Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Unusual Facts: Join us as #awardwinning author Deborah Swift writes about how fake astrology was used to fool the Germans! #HistoricalFiction #WWII #UnusualFacts @swiftstory @cathiedunn

The Shadow Network

Secret Agent Series (standalone)

by Deborah Swift

One woman must sacrifice everything to uncover the truth in this enthralling historical novel, inspired by the true World War Two campaign Radio Aspidistra…

England, 1942: Having fled Germany after her father was captured by the Nazis, Lilli Bergen is desperate to do something pro-active for the Allies. So when she’s approached by the Political Warfare Executive, Lilli jumps at the chance. She’s recruited as a singer for a radio station broadcasting propaganda to German soldiers – a shadow network.

But Lilli’s world is flipped upside down when her ex-boyfriend, Bren Murphy, appears at her workplace; the very man she thinks betrayed her father to the Nazis. Lilli always thought Bren was a Nazi sympathiser – so what is he doing in England supposedly working against the Germans?

Lilli knows Bren is up to something, and must put aside a blossoming new relationship in order to discover the truth. Can Lilli expose him, before it’s too late?

Set in the fascinating world of wartime radio, don’t miss The Shadow Network, a heart-stopping novel of betrayal, treachery, and courage against the odds.

The Bogus Horoscope of Adolf Hitler

by Deborah Swift

My book The Shadow Network is set in a secret radio station producing fake propaganda for the Germans. The fake news and propaganda team based in Bedfordshire decided to produce a bogus horoscope of Adolf Hitler. Apparently Hitler was a keen follower of astrology and was inventing a quasi-religious cult. The cult involved Nordic Mythology, theories of a master race, folk religion, and yes – you guessed it – astrology.

Hitler used astrology to decide on the times and duration of U boat attacks and other military campaigns. So a publication was invented aimed at the Germans which gave astrological advice. It was called ‘Der Zenit’ and was supposedly giving advice about which were the luckiest days to launch campaigns or put to sea – these were surprisingly few! These seemingly authentic astrology charts predicted the deaths of certain Nazi generals, and said that Hitler would be betrayed by his inner circle. Surprisingly – some of these predictions actually came true!

Hitler 1929

This astrological bunkum was backed up by a radio programme aimed at U boats, called Atlantiksender – this was organised by a team broadcasting from Milton Bryan in Bedfordshire headed by ex-journalist Tom Sefton Delmer. This station employed a German refugee, Margit Maas, to pretend to be a ‘medium’ and back up the nonsense that ‘Der Zenit’ was publishing.

Apparently Margit Maas found what she had to say so hilarious that the broadcasts had to be frequently stopped whilst she got fits of the giggles.

The Official Astrologer

 “It is entirely irrelevant whether we ourselves regard astrological advice as valuable and scientific or as useless nonsense. All that matters is that Hitler follows its rules.

Louis de Wohl 1943

However, interest in Hitler’s Horoscope to win the war was used not only by ‘fake news’ broadcasts, but also by the intelligence services. They were interested in it to find out what his real horoscope advisers would tell him to do next. In Germany the Nazis were obsessed with the supernatural, including astrology, map-dowsing and divination. Himmler had also developed a Nazi science academy called Das Ahnenerbe - Ancestral Heritage, an SS pseudo-scientific organization which was active in Nazi Germany between 1935 and 1945.

Aware of this, MI5 employed a working astrologer Louis de Wohl to predict month by month, the horoscopes and likely decisions of key figures such as Himmler, Goering, Winston Churchill and King George VI, as well as Hitler.

Louis de Wohl

Louis de Wohl was a Hungarian aristocrat born in Berlin. His extraordinary role as Britain's "State Seer" was revealed after his personal MI5 file was recently released at the National Archives in Kew. De Wohl was used by British Intelligence to try to convince the Americans to enter the war. He was massively popular among Americans because of his astrology column, “Stars Foretell.”

De Wohl was recruited by senior officers to offer astrological predictions on major events in the conflict, including the likely date for Operation Sealion, the German invasion of Britain. The Joint Intelligence Committee even calculated the most likely date for a Nazi invasion in 1940 by looking at Hitler's star sign, Taurus.

But it soon became apparent that de Wohl was a charlatan, and MI5 had a narrow escape from using him for Britain's war strategy. The Security Service eventually ordered de Wohl to be placed under surveillance in 1944, after reports that he was "strutting about" in his uniform and boasting about his secret role as astrological advisor.

Interestingly, after the war de Wohl became more and more involved in the church and found fame as a writer. His most widely acclaimed novel is The Spear which brought him international acclaim. Even now Louis de Wohl's books are widely read. His non-fiction work, Founded on a Rock: A History of the Catholic Church is often required reading for theological students.

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Deborah Swift

Deborah Swift is the English author of eighteen historical novels, including Millennium Award winner Past Encounters, and The Lady’s Slipper, shortlisted for the Impress Prize. 

Her most recent books are the Renaissance trilogy based around the life of the poisoner Giulia Tofana, The Poison Keeper and its sequels, one of which won the Coffee Pot Book Club Gold Medal.
Recently she has completed a secret agent series set in WW2, the first in the series being The Silk Code.

Deborah used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV and enjoys the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something she loved doing as a scenographer. She likes to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events.

Deborah lives in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.

Connect with Deborah:

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  1. Thank you so much for featuring my post! It was on course written in the stars that I would post on this day in 2024. x

    1. Oh, it most definitely was, Deborah. :-)

      I didn't realise how deep this went within the Nazi leadership. It's a fascinating post we're thrilled to share. x