Mystery Photo: Nazis & Yeti or Bizarre Bear?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 25th, 2008

I’ll get to the mystery photo in a minute. First a personal note about why today is special to me.

As it turns out, today, September 25, 2008, is the 15th anniversary of my near-death experience, when I fell 40 ft while rockclimbing without ropes, and nearly died. My L1 vertebra was burst and had to be reconstructed with bone grafts from my pelvis. I now have a fused section of vertebrae in my ischis (spinal column) above and below the area of my reconstructed vertebra.

I was in the hospital for two weeks, and it took five months for mobility recovery (vs what the doctors’ predicted, nine months). Although I have permanent pain in my back and cannot exercise the same way I use to, I feel rather flexible. And I’m alive, and I thank every extra day I get to see my sons and get to chase cryptids for that.

Oh, cryptozoologically, the rockclimbing was about exploring and being outdoors. I was wearing a Yeti tee-shirt at the time. I’ve never worn that one again, but you know I saved it, of course, for the Abominable Snowmen collection.

The incident assisted me in reassessing my life, and moving away from academia into pursuing cryptozoology fulltime, and indeed, in setting up the museum too.

So here I am. Still around, after Yetis.

Now that the “MonsterQuest” broadcast of the Mystery Bear episode has come and gone, this seems like a good time to bring up the following photograph. It was posted a few weeks ago on Henry Stokes’s “I Love the Yeti” blog. No info is available about it. It was found on the Internet. That’s it.

The blog rightfully questioned, “Is that [a] Yeti with those Nazis?” But I think the critter (with that nose and ears) looks more like a weird bear. Well, actually, of course, it looks more like some ritualistic Thule (hint, hint, polar bear suit) activity or recent stunt during a movie.

Is this for real, whatever real means? Does anyone know the source of this apparently cryptofictional picture?

Anyone know?

It sort of reminds me of a take-off on the Freaky Links’ “Civil War Thunderbird.”

Civil War Dinos

The photograph shown directly above supposedly demonstrates that a cryptid was captured by a group of Civil War soldiers, circa mid-1860s. It has been circulated as the “mystery Thunderbird photo” and/or by others as 1860s soldiers with the remains of a pterodactyl.

As it turns out this photograph was a promotional tool of Orlando, Florida’s Haxan Production (producers of the movie The Blair Witch Project), to develop interest in their forthcoming sci-fi television program, “Freaky Links.” The series, first broadcast on Fox TV in 2000, involved the character “Derek Barnes,” an investigator of the unknown.

The photograph was a hoax, using Civil War reenactors and a “pterodactyl” created as a prop exclusively for two episodes of “Freaky Links.” This “pterodactyl” itself is actually now part of the International Cryptozoology Museum.

Photograph used with permission of Gregg Hale, Executive Director, Haxan Productions. Credit Haxan/Fox TV.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

29 Responses to “Mystery Photo: Nazis & Yeti or Bizarre Bear?”

  1. pcs800 responds:

    Umm, it is clearly a guy standing there in a bad polar bear outfit. Men, arm in arm, perma-smile on the head of the bear. come on.

  2. tomdee27 responds:

    Hi Loren:

    Bears have long been a symbol for Germany and especially the Nazis. The “Nazi Bear” in this photo looks like a man in a bear costume posing with his comrades. That’s even if the photo is real. The quality makes me think it’s a recent photo.

  3. moonlight responds:

    I agree with the first two posters, looks more like a mascot costume rather than an actual animal.

  4. OceansBlue responds:

    Agreed, modern photo and non standard rifles for the era, notice the length. More like WWI rifles, but with WWII uniforms? Nice smile for a bear though!

  5. Cashel responds:

    There’s little doubt in most modern human minds that the Nazi photo is fake, and was taken within the last ten years.

    But, it is still a mystery of whether the Thunderbird was a Confederate or not.

    I think it was.

  6. shumway10973 responds:

    No Nazis would “recline” for a photo, especially with what looks like officers in the picture. That is a bad costume.

  7. HulkSmashNow responds:

    I thought bears were the symbol of Russia and the former Soviet Union, not Germany and the Nazi regime.

  8. eireman responds:

    Without examining the original, I couldn’t say for sure but that looks like a contemporary picture attempting to appear older than it is. It’s subtle but the grain and contrast range seems finer than one would expect in a snapshot of the period and place and the exposure is dead on. Not that a knowlegeable Nazi couldn’t have been behind the lens but couple those subtle nuances with the almost comic expression of the 7-11 slushie polar bear… It’s just funny looking.

  9. Dib responds:

    Reenactors tend to be on the chubby side, not as fit as these guys look, so I think this is a real photo. Clearly a guy in a bear suit though. Note that the ‘bear’ is the same height as the soldiers.

  10. ConsentRevoked responds:

    my first thought was werewolf, but it’s definitely a bear. he has a huge grin on his face because he is about to eat those two plump nazis lying on the ground in front of him.
    seriously, very weird picture.i would guess some sort of cast photo from Blondibear and the Three (er, Nine) Nazis?

  11. Artist responds:

    Oh, please…

  12. DavidFullam responds:

    A most amusing hoax. The bear looks to be having a good time.

  13. Cashel responds:

    OceansBlue, they are indeed WWII uniforms and WWI rifles; the German Army basically used variants of the same rifle in both wars.

    I have to wonder why anyone, hoax or not, would want a picture of Nazis posing with a bear.

    Was the bear named “Schultz”?

  14. coelacanth1938 responds:

    “This “pterodactyl” itself is actually now part of the International Cryptozoology Museum.”

    I saw this thing being auctioned off on eBay some time ago. I wondered who bought it.

  15. bccryptid responds:

    If the officer in the great coat had a monocle in I would have swore this was a previously unknown Monty Python sketch! Sure takes the edge off ‘Master Race’, doesn’t it 😉

  16. CWatkins responds:

    …”As it turns out, today, September 25, 2008, is the 15th anniversary of my near-death experience, when I fell 40 ft while rockclimbing without ropes, and nearly died.”

    We are all glad you survived. You have enriched the field of cryptozoology!

  17. red_pill_junkie responds:

    This photo was taken right after the bear attempted to kill Hitler’s beloved german shepherd. It is told the bear’s fur was given as a gift to Himmler’s lover 😛

  18. Loren Coleman responds:

    Please go to “More On So-Called ‘Nazi Bears'” for new photographs comparable to the above and for good insights on the possible background of these images.

  19. steelcut responds:

    The pic is not a fake. In some parts of germany and alps region is a rite around easter to cast out the winter with a man masked as bear. The picture seems to show one of those “bears”. Nothing special.

  20. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    Not sure about this one. The rifles look like german sniper rifles but I can’t quite figure out what model. I’m not up on all the German WWII weapons and better at allied weapons or even German pistols rather than German rifles. The ones at the sides of the standing soldiers look right though. They appear to be more of a carbine. (yeah, I’m a bit of gun nut). But are the uniforms right? Don’t know. They almost look TOO good for a unit that had seen much action. Any WWII buffs out there?

  21. Loren Coleman responds:

    For another new period image of German folks (a woman and a male soldier) with a person in a polar bear costume, see here.

  22. Dr Hanklove responds:

    Nothing could be more descriptive, notice the Bear is at center in the prime photograph, this surely spells out the devious plotting of these White bears and their useful Idiots the Nazi puppets, this surely means bad times ahead, as this photograph clearly exposes the truth!!! Expect all sorts of misinformation about this photograph being an elaborate “fake” or a “joke” some of you will buy into it too! Suckers!

  23. gridbug responds:

    Insert “ich bin ein bear-liner” joke here. Sorry, couldn’t resist! 😀

  24. HOOSIERHUNTER responds:

    HA Gridbug–good one!!

  25. mystery_man responds:

    No one has produced the suit, it must be real! 🙂

    The polar bear might be a guy in the suit, but I think I can see a shadow in the background brush that could be a Yeti.

  26. rl_esteves responds:

    Neither a bear or yeti. Wolf, or Werewolf might be more like it.

  27. archer1945 responds:

    Copied the picture and upon enlarging it it is very easy to see a person’s head in the “mouth of the bear”. Also, a bear’s legs are much shorter in relationship to its body than a persons arms and legs. This bear’s “front legs” just happen to be proportioned almost identically to the men standing around it. Obviously a person in a bear costume.

  28. teuron263 responds:

    NOT a mystery at allp it is the Steiff polar bear costume used in promotions (Fanta soda, etc…) with German troops on the Ostfront. Since the US did not supply Germany with the Coca-Cola machinery for the plant, the Germans simply invented Fanta soda. And to promote “Eiskalt Fanta” they had Steiff (plush bear manufacturer) make a polar bear suit. Here it is in 1947 Germany:

    And here is a real polar bear on a U-boat:

  29. teuron263 responds:

    On a serious note, the Germans made an expedition to Tibet and fought a Meh-Teh, not a Yeti, but another fould beast. After shots were fired, it ran off and was not seen again during their expedition…

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