substudY "WORLD WAR ii"
Around the world with dr. De Fontbrune: New York, 1939; Amsterdam, 1940; Willemstad, Dutch West-Indies, 1941

- T.W.M. van Berkel -

Nederlandse versie

Today, an increasing number of daily's, weekly's and magazines are accessible. As a result, it becomes more and more clear how and to what extent they gave attention in World War II and the surrounding years to the Prophecies of Nostradamus and related publications. It also becomes more and more clear which meaning the Prophecies of Nostradamus had for its readers in this period, as can be read in this article in the case of France. It also turns out that from the very beginning of World War II in 1939, Les Prophéties de Maistre Michel Nostradamus - Expliquées et commentées, written by dr. De Fontbrune, made a journey around the world, so to speak.


Nostradamus about the forties: a crushing French victory
Page 9 of the edition of February 9, 1940 of the Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer - onafhankelijk weekblad voor Nederland contains an article, entitled: Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie (tr.: France turns to astrology for inspiration). This article deals with Michel Nostradamus, astrologer, deceased in 1566, the author of the book that "at the moment is the absolute bestseller". According to the article, Nostradamus wrote about 5.000 lines with predictions in a mixture of French and what one might call double talk. Each of these lines could be explained in many ways.
For a long time, according to the article, Nostradamus was barely popular. But when in 1939 the war began, publishers considered him to be more and more important. This resulted in the selling in bookstalls of cheap editions of his prophecies (price: 2 Franc) and in the publishing of an extensive edition with notes by dr. De Fontbrune (in the article, his name was spelled: Dr. de Fautbrune), sold in quality bookstores for 30 Franc. In the preceding month, Flammarion booksellers in Paris, to mention one, sold 3.000 copies.
According to the article, Nostradamus described in one of his predictions the destruction of Paris by birds from the East. Some scholars thought that this prediction would be fulfilled around 2040. According to other scholars, this prediction was meant for 1939. In that case, the article concluded, both Nostradamus and the German General Staff missed their opportunity. 
Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie closed with the remark that all adepts of Nostradamus agreed that the astrologer, when dealing with the course of the war, predicted a crushing French victory.[1] 

About De Groene Amsterdammer

De Groene Amsterdammer

In 1877, Johannes de Koo and the literators Martinus van Loghem and Taco de Beer founded the weekly De Amsterdammer, a weekly for art, industry and trade. Its circulation number was 4.000 copies. The ink on the front page of De Amsterdammer was green. When in 1883 a daily was brought into circulation which also carried the name De Amsterdammer, people started to name the homonymous weekly De Groene Amsterdammer (tr.: The Green Amsterdammer) - and shortly: De Groene. In 1925, the name De Groene Amsterdammer became the official name of this weekly.
De Groene Amsterdammer has a left-liberal signature and deals with matters inside the Netherlands and abroad, culture, economy, literature, philosophy and politics. In 1939/'40, the circulation number was 12.000 copies. On May 10, 1940, German troops invaded the Netherlands. The editors decided to postpone the production of De Groene Amsterdammer. On May 21, 1940, the subscribers were informed that it was not possible to publish in the usual way. In June 1940, the production was resumed. From the preface to the edition of June 8, 1940, it can be derived that the editors wanted to continue their activities "in a perfect loyal acceptation of the newly created circumstances [...] each continuation, directly or indirectly, of political fight is, given the present circumstances, absurd and might damage the Dutch people".The articles in the issues which from that time were published, were restricted to culture and science. 
In October 1940, the publisher of De Groene Amsterdammer decided to put an end to further production. On October 21 and 22, 1940, several newspapers published an article in which was written that the subscribers of De Groene Amsterdammer were informed about the fact that due to financial reasons further production no longer was possible. One month after the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945, the production was resumed..
Since 1994, De Groene Amsterdammer is also published online.[2]


The New Yorker
Underneath the closing line of the article Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie in De Groene Amsterdammer, between brackets, the name New Yorker was printed, an abbreviated name of the American weekly The New Yorker. In other words: Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie is a translation of an article which previously has been published in one of the issues of The New Yorker.
The online-archive of The New Yorker shows that the original version of Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie was part of the article Letter from Paris, written by Abbott Joseph Liebling, from 1935 until his death in 1963 closely associated with The New Yorker, and published on the pages 46-47 of the issue of November 4, 1939 of The New Yorker. In Letter from Paris, the name of dr. De Fontbrune was correctly printed. The book by De Fontbrune which is at stake, is Les Prophéties de Maistre Michel Nostradamus - Expliquées et commentées, published by Michelet in Sarlat, department of Dordogne. In May 1939, its fifth edition was published (30 Francs each copy). In that year, the sixth edition was also published.[3]  
On September 1, 1939, German troops invaded Poland. Two days later, England and France declared war to Germany. The issue of The New Yorker which contains the original article of Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie, is dated on November 4, 1939. In this issue, Letter from Paris is dated on October 29, 1939, with the annotation "by cable". The remark in this article that Flammarion booksellers in Paris sold 3.000 copies of the book by De Fontbrune "in the past month", deals with the period of about one month, prior to the finishing of this article. Most early, this period started somewhere in September 1939, after the invasion of German troops in Poland, most lately, this period ended on October 28, 1939. One can derive that in the case of Flammarion booksellers, right after or shortly after the invasion of German troops in Poland, there was a significant increase of the selling of the fifth or the sixth edition of Les Prophéties de Maistre Michel Nostradamus - Expliquées et commentées. Such an increase also seemed to occur in other bookstores. Therefore, we can conclude that the outbreak of World War II in 1939 resulted in a significant increase of the interest in France for (comments upon) the Prophecies of Nostradamus (this interest might have been increased already in the previous month).
De Fontbrune was, together with Em. Ruir, one of the commentators who, basing themselves upon their research on the predictions of Nostradamus, presented a French victory. Perhaps, the author of the article in The New Yorker not only read the book by De Fontbrune, but also the book by Ruir.
The announcement of a French victory was not the closing line of Letter from Paris. Next came a line, in which Liebling noted that "Nostradamus' small epidemics", as the Parisian booksellers named the increased sale of Nostradamus-books, was only one aspect of the mood in Paris in 1939. Few of the readers of these books, Liebling wrote, would admit that they take Nostradamus seriously. Nevertheless, he ended this part of Letter from Paris, the war which had begun, was strikingly bizarre.

 About The New Yorker

Logo "The New Yorker"
The New Yorker

The New Yorker is an American magazine, founded in 1925 by Harold Ross and his wife Jane Grant, who worked as a journalist for the New York Times. For many years, it was a weekly. At present, in each year, 47 issues are published. Since the nineties, an online-vesion is avalable. 
In the beginning, The New Yorker was meant to be a humor magazine. After some years, it also contained articles on fiction which had a more serious nature. The present contents: cartoons, comments, essays, fiction, reviews, reports and satire.[4]


Nostradamus / De Fontbrune in Amigoe di Curaçao
Page 3 of the issue of April 3, 1941 of the daily Amigoe di Curaçao, a daily in Dutch language, contains the article Wie was Nostradamus? (tr.: Who was Nostradamus?). Right underneath the headline is printed that a reader had asked the editors the question: who is Nostradamus and what has he predicted. Apparently, the aim of the article was to answer that question.[5]
The text of Wie was Nostradamus? is corresponding almost word-by-word with the text of Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie in the issue of February 9, 1940 of De Groene Amsterdammer, including the misspelling "De Fautbrune". One must note that in Wie was Nostradamus? the year 1500 was given as the year in which Nostradamus deceased, instead of the year 1566, mentioned in Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie was vermeld. Next, after the first line in Wie was Nostradamus, a remark was inserted which read that the editors on this island (Curaçao, TvB) had heard many things about Nostradamus; the editors considered it worthwhile to pay attention to the ambiguity of his statements. Another difference with Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie was that the last line (
Alle volgelingen zijn het er echter over eens, dat de astroloog een komende verpletterende Franse overwinning  heeft voorspeld [tr.: All adepts however agree that the astrologer predicted a coming crushing French victory])" was not closed with one point, but with three subsequent points (i.e.: ...), as if the author of Wie was Nostradamus wanted to emphasize his sceptical attitude towards the Prophecies of Nostradamus.
At the end of Wie was Nostradamus?, no source was mentioned. At first sight, Wie was Nostradamus? looks as an article, written by the editors, in order to answer questions of one of the readers. Actually, Wie was Nostradamus? is an article, copied from an external source, most probably the issue of February 9, 1940 of De Groene Amsterdammer, with which Wie was Nostradamus? is almost word-by-word identical, something which becomes more evident when we realize that the original closing line in The New Yorker is omitted in Frankrijk zoekt inspiratie bij de astrologie and not present in Wie was Nostradamus?.
In Wie was Nostradamus?, nothing is written about the fact that in May 1940, German troops did not invade France by Switzerland, as De Fontbrune in Les Prophéties de Maistre Michel Nostradamus - Expliquées et commentées had written, but by the Ardennes. This might mean that the editors of Amigoe di Curaçao either had no access to De Fontbrune's book or did not take the trouble to consult it.

About Amigoe di Curaçao

logo Amigoe di Curaçao
Amigoe du Curaçao

Amigoe di Curaçao is a Dutch West-Indies newspaper in Dutch language, founded in 1884 by the order of the Dominicans in Willemstad. Until 1935, it was a weekly. Between 1935 and 1940, it was issued twice a week. Since 1941, Amigoe du Curaçao is a daily.
At present, the daily is entitled Amigoe. An online-edition is available. For the island of Aruba, a separate edition is produced.[6]


De Meern, the Netherlands, February 26, 2012
T.W.M. van Berkel


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

  1. The edition of February 9, 1940 of De Groene Amsterdammer is available in the section Archief of [text

  2. Sources of information about De Groene Amsterdammer:
    - the online-archive of De Groene Amsterdammer (;  
    - Wikipedia-NL (;
    - Vos-1988, p.53, 54, 460 en 461;
    - Koninklijke Bibliotheek: Historische kranten ( [text]

  3. The name "Dr. de Fontbrune" is the author's pseudonym of dr. Max Pigeard de Gurbert (1900-1959). See: Van Berkel: Information on dr. Max Pigeard de Gurbert alias dr. De Fontbrune (1900-1959). [text]

  4. Sources of information about The New Yorker:
    - the online-archive of The New Yorker (;
    - Wikipedia-NL ( [text]

  5. The edition of April 3, 1941 of Amigoe di Curaçao is available in [text]

  6. Sources of the information about Amigoe di Curaçao:
    - the online-version of Amigoe (;
    - Wikipedia-NL ( [text]


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