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The 1954 French flap:

The index page for the 1954 French flap section of this site is here.

October 23, 1954, Wittenheim, Haut-Rhin:

Reference number for this case: 23-oct-54-Wittenheim. Thank you for including this reference number in any correspondence with me regarding this case.

Summary:

On October 22, 1954, the Press reported that many witnesses had seen impressive maneuvers of a flying object above Wittenheim in the Haut-Rhin. You can find information on this observation in its own file.

Quite on the sidelines of this event, a quite ridiculous and funny affair took shape:

One of the witnesses of the sighting, policeman Muller of Wittenheim, later found in a garden, or his garden, a forked radish that had the looks of a "Martian".

Duly made up as Martian, the radish was quickly exposed at the Zimmerman coffee shop in Wittenheim, where the witnesses of the saucer of October 22 had gathered. Everyone had fun and it was nothing more than fun, reported as such in the newspaper Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace for October 30, 1954:

However, the Parisian weekly tabloid Radar for November 7, 1954, thought it was clever to tell about it as if policeman Muller was serious, as if the radish was a real Martian.

In the 1970s, the case entered as a summary in the "UFOCAT" catalog in the USA.

Then in 1979, debunkers Barthel and Brucker told of the case as an "example", explaining that during the 1954 French saucer flap, "people invented Martians of the most extravagant shapes" such as the "vegetable Martian" of Wittenheim.

The same year, ufologists Figuet and Ruchon explained that it had only been an innocent joke, the "Martian" was never taken for anything else than what it was, a radish with a weird shape.

This did not prevented others thereafter in France and elsewhere, to write such nonsense as "Mssrs Muller, Meyer, and Settner [sic] and Mrs. Zimmerman saw a little creature that looked like a radish."

And it continued like this though I narrated the case on my website in 2008.

Reports:

[Ref. dn1:] "LES DERNIERES NOUVELLES D'ALSACE" NEWSPAPER:

Marsbewohner in Wittenheim

Bekanntlich wurde vor kurzem in Wittenhein eine "fliegende Untertasse" gesichtet, die sich über der Ortschaft allerhand "Phantasien" leistete und von mehreren Personen beobachtet worden war. Zwei Tage später schenkte M. Muller, Polizist aus Wittenheim, der gleichfalls Zeuge der abendlichen Kabriolen dieser "Untertasse" gewesen war, einem Einwohner einen kleinen Marsbewohner (unser Bild), den der Hüter der Ordnung im Garten gefunden hatte. Und seither ist in Wittenheim nur noch von Marsbewohnern dir Rede!...
Photo Grimaz)

Translation:

A resident of Mars in Wittenheim

It is know that recently in Wittenheim a "flying saucer" was seen; which performed above the city all kinds of "fantasies" and was seen by several people. Two days later, Mr. Muller, police officer in Wittenheim, who had also observed the evening antics of the "saucer", gave a small resident of Mars (our picture), the law enforcement officer had found it in the garden. And since then, in Wittenheim, one only speaks of the Martians!...
(Photo Grimaz)

[Ref. ra1:] "RADAR" MAGAZINE:

This weekly magazine of Paris published the photo of the radish from [dn1] with this caption:

"... I saw it in my garden! You can believe me, swears the police officer M., the Martian who was prowling in my garden of Wittenheim was like this black radish)."

[Ref. uc1:] UFOCAT:

1954 - That same night a big, bifurcated black "radish"-shaped creature was seen walking around Wittenheim, France. (Source: Paris Radar, October 31, 1954).

[Ref. bb1:] JACQUES BARTHEL ET GERARD BRUCKER:

The authors indicate that in 1954 people invented Martians with the most extravagant forms, like the "vegetable Martian", a small being in the horseradish shape observed in Wittenheim in the Haut-Rhin at the beginning of November 1954.

[Ref. mf1:] MICHEL FIGUET:

10/23/1954

Wittenheim

"Agro-ufology" starts here! He is not green, he is black. He is not a small man, he is a large radish. See the photographic document "Radar" in "La grande peur Martienne."

[Ref. rr1:] RAOUL ROBE:

Case # 20

October 23, 1954 in Wittenheim (68)

The policeman Muller claims "The Martian who prowled in my garden resembled this radish." (Ref.: Radar magazine # 300 for 11/07/54). According to Barthel (p. 85), it was a joke between friends.

[Ref. ar1:] ALBERT ROSALES:

197.

Location. Wittenheim France

Date: October 23 1954

Time: night

M Muller, a police officer, saw a "Martian" in his garden that resembled a big bifurcated black radish. There were three other witnesses. No other information.

Humcat 1954-114

Source: Humcat quoting Newspaper source

Type: E

[Ref. dj1:] DONALD JOHNSON:

Encounters with Aliens on this Day

October 23

1954 - That same night a big, bifurcated "black radish" shaped creature was seen walking around Wittenheim, Haut-Rhin department, France. Mr. Muller, a policeman, saw the being in his garden. There were three other witnesses. (Sources: Paris Radar, October 31, 1954; David F. Webb & Ted Bloecher, HUMCAT: Catalogue of Humanoid Reports, case 1954-114).

[Ref. ud1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that 23 October 1954 at 23:00 in Wittenheim, France, "Muller, a policeman, saw a being in his garden that resembled a big bifurcated "black raddish". three other witnesses."

And: "That same night a big, bifurcated black "radish"-shaped creature was seen walking around Wittenheim, France ."

And: "An unidentified object at close range and its occupants were observed by four witnesses (as reported to the police) in a garden for ten minutes (Muller). One radish-like being was seen."

And: "M Muller, a police officer, saw a "Martian" in his garden that resembled a big bifurcated black radish. There were three other witnesses. No other information."

The sources are noted as Webb, David, HUMCAT: Catalogue of Humanoid Reports; Vallee, Jacques, Computerized Catalog (N = 3073); Newspaper Clippings; Rosales, Albert, Humanoid Sighting Reports Database.

[Ref. dj2:] DONALD JONHSON:

Donald Johnson indicates that in 1954, among the UFO occupants reported, were nonhumanoid "radish" looking creatures.

[Ref. ta1:] "THINK ABOUT IT" WEBSITE:

Location: Wittenheim France

Date: October 23 1954

Time: night

M Muller, a police officer, saw a “Martian” in his garden that resembled a big bifurcated black radish. There were three other witnesses. No other information.

Source: Humcat quoting Newspaper source

[Ref. ni1:] "THE NICAP WEBSITE":

*Oct. 23, 1954 - That same night a big, bifurcated "black radish" shaped creature was seen walking around Wittenheim, Haut-Rhin department, France. Mr. Muller, a policeman, saw the being in his garden. There were three other witnesses. (Sources: Paris Radar, October 31, 1954; David F. Webb & Ted Bloecher, HUMCAT: Catalogue of Humanoid Reports, case 1954-114).

[Ref. pr1:] PETER ROGERSON:

November 7 1954.

WITTENHEIM (HAUTE RHINE : FRANCE)

Messes Muller, Meyer, Settner and Mrs Zimmerman saw a little being that resembled a black radish.

Jacques Bonabot citing an undated 1954 edition of Radar.

[Ref. cv2:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

Former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book telling the story of UFO sightings, flying saucers sightings, in Alsace, from the beginning to 1980.

In this book, he writes about the observation in Wittenheim on October 22, 1954, with the testimony of the son of Jean-Marie Stattner, witness like his father. The son told 50 years later, on 23 February 2004, to Christian Valentin, that he remembers that a few days after the observation, the newspaper published a photo of a "Martian" carved in a beetroot. The object had been brought to the Zimmerman coffee shop where witnesses of observation had gathered on October 22, 1954. The son notes that the irony and skepticism had greatly affected her father, who had been deeply upset by the scoffing.

Christian Valentin reproduces the article and photograph of the newspaper Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace (See [dn1] above), give the source reference and his French translation:

Recently in Wittenheim, a "flying saucer" was observed, showing over the conurbation all its fancy in front of several witnesses. Two days later a policeman of Wittenheim, Mr. M., who had also witnessed the nocturnal exhibition of the "saucer", offered to a fellow citizen a small inhabitant of Mars (our picture) that the peacekeeper had found in his garden. And since, in Wittenheim, Martians are the only talk of the town...

He adds that other, less rigorous publications had then presented the affair in a more "attractive" manner, like the weekly magazine Radar #300 for November 7, 1954, who had published the photo with this caption:

"... I saw it in my garden! You can believe me, swears the police officer M., the Martian who was prowling in my garden of Wittenheim was like this black radish)."

Valentin adds that 25 years later, in their book "La Grande Peur Martienne" ("The Great Martian Scare"), Gerard Barthel and Jacques Brucker highlighted the Radar version indiscriminately.

[Ref. ub1:] "UFO-DATENBANK":

This database recorded the case four times:

Case Nr. New case Nr. Investigator Date of observation Zip Place of observation Country of observation Hour of observation Classification Comments Identification
19541023 23.10.1954 Wittenheim France Night CE III
19541023 23.10.1954 Wittenheim France 23.00 CE III
19541023 23.10.1954 Wittenheim France 23.00 CE III
19541023 23.10.1954 Wittenheim France Night CE III

Images:

This photograph of the infamous radish was published in the regional newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace on October 30, 1954, and then in Radar magazine.

Explanations:

This not in any manner and never was an observation of a UFO or occupants, it was never presented as such neither by the "witnesses" nor by ufologists except for UFOCAT, a database started by the Condon committee in the US where the radish is claimed to have been walking! The "witnesses" were perfectly conscious of the reality: they found a radish with an unusual and funny shape and told about it. It was fun stuff, and certainly not intended to convince people that the radish really was an extraterrestrial. The story was used by the press to ridicule the flying saucer topic, and much later by French debunkers Gérard Barthel and Jacques Brucker to ridicule ufology.

Keywords:

(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Wittenheim, Haut-Rhin, prank, joke

Sources:

[---] indicates sources which I have not yet checked.

Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 30, 2008 First published.
1.0 Patrick Gross January 24, 2010 Conversion from HTML to XHTML Strict. First formal version. Addition [dj1].
1.1 Patrick Gross February 28, 2010 Additions [ud1], [dj2].
1.2 Patrick Gross August 19, 2010 Addition [rr1].
1.3 Patrick Gross August 15, 2013 Addition [pr1].
1.4 Patrick Gross October 10, 2014 Addition [ta1].
1.5 Patrick Gross October 23, 2014 Addition [ni1].
1.6 Patrick Gross April 30, 2015 Additions [cv2], Summary.
1.7 Patrick Gross January 24, 2017 Addition [ub1].

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