British spies hired an astrologer during World War Two, although many thought he was a fraud, and even sent him to the United States on a propaganda mission, secret documents released on Tuesday revealed. The documents -- the latest in a trickle of British spy agency files being released over the past decade -- provide both a cloak-and-dagger story worthy of a Hollywood script and serious insights into World War Two spycraft, said the security service's official historian, Christopher Andrew.The files show that many spy handlers had nothing but contempt for Louis de Wohl, a German-speaking novelist and astrologer who claimed to be descended from Hungariannobility and called himself "The Modern Nostradamus". "I have never liked Louis de Wohl.
He strikes me as a charlatan and an imposter," one of his handlers wrote. "He at one time exercised some influence upon highly placed British intelligence officers through his star-gazing profession."Another handler called him a "complete scoundrel" and another a "dangerous charlatan and confidence-trick merchant".
in his books to have travelled widely in the East in Arab disguise and
to have often frequented cafés in Berlin in feminine attire," wrote
another. Several wrote that they thought he was a former Nazi.
Yet he managed to set
himself up in a British government apartment in west London, which he
called the PsychologicalResearch Bureau.
There, he read horoscopes
for wealthy clients including senior British officials, French
resistance commanders and the Romanian ambassador, whom he claimed to
have persuaded to resign and defect.
Propaganda tour of U.S.
British spy bosses sent de
Wohl on a propaganda tour of America in 1941, when Britain was at war
with Germany but Washington was still officially neutral.
De Wohl gave U.S.
newspapers a letter he claimed was from Hitler's own astrologer
predicting the Nazi leader would "disappear" within a year.
U.S. newspapers lapped up
his lectures predicting doom for the Nazis, like one to the American
Federation of Scientific Astrologers in Cleveland.
"His propaganda visit to
America was considered highlys......
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