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ALSACAT:

As its name suggests, ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

Case of Gerstheim, on August 12, 1974:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1974-08-12-GERSTHEIM-1

Summary:

The regional newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace for August 14, 1974, reported this observation of August 12, 1974.

At 08:30 p.m., Mr. and Mrs. D. were on the banks of the Rhine river at the height of the Gerstheim dam, when they noticed about 300 meters on the other side of the river, just above the trees, three red balls of light.

Two balls separated from the third that remained alone in the sky, and began moving back and forth over a distance evaluated at 1000 meters. This lasted three quarter of an hour and ended at 09:15 p.m. when the luminous ball went down to the ground behind the curtain of trees that borders the river on the German side.

Then, there were 3 or 4 rather vivid flashed and the ball rose again. Five minutes later, it went down again before rising again, the maneuver being performed in the vertical axis and very quickly.

At this time, 09:30 p.m., the witnesses went home in Gerstheim to continue to observe the phenomenon with binoculars, and saw that the craft had a triangular shape made of several red balls.

After 10:30 p.m., the phenomenon "disappeared."

It seems the gendarmerie of Erstein opened an investigation to find other witnesses and the French and German authorities reported that no operation had been conducted that night in the area, and the assumptions by the military - airship, kites or remote controlled models - do not match the description given by witnesses.

Several dozen witnesses apparently came forward the next days to confirm the phenomenon.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: August 12, 1974
Time: 08:30 p.m.
Duration: 2 hours.
First known report date: August 14, 1974
Reporting delay: 2 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Haut-Rhin
City: Gerstheim
Place: From the banks of the rhine near the Gerstheim dam, then from home in Gerstheim.
Latitude: 48.367
Longitude: 7.722
Uncertainty ratio: 1 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2 and several dozens.
Number of known witnesses: 1 or more.
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults or aged.
Witness(es) types: Residents.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: The regional Press, the gendarmerie.
Type of location: From river banks then from home in village.
Visibility conditions: Night.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: No
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Unidentified, low strangeness.

Sources:

[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 reports that the newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace for August 14, 1974, stated the following:

On Monday, August 12, 1974, at 08:30 p.m., Mr. and Mrs. D. were on the banks of the Rhine river at the height of the Gerstheim dam, when they noticed about 300 meters on the other side of the river, just above the trees, three red balls of light.

Two balls separated from the third that remained alone in the sky, and began moving back and forth over a distance evaluated at 1000 meters. This lasted three quarter of an hour and ended at 09:15 p.m. when the luminous ball went down to the ground behind the curtain of trees that borders the river on the German side.

Then, there were 3 or 4 rather vivid flashed and the ball rose again. Five minutes later, it went down again before rising again, the maneuver being performed in the vertical axis and very quickly.

At this time, at 09:30 p.m., the witnesses went home in Gerstheim to continue to observe the phenomenon with binoculars, and saw that the craft had a triangular shape made of several red balls.

After 10:30 p.m., the phenomenon disappeared.

The gendarmerie of Erstein opened an investigation to find other witnesses and the French and German authorities reported that no operation had been conducted that night in the area, and the assumptions by the military - airship, kites or remote controlled models - do not match the description given by witnesses.

Several dozen witnesses have come forward to confirm the phenomenon in the next days.

Discussion:

About Christian Valentin's book:

It is not at all my habit to "advertise" a book or anything, and I have no interested relationship with the author, but I wanted to say a word on the book by Christian Valentin, "Mythes et Réalités des Phénomènes Aériens Non Identifiés" (i.e. "Myths and Realities of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (cover on the left) , ref. [cv2]; which, as its subtitle indicates, is about Alsatian UFO sighting reports and the saucer lore in Alsace.

I think Alsatian ufologists and generally people interested in the UFO question, or in the history of Alsace, my region, would probably like this book.

The 144 pages book is sober but well presented, unbiased, richly documented and illustrated. It is the first work in print specifically about UFO sightings in Alsace. (There was another one a few years ago, but it was partly made by copying - pasting without mention of the sources, portions of my website, especially the Alsatians cases I almost exhaustively documented in my catalog of UFO sightings in France in 1954, and copies from another websites; the trivial explanations I proposed or gave there being almost always stripped off!)

The author does not want to prove or disprove the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors or some other so-called "extraordinary" explanation, he rather offers a chronologically ordered review of Alsatian UFO reports, starting from the origin and stopping in 1980, based on known sources ufology, on the articles of the regional Press, and cases less known or even unreleased so far that he collected directly with the witnesses. His own comments are printed in a different color, references to the sources are always given. A very nice work in my opinion!

The author currently has a blog where he shows what libraries in Alsace have the book available, see: christian.valentin.overblog.com

It is very possible, if not certain, that the gendarmerie had conducted an investigation or at least reported one or more testimonies. Unfortunately, their UFO file in the process of publication by GEIPAN currently with the year 1976 and therefore it is still unpublished at the time of this writing in April 2016.

Left: Gerstheim, the Rhine, the dam, the border with Germany in yellow. Top right, the beginning of the village of Schanheim in Germany.

From the center of the Gerstheim dam, there is 2.5 km as the crow flies. A 2.5 km southeast shore near the dam, there is the village of Nonnenweier, and 4 km to the east of the village Allmansweier.

The observation could be vaguely reminiscent of fireworks, but the ball remaining there for 3/4 hours seems to exclude it, if the newspaper report is not distorted.

When the witnesses were back home and watched with binoculars, it is said that it was a "craft", triangular; but it is not to be taken literally, since only three lights - necessarily forming a "triangle" - are mentioned.

I found no other case in the region matching with this observation. Waiting for the gendarmerie documents, I think it is better to reserve judgment for this case. It remains unidentified at this time but without much strangeness.

Evaluation:

Unidentified, low strangeness.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editeur: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 10, 2016 Creation, [cv2].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 10, 2016 First published.

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This page was last updated on April 10, 2016