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Welteislehre (also known as Glazial-Kosmogonie) is a theory first published by the Austrian Hans Hörbiger, a refrigeration engineer, in 1913. The basis of the theory is that most objects in our solar system besides Earth and the Sun are made out of ice or are at least covered in an extremely thick layer of it.



Hörbiger is said to have developed his theory after observing the Moon at night. He concluded from the strong reflection of the light and the structure of the impact craters that the moon must be made of ice. He further theorized that the entire Milky Way, since it was very shiny at night, must be a collection of ice bodies.

Hörbiger explains the origin of the universe with the collision of a glowing mass of gigantic proportions with a smaller mass of solid ice. This led to an enormous explosion and the creation of our solar system. Ever since, existence has been based on an eternal struggle between fire and ice. Note that this has strong similarities with Norse mythology (see Ymir).

The theory also states that Earth created temporal gravitation fields, attracting smaller planets. A planet would be caught in the field and gravitate around Earth for some time before eventually colliding with it. At that time, natural catastrophes would occur all over the world. In a recuperating period, the planet would exist without a moon until the next planet would be attracted. Hörbiger believed that the current version of the Moon was the sixth since the existence of Earth and that a collision would be inevitable. Believers in Welteislehre argue that the great flood described in the Bible and the destruction of Atlantis were caused by previous collisions. The system somewhat resembles the cosmic catastrophism of Immanuel Velikovsky, and in fact parallels between the two were drawn by Martin Gardner in chapter three of his book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science.

Hörbiger published his theory in 1913 in his book Glazial-Kosmogonie. He also provided numerous tables and graphs trying to prove his theory. Most of these however were lacking substance and Welteislehre was quickly disregarded in scientific circles. The fact that it showed several parallels to early Greek and Nordic mythology did not help his cause among scientists.

Welteislehre in the Third Reich

One of the early supporters of Hörbiger's theories was Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the leading theorist behind the early development the National Socialist Party in Germany in 1923. Through Chamberlain's influence Welteislehre became official Nazi policy in cosmology. Although Hörbiger died in 1931, his theory gained new momentum in the Third Reich. Heinrich Himmler, one of the most powerful Nazi leaders, became a strong proponent of the theory and he stated that if it were corrected and adjusted with new scientific findings it could very well be accepted as scientific work. In 1942, Adolf Hitler reasoned that the cold years in the early 1940s led him to believe in the correctness of the Welteislehre.

It is said that the real reason both Hitler and Himmler referred to the theory was to counterbalance the Jewish influence on the sciences, similar to the Deutsche Physik movement. Hörbiger's theory particularly opposed the theory of relativity, developed by Albert Einstein. A growing group of 'believing scientists' expanded the theory during the last years of World War II. Dozens of scientific journals, books, and even novels were published on this topic. Hörbiger's theories became generally accepted among the population of Nazi Germany.

The theory was quickly discredited again after the war. Nevertheless public opinion shifted at a much lower pace. A survey conducted in 1953 showed that over a million people in Germany, England, and the U.S. believed that Hörbiger was correct.


While most of Hörbiger's theories have been proven wrong, some aspects however have turned out to be correct. Today we know that Saturn's rings are based on ice and that the outer planets of our solar system have significant amounts of ice. Comets are also known to be bodies made of ice, and some think that their collision over the years with Earth are responsible for the modern abundance of water on this planet [1]. As has already been mentioned Hörbiger believed that the Moon was made of ice. Although this is obviously not the case, the apparent 1998 discovery of ice at the lunar South Pole could be seen as somewhat of a minor victory for Hörbiger, especially as for a long time scientists insisted that the Moon was dry. However, on October 19, 2006 extensive radar mapping of the lunar south pole was revealed to have shown the presence of no observable water or ice on the moon after all [2].

See also

  • H.S. Bellamy
  • Snowball Earth


  • Essay about Welteislehre (in German)
  • Essay on Cosmic Ice Theory by Christina Wessely at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Welteislehre". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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