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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.


Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

Wilhelm Sprunkel, journalist of the Wiesbaden daily newspaper "Wiesbadener Tagblatt", in Germany, set up an April's Fools prank for the April 1, 1950, issue. He has read some flying saucer story in some other newspaper and decided the matter was ideal for such a prank.

He thus contacted the liaison officer of the Wiesbaden US Army base and explained that he needed to take pictures of two soldiers for a flying saucer prank. The liaison officer was a bit worried, asked his hierarchy if this was ok, and the latter obtained the green light from the US Army headquarters in Heidelberg.

Thus his photographer Hans Scheffler took pictures of his son Peter Scheffler, aged 5, walking in-between two soldiers. He then planted an alien over the son using both collage and over-painting. He created a weird alien, child-size, with apparently only one foot resting on some sort of small disc, a big head with some sort of "Y-shaped nose, two large eyes, and equipped with what was meant to be a breathing apparatus.

Scheffler also took pictures of waterproof projectors in a fountain water, cut out "flying saucers" out of it, and pasted them over other pictures to create a "photograph of the wreck" and a photograph of the saucer flying above Wiesbaden.

The resulting hoax was published in the newspaper on April 1, 1950. It told that a huge flying disc flew over Wiesbaden and crashed in a nearby wood in Bleidenstadter Kopf. The population should remain confident about the matter, since the crewmember was in sure place, at the Neroberg hospital in the city, the military "reinforced radar surveillance", undertook a mine-clearing operation in the forest where the saucer had fallen, and made all their possible to find other crewmembers.

The alien, who would float on a rotary disc, was walked around near the hospital everyday between 2 and 3 p.m. so that he gets used to our gravity, and the breathing apparatus was furnished by the military.

The hoax apparently had some local success and was believed by another newspaper. A female journalist wanted to buy the photographs right for publication in another newspaper and Sprunkel needed 20 minutes to convince her that it was just a prank.

The matter was then completely forgotten. It surfaced in the world of ufology around 1977 when an FOIA request for FBI UFO documents showed that some anonymous chap had sent the photograph of the "alien" to the FBI, claiming the space visitor had been photographed in New Mexico. Author William Moore heard of it, and put it in his Roswell book, commenting that it may or may not have some relation with the Roswell incident.

When German ufologist Klaus Webner saw the poor photocopy of the picture in Moore's book in 1981, he explained that he knew about this prank as he had found the newspaper article in their archive and gotten the explanation first hand from Sprunkel and Scheffler.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-000976
Date of event: March 1950
Earliest report of event: April 1, 1950
Delay of report: Days, hours
Witness reported via: Not reported.
First alleged record by: Newspaper.
First certain record by: Roswell UFO book Moore.
First alleged record type: Newspaper.
First certain record type: Roswell UFO book.
This file created on: September 4, 2009
This file last updated on: September 4, 2009
Country of event: Germany
State/Department: Hesse
Type of location: Forest near city, city hospital.
Lighting conditions: Not reported.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: Yes
UFO departure observed: N/A, crash
UFO/Entity Relation: Certain
Witnesses numbers: Several
Witnesses ages: Not reported. Adults.
Witnesses types: Not reported. US military men.
Photograph(s): Yes.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1
Type of entities: Unipede or humanoid
Entities height: 1.10 meters
Entities outfit type: Dark jacket, light-colored trousers
Entities outfit color: Not reported.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Quasi normal but probably unipede.
Entities head: Large, bald.
Entities eyes: Two.
Entities mouth: Yes.
Entities nose: Y-shaped with arcade above eyes.
Entities feet: apparently only one. Floats on small disc.
Entities arms: Two, apparently normal.
Entities fingers: Yes. Webbed.
Entities fingers number: Possibly 4.
Entities hair: None visible.
Entities voice: None heard.
Entities actions: Crashed in UFO, alive, was brought to hospital.
Entities/witness interactions: None reported.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed, took entity to hospital.
Witness(es) feelings: Frightened.
Witness(es) interpretation: Extraterrestrial visitors.
Explanation category: April's Fools prank by newspaper.
Explanation certainty: High.


[Ref. kw1:] KLAUS WEBNER:

Klaus Webner indicates that he discovered the Roswell incident through the rather whimsical and not very critical book The UFO Incident by Charles Berlitz and William L Moore, and he discusses it, surprised, for example that the book regards the unreliable Gray Barker as a "researcher". He also indicates that he was amazed when seeing a photograph in the book, which he had discovered in the Wiesbadener Tagblatt newspaper, of Wiesbaden, his home town, in the this newspaper's archive, and published - not by chance - on April 1, 1950.

On April 15, 1981 Webner managed to meet the writer of the newspaper, Wilhelm Sprunkel, as well as the photographer, and he thus learned that it was indeed an April's Fools prank inspired by a flying saucer story Sprunkel had read in a newspaper of the time. Sprunkel thought then that the matter was serious, but did not think that anymore in 1981. He had thought that the flying saucers were an ideal subject for an April's Fools joke.

Sprunkel had gone to the US army base, contacted their public information agent, whom agreed to make two soldiers available to him for photography. Sprunkler had explained that he was carrying out a flying saucer hoax, the liaison officer was a little worried, and requested authorization from his hierarchy in Wiesbaden, which obtained it from the American Forces headquarters in Heidelberg.

Photographer Hans Scheffler carried out the photomontages.

He took photographs of waterproof projectors in the waters of the Weiher Kurhaus fountain and took parts cut out of them to make the "flying saucers", stuck on a variety of other photographs and reproduced in the newspaper. The photograph of the "wreck of the disc" and the image of a flying saucer flying above the Wiesbaden Marktkirche were produced this way, details being added by paintbrush.

Scheffler photographed his son Peter, aged 5, walking with the soldiers, and planted the alien one photographs using both collage and final touches by painting. What the American soldier of the left holds in a hand on the photograph is a box, the pipe and the breathing apparatus are painted over.

The newspaper had headline that a "huge flying disc crashed in Bleidenstadter Kopf - the member of crew are in sure place - no reason to be alarmed". The disc was claimed to have crashed in a wood close to Wiesbaden, and one alien with four fingers, deformed head with the large round and fixed eyes, who moved on a strange floating rotary disc, would have been brought to the Neroberg hospital in Wiesbaden by the American military, who would not have had any conversation with him. Every day between 2 and 3 p.m., the alien was walked around near the hospital so that he gets used to our gravity, and the military had him breathe with an air regulator device. As for the technical department of the city, they would even have planned to arrange circulation of the alien downtown by tram. There was no danger to the population, because the military would have undertaken a mineclearing operation in the forest where the saucer had fallen, made all their possible to find other crewmembers, and "reinforced radar surveillance".

The article added:

"If somebody makes observations on this matter, he should contact representatives of the press at the town hall. The investigation into the mysterious incident continues, and we even will do something to keep the people regularly informed."

The story was included in the American local weekly newspaper Wiesbaden Post on April 7, and Sprunkel had to argue for 20 minutes with a female journalist from Coblentz who asked for publishing rights of the photographs in her own newspaper and did not want to accept that the whole affair was just a hoax.

On April 3, 1950, the Wiesbadener Tagblatt had informed their readers that the article of 1st was an April's fools prank.

The business was quickly forgotten, but a chap had sent the photograph of the alien to the FBI among others, and it surfaced again when lawyer and ufologist Barry Greenwood obtained from the FBI one of their documents of May 1950, in whom the anonymous chap gave a bad copy of the photograph of the supposed alien. The image was so bad that it was necessary that Lawrence Blazey, the artist of the UFOIN, made a sketch so that one understands what was shown. But William Moore heard about the photograph and then published it in his book, as a photocopy, on page 112, where Webner recognized it was the prank of the Wiesbadener Tagblatt.

Webner informed Moore of the fraudulent nature of the image but the latter just replied that it was "bullshit!", and published a sour response in the Swiss magazine Ovni-Présence, complaining about that he was tired with Klaus Webner.

[Ref. ab1:] ALAN BAKER:


Alan Baker provides the image on the left and explains that this famous picture allegedly depicting an alien, was, according to researcher Klaus Webner, 1st April 1950 joke by the Wiesbadener Tagblatt editor William Sprunkel and photographer Hans Scheffler who had used his 5 year old son Peter as template for the alien painted over later.


The Belgian ufologist indicates that in 1950, on April 1, in Germany, "April's Fool: journalistic hoax: The German newspaper Wiesbadener Tageblatt [sic] published the photograph of an entity escorted by two soldiers. The entity was of small size with a large bald head, large eyes separated by a nasal structure in Y. To breathe the entity had a pipe connected to a portable unit. The newspaper acknowledged its April's fool prank in its 3.4.1950 issue whose instigator was Wilhelm Sprunkel.

She indicates that the sources are sont "Kottmeyer, Martin S. 'Head Hunt', Magonia nº77 (Marzo 2002) - Klaus Webner The Probe Report 2, nº2 Septiembre 1981 pp. 8-12. - Fundación Anomalía - Catálogo de los primeros casos de humanoides clasificados por países (FIRSTHUMCAT) Luis R. González Manso - España".

She adds that the "American magazine Talk of the Times reproduced in June 1954 a pair of identical photographs specifying that the extraterrestrial had been captured in Phoenix (Arizona), other versions told that the being had been captured at the time of a saucer crash in Mexico. "

Godelieve van Overmeire indicates again as sources: "Kottmeyer, Martin S. 'Head Hunt', Magonia nº77 (March 2002) - Peter Hough y Jenny Randles Looking for the Aliens; A Psychological, Scientific and Imaginative Investigation Blandford, 1991, p. 174".


Martin Kottmeyer indicates that in 1950 the Wiebadener [sic] Tagblatt in Germany published a photo of a short alien described as having large glaring eyes. Berlitz and Moore published it with a cagey caption refusing to say "whether it may of may not pertain to certain significant aspects of the Roswell incident", and Klaus Webner subsequently investigated and conclusively proved it was an April Fool's joke by reporter Willhelm Sprunkel, who has confessed in print two days after the hoax and again to Webner directly, as reported in 1991 by Webner.


Martin Kottmeyer indicates that Ray Dimmick's flying saucer crash hoaxed story clearly formed the basis of an April Fool’s prank in the German paper Wiesbadener Tageblatt, as just a couple weeks after Dimmick’s tale surfaced they published a photo of an entity being escorted by a pair of military men. It is short, has a large and bald head and large eyes separated by a Y-shaped nose/brow structure. It is breathing from a tube connected to a hand held unit. It seems single-legged on first look, but details clarify the alien is standing on a floatation disk.

The date was no accident and the prank was confessed in the April 3rd issue of the paper and confirmed by its instigator Wilhelm Sprunkel in a taped interview with ufologist Klaus Webner, decades later.

The photo, or rather a Xerox of it, found its way into Berlitz and Moore’s The Roswell Incident in 1980. They wonder if it "may or may not pertain to certain significant aspects of the Roswell incident." It came to them by way of FBI files from someone who thought it was a picture of a man from Mars in the United States. It is an excellent depiction of a Gray and by 1980 fit right in with the emerging dominance of this form. Ironically this early image of a Gray in UFO culture, the first visual representation of one, was thus a hoax. It should be emphasized the photo seems unknown to American culture until the Roswell book and could not have influenced pre-1980 Gray imagery, but Dimmick’s verbal description is another matter as the pygmy-sized alien with a large head and a very small body was now part of the saucer culture and a high-profile item at that.

Kottmeyer indicates that the discovery of the hoax is in Klaus Webner The Probe Report 2, #2 September 1981 pp. 8-12.


The small Martian of Wiesbaden

John Quinn was an FBI agent assigned at the territorial office of the New Orleans. On May 22, 1950, he received a curious photograph, from an unknown informant, which said that he bought from another individual for one dollar, and that "he puts it in the hands of the government", because it showed "a man from Mars in the United States."

It was an obvious photographic faking. For the FBI agents, it was not difficult to make a research that its origin had been a magazine published in Wiesbaden, Germany.

In the photograph one can contemplate a curious "extraterrestrial" being, with only one foot like a pedestal, and covered with a king of gas mask. This "little man", roughly 1.10 meter tall, was flanked by two military police officers. One of them takes his hand (a webbed hand), while the other holds a container connected, by a tube, to the mask gas. It is supposed that it was an extraterrestrial that survived a UFO crash, who was escorted by the soldiers to bring him at the military base.

One could not determine the identities of the depicted soldiers, nor the localization of the military base where it is claimed that the photograph was taken.

The photograph was not publicized by the ufological media but only thirty years later, in 1979, when Barry Greenwood, of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, CAUS, benefiting from the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, requested a copy of this document at the FBI. Little time after the UFO Information Network (UFOIN) ufology group obtained this proof of the "visit of extraterrestrial beings to the Earth", which would then be published by William L. Moore in the book whose Berlitz would be the co-author (El Incident).

We do not know if the FBI provided only one photocopy, or if Moore, while realizing the obvious photographic faking, tried to mislead his readers by publishing a photocopy of the document, to hide a little the editing of the photographic laboratory. The fact is that he did not publish the photograph, only a photocopy.


Twelve years later, the Italian magazine Il Giornale dei Misteri, in their October 1991 issue, published the explanation of the case. It was a photograph published at the origin in the newspaper Wiesbadener Tagblatt, on April 1, 1950. It was the illustration of an article by journalist Wilhelm Sprunkel. The article made the report of how a flying saucer had flown over the town of Wiesbaden, it crashed, and the pilot was captured by the American soldiers stationed in a nearby military base.

The extraterrestrial was transferred to the Neroberg hotel, of the same city, and had been maintained there for two days, while being subjected to various analyses and interrogations. It was not told how the communication was established. Did he speak German or English?

The article was accompanied by two photographs. In the first a flying saucer appeared flying over the tower of the cathedral of Wiesbaden. The second showed this "little Martian".

The American officials in Wiesbaden took the story with scepticism. Two days later they would note that they had been right.

The April 3 issue of the Wiesbadener Tageblatt clarified for their readers that all had been a joke of the day of the innocent, which in the Saxon countries takes place on April 1 (April fool's day).

The photograph of the flying saucer on the cathedral was only the reflection of the light of a source on a crystal, and that of extraterrestrial was the product of a careful photomontage, in which a child, who appeared at the origin in the image, was edited and was changed into an extraterrestrial with only one foot.

Apparently the idea of this joke had its origin in the statements by Ray Dimmick about an alleged UFO which had crashed in the surroundings of Mexico City.

Whereas the German had based themselves on a report whose origin was the United States, the North-Americans fought back by plagiarizing the idea of the report. In the American version the events occur in Arizona and one also published two photographs: that of the flying saucer (this time on the desert, instead of flying over a cathedral), and that of the "little Martian" (kept by agents of the secret services, instead of military police officers) (Ruiz Noguez Shine, La conexión alemana, Contacto UFO, special issue of Extraterrestrial Autopsy, Mexico City, November 1995, pages 16-17.)


However the ufologists, credulous as always, joined the party tardily. The explanation to this case was already known since 1981. Then, James E. Oberg, adviser of the NASA and member of the ufology committee of the Committee for the Scientific Investigations of the Claims of the Paranormal, CSICOP, prepared the publication of his book UFOs & Outer Space Mysteries. A Sympathetic Skeptic's Report, when he took contact with Klaus Webnerr, who had discovered that all had been a fraud of the German periodical. It was the photograph of the son of the photographer Peter Scheffler, who had brought the child to the American base of Wiesbaden to photograph him with the military police officers and then made the faking of "the extraterrestrial".

The strange device connected to the gas mask of "the extraterrestrial" was nothing more than the additional fuel tank which is placed in the back part of the jeeps. There is another photography of this same sequence where the military vehicle appears and one can observe the tank. In the photography of the extraterrestrial one sees no shade of the pipe which connects his mask with the tank.

Ultimately, the photograph of this "small Martian" of Wiesbaden was nothing more than a joke perpetrated on the day of the innocents.

This is the version published at the origin in the book El Incidente by Charles Berlitz and William Moore. It was a simple photocopy.

Sketch which appeared in El Incident. Here Berlitz and Moore give a second foot to the "small Martian", so that it can move.

This was the original photograph, as it appeared in the Wiesbadener Tageblatt.

The original photograph, where Scheffler's son appears happy to be with the soldiers.

In this copy one can see the fuel tank and the pipe. The latter does not show its shadow.


  • Berlitz Charles & Moore L. William, El Incidente, Plaza Janes, Barcelone, 1981.
  • Oberg E. James, UFOs & Outer Space Mysteries. A Sympathetic Skeptic’s Report, The Donning Company Editeurs, Norfolk, Virginie, 1982.
  • Ruiz Noguez Luis, La conexión alemana, Contacto OVNI, édition spéciale l'Autopsie Extraterrestre, Mexico, novembre 1995, pages 16-17.
  • Sierra Javier, Inocentadas cósmicas, Más Allá, N.34, décembre 1991.

[Note: the article gives captions for the photographs but the images are missing.]

[Ref. ik1:] "ISAAC KOI":

The researcher indicates that on April 1, 1950, as an April Fools joke, The German newspaper Wiesbadener Tagblatt publishes a purported photograph of an alien standing between two men in uniforms and caps.

He provides a bibliography about the case:

1999 - Baker, Alan in his "The Encyclopaedia of Alien Encounters" (1999) at page 188 (in an entry entitled "Photographs of Aliens") of the Virgin hardback edition.

1980 - Berlitz, Charles and Moore, Bill in their "The Roswell Incident" (1980) at the unnumbered 2 penultimate pages of the photographic section of the Granada hardback edition (with the same page numbering in the Granada paperback edition).

2001 - Kottmeyer, Martin S in "The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters" (2001) (edited by Ronald Story) at page 31 (in the postcript to the an entry entitled "alien iconography") of the New American Library softcover edition, at pages 30-31 of the pdf edition (with the same page numbering in the Microsoft Word edition).

2001 - Kottmeyer, Martin S in "The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters" (2001) (edited by Ronald Story) at page 34 (in the postcript to the an entry entitled "alien iconography") of the Robinson softcover edition.

1982 - Oberg, James in his "UFOs and Outer Space Mysteries" (1982) at page 105 (in Chapter 5) of the Donning paperback edition.

1991 - Randles, Jenny and Hough, Peter in their "Looking for the Aliens" (1991) at pages 171-172 (in Chapter 19) of the Blandford softcover edition.

1997 - Randles, Jenny in her "Alien Contact – The First Fifty Years" (1997) at page 26 (in the chapter entitled "1954") of the Collins and Brown hardback edition.

1983 - Randles, Jenny in her "UFO Reality" (1983) at page 154 (in Chapter 11) of the Hale hardback edition.

1980 - Sachs, Margaret in her "The UFO Encyclopedia" (1980) at page 104 (in an entry entitled "Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)") of the Corgi softback edition.


Luis R. Gonzalez Manso notes in his FirstHumCat catalogue that in Germany on 1 April 1950 there was an "April Fool’s prank in the German paper Wiesbadener Tageblatt. They published a photo of an entity being escorted by a pair of military men. It is short, has a large and bald head and large eyes separated by an Y-shaped nose/brow structure. It is breathing from a tube connected to a hand held unit. It seems single-legged on first look, but details clarify the alien is standing on a floatation disk. The date was no accident. The prank was confessed in the April 3rd issue of the paper and confirmed by its instigator Wilhelm Sprunkel in a taped interview with ufologist Klaus Webner, decades later."

Luis Gonzales indicates that his sources are Kottmeyer, Martin S. "Head Hunt", MAGONIA # 77 (March 2002); Klaus Webner The Probe Report 2, #2 September 1981 pp. 8-12.


Martin Kottmeyer notes that "Even in ufo culture, there were earlier images conforming to pulp logic: [...] the 1950 Wiesbaden, Germany April Fool’s photo; [...]"

[Ref. jb1:] JEROME BEAU:

Jérôme Beau indicates that on April 1, 1950:

Hoax-photograph in the Wiesbadener Tagesblatt.


The Wiesbadener Tagesblatt photograph (1950)

Le photomontage

The hoax and an original picture

On April 1, 1950, William Sprunkel publishes in the German newspaper Wiesbadener Tagesblatt [sic] (Wiesbadener Daily [Wiesbaden Daily]) the photograph of an extraterrestrial arrested by police officers.

It is in fact of a painted photograph by Hans Scheffener [sic], resulting from a series of photographs where Scheffener's son posed as model for the extraterrestrial.

This photo was then found captioned "An alien escorted by the RAF."

Jérôme Beau indicates that the source is "Klaus Webner".

Points to consider:

The poor quality photocopy in "The Roswell Incident":

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
1 Data Medium September 4, 2009 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross The articles by the Wiesbadener Tagblatt newspaper are not available. Help needed. Opened.
2 Data Medium September 4, 2009 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross The FBI document is not available. Help needed. Opened.


April's Fools prank by newspaper.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:


Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross September 4, 2009 Creation, [1], [ar1].
1.0 Patrick Gross September 4, 2009 First published.

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This page was last updated on September 4, 2009