The Man Who Read FDR’s Palm – and Hitler’s, Too

The Man Who Read FDR’s Palm – and Hitler’s, Too

Not long ago, Rebecca Onion, who writes The Vault, Slate’s history blog, stumbled upon a fascinating chapter in palm reading history.


In 1938, she discovered, a palm reader named Josef Ranald wrote a book that, among other things, included the handprints of Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler and Italy’s Benito Mussolini. In the book –How to Know People by Their Hands, Ranald provided his analysis of each leader’s character. He was writing before World War II began, before their true characters had been revealed to the world. 


In addition to sharing Ranald’s readings of the famous trio’s palms, Onion provided some background on the author and palmist. He had served in the Austrian army during World War I. “An encounter with a palmist while Ranald was in the service irritated him rather than impressing him, and while he got out of a tight spot when a prisoner of war by pretending to read the palms of his captors, he reported that he still saw the practice as a scam,” she says, while admitting that, “Such admissions of doubt may have been well-designed to gain credibility with his reading audience.”  


Onion goes on to tell us that, after World War I, Ranald worked as a newspaper correspondent. It was a job that brought him into contact with a large number of people. Apparently, he started reading palms as something of a lark, but because of the large number of readings he did, it developed into something else entirely.


“He wrote that he came to see the practice as scientific: he gathered ten thousand such handprints, using sensitized paper (some sheets of which he included in the back of this book, so that the reader could follow his lead),” Onion says. She then quotes him as saying, “With a larger and larger sampling to go by, I felt that I could draw some conclusions from my findings. On the basis of probabilities derived from statistical averages, I could associate certain markings in the hand with certain characteristics in men and women.” 


Scam or science?  Perhaps reading Ranald’s analysis of FDR’s palm will help you decide…


“The hand of Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Ranald wrote, “is almost pure spatulate – a most unusual thing in this world of mixed and contradictory personalities.  This, of course, shows a person of great independence who necessarily expresses himself in action. As you know, advanced and liberal views go with a spatulate hand, and President Roosevelt is now known throughout the world as an exponent of progress.


“As to the fingers,” he continued, “they are quite short and heavy, showing a very broad planning ability, a mind which conceives great projects. Apollo and Mercury are both strong, which tells us that the president is social-minded, that he is of a sanguinary temperament and that he is both a gifted orator and though economic royalists might disagree, an excellent business man. The Saturn finger is unusually short. There is nothing of the recluse or introvert in Mr. Roosevelt. And, compared to the Apollo finger, the index finger is also short. I would say that personal ambition is decidedly not one of the president’s strong traits. His qualities of leadership are, however, displayed by a heavy mount of Jupiter.”


Need more information before you make your decision on Ranald and his place in the history of palm reading?  You can find the rest of his comments on FDR – as well as his reading of Hitler’s palm (“It is of the elementary conic or artistic type with tapering fingers and thick, fleshy bases, denoting emotionalism, selfishness, passion.”) and his interpretation of Mussolini’s hand (“He has the vanity of the conic-handed and the energy and strength of the spatulate with which to satisfy his vanity.”) in How to Know People by Their Hands, which is available in its entirety at the following link:


Whether you believe Ranald passes the psychic abilities test or not is probably not the most pressing question on your mind today. You may have come to Psychics Directory looking for a psychic who can help you unravel a romantic impasse or shed light on a dark corner of your past. You may want to take advantage of our free psychic hotline.

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