Book Review: The Hollow Earth by Dr. Raymond Bernard

The Hollow Earth, published in 1964 by Dr. Raymond Bernard, is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read.

It’s full title is actually The Hollow Earth: The Greatest Geographical Discovery in History Made by Admiral Richard E. Byrd in the Mysterious Land Beyond the Poles – The True Origin of the Flying Saucers.


Don’t confuse my snarky tone with dismissal, though; it’s an interesting book, and I do own a copy (a large paperback, which almost appears like a photocopy). The theories inside read like some kind of awesome science-fiction thriller. But according to the author, whose real name is Walter Seigmeister, it’s the truth.

It all starts with Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, and comments he made regarding the North Pole:

“I’d like to see that land beyond the Pole. That area beyond the Pole is the Center of the Great Unknown.”

From that statement, particularly Byrd’s reference to “the Great Unkown,” Raymond Bernard spins an incredible conspiracy theory involving ancient civilizations, Soviet espionage, and an inner world beneath our feet.

Our Hollow Earth

Image: Flickr/sian_meades via CC by 2.0

Bernard goes to great lengths to establish his theory that the Earth is hollow, citing such questionable sources as Ray Palmer and the story of Olaf Jansen (don’t get me wrong, Palmer’s an interesting character, but he was first and foremost a pulp science fiction writer).

He also uses the testimony of several arctic explorers, including Admiral Peary.

I find it interesting, however, that he makes no mention whatsoever of Edmond Halley or John Cleves Symmes, Jr., both very prominent figures in the history of the Hollow Earth Theory.

At any rate, Bernard’s theory can be boiled down to the following:

  • Like many before him, he believes there are two large openings at either pole, through which you can travel and enter the interior of the earth. It’s actually tropical and very lush inside, and home to an extremely intelligent civilization.
  • UFOs, or as Bernard refers to them, “flying saucers,” are not from outer space, but rather from within the earth.
  • The United States government is aware of these openings, and Admiral Byrd did successfully naviagate the North polar opening. His true findings, however, were obfuscated, in fear that the Soviet Union or other nations would attempt to claim the land within for themselves. On the other hand, Bernard suggests, it’s possible that other countries do know, and that it is an international conspiracy.

The War of Atlantis

All that aside, my favorite bits of the The Hollow Earth involve the history of the civilization within.

You see, the intelligent “supermen” living beneath the Earth, according to Bernard, are actually the antediluvian people of Atlantis and Lemuria, who fled underground after a catastrophic nuclear war on the surface.

This same war, apparently, is also the origin of the world’s many deserts.

“The tragedy that befell Atlantis was due to its scientific development running ahead of its moral development, resulting in a nuclear war, which heated the atmosphere, melted polar ice caps and brought on a terrific deluge that submerged the continent.

A group of survivors, led by Noah, found refuge in the high-lands of Brazil…where they constructed subterranean cities, connected by tunnels to the surface, to prevent destruction by radioactive fallout and flood.”

It’s also suggested that the Atlanteans and Lemurians may have fled through the polar openings aboard vimanas, or the ancient flying machines refenced in the Vedas of ancient India and the Ramayana of Hindu mythology.

Ever since, the Atlanteans, or perhaps their descendents, have lived inside the Hollow Earth, constructing “marvelous subterranean cities” and developing their incredible technologies.

The Origin Of The UFOs

“…what really occurs, in the Antarctic as in the Arctic, is that the flying saucers emerge from and reenter the polar opening leading to the hollow interior of the Earth, their true place of origin.”

To Bernard, the true origin of the UFOs we see today is clear: they are actually “Atlantean aircraft,” remnants of the civilization of Atlantis. In fact, according to Bernard, the reason UFO sightings have increased in number since the 1940s is that the inner civilization has grown disturbed by our activities on the surface, particularly our use of nuclear weapons.

They fear we may suffer a similar fate, and wish to “avert a nuclear catastrophe.”

The final conclusion of The Hollow Earth? UFOs aren’t alien craft from other planets; they’re airships from an underground civilization.

All in all, The Hollow Earth is worth a look. It’s a bit rambling in parts, and particularly repetitive, but it contains some of the more interesting aspects of the Hollow Earth Theory (despite, in my opinion, overlooking a whole lot of its actual history).

I’ve only just scratched the surface of the conspiracies and theories contained within.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.