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The Nazi Séance, by Arthur J. Magida

The Strange Story of the Jewish Psychic in Hitler’s Circle

Reviewed by John Rimmer

It seems to be a characteristic of some of the more successful and charismatic stage magicians and mind-readers that they eventually believe their own publicity and start to imagine that they do genuinely have extraordinary psychic powers. Usually this results in nothing more that a severe dressing-down from sceptics such as CSICOP, but in the case of Erik Jan Hanussen (née Herman Steinschneider) this delusion had the most tragic result.

Hanussen was born in 1889, just fifteen minutes after his mother, Julie Kohn, was released from a prison cell. She had eloped with Siegfried Steinschneider, and her father had them arrested for vagrancy. Siegfried escaped from prison shortly afterward the birth, and traced his wife and son through the infant’s crying. Or so it says in Hanussen’s autobiography.

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