Fascist UFO Files? No, thank you!

Fascists on Mars


by Giuseppe Stilo


Do you want to know how you can condemn to the dust-bin a nucleus of ideas whose analytical reconstruction should figure well in the story of thought of 20th-century societies and, in so doing, deliver the umpteenth blow to ufology as a rational disciple?

Do you want to cause seizures in some contemporary historians? Well: buy, read and give them the book  “Mussolini e gli  UFO. Gli “X-Files del Nazi-Fascismo”, by Alfredo Lissoni and Roberto Pinotti, of the Centro Ufologico Nazionale (actually, only the first, shorter chapter is signed by Pinotti). The book was published in the fall of 2001 by the Rimini editor IdeaLibri, has 255 pages and costs 17.50 euros.

The text, to tell the truth, is in good part of a re-presentation of what the two had written on the subject in CUN magazine, UFO Notiziario, beginning in early 2000 about the papers, supposedly dating from the 1930s and produced by various administrative and political sources of the time, which an anonymous informant had mailed to ufologists and the newspaper Il Resto del Carlino.

In the present text, in addition to showing how questionable are the premises and arguments presented by the two authors, I will also try to respond to a defense of the ideas that Alfredo Lissoni published in UFO Notiziario of July August 2003, p. 18-19, addressing precisely the author and my previous criticisms on the subject which will be summarized here for readers’ convenience.

In fact, the book “Mussolini e gli  UFO. Gli “X-Files del Nazi-Fascismo” does not lie as much in the argument itself as in the long list of logical and argumentative errors it presents. It is useful for educational purposes, to show good part of what the ufology enthusiast must guard against. It fails in fact to prove anything of what it sets out to prove, much less the exceptional things it promises.

The main purpose of the essay you will read is therefore theoretical and general. To make the complete list of all kinds of errors in the text would be repetitive, very long and excessive.

I begin by saying that the style of the writing is predominantly done with the asseverated style to which we have been accustomed for decades. Much of the nouns are accompanied by adjectives, even double adjectives, whose sense is not that of analytical language, but of the expression of value judgments in which, e.g., the newspaper Corriere della Sera becomes an “authoritative resource”, book research is “very difficult”, Valeria Marini is good and likeable, etc. But this leads to a discussion of an almost entirely neglected issue: that of the literary form of the ufological argument, which, however, cannot be discussed now.

Everything appears, however, to be written with the haste that characterises the writing of journal articles, not with the broader intention of bringing to fruition a true unified volume. There are no notes, and the chronological chaos and lack of references, although the volume’s size is not excessive, do not facilitate either a comparative analysis or a comparison of pages and concepts. It is not a text written with the slant of scholars without editorial deadlines, but that of journalists, who over the course of a year and a half have produced a number of pages on the topic.

The out-of-text photos are sometimes completely irrelevant to the topic. They include the image of a “gray alien,” the Venusian of Adamski, various color covers of the newspaper La Domenica del Corriere, and those taken from the 1980s onward (i.e., since the myth of Nazi discs was born again among some “believing” ufologists). The latter, the only ones in any case relevant, are devoid of any indication of the relevant primary sources and can therefore give the impression that they really date back to the era of the Third Reich and not instead, as is the case in reality, to books, videotapes and ufological magazines of recent years.

And so on, ad nauseam.

I begin, therefore, by summarizing the critical arguments I had already advanced on the so-called “fascist files” in two occasional articles: In the Introduction” to my book “Ultimatum to the Earth” (UPIAR, Turin, 2002, p. 6-8) and in an article of mine, titled ” Milton William Cooper: An American story,” published in  UFO – Rivista di informazione ufologica,  No. 25, June 2002, p. 39.

a) In the topics argued in the book there are serious limitations of general methodology, especially of an archival nature. The “fascist files” are papers that arrived anonymously to some recipients and come from archival sources that no one has been able to identify and verify. They cannot even be defined as “documents” in the scientific sense of the term.

b) The documents on sightings of unidentified airplanes and aircraft of the 1930s,that Lissoni presents, do not seem to contain any references to strange, ufological details. More about this subject in the next sections.

c) Lissoni does not cite the archivistic location of the documents and so gives no way for others researchers to check them out. However, this was easily accomplished by an archivist (translator’s note : Massimiliano Grandi) who is a member of CISU.

d) At least one of these documents, as cited by Lissoni, introduces an error that seems to suggest an “ufological” particularity of one of these reports. The detail, however, is not present in the ‘original.

(e) Any information reported in a document, even if it is undoubtedly “true,” is-when it is useful to support the “unusual” nature of an event considered reliable and verified, as if it were a result followed through the process of validation of a research and not, indeed, from what is said in sources born with a urpose, language and within social context, different from a scientific one.

(f) The alleged engineer Heinrich Richard Miethe, one of the best-known characters in the saga of the “nazi” discs, remains, since it was first reported in June 1952, a kind of a ghost. The publication of a photo of him in an English ufological book of 1999 comes from an anonymous source (an “elderly German informant” about whom nothing is said, more usually, except that he possessed other material – including film footage … – on Nazi records). Later on I will refer to some issues concerning Miethe.

On the other hand, it is true that the “fascist files”-of which it can NOT be said -at least for now- that they are “forgeries”, have been subjected at the request of the Centro Ufologico Nazionale (CUN) to some technical expertise in order to evaluate their style and dating. Apart from what is observed in this piece in point 2, it is the arguments with which they try to construct evidence, that links the facts and personalities of the time cited to the contents of the sheets, which leaves one extremely perplexed.

The target of my screeches are not so much those papers, but the way the Authors dealt with them.

Movements of prefects, articles about the life on Mars (of which books, reviews, and scientific congresses are full from Schiaparelli onwards), sightings of ordinary meteors, political and military fears, and diplomatic reports were liberally reinterpreted, without finding anything that speaks clearly of unusual aerial phenomena connected to those papers and to what they say: the descent of a flying saucer in Lombardy in 1933, sightings of alleged UFOs in those years, establishment of a study committee denominated RS/33 to deal with those things, relations between Italy and the nazist Germany in order to study and copy the flying disk, with a release of the disk knowledge to the Germans, after 1938, in exchange of industrial supplies …

If we are dealing with fake documents, there is no doubt that those who created them knew well “the conditions of that time,” and who chose to mention with a minimum of care a number of personalities.

This is not what represents the worst of the matter. One of the most disconcerting things is certainly not the fact that they are taken into account, by mediocre research, but rather the attempt to re-absorb them into one of the most traditional legends of UFO mythology, the flying disks that would have been designed, tested or   even used under the Third Reich.

To be fair, it must be said that these developments which take surprising aspects at times, are found not so much in the opening chapter, the one written by Pinotti, but in the rest of the book, the one authored by Lissoni.

As on other occasions, however, with this book the ufologists land on one of the things that most fascinates them: a counter-history of the world that opposes the “official” history version which they reconstruct, with the peace of mind explaining how things really developed in that Secret Reality.

  1. Ad personam arguments in Lissoni’s article.

Lissoni’s article which appeared in the July-August 2003 UFO Notiziario contains a series of ad personam arguments that tend to frame my skepticism in a broader framework of positions and studies conducted by others, as if to suggest a situation of a more or less unfounded “concentric attack.”

It is a rhetorical tool aimed at building an adversarial “straw man” by juxtaposing things, people, and vices that often have very little to do with each other. Such rhetorical tools, as everyone knows, have nothing to do with rigorous argumentation for or against an issue (in this case, that of “Nazi records”) and therefore are considered irrelevant here.

  1. Failure to make the papers known as ‘The fascist files” available to scholars of different orientation than their own.

One of the most serious points, under the methodological profile, is that the CISU members (despite requests made at the time by email to Alfredo Lissoni by Edoardo Russo), were never given the possibility to examine, obtain copies of, or having other scientists analyze the papers presented as “fascist files.”

By doing so, however, they failed one of the founding principles of scientific research, thus basically undermining the reliability of ulterior considerations on those papers.

The papers should be examinable and available  to any scholar.

The intent from which, those who hold them, have acted upon, it is to be feared, i.e. the dislike for the skills and intellectual honesty of other enthusiasts, such as those of CISU. It is up to the reader to share or not such  positions. But even if they were to be shared, the damage produced would not be that inflicted on those who, like me, never got to hold those papers but, what it is more serious, on the limpidity of the argumentations that with the “fascist files” one would like to defend.

Precisely because the author has an entirely different theoretical orientation from the Authors of the book, it would have been that these papers, perhaps looked at by others with a strongly critical eye, might have revealed even more, by contrast, their “solidity” and importance.

Without free, sincere and free circulation of impediments of sources, data, and information there is no scientific research, but ideological entrenchment and preoccupations of other kinds.

I hope that in reading these observations Lissoni will agree on the necessity on my part and on the part of others to assess with fullness to what he and Pinotti have used as a starting point for the book. Obviously, the issue is not that yours truly can read them, but that they are available to the entire community of ufology scholars. Without forgetting that, if the nature of these papers were indeed that which pretended to be, they would be records of public entries, belonging to the state, and, in any case, ultimately to the historical heritage of our country.

  1. Lack of citation of sources of diverse news provided

 In many occasions in the book, another basic principle, of any serious research, is failed. The sources of news, sometimes known only to a few enthusiasts, that are intended to be adduced for their own comfort, are not cited.

In the specific case of the intent of this work, the lack of citation of sources may give the feeling that they are not, as is the case in reality, well after World War II, of mediocre quality (usually newspaper and magazine pieces) and entirely consistent with the progressive accumulation of variants of the myth of the Nazi sketches.

Such is the case (pp. 194-196) with the quotation of German Andreas Epp (1914-2000), an unassuming man who tried for decades to sell to firms halfway around the world his designs for an “Omega disc” that he claimed to have designed on behalf of the Nazis. Well, bring in a clear source in which Andreas Epp is associated with the design or construction of a discoidal aircraft in nazist Germany and that it predates – as far as I know – the October of 1958. To me – but it is obvious that I could be wrong – there do not appear to be any in circulation.

Another example of UFO markings from those years, and, as always, whose rapport with the theme of the book is entirely improbable-is a series of sightings of World War II foo fighters, that occurred on Italian territory (p. 144- 145). This time, however, they are (generally) really sightings based on archival sources of the time. They disappear, however, precisely in a case where it is possible to document what is being said. Those who want to find them again should read the essay by yours truly, “The Return of the Foo-fighters, ” in UFO – Rivista di informazione ufologica, No. 20, July-December 1997, p. 7- 14. The reader could compare methods of material processing, integrity of source used, amount of sources found, and so on.

It is indeed up to the reader to make comparisons and clarify his or her ideas about evidently entirely different ways of dealing with such precarious and questionable subjects. The basic problem of the lack of reconstruction of the chronological chain up to the primary sources, however, is the one already mentioned: all these news, sources, personalities, photographs, drawings, diagrams, and films of flying saucers date back to after the beginning of the ufological era, that is, after June 24, 1947, specially after March 1950.

They are sons of their time, and for that, however it may be, they should be judged with interest, detachment and indulgence. They will tell us much about those years and those men.

  1. Failure to cite authorative sources on the argument of advanced German military technologies in World War II.

Even if  it is a book that to a large extent deals with alleged German aviation super-technologies in the attached bibliography (the book is moreover devoid of any kind of index!) only a few, very old titles of works on the argument appear, often dating back forty or more years.

The Authors do not seem to have consulted any of the many references that in the last twelve to fifteen years have made available the knowledge of military historians on the subject. Only a few are cited here: The last year of the Luftwaffe. May1944 to May 1945, by Alfred Price, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 1991; Ian V. Hogg, German Secret Weapons of the Second World War, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, 1999; and the three volumes of the Luftwaffe Secret Projects series, published by Midland Publishing of Hinckley, England, in 1997, 2000 and 2003 and devoted respectively to Fighters 1939-1945, by Walter Schick and Ingolf Meyer, Strategies Bombers 1935-1945, by Dieter Werwig and Heinz Ro de and Ground Attack and Special Purpose Aircraft, by the same last two Authors.

A point to be made, however, is that the presentation as well in some of the texts mentioned above, of beautiful color drawings based on mere conceptual sketches related to aircraft that the Germans thought up during the II WW-and of which the supporters of the Nazi disc mythology in recent years often make use. This does not mean that such adventurous aircraft could have been developed with or without any success.

The poor rationality that often characterized their projectual efforts, the thousand rivulets divided in different directions, the wastefulness and rivalries are to keep well in mind, when studying the literature on German aeronautical techniques of the Third Reich. This does not mean that everything which can be accessed today from a documental point of view, was then a technique that was “within reach” and, above all, useful, efficient or feasible.

It is worth mentioning that in the aforementioned works, as in all the important literature on the argument, one does not find any things assimilated to projects and yet prototype constructions of the highly secret “Nazi discs” that began to be talked about, after the birth of the UFO phenomenon, at least since 1948. A fact so visible that it seems almost trivial to mention it.

A couple of modest exceptions in old books dedicated to “secret German weapons” exist, and they are presented below.

It is indeed true that, as is often the case among the supporters of the Nazi disks, Lissoni can cite the book by a former German officer, Major Rudolf Lusar, who in his book “Die deutschen Waffen und Geheimwaffen des II. Weltkriegs und ihre Weiterenwicklung“, published by J. F. Lehmanns of Monaco in February 1957 devotes a couple of pages to the subject. But it unduly increases its relevance, always in search of more “authoritative” sources than magazine articles, books of UFO enthusiasts, old journalistic indiscretions, “revelations,” and so on. If one reads those pages, in fact, can easily discover that they contain nothing more, almost verbatim, than news which appeared in the press in the years between 1950 and 1954, those central to the formation of the myth of the Nazi discs.

Especially the version of the V-7 story used by Lusar is the “last” one disseminated to the public by Georg Klein, another alleged German designer who appeared from the end of April 1953 ( see Figure 3).

                                                              INSERT FIGURE 3

Those pages, in short, say nothing more than what I have already reconstructed in my books devoted to the years of “Operation Origins”. As for the rest, too, the material in Lusar’s book seems for the most part a collage of what was published in previous years in more or less specialized magazines and newspapers about the various secret weapons. It is a scientifically approximate source completely outdated, undergirded by the characteristic “we almost managed to win”-a sentiment important for understanding the genesis of the myth of Nazi records in the German-speaking post-bellic press.

The next paragraph is dedicated to another source used by the authors.

  1. Weak or discussable sources / associations, presented as solid evidence in favor of one’s position.

I am a nobody. But as an passionate of the events of Second World War, I think of the way those who write in journals such as Military History reconstruct and use in large the main Italian and German documents of the time. I would like readers to make the comparison with the things advocated in the book “Mussolini and UFOs. The “X-Files ” of Nazi fascism” to measure the abysmal distance from those studies.

Let us give a few examples of discussible things. On p. 134-144 of the book Lissoni mentions a long series of phonograms received by the prefecture of Milan between 1933 and 1937 in which air alarms were reported for sightings of unidentified aircraft over various Italian localities. As repeated before, I have  commented on those phonograms in my book “Ultimatum to Earth“. Lissoni in any case specifies (p. 138) that “the references in italics refer to the most anomalous cases; presumably ufological in the strict sense.”

Now, I would like the reader to browse through that list, and see which expressions, should rife with “cases … supposedly logical Ufo’s.” But what is, for Lissoni, the UFO phenomenon as we deal with it? In those documents, there is talk of unidentified aircraft, indistinct planes, high-altitude rumors, bimotors that invert the route …

Anyone who has sufficient knowledge of the strategic problems of that time will realize that these are some of the millions of reports of unidentified aircraft in military archives all over Europe in times when antiaircraft defense relied entirely on visual detection or air-phones.

The 1930s could be a most interesting historical period for the historian of ufology as well, if only human resources were available to consult archives and browse periodicals al the search for strange phenomena. The fears for total air warfare, already present since the beginning of the 20th century, had become very strong. True penetrations of foreign country scouts (France and Great Britain in primis) were also occurring not infrequently in Italian airspace. Expenditures for civil defense had grown by leaps and bounds in all European countries including our own. The greatest fear of the time was related to the possible use of gas against cities with airdrops.

Is it possible not to realize that cases cited there are completely normal documents, which have nothing to do with any UFOs? Serious studies on the fears that lie at the base of those documents exist. I suggest to read the Gianluca Fiocco’s masterful book “Dai fratelli Wright a Hiroshima. A brief history of the air question (1903-1945)“, Carocci Editore, Rome, 2002

Another aspect that probably helps to account for the fears of unauthorized flights, is the weight of various plans-some of which succeeded-of air raids even on the capital by antifascists who had taken refuge abroad.

In this case one could, for example, consult Brunella Della Casa’s study “Attentato al Duce. Le molte storie del caso Zamboni“, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2000, p. 218-226 and 240-244 for notes. Of this kind of bibliography the reader will futilely seek echoes in the book by Lissoni and Pinotti.

It is repeated that it is plausible, given these concerns, that in the archives and newspapers of the time there are things that are really interesting to us. But to deduce what has been mentioned as a support of the fact that during the period in which the “fascist files” are supposed to have been produced, the Italian skies were infected by UFOs seems to me to too much.

Even traditional attempts to present an Italian casuistry, in which one would associate with the book’s subject matter, are mediocre and disregard any systematic analysis or important scholarly efforts.

Roberto Pinotti in the first chapter in fact takes verbatim the reports collected by the Florentine Ufological Section (SUF) more than thirty years ago. Not only are they “spread” over a time span of thirteen years, but they are usually the simple “late-breaking” anecdotes, based on journalistic sources much later than the events or brief letters from witnesses to ufologists (p. 52-62). On these cases we do not have investigation reports worthy of the title “investigation”. The reports of December 6, 1937, then (the only bases on sources of the time), concern a large bolide seen over much of Italy, and the facts of that day are found, far more documented, in the catalogues of the Italian Astrophilic Union (UAI). To all this Pinotti added a number of unrelated testimonies received by the CUN in recent years. I do not know if it will be clear to the reader, what these poorly documented and sometimes more or less easily explainable events have to do with the “fascist files,”.

It is almost paradoxical that a far larger harvest of cases than those cited in the book are now available for those years in the archives of CISU’s Operation Origins.

I am saying this quite firmly. In those pages written by  Pinotti there is no effort to search for ulterior sources, no question of methods  as to whether those old and thin stories meet sophisticated criteria of ascribing them to UFO phenomena in the strict sense, or rather to conventional causes. There is a discernible lack of detail that they almost always present, in relation to the best parameters of the case investigation.

Without these things there is no good ufology. There is only an approximate temporal juxtaposition of brief anecdotes with what is taken for granted, specially by Lissoni (the Italian investigations of flying saucers by the authorities, the flying disk which crashed in Italy in 1933, the Nazi flying saucers, etc.).

Anyone who knows how the construction of rigorous evidence proceeds cannot be puzzled by the fragile relationship between premises and the strength of the conclusions drawn in the book. The “literary” component of the stories of Nazi records is entirely neglected by the Authors.

For example, Lissoni, also in his article in UFO Notiziario of July-August 2003 comments that skeptics about the Nazi UFO still fail to find traces of the engineer Miethe, whose name (since 1952) has been linked to the story of the “V -7,”. This is one of the best-known variants of the myth and everyone would search for him in vain because they have used the wrong name.

He would have called (according to the inevitable “anonymous informant” quoted by British ufologist Tim Matthews in his 1999 book and already by the summer of ’98 with various writings appeared on the Internet) “Walter” and not ” Heinrich Richard,” as he is also citated in the two interviews with him in person in the summer of 1952.

Well, this variant of Miethe’s name is not new. To rename him “Walter” is in fact the English writer Willam Allen Harbinson, four years earlier. He, since l980, has written a series of as many as six quasi-romances inspired by Nazi UFOs. It is in one of these short stories, “Projekt Saucer: The Case for Man-Made Flying Saucers”, published in London by Boxtree Editions in 1995, that Miethe becomes “Walter” and, in a further sub-variant present as early as 1954 he transferred to Canada, where he worked on the Avro company’s designs for discoidal aircraft (1].

Is it too cynical to see in this literary reference the plausible source of the subsequent change in Miethe’s name mentioned above?

The very issue of the name “V-7” is more easily addressed from a different angle on the basis of numerous available sources. This name is in fact something far fuzzier and more related to the circumstances of the moment than believers in Nazi UFOs consider. It is in fact almost a flatus vocis that is not difficult to find in the Italian and foreign press, where “deadly weapons” and fantasies called V-7 appear, starting in l944. In my next book in the series on Operation Origins, which will be devoted to 1946, I discuss in a special chapter the reports about the entire numerical series of the secret Nazi weapons (up to V-9 and beyond) which were being talked about in those years, in sensationalist tones. The long series of inventions were in all evidence a rhetorical tool of propaganda aimed at convincing readers that the V-l and the V-2s were just “the first taste” of revenge against the Allies. That discursive structure was preserved in the revelations of the sensation press even after the war, until the early 50s. Lissoni, in order to bring elements in support of the real existence of a “V-7”, in the book (p. 206-207) presents and cites some … satirical cartoons from wartime.

Are these the documents that can convince the reality of these colossal claims?

What is significant about the congeries of revelations preceding the birth of the myth of Nazi records is that, in the descriptions of the various “V- 7’s” mentioned, there is never any mention of “flying devices” (this is the case with the “V-7” mentioned by the Roman weekly newspaper  Il Pubblico, of July 4 and ll 1946, about which I will discuss in detail in my next book together to the others).

I reiterate what has been written several times: Present a source prior to June 7 1952 in which a device named V- 7 is described as a discoidal aircraft designed or made during World War II. I can’t find any.

Let us continue on the problem of the name “V-7”. Let us therefore consider the second citation of the name (after that from Lusar’s 1957 book) found in another “authoritative” book that Lissoni uses (on p. 208). This is the English historian David Irving’s 1964 volume “The Mare’s Nest” (translated as The Secret Weapons of the Third Reich, Milan, Mondadori, 1968).

Well, Irving cites a report from an informant who arrived in London on l2 August 1943 that a missile called the A-4 (the official name for the V-2) and “an unmanned device officially known as Phi.7” was being tested at Peenemunde. For Lissoni this would be a reference to the V-7. Now, apart from the fact that Irving does not give the details of the document in discussion, but the thing happens several times in reference [2], well, at Peenemunde in ’43 they were really testing “an unmanned device” along with the V- 2. As is well known, it was the V-1, which was really, in essence, an unmanned bomber, as that document says. It is clear from the context of those pages that Irving was in no doubt as to what adumbrated those uncertain and imprecise indiscretions: the fact that the V-1 and V-2 were now in the fine-tuning stage. This is self-evident by the fact that the report asserted that this “Phi.7” had “radio control equipment” built by Siemens. Well, the V-1 had a guidance system (inertial, not radio) from Siemens!

Of course, the informant’s note used the name “Phi-7,” and that is the detail appealing to Lissoni. However, the fact is that the official name of the V-1 was “Fi.103.” “Phi” in English is the equivalent of the German “Fi” (which were the initials of Fieseler, the company which produced the rocket). Of course, the number was wrong, but the rest (type of weapon, period and place of experimentation, fabrication of the guidance system, first part of the name of the weapon) coincide.

Irving however mentions in his book three rumors about fantastic weapons that were never found or were only fabled, such as the “freeze bomb.” It should be noted that the Allies were also getting a lot of very fanciful reports about cutting-edge German weapon systems, and that they contributed to their doubts even when “good” reports about the V-1 and V-2 arrived.

The reader can judge whether my assumptions are erroneous.

In some sections Lissoni’s rationale becomes difficult to follow. There are arguments whose very ends are unclear to the reader.

On p. 147-148 there is a rough mention of one of the experiments of engineer and officer Luigi Stipa (1900-1 992), who intuited, by intubating in a fuselage of piston engines, some basic concepts of jet propulsion. These were not jet aircraft. They were equipped with wings, empennages, drifts, rudder, etc., although, for example, in the single-engine aircraft that he had first flown in October 1932, they were equipped with a large fuselage in which the helix was inserted and which gave them a disgraceful appearance. These are things known in every detail to historians of aeronautics and documented with an extensive bibliography. If the reader would like to escape certain excessive tones of mystery about the advanced Italian aviation technologies of the years between the two world wars, he could read the book by aviation historian Giuseppe Ciampaglia “La propulsione a reazione in Italia. From origins to 1943“, published in Rome by the Ufficio Historical Air Force. No hiccups, no super secret developments. Just history .

Lissoni and Pinotti’s book does not hesitate to call a “UFO” plane, the narration of the Stipa single-engine, associated with a magazine of that time which presented  some earlier and most striking views of it. But what heck of a UFO! Let us now turn to the famous Italian “Facchini” CE3 case. The authors associates the landing of 1950 with the alleged hangar in which the disc that crashed in Lombardy would have been held and has the witness say that “immediately thought it was an American prototype kept in Vergiate” (p. 163). Well, in my book “Watch the Skies! (UPIAR, Milan, 2000) I reconstructed on p.186-199, all the known sources on this episode. I am not aware of the origin of the details used by Lissoni, as the author makes no reference about it . Actually, elsewhere Lissoni mentions his “reinvestigation” of the case in question. It may be that the details derive from the second investigation, but nothing is further explained. Facchini passed away in 1982.

On page 169 there are correlations with arguments related to archaeological burials “from the area” that would show “discoidal shapes” and that “were oriented with the stars,” “with the dead arranged in an almost fetal position, which seemed reminiscent of the position of astronauts inside rockets.”

But what do these things mean?

Is this how ufological historiography is edified? With fanta-archeology?

There is even a contradiction so blatant that one does not really know what to say about it. On p. 163 it is stated that the factories in the Italian location Sesto Calende, were spared because “perhaps the Americans, having learned that there were valuable files in Marchetti’s offices,” would have decided along those lines. But six pages later, on p. 169, we learn that a partisan document recovered by Lissoni from a local library affirms that between ’44 and ’45 the Allies had bombed the Sesto plant five times.

So this time they didn’t want to “save the files,” as hypothesized a few pages earlier?

From the above, one is compelled to say that the control of the text appears precarious, with little warning, of how irrelevant for the test are the information found in books, newspapers and documents.

The rhetorical merging into one of last of several topics made by Lissoni was also well noted by others. In one message of May 3, 2002, a user of the newsgroup “it.discussions.ufo.it” showed in a very clear and rigorous manner the errors in Lissoni’s thesis, and for that I would like to quote it.

The reader who signed his name with the pseudonym of “Meta-K.” stated that in his opinion these two “errors” were of considerable gravity. “This is because,” this person writes, “these two errors are functional to the ‘thesis’:

missed bombing -> something important and secret in the hangar + mysterious findings

-> that something was of an EXTRATERRESTRIAL origin (as if the SIAI Marchetti was built on purpose in a “sacred” place …)”.


  1. Erroneous facts presented as clarified data.

Lissoni’s lack of accuracy in reascending to the primary sources of at least some of the news is apparent, for example, on page 190, devoted to Lino Saglioni, who is cited several times as “Scaglioni.” This is an error derived from an inaccurate secondary source.

Saglioni, in order to tell one of the many stories about Nazi records (see in this regard p. 137-143 of my book Scrutate i cieli! (Watch the Skies) about the year 1950, in which I also indicate the plausible inspired sources of his tale) wrote a first letter to the newspaper Giornale dell’Emilia, which published it on April 4, l950. It was taken up, however, with an agency dispatch and resubmitted the next day,  among others, in  Genova daily Il nuovo cittadino, which is the source Lissoni uses. Well, it is in this dispatch that the last name of  Saglioni was distorted to “Scaglioni.”

The most unfortunate thing is that Lissoni, in publishing in UFO Notiziario of July-August 2003 the defense of his ideas, reiterates the error “Scaglioni” considering still “wrong” the real surname of the person in question. In any case, the scholar Roberto Labanti obtained a few years ago the historical certificates regarding Saglioni’s name. Here it is enough to mention that this man was born in Sant’Agostino (Ferrara) on May 12, 1919, and died in Bologna on l5 November, 1985.

Even today, Lissoni still credits (p. 205-206), and moreover mistakes the date of the primary source (which is from the ’52 and not ’50), the legend of the  “V-7 crash at the Spitzbergen Islands,” a beautiful variant of the myth whose etiology has been thoroughly investigated by Norwegian and American colleagues and whose birth followed by three weeks that of Miethe’s V-7 in the French press [3].

But there is more to it than that.

Resorting to tones that appeal to emotion is contrary to rational argumentation. I must refrain from it. But, goodness gracious, how does one initiate stories as important to the scientific imagination of the 20th century as that of the “death rays” considering them  true, as Lissoni does in his book (p. 115-120), when he argues more or less explicitly that they could have been equipment originating from the recovery of the ” flying disc” that came down to Lombardy in June ’33?

I have already discussed some of the issues relative to the “ray” in my book “Ultimatum to the Earth”, (UPIAR, Turin, 2002, p. 8, 44-48 and 377-378 for notes) and I therefore refer the reader  to access the sources concerning them.

The most serious conceptual error that Lissoni and Pinotti make on this occasion, is the failure of grasp that the story of the “Marconi ray” fits into a vast-and unreconstructed-sequence of tales of “ray weapons” that started to be spread throughout the world, from the end of the 19th century. The story of the “Marconi death ray” is the one best known to us Italians, but it is neither the first nor the last.

The “death rays,” as the case may be, were believed to produce effects at a distance by detonating immunitions, or by jamming the engines of planes, tanks, trucks, and so on, or, additionally, by killing humans and animals.

Generally speaking, these legends constitute one of the responses of the mass culture of the time to the diffusion of electricity but, above all, to the marvelous early experiments in radio communications. Sometimes, especially the more remote ones, such as the mysterious (only “potentially” destructive) energy of the American John W. Keely they are instead closer to the energetic beliefs of neo-religions such as theosophy than to the mechanistic imagery that designates them as real weapons.

We mention only a few variants precedent the explosion in the press of the “Marconi ray” story: the “M-rays” of Florentine engineer Giulio Ulivi, which were much talked about in 1914, the deadly rays of Englishman Grindell Matthews [4], the English “F-rays” of 1913 [5], the “cold ray” of Ame ican Henry Fleur [6], the engine-blocking gases of German chemist K. A. Hoff man [7], etc.

Also of interest is the version present in the book by engineer Carlo Rossi in the book “Dalle rane di Galvani al volo muscolare” (Hoepli, Milan, 1944). It has the obvious characters of a metropolitan legend. Rossi reports that “a Sicilian shepheard” who was in a field tending goats suddenly saw two of them fall to the ground dead. He did not understand what it was all about, and only later did “a veterinarian” explaied to him -explain it to have been “a deadly ray departed from the Sardinian coast!” Other versions can be found in my already mentioned book on the year 1952.

In my book I also mention the fact that  the stories about Marconi’s “rays” were apparently much older than their supposed origin (generally indicated in May 1935). If this is so, it is not seen even from a merely temporal point of view-not to mention otherwise-how this story can be associated by Lissoni with the “disk that came down in Lombardy” in June 1933, as mentioned in the “fascist files.”

Well, hear in this regard what Bartolomeo Vassalini writes on p. 84 of his book “Postille in margine alla grande guerra“, Remigio Cabianca Editore, Ve rona, 1933. Vassalini (who also writes, among other wartime legends, about another British mystery substance, the “Turpin dust,” which was talked about during World War I and was remotely experimented on groups of rams ) reports of our country’s entry into the Great War.

“To prevent enemy airplanes coming into our skies and dropping bombs … many have thought, even in the early days of the war [presumably in 1915], that a way had to be found of nailing the airplane’s engine in the air so that it would crash to the ground. How could this be achieved? By means – it was said – of Hertzian waves. Italy had the inventor of the wireless telegraph and many other miracles: for him it should not have been impossible to discover the way to immobilize the engines of aeroplanes at a distance. By many people the invention was considered not only possible, but already under study, and by others it was said to have already been completed by the genius of Marconi, who had put himself at the disposal of the government since the beginning of the war.

The myths of “death rays” have nothing to do, in their origin, with the 1933 flying saucers who fall in Italy in the 1930s, with supposedly fascist secret committees or so on. They were there long before, although certainly it would be necessary to better document their dissemination in the media of the time and painstakingly reconstruct the sources.

But noteworthy documentations on the 1935-born version of the Marconian legend have long been available, however.

In the weekly Candido No. 18 of l. May 1, 1960, at p. 4-5, Lieutenant colonnel of the Engineer Telegraphs Fernando Pouget published the article “The birth of the death-ray“.

It is an important source, because Pouget was one of the direct protagonists of the genesis of this legend in the “1935 version.”

In February of that year, Pouget, a young lieutenant, commanded the “Drappello esperienze” of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Specialist Service Study Center. It was then that Pouget received orders to assist Guglielmo Marconi in certain experiments for which he would instructed in brief talks with the scientist himself. He explained to him that these were experiments with microwaves. Pouget himself took a two vans set-up in the Genoa-Camigliano offices and there were installed microwave transmitters and, outside, parabolic mirrors and two short antennas intended for microwave emissions.

When Pouget asked for more immediate details on what to say to those who were beyond the scope of those sophisticated experiments, he turned to his superior, Captain Engineer Rossoni. He replied that it was the “death ray apparatus.” At that moment, explains Pouget, smiled at the thing, not supposing that these were the first tests on the reflective capabilities of microwaves-the basis of radar technique- which would generate the “legend.”

According to Pouget, it was the very dynamics of the experiments that helped spread the rumors. He himself gave orders to squads of horsemen, dismounted soldierss, motor vehicles, and carts with mules to maneuver in close ranks, on foot or in vehicles, about a kilometer away from the transmitting stations.

“A column of trucks,” Pouget wrote, “would march on the road: suddenly it would stop then resume running, then stop and start walking again, perhaps fractiously. A battalion buggy would do the same: it would go forward, suddenly the mules would wheel up as if in front of an invisible wall and run back. Men who marched, as of a sudden they would throw themselves on the ground motionless, They would resume crawling on all fours or disappeared into the bumps. Some would get rid of their weapons, their slingers, of the helmet, uniforms and even  of footwear and ran away thus almost naked.

A kilometer away, operators with headphones on their heads, constantly pointed at those strange scenes. Everything that happened was only effective to my orders given with flags and whistle blows.”  The experiences, as is well known, began at Torre Chiaruccia, between old Civita and Rome, on April 15, 1935. On May 16, demonstrations took place in the morning at the fifth kilometer of Via Boccea, on the outskirts of Rome. Senior officers of all arms were present. The next day, however, there was perhaps the most spectacular occasion. At the beginning of the short Ostia highway in Rome where moving vehicles had to be moved to be detected with these very first radar models, Carabinieri were blocking all access routes. Mussolini himself was present.

It was soon after that on the newspapers appeared the first written sources about the “ray of death”.

A British engineer, who was then the director of the Marconi Wireless Co. in London, was also present at a further test on May 20.

Giovanni Paoloni, formerly a professor at the Scuola Superiore per Archivisti e Bibliotecari in Rome and now a professor of General Archivistics at the University of Tuscia has long dealt with Marconi and, among other things, studied during the 1990s his private papers, preserved at the Accademia dei Lincei, of which Marconi was president. He found nothing that indicated in any way experiments on “death rays” by the scientist, but sources that better clarified the dynamics of studies conducted on radar at the National Research Council’s Experimental Radioelectric Center at Torre Chiaruccia.

Note that no mention of government-commissioned studies on armaments was found in Marconi’s papers. Instead, there is plenty on the interest of political and military authorities on microwaves as a means of detecting objects at a distance. Paoloni, in collaboration with Raffaella Simili, who teaches Philosophy of Science at the University of Bologna, has published academic studies on his achievements especially about the years that most concern the legend of the “ray” [8] .

When Marconi died in 1937, a senior executive of the OVRA, the regime’s political police, drafted a memo in which one was pleased with the rumors ran about Marconi’s super-weapon The possibility of propagandistic exploitation of such rumors was even adumbrated. For this note ” … during the Ethiopian war, the thought that Marconi had formidable weapons ready to make Italy powerful and feared, was enough for thousands and thousands of people to serenely give the maturing of events.”[9]

One of the Italian pioneers of radar science, Prof. Luigi Carilio Castioni, in his 1979 essay agreed on the origin of the legend: the use at Torre Chiaruccia, Boccea and Acqua fredda in May 1935 of the two “Rdt radiotelemetry complexes” constructed in Cornigliano, near Genoa. The article is accompanied by a photo from that period in which Mussolini and Marconi are seen greeting some of the officials. First from the left is the then tenant Pouget [10].

Recently, very interesting data have emerged again with an essay by Giuseppe Ciampaglia, “A Roman Legend: Marconi’s death ray“, published in the 2003 issue of the annual magazine Strenna dei romanisti, p. 147-156. If one then wanted to access a real mine of flying saucer designs made by Italians up to the 1950s of the 20th century, it should be known that for some time, in especially at some public archives of Rome, there are being reproduced by the CISU several files related to such things.

As soon as the work is completed they will be made available to the readers of these pages. The archival sources in which the originals are to be found and their locations will be precisely indicated, so that everyone can know how much, “terrestrial discs” and other curious flying machines were in the minds of several people. All might reproduce them, and make use of them as they see fit.

We will all have the “Italian flying saucers” that we desire. Even without Nazi secret arms, Marconi committees, and V-7s.

Historiography is a little more serious than our chats about these things. Despite of so many differences of interpretation as to the meaning to be attached to the singularity of the German and Italian regimes, everything indicates that in terms of  techno-scientific efforts the Nazis and their lackeys made, they never came to match the industrial, managerial, strategic and scientific capacities of the Allies. Their defeat was therefore ineluctable. Had it not been so, we might not be smiling good-naturedly today for the Nazi UFOs, and an endless night would have descended on Europe and the world.



[1] For a reconstruction of the history of the “AVRO drive,” see: Stilo, Joseph, “Avro-car. Ovvero: la vera storia dei ‘veri’ dischi terrestri”, in UFO Forum, CISU, Turin, no. 1 6, August 2000, p. 1 1 -22; Sgarlato, Nico, “Dal Project ‘Y’ all’Avrocar”, in Aerei nella Storia, Parma, no. 28, February-March 2003, p. 58-69.

[2] This is not always the case, to be honest. Such is the case with the large volume Hitler’s War, whose cut gave origin to bitter controversy, but which was based on the consultation of a large number of primary sources. Alas, it was translated by the Settimo Sigillo editions of Rome in 2001 amputated of the extensive bibliographical apparition and notes. That said, in recent answer the criticism of Irving’s historiographical reliability has become more penetratingly, especially after the publication in book-form of historian Richard j. Evans at the trial for Holocaust denial theories.

[3] Full details on this in Stilo, Giuseppe, Ultimatum alla Terra, UPIAR, Turin, 2002, p. 87-98.

(4] Bramanti, Carlo, “La radiobalistica dell’ing. Ulivi,” in Annex to the Bollettino Notiziario dell’Associazione Italiana per la Radio d’Epoca, a. X. no. 2, April 1999, p. 1- 1 3.

[5] The explosion of a war mine at a distance, with F-rays, in Il Resto del Carlino of October 29, 1913.

[6] La Stella, Mario, Guglielmo Marconi, Edizioni Aurora, Milan, 1937, p. 268-272.

[7] Vassalini, Bartolomeo, Postille in margine alla grande guerra, Remigio Cabianca Editore, Verona, 1933, p. 85.

(8] Paoloni, Giovanni, Simili, Raffaella, Guglielmo Marconi and Italy. Historical-documentary exhibition. Catalog, Rome. 1 996; Paoloni, Giovanni, Simili, Raffaella, Per una storia del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Roma, 2001 .

[9] “Marconi, fatal weapon was fake,” in  Il Resto del Carlino, August 15, 1997.

[10] Carilio Castioni, Luigi, “Italy Had Radar. Why it didn’t use it,” in Storia Illustrata, May 1979, p. 46-59.

– – –

The author would like to thank Roberto Labanti and Maurizio Verga for their advices and assistance 


[this is an automated translation from UFO – rivista di informazione ufologica no. 27, August 2003 using DeepL; editing by Stavros Hatzopoulos]
Original text in Italian available from here]

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