The Pearl Harbor Code?

Seventy years ago, the Japanese Navy launched an attack on Pearl Harbor. The vicious assault killed over 2,000 people, damaged some 300 planes, and crippled 18 vessels. In the aftermath, FBI Agents conducted a secret raid on the New Yorker magazine’s offices. They were searching for clues related to a code…a code which may have been used to alert Japanese spies to the attack. What was the Pearl Harbor Code?

Was the Deadly Double a code about the Pearl Harbor attack?

“Panorama view of Pearl Harbor, during the Japanese raid on 7 December 1941, with anti-aircraft shell bursts overhead. The photograph looks southwesterly from the hills behind the harbor. Large column of smoke in lower right center is from the burning USS Arizona (BB-39). Smoke somewhat further to the left is from the destroyers Shaw (DD-373), Cassin (DD-372) and Downes (DD-375), in drydocks at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard.” (December 7, 1941)
Source: Official U.S. Navy photograph via Wikimedia Commons

The Deadly Double & Pearl Harbor?

Sixteen days before the Pearl Harbor attack, a “teaser advertisement” appeared in the New Yorker. The text read “Achtung! Warning! Alerte!” Underneath, readers were encouraged to “See Advertisement Page 86.” The ad also contained two dice and was apparently placed by a company named Monarch Publishing Co. A second advertisement ran on page 86. It contained a strange picture of people playing dice in an air-raid shelter, repeated the “Achtung! Warning! Alerte!” text, and referred to a game called “The Deadly Double.”

After Pearl Harbor, American civilians became extra-vigilant about foreign spies and saboteurs. Thousands of rumors and tips flooded into FBI Headquarters. One of the most prominent tips was in regard to “The Deadly Double” advertisement. Hundreds of readers suspected it was a coded message, designed to alert Japanese and Nazi spies about the upcoming attack.

Was the Deadly Double a Coded Message about the Pearl Harbor Attack?

According to John Costello’s The Pacific War: 1941-1945, the numbers on the dice might have meant “0″ hour for a “double cross” on “12″/”7″ at “5″ out of “24″ hours. Another interpretation comes from the 1982 Reader’s Digest book, Mysteries of the Unexplained. That work concluded that the numbers 12 and 7 refer to December 7. 5 and 0 were suspected to be the planned time of the attack. XX, or 20 in Roman Numerals, was the approximate latitude for Pearl Harbor. The purpose of the number 24 was unknown (although possibly some sort of code designation).

On the Page 86 ad, the top part of the drawing was viewed as a depiction of three airplanes flying over Pearl Harbor, complete with searchlight beams, antiaircraft shells, and even an exploding bomb on the surface of the water. “The Deadly Double” was believed to stand for two of the Axis Powers, namely Germany and Japan. And finally, the double-headed eagle at the bottom of the ad appeared to be a combination of the two versions of the Nazi’s Iron Eagles.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, was the Pearl Harbor Code a real attempt to warn Japanese and Nazi spies about Pearl Harbor? Or was it just a coincidence? According to Reader’s Digest, the advertisement turned out to be legitimate. The ads were supposedly placed by a Mr. and Mrs. Roger Craig. The investigation of the Craig family was kept under wraps until 1967 when Ladislas Farago broke the story prior to the release of his book, The Broken Seal. At the time, Craig’s widow was said to have stated that any connection between the ad and the attack was nothing more than a coincidence.

However, that’s just one side of the story. According to William F. Breuer’s book Unexplained Mysteries of World War II

“FBI agents discovered that the advertisement had been placed by the Monarch Trading Company (a dummy corporation). A white male, who had not given his name, had brought the plates for the ad to the New Yorker offices and had paid in cash. He had not given his address. Curiously, the man the FBI would identify as the suspect apparently met a sudden, violent death a few weeks later.”

Which story is correct? Did the FBI truly get to the bottom of the incident? If so, was the Code just a big coincidence? Or was it something more? Unfortunately, the available evidence is contradictory. So, until more information comes to light, the Pearl Harbor Code will remain one of the great unsolved mysteries of World War II.

The Curse of Tutankhamun?

On November 26, 1922, archaeologist Howard Carter breached the tomb of Tutankhamun, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Almost immediately, whispers of a curse began spreading throughout the region. And then the deaths began. Was the curse of Tutankhamun real? Or just a myth?

The Curse of King Tut?

Soon after entering the tomb, Carter sent a messenger to his house. The messenger discovered that a cobra had killed Carter’s pet canary. Since the Royal Cobra was seen as a symbol of the ancient Egyptian government, the canary’s death was interpreted by the locals as evidence of a curse.

“The pharaoh’s serpent ate the bird because it led us to the hidden tomb! You must not disturb the tomb!” ~ Servant to Howard Carter

A few months later, on April 5, 1923, Lord Carnarvon died from an infected mosquito bite. Since Carnarvon had provided the financial backing for Carter’s excavation, his death was seen as part of the curse. The media reported extensively on the story and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, gave an interview in which he stated his opinion that the death might have been caused by “elementals” or “curses.” Hence, the curse of Tutankhamun was born.

A series of strange deaths followed over the next few years. Captain Richard Bethell (Carter’s personal secretary) died under suspicious circumstances while sleeping at a Mayfair Club. Bethell’s father committed suicide by jumping from his seventh floor apartment. Edgar Steele, who handled the artifacts from London’s British Museum, passed away during a minor operation. All in all, a grand total of eleven people connected to the tomb’s discovery and excavation died seemingly unnatural deaths by 1929. By 1935, this number was up to twenty-one.

Was the Curse of Tutankhamun caused by Murder?

So, what caused these deaths? A true curse of Tutankhamun? Coincidence? An ancient plague? Well, in his new book, London’s Curse: Murder, Black Magic and Tutankhamun in the 1920s West End, author Mark Beynon speculates that the various murders were indeed connected…but not by a supernatural force. Instead, he believes that the murders were “ritualistic killings” masterminded by the infamous Aleister Crowley…aka, “the wickedest man in the world.”

Crowley was a well-known occultist, mystic, astrologist, and magician. He was also a prolific writer, leaving behind an impressive collection of diaries, books, and essays. After reviewing these works, along with various inquest reports, Beynon believes we should add another occupation to Crowley’s long resume…murderer.

Beynon believes that Crowley was motivated by revenge. Specifically, Crowley might’ve considered Carter’s excavation “sacrilegious” since he’d used ancient Egypt’s gods and goddesses to help formulate his own religion, known as Thelema. Also, many of the deceased individuals considered to have been “cursed” died in ways that suggested murder. For example, Captain Bethell’s symptoms matched that of one who’d been smothered to death. And the ability of Bethell’s father to climb out onto the window ledge and commit suicide seems questionable, indicating that he might’ve had help.

Beynon speculates that Crowley, who supposedly “murdered his servants in India,” was obsessed with Jack the Ripper and may have used Jack as an inspiration for his own murders of Carter’s excavation team. However, Beynon’s evidence seems pretty skimpy. Crowley’s connections to the various victims is tenuous at best. Also, he was absent from London for at least two of these deaths. Finally, the fact that Howard Carter - the primary man behind the excavation – survived 17 years after opening the tomb is damning. If Crowley really wished to punish Carter’s team, it seems that he would’ve wanted to do the same to Carter himself. Instead, Carter lived until 1939 before finally succumbing to lymphoma at the age of 65.

Was the Curse of Tutankhamun caused by Disease?

So, what caused “The Curse of Tutankhamun?” One possibility is an ancient disease. In 1962, Dr. Ezzeddin Taha announced that many of the archaeologists and museum employees who worked with ancient Egyptian artifacts suffered from exposure to Aspergillus niger, a fungus that causes skins rashes and respiratory problems. He believed that this fungus might’ve been sealed in Egyptian tombs many centuries ago only to rear it’s ugly head when the tombs were reopened. Another possibility is mold spores. Intriguingly, a 1999 study conducted by microbiologist Gotthard Kramer showed that as many as 40 recovered Egyptian mummies were covered with bits of mold spores. Some mold spores, which can survive for long periods of time, are extremely deadly.

“When spores enter the body through the nose, mouth or eye mucous membranes they can lead to organ failure or even death, particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems.” ~ Gotthard Kramer

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Personally, I think ancient fungal spores may have caused some of the deaths associated with the curse, particularly that of Lord Carnarvon. However, I also believe there was a conspiracy afoot. But not the type of conspiracy brought about by a murderous mystic. No, I think we’re dealing with an entirely different type of conspiracy…a media conspiracy.

The reality of the matter is that many of the curse’s so-called victims played only incidental roles in the discovery and opening of the tomb. According to an analysis prepared by Herbert Winlock, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, 54 total people were present for the opening of the tomb (1922), the opening of the sarcophagus (1924), and the unveiling of King Tut’s mummy (1925). Out of those 54 people, only 8 had died by 1934 (6 from the opening of the tomb and 2 from the opening of the sarcophagus).

The truth is that much of the hype surrounding the curse was overblown. Many of the so-called victims were only vaguely connected to King Tut’s tomb. In reality, it wasn’t much of a curse at all.

But it sure made one hell of a story.

Who was Jack the Ripper?

Jack the Ripper is the most famous serial killer of all time. He (or she) is believed to have killed as many as five prostitutes starting in 1888. His identity remains unsolved. Now, an old suspect has returned to the limelight and thanks to advances in imaging technology, we can finally see what he might have looked like. Does this image show the face of Jack the Ripper?

Who was Jack the Ripper?

“Jack the Ripper: Who is he? What is he? Where is he?”
Illustration by Tom Merry for Puck magazine (September 21, 1889)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Jack the Ripper?

During the 1880s, London’s East End was a horrible place to live. Poverty, alcoholism, and crime were widespread. Prostitution ran rampant, with more than 1,200 prostitutes working in Whitechapel alone. Attacks on prostitutes were commonplace.

From April 3, 1888 to February 13, 1891, eleven women were murdered in Whitechapel and subsequently connected in the police docket as the Whitechapel murders. Most, if not all of these women, are believed to have been prostitutes. A majority of experts attribute five of those murders, the so-called “canonical five,” to a single killer. They shared several common features including “deep throat slashes, abdominal and genital-area mutilation, removal of internal organs, and progressive facial mutilations.”

Was Jack the Ripper actually Carl Feigenbaum?

Over the years, researchers have proposed more than 100 theories on Jack the Ripper’s identity. Now, a recent article in the BBC points a cautionary finger at one suspect in particular…Carl Feigenbaum.

Feigenbaum was a German merchant. He was arrested in 1894 in New York City for the murder of his landlady. He was found guilty and executed on April 27, 1896. Afterward, his lawyer claimed that Feigenbaum was Jack the Ripper. It received some attention at the time but was not taken seriously until former murder squad detective Trevor Marriott wrote his book, Jack the Ripper: The 21st Century Investigation: A Top Murder Squad Detective Reveals the Ripper’s Identity at Last!

Researchers have long assumed that Jack the Ripper was an expert in anatomy due to “the skill with which his victims’ organs were removed.” However, Marriott argues that these cuts might have been made in the mortuary instead. And indeed, there is at least one case where it is difficult to imagine that Jack the Ripper had time to remove his victim’s uterus after killing her. Marriott also believes that the gaps between murders fit the profile of a traveller. And at the time of the murders, the Nord Deutsche Linewas docked in the vicinity. Carl Feigenbaum was a seaman aboard this ship.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, was Carl Feigenbaum Jack the Ripper? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are plenty of other feasible suspects out there. In addition, a reexamination of the evidence suggests that the “canonical five” murders may have actually been committed by multiple people. In other words, it’s entirely possible that Jack the Ripper was not a real person at all…he may have been nothing more than an invention of the media.