Louis de Wohl

Intro German–Hungarian writer and astrologer
A.K.A. Ludwig von Wohl
Was Writer Astrologer Screenwriter Science fiction writer
From Germany Austria-Hungary
Type Film, Television, Stage and Radio Literature
Gender male
Birth 24 January 1903, Berlin, Margraviate of Brandenburg
Death 2 June 1961, Lucerne, Switzerland (aged 58 years)
Star sign Aquarius

Louis de Wohl (earlier Ludwig von Wohl, born Lajos Theodor Gaspar Adolf Wohl) was a German-born Catholic author, and had served as an astrologer notable for his work with MI5 during World War II. Sixteen of his popular pre-war novels were the basis of movies. His later novels are literary hagiographies of notable Roman Catholic saints and of different periods of the Bible.

Life

Wohl was born in Berlin to a poor Catholic family, with a Hungarian father and Austrian mother of Jewish descent. When he was only 17 years old, his mother pushed him into an apprenticeship to a banker, from which he was dismissed in 1924, at the age of 21. In 1935, he emigrated to England due to his objections to the Nazi regime. Some sources claim that he there had a wife named Alexandra, who fled to Santiago, Chile, where she claimed to be a Romanian princess and was known as "La Baronessa." Wohl worked as an astrologer for the British intelligence agency MI5 during World War II. His MI5 file was released in early 2008. He was recruited initially by Sir Charles Hambro, then running the Special Operations Executive, to devise black propaganda for use against Germany, and allegedly as an informant because he was casting horoscopes for people of interest to MI5. In May 1941 he was sent to America to contribute to astrological magazines and newspapers which at the time were using articles by astrologers favourable to Nazi Germany. In the United States, Wohl published many articles, lectured against Germany and was interviewed several times by the press. He then returned to England in February 1942, claiming that he had been promised a commission in the British Army. Sefton Delmer, a notable purveyor of black propaganda, arranged a fake document certifying de Wohl as a Captain in the British Army, and he took to wearing the uniform (though he refrained when he realized the position was untenable). His main value to Delmer was his contact with Karl Ernst Krafft, the German astrologer working in Berlin for Dr Goebbels. He assisted Delmer in forging copies of Krafft's magazine Zenit German and other astrological magazines dropped over Germany and 'foretelling' the destruction of U-boats. Delmer nevertheless continued to employ him until the end of the war, and considered his contribution valuable. During the war, Wohl became increasingly religious, and he had a successful postwar career writing novels regarding Roman Catholic Church history and the lives of the saints. In 1953, Wohl married Ruth Magdalene Lorch, who was a Lady Commander of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. He himself held the title of Knight Commander of the Order. Wohl died in Switzerland in 1961, shortly after finishing his final work, Founded on a Rock.

Writing career

He began writing as early as the age of 7. His teachers praised his ability. At the age of 8 he wrote the play "Jesus of Nazareth" because he didn't like how Jesus was portrayed by some books he read. Writing as Ludwig von Wohl, he became quite a successful novelist during his youth in Germany, where sixteen of his novels were turned into films. The best known of these was the 1934 comedy classic Die englische Heirat (The English Marriage). In an audience with Pope Pius XII he was told to "write about the history and mission of the Church in the World." The Cardinal of Milan, Ildefonso Schuster, came to de Wohl after reading some of his writings telling him "Let your writings be good. For your writings you will one day be judged." From that time, he allegedly believed that he had to write for God, and felt that his earlier novels in the German language were of 'small significance compared to the novels he wrote for the glory of God'. His novel The Spear brought him international acclaim. Even now Louis de Wohl's books are widely read. His non-fiction work, Founded on a Rock: A History of the Catholic Church is often required reading for RCIA students. He has written books on St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi, Joan of Arc, and Constantine I among many others.

List of works

Der große Kampf, 1926 Das indische Wunder – Jack McGills geheime Sendung, 1926 Der Präsident von Costa Nueva – Der Roman eines Abenteurers, 1927 Miss Lillebil aus USA, 1928 Lord Spleen, 1928 Knockout Europa, 1928 Punks kommt aus Amerika, 1929 Er und Sie und sehr viel Schwindel, 1929 Die verspielte Prinzessin – Ein Filmroman zwischen Berlin, Hollywood und Kairo, 1929 Um weißes Gift, 1930 Der Vagabund vom Äquator, 1930 Das Testament des Cornelius Gulden, 1930 Die Wohnung, die über Nacht verschwand, 1931 Die Göttin der tausend Katzen, 1931 Der Mann, der die Anleihe stahl, 1931 Der Mann aus der Hölle, 1931 Peter im Pech, 1932 Die weiße Frau des Maharadscha, 1932 Die goldene Wolke, 1932 Der unsichtbare Reporter, 1932 Schwarz ist weiß und weiß ist schwarz, 1933 Kopfsprung ins Leben, 1933 Das große Erlebnis, 1933 Panik im Paradies, 1934 Die Reise nach Pretoria, 1934 Die englische Heirat, 1934 Die Deutschen von Tschau-Fu, 1934 Blutsbrüder, 1934 Tropenluft, 1935 Es kommt ein Mann nach Belawan – Ein Roman auf Sumatra, 1935 Die Türme des Schweigens, 1936 I Follow my Stars, 1937 Secret Service of the Sky, 1938 Common-sense Astrology, 1940 Strange Daughter, 1946 The Living Wood (Emperor Constantine and St. Helena), 1947 Throne of the World (Attila the Hun and Pope Leo I), 1949 Imperial Renegade (Emperor Julian the Apostate and St. Athanasius), 1950 The Quiet Light (St. Thomas Aquinas), 1950 The Restless Flame (St. Augustine of Hippo), 1951 The Golden Thread (St. Ignatius Loyola), 1952 The Stars of War & Peace, 1952 Set All Afire (St. Francis Xavier), 1953 The Second Conquest, 1954 The Spear (St. Longinus), 1955 The Last Crusader (Don Juan of Austria and The Battle of Lepanto), 1956 Saint Joan: The Girl Soldier (St. Joan of Arc), 1957 The Glorious Folly (St. Paul the Apostle), 1957 The Joyful Beggar (St. Francis of Assisi), 1958 Citadel of God (St. Benedict of Nursia), 1959 Adam, Eve, and the Ape, 1960 Founded on a Rock: A History of the Catholic Church, 1961 Lay Siege to Heaven (St. Catherine of Siena), 1961 David of Jerusalem (King David), 1963 Pope Pius XII: Shepherd to the World

Selected filmography

My Friend Harry, directed by Rudolf Walther-Fein and Max Obal (1928, based on the novel Das indische Wunder) The Criminal of the Century, directed by Max Obal (1928, based on the novel Jimmy der Schwerverbrecher) The President, directed by Gennaro Righelli (1928, based on the novel Der Präsident von Costa Nueva) A Girl with Temperament, directed by Victor Janson (1928, based on the novel Miss Lillebil aus USA) Once You Give Away Your Heart, directed by Johannes Guter (1929, based on the novel Der Vagabund vom Äquator) Die Jagd nach der Million, directed by Rudolf Walther-Fein and Max Obal (1930, based on the novel Lord Spleen) The Testament of Cornelius Gulden, directed by E. W. Emo (1932, based on the novel Das Testament des Cornelius Gulden) The Legacy of Pretoria, directed by Johannes Meyer (1934, based on the novel Die Reise nach Pretoria) The English Marriage, directed by Reinhold Schünzel (1934, based on the novel Die englische Heirat) Punks kommt aus Amerika, directed by Karlheinz Martin (1935, based on the novel Punks kommt aus Amerika) Die Liebe des Maharadscha, directed by Arthur Maria Rabenalt (German-language version, 1936, based on the novel Die weiße Frau des Maharadscha) A Woman Between Two Worlds, directed by Goffredo Alessandrini (Italian-language version, 1936, based on the novel Die weiße Frau des Maharadscha) Crime Over London, directed by Alfred Zeisler (1936, based on the novel House of a Thousand Windows) Francis of Assisi, directed by Michael Curtiz (1961, based on the novel The Joyful Beggar)

Screenwriter

The Sweet Girl (dir. Manfred Noa, 1926) Crooks in Tails (dir. Manfred Noa, 1927) The Eighteen Year Old (dir. Manfred Noa, 1927) The Last Company (dir. Curtis Bernhardt, 1930) Love's Carnival (dir. Hans Steinhoff, 1930) Abenteuer im Engadin (dir. Max Obal, 1932) The Oil Sharks (French-language version, dir. Rudolph Cartier and Henri Decoin, 1933) Invisible Opponent (German-language version, dir. Rudolph Cartier, 1933) Homecoming to Happiness (dir. Carl Boese, 1933) Decoy (German-language version, dir. Hans Steinhoff, 1934) The Decoy (French-language version, dir. Roger Le Bon and Hans Steinhoff, 1935) Make-Up (dir. Alfred Zeisler, 1937) Dein Horoskop – Dein Schicksal? (documentary on astrology, dir. Konrad Lustig, 1956)

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