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Apocalypse with Saucers

A 1951 religious tract with Cold War themes


Shortly after WWII, a Dr E. J. Daniels published a fifty-page evangelistic Christian tract with a strong apocalyptic bent. The third edition, bolstered with topical information on the forthcoming H-bomb, was published in the fall of 1951, about the time that Project Grudge was gearing up to become Project Blue Book.

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki provided Fundamentalist Christian preachers with perfect examples of literal fire and brimstone, and Daniels mixed photos of the mushroom clouds with Biblical quotes and anticommunist themes to warn America of a coming nuclear Armageddon sparked jointly by Russia and the wrath of an angry God.

Of particular note in this booklet is the seamless combination of Biblical literalism with conservative politics, McCarthyesque anticommunist dogma, and feverish apocalyptic imagery. On page 22, Daniels cites a UFO-related document, the "Intelligence Digest," edited by Kenneth de Courcy (a well-connected British right-wing publisher), who confidently asserted that "flying saucers" seen in England were the "spent cartridges of supersonic rockets built by the Russians, and that they disintegrate upon landing." This "disintegrating projectile" concept evidently comes directly from the Ghost Rocket phenomenon.

Skeptics may shake their heads, but here is the actual original text of the bizarre 1947 "Intelligence Digest" rumor. It described a new Russian rocket that was propelled by "firing a series of successive timed charges. The explosion of each propels the missile forward at an increasing speed. At the moment of explosion, a disc-like object is ejected with great force, the equivalent of an empty cartridge shell. These discs are believed to be harmless and generally disintegrate before reaching the ground..."

Incredibly, the concept sounds much like that of nuclear physicist Stanislaw Ulam's nuclear-pulse-powered rocket.

See: Ulam's Atomic Saucer

It is interesting to study the smooth segue between de Courcy's claims about Russian UFOs, Soviet "cosmic ray defenses" in the Baltic, and bacterial warfare -- and his discussion of the "spiritual warfare" between Christianity and Marxism. It is also fascinating to see how the 1946 Ghost Rocket concepts had percolated into the fabric of anticommunist discourse by 1951.

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