Pop culture has done a good job of tempering the real life horror of the Nazi regime by painting them as foolish in a lot of ways, obsessed with the occult and the impossible in a way that made them seem somewhat incompetent or, at the very least, desperate. These stories aren’t all fake, either. Hitler was willing to grasp at even the most unlikely of straws in an effort to accomplish his goals. The reality of what the Nazis did is a shock to the senses, so there is some small comfort in knowing that not all of their plans worked.
10 Nazi Raccoons
In 1934 the Nazi party was fully in charge of Germany. This was the year Hitler officially declared himself Fuhrer and made his rule absolute. And it was also the year raccoons were released outside of Kassel, which is just north of Frankfurt, in an effort to enrich the local fauna, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
The raccoon plan was thought of by a man named Hermann Goring, who would later go on to become one of Hitler’s top aides but at the time was leading the Reich Forestry Office. A raccoon breeder asked the forestry office if Germany might benefit from having an abundance of raccoons (raccoon pelts were popular among hunters at the time, so perhaps it seemed like a good idea).
Whatever the reasons they may have wanted raccoons — just to make Germany look more diverse, to have some extra fur on hand — the animals really took to the local landscape. There is still a large population of raccoons in the area, with estimates between 100,000 and 1 million raccoons.
Interestingly enough, because you can’t tell a raccoon what country it lives in, they’ve also spread across Europe and can be found in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, and Luxembourg. And, to this day, the media will still refer to them as Nazi raccoons.
9. Kidnap the Pope
It’s obvious that Hitler fancied himself more than just the typical figurehead politician. Declaring himself the unquestioned leader of Germany was one thing, but there is evidence that he planned to conquer not just the land but the souls of the people in Europe as well.
Before the Nazis abandoned Rome, Hitler issued a personal order for the SS to kidnap the pope and bring him back to Germany so that he could be imprisoned. According to the plan, Hitler was going to abolish Christianity and replace it with a new religion in which he would be the savior of mankind, as opposed to the son of God. That’s one heck of a lofty goal.
Remarkably, instead of doing what Hitler ordered him to do, the head of the Italian SS, a man named General Karl Wolff, helped warn Pope Pius XII of Hitler’s plan. Letters written by Wolff show that he had warned Vatican officials, and he testified to the fact in secret in March 1972 when the Vatican was trying to decide if Pope Pius should be granted sainthood.
8. Nazi Baby Breeding
It’s a common cliche that part of the Nazis plan was to develop the master race, which will often be referred to as Aryans with blonde hair and blue eyes. What not everyone realizes is the lengths to which the Nazis went to achieve this goal. For instance, there actually was a breeding program to create children that fit the bill for what the Nazis were expecting. Known as the Lebensborn children, the children born in this program are all retirement age now, but there were thousands of them who were born to be part of Hitler’s elite.
Records show that about 8,000 children were born in Germany and 12,000 were born in Norway under a program run by Heinrich Himmler. It may not have been the SS baby factory that some stories make it out to be, but paired with the forced sterilization and murders that Nazis were infamous for and it shows a clear plan towards the end of eliminating all other races and bolstering their own.
The program was developed under the guise of preventing abortions which were reaching some high numbers between the First and Second World Wars. The Lebensborn plan allowed unmarried German mothers to give birth away from home and avoid the social stigma, and they would find homes for the children if the mother did not want to or were incapable of raising them.
Word is that the number of fathers, arguably a majority of them, were members of the SS who had been encouraged to spread Aryan genetics whether or not they were married. As you can imagine, the children born from this and had to deal with years of shame not knowing if their lineage was out of a war criminal.
7. Nazi Reality TV
Philo Farnsworth is credited with creating the first television back in 1927. By the end of the 1930s, televisions were commercially available. By the early 1950s their popularity was secured and there were hundreds of television stations across the United States. It was not an overnight process by any means, and at the height of World War II television’s popularity was not a high priority for anyone. Despite that, Hitler had actually developed what by all accounts might be the world’s first reality TV show in the hopes that it could have served as an example to German families.
Documents found in Hitler’s bunker indicate they had perfected of means of transmitting video and audio to the masses, they even planned to have set them up in public spaces so people could watch them just about anywhere, and one of the shows they had developed was called Family Chronicles: An Evening With Hans And Gelli. The Big Brother-like reality show would chronicle the everyday lives of an ideal Aryan family so that all of Germany could see how they should be living their lives. Another idea for a show and follows executing enemies of the Nazi party on live TV.
6. Candy Meth
One of the more overlooked aspects of the Second World War was just how much drug abuse was going on across-the-board. Amphetamines had been pioneers during this time and soldiers from every nation were given these to keep them going on the battlefield. British, American, and Japanese soldiers were encouraged to use amphetamines to enhance their performance in war, but Germans had really set the bar.
Nazi ideology was actually staunchly opposed to recreational drug use, looking at narcotics as a sign of weakness and moral decay. That covers every kind of conceivable drug except for methamphetamines. These drugs were considered and ideal for Nazis to help them reach their peak performance. Because the Nazis were so obsessed with physical and mental dominance, it was felt that methamphetamines helped get you closer to perfection.
Nazi scientists developed a methamphetamine called Pervitin because of course they did. It was so popular and so widespread you didn’t need a prescription to buy it, and you could even buy boxes of chocolates that were laced with it. Supporters detailed how you can work from 36 to 50 hours straight without needing sleep on the drug and how that would be of great benefit to soldiers in the field.
The Germans’ infamous Blitzkrieg strategy relied heavily on the effects that amphetamines gave the soldiers. Pilots and tank crews were given chocolate bars full of the drugs and between April and July of 1940 over 35 million methamphetamine tablets were distributed to German troops. It was only later anyone worried about side effects.
5. Hunting Ships with Pendulums
If you’ve ever played the board game Battleship you have a very rudimentary understanding of how you find enemy ships at sea when you can’t see them in a time before satellites existed. The ocean is vast and finding an enemy fleet is not exactly the easiest job in the world. The Nazis, determined to track down enemy locations at sea, resorted to some stunningly unusual methods. For instance, there is ample evidence that the Nazis resorted to pendulums.
The principle behind this is not unlike dowsing or any other pseudoscience that occultists claim to be able to pull off. In this case, a pendulum user will sit at a desk with a nautical chart laid out and a pendulum in hand. They hold the pendulum over the map and wait for some kind of indication that they have found enemy vessels. If the pendulum begins to move in their hand, this is an indication they’ve spotted a place where enemy ships are.
There isn’t any surviving documentation to suggest the rate of success that these pendulum users had, but there is enough documentation to suggest that the program went on for a while and more than one office was set up to accomplish this goal of using paranormal influence to find Allied ships.
4. Sun Gun
The sun has a long history of providing energy, giving life to plants, and starting fires when you have a focused beam through a magnifying glass. It’s that last point that seems to have really caught the attention of the Nazis who planned to use the sun to build what is best described as a Sun Gun. This would be a giant mirror orbiting the Earth that would concentrate the sun’s rays into a scorching beam of terror to direct at the enemy.
It’s fairly well known at this part that the Nazis took an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to warfare. It seemed like they were willing to entertain every idea, no matter how crazy it seemed at first in the hope something would work. That’s how they ended up developing cannons that had to be mounted on trains because they were so massive. The Sun Gun was just one of these many ideas.
Word of the Sun Gun came originally from a report in Life Magazine back in 1945. German forces were planning to use this massive mirror in space to burn enemy cities off of the map. Hermann Oberth, a German rocket scientist, is credited with originally coming up with the idea in 1923. The plan was for the mirror to be about a kilometer in diameter and the German government earmarked 3 million reichsmarks to create the thing. Oberth concluded it would take about 15 years to create. Obviously this never came to pass, but the plan to create it was fairly in-depth.
3. Super Cows
When the Nazis weren’t focussed on perfecting the master race of humans they spent some time trying to perfect the master race of cows. Known as Heck cows, they were originally bred by a pair of German brothers and zoologist named Heinz and Lutz Heck. The Nazi government commissioned them to make these cows based on the aurochs, which is an extinct species of bull-like creature that used to exist throughout Europe.
The Heck cow is bred from the wild descendants of the aurochs so that it would have a more muscular physique and more dangerous horns and would also be more aggressive than your average cow. They were used in Nazi propaganda as a method of showing off the Third Reich’s power.
And it’s true that they did breed a more aggressive form of cattle that to this day is causing problems for people who try to find them. Back in 2015 a British farmer had to destroy part of his herd because they kept trying to kill him and his staff. They were turned into sausage.
2. The Krummlauf Rifle
Most of the focus on the unusual weapons designed by the Nazis is dedicated to their large and preposterous weapons. They did do some smaller scale work on warfare however, the most unusual of which was arguably the Krummlauf rifle. This experimental design was meant to curve a bullet so that you could shoot around corners. Basically it was just a curved barrel that you put on the end of an MP-44 rifle so that you can shoot over walls or around corners without having to stand out in the open where you can be shot by the enemy.
Two versions of the rifle were developed, one with a 30 degree bend for infantry and one with a 90 degree bend for armored vehicles. Naturally, the gun also included a mirror so that you could see what you’re trying to shoot at. Tests after the war conducted by US forces show that the bullets would often break at the cannelure when fired, but it did actually work at very close range.
1. Yeti Hunting
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more unusual scheme by the Nazis than the one that involved sending a team to Tibet to capture the Abominable Snowman. That sentence right there it’s hard to top in real life. Nonetheless, in the 1930s Heinrich Himmler ordered an expedition to capture the Yeti because of a belief that this snowbound Bigfoot monster may have been the missing link to the Aryan “master” race.
As you might imagine, the Yeti was never retrieved from the Himalayas and brought back to Germany, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t try.