Analysis by Robert Lamb

Sci-fi enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists tend to obsess about the possibilities of a space-faring Third Reich. Robert A. Heinlein authored a tale about a German lunar base as early as 1947. Nowadays, fans are abuzz for the 2012 release of "Iron Sky," the Finnish film full of scene-chewing space Nazis and swastika-stamped spaceships.
Is there any factual basis for these outrageous fantasies? Did Nazi Germany actually have a space program? Absolutely not, according to Smithsonian Space History Curator Michael Neufeld.
"This is a typical misunderstanding," Neufeld says. "People equate a rocket program with a space program, and the German rocket program was about building weapons only. That was the only reason Nazi Germany supported rocketry. Their objective was to build the V-2 and, if possible in the future, larger and longer-range weapons."

There is Only War

The Nazis held power from 1933 until the German's surrender in 1945. It was a time of vast military expansion and ultimately total war. Very little scientific activity took place that did not directly benefit the war effort, and this was especially true of rocketry.
Even if German scientists such as Wernher von Braun dreamed of purely scientific space exploration, the only outlet for their skills was in the development of rocket-propelled weapons.
"They recognized the follow-on to the weapons program would be space exploration," says von Braun biographerBob Ward. "Eventually, there would be a space program, and this was the route that had to be traveled, through the military, to advance the technology. But I don’t think the German power structure had any plans for a space program."
In fact, German space zeal took root not during Nazi rule, but prior to it in the 1920s and early '30s. That was when German theorists, such as Hermann Oberth, wrote about the feasibility of space travel, says Neufeld.
"Then the Nazis came into power and started throwing money at military rocketry," Neufeld says.

Revisionist History and the Space Race

After the war, German rocket scientists went on to play important roles in both the American and Soviet space programs. The charismatic and highly articulate von Braun became a driving force at NASA. In doing so, however, he may have also helped fuel the myth of the Nazi space program.
"During the Cold War, von Braun and some of his key associates deliberately gave the misimpression that while they’d been building weapons, they really only cared about space," says Neufeld, "which is very simplistic, to say the least. A lot of them certainly supported building weapons, and some were enthusiastic Nazis, which is something they left out after the war."
As World War II continues to fade into the past, it's easy to adopt a false dichotomy of good and bad Germans. We might file the scientific genius von Braun and his associates in one category, while we populate the other with names such as Heinrich Himmler and Josef Mengele. The reality, however, seems far more complex.
"As I wrote about it in my biography, von Braun was a space fanatic," Neufeld says, "It’s what he really cared about, but he was also a right-wing nationalist German who had a lot of sympathy for the Nazis. So building weapons was no contradiction for him. He could build a rocket that would go in both directions just as well."
When the Germans launched the first successful V-2 rocket at Peenemünde, Germany, project leader Walter Dornberger reportedly remarked, "This third day of October, 1942, is the first of a new era in transportation, that of space travel." Designed to deliver a one-ton warhead at supersonic speed, V-2 rockets would claim the lives of 2,724 British people and injure roughly 6,000. Applications for space travel aside, there was no denying the vehicle's true purpose.
Even with the end of World War II, V-2 technology continued to benefit military objectives. While German minds and German ingenuity helped fuel the space race between the United States and the former Soviet Union, they also led to the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology that made nuclear annihilation seem imminent throughout the Cold War.
"The V-2 rocket breakthrough basically did not benefit the Germans at all," Neufeld says. "It benefited the Soviet Union, the United States, France and, indirectly, several other countries. It provided a foundation stone for getting into space."

What Might Have Been

Might history have followed a different route if the Nazis had never risen to power? Would a world without World War II have seen the emergence of a true German space program in the 1940s? While such questions are impossible to answer, von Braun biographer Ward believes that human nature provides a clue.
"I think the space age would not have arrived till many years later," Ward says, "War, sad to say, spurs technical advancements, whether it’s in aviation or virtually anything else. Space flight was inevitable, but it would have taken a longer time to get under way."
Information for photo above: A V-2 long-range missile, forerunner of the modern space launch rockets, before its 1944 launch in Cuxhaven, Germany. 
(Fox Photos/Getty Images) Re-blogged from Discovery News  [000_saucers-001.gif]

NAZI scientists tried to breed 

"educated" dogs 

Hitler dogs
Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun with their dogs Blondi and Bella, 
who as far as we know, could not talk.
Of all the experiments conducted by Hitler's henchmen in their search for the secret weapon that could help them win the war, the activities of the Tier-Sprechschule may be the most bizarre, according Dr Jan Bondeson, a lecturer at Cardiff University. So called "educated" dogs were collected from across Germany and sent for training to the Animal Speech School in Leutenberg, near the northwestern city of Hannover. 

A German pointer named Don, impressed his handlers by imitating a human voice to bark in German: "Hungry! Give me cakes." Another speaking dog, was an Airedale terrier called Rolf who, it was claimed, was able to spell by tapping his paw on a board, each letter of the alphabet being represented by a certain number of taps. Rolf, was also said to have discussed religion, learned foreign languages, written poetry and once asked a a visiting noblewoman "Can you wag you tail?" However, the ultimate Nazi hound had to have been the one who barked "Mein Fuhret" when asked who Adolf Hitler was." 
Dr Bondeson, an author of a number of history books, claims the Nazis viewed dogs as being almost as intelligent as humans and believed that only physical limitations prevented them from interacting as equals.
"In the 1920s, Germany had numerous 'new animal psychologists' who believed dogs were nearly as intelligent as humans, and capable of abstract thinking and communication," Dr Bondeson told The London Times. 
"When the Nazi Party took over, one might have thought they would be building concentration camps to lock these fanatics up, but instead they were actually very interested in their ideas. 
"Part of the Nazi philosophy was that there was a strong bond between humans and nature - they believed a good Nazi should be an animal friend. 
"Indeed, when they started interning Jews, the newspapers were flooded with outraged letters from Germans wondering what had happened to the pets they left behind. They seemed to think nothing of human rights, but lots about animal rights." 
Hitler himself was well known as a dog lover and had two German shepherds, called Blondi and Bella. He killed Blondi moments before shooting himself in his bunker in April 1945. 
Dr Bondeson's book, Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, also includes chapters on acting dogs, travelling dogs, holy dogs and exceptionally faithful dogs.
Hitler, a well-known dog-lover, owned two dogs named Blondi and Bella. He killed Blondi, a German Shepard, shortly before killing himself in 1945.
Text and image via   

Now, getting back to zombies... 

Image via Free Wallpapers 
Zombies of Mara Tau was a low budget horror flick that scared the bejeebers out of me long, long ago, and far, far away, in 1957. Back then, I was a hyperactive 10-year-old with a ghoulishly vivid imagination. Since I was a somewhat annoying child, my parents - especially in the summer - regularly sent me to the to the early evening movie to get some peace and quiet at home. You have to remember, this was a time when television was relatively new to Northern Ontario and most households still didn't own a TV set.
My parents, God love 'em, never bothered to check to see what was playing at the theatres. They'd just give me a buck-and-a-half and send me on my way. The way they saw it, a bit of cash spent for two, maybe three hours without the kid who made Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes fame) look like an angel, seemed like a pretty good investment. So off I would go to the LaSalle Theatre, the movie house in the "wrong" part of town, to watch the scary movies big kids, like my sister, always went to see. 
I remember seeing "I was a Teenage Werewolf," "The Blob," "Them," and of course, "Zombies of Mara Tau." The story line went like this... 
Zombiefied sailors guard the treasure of a ship that went to the bottom 60 years earlier (1897). A salvage crew arrives on an island somewhere off the coast of Africa. Why is it always an island – and always off the coast of Africa? Just to stir the pot, the captain of the salvage crew (Joel Ashley) has brought along his sexpot wife – the pulchritudinous Allison Hayes – with her lift-and-separate wire-supported push-up bra.
Image via Exclamation Mark 
This guy is the first to scoff at the zombie legend, and is only more determined to retrieve the diamonds from the ocean floor. Inevitably, he and his compatriots discover the hard way there is a great measure truth to some legends. 
Image via Splatter Pictures 
Produced on a budget of a school lunch, this black and white epic was paired with "The Man Who Turned to Stone" for a chiller-diller double bill. Posters in the theatre lobby blared: the Most Shocking Horror Bill Ever Shown! Well, I lived to regret it. Those two flicks really did me in and I had nightmares for weeks. My parents had to deal with a kid regularly shrieking and generally breaking up the sleep of everyone in the house at 3:00 in the morning. After that, Ma & Pa became a little more vigilant when it came to the kind of movies I could see. Believe me after "Zombies of Mara Tau," "Fantasia" was a little ho-hum.
A couple of years ago, during a trip to Canada, I found "Zombies of Mara Tau" on a B Movie catch-all disk. And, at $5.00 for six movies, the price was right. What scared the livin' hell out of me as a kid made me chuckle more than five decades later. In the intervening 50+ years, I had faced far more sinister monsters in real life – usually power-mad publishers – than anything Hollywood could ever throw at me. ...And truth be known, it probably set me off on my own career of writing scary stories. Although it is my sincere hope my plot lines are not nearly as thin as ZoMT.
For the record,  Zombies of Mara Tau  is so bad it's actually good. Africa was recreated in Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden and Allison Hayes' acting was as wooden as a totem pole. On the other hand, she was still great to look at and her push-up bra did its job admirably. 
As for zombies in Africa, I'm willing to bet that's pretty-much a myth. I now live in Africa, albeit, not on a small island but to date, I haven't met a single honest-to-gosh zombie – well, none other than my next door neighbour. That's a whole 'nother story!
- Nealbo