Nostradamus - Die Weissagungen des grossen französischen Sehers - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal
(W. Zimmermann, Zielbrücke-Thielle,, 1940)
- T.W.M. van Berkel -

Nederlandse versie

Nostradamus literature, Switzerland, 1940
The neutrality politic which is so characteristic for Switzerland, originates from the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, Switzerland maintained her neutrality. As a result, the country was neutral in World War I. One of the results of the Versailles Treaty was the founding in 1920 of the League of Nations, succeeded in 1946 by the United Nations Organization. The League of Nations became seated in Geneva.
Switzerland also remained neutral in World War II, but its position was not enviable. The country was surrounded by national-socialists and their allies; in the course of the war, Switzerland had to made some concessions. Economic cooperation with Germany and the deliverance of war material injured the neutrality of Switzerland. The Swiss government's attitude in the years before World War II towards German Jews was controversial.

Que se passera-t-il...?
Que se passera-t-il...? 
(Geneva, 1940)

In Geneva in April 1940, shortly before the German invasion in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the astrologer/graphologist Antoine Rossier published the brochure Que se passera-t-il entre le printemps 1940 et le printemps 1941? as a special edition of his monthly Prédictions. This brochure, which from Switzerland was spread in a.o. France, was the French version of a national-socialist text, written in November-December 1939 by Hans-Wolfgang Herwarth von Bittenfeld, prof. Karl Bömer and Leopold Gutterer, working at Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda. Que se passera-t-il...? was printed by A. Mayor in Geneva, who also printed the monthly Prédictions. The circulation number was 20.000.[1] I do not know if it was tried in Switzerland to stop the spreading of this brochure.
In autumn 1940, when the Germans consolidated their positions on the European continent, Les éditions utiles in Geneva published two books about the Centuries.[2] One of these books was entitled Les vrayes Centuries de Me Michel Nostradamus. It was a reprint of the 1649-Rouen-edition of the Centuries and did not contain references or comments. In a preface, the publisher wrote not having been allowed to convert the old-French texts into modern-French or to add comments. This can be explained as a statement of the publisher to keep himself on distance of what happened around Switzerland in 1939 and 1940. Despite this inconvenience, he was convinced that the readers, with a little attention and a little thinking, easily could manage to grasp the real meaning of the Centuries. He also wrote that he would publish a glossary which would help the readers in interpreting the Centuries. This glossary, entitled Initiation à Nostradamus. Méthode et Glossaire pour l'interpretation des "Vrayes Prophéties", was also published in 1940. In the preface, it read that a glossary was not enough to fathom the Centuries. Therefore, Initiation à Nostradamus... also contained a chapter in which a method was explained to study and interpret the Centuries. In 1941, Les éditions utiles published the series Nostradamus en français moderne - Les Centuries, a ten-volume edition of the Centuries, commented by André Stivène. After the war, Stivène translated a number of book in French, among which a novel by Pearl S. Buck
Nostradamus and the Centuries were also discussed in the press, as shown by a remark of dr. Gunter Altenburg, head of the Information section of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a letter, dated on March 8, 1940, that the Swiss astrologer Karl Ernst Krafft in the Geneva newspaper La Suisse refuted some remarks about Nostradamus and the Centuries and took the opportunity to make propaganda for Germany.[3]  


Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal
Nostradamus - 
Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal

Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal (Werner Zimmermann, Zielbrücke-Thielle, 1940)
By the end of 1940, after the edition of the reprint of the 1649-edition of the Centuries and Initiation à Nostradamus..., Fankhauser publishers in Zielbrücke-Thielle published the brochure Nostradamus - Die Weissagungen des grossen französischen Sehers - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal. On the cover and the title page, the question Was wird uns die Zukunft bringen? was added to the title. 
Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal as this brochure is named in this article, was printed at Fritz Marti's book printing office, Ryffligässchen 6 in Bern. The author, Werner Zimmermann, basing himself upon his philosophy of life, wanted to answer the question if the many fulfilled predictions in the Centuries meant that the future can be foretold, the fate of individuals and nations is predestined and if there is no free will. According to a remark on page 14, he wrote the text of this brochure by the end of 1940.
Prof. dr. h.c. Werner Zimmermann, born in Lyss in Switzerland on June 21, 1893 and died in Ringgenberg in Switzerland on August 28, 1982, is known as the most outstanding Swiss social reformer of the twentieth century and had a huge reputation, in Switzerland as well as abroad. 
In 1915, working as a teacher on a high school, Zimmermann became a member of the Schweizer Freiland-Freigeld Bund, an organization which pursuits land reform and financial reform. Zimmermann got the conviction that young people in every sense should be able to grow in freedom and to develop themselves, something which had to be preceded by a social liberation. The ideas of Silvio Gesell, the founder in Germany of the reforming movement Natürliche Wirtschaftsordnung (NWO), who he met in 1919, and Mahatma Gandhi, who made him familiar with the mystic aspects of Taoism, played an important part in Zimmermann's development of his philosophy of life and his social-political ideas.

Werner Zimmermann (ca. 1932)
Werner Zimmermann
(ca. 1932)

In October 1934, apparently as a reaction to the developments in Germany, Zimmermann founded the Wirtschaftsring (WIR), an organization of self-support which at the same time was a practical form of free socialism.
Zimmermann wrote a number of guide-books, made translations of a.o. the book Wu Wei, in which Henri Borel explained the teachings of Lao Tse and wrote numerous brochures about economy, health, nudism, pedagogic, politic, psychology, sexuality and well-being. In his brochure Sei Meister deines Schicksals (1937), he discussed factors which put a restraint to human freedom and ways to deliver oneself from these restraints. 
Even in high age, Zimmermann searched for ways to build bridges between western and eastern spiritual values.[4]


Text division and bibliography
Nostradamus - Unsere Stelling zum Schicksal
is a brochure which consist of 32 pages and has no illustrations. The text of Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal  is divided into the following parts:

Page Part
-. Quellenwerke
1. Wer ist Nostradamus?
3. Die Weissagungen
7. Französische Revolution und Napoleon
10. Der Weltkrieg 1914-18
13. Zwischen beiden Weltkriegen
15. Der zweite Weltkrieg 1939 - ??
19. Schwierigkeiten der Uebersetzung und Auslegung
22. Ferne Zukunft
23. Können wir durch Nostradamus die nähere Zukunft voraussehen?
26. Die Zwangslaüfigkeit des Schicksals
27. Gibt es einen freien Willen?

Quellenwerke contains a bibliography of works on Nostradamus and the Centuries, consulted by Zimmermann while writing Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal heeft geraadpleegd:

  • Fontbrune, dr. de: Les Prophéties de maistre Michel Nostradamus - expliquées et commentées. Sarlat, 1939.
  • Loog, C.: Die Weissagungen des Nostradamus: erstmalige Auffindung des Chiffreschlüssels und Enthüllung der Prophezeiungen über Europas Zukunft und Frankreichs Glück und Niedergang, 1555-2200. Pfullingen in Württemberg, 1921 (1920).
  • N.N.: Les vrayes Centuries de Me Michel Nostradamus. Geneva, 1940.
  • N.N.: Initiation à Nostradamus. Méthode et Glossaire pour l'interpretation des "Vrayes Prophéties". Geneva, 1940.
  • Noah, B.: Nostradamus - Prophetische Weltgeschichte von 1547 bis gegen 3000. Berlijn, 1928 (1927).
  • Ruir, Em.: Le grand carnage d'après les prophéties de "Nostradamus". Paris, 1938.
  • Ruir, Em.: L'écroulement de l'Europe d'après les prophéties de "Nostradamus". Paris, 1939.


The contents of Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal

In a short introduction, Zimmermann tuned the contents of his brochure. Nostradamus made one thousand predictions, many of them were fulfilled strikingly in detail, as the reader will see. The question which results from this is if the future can be foretold and if the fate of individuals and nations is predestined, which means that free will does not exist. Zimmermann informs his readers about the life of Nostradamus, the value of predictions and their features, predictions in the Centuries which until 1940 were fulfilled and problems which occur while explaining these predictions. Then, he proceeds to discuss the far away future and to answer the question if the future already is determined and the question about the relationship between fate and free will.

The life of Nostradamus
Zimmermann has tried to give a maximum exposure of Nostradamus and the Centuries. From Noah's Nostradamus - Prophetische Weltgeschichte von 1547 bis gegen 3000, he copied the biography which was published in the 1668-Ribou-edition of the Centuries: the Brèf discours from Ianus Gallicus. He meant he could derive Nostradamus' methods from the quatrains 01-01 and 01-02 and the Preface to Cesar: the phrasing of visions, obtained in a somnambulistic state of mind, using the tripod and a divining-rod. 
Zimmermann also mentioned the story that Nostradamus went down on his knees for a monk in which he saw a pope, the later pope Sixtus V.

Value of a prediction; features
According to Zimmermann, predictions prove their value if they are confirmed by corresponding events. The more predictions become fulfilled, the greater the chance that predictions, not fulfilled yet, will be fulfilled, except for some failures.
One of the features of a prediction is that it can be explained in many ways and that names and fulfilment dates are not given in detail. As a result, the prediction can only be understood if the predicted event has taken place. Nostradamus chose to phrase his predictions in a gloomy way in order to prevent abuse or to prevent being persecuted by the Inquisition. Scarcely, he gives years, names or astrological configurations which are suited for verification.

Predictions, fulfilled between 1555 and 1918
From the one thousand predictions for the period 1555-3797, Zimmermann, basing himself mainly upon Noah's Nostradamus - Prophetische Weltgeschichte von 1547 bis gegen 3000, considered about four hundred to be fulfilled. Until the end of World War I, predictions were fulfilled about the decease of Henry II and the end of the Valois dynasty, the beheading of Charles I, the French Revolution, the beheading of Louis XVI, the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte and his reign of fourteen years, the murder of Umberto I, the murder in 1914 of archduke Franz-Ferdinand, resulting in the beginning of World War I, the failing German submarine attacks on England and the end of World War I, when Germany, not defeated, had to give away Elsace-Lorraine.

Predictions, fulfilled between 1918 and 1939
In Nostradamus - Prophetische Weltgeschichte von 1547 bis gegen 3000, Noah situated a number of quatrains next to 1927, the year in which he wrote his book. According to Zimmermann, a number of them wre fulfilled, such as the prediction in quatrain 03-76 about the rise of new sects and the prediction in quatrain 03-67 of the rise in Germany of a new philosophical movement. He did not specify if these quatrains actually dealt with the rise of national-socialism. Further, Zimmermann mentioned the circumstances in Russia after World War I, leaving it up to the reader to decide if in quatrain 01-14 the end of the Romanov-dynasty and the rise of communism was predicted. Closing, Zimmermann discussed quatrain 01-47 as a prediction of the failure of the League of Nations and quatrain 06-20 as a prediction of the rise of Mussolini. 
In the eyes of Zimmermann, these quatrains are a proof of the clairvoyance of Nostradamus and the ability of Noah to fathom the Centuries, not only in connection with the past, but also in connection with the immediate future.

World War II
In connection with World War II, Zimmermann first discussed quatrain 03-57 as an example of the precise mentioning of the year in which World War II began. He based himself upon Noah, whose version of quatrain 03-57 and comment he quoted literally, and upon Carl Loog, who in 1921 (1920) in Die Weissagungen des Nostradamus had written that Nostradamus in quatrain 03-57 wanted to tell that the last and most severe crisis for England was accompanied by a crisis for the resurrected Poland. In Noah's comment upon quatrain 05-51, Zimmermann saw the decline of the "Small Entente" and in quatrain 05-26, which Noah had not interpreted in detail, the Russian invasion in Finland. According to Zimmermann, Nostradamus also predicted the arms which were used in World War II, such as the bomber and the submarine.
Zimmermann further gave the text of about ten quatrains, among which the quatrains 02-78, 02-83, 05-94, 10-51, and 10-100 and wondered if these predictions would be fulfilled in World War II or somewhere after.

Translation problems; interpretation problems, the fate of Switzerland
Reminding his readers that it is difficult to understand the meaning of a prediction as long as the episode is not completed, Zimmermann discussed the question if the word Hister in the quatrains 02-24, 04-68 and 05-29 indicates Hitler as a person, as supposed in French Century-comments.[5] Basing himself upon Loog, Zimmermann gave a series of anagrams and symbolic names which occur in the Centuries. Although he could not deal with the explanation in Initiation à Nostradamus... that the word Hister was an ancient name of the Danube, he considered it too early to take this word as an anagram for Hitler.
Given the fact that Switzerland was not mentioned in the quatrains which Zimmermann had discussed, he concluded that Switzerland would not play a special part in the events in and around 1940.

The far-away future
For the far-away future, Zimmermann wrote that Nostradamus had announced in the quatrains 10-75 and 04-31 the coming of a world teacher and in other quatrains, among which the quatrains 10-42 and 01-48, the coming of a golden age of peace after immense suffering and countless wars.

Is Nostradamus enabling us to look into the future?
According to Zimmermann, a prediction can only be explained when the predicted event has occurred or is starting. Whoever runs ahead of this, is at risk of projecting his own desires, hope and fear upon the predictions. This has happened to Noah, who considered the period 1930-31 to be dangerous for Italy, and Em. Ruir, who in Le grand carnage d'après les prophéties de "Nostradamus" announced a war in July 1938 between Germany and France, and to some compartriots of Zimmermann, who, basing themselves upon Nostradamus, expected that Germany would invade France by crossing Basle.
The brief and gloomy phrasings of the quatrains and the fact that they were not ordered according to their fulfilment dates, makes it extremely difficult to fathom them. Loog referred to a system to arrange the quatrains, but did not explain it in detail. According to quatrain 03-94, the nature of the key to the quatrains would become clear around 2075.

Fate and free will
Fate is compulsive. In the eyes of Zimmermann, this compulsiveness is caused by the laws of cause and effect in the life of individuals and the existence of nations. Fate is the result of things which happened in the past. If one recognizes this, one understands the meaning and the necessity of present events and even will be able to look ahead.
Zimmermann stated that man in some way can change his fate. All living forms contain a sparkle of spiritual life-force, by which a seed or egg grows into e.g. a huge tree or a unique human being. Here, Zimmermann refers to his brochure Redende Form - Die Schrift über praktische Menschenkenntnis nach der Hutter-Lehre (1940). From the outside, man is the product of his past and inheritance, his education, acts and failures. From the inside however, man can decide by himself if fate will be favourable or not. This is related to what man expects of life. The outer, material world is transient. In his inner world, man must orient himself upon becoming a true, brave and good individual, in other words: return to God. It is also related to the fact that man is a spiritual creature which on earth is hidden in a physical body. Whoever sees death as a transition to another form of existence, has no longer fear for death and will look upon fate from a different perspective. Even in the most heavy circumstances, one can free oneself from outer matters, chains and weaknesses. Then, the fearful things offer the possibility of inner growth. As a result, one changes the impact of fate and becomes master of his fate, as described in Sei Meister deines Schicksals (1937).
In the eyes of Zimmerman, Nostradamus was familiar with this truths and remained calm in his spiritual life, despite the terrifying events he foresaw. Zimmermann wrote that Nostradamus was aware of the fact that God uses scourges or even satanic forces to teach people and nations and to let them live according to the Great Laws of Life.
Zimmermann states that the one who lives according to his impulse, always will be delivered to the compulsive nature of fate. On the other hand, one who grows will not try to avoid his fate. He will not be worried about tomorrow, as every moment has its own fulfilment. It is not important what is about to come, but the way in which we experience it and deal with it.


The superfluous nature of the Centuries
Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal was written in a time when the Centuries were quite sensational because of the war in Europe which had begun in 1939. Despite the fact that Switzerland did not suffer from the war, they were also sensational there, given the addition of the question Was wird uns die Zukunft bringen? to the title of this brochure and Zimmermann's remark that some of his compatriots, basing themselves upon Nostradamus, expected or feared a German invasion in France by crossing Basle or an air raid on the Expo in Zürich. Zimmermann's remark that the discussed quatrains lead to the conclusion that Switzerland would not play an important part in the events in 1940 and later, might have reassured some of his compatriots. His remarks about dealing with fate and growing spiritually might have helped some of his compatriots in keeping their head and heart high and raising themselves above the everyday misery.
I have no idea about the impact in 1940-45 of Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal. However, the spiritual message raises questions. According to Zimmermann, the man who grows spiritually will not worry about tomorrow. It is not important what is about to come, but how man experiences it and deals with it. Such an attitude implies that the Centuries are not important for spiritual life. If it is not important to know what is about to come, knowledge about the future is also not important, so there is no need to deepen oneself in the Centuries. Like this, the Centuries are superfluous. The question is if Zimmermann has thought like this and if not, for what reason he considered the Centuries to be a matter of importance.


Nostradamus - Prophetische Weltgeschichte...
Nostradamus - Prophetische Weltgeschichte von 1547 bis gegen 3000

Contestable evidence
In the eyes of Zimmermann, the predictions in the Centuries are reliable. In the past, hundreds of them were fulfilled, which means that the remaining part also will be fulfilled. Zimmermann noted that the fulfilment of a prediction only becomes clear when the predicted event or episode is about to happen or occurred.
Zimmermann based his positive evaluation of the predictional value of the Centuries on mainly Noah's Nostradamus - Prophetische Weltgeschichte von 1547 bis gegen 3000. He observed that Noah described how until 1927, the year in which he wrote his book, quatrains were fulfilled and that events in the period 1927-1940 corresponded with Noah's comments upon quatrains which he situated in that period. In the eyes of Zimmermann, this not only demonstrated Nostradamus' clairvoyance, but also the precision of Noah's comment.
From Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal, it does not become clear if Zimmermann compared Noah's comments with the comments of De Fontbrune, Loog and Ruir and concluded that Noah's comment was the most precise of them. The problem which is at stake, is that Noah copied his dating of quatrains for an important part from Loogs Die Weissagungen des Nostradamus, whereas Loog in his turn copied the dating and explanation of a number of quatrains from Le Pelletier's Les oracles de Michel de Nostredame (Paris, 1867). In his comments in Nostradamus - Prophetische Weltgeschichte von 1547 bis gegen 3000, Noah projected events and expectations on quatrains, whether or not basing himself upon other publications, instead of calculating fulfilment dates with some kind of prediction system and next verify if events, occurred on these dates, corresponded with the contents of the involved quatrains.
In Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal, the comment upon quatrain 03-57 plays an important part. Because of being on bad terms with the Versailles Treaty, Noah stated that God's judgement on England would not be before 1939. Zimmermann copied this, without realizing himself that by autumn 1940, the Germans started air raids in the night on England without getting England on her knees. Looking back upon what happened in World War II, we can add that England finally got the victory, which is not corresponding with "God's judgement". Moreover, Noah had described the nature of this judgement: first internal confusion and fight, next small revolutions in the British colonies and the gradual decline of colonies and dominions, next a war.[6] In 1939-1940, none of this happened. Moreover, Noah had not written anything concrete about a German part in the events in Poland in 1939. Therefore, it is inconceivable that Zimmermann, who criticized Noah for his failed expectation for Italy in 1930-31, did not criticize him for his failed expectation for England in 1939.
In his discussion of quatrain 03-57, Zimmermann also quoted Loog's statement that in 1939, according to Nostradamus, the last and most sever crisis in England would be accompanied by a crisis in the resurrected Poland. Zimmermann's discussion does not show that Loog had no idea about the nature of the crises in England and Poland and that according to him, a world war in which Germany would be involved would not begin before 2100. In Loog's comment in Die Weissagungen des Nostradamus upon quatrain 03-57, Germany played no part at all. Therefore, it cannot be attributed to Loog that he, basing himself upon quatrain 03-57, predicted the German invasion in September 1939 in Poland and the subsequent British declaration of war to Germany. This means that it cannot be attributed to the author of quatrain 03-57 that at the time he wrote this quatrain, he had the German invasion in September 1939 in Poland in mind. In a certain way, Loog's comment took the place of the original predictions in quatrain 03-57 and it is because of the interpretation of Loog's comment upon quatrain 03-57 that it was attributed to Nostradamus that he predicted the beginning of World War II, an idea which Loog finally subscribed but despite adjustment of his comment not could make plausible.[7]
Zimmermann's remarks on quatrain 03-57 are an example of the frequent occurring phenomenon that not an event is presented as a proof of fulfilment, but an interpretation of a comment, without interpreting this comment in the context of which it is part (the world war which according to Loog only would begin in 2100 and the problems England would have with its colonies). In Century-comments, it also frequently occurs that a comment upon a quatrain or the interpretation of a comment dominates the actual predictions, which results in the attribution of the contents of the comment or its interpretation to the author of the quatrain (Nostradamus supposed to have predicted the beginning of World War II). One should be aware of this when reading Century-comments. 
According to Zimmermann, one of the features of a Century-quatrain is that information about persons and fulfilment dates are kept vague deliberately. As a result, the meaning of the prediction in a quatrain only becomes clear if the predicted event or episode is either at hand or if it has occurred. I prefer another phrasing: the major part of the quatrains do not contain fulfilment dates, which means that the intentions of the author cannot be verified. The possibility of linking in retrospect an event to a quatrain which does not contain a fulfilment date, is not the slightest guarantee that the author, when writing this quatrain, had the event in mind which later was presented by the commentator.


De Meern, the Netherlands, November 10, 2007
T.W.M. van Berkel
updated on December 17, 2007


Expression of thanks
The author wishes to thank mr. Wilhelm Zannoth for sending a copy of Nostradamus - Unsere Stellung zum Schicksal and the Historische Drucke section of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin for sending information about the books on Nostradamus and the  Centuries, published in 1940 and 1941 by Les éditions utiles.


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

  1. Van Berkel: Que se passera-t-il entre le printemps 1940 et le printemps 1941? Geneva, 1940. [text]
  2. Zimmermann-1940: Quellenwerke. [text]
  3. Maichle: Die Nostradamus-Propaganda der Nazis 1939-1942. [text]
  4. The information on Zimmermann is taken from the following sources:
    - Bartsch, G.: Werner Zimmermann und die Lebensreform;
    Werner Zimmermann - Lebensreform in der Schweiz. [text]
  5. Em. Ruir did not discuss the Hister-quatrains. De Fontbrune consequently linked the word Hister to the Danube and as such to Germany (De Fontbrune, p.172). [text]
  6. Noah-2005 (1928), p.157. [text]
  7. Van Berkel:
    - Quatrain 03-57 and Die Weissagungen des Nostradamus (C. Loog, Pfullingen in Württemberg, 1921 [1920]);
    - Prophete rechts - Prophete links - War Nostradamus wirklich Scharlatan und Betrüger? (C. Loog, Der Reichswart, December 12, 1940). [text]

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