Hoaxes & Rumors

Woolly Mammoth Film From 1943: Real or Hoax?

Woolly Mammoth Film From 1943: Real or Hoax?

A film allegedly shows a living woolly mammoth filmed in Siberia in 1943 by a Nazi photographer. Is this film real or fake?

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It’s fake.

Let’s first take a look at what is being circulated.

In a video posted on YouTube in mid-2013, we read:

REAL Woolly MAMMOTH (Mammuthus primigenius) sighting (Yakutsk city, Sakha Republic, Siberia 1943).

After the conclusion of the WW2 Battle of Stalingrad, Nazi Party member and official photographer for the NSDAP, Holger Hildebrand, was captured by the Red Army at the Battle of Stalingrad. He and thousands of other Wehrmacht soldiers were later sent on a death march towards Siberia; this mammoth footage is understood to have been taken during that journey. (Hildebrand is believed to have died a prisoner of war at a Soviet forced labor camp in late 1945. His Granddaughter later came into possession of the footage when his belongings were repatriated to Germany from Russia decades after his death.)

Take a look at the video below:

The opening credits cite the source as “Great granddaughter (name withheld) of WW2 German Military photographer, Holger Hildebrand.”

Hundreds of comments debate the legitimacy of the film, with some readers discussing a variety of topics such as the film quality or veracity of the story in the caption.

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The Real “Woolly Mammoth” Video

The 11-second clip above, however, does not show a film taken in 1943, but an altered clip from the 2001 BBC documentary Walking With Beasts.

The fake clip performed the following alterations to the original:

  • Converted it to black and white
  • Flipped it horizontally
  • Stretched it to appear wider than the original
  • Cropped the screen to only show one mammoth, whereas the original showed several others

Take a look at the original BBC video. The clip in question will appear at the 19:05 mark:

Image comparison

We will take a look at comparisons of the fake mammoth video with screen captures of the original.

Here is a still from the “1943” video:


Next is the unaltered scene from the 2001 documentary. You can see the mammoth at the bottom of the image:


The alleged 1943 video zoomed in on the mammoth in the foreground, flipped it, and converted it to black and white. We took the image above and performed the same alterations, but left it in color, as seen in the image below. As you can see, it is virtually identical to the screen shot of the alleged 1943 video.

YouTube Video

We have prepared a short video summarizing the information above in this YouTube video:


The film allegedly showing a living woolly mammoth filmed in 1943 is fake. The footage was taken from the 2001 BBC documentary Walking With Beasts.

Updated August 26, 2016
Originally published February 2014

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