TITANIC: 100 years of conspiracy theories
By Paul Byers
April marks the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Researching conspiracy thearies for his book Arctic Fire, Northwest Author Paul Byers came across many different theories about the sinking of the titanic. For instance, depending on which conspiracy theory you believe, it wasn't an iceberg that sank the great ship, it was the curse of the mummy! And perhaps it wasn't actually the Titanic that sank that night, but a doppelganger:
Who shot JFK? Was 9-11 staged? Did aliens really crash at Roswell? All interesting theories that some would say absolutely yes to, while others would scoff and say, no way! Well, now you can add one more to the list of great mysteries with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
Didn’t the famous luxury line strike an iceberg and sink? Again, yes or no, depending on whom you believe. While the popular notion is that the ship did hit the iceberg, how it got there is an entirely different story, the stuff of urban legends, the stuff of conspiracy theories.
While none of these theories involves Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet, they do involve a princess, corporate greed, and political and religious corruption.
Perhaps the most interesting of the theories as to what caused the loss of the great ship is a little less sinister than most, but none the less fascinating: the Curse of the Mummy. The story has it that in the 1890’s, four Englishmen were in Egypt and bought a coffin near the fabled city of Luxor and it was said to contain the remains of Princess Amen-Ra. It was called the “unlucky mummy,” because disaster immediately befell the four men who dug her up and tragedy and misfortune followed the mummy wherever she went. Strange things even happened at the famous British Museum where the coffin sat in the basement for years.
A stalwart American businessman, looking to make a profit bought the mummy. While not believing in the curse himself he knew it wouldn’t be allowed on board the Titanicbecause of its colorful history, so he snuck it on board under the carriage of his car. Proud of his little smuggling act, he was overheard bragging about his cleverness in one of the ship’s lounges, but the unlucky mummy would have the last word because the ship sank the next night.
Now you see it, now you don’t
In a feat worth of the great Houdini himself, another theory states that it wasn’t the Titanicthat sank in the cold waters of the North Atlantic, but in reality it was her twin sister ship, the Olympic. Launched in October of 1910, the Olympic was the big sister, and near identical twin of the Titanic. In September of 1911, the Olympic had a collision with a Royal Navy cruiser that severely damaged both ships. The board of inquiry cleared the navy of any wrong doing-no surprise since the inquiry was run by the navy itself, (another conspiracy theory?) With the ruling against them, the White Star Line had no hope of collecting any insurance money.
With no money to repair the stricken ship, a scheme was formulated to switch the identities of the sister ships since the Titanic wasn’t finished yet. White Star would keep the good ship and then collect the insurance money when the damaged ship sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking all of her secrets with her.
No De Vinci Code
One of the more interesting (and controversial) theories about the loss of the Titanic revolves around the Order of Jesuits and the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are an order of the church dedicated to protecting and furthering Catholicism around the world. It is proposed that the Jesuits wanted to create the Federal Reserve as a way to regulate large sums of money and to shape, finance and control political views around the world.
There were those, however, who were opposed to the idea and had considerable sums of money to fight against it. The Jesuits had to eliminate these enemies in such a way so as not to create even the slightest hint of suspicion or wrong doing. So, in an elaborate scheme, the Jesuits coxed their opposition on board the luxury liner with the intent of them going down with the ship, silencing them forever. It is also speculated that the Captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith was a Jesuit himself and was under orders to go at full speed through ice-packed waters to destroy the ship.
Interestingly, the Federal Reserve Act was created in December of 1913, roughly a year and eight months after the Titanic tragedy, and World War I started less than a year later.
While doing research for my thriller, Arctic Fire, I began uncovering dozens of interesting myths and theories that surrounded the loss of the great ship. The more I studied the technology of the day, the ship itself and what was going on in the world at the time, the more it got me thinking. Taking all of these things into consideration I began formulating my own workable and plausible theory as to what could have happened to the doomed luxury liner.
The Kaiserliche Marine (German Navy) was one of the first countries in the world to deploy submarines in its fleets, however, the technology of the fledgling U-boat service was untried and untested and its true potential had not yet been fully realized. Even in 1912, the winds of change were sweeping across Europe and information was vital.
What better way to gather information about a seafaring nation (and potential enemy) such as England, than to keep track of the shipping lanes. To that end, the decision was made to test the use of a submarine in a reconnaissance role. In order to gather important information about shipping, the submarine was elaborately disguised as an iceberg, thus enabling it to hide in plain sight. However, mechanical failure turned the simple game of cat and mouse into a horrible accident with catastrophic results.
Whether it was the curse of the mummy, greed, the quest for political power, poor seamanship or just plain bad luck, one thing is for sure; it makes for some fun, interesting and thought provoking reading. The only fact is that the Titanic did strike an iceberg and sank: how she got there is another story. 100 years later, the loss of the Titanic has become the stuff of legends.