In the run-up to WWII, British intelligence unleashed an astrologer on an unsuspecting American public to sway public opinion on the war. He was a persuasive fake.
Two years before the Americans entered WWII, the British government had already taken up arms against the Nazis in response to their invasion of Poland in 1939. The U.S. had taken an isolationist stance and showed little interest in entering the growing war in Europe. British intelligence agencies sought to change this through the use of black propaganda. They recruited the help of a British spy named Louis De Wohl to act as an astrologer publishing predictions meant to gin up American interest in the war.
De Wohl became wildly popular in America to such an extent that his supposed prognostications were even included in American Newsreel broadcasts. He gained credibility with his seemingly accurate predictions and was dubbed as the ‘Nostradamus’ of his time. He, for instance foretold that an ally of Hitler, who was neither German nor Nazi would go “violently insane” somewhere near South America or the Caribbean. Three days later, news reports reached Americans that the Vichy High Commissioner of the French West Indies, Admiral Georges Robert had gone officially nuts. The American public was intrigued with De Wohl’s mysterious prescience and the media sought exclusive interviews with the phony astrologer to learn more. The news was fabricated but Americans were none the wiser.
By the time Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, Americans were already primed to enter the fray. British intelligence had shifted their propaganda focus to the German public. After one of Hitler’s top commanders, Rudolph Hess defected from the Reich under the advisement of an astrologer, Hitler commenced a special order that had some 600 astrologers arrested in Germany. The Nazi preoccupation with mysticism and the occult was a source of mixed interest for Hitler. While he was largely dismissive of the supernatural, he still allowed for moderate utility of it when it served the interests of his Nazi agenda. Heinrich Himmler oversaw a Nazi science academy called the Das Ahnenerbe that undertook research into astrology, map dowsing, spirit channeling, and other forms of divination. The organization set about searching for and excavating locations and objects of supernatural significance such as the lost city of Atlantis and the Lance of Destiny, a spear believed to have pierced the rib of Christ during his crucifixion.
In light of Hitler’s astrology ban, the British secretly distributed their own astrology predictions disguised to resemble that of German astrology publications. The idea was to present the notion that underground German occultists were behind it’s distribution in defiance of Hitler’s prohibition. The plan failed however and the Gestapo seized the magazine from circulation.
Nevertheless, the Nazi regime crumbled both internally and militarily. In the aftermath of the war, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. plundered the spoils of the Nazi cache of occult research, which included artifacts and records of bizarre experiments and studies. Interest in the supernatural grew, and as the two countries moved into the Cold War, each side wondered what information the other might be withholding. To this day, the U.S. continues to conduct research into supernatural phenomenon such as ESP (extrasensory perception) and the notion of a “sixth sense”.