Monday, January 24, 2011

Playing The Odds

It has fueled wild speculation for years and I would bet there's a very tiny spark under all that smoke: Operation Highjump sure seems to be a more of a "better safe than sorry" military operation than serious Antarctic exploration, a move just in case the Axis had some holdouts biding their time in the cold. Even the abrupt departure fits. ("Mission Accomplished" or "Nobody Home?" You cleared for that?)

An amazing venture either way.

6 comments:

Jim said...

It was well before my time, but my USS Henderson (DD 785) went to the Antarctic with High Jump.

Ric Locke said...

Highjump ended early because New Swabia was a deception operation involving twenty people at its peak. All that was left by 1946 was a radio operator in a hut, and he was glad to surrender, being down to his last few liters of Diesel fuel for the generator and heater.

The real base was on the coast of Argentina, not far from Santa Cruz. It was shut down in the early Sixties because population was beginning to encroach, making concealment impossible. Most of the operations were transferred to Moonbase, and the rest simply ended. It was the last attempt at maintaining a base on Earth; there just weren't any places to hide any more.

As an amusing aside: the radioman's name was Walther Poelitz. After interrogation (he knew essentially nothing) he was resettled in the US, just where isn't clear -- somewhere in the arc between Chicago and Cleveland -- under the name "Bernard Sanders." He then disappears from the record.

Regards,
Ric

Joshkie said...

:-)

Stretch said...

Educated Guesses, Wild Ass Speculation and Weasel Word Warning!
If U-boats were still roaming the Southern Ocean as late as '46 there must have been a fuel depot on one of the islands explored by the '38-39 foray. Depot could be shore based or a berthed ship.
Mixing exploration with maneuvers is a long standing military tradition. High Jump seems a good way to test men, ships and planes in an arctic environment far away from prying Russian eyes.
The technologically advanced jets and rockets found after by Allied forces were a damn good reason to make sure there weren't any pockets of Nazis hiding anywhere.
"Secret Nazi Antarctic Base" has and will sell books, magazines and History Channel specials for decades to come.

Ken said...

As Charles Stross reveals, it's worse than you know:

"And then there was the hard-to-conceal fiasco in Antarctica. Egg on face: a subterranean nuclear test program in international territory! If nothing else, it had been enough to stop JFK running for a second term. The test program was a bad excuse: but it was far better than confessing what had really happened to the 501st Airborne Division on the cold plateau beyond Mount Erebus. The plateau that the public didn't know about, that didn't show up on the maps issued by the geological survey departments of those governments party to the Dresden Agreement of 1931 -- an arrangement that even Hitler had stuck to. The plateau that had swallowed more U-2 spy planes than the Soviet Union, more surface expeditions than darkest Africa."

It's kind of like Fernando Poo. There is certainly no such place as Fernando Poo...and if you knew what goes on there, you would never stop screaming.

docjim505 said...

Sounds like a "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" episode to me.