Synopses & Reviews
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 originally 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 “Europes Greatest Oracle Since Nostradamus,” Hanussen assumed he could manipulate some of the more 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 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 Hanussens 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 1,000 years.
Erik Jan Hannussen, a popular Jewish stage magician and mentalist from Austria, wowed audiences and amassed a small fortune in the 1920s and 30s. Perhaps his greatest trick, however, was that of becoming Hitler's personal psychic and advisor, moving comfortably in Nazi circles for many years while hiding his Jewish heritage. But for all his supposed clairvoyance, he failed to see what awaited the Jews of Europe in the years ahead. Much too late, Hanussen realized that even he couldn't beat Mephistopheles at his own game. The story of Hannussen, of how he operated, and how he was eventually murdered, illuminates the character and proclivities of some of the men who would go on to destroy Europe. Fascinating and disturbing, The Devil's Prophet chronicles Hanussen's rise from obscurity to fame and his unusual powers that fascinated Europe and America before he came to the same tragic end that so many of his fellow Jews endured at the hands of the Nazis.
About the Author
Arthur J. Magida is writer-in-residence at the University of Baltimore, a journalism professor at Georgetown University and recipient of multiple awards in journalism and the humanities, including the Simon Rockower Award from the American Jewish Press Association, the A.D. Emmart Award and the Smolar Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism. His books include The Rabbi and The Hit Man, Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His Nation, Opening the Doors of Wonder and How To Be a Perfect Stranger. A native of New York City, he lives in Baltimore, Maryland.