Chapter Six - Find Mussolini!
My visit to Felix Kersten ushered in the most dramatic period of my life. It was not a drama of my own seeking. I was wilfully involved in it by Zimmermann, who took me to Kersten because he wanted a favor from him and thought he could use me as a pawn. Kersten then exploited my astrological knowledge to make himself more interesting in the eyes of Himmler, Walter Schellenberg, and Arthur Nebe. His ploy was successful. Soon he was forwarding commissions to me straight from the head of the SS. As a result, I acquired a strange status. Legally I should have been in a concentration camp like other astrologers; officially I was an employee in Zimmermann's milk irradiation institute; in actual fact I was turning out astrological reports for the high command of the SS. My situation was undoubtedly better than life in a concentration camp, although the constant pressure of working at top speed on the most ridiculous commissions and having to produce infallible results was both trying and dangerous. I had no means of telling how long the SS would continue to patronize me as an astrologer or whether the slightest failure on my part would lead to further imprisonment-or something worse. By the very nature of my duties it was inevitable that I should know a great deal, perhaps too much. And in dictatorships those who know too much are usually unobtrusively removed.
I now entered a period during which I was frequently collected from my Hamburg home by Gestapo men and sent via either the Oranienburg or Ravensbrück concentration camps to Kersten's secluded estate at Hartzwalde. A number of Jehovah's Witnesses-inmates of Ravensbriick-were working on this estate, which lay fifty miles north of Oranienburg-i.e., about one and a half hours' drive from Berlin-and it was a favorite meeting place for the SS top brass. On July 28, 1943-shortly after the terrible air raid on Hamburg-I was standing on the road outside my house loading some of my personal effects and documents onto a truck for dispatch to Wohldorf, where they were to be stored, when I saw two Gestapo officials, Walter Wohlers and Meggi Mechlenberg, pull up on the other side of the road. One of them called out to me, "Thank God I've found you. I've been looking for you for days. I have to take you along to the Gestapo post. A telegram has arrived from the Reichsführer [Himmler]."
As the two Gestapo officials took me to Berlin under escort, my first thought was that I had been rearrested. My wife and my younger son-my elder son was a soldier in Russia-were again left in uncertainty. In fact, however, I was simply being seconded for special duties. Two days earlier, on July 26, Benito Mussolini had been abducted. At the Berlin headquarters of the Kriminalpolizei I was brought before SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Arthur Nebe, who had been head of the Kriminalpolizei for many years and now held the rank of general. He was one of the best criminologists of all time, a master of detection techniques who was passionately interested in his work and would probably have held the same job under any regime. But when it came to discovering Mussolini's present whereabouts, conventional methods of detection proved futile.
Nebe's office was fitted out in the ill-conceived Renaissance style beloved of so many of the Nazi leaders because it satisfied their need for ostentation and display. Nebe received me in the gracious manner commonly used by detectives to soften up recalcitrant clients. He offered me Hennessy brandy and American cigarettes as if I were paying a friendly visit. Nebe then handed me the birth data of an alleged criminal and an alleged spy and asked me to work out a brief horoscope for each of them on the spot. I discussed the criminal first: "You don't need to bother too much about this man. He'll soon fall into the hands of the Kriminalpolizei and will come to a violent end." After looking at the information about the spy, I said, "This man has moderate gifts as a detective."
Nebe was noticeably shaken by these character assessments. Later I learned that the "criminal" was actually Nebe himself, and the "spy" was his assistant, Lobbe. Shortly afterward I calculated Nebe's horoscope in detail and gave a full report on it. The gloomy predictions which I made concerning the time and manner of his death were to be borne out by events. Nebe had been playing a dangerous double game for some time; he had close contacts with the German resistance. After July 20, J944 [the assassination attempt on Hitler] he was obliged to disappear and was hunted for months on end by his own Kriminalpolizei. His amours proved his undoing. One of his girlfriends was forced to reveal his hiding place, and after being tried by a special court, Nebe was hanged on March 4, 1945, in a cruel and terrible way. *
* (In a letter to me dated May 8, 1963, Dr. Ernst Teichmann, a lawyer wrote:
"We two saw one another one evening in July, 1943, in the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (RKPA) at the Werdscher Markt at Berlin…. The following day I learned that you were the well-known and respected astrologer Wulff. A few weeks later the head of the Kriminalpolizei, Arthur Nebe, called me to his office. At that time I was his personal assistant. He handed me a detailed horoscope relating to a factory manager called Franz Schwarz and asked me to read it in his presence and tell him what I thought of it. Although basically a suspicious man, Nebe had such confidence in me that, unlike many of my colleagues, I could safely tell him the undiluted truth without fear. I saw at once from the birth data that the so-called factory manager Franz Schwarz was really Nebe himself. Among other things the first part of the horoscope provided a completely accurate although not particularly flattering account of Nebe's personal characteristics. Amused by this I exclaimed, 'But chief, you yourself are the factory manager and I am astonished to see how accurately the astrologer has characterized you!' To my horror Nebe turned pale and seemed quite shattered. He bellowed at me, 'Dammit, man, read the rest of it!' I was almost struck dumb by the grim prediction which followed and in which a professional and personal debacle, persecution, and a dreadful death were prophesied for 'Herr Franz Schwarz' in the near future. Nebe did not take his eyes off me as I tried to pooh-pooh the prophecy and pass it off with a joke. From that day on Nebe was frightened. Subsequently he became more and more nervous and was subject to severe depressions. I do not think I am mistaken in assuming that this psychological condition prompted his precipitate flight after the assassination attempt of July 20, 1944. You were the author of this horoscope!"
But at our first meeting Nebe was chiefly interested in discovering where Mussolini was being kept. Indian astrology offers a method for making calculations of this kind. I myself had used it in a previous case in my practice. On the afternoon of the same day I was able to inform Nebe that Mussolini was somewhere to the southeast of Rome, not more than seventy-five miles from the capital. It turned out that this calculation was entirely accurate. Although he was later transferred to another island and finally hidden away on the Gran Sasso in the
Abruzzi mountains, Mussolini had first been taken to the island of Ponza and was still there at the time when I made my calculation. The position of this island tallied exactly with the position which I had given.
That evening Nebe invited me to dine at the Kaiserhof Hotel, which had historical significance for the Nazi top brass because Hitler had been a frequent guest there before 1933. During the meal I had to explain Cromwell's, Wallenstein's, and Napoleon's horoscopes to Nebe. I drew his attention to the partial identity between these horoscopes and Hitler's. After this meeting I was allowed to return to Hamburg for a while. Shortly afterward Nebe sent me the birth data of twenty-five high-ranking Nazi officials whose horoscopes I was required to cast within a very short time. All these men were suspected of corruption. I was not told the names or the status of the persons concerned, although one of them, again, was Nebe himself. When I delivered these horoscopes to Nebe in Berlin-having been escorted there by Gestapo officials-I had an encounter with Himmler's adjutant Suchanek, who told me I had taken too long in completing my calculations. Suchanek said, "The Reichsfuhrer has instructed me to inform you that you must work more quickly and take more trouble; otherwise you could end up like the alchemist Tausend, who is now in a
concentration camp and will stay there until such time as he is able to make gold."
But my work for Nebe was fortunate for me. All the books and nearly all the documents which had been confiscated from me by the Gestapo in the spring of 1941 were returned to me on Nebe's instructions. He succeeded at once where Zimmerman and Kersten-for all their grand promises-had constantly failed. Of course, Nebe did not do this out of the kindness of his heart. He wanted to get as much as he possibly could out of me, and so he returned the things I needed for my work. However, two boxes of valuable Indian manuscripts and translations were still missing, and later I discovered that Himmler himself had requisitioned these particular treasures, which were to play an important part in my first meeting with him. It was Himmler who later arranged for me to meet General Walter Schellenberg, one of his confidants. He did so partly so as not to lose sight of me but, more especially, to ensure that I did not work for Nebe's opponents in the SS command, which was then split into warring factions.