In the 1870s, Edward Bulwer-Lytton of “a dark and stormy night” infamy published the novella Vril: The Power of the Coming Race. The tome centers on Aryan descendants who live beneath Earth and who harness a source of infinite power they dub the Vril. This resource enables them to end war, poverty, sickness, and to live in a one-class utopia.
Part of this vision was taken as real by authors Jacques Bergier and Louis Pauwels, who postulated that the Nazis had sought to build Vril-powered UFOs. Another claim was that a Vril society in Berlin served as a precursor to the NSDAP. An assertion from similar camps held that Third Reich leadership used the Vril-powered flying saucer to escape to an underground base on Antarctica or on the moon. Some insist Hitler planned to relaunch the war from one of these bases, though this idea evaporated once his lifespan was reasonably assumed to have passed.
In Bulwer-Lytton’s book, there is suspicion that Earth’s inside is running out of room, so the inhabitants may need to surface and overtake mortal men on the outside. The corollary is that the Nazis will do the same, aided by unknown super-weapons. Believers in this idea fall into one of two categories: Nazi wannabes who hope to recapture the glory, and those who are worried about this possibility. The Nazis were so brutal and powerful that there were fears they would regroup and strike again, an idea played out in the The Boys From Brazil.
When it comes to fascist ideas being adopted by a government and being used to spark a war, we should always be vigilant against this possibility. But concern about Third Reich members launching an attack from a frozen continent or airless satellite are far-fetched as best. Antarctica for decades has had year-round residents, none of whom have encountered the Nazi equivalent of Japanese fighters still in the jungle. And none of the moon missions have encountered any attempt by German insurgents to repel the lunar landings.
In 1937, science fiction writer Willy Ley, who had fled Nazi Germany, wrote that a group there called the Society for Truth had launched a search for the Vril. Some excited observers extrapolated this his claiming that the power was real, and that the society’s members had managed to construct a perpetual motion machine and other physics-defying inventions.
However, no reference to any Vril group in its supposed 1920s to 1940s heyday exists. There are no press accounts, no minutes from their meetings, no recollections from members in journals or diaries. They group was invented and existed only in the minds of believers.