This edited article about Nostradamus originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 961 published on 9 August 1980.
Nostradamus predicted the destruction of New York City at the end of the twentieth century, by Clive Uptton
In the spring of 1940, German planes flew over Northern France and the Low Countries, dropping propaganda leaflets. The leaflets stated that Germany’s enemies were bound to lose the Second World War, which had started the previous September, and that her coming defeat had been predicted almost 400 years earlier.
The leaflets, which were a prelude to German troops overrunning the countries, were said to contain the prophecies of the greatest astrologer of all time, Nostradamus, who was born in the south-east of France in December, 1503. According to the leaflets, he had foretold the “annihilation” of the British and Allied forces and of the “overwhelming victory” of Hitler and his henchmen.
In fact, the prophecies were forgeries, and the idea of using the false predictions came from the German Minister of Propaganda, Dr Goebbels. For weeks beforehand, Goebbels had been preparing the leaflets, which were specially written by a pro-Nazi astrologer named Karl Krafft, who closely copied the style and method of Nostradamus.
As morale-destroyers, the leaflets were so effective that British Intelligence employed their own astrologer, a Hungarian ÈmigrÈ named Louis de Wohl, to compose a counter-set of “Nostradamus prophecies”. A reputed £100,000 was spent in printing the leaflets, and in having them dropped by the R.A.F. over Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and the North of France. According to the contents of these leaflets Nostradamus forecast the defeat of Germany.
This unique form of aerial warfare lasted until 1943, the year in which Krafft, as Nostradamus, had said that Britain would be under German rule. By then, however, the tide had turned against Germany and her ally, Italy. The German army at Stalingrad was decisively beaten by the Russians, and Italy surrendered unconditionally to join in the war against Hitler.
Who, then, was this man called Nostradamus? And why did his words, even if they were faked, have such an extraordinary effect upon the wartime civilians and fighting men who read them?
Nostradamus was born Michel de Notredame, the son of a respected notary in Saint Remy, Provence, and he later took the Latinized form of his surname. As a child he showed remarkable intellectual powers, and his parents saw that he was instructed in Greek, Latin and mathematics.
At the age of 19 he went to study medicine at the University of Montpellier, and he graduated as a doctor three years later. At the time, Southern France was in the grip of a deadly “black plague”, and Nostradamus went from village, to town, to city bringing what relief he could to those who were afflicted with the disease.
After working in Marseilles and Lyon, he settled in the quiet hill-town of Salon. Here he married for the second time, his first wife and family had died of the plague, despite his efforts to save them, and he turned his intellect to the mysterious art of astrology.
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