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That the stars were aligned in his favor and predicted the infamous Reichstag Fire that would solidify the Nazis’ grip on Germany Seasoned with ruminations about wonder and magic and explanations of Hanussen’s tricks The Nazi Séance is a disturbing journey into a Germany as it descends into madness aided by a “clairvoyant” Jew oblivious to the savagery of men who pursued a Reich they fantasized would last 1000 year. This book didn t uite live up to the expectations triggered by the title subtitle and sensational cover photograph for which by the way I was unable to find a source Is this an actual picture of Erik Hanussen or just cover art The story of Erik Jan Hanussen the stage name of Hermann Steinschneider would undoubtedly be very interesting if was known about it He was born in a Jewish family of itinerant show people and after a varied career as a lion tamer singer comedian and what have you settled on a stage career as a mentalist This involved mind reading clairvoyance seances stage shows as well as private counseling He careened through Europe as a pretend Danish aristocrat making and spending money acuiring and discarding mistresses and wives At one point during the early 1930s he became friend and money lending to Count Wolfgang Heinrich Von Helldorf a mid level Nazi He gained entrance into Nazi circles and was credited with giving them occult advice Then things started to go wrong he was outed as being Jewish and he committed a major indiscretion by hinting at a fire in a major Berlin building during a seance the night before the Reichstag burned down Whether the Reichstag fire was the work of a single man a communist conspiracy or a Nazi conspiracy will probably never be known What is unarguable though is that it was the point of no return Hitler was given special powers by the ailing president Hindenburg and from then on it was police state and repression all the way Hanussen then compounded his goofs by trying to use the IOUs he held against Von Helldorf to manipulate the sale price of a major Jewish owned publishing concern and by threatening blackmail And like so many others in those troubled times one day shortly after he was met by two men taken off in a car and not seen alive Where the book fails is to give a clear picture of how Hanussen was involved in the Nazi world Did he actually meet Hitler or not Many people believe that the Nazi leadership was superstitious to the point of silliness was that actually true Did Hanussen have a clear role in the Nazi propaganda machine or did he just aim to flatter the up and coming new political party So the book ends up telling two parallel stories that of Hanussen and that of the rise of the Nazis The intersection between the two narratives is actually small As a matter of fact apart from the intro the reader has to wait until about the middle of the book before we hear of Hanussen s contacts with the Nazis Up until then we mainly read about his cheuered career and even that seems to have been mostly copied with appropriate scepticism from his autobiography All in all this is a story that could have been told in a magazine article There was not enough original research to sustain a book length narrative

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The Nazi Séance

World War I left Berlin and all of Germany devastated  Charlatans and demagogues eagerly exploited the desperate crowds Fascination with the occult was everywhere – in private séances personalized psychic readings communions with the dead – as people struggled to escape the grim reality of their lives In the early 1930s the most famous mentalist in the German capital was Erik Jan Hanussen a Jewish mind reader originall. The book has a wonderful title doesn t it It titillates and intrigues and coupled with the image on the cover it pretty much guarantees that anyone who sees it will want to pick it up Nazis the Occult the very thought of a Jew being Hitler s psychic consultant for any amount of time It s wondrous and perhaps even surprising entirely true So why the two stars then even if the rating is a rather high two star ratingUnfortunately it s for how much just isn t there Arthur J Magida did an impressive amount of research but unfortunately when it comes to his chosen topic there just isn t a lot that remains Interviews he conducted with people who had met Hanussen or had seen him perform are sadly short and not very much referenced There appear to be few surviving letters from the man and thus the image that we are stuck with of him is second or third hand often than not Even the interview with his daughter is tinged with a bit of confusion Hanussen himself has become something of the illusion he desired himself to be We know bits and pieces but most of what we are relying on are stories and legends changed and made sense of We have to go on what remains in the endThe most intriguing section was towards the end in reference to Hannusen s prediction of the Reichstag fire but nonetheless I am left a bit baffled by the book Did Magida like Hannusen s own daughter end up believing he had something of the clairvoyant in him for true So much is lost in mystery and this book left me desiring rather a lot than what it contained The author chose a wonderful subject to be sure I just wish there had been far information and primary sources in these pages

REVIEW The Nazi Séance

Y from Vienna who became so popular in Berlin that he rubbed elbows with high ranking Nazis became close with top Storm Troopers and even advised Hitler Called “Europe’s Greatest Oracle Since Nostradamus” Hanussen assumed he could manipulate some of the incendiary personalities of his time just as he had manipulated his fans He turned his occult newspaper in Berlin into a Nazi propaganda paper personally assured Hitler. Whewwhat a strange book The author follows the life of Jan Hanussen a Czech Jew Hermann Steinschneider who captivated German society of the late 1920 30s with his psychic abilities while successfully hiding his Jewish identity from the rising Nazi party Beginning with a minor circus troupe Hanussen picked up tricks of the trade and became an expert manipulator of the audience and also an expert liar And that is the problem with this bookthe author has trouble separating fact from the fiction that Hanussen created about himself and his life Certainly he did become wealthy from his psychic readings and public shows and he did socialize with Nazi leadership including Hitler himself But did he have psychic powers or was it all just showmanship Some of his tricks are exposed by the author but others are unexplained and unexplainable An example which chills is the warning that Hanussen gave to a famous racing driver that he would be killed in the first lap of his next raceand he was And there were other predictions that were eually on targetbut did they actually happen or was it just part of Hanussen s myth Regardless it is an interesting subject although it leaves the reader with many uestions


10 thoughts on “The Nazi Séance

  1. says:

    The book has a wonderful title doesn't it? It titillates and intrigues and coupled with the image on the cover it pretty much guarantees that anyone who sees it will want to pick it up Nazis the Occult the very thought of a Jew bein

  2. says:

    This slight book sketches the life of Erik Jan Hanussen born Hermann Steinschneider in 1889 the Jewish fortunetellerclairvoyantmagicianhypnotist who befriended the Nazis and was ultimately betrayed by them His support of the movement went beyond mere friendships Successful with his career in Berlin he readily

  3. says:

    This is definitely one of the most interesting and uniue reading experiences for me this year The moment I saw the title of this book I felt it would be an interesting one to read and it did not disappoint If you enjoy history especially reading about lesser known topics or obscure things this may be a book for you If you enjoy reading about

  4. says:

    Whewwhat a strange book The author follows the life of Jan Hanussen a Czech Jew Hermann Steinschneider who captivated German society of the late 1920 30s with his psychic abilities while successfully hiding his Jewish ide

  5. says:

    Though the topic Jewish mysticadvisor friend to the Nazis Erik Jan Hanussen could have been interesting it was rendered fairly dull in this book That's a shame since the subject was supposed to have charisma hypnotic abilities the book had neither I suppose this is meant to be a biography but the writing is a jumbled mess The author

  6. says:

    This is a really strange book The author didn't seem to know exactly what his subject wasa Jewish clairvoyant? The Nazis? How to read minds? And unfortunately most of the book was based on conjecture The truth abou

  7. says:

    Although I found this book an interesting read it didnt live up to the expectations promised by it's title that was just a hook to grab you an illusion along with the cover photo not credited anywhere so who was in it was it Hanussen himself? A lot of the story seems to be what the author thinks happened and it doesn't flow nicely

  8. says:

    This book didn't uite live up to the expectations triggered by the title subtitle and sensational cover photograph for which by the way I was unable to find a source Is this an actual picture of Erik Hanussen or just cove

  9. says:

    An excellent read about a mysterious and enigmatic Jewish psychic in Nazi Germany I have been interested in Hanussen ever

  10. says:

    The book is very well written It gives a lot of insight into the personality of a man caught up in a very foreboding time period The story seems very well researched and footnoted encouraging further reading on the subject The notion

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