Thursday, September 04, 2014

Beyond Götterdämmerung: A Tale of Nazi Vampires

Over the years, on film, it's been popular to mash-up Hitler's Nazi regime with creatures of the night--including zombies (Shock Waves, Dead Snow, Outpost), vampires (Frostbiten, Bloodrayne: The Third Reich), and even werewolves (An American Werewolf in London). Yet there's also perhaps a lesser-known example from comicdom, published in Weird War Tales from August, 1980 (V10N90).

"Beyond Götterdämmerung" takes place immediately after World War II, and tells the tale of a group of Hitler's followers who arrange for his transport to South America. But in order to ensure that he survives the journey, they take the drastic measure of turning the Führer into one of the un-dead!

This plays into the conspiracy theory that Hitler didn't commit suicide in 1945, but actually escaped Berlin and managed to flee, undetected, to either Brazil or Argentina--where he lived out his remaining days.

The story opens with a coffin--carrying a very special passenger--being loaded onto the submarine U-239, destined for South America. Lieutenant Hegel, of course, follows his orders without question, and is only told that it's the body of a very important Nazi that must not fall into enemy hands. Over the course of the 10-day journey, several crew members disappear, or meet mysterious, accidental deaths on board the submarine (which hints of Dracula's journey to Whitby aboard the Demeter). As the body count rises, Hegel starts to question why his men, who were some of the bravest in the Third Reich, have been abandoning all hope by taking their own lives--or even killing each other.

It's only then that Hegel discovers the very important passenger is very much alive--and it's the Führer! Although the Lieutenant is (obviously) taken aback, Hitler assures him that he was only posing as a corpse to fool the enemy, in the event the submarine was intercepted en route to South America. As the most-decorated U-boat commander, Hegel was chosen to deliver Hitler safely and securely, so he can rise once again to build a new German navy!


Hegel believes the story, but worries that with so few crew members remaining, they'll never reach their destination. It's only after inadvertently witnessing the death of the last crew member that he discovers the horrible truth: Hitler has been turned into a vampire!

Hegel has a crisis of conscience. This isn't the leader that he swore his life to protect; this is a monstrosity, a Devil, a man perverted by science. So the honourable Lieutenant takes matters into his own hands.


Yet Hitler's story doesn't end there. Another legend, perhaps tied closer to reality, is that he employed up to six doppelgängers who took his place at political rallies and other functions--and would be killed in his place if need be. In fact, one conspiracy theory claims that it was one of these doubles who was found by Russian forces in Hitler's bunker. "Beyond Götterdämmerung" concludes with this same theory, to great effect:


Trivia: Götterdämmerung is a term that describes Hitler's remaining days in his bunker. This name comes from the final part of Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), an opera by Wagner. This was one of Adolf Hitler's favourites, and relates a tale from Norse mythology that prophesied a war "among various beings and gods that ultimately results in the burning, immersion in water, and renewal of the world."*


*Götterdämmerung. (2014, September 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:33, September 4, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=G%C3%B6tterd%C3%A4mmerung&oldid=624100574



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