Robert Carver

Nazis and the dark arts

The Nazi war effort relied to an astonishing degree on dowsing, astrology and mysticism, as Eric Kurlander reveals

When he came to power Hitler had a dowser scour the Reich Chancellery for cancerous ‘death rays’. Before flying to Scotland Rudolf Hess had his horoscope drawn up by a personal astrologer. Himmler backed research on the Holy Grail and medieval devil worship (‘Luciferism’) and sent an SS expedition by the explorer Dr Ernst Schafer to Tibet in 1938 to investigate the ancient Indo-German ‘Aryan’ origins of Buddhism. Himmler also founded the SS Witches Division, which collected evidence in eastern Europe in the second world war that Teutonic ‘wise women’ had been persecuted and burnt in a Jewish-Catholic Inquisition plot against volkisch German culture and blood. In 1939 Goebbles sat up late at night reading the prophecies of Nostradamus, which he revealed to an enthusiastic Führer as evidence that the British were soon to be defeated.

One could be forgiven for thinking the above might be the fevered imaginings of a Hollywood schlock movie producer or the midnight fantasies of a pulp-comic writer. In fact they are the sober truth, just part of the immense trove of bizarre material on Nazis and the supernatural that eight years of research by Eric Kurlander has uncovered.

The British had ASDIC or radar to find German U-boats: the German Navy had the Pendulum Dowsing Institute in Berlin. Here, over a large map of the Atlantic, a one-inch model battleship was moved about, as an expert in pendulum-dowsing swung a metal diviner on string above the map, watched by fascinated German admirals. If the pendulum dowser ‘reacted’ over the toy ship this indicated a genuine British battleship in the vicinity.

The Germans had convinced themselves that the British were finding U-boats by pendulum dowsing. After Mussolini was toppled and arrested, Operation Mars was launched: 40 experienced astrologers, tarot-card readers, magicians and dowsers were released from concentration camps and installed in a villa in Berlin’s Wannsee, under the leadership of top magician Wilhelm Wulf.

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