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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Krafft, Karl Ernst (1900-1945) In late 1938, German Minister of Propaganda Goebbels began to consider the possible uses of astrology as a weapon of psychological warfare against the Allies. He chose astrologer Karl Ernst Krafft for the task. Krafft was described as a tiny, pale man with black hair and a sinister look.
      Young Krafft had become an astrologer against his family's wishes, especially since he had proven to be an excellent student at the University of Basel, showing great promise in science and mathematics. He had written a Treatise in Astrobiology, full of tables and calculations, following a long period of study with an English authority on “biometrics,” which concerned itself with measuring various physical aspects of humans and thereby determining their characteristics. (This “science” in itself was apt to bring him to the attention of the Nazis, who were actively seeking proof of their racial superiority through every sort of pseudoscience.)
      Krafft opened an office in Zurich, casting horoscopes and advising on investments. It was the latter practice that brought the collapse of his business, since his advice proved as bad as the economic depression in 1931. Krafft's own investments, decided by means of his occult divinations, collapsed as well, and the failure drove him into an asylum for a short time.
      In 1935, at the invitation of the Nazis, he moved to Germany, and the Ministry of Propaganda endorsed him enthusiastically. In response, Krafft became a Nazi and introduced into his writings and lectures a line of violently anti-Semitic ideas. In 1937 Goebbels established a counterintelligence group (Section VI of the RHSA) concerned solely with occult warfare. Astrologer Krafft made a sensational prediction on November 2, 1939, before a meeting of the Berlin Astrological Society. He said that between the seventh and tenth of November, an attempt would be made on Hitler's life. On November 8, an explosion nearly killed the Führer during a celebration of the anniversary of the famous Beer Hall Putsch.
      The Gestapo questioned Krafft at length, and only the intercession of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, spared the astrologer from further terrors. Hess was an ardent follower of every sort of occult claim, especially those related to prophecy and health quackery. Krafft thus became personal astrologer to Hess.
      He immediately began a reinterpretation of the prophecies of Nostradamus, in which he had always been very interested. Since it was easy to obtain from the ambiguous Centuries any needed meaning, Krafft found good news there for the Nazi cause. His discoveries were published widely, in French, Dutch, Italian, Romanian, Swedish, and English.
      Krafft, exultant over his new position and success, was further thrilled to learn that Hitler himself had become interested in his skills. He predicted a glorious victory for Germany in 1943.
      Then it was learned by the Gestapo that Krafft was telling others a different story than that he was supplying to the Nazis; he was prophesying eventual doom for the Nazi cause. The Gestapo prepared to pounce on him.
      At this time, Rudolf Hess landed in Scotland after fleeing Germany. The Gestapo once more brought Krafft in for examination, blamed him for Hess's flight, and locked him up.
      He was first held at Berlin's Lehrterstrasse Prison. Transferred to Oranianburg Concentration Camp, he awaited a trial that never took place. His predicted date for a glorious Nazi victory in the war came and went, and things only got worse for Germany. Scheduled for the gas chambers at Buchenwald, Karl Ernst Krafft died of malnutrition and typhus on January 8, 1945, in a cattle car on the way to his execution.
      See also Louis de Wohl.

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