Wednesday 5 December 2012

Das Ungeheuer von Loch Ness

The fame of the Loch Ness Monster spreads far in place and time and Germany is no different as a country that loves a good mystery. The title is how I think the Germans label Nessie, I may be wrong (I did French at school). However, there is one little episode that caught my eye as I perused the newspapers of old some time back. I came across this article below from the the Courier-Mail of Queensland dated the 3rd of April 1934.

The headline reads thusly:

German April 1 Hoax
BERLIN, April 1.
"Captured at last; Loch Ness monster brought to Edinburgh." 

These headlines appear In "Berliner, Illustrierte Zeitung," a weekly magazine, devoted to the more stolid type of pictures, science, and exploration. Under the headlines a photograph shows a monster, 100ft long, with a 20ft tail weighing 30 tons, being caught in a huge steel net on the shores Loch Ness, with two tugboats waiting to head the monster back in case it escaped.

Another picture depicts a vast crowd viewing the monster at Edinburgh, the caption stating that an American circus proprietor's offer of £500,000 was likely to be refused owing to scientific reasons. This and other equally wild pictures are the only justification found.

Now hoaxes are not unheard of concerning the Loch Ness Monster, but one from Nazi Germany adds a little bit more grist to the mill. That date of April 1st 1934 has already been suggested as the actual date the Surgeon's Photograph was taken, but certainly the editor of the Berliner got there first. 

By a stroke of luck, I managed to find one of the hoax photographs that the Berliner had concocted. I found it in an old issue of The Scots Magazine and it is here below. I would love to see the other pictures that are mentioned in the article, but nothing as yet has turned up.

As far as Nazi Germany was concerned, not much more is mentioned in the literature. That may be partly due to the language barrier as the vast majority of Loch Ness researchers speak English (the one notable exception here is Ulrich Magin who has made some good contributions to the Loch Ness story - great if you could email me at 

Indeed, as wartime austerity and fuel rationing set in, Highland tourism dropped and so did Loch Ness Monster reports. Add to this the demand for column inches on the war effort and we have little from any country on Nessie. In 1940, Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, wrote a double page piece for the Hamburger Illustrierte which espoused that the Loch Ness Monster was the invention of the tourist trade and that a nation which believed in such nonsense was so monstrously stupid that they could not win the war.

Looks like he was wrong on both counts. I guess he was just jealous because Germany had no lake monsters. Scotland must have more lake monsters per head of population than any other country, but I wouldn't swear to that as Ireland might have a claim.

A year later Mussolini's paper Popolo D'ltalia claimed that bombing of Britain had been so  successful that the Loch Ness Monster had been killed by a direct hit. An Italian bomber pilot had apparently seen the body of the stricken creature. Subsequent post-war reports of the creature proved he must have mistaken an otter in a heat haze or a flock of mersanger birds for the great beast!

For indeed, in 1943, Commander Russell Flint was in command of a motor launch as it made its way south towards Fort Augustus at 25 knots when:

"there was the most terrific jolt. Everybody was knocked back. And then we looked for'ard. And there it was. There was a very large animal form disappeared in a flurry of water. It was definitely a living creature - certainly not debris or anything like that."

Flint sent this message to the Admiralty:

"Regret to inform your Lordships, damage to starboard bow following collision with Loch Ness Monster. Proceeding at reduced speed to Fort Augustus."

For which he received a "bit of a blast" when he got back to HQ. Cynics may reply Flint was just covering up some botched navigation. I won't pretend to have all the answers and just class it as an interesting story from those dark, war torn years.



  1. Chasing Leviathan6 December 2012 at 12:04

    I don't suppose anyone has been able to track down a copy of the Hamburger Illustrierte article have they? I've been looking for it for a while as I'm very keen to know exactly what the not-so-good Doctor had to say on the subject, but so far without success. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Ulrich Magin would be a good bet to find out ... anyone know his contact details?

  2. I'll wager a dram that Commander Flint was showing off by passing close to Point Clair when the submerged rock marker buoy had been removed to confuse the Gerries.

    1. Its quite clear that his boat hit a swimming deer. They can get quite big if affected by heat haze.

    2. So how does a deer increase in size with the ambient temperature? :)

  3. My apologies GB I was joking using a couple of the usual debunking themes.

    1. Pete, I think my smiley at the end was an indication that I suspected your tounge in cheek!

    2. Oops I slipped up there. Yea I can see it now. I can blame that cluster of dead pixels on my monitor for missing it earlier. OK I gotta come clean, my monitor is fine.

  4. Pete,
    I don't know how many times you have sailed through the Caledonian Canal but the shortest route through Loch Ness is along the NW shoreline, and the rock at 57.1866N 4.6173W is at least 40 metres from the shore, where the depth is normally safe for navigation. Except for there.

    1. I agree it's a feasible theory to explain the incident. He could have damaged the boat in many ways and he callously left poor old Nessie to take the blame.