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The existing mural in Building 280, built in the 1943, was restored in the 1980s, he said. Dayton Art Institute experts have cleaned the painting as part of the preservation.
“A lot of people have conjecture on what this means,” Woodruff said. “Some people think this is where the alien conspiracy theories began with the little green men at Wright-Patt. That’s one story that likes to be told.”
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Another theory: Green goblin-like characters out of German folklore. And there’s another for the wall of flame.
“One of the conjectures is possibly it’s German culture up in flames – a statement of how they felt what was going on in the world at that point,” he said.
But what it really is, nobody knows, he said.
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“We really don’t know,“ he said. “We don’t have any writings telling us why this was painted like it was and we don’t know what the other murals are either.”
Above the ceiling and out of view of visitors, POW artists painted a winged red devil holding a pitchfork eyeing people running through flames as they’re chased by a pitchfork-holding demon.
The base has long been the subject of rumors of hidden alien spacecraft and creatures since the days of a purported unidentified flying object crashing in the New Mexico desert near Roswell in 1947.
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Project Bluebook, an Air Force investigation into reports of UFOS in the 1950s and 1960s, was headquartered at the Miami Valley base. Wright-Patterson has long denied it was a place of aliens and UFOs, or that the Air Force found any evidence of extraterrestrial life, however.
The German POWs painted the mural in what was a dining hall for the World War II prisoners. Wright-Patt had several hundred POWs between 1943 and 1946, Woodruff said.
The large warehouse, now part of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, could one day be torn down.
“We’re always repairing it,” Woodruff said. “It’s twin (building) collapsed in 2006 so at some point we may end up having problems with this building.”
Woodruff said the mural would be preserved if the old warehouse is demolished.
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“If that happens, we have plans on what to do with the mural at that point to preserve and hopefully move it to a publicly accessible area where the general public can see it because very few people know about this,” Woodruff said.
A future location for the mural –if one is ever needed — hasn’t been chosen.