In some rare intersections of history, the “fog of war” is quite literally the puff of smoke that concludes a magician’s disappearing act. In others, the “fog” is a supernatural explanation conjured by a German soldier’s tortured mind. If you’re scratching your head right now trying to remember magic used during WWII in Saving Private Ryan or whether there was a section in your 20th century history textbook entitled “did magicians help the Allies in World War II?”, you’re not alone. The popular consciousness has all but forgotten WWII witches and all the fabulous and bizarre WWII magic technology; now feels as good a time as any to rectify that.
World War II was as much a war of mind games as it was of bullet holes. To counter the swift expansion of the highly mechanized Third Reich, the Allies got creative with secret weapons, and missions of the magical variety. In the Soviet Union, a night bomber regiment of female fighter pilots was so deadly Germans nicknamed them the Night Witches, and they became the stuff of Nazi nightmares (so there’s your answer to “were witches involved in World War II?”).
On the German Front, a group of illusionists and masters of imagery and deception (some of whom came from advertising backgrounds; big surprise there) known as the Ghost Army tormented Nazi soldiers with the movement of invisible infantries. Down in Africa, a British magician named Jasper Maskelyne played out magic tricks so grand they have been classified by the Official Secrets Act. The true nature of Maskelyne’s World War Two magic will not be made public until 2046 (so put an alarm on your phone, kids).