Achives shed new light on the role played by astrology in World War II
4 March 2008 - The British National Archives at Kew, London have released new documents revealing more about the influence on astrology on the Second World War.
Imagine being an astrologer in Vienna in 1910 and a struggling Austrian artist gives you his birth details: April 20, 1889 6.30pm. What could one say? Well it appears a lot of astrologers have analysed Hitler’s chart with many different agendas.
The precision of Krafft's Predictions unnerved the Nazis.
In 1923, Hitler was impressed by a prediction that a man born on his birth date would sweep to power. After a later accurate prediction of an attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1939, the Nazis arrested Swiss astrologer, Karl Ernst Krafft (b. 10 May, 1900 – 1945). Once convinced of his innocence, they employed his services in various ways.
How Krafft became Hitler's astrologer
His first ‘commission’ was from the Minister for Propaganda Goebbels who wanted Krafft to research and interpret the quatrains of the French 16th century mystic Nostradamus in a way that supported the longevity of the Third Reich. In 1940, Krafft gave a private reading for Hitler to one of his aides, but never met the Fuehrer. Subsequently, Hitler was highly impressed by the results of one of Krafft’s forecasts and one that may have influenced the timing of Hitler's initially successful attack (Operation Barossa) on the Soviet Union.
Allies counter Celestial Propaganda: just what the Spin Doctor ordered.
When the Allied forces became aware of the rising influence of astrology within the German High Command, various counter measures were taken to spread mystical propaganda and to second-guess the advice given to Hitler. Bogus sun sign horoscope columns were published around the world. Presumably, the theme was unlucky Taurus (Hitler’s sun sign) or Taurus not a good time for a Blitzkrieg etc!
“It was hoped that the weight of celestial opinion would undermine Hitler’s authority and cause him to doubt his own decision-making ability.” From The Sunday Times 12 Dec., 2004
Louis de Wohl, astrologer, refugee, self-publicist and spook
Behind much of this Allied spin was astrologer Louis de Wohl (born Ludwig von Wohl, 24 Jan 1903, Berlin – d.1961). He had escaped to London from Nazi Germany in 1935 to avoid persecution because of his Hungarian Jewish ancestry. In 1937, he published his autobiography I follow my stars. De Wohl, a larger than life character, who smoked large cigars, has never been rated as an astrologer. And it seems likely that de Wohl’s gift of dramatising himself and his astrological expertise including his knowledge of Krafft’s techniques led to his recruitment by the Special Operations Executive (SOE, the forerunner of MI6) under Churchill’s War Cabinet.
“My opinion is that Louis de Wohl made no contribution to the theory and advancement of astrology, and it always surprises me that he is still quoted in some serious works.” "However much he tried to be the 'prophet' he was no guru."
~ Dr Felix Jay, friend of Louis de Wohl and astrologer published in the Traditional Astrologer (1998).
Captain de Wohl as was his rank at the time, worked for the SOE to anticipate and counter the work of Ernst Krafft. Part of this entailed inventing new quatrains to add to the work of Nostradamus. His book Nostradamus propezeit den Kreigsverlauf (“Nostradamus predicts the Course of the War”) naturally foretold the downfall of the Third Reich. In 1943, huge numbers of copies were released over German occupied territories by Allied aircraft.
Given his superficial knowledge of astrology, it is hard to tell whether de Wohl was able to give the War Office any valuable insight into the advice emanating from Krafft up to Hitler. Maybe this will come out of the information to be released by the National Archives at Kew.
De Wohl's Propaganda Tour of the USA
So far I have heard that Kew has more information about de Wohl’s propaganda tour of the United States in 1941. The British authorities felt that the American public were very receptive to astrology and that de Wohl could use his astrological authority to turn them against Hitler. Whether this plan would have had any impact on the tide of opinion or not will never be known as the attack on Pearl Harbour (7 Dec 1941) triggered a series of events that made this propaganda exercise unnecessary.
Krafft’s Star falls from the Firmanent
Meanwhile, back in Germany, events were to make de Wohl’s job as military astrologer for the British, redundant. It is hard to know why Krafft fell out of favour. Certainly the solo flight of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy in the Nazi Party and a follower of the occult, to Scotland in 1941 to negotiate peace may have prompted Hitler to purge all forms of mysticism from his entourage. However, Krafft became increasingly ‘blasphemous’ in the eyes of German High Command as he saw that the direction of the Third Reich in the changing astrological configurations, would lead to its eventual downfall.
“Krafft warned the Reich that for victory to be certain, the war must end for Germany in 1943”. Wing, Richard (2012). "Hitler and the secret astrologers" . Unexplained Mysteries
Krafft's Final Years in Prison
Even when Krafft was sent to prison, he was made to work on the horoscopes of Allied military leaders. At one point he commented on the adversaries in the desert war: “Well this man Montgomery’s chart is certainly stronger than Rommel’s”. Eventually as his prognostications became increasingly negative towards the fate of the Wehrmacht, Krafft’s prison conditions deteriorated. He died of typhus in 1945 on his way to Buchenwald concentration camp.
de Wohl - author of religious fiction!
After the war, de Wohl focussed on Roman Catholicism and wrote historical and biblical based fiction. His novels which included the lives of saints such as: Ignatius Loyola, Joan of Arc, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Paul; Roman Emperors and Popes. His last astrological book, The Stars of War and Peace (1952) embellished his unique "part in Hitler's downfall" (to use comedian Spike Milligan's title). He made a good living as an author, married a German novelist Ruth Feiner and spent the rest of his life in the beautiful city of Lucerne, Switzerland.
We may never know what actually happened. Powerful people tend to hide their interest in astrology and some see it as a vulnerabilty. However, there is no doubt that the Germans benefitted from the advice of a superior astrologer, but his counsel was eventually unpalatable. The British picked a pseudo-astrologer whose skill simply did not live up to his claims. Had they wanted the advice of a lawyer or banker to outwit Hitler, surely they would have picked the best and most experienced professional in the nation.
Since writing this story, at the 50th Anniversary Astrological Association Conference, I learnt that another astrologer, Brigadier Roy Firebrace, who founded the AA, played a key role in the War. He spoke 13 languages, was head of Scottish intelligence and translated between Churchill and Stalin during World War Two. Source: Peter Firebrace, grandson of Roy Firebrace Sept.2008.
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