Chapter Eight - Lunch with Heinrich Himmler
One glorious sunny morning in spring I arrived in Berlin by the early train. Walter Schellenberg's private secretary was waiting for me at the station and drove me out to the Wannsee in a new Mercedes. We pulled up in front of a large villa. In the garden surrounding the villa beautiful old trees ran right down to the bank of the Wannsee.
I was introduced to a short, stocky little man, an associate of Schellenberg's. He and the secretary were to "look after me" and make the preparations for a journey to an unknown destination, which I was to undertake. Although he was not allowed to know who I was, I discovered that his name was Franz Goring. His colleagues in the department called him "little Goring." He was the sort of official who is always busy, always finding something to do. He wore civilian clothes, though he was, of course, a member of the SS.
Schellenberg sent Franz Goring to make the final arrangements for my journey. My first meeting with Heinrich Himmler was being well camouflaged.
The journey by special military train to "Bergwald"- the cover name for Himmler's quarters-passed without incident. At noon the next day, five hours late, I reached my destination. I had been told where I was going during the journey by the officer in charge of the SS courier railway coach; Salzburg was still covered by a smoke screen, because there had been an air raid there shortly before.
At Aigen, just outside Salzburg, there is a late-Baroque castle which Heinrich Himmler used as a retreat. He had it camouflaged and renamed it "Bergwald." This castle, with its fabulously beautiful old park, once belonged to Prince Schwarzenberg. It lies at the foot of the Gaisberg and has magnificent views of the Salzburg Alps and the Untersberg. Access is difficult, for the road is very narrow and full of sharp corners. We drove up hill and down dale along the zigzag route to the castle of Aigen, where our over-elegant SS Mercedes limousine passed through cordons of SS and through the beautiful wrought iron gateway in the high outer wall of the castle fortifications. The driver gave a prearranged signal, and the guard allowed us to pass. I was admitted without even having to show my papers. But then for the past three days I had been cut off from the outside world and had been entirely in the hands of SS officers.
I was received by Obersturmbannführer Sanne and various officers on Himmler's personal staff and was taken, by mistake as it turned out, to the Osterreichischer Hof Hotel. After refreshing myself and resting for a short while in my room, I received a telephone call from one of Himmler's adjutants, informing me that a car was waiting to take me to Himmler's headquarters. By the time I arrived lunch had just started. Himmler and his staff were already seated. But when I entered the dining room, Himmler quickly rose from the table and came to meet me. The cordiality of his welcome was so natural that anybody meeting him for the first time might well have been pleasantly surprised. Himmler placed me on his right. And so there I was, sitting side by side with the head of the SS, who spooned his soup and engaged me in interesting conversation.
Who was Himmler? A ruler? A man of steel? Or a political calculating machine? A robot with horn-rimmed glasses and a metal heart full of magical spells which had been put there by some evil genius?
In civilian life he had been a poultry dealer and manure salesman. The world had first taken note of him on June 30, 1934, in connection with the Rohm affair, when he had been obliged to order the execution of a group of "conspirators." Since then he had been known in anti-Nazi circles as the "bloodhound." Goring is said to have addressed him as a Wurstchen-i. e., an insignificant little man. Doenitz always referred to him as der Himmler ("that Himmler"), a phrase which served to conceal his contempt for the head of the SS. But what did anyone really know about Heinrich Himmler?
The large windows made the dining room agreeably bright, and after the mist had slowly cleared, the Alpine range offered a magnificent view. The plain, mountain ash furniture gave the room a soothing and pleasant atmosphere in marked contrast to the oppressive elegance and rich trappings of the dining room at the Horchner villa. The center of the room was taken up by a large oval table which seated about twelve people. On Himmler's left sat a young lady with sparkling blue eyes. Next to her was Kirrmayer, a former Kriminalpolizei official and an SS veteran. This ex-policeman was Himmler's "watchdog." He was completely unpolitical and fanatically loyal. His highly comic, broad Bavarian accent was entirely in keeping with his country manner. Kirrmayer was an elemental person, a coarse and brutal type whose square head bore witness to his ruthless determination
and fanaticism. But I also detected latent qualities of friendliness and benevolence and the honesty and devotion of an old soldier who would have allowed himself to be flayed alive for Himmler. In choosing Kirrmayer as his watchdog Himmler seems to have been guided by a sound instinct and an unerring judgment.
On my right sat Obersturmbannführer Sanne, an authority on "race" and a student of Professor Wüst of Munich, the Sanskritologist and head of the "Atlantis" Research Institute. After Sanne came three good-looking SS officers, who glanced timidly across the table at their idol, the Reichsführer, but said nothing, even when the conversation at table had become quite lively and humorous. They listened attentively and from time to time looked at me with shy, wondering eyes, like children looking at Santa Claus. All three were immaculately dressed and their behavior was reserved, well mannered, and polite. Opposite me sat Dr. Rudolf Brandt, Himmler's adjutant and personal secretary (a head of department in the government service and an SS Standartenführer with the rank of colonel). His shortsighted eyes, magnified by his spectacles, watched me closely as Himmler, Kirrmayer, and Sanne conducted the conversation to which I contributed from time to time. Himmler's pallid complexion marked him out from the others at the table as a harassed man with onerous duties. Apart from him and Brandt the luncheon guests looked fresh, well fed, and healthy. While most of those present conversed freely and joined in the question-and-answer game which developed between Himmler and myself, and while the old veteran Kirrmayer with his large square head and his catlike jaw related current anecdotes and told of a recent "climb in the mountains with the girls," Dr. Brandt looked across at me. His sad, serious eyes seemed to have witnessed many terrible things. He was an idealist and a loyal and devoted servant of Himmler. During the whole of the meal and the ensuing afternoon this grave man did not say a word. Next to Brandt sat two young ladies. They were his secretaries and the last of the luncheon guests.
The food was served by two servants in snow-white jackets and gloves, who watched attentively but did not speak.
Himmler was having one of his meatless days. That suited me very well, for I am a vegetarian. My personal philosophy, which inclines toward Buddhism and its cosmic approach, persuaded me at an early age that it is wrong to eat anything that is connected with a tragedy. Whenever possible, I have tried to put this idea into practice. Himmler's motives were quite different. He had gone over to a fatless and meatless diet because of a stomach and intestinal complaint.
In the plainly furnished, unostentatious dining room, as we spoke of vegetarianism, Himmler told us that he detested hunting because he could not bear to see an animal suffer. He waxed genuinely sentimental and assured us that he could not stand even the sight of blood. Providence selects strange creatures as its bloodhounds and hangmen. I have often thought about this sentimental statement of Himmler's. He was agreeable and friendly to his close relatives and is said to have been a solicitous and loyal father. So is every bird of prey.
The fact that Himmler's watchdog had awful table manners and behaved at the table like an ill-bred boor surprised nobody. But such bad manners were incongruous in the head of the German Police, the Minister of the Interior in the Third Reich, and the Reichsführer of the SS. Yet Himmler was worse than Kirrmayer. He sat with his elbows on the table and his arms spread out in front of him, sucking his soup like a peasant. The Reichsführer of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, made no attempt to conceal his lack of breeding, nor did his friend and faithful guardian Kirrmayer. By comparison with the other guests, who were all well mannered, they appeared positively grotesque. The young SS officers smiled furtively across the table at me when they saw that the peasant manners of their Reichsheini had attracted my attention too long to pass unnoticed. Himmler then engaged me in conversation:
"I am very grateful to you for coming and also for having told Schellenberg about the Arthasastra [Manual of Politics-Manual of Falsehood]. It is an incredibly valuable book, quite perfect in its way. The ancient Indians were really thorough; they considered every important aspect of government. I really am very grateful to you, Herr Wulff. It is strange that none of my own people should have drawn my attention to the existence of such literature." For a moment I was speechless. Himmler was talking about the Indian work which the Gestapo had confiscated in my house and which Nebe had not returned to me.
When I had recovered I said, "Isn't it a marvelous work? It contains all the wisdom that a statesman needs." I went on to explain: "The ancient Indian world in which Kautilya lived is completely alien to us. Internal order in ancient India was based on a hierarchy headed by the king and his advisers. Then came the castes, which were strictly segregated from one another and whose organization and knowledge of archetypal images were very much in line with the practices and concepts of ancient Indian astrology. Each one of these castes had its special privileges vis-à-vis the others. By observing their own particular duties, the caste members ascended to heaven and merged with the infinite (parabrahman). If this order of things were transgressed the whole world would be destroyed in the ensuing confusion. Further, in the Indian text we are told that man should 'apply himself to pleasure (kama) without coming into conflict with the morally good (dharma) and the useful (art ha); he should not live without joy.' If one of these three-that is, the morally good, the useful, or the pleasurable aspects of life-is indulged in to excess, then the individual will harm himself and the two neglected aspects. But the useful aspect is of prime importance, for the Arthasastra was written with the king and the ruling caste in mind. The question as to whether moral considerations apply in a prince's decision is answered by the author of the Arthasastra when he says that what is useful (to the king) takes precedence (over dharma and kama)."
Himmler then began a long monologue on this subject. He reached a conclusion which was fundamentally different from that advanced in the Arthasastra and which surprised the nonmembers of the SS (in whose ranks I included myself). I knew that the Arthasastra imposed no restrictions on the king vis-à-vis his own people. On the contrary, a whole series of chapters is given over to the organization and functioning of an elaborate internal spy network. Now, in his remarks on Kautilya, whom he had avidly studied, Himmler described the use of such an internal network as indecent and unworthy of the Germanic people.
It sounds incredible coming from the man who had built up a highly sophisticated and vigilant intelligence machine with such fanatical energy. But they were the very words used by the head of the Secret Police, by one of the leading members of the National Socialist Party. Although the party was a mass movement, that movement was composed of countless individual cells which were constantly being broken down and renewed. Every single party member became an "important link in the national community," which means that every party member spied on every other party member. Spying was omnipresent in the National Socialist movement; it extended from the meanest citizen to the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler. Acting on Hitler's behalf, Himmler organized modern methods of terror into a comprehensive system in which spying was the most important single factor. In everything they did the National Socialists revealed a marked preference for deceptive procedures. Lies and bluff flourished. Immorality thrived because it came naturally to men bent on terror. It often appeared as naked force, although in actual fact this force was simply a cover for conspiracy.
Himmler used the typical Nazi trick of advocating high ideals and qualities which he and his associates had never possessed. All National Socialist actions were undertaken in defense of a sacred, supradivine and, consequently, moral destiny. On that afternoon at the Bergwald, before an audience of his own followers who believed every word he said, Himmler was able to stick out his chest and wax indignant on the artifices and cunning openly advocated by Kautilya in the Arthasastra.
This hypocrite, this fanatical believer in the National Socialist racial laws and Weltanschauung (world picture), epitomized the cruelty and bestiality of the Hitler regime. Himmler laid claim to honesty because he didn't know what it was and to decency because he had grown cunning in the service of National Socialism. His SS methods were a perfect symbol of this totally immoral government. They appealed to the worst qualities in man: brutality, revenge, envy, excess, robbery, lies, and deception. The methods which Himmler condemned in the Arthasastra were the methods which he had introduced to Germany, where they triggered a degenerative process of such virulence within the nation that it was only a matter of time before it infected its instigators. In this talk Himmler described the unscrupulous actions of the SS as "sacred deeds" necessary for the preservation of the "Thousand Year Reich."
The maxims in Kautilya's Arthasastra were intended for a small Indian prince, whose territory bordered on the territories of many other princes. In all such states internal order was maintained by powers and forces which, although independent of the prince, supported him and were supported by him. That is why "usefulness" (artha) was so highly valued. The prince (or the ruling caste) had only one object in life-namely, to retain power for its own sake. Consequently the political problems of such a principality could be reduced to the single question: How do I keep my friends happy with sugarbread and how do I punish my enemies with the whip?
"For us politics means the government of the people in the fullest sense of the word," Himmler said. "It means the elimination of all forces except those serving the one constructive idea, which also determines our relations with other countries, even though this has been skillfully concealed by our foreign policy. Consequently we are not concerned with the individual but with the people, not with power as such but with power as the means of realizing a moral idea."
All this talk of "realizing a moral idea" was just so much soft soap for the masses. The whole fraudulent concept was designed to mislead the populace and gratify its need for "decency" by presenting it with a custom-made papier-mâché world. It was all a diversion, a philosophical brainwashing program for the credulous, who had failed to see through the swindles and lies of Hitler's elect. These poor dupes were to be exalted and conducted to what they fondly imagined was a higher and a "heroic" life in which they would bask in the "joy of the community.'
Like all the top Nazi leaders, Himmler feared public discussion. And so he avoided my direct questions about the Arthasastra until we were alone together. As long as he was in the company of his little lieutenants, his secretaries, and his subordinates, he used emotive and threat-cuing language and demanded enthusiasm for the "most monumental idea the world had ever seen." First he ranted; then he promised a better future, although the wartime years had already been extremely good for these Nazis. He also spoke of their great Führer's divine mission to his little people. It was clear that the audience at Himmler's table was highly susceptible to his words. Himmler used the same old propaganda devices which had been in vogue in 1933 and even earlier, in the 1920's, to charm his listeners.
After lunch an adjutant conducted me to Himmler's study. In the antechamber I was received by a markedly "Nordic" blonde, one of Himmler's secretaries, who then announced me. Himmler greeted me in the same effusive manner as before. We sat down at a small circular table which was ringed by easy chairs and stood in the corner of the room farthest away from the beautiful big bay windows overlooking a splendid park. The skyline was formed by the lilac-blue mountain chain of the Salzburg Alps.
Himmler's study was large and spacious with little furniture. Here too the visitor was surprised by the simplicity of the decor; there was scarcely a single rug on the parquet floor, and just a few pieces of modern furniture, made from expensive, natural-colored wood and executed in Speer's Renaissance style,* were set out here and there. Himmler's writing desk was simple. A small monochrome carpet just covered the desk area. There was no ostentation, no luxury. Himmler lived very simply. On the wall facing the writing desk I noticed an oil painting of an old Viking ship fighting against stormy seas on a dangerous stretch of Norwegian cliff coast. This oil painting with its cheap theatrical coloring shone on the wall with symbolic force: Himmler's ship of destiny sailing past dangerous reefs in the stormy seas of National Socialist politics. The remaining walls in Himmler's study were bare. The room looked terribly sober.
* Albert Speer was Hitler's "master builder."
After we had sat down, Himmler rose again and hurriedly locked both of the doors leading to his study. He then put the key in the side pocket of his uniform jacket. He had already given orders that he was not to be disturbed. His watchdog, Herr Kirrmayer, panted outside the main door of the room.
Himmler briefly outlined his basic attitude to astrology and similar occult studies. His discourse was lively
and by no means uninteresting. He told me about a few of his own experiences and observations on certain phases of the moon. His ancestors, he said, had been familiar with peasant lore, calculating the right time to plant crops. Indeed he himself invariably began important projects at certain, but not generally known, phases of the moon. His speech, now that we were alone, was simple, uninhibited, and free from technical jargon.
"I am sorry that I had to have you imprisoned, but I simply had to put a stop to the public practice of astrology. In public it can no longer be tolerated. Everything connected with astrology had to be forbidden. It was causing a great deal of mischief. Frederick the Great also prohibited astrology during the Seven Years' War. He issued a warning to all fortune-tellers, astrologers, palmists, and pastors and threatened them with imprisonment if they said anything against the war and his policies. He advised the itinerant palmists to predict victories and a long life for his soldiers so that they would fight bravely and would not desert. He impressed on the pastors that they must preach from the pulpit on the holy and just war being fought by the Prussians and on their God-given cause. If they did not, they would be dealt with. The astrologers," Himmler concluded, "were also warned by Frederick the Second and were threatened with imprisonment if their predictions ran counter to his wishes and reasons of state."
"But Frederick the Great did not really prohibit the practice of astrology and the publication of astrological writings and calendars," I replied. "He allowed the people many freedoms. He was led by a sound instinct to employ the fortune-tellers in his own interests and in the interests of the state."
"In the Third Reich we have to forbid astrology," Hlimmler continued. "Those who contravene the new regulations must expect to be locked up in a concentration camp until the war is over. We cannot permit any astrologers to follow their calling except those who are working for us. In the National Socialist state astrology must remain a privilegium singulorum. It is not for the broad masses."
"I have felt the effects of your new regulations on my own body," I rejoined, "and I do not share your opinion."
"Did you suffer very much in the concentration camp?" Himmler asked. "Can you give me the names of .any guards who treated you cruelly?"
"I'm afraid I can't," I replied. "I never knew the names of the majority of the SS guards with whom I came into contact. They called one another by their Christian names, and I have forgotten the few surnames I heard. At first I was very badly treated by your people, but later, when we had to work outside, clearing bomb debris, things improved. I finished up lying on the grass with the guards, interpreting their horoscopes."
Himmler laughed at this.
"You'll get nowhere with your prohibition," I said. "Those astrologers who have a good head for business are carrying on as before. They're just more cautious. Once it became generally known that you had banished the leading members of the profession from public life, the star-gazers began to make their rounds. They asked their prospective clients to give tea parties, which they then attended. Recently one of these star-gazers appeared at a wedding in Fürth, where she told the fortunes of most of he wedding guests, cast horoscopes, and was showered with gifts of money. The fortune-tellers are a little more cautious nowadays. Carried on in secret, without state control, this kind of astrology is very dangerous. The science of astrology is equated in your police regulations with fortune-telling. Paragraph Two of the regulations reads: 'For purposes of these police regulations fortune-telling is understood as the prediction of future events, the divination of the present or the past, and all other forms of revelation not based on natural processes of perception. It specifically includes the reading of cards, the casting of horoscopes, the explanation of the stars, and the interpretation of omens and dreams. But astrology is based on natural processes of perception," I said.
"We base our attitude," Himmler replied, "on the fact that astrology, as a universalist doctrine, is diametrically opposed to our own philosophical view of the world. Astrologers claim to be able to cast horoscopes for the entire globe, for the whole of humanity. But it is precisely this that we National Socialists and SS members are obliged to reject out of hand. A doctrine which is meant to apply in equal measure to Negroes, Indians, Chinese, and Aryans is in crass opposition to our conception of the racial soul. Each one of the peoples I have named has its own specific racial soul, just as we have ours, and consequently no one doctrine can cover all cases."
"But in the astrological manuals of the Aryan Indians," I interposed, "constellations have been described which reflect the diversity of racial characteristics and which have found practical expression in the caste system of ancient Indian cultural life. Traditional astrologers have dealt with this problem in considerable detail from the days of antiquity onward." It was obvious that Himmler, though informed of the abuses by his police officials, knew nothing of the real achievements of genuine scientific astrology.
At this point he cut in:
"But the abuses among astrologers are very great, Herr Wulff. I know this from the police records. Astrologers have figured in a number of sensational trials. In Berlin this mischievous business of telling people's fortunes on the basis of so-called horoscopes had assumed such proportions in 1934 that I was already thinking of prohibiting astrology then. Horoscope shops sprang up like mushrooms in every corner of Greater Berlin and in many other big cities as well. Provided they paid, the credulous masses could discover 'all that the future holds in store.' That is fortune-telling!"
"The only pity is," I said, "that the serious astrologers were also affected by your ban when you cleaned up the bogus fortune-tellers in Berlin. The police ought really to have used this law to protect the public from exploitation and loss. But shortly after your ban was announced, when it was obvious that the police might launch a campaign against the occult profession at any moment, certain circles in Berlin founded a National Socialist Community for Members of the Occult Profession with the sole purpose of protecting those working in the occult sphere. At that time the Association of Scientific Astrologers, which was directed by Dr. Hubert Korsch and formed part of the German Astrological Center in Düsseldorf, was the only astrological body in existence. I know that the astrological charlatans have created a great deal of mischief. But so far there has been nothing to show that serious, scientific astrologers have had anything to do with such affairs or have been involved in sensational trials."
Himmler then looked through Stalin's and Churchill's horoscopes and went on to refer briefly to Hitler's horoscope. In my observations on Hitler's horoscope I had given an unvarnished account of the fatal outcome of his military ventures and had described his illness, the dangers attendant on his career, and his mysterious death.
"Hitler will not be assassinated," I told Himmler, altering slightly the interpretation I had given Schellenberg. "Don't count on that! There may well be an assassination attempt, but it will not cost him his life."
Himmler had already had my report on Hitler's horoscope for a full year. Herr Kersten had given it to him. In it I had stated that Hitler would meet his end in 1945. I had made a special point of stressing this fact in the hope of overcoming Himmler's well-known indecision and persuading him to move against Hitler before then, so as not to be caught up in the general debacle. I hoped that he would consider it necessary to overthrow Hitler and enter into peace negotiations or, failing this, that he would at least precipitate an internal revolt that would put an end to the Nazi regime.
"What do you think we should do?" Himmler asked. "Surely it's not too late to save the situation? We have reserve divisions in Russia which are still intact. Of course, they're not enough in themselves. We also have to secure the West." And Himmler started to talk about the "secret weapons," on which he set great store.
I expressed my doubts whether the new weapons could achieve a total breakthrough, outlined the general situation once again, and in conclusion, dared suggest that the only way in which Himmler could still save himself was by arresting Hitler.
Himmler replied without a moment's hesitation, "That wouldn't be difficult. I could send Berger with a Panzer division and my men could take over all the other important posts."
This told me a great deal. Himmler really had anticipated the possibility of a revolt against Hitler and had even thought of leading it himself.
"You know, Herr Wulff," he added with a hint of menace, "what we two are discussing is high treason and could cost us our lives if Hitler were to find out about our plans."
"I know that this task is difficult and dangerous," I replied. "But then any one of us could be killed in an air raid from one day to the next. I am convinced that foreign attitudes toward you would change, if you could make peace now and put an immediate end to the concentration camps. Hitler is so deluded he is past help. If things continue as they are, the war will soon be lost. That is why you must act! Your police force is still intact, and you can easily take over the government. For the immediate future your constellations are favorable and Hitler's are bad. Do not wait until it is too late!"
Himmler was pensive and downcast. "The only thing I am afraid of is the people," he said. "You know, this sort of action is not so simple. A take-over would trigger revolts in many parts of the Reich and also in the occupied territories, which I would have to put down with great severity. And there is no means of telling how the rest of the country would react. It is a very dangerous step, one that would cause serious disturbances." That was precisely what I was hoping for. Like my friend, Henry Goverts, and many of those in the Kreisauer circle-the resistance group that was to attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1 944-I felt that after Hitler's downfall a "battle of the Diadochi" was inevitable and that this would result in the complete destruction of National Socialism.
"But at the worst the disturbances would be crushed within two to three months," I urged, "provided you secured the support of the leading generals beforehand."
"In that case we would have to act quickly. I'll think about it. Meanwhile, would you please..."
Yes, Heinrich Himmler was quite capable of saying "please" in a private conversation, when he was not playing the big shot.
By this time we had been talking for several hours, and I had had ample opportunity to observe Himmler.
He was a man of medium build. His abrupt movements suggested a nervous disposition. He spoke quickly and with lively gestures. He often made slips of the tongue. For example, on one occasion he spoke of a "nalivity" instead of a "nativity." This particular slip made me wonder whether Himmler had gone through my briefcase, which had been taken from me in the most courteous manner and placed in the cloakroom by an SS officer, because on one of the copies of my astrological reports the word "nativity" had been mistyped as "nalivity" and I had not corrected it.
Himmler's complexion was very pallid. His eyelids were red and appeared to have been inflamed by over-strenuous reading. The pupils of his eyes were mouse-gray and the whites so small as to be scarcely perceptible. His hair was dark, while his typically Mongolian eyebrows almost completely covered his eyes. His strongly domed forehead was not very high and did not slope away at the sides. On the contrary, his temples were puffed out and looked almost like growths. His chin receded sharply like the jaw of an amphibian or the mouth of a shark. He was badly shaven. There was a strong growth on his upper lip and his cheeks. His upper lip was pleasantly shaped, but the corners of his mouth were
pinched and gave his face a sharp, cynical look, which overlaid his basic feebleness and cruelty.
I made three observations while we continued our discussion of the military and political situation. Himmler's views (it was the end of May, 1944!) were pretty naïve, and I wondered whether he was being open with me. He said that Germany would shortly make peace with the Western powers; England had been mauled and although the United States had not been weakened, it was not going to reach its full military potential. After an armistice had been declared and peace terms agreed with the Western powers, the war in the East would be continued. In view of the favorable strategic positions held by the German Army, the war in the East could be prosecuted for decades to come with the help of the Western allies. Had not Himmler heard about the Teheran agreement? Didn't he know that a separate peace was impossible? It gradually became clear to me that in political matters Himmler was an extremely naïve man. When I saw him at Hohenlychen, Harzwalde, and Lübeck shortly before the end of the war, this man, who held one of the highest political positions in the state, asked me the strangest and most infantile questions in his quest for astrological enlightenment about the military and political situation. God knows, Himmler was no genius. Rather, he was a mediocrity, especially when you saw him in private, unsupported by his splendid retinue.
After a short pause for refreshments, Himmler asked about his own horoscope. I had made a rough sketch of his natal chart as early as 1934. He did not know his exact moment of birth, and so, initially, all I had to go on was the planetary positions at noon. We now eagerly set about the task of establishing his precise moment of birth retroactively by means of "control data." In this procedure the astrologer casts a horoscope of the past and then checks it against the actual events of the subject's past life. When the constellations tally with the course of past events, he is then able to calculate the precise moment of birth and cast a horoscope for the future. While I was calculating this horoscope for Himmler, I noticed from our conversation and from his questions that he did know a good deal of astrology. He used a number of technical expressions which he had not learned from me. He spoke of trine aspects, of positive and negative signs, and of the elevation of planets.
As we sat together I passed him the portfolios containing my observations on mundane astrology. He became particularly engrossed in the report which I had drawn up for him on the question: "Is Another Mongol Invasion Imminent?" I complemented my written report by observing that the moment had probably now come for the "Battle by the Beech Tree," a hypothetical conflict which was prophesied by a centuries-old legend that developed in the Rhineland and Westphalia. I suggested that this battle, like the Battle on the Welser Haide, which also figured in ancient legends, was now imminent.
Himmler replied, "The Battle by the Beech Tree and the Battle at Untersberg on the Welser Haide, here in the vicinity of Aigen-Berchtesgaden, have nothing to do with the present war. They will take place in the distant future."
"I do not share your opinion," I said. "In view of the total destruction of Cologne-which is expressly mentioned in the prophecy-and the heavily bombed cities in the Rhineland and Westphalia, is it not reasonable to assume that the great Battle by the Beech Tree, which was foreseen in the prophecy and which is to decide the late of Germany, has already begun? Aren't these events already upon us?"
Himmler did not take kindly to my suggestions. I sensed this and determined to be more cautious in future and to wait until I had gained his confidence by a few successful forecasts.