Playing with History: Wolfenstein And The Third Reich’s Paranormal Activity

The unfortunately titled William “B.J.” Blazkowicz has been shooting Nazis in 3D for the best part of 25 years. It’s quite the achievement and frankly he should have received a certificate and a rosette for this dedication to his craft. Over the last quarter of a century BJ has killed a robo suited Adolf Hitler in Wolfenstein 3D, defeated a Nazi plot to use the Spear of Destiny to summon the Angel of Death in Spear of Destiny (if you wondered why the subtitle was ‘spear of destiny’ now you know), and preventing Heinrich Himmler’s ritual to resurrect an ancient German king.

These plots seem utterly fanciful and are surely only plausible thanks to the quasi-realistic setting of the Wolfenstein games that take place in an alternate history of World War 2. Yet the truth is that the Nazi’s were obsessed with ancient mythologies, forbidden technology, and the paranormal, just like those seen in Wolfenstein.


Super Soldiers

In Return to Castle Wolfenstein, much player rage-quitting was achieved thanks to the introduction of the armoured Super Soldier. This creation by the villainous Deathshead was equipped with a venom gun and a panzerfaust. For some context of the sheer bad-assery of the Super Soldier, the actual Panzerfaust was an anti-tank bazooka requiring the use of two hands, two arms and a shoulder for a German soldier to fire off a shot. The Super Soldier launches the rockets off one handed whilst walking. Not only that but the Super Soldier was also a veritable bullet sponge, soaking up so much lead that he could probably be used as a ginormous human pencil. Fortunately the Super Soldier is mostly in the realms of pure fiction, but not entirely.

Towards the end of the war, Nazi scientists were working on a super soldier serum. In 1944, in an attempt to mitigate the massive losses in the German Army, Vice Admiral Hellmuth Heye ordered researchers to develop a drug that would give soldier’s superhuman strength and also cheer them up a bit. Pharmacologist Gerhard Orzechowski developed the drug and ominously called it D-IX. It was a rather potent formula made of cocaine, oxycodone, and methamphetamine. This drug didn’t have the ability to turn a weedy nerd into a muscle bound, freshly waxed and oiled up Captain Nazi. Instead, researchers found that D-IX would allow a German soldier, with all of their equipment, to march up to sixty miles a day. Fortunately the war ended before the super serum could go into mass production and result in the allies having to fight Super Nazis.

Psychics and the Paranormal

Throughout the Wolfenstein series, the antagonists are obsessed with matters of the paranormal. Usually hoping that if they summon the correct demon, ghost, or sorcerer then the war will be won. The actual Nazi regime had similar obsessions. Indeed, Adolf Hitler himself made military decisions based on surveillance, intelligence… and magic.

Many of the inner circle of the Third Reich believed in the potency of the paranormal. The historian Eric Kurlander even claims that these bizarre beliefs originated from the Nazi’s support of World Ice Theory. In its simplest terms, this was a belief held that the ‘Aryan’ man was not evolved from apes but from an extra-terrestrial ‘divine sperm’. When you believe that, you’ll believe all sorts of nonsense.

Another example is the German Navy taking advice from the ‘Pendulum Dowsing Institute’. This consisted of the PDI member waving a magic pendulum over a map, waiting for it to wiggle wildly in order to locate English battleships. For extra weirdness points, the Nazis even thought that the British were doing the same thing to find German ships. They weren’t.

When Mussolini was disposed and sent to prison in 1943, Hitler assembled a team of magicians, astrologers, tarot readers and other assorted occultists to find him. This quite shockingly worked; Mussolini was rescued two months later in the Gran Sasso raid.

Mythology and Bonkers Weapons

In the recently released Wolfenstein II: The New Collosus, the Nazi’s have developed a fortified floating platform to move troops. This behemoth is called the Ausmerzer. It’s a very advanced flying fortress and comes equipped with its own automated defence system; named the Odin. This is, of course, named after the one eyed all-father of Norse Mythology and reflects a deep fascination of the Nazis for Norse and Teutonic myths.

These ancient mythologies were subverted in order to support the claim that there was an Aryan culture just waiting to be harnessed in Germany. Towards the end of the war, once both German citizen and soldier alike were directly involved in the fighting, it was almost as if the Norse Ragnorak were occurring. Yet rather than Odin, Thor, Freya and co getting bumped off it was instead the Ragnorak of the Reich.

This approaching defeat directly led to the Nazi’s attempting to develop a super weapon, something that would help the win the war in one fell swoop. The Ausmerzer of Wolfenstein II is not a million miles away from the ideas that were being worked upon. Nazi R&D were pulling their minds together to invent death rays, anti-gravity machines and giant super tanks. The blueprints for some of these tanks have been found. One of the was called the P.15oo Monster Tank. Had this been built, the P.1500 Monster Tank would have weighed a ground busting 1,500 tons! The exact sort of invention you would expect to see in a Wolfenstien videogame.

To end this Playing with History, lets take a look at the most bonkers of all these proposed war winning weapons, the ‘Sun Gun’. This was to be a massive concave mirror, measuring an entire mile in diameter, that would be launched into space and used to reflect the light of the sun so that it could target anywhere on earth. This was based on the purely theoretical work of the scientist Herman Oberth and, if realised, would have been ready for use in the year 2000. So, Machinegames, how about a Sun Gun for the sequel? I’ve come up with the title for you and everything; Wolfenstein III: Nazis in Space.



  1. There was a programme about Nazis and the occult on Yesterday (the TV Channel) last week.

    • Cool! Did you discover any top trivia?

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