CPhS: Fake news in 1935


Fake news in 1935

In 1924, technical fairy tales and fake news drove the Dutch Minister of War to his decision to establish the Commission for Physical Armament. In later years this Commission was also bombarded by “inventors” and with forwarded “vague” news.
An example:

From the General Staff to the Chairman of the Committee for Physical Armament, dated 6 March 1935, No. 1028 Secret.
Subject: Engine malfunctions.
A few days ago I was informed of the following incident, which occurred at night on the German North Sea coast, within German territorial waters.
The skipper of a motorboat sailing there suddenly noticed a vibration in his vessel. At the same time, the engine stalled and initially could not be restarted. After approx. an hour the engine restarted. A blueish sheen was observed on the German coast during this engine failure.

Later during the day, an investigation was conducted into where the light shine on the coast was observed. At approx. 4 K.M. away from the place where the engine failure occurred, an installation on caterpillar tracks, a kind of freight wagon (uncamouflaged), was discovered on a dune. The installation was equipped with a hole that can be closed with a slide. According to residents, this installation was often moved around with a tractor.
Actions of an S.A. patrol prevented further investigation of this installation.
Moreover, it was learned that engine stalls occasionally happened to other sailing motorboats in the same area.

Another incident concerns what happened to a motorist near Berlin. Here too, the car engine suddenly stopped and could not be started, until an S.A. patrol suddenly announced: “Jetzt können Sie eiter fahren”.

Apparently, the German side is experimenting with electric waves here. Shielding against this kind of disturbance in times of war is of the utmost importance and, in addition, the ability to generate such waves is of the greatest importance from a defensive point of view.

I would greatly appreciate your opinion on the above. Can you tell me whether the work currently being carried out by your Commission quickly allows for possible experiments in this direction?
Perhaps unnecessarily, I request that you regard the above as confidential.
Major General
Chief of the General Staff
I.H. Reynders