Information on Karl Ernst Krafft (1900-1945)
- T.W.M. van Berkel -

Nederlandse versie

Krafft, Zürich, ca. 1932
Karl Ernst Krafft,
Zürich, ca. 1932

Brief course of life
Karl Ernst Krafft was born in Basel on May 10, 1900. His father was director of a brewery. Krafft had one sister, Anneliese, born on September 18, 1901. By the end of April 1919, she died of tuberculosis.
From 1920 to 1925, Krafft studied, at first in Basel, later in Geneva and London. He studied a.o. astronomy, chemistry, mathematics, physics and statistics. None of his studies resulted in the obtaining of a Bachelor's Degree. 
In 1925, Krafft started to work as a bookseller in the esoteric bookstore Quo Vadis in Geneva. From 1926 to 1932, he worked as a company adviser, at first at Orell Füssli publishers in Zürich, managed by Oscar Gühl, later at the Globus stores, managed by Hans Mahler, one of Gühl's brothers-in-law. In his work as a company adviser, Krafft applied astrology and graphology. 
In the twenties, Krafft tried to demonstrate by means of statistic research that within families certain astrological patterns were present at birth and at death. Further, he did research upon the horoscopes of musicians in order to demonstrate that certain astrological patterns constantly were present. In 1923, research results were published in the brochure Influences cosmiques su l'individu humain; in 1939, he published his research results in the book Traité d'Astro-Biologie. In the course of the years, Krafft acquired a certain reputation as an astrologer, able to predict. In the beginning of the thirties, he developed a number of theories with the collective noun Typokosmie, on which he gave lectures in countless cities in Switzerland and Germany. 
In May 1937, Krafft married Anna Theresia van de Koppel, a Dutch woman he met in 1930. A few months later, they moved from Switzerland to Urberg, a small village in the German Black Forest. Their marriage remained childless. After the war, Anna Theresia van de Koppel translated three religious publications of Romano Guardini in Dutch: Oefenschool voor het gebed (The Hague, 1952); Theologische gebeden (The Hague, 1956) and Tijdperken des levens - hun ethische en pedagogische betekenis (The Hague, 1957).
In October 1939, Krafft started to work at Amt VII-B1 of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, a section which investigated occultism, freemasonry and cults in Germany. Krafft's task was to write "columns", a mixture of economic and political comments and speculations, from time to time based upon planetary cycles. In his column of November 2, 1939, Krafft wrote, according to the British researcher Ellic Howe, that Hitler's life would be in danger between November 7 and November 10, 1939, and that chances were that there would be an attempt with explosives. When on November 9, 1939, it became known that Hitler, the evening before, escaped from an attempt in Munich, Krafft sended a telegram to Rudolf Heß, Hitler's deputy, in which he pointed to his fulfilled prediction and warned that the coming days were still dangerous. Krafft was arrested by the Freiburger Gestapo, who suspected him of either involvement or knowledge. He was transferred to Berlin for further interrogation by the Sicherheitsdienst. He managed to convince the Sicherheitsdienst that he had nothing to do with the attempt.
In connection with the link of quatrain 03-57 to the invasion in September 1939 of the German army in Poland, dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, the minister of Propaganda in nazi-Germany, made plans to use the Centuries for psychological warfare. On the proposal of dr. Hans-Hermann Kritzinger who, as supposed on this website, was ordered by Goebbels to look for a Century-scholar who could run through the Centuries in connection with psychological warfare, Krafft was summoned to Berlin in December 1939, in order to see if he was capable for such a job. In January 1940, the Kraffts moved to Berlin, where Krafft until spring 1940 by order of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt wrote an introduction to the Centuries, which was heavily censored and eventually was published in late autumn 1940 as an enclosure to a photocopy of a 1568-B.Rigaud-edition of the Centuries, which was produced in a limited edition. The contact between Krafft and Kritzinger dated from most lately 1925 and continued until most certain the summer of 1940. After Krafft's settlement in Berlin, they met each other frequently and discussed many quatrains from a propagandistic point of view. They had conflicts. Kritzinger thought that Krafft's comments many times were too drastic, whereas Krafft accused Kritzinger of having filched material.
From April 1940 until his arrest on June 12, 1941, Krafft worked as a translator at the Deutsche Nachrichtenbüro. In the summer of 1940, he wrote, by order of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas, a propaganda text which was published in 1941 in six translations. 
On June 12, 1941, Krafft got arrested due to the Aktion-Heß, a raid among astrologers and occultists in Germany because of the flight on May 10, 1941, of Rudolf Heß, about whom was written in the German media that for years he was gravely ill and increasingly looked for help among people like magnetizers and astrologers, who might have influenced him negatively. From his arrest on June 12, 1941, until his death in the Buchenwald concentration camp on January 8, 1945, Krafft remained imprisoned. In the summer of 1942, he analyzed horoscopes of allied generals and statesmen for the psychological warfare of the Ministry of Propaganda. When it became clear to him that the employees of the Ministry of Propaganda used his material at their own discretion, he began to suffer from a psychosis and predicted that the Ministry of Propaganda would be struck by bombs as a punishment for their demand that he would produce vulgar astrological predictions. As a result, it was decided to stop employing him for producing war propaganda. 
In February 1943, Krafft definitively fell out of favour. He had managed to get out from his prison in order to deliver a letter, in which he plead for his release, to an employee of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt who from time to time meddled with his imprisonment. After being recovered of typhus, from which he began to suffer in March 1943, he was transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. On November 27, 1944, he arrived in the Buchenwald concentration camp, where he died on January 8, 1945.[1]  


Krafft's meddling with the Centuries
Krafft's research and his publications on the Centuries can be divided in two periods: a period, in which he occupied himself with bibliographic research and explanation, and a period in which he, besides bibliographic research and explanation, occupied himself with the writing (by order) of national-socialist propaganda, based upon the Centuries and/or Century-comments.

a. The period 1920-1939: bibliographic research and explanation
In a censored letter of March 14, 1940, to Viorel Virgil Tilea (1896-1972), the Rumanian ambassador in London, with which he corresponded since 1937, Krafft wrote that for 20 years he occupied himself with Nostradamus.[2] This means that by 1920, Krafft became interested in the Centuries. In that year, Krafft read numerous books on astrology, occultism and spiritualism. His interest in these phenomena was related with the death in 1919 of his sister Anneliese, which shocked his parents that much that they consulted spiritualists. In 1917, Krafft himself had a prophetic dream about her approaching death..[3]
In the mentioned letter to Tilea, Krafft also wrote that for a number of years he had published quite much about his Nostradamus-study. In the literature study upon which this article is based, the following titles and references were found:

  • A publication, dating from 1934, in which Krafft gave comment upon the conception Grande Germanie; Krafft referred to this publication on page XXV of the Einführung zu den Prophéties de Maistre Michel Nostradamus (the enclosure to the photocopy, made by Krafft, of a 1568-B.Rigaud-edition of the Centuries, Frankfurt am Main, 1940), without mentioning the title of this publication.

  • Articles in the monthly ZenitZentralblatt für astrologische Forschung (Düsseldorf):
    - 1935, # 7/8: Michael Nostradamus.
    1935, # 9 en 10: Um Nostradamus.
    - 1935, # 11 en 12: Nostradamus und die Sterndeutung.
    - 1936, # 7/8: Nostradamus und die Aktualität.
  • Nostradamus et ses Prophéties, published in the monthly Uranus, revue de synthèse - religions, arts, philosophies, sciences (Brussels, August 1937).
  • Treatises on Nostradamus in Traité d'Astro-Biologie (Brussels, 1939).
  • A comment in 1939 upon the quatrains 03-53 and 05-94, in which Krafft had described military developments which according to him would occur in 1940. Krafft referred to these comments on page XXV in the Einführung...

Without any doubt, Krafft has published more on Nostradamus and the Centuries in the period 1920-1939 than the publications, mentioned in this essay.
Krafft's reference to his comment upon the conception Grande Germanie in terms of Hitler's Germany, raises the thought that by 1934, he was convinced that the Centuries contained predictions about Nazi-Germany. In his articles in
1935 and 1936 in the monthly Zenit, edited by the German astrologer dr. Hubert Korsch, the president of the Astrologische Zentralstelle, he had written about the editions of the Centuries, explanations and methods of explanation which were published in the course of the years and about predictions on Napoleon and World War I which he considered to be fulfilled. Further, he tried to derive from the Centuries which astrological methods Nostradamus had used. These articles did not contain the slightest allusion to national-socialism.[4]
In the article Nostradamus et ses Prophéties, published in August 1937 in the monthly Uranus, edited by Théodore Chapellier, Krafft linked quatrain 05-74 to the rise of Hitler and his persecution of the Jews.[5] According to a "quatrain card" which he published in 1940-41, it was by 1938 that he had linked quatrain 01-64 to World War I.[6] 

b. The period 1940-1941: bibliographic research, explanation and national-socialist propaganda
In December 1939, Fesel instructed Krafft about his future propagandistic work, which was considered to be top-secret. In the first week of January 1940, the Kraffts moved to Berlin and Krafft signed a declaration in which he promised to observe strict secrecy about Nostradamus and astrologic research.[7] 
Krafft's publications in this period can be divided in two groups: one, consisting of publications which were the result of bibliographic research on the Centuries and/or explanation, and a group, consisting of publications, meant for propaganda.

 1. Bibliographic research and explanation

  • Les Propheties de Maistre Michel Nostradamus, Bildgetreuer, vergrösserter Abdruck einer Ausgabe der "Prophéties", erschienen bei Benoist RIGAUD Lyon unter dem Datum 1568 (Frankfurt am Main, 1940, on this website called: the "1940-Krafft-copy"), a photocopy of a 1568-B.Rigaud-edition of the Centuries, to which Krafft added an alphabetical index of quatrains.

  • Nostra Damur; private editions by Krafft, meant as a supplement to the 1940-Krafft-copy; the first number carried the date November 8, 1940; the second number carried the date January 31, 1941.[8]  

2. Publications, meant for propaganda

  • Einführung zu den PROPHÉTIES de Maistre Michel Nostradamus (Frankfurt am Main, 1940).

  • The Danish, French, Hungarian, Portuguese, Rumanian and Spanish translation of Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas, a national-socialist propagandatext which Krafft wrote in May-June 1940 and which was finished in August 1940. The translations - the French one made by Krafft himself between August and October 1940 - were published in 1941.[9]

In March 1940, dr. Gunter Altenburg, manager of the Information section of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, looking for ways to influence the people in neutral and hostile countries by means of propaganda, based upon astrology and occultism, referred to a letter by Krafft, published in the Geneva newspaper La Suisse, in which Krafft replied to statements by colleague-Century-scholars and spoke in pro-German terms. Altenburg did not mention the publishing date of Krafft's letter.
In 1941, Krafft held a number of lectures on Nostradamus in Berlin until he got arrested on June 12. In these lectures, he discussed the state of affairs of the Nostradamus-research and connections between the Centuries and the situation in Europe in his lifetime.
Krafft further spread "quatrain cards" with comments upon a number of quatrains.

From February to April 1940, in the period in which he worked for Amt VII of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Krafft wrote the Einführung... By April 1940, the Reichssicherheitshauptamt did not allow publication of the already heavily censored Einführung... because of too striking allusions to future war developments. The version of the Einführung... which was printed on October 12, 1940, and which, according to the original plan, was added to the 1940-Krafft-copy, was finished by mid-August 1940. The 1940-Krafft-copy was published by the end of 1940 in a limited edition of 299 copies and was not sold in bookstores.
In March 1940, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs became interested in Krafft because of his pro-German comments upon the Centuries. This resulted in asking Krafft in May 1940 to write a propaganda brochure, based upon the Centuries. Krafft wrote this brochure in the period between May 28, 1940 and the end of June 1940. It was entitled Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas. On most lately August 19, 1940, the text of the brochure was finished after which, probably in those countries in which the translations had to be spread, translations were made, except for the French translation, which Krafft himself made. All these translations were published in 1941; the printing of the French translation was finished on April 18, 1941, in Brussels. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs used the text of Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas in the compilation in the summer of 1940 of the brochure Die Prophezeiungen des Nostradamus, volume 18 in the propaganda series Informations-Schriften, which was mostly spread among prisoners of war in German camps.[10] 
Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas is a mixture of on the one hand non-political bibliographic research on the Centuries and non-political comments, in which Krafft from time to time copied comments of other Century-scholars and was convinced that the Centuries contained predictions about nazi-Germany, and on the other hand propagandistic paragraphs in which Krafft explained quatrains in such a way that, according to his comment, they fitted to the events in 1949-1940, which enabled him to demonstrate that Nostradamus had foreseen that Germany would become the new, dominant power in Europe, at the cost of England and France.


A convinced national-socialist?
Quite a number of bizarre stories are told about Karl Ernst Krafft, such as that he was Hitler's astrologer or "the astrologer of the Nazis", meaning that he advised Hitler and/or prominent Germans in their war manoeuvres. Ellic Howe, who in the sixties did extensive research on the life and work of Krafft, did not find any hints for this. In his eyes, the rumour that Krafft as an astrologer was involved in war strategies, was launched by Louis de Wohl (Ludwig von Wohl, 1903-1961), in World War II working at the SOE section of the British Secret Service, who for some time gave advices, based upon "astrological counter-moves" against German war strategies which according to him were based upon astrology.[11] In 1949, a book was published about Goebbels, written by Boris von Borresholm and Karena Niehoff, based upon notes which people in his neighbourhood made during his lifetime. Else on this website, their story about the way Goebbels came to use the Centuries for propaganda purposes and the part played by Krafft, is refuted.[12] 
People who knew Krafft, such as Georg Lucht, his secretary, and dr. Hans-Hermann Kritzinger, described him as a driven, ambitious person, convinced of his own right and talent and constantly trying to appear before the footlights with epoch-making publications. In Switzerland, Krafft did not find the recognition he thought he deserved, which was reason for him to settle in Germany and to look for ways to make the astrological science as he saw it, servile to Germany. Hans Bender, a German parapsychologist who also knew Krafft, described him as political naive and a person who hoped that national-socialism would put an end to materialism and mechanistic ideas.[13]

The question rises if Krafft was a convinced national-socialist. The literature which is studied in this substudy does not provide a simple "yes". Howe's Uranias Kinder... contains fragments from Krafft's correspondence in 1938 and later, in which he wrote about conspiracies of Jews and freemasons, a theme which also is part of the national-socialist ideology. Krafft worked for national-socialist propaganda institutions and proclaimed the victory and supremacy of Germany. For Krafft, however, the Centuries were not merely a propaganda source, but a research object, and to this we have to add that early publications of Krafft and his correspondence from the late thirties and 1940 show that he was convinced that the Centuries contained predictions about Nazi-Germany. From the descriptions of the lectures he gave in 1941, it can be derived that above all Krafft was the centre, who by means of astrology and the Centuries explained which events immediately were at hand. He did not care if this would raise a conflict with the Gestapo
Krafft's sympathy for nazi-Germany is a given fact, as well as his propaganda writings, but it seems that not his political conviction has been his main guideline, but his own ambitions.


Publications by Krafft on the Centuries, discussed on this website


The archives of the British "Warburg Institute" contains a file, received from Ellic Howe, which consists of working papers and correspondence of Krafft in the period 1929-1938 and correspondence by Ellic Howe in the period 1957-1964 about these documents. The post address of the Warburg Institute: Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB, England.


De Meern, the Netherlands, August 24, 2007
T.W.M. van Berkel
updated on February 27, 2009


The titles, places and year of issue of the mentioned authors are listed in the bibliography.

  1. Sources:
    - Howe, p.174-310;
    - Maichle: Die Nostradamus-Propaganda der Nazis, 1939-1942;
    - Van Berkel:
    Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas (K.E. Krafft, Berlin, 1940). [text]
  2. Howe, p.241. [text]
  3. Howe, p.175-176. [text]
  4. Von Schierstedt aan Van Berkel, 13 oktober 2004. [text]
  5. Van Berkel: Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas (K.E. Krafft, Berlin, 1940). Frequently, according to Howe, articles, written by Krafft, were published in Uranus (Howe, p.206). Howe has not given a list of titles. [text]
  6. Van Berkel: Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas (K.E. Krafft, Berlin, 1940). [text]
  7. Howe, p.233. [text]
  8. Howe, p.253. [text]
  9. Van Berkel: Nostradamus sieht die Zukunft Europas (K.E. Krafft, Berlin, 1940). [text]
  10. Van Berkel: Die Prophezeiungen des Nostradamus (Informations-Schriften #18, Berlin, 1940). [text]
  11. Howe, p.273-293. [text]
  12. Van Berkel: Dr. Goebbels nach Aufzeichnung aus seiner Umgebung (Von Borresholm / Niehoff, Berlin, 1949). [text]
  13. Bender, p.47. [text]



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