maintained.
Our laboratory was ransacked by soldiers soon thereafter, and all of our crew was taken into custody. A few resisted the soldiers, and were immediately shot dead. You could see the look of utter hatred in their eyes as they slapped us in irons. I don’t blame them, and in the coming years the knowledge that spurned them – which I had so conveniently ignored would come to light.
The Allied forces knew all too well of the death camps, the ethnic cleansing and the holocaust. For years I had toiled away, content to allow whatever political events transpire in the background. There is no excuse I can make which will in any way exonerate me for my complicity. All I can do is say that I am so very sorry for who I was once aligned with.
I was thrown into a makeshift prison, and sat there rotting for over three months as bureaucracy attempted to repair a devastated world. I thought I would never again see the light of day. Death in that cell would’ve been unquestionably warranted, but it was not to be.
An old colleague of mine, who had somehow evaded capture came to visit me one day. Hans Scheffler. He was a fellow coworker and good friend. He appeared with wide eyes and an almost frenzied tone. After asking me basic questions about my state through the squalid prison bars, he revealed something to me.
“The relay came back online last night…“ He spoke with an almost petrified expression etched onto his face.
“Fünfter?“ He gave a vigorous nod of the head and my eyes expanded to match his.
“What did you hear?“ My friend swallowed hard and appeared to contemplate his response. He then scoffed, as if what he was about to say seemed ludicrous.
“Singing…“ I cocked my head at him. He wiped the sweat from his brow with a trembling hand.
“Klaus… she’s still alive.“