“Above, one of the most impressive photos of an alleged extraterrestrial creature recovered from crashed UFOs. For many years it was thought the photo originated from a crash in the USA, but recently it was found it was captured in Germany, shortly before the Second World War. The officers who hold the being are high-ranking members of the SS” [Brazilian UFO mag, n.18, p.18, Dec 1991]
This has long been a favorite, and since we first wrote about it, we found out, through Isaac Koi, that as early as 1982 Loren Gross had already published in his series “UFOs: A History” the correct full source for the montage: the 1950 April Fools’ edition of the German photo magazine “Neue Illustrierte”, and in 2003 Achim Martin had sent him copies of the original article. Unfortunately, Gross publications have very limited circulation and the reproductions are of poor quality.
I therefore obtained the original issue of “Neue Illustrierte”, published in Cologne, Germany, dated March 29, 1950. It was a weekly magazine, and as stated in a big red headline in the cover, it covered April 1st. I share the relevant material here openly, and if you do appreciate it please help cover the expenses – instructions at the end of this post.
The People from Mars!
Right on page 3 of the 1950 April First issue of Neue Illustrierte, one will find the source of this iconic image:
The single page article is composed of four photomontages, plus one “Mars Script”. It can be translated as follows (free translation based on the work by WalterRatlos from ATS published by Koi):
Neue Illustrierte, Cologne, Germany; March 29, 1950 – “April 1st Number!”; P. 3
The first authentic images:
THE PEOPLE OF MARS!
A special report from the Arizona desert
World Copyright: NT
March 21, 1950, 21h45, over the famous Monument Valley in Arizona, USA: The first photograph of a “flying saucer”. For weeks, American jets chased these mysterious sky objects. Some photographic images were captured, but they showed only the light path of the “saucer” as a white streak in the night sky. These devices are able to suddenly change their direction, they rise and dodge when they encounter other sky objects. At the moment of changing direction, as the “saucer” stood still in the air, anti-aircraft Sergeant D. Ussel (13th Airborn Division) “shot” with his remote camera at the flying projectile. Seconds later, hit by flak rockets, the strange disc burst into a strange giant firework: About twenty silvery glowing capsules fell into a heavy rain down to earth.
22h10, Report from the “Death Valley”: “Observing a ghostly invasion”. The entire population within a radius of 150 km from the launch site of the sky object was alerted. Only one report came to the War Department. It read: “Saw at first blue-white lights, then clearly figures that were seemingly moving about helplessly and were gliding strangely unencumbered, like divers under water. The apparition did not last. The body shapes dissolved using some trick.”
As the silver capsule burst: The first Martian “captured”! The eyewitness G’Man from Phoenix, Arizona, McKerenich reported: “I was aware of the greatness of the moment: For the first time since the existence of the human race an earthling saw a visitor from space! But I was shocked at the same time. This aluminum-man seemed filled with immense despair. His body was dressed in a shiny coating of metal foil. The observatory in Phoenix speculates: To protect against cosmic radiation.
Science faces new puzzles: The “Mars” script. Cypher specialists and code-inventors are at work to determine whether it is a regular alphabet or even a mirror writing.
The big surprise: The Martian is… only 70 cm high. He was transferred to a special vacuum chamber. The War Department announced explicitly: It is in no way clear whether the being is from planet Mars. The only certainty is that they are of planetary origin, that is, they come from another planet in our solar system or a neighboring star. “Our Pictures”, continues the War Department, “are the only real images, we warn against cheap fakes that have been circulating in the world press.”
As is typical of April Fools’, there are several hints as to the prank, including how it was made. The most telling sign was already noted by Koi: the anti-aircraft Sergeant D. Ussel (13th Airborn Division) is a play on “Dussel”, which means sucker in German.
The comment on the “figures that were seemingly moving about helplessly and were gliding strangely unencumbered, like divers under water” is also a reference to the origin of the corresponding images: they were from British group of ice-skaters “The Lidstones”.
The final warning against “cheap fakes” circulating in the press is also a nice touch.
All these signs were confirmed in the next issue of Neue Illustrierte, dated April 5, 1950, on page 43:
Neue Illustrierte, Cologne, Germany; April 5, 1950; P. 43
The “Neue Illustrierte”, in its April Number of March 29, played some jokes to its readers: The Landing of Martians on page 3 is a fantasy. Sergeant D. Ussel (Dussel) does not exist. The Martian was an artist of the skater’s group “The Lidstones”.
A search for skaters named “The Lidstones” turns up a photo from Susan Miller of Joan and James Lidstone published on 1962. The man does have a resemblance to the Martian, though we can’t be certain of the identification due to the low quality of both source images:
One interesting point is that the Martian boots look like skaters boots. Though in the most famous of the photomontages the Martian is almost naked, in the other two where humanoid figures appear they seem to be wearing silver jumpsuits, including head caps, and it’s possible those were used by the skaters in some presentation. As noted by Koi, by the poses of the “gliding” Martians in the second photo, it’s very probable the source images come from a skating presentation.
As for the flying saucer, Martin Kottmeyer had already identified it as “a retouched picture of Dr. E.W. Kay’s model saucer that appeared in the press on January 11, 1950”:
From April Fools to UFO Legend
Due to the low quality of the reproductions of the most famous image, it’s also of notice that some confusions arose as to the composition of the scene. Below, I highlighted in different colors the five people (including the Martian) that appear in the photo:
The most common interpretation, which is reflected on the Japanese figurine toy at the beginning of this post, had the woman facing the camera (in yellow) with her legs spread open. In fact, on the original photomontage one can see her left leg and realize she is actually sideways, and the legs on the right part of the image belong to the second woman (in red).
Nevertheless, this was a crude photomontage: the woman in yellow appears in front of the woman in red – as her right hand obstructs her –, and yet, the legs of the woman in red are clearly further in front and in line with the little Martian. The two women probably didn’t belong, in that geometry, to the same scene, and were cut and pasted without careful consideration for spatial arrangement. The author of the photomontage may have left these obvious faults in his work on purpose.
Several other confusions arose related to the photo, the most common one relating it to the 1953 American shaved monkey hoax. The body of the Martian is not that of a hairless monkey, unless one classifies a human being as so. The author of the photomontage did play with proportions to create a 70 cm-tall Martian.
As even Donald Keyhoe had noted at the time, the tale of small Aliens from a crashed saucer came from the Aztec UFO hoax – Roswell only returned to Ufology in the late 1970s. The Aztec UFO hoax also inspired, at the exact same April Fools, another German publication to create its own captured little Alien story: the Wiesbadener Tagblatt.
Through Koi I had also previously read, from Jenny Randles and Peter Hough “Looking for the Aliens” (1991) of the work of Claus Westh-Henrichsen that indicated “that the hand positions of the ‘security men’ indicate that they were gripping a rigid object. After carrying out tests, he proposes that they were actually pushing a pram!”. I created a crude montage to validate this suggestion, however upon looking at the original photo and seeing more clearly the hand positions of the men in trench coats, I have to note that unless the men were holding a curved handle, their hands are not properly aligned.
From the same source I had also considered that “Han-Werner Peiniger from a West German UFO group alleges that it is yet another April Fool’s joke and notes that the authors are G Falscht and R Logen, which in English is similar to D Bunker and A Fraud (in fact, literal translations would be ‘forged’ and ‘make-believe’)”, and I even titled my first write-up on the photo accordingly, as “Die Fälscher Alien”. Having obtained the original issue and the following clarification, however, I couldn’t find any reference to “G Falscht and R Logen” as authors of the story.
Upon reading the clues as to the “puzzling Mars script”, I suspected it actually was a message in plain German, simply mirrored and inverted:
And sure enough, fellow Manuel Borraz “decrypted” it (with some effort you may be able to read it too):
“Die Erde gefällt uns nicht.
Wir möchten wieder nach Hause.”
“We don’t like Earth.
We want to go back Home.”
This was an excellent April Fools, with all the tell-tale signs of a prank, which was clearly clarified as so in the next issue for any reader that may have had any doubt. Serious UFO researchers throughout the years all discarded it as a hoax, though the precise details eluded most of them for decades and a lot of confusion arose even to the present day.
By locating and sharing the original I hope the case is definitely settled.
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Please help cover the expenses, a total of around U$200, by donating via Paypal:
I can share better quality scans of the relevant articles to all those who may request it in private, though I must note that the originals were heavily airbrushed photomontages and I don’t have a professional scanner (maximum native resolution of 600dpi), so the quality won’t be much better than the versions you can access by clicking in the images.
Needless to say, I simply worked upon the research of the many others referenced here and in the previous posts I wrote related to this photo, especially Luis Ruiz Noguez and Isaac Koi.
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