Hitler and Hanussen have one thing in common: they base their careers on the suggestion of great promises. Hitler brought ‘clairvoyance’ into politics. Hanussen introduced politics into clairvoyance. — Pem

My area of study changes every month, a fact of which I am very much aware, and a condition that I try to use to its absolute potential. This month I have been researching the darker side of magic and my mad search has led me to a very interesting figure of the first half of the 20th century. Erik Jan Hanussen, a Czech Jew, clairvoyant, mentalist and hypnotist was by far one of the most controversial figures of the German occult scene.

He escaped home at the age of 14 with the aim of joining the circus. There he went from being a knife-thrower and fire-eater to becoming one of the most proficient magical entertainers in Europe. Most of his feats were done with the help of careful planning, cheatery and trickery but he also possessed great skills at hypnosis and was believed to be able to read people’s muscle movements to find where they have hidden particular items.

His clairvoyant skills caused the most controversy. Among other things he predicted the Reichstag fire – some people believe that he caused it himself through post-hypnotic suggestion on Maurinus van der Lubbe, the arsonist behind the fall of Reichstag. At one point in his life he stood before Court in Czechoslovakia, where he was accused of tricking people to believe that he possessed psychic skills. He defended himself successfully on the fourth day of the trial by informing the court of a robbery that happened several miles away, giving information on where to find the robber. It was the first time that a Court of law accepted psychic powers as a valid reason for the removal of charges brought against an individual. It was a witch hunt gone awry. Similar feats of clairvoyance followed Hanussen throughout his career.

Hanussen has certainly met with Hitler on several occassions, and even though he was of Jewish descent, he strongly supported the Nazi doctrine. Some believe that he taught Hitler the art of public speaking, whereby he could influence his listeners through correct voice modulation and hand gestures. Taking into account that Hitler only became a great orator after his meeting with Hanussen gives some validity to this claim.

Even though Hanussen predicted Hitler’s rise to power, he did not stop himself from also predicting his painful end. That, mixed with the fact that he was continuously lending money to high-ranking SA officers in order to gain favours and influence, led to his bloody end. He was repeatedly shot and left half-buried, not unlike the story of Rasputin. His funeral was simple, quick, and secret. His massive wealth, fame and repute did not buy him any favours at the end.

All his writings, charts, and possessions were taken by the Nazis never to be revealed to the public. This shows just how much the Nazis thought of Erik Jan Hanussen – here was a Jewish man who was closely associated with the Nazis, yet strongly feared at the same time. His death remains as much a mystery as his life. The occult knowledge of Erik Jan Hanussen still remains to be revealed.


Erik Jan Hanussen’s grave