Predicitions for the End of the World from 1954 to 1962

About a variety of people's predictions and beliefs for the end of the world coming between 1954 to 1962.


JUNE 28, 1954

For many years, Hector Cox had been one of London's best-known and most colorful talkers at the world-famous Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. His main topics were the truths he had discovered in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. On Sunday, June 27, he startled his audience by announcing that the world would end within 24 hours. For Cox, his prophecy proved right when the following day his body was found with a knife in the heart. Police ruled out foul play.

JULY 14, 1960

The Community of the White Mountain was a 40-member-strong sect led by Elio Bianco, a 46-year-old Italian pediatrician who called himself "King of the Reign of God and Priest in Perpetuity according to the order of Melchizedek." He claimed that in 1958 his sister Wilma, now dead, had warned him that at exactly 1:45 P.M. on July 14, 1960, an accidental thermonuclear explosion of the secret American "E" bomb would destroy the world. Bianco kindly informed the press and then proceeded with his 40 followers to build a 15-room ark 7,000 ft. up Mont Blanc. In the full glare of the world's press and hundreds of tourists who had bought special 5-shilling cable car tickets (reduced rate of 8 shillings for return ticket), the appointed hour passed safely. At 1:58 P.M., Dr. Bianco read a prepared statement: "Anyone can make a mistake. Be happy that I have. Our faith has not collapsed because of that." Bianco was later charged by the police with spreading false reports.

FEB. 2, 1962

For the first time in four centuries, eight planets lined up in a spectacular planetary conjunction as they entered the House of Capricorn on Feb. 2, 1962, between 12:05 and 12:15 P.M. Indian astrologers took this to be a terrible portent for the end of the world.

Western astrologers were less worried; by their computations, only seven planets had come into alignment, not eight. However, an American group calling itself Understanding, Inc., led by Ms. Isaphene Maguire, went to Cleator, Ariz., which was believed to be one of the 12 safe spots on the planet. Meanwhile, in England, members of the Aetherius Society, led by ex-London taxi driver George King, climbed up the Old Man of Conniston (2,633 ft.) and prayed hard to "transmute the negative action of man's wrongful doings." King had founded the society in May, 1954, after hearing a musical voice say to him while he was doing the wash: "You are to become the voice of Interplanetary Parliament." He has since applied to the U.N. as a representative for Venus.

Although Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru described the whole affair as "a matter of laughter," throughout the whole subcontinent millions gathered in nonstop prayer meetings in the hope of calming the anger of the gods. In one marathon invocation of Chandi Path, the goddess of power, 1 1/2 tons of pure butter and thousands of marigolds were burned. The Hindu liturgy was intoned 4,800,000 times by a relay of 250 priests. U Nu, the prime minister of Burma, released 3 bullocks, 3 pigs, 9 goats, 60 hens, 60 ducks, 120 doves, 120 fish, and 218 crabs in the hope of averting the evil forces. Indian racketeers also cashed in. Extracelestial stones were sold as protection against the disaster, and a New Delhi mystic dispensed timely advice for 2 shillings a session. Millions waited, and when the doomed hour passed they all gave thanks that their prayers had been answered.

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