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mi5’s hostility to De Wohl is reflected in its suggestion that before he was granted British citizenship he should be tested about who he knew, “including any German harlots”. one mi5 officer described De Wohl as a “bumptious seeker after notoriety”.


Another noted: “he is an exceedingly vain man, with all the German’s love of uniform and rank.”


SoE brushed aside mi5’s comments and gave De Wohl the rank of captain and an army uniform in which, mi5 later observed, he loved to “strut” around London.


De Wohl managed to persuade intelligence officers that he could use horoscopes to influence hitler and his advisers.


“An attack against hitler at a time when he knows that his aspects are bad will certainly find him prone to some amount of defeatism, to force his hand then would be a definite advantage for us,” enthused one of De Wohl’s supporters.


They included Admiral John Godfrey, director of naval intelligence, on the grounds that the stars seemed the only explanation for hitler’s unpredictable strategic decisions.


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84. DE WOHL, Louis. Secret Service of the Sky. The Cresset Press. [1938]


£498 8vo., original cloth. Spine a little sunned otherwise a very good copy.


First edition of De Wohl’s astrological book with tables of famous peoples’ star signs and 14 charts showing the astrological aspects of particular peoples’ birthdays and events, including the launch and the departure of the Titanic. historical figures analysed include Gandhi, hitler, mussolini, Roosevelt, Lloyd George and Kings George v, George vi and Edward vii.


With a typed letter signed by De Wohl tipped in. The letter is to charles hope Lumley and sets out the agreement between them for Lumley to translate this book into English, “i have to pay you £15 in advance, as a share of 20% of the royalties. Your name will not be mentioned as a translator, but on one of the first pages the authors [sic] thanks will be expressed for having supervised the book”. This copy is also signed by charles hope Lumley.


From an article by Richard norton-Taylor in the Guardian Tuesday 4 march 2008:


“The Special operations Executive, set up by churchill with instructions to “set Europe ablaze”, is best known for blowing up bridges and helping the resistance in occupied countries. But in the darkest days of the second world war it looked to the heavens for help.


The story of how it hired an astrologer as a secret weapon against hitler is disclosed in mi5 documents released today at the national Archives.


Louis De Wohl, who changed his name from Ludwig von Wohl, was born in Germany but claimed to have been the son of a hungarian nobleman. he moved to Britain before the war and wrote a number of books on astrology, including one he called Secret Service of the Sky


De Wohl came to mi5’s attention in 1940 through connections with people interned because of their suspected pro-German sympathies. he did not “speak a word of hungarian”, observed one mi5 officer, who added that De Wohl “claims to have often frequented cafes in Berlin in feminine attire”.


Another mi5 officer described De Wohl as a “tame astrologer of German upbringing who is employed by So2 [SoE’s sabotage section] for their own fell purposes”.


concern within mi5 that De Wohl was issuing advice on propaganda and psychological warfare led Dick White - who later rose to become head of the domestic security service - to complain: “i don’t like decisions of this kind, made by reference to the stars rather than mi5.”


in the summer of 1941, SoE sent De Wohl on a lecture tour of the US, armed with horoscopes to show the American public that hitler would be defeated. his talks and interviews received widespread media coverage.


in June, under the headline “Seer Sees Plot to Kill hitler”, the new York Sun ran a report in which De Wohl forecast that hitler was “doomed” and would be “done away with within a year”.


he was also involved in a forged “master plan” by hitler to take over Latin America. it was the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor in December 1941 which brought the US into the war.


Back in Europe, De Wohl suggested he should “shadow” Karl Ernest Krafft, hitler’s self-appointed astrologer, on the grounds that this could make him privy to the German leader’s future decisions.


he told Sir charles hambro, the banker who headed SoE’s sabotage section during the war, that he had used Krafft’s methods to predict hitler’s moves in 1940 and 1941.


“The system, according to which hitler is advised, is universal, and, being mathematical, has nothing whatsoever to do with clairvoyance or mystic matters,” he wrote.


“checking up on the events of the past, i found that all major enterprises of hitler since he came to power, have been undertaken under ‘good aspects’. hitler’s famous ‘divine intuition’ is in reality simply knowledge about planetary tendencies.”


By this time, mi6 was getting as worried as mi5. “one of our senior officers comments that he cannot believe that anyone is going to re- employ this dangerous charlatan and confidence-trick merchant,” noted one mi6 officer.


An mi5 officer reported that none of De Wohl’s predictions had materialised except his forecast of italy’s entry into the war, made when that was “quite patent to anybody with the slightest knowledge of international affairs”.


The historian christopher Andrew, whose official history of mi5 is due next year, the 100th anniversary of the agency’s birth, said yesterday that despite De Wohl’s claims, hitler in fact regarded astrology as a “complete nonsense”.


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