The Nazis had a secret weapon that they thought was going to help them win World War II: They were using magic powers.
Believe it or not, this is true. You’ve probably already heard some overblown stories about the Nazis dabbling in the occult and making secret zombie-demon armies—but it isn’t all just make-believe myths. The Nazis really did have a program to use psychic powers and astrology to influence the war, and they really thought that they were going to win it with magic.
10 Hitler Hired A Jewish Clairvoyant To Tell Him The Future
In January 1933, just before he became chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler visited a clairvoyant named Erik Jan Hanussen (pictured in the center above) and asked him to tell him his future.
Hanussen had caught Hitler’s attention a year earlier when he published an article prophesizing that Hitler would become chancellor of Germany in 1933. Hitler believed Hanussen could tell the future enough to pay him for at least one private session—although, if Hanussen is to be believed, Hitler visited him dozens of other times off the record.
During their session, Hanussen told Hitler that there would be a favorable rise in his future, but a hindrance stood in their way. Hanussen promised Hitler he would use a magical spell to ensure Hitler’s success. He would get a mandrake root from a butcher’s yard and bury it in the town of Hitler’s birth under the light of the full Moon.
Hitler had no idea that the man was Jewish—but Hanussen definitely knew that Hitler was planning on using his race as a scapegoat. He figured, though, that he could charm the anti-Semitism right out of Hitler. “Hitler just needed friendship,” he insisted, “to learn that there were good people everywhere.”
Maybe Hanussen couldn’t tell the future after all.
9 Hitler Hired A Man To Magically Detect Jews
Nearly as soon as World War I ended, Adolf Hitler made friends with a doctor named Wilhelm Gutberlet. By day, Gutberlet was an ordinary, mild-mannered physician. But by night, he used his secret, mystical powers to detect Jews.
Gutberlet regularly boasted that he had, in the words of one Nazi, “the power to sense at once the presence of any Jews.” He would dangle a pendulum in the air and ask it if someone was Jewish, believing that the direction it spun would expose any secret Hebrews.
Gutberlet was a huge part of the early Nazi movement. He was one of Hitler’s first followers and, before Joseph Goebbels took over, was the man behind the Nazi Party’s propaganda machine. He and Hitler bonded early on over their mutual anti-Semitism. But Hitler didn’t just talk to Gutberlet about racism—he used him to employ his magical Jewdar.
The Nazis’ head of foreign intelligence, Walter Schellenberg, has gone on the record saying that Hitler “availed himself of Gutberlet’s mystic power.” And he didn’t just do it once—apparently, Hitler had Gutberlet spinning his pendulum to find Jews all the way up until his death.
8 The Nazis And The British Fought An Astrological War
A few days before an assassin tried to kill Hitler at the Munich Beer Hall, a Swiss astrologer tried to warn Hitler that his life was in danger.
His name was Karl Ernst Krafft, and at the start of November 1939, he wrote a letter to his friend Dr. Heinrich Fesel, who worked for Heinrich Himmler. Hitler would be in danger, Krafft warned, between November 8 and November 10. Krafft said Hitler should cancel every public appearance.
Dr. Fesel didn’t pass the message on at first—but when the bomb went off, he rushed over to tell Himmler. Himmler took it seriously, and the Nazi party hired Krafft.
Krafft probably didn’t do that much for the Nazis. There’s proof that Goebbels hired him to go over Nostradamus’s predictions and find a way to present them to make it sound like Hitler was destined to win the war, but most of the things Krafft has claimed—like that he was Hitler’s personal astrologer—probably weren’t true.
Krafft made up enough stories about how important he was to the Nazis, though, that the British heard about it and hired an astrologer of their own to counter him. And pretty soon, the two most powerful armies in the world were in a minor fortune-telling arms race.
7 Dietrich Eckart Prophesized That Hitler Was The German Messiah
Dietrich Eckart was no minor part of Hitler’s life. Hitler called him his mentor, built monuments in his honor, and even dedicated Mein Kampf to him. And all that just might’ve been because Eckart told Hitler that he was the messiah.
Eckart, like many of the Nazis, was a member of the Thule Society, a German group obsessed with the occult. He believed that Germany was destined to give birth to an Aryan messiah who would lead them to the German Promised Land—and he believed that messiah was Hitler.
He had a whole prophecy about the German messiah. The Jews, Eckart told Hitler, were destined to create mischief in Germany and then get a devastating payback in return. At that moment, the German messiah would rise into power.
Officially, Hitler never admitted to sharing Eckart’s beliefs—but Eckart seemed to think that he went crazier with the idea than he did. During Hitler’s last few years, Eckart complained, “The way Adolf is carrying on now goes beyond me. The man is plain crazy.”
It was almost like, Eckart said, Hitler had somehow—from someone—picked up a “messiah complex.”
6 The Nazis Pushed A Creation Theory That Came In A Dream
The Nazi Party was pretty sure that they knew how the universe began. Two stars, they believed, crashed into each other thousands of years ago and flung massive blocks of ice around the universe. They called it the World Ice Theory, and its founder had the best possible science behind it—it had come to him in a dream.
Hanns Horbiger developed his theory after noticing that the Moon was made out of ice, which is a bad start for any scientific theory. He said that he then went to bed and had a dream about the dawn of the universe. When he woke up, in his own words, he “knew that Newton had been wrong” about gravity.
The Nazis pushed Horbiger’s theory, not so much because of it made sense but instead—and, again, this is a real quote—“to put the Jewish politicians in their place.” They liked it because it contradicted what they called “Jewish science.”
Heinrich Himmler sent archaeologists off to every corner of the globe in search of proof that the world had started off as a gigantic block of ice, while Hitler set up a whole planetarium dedicated to teaching people the World Ice Theory—the creation story that came to a man in a vision.
5 The SP Project Used Magic Pendulums To Find Warships
There was a secret office in Berlin with the letters “SP” on the door. The letters stood for “Sidereal Pendulum,” and inside, Nazi psychics were using magical pendulums to find warships.
The Nazis started the project because they were convinced that the British already had a team of psychics spying on them. A Nazi report said that “reliable sources” had confirmed that “the British had established an institute where, by help of using pendulums, the positions of German warships and most of all U-Boats were investigated.”
In reality, the British had just cracked Enigma and were listening in on their coded messages—but the Nazis didn’t know that. They bought into the psychic theory and tried to build a team of their own.
Things really got underway in when a man named Ludwig Staniak hovered a pendulum over a map to locate a downed German battleship and was actually right. It was probably just a fluke—but the Nazis were so thrilled that they set up a whole team of people who did nothing but dangle pendulums over maps, trying to figure out the enemy’s location.
4 Heinrich Himmler Thought He Could Tell The Future
According to Wilhelm Wulff, Heinrich Himmler’s personal astrologer, Himmler didn’t just hire people with supernatural powers—he thought he could tell the future himself.
Himmler told Wulff that he never made a decision without first consulting the positions of the stars and the moons. Every major command he’d given the Nazi army, he said, was based on “upon certain, little-known moon constellations.”
Ironically, Himmler ended up banning astrology across Germany—but if Wulff is to be believed, he didn’t ban it because it was nonsense. He banned astrology because he was afraid it was too powerful.
“We cannot permit others, beside ourselves, to occupy themselves with astrology,” Himmler said. “Astrology must remain ‘privilegium singulorum’ in the national-socialist state and is not for the mass of the people.”
3 An SS Brigadefuhrer Convinced Himmler That Jesus Was German
SS Brigadefuhrer Karl Wiligut had some weird ideas. German culture, he believed, had started in 228,000 BC, back when there were three suns in the sky and giants and dwarfs roamed the Earth. And Jesus was German, he insisted—and his real name was Krist.
Wiligut had a whole god complex worked into his weird spiritual beliefs. He told people that he was the descendant of an ancient German god-king—which most people thought was pretty much completely insane. One person, though, got aboard with it: Heinrich Himmler. Reportedly, Wiligut helped convince Himmler that he was the reincarnation of a medieval king named Henry the Fowler.
It’s hard to say for sure how many of Wiligut’s ideas Himmler subscribed to, but he definitely hired Wiligut to help him with a weirdly mystical building project. Wiligut helped Himmler find the perfect place to build Wewelsburg Castle, his attempt to build a Nazi resurrection of Camelot.
2 Rudolf Hess Betrayed Hitler Because Six Planets Were In Taurus
On May 10, 1941, Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess left Nazi Germany and flew to Scotland on a mission to make peace with the Duke of Hamilton and the British government. It was an act of high treason against Hitler, and people around the world puzzled over why he’d done it.
The answer, as it turns out, is a bit weirder than you’d think: An astrologer told him to do it.
Hess’s friend, Karl Haushofer, had told him that he’d had a dream in which he’d seen Hess walking through English castles, bringing peace between Britain and Germany. Hess spoke to his astrologer, who told him that six planets would be in Taurus and that the Moon would be full on May 10, which would be an auspicious day to make a journey of peace. And so he flew to Scotland, convinced it was his destiny.
It didn’t exactly work out. Hess was captured in Scotland by the Home Guard and spent the rest of the war in jail. And Hitler, blaming what had happened on the psychics, banned astrologers, faith healers, and occultists across the nation.
1 The Nazis Hired A Psychic To Find Mussolini
Even after Hitler banned supernatural wonder workers, Heinrich Himmler went on hiring them. He was pretty sure they really worked.
He hired them back when Mussolini was caught. Hitler had ordered his intelligence team to track Mussolini down, and they didn’t have any idea where to find him—and so Himmler, in a panic, called up the occultists he’d thrown into prison and promised them their freedom if they found Mussolini.
One of the psychics declared that he’d found Mussolini on an island west of Naples by swinging a pendulum over a map. Nobody actually listened to him—the Germans ended up finding Mussolini by intercepting radio messages—but when they finally freed Mussolini, it didn’t escape Himmler’s notice that one of his psychics had gotten the location right.
Secretly, Himmler kept psychics on the Nazi payroll, convinced that his secret team of psychics would win him the war.