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Hitler's Jewish Psychic

Peter McGuire

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The story of Erik Jan Hanussen, the Viennese-Jewish psychic who befriended Adolf Hitler and became known as the “Prophet of the Third Reich,” is one of the most peculiar in modern European history. Few twentieth-century historians have acknowledged Hanussen as a factor in the dissolution of the Weimar Republic. That the Führer had engaged a wily Jewish clairvoyant might seem the stuff of mocking political fantasy or occult make-believe — but the story is true.

Sadly, on the evening of March 24, a squadron of SA men showed up at Hanussen’s apartment. The Prophet of the Third Reich was about to depart for a nine o’clock performance. When informed that he was under arrest, Hanussen laughed it off as a practical joke. The commanding officer then demanded that all of the loan receipts Hanussen had collected from his SA debtors be turned over immediately. Hanussen was driven to Gestapo headquarters on General-Pape Strasse, where he faced charges of complicity with Communists and of submitting a phony Aryan certificate in order to gain admittance to the Nazi party. A few hours later Hanussen was executed with three pistol shots. Two struck him in the head. His corpse was robbed of everything except thirty marks in bills, and he was dumped in a field north of Berlin.

In the end, the Hanussen-Hitler saga proved to be an embarrassment for everyone involved: Nazi historians — as well as their Allied counterparts — attempted to destroy or conceal all materials linking the two “H’s.” The relationship was bad for the National Socialists and bad for the Jews. For post-war America, exposure of the complicity of any Jews in Hitler’s coup and the Nazi policies that followed was, at the very least, an exercise in poor political taste. The most famous clairvoyant in Europe was consigned to the dustbin of history, with only traces left to tell his extraordinary story.

Edited by Peter McGuire
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