Peter Mulacz - History of Parapsychology in Austria


Notes for a History of Parapsychological Developments in Austria –

Peter Mulacz, Vienna

Austrian Society for Parapsychology and Border Areas of Science and IGPP, Freiburg i. Br.

Paper presented at:   

The Parapsychological Association (PA)  –  the 43rd Annual Convention held from 17th to 20th of August, 2000 in Freiburg i. Br., Germany, hosted by the 'Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene' (IGPP).           
[See the PA's Convention 2000 page for additional information.]           
Proceedings of Presented Papers:  192
- 209.           
(On-line version containing a few very minor modifications)                                                                                                

View additionally the Graphical Representation intended to accompany my paper:     

'TIMELINES'  (a large page — please allow some time to load)           
Colour code:

dark blue  

  refers to elements contained in the text              


  indicates the entire duration or lifespan respectively



  mark occurences of parapsychological relevance that  could not be covered
  in my paper due to the limitation of space             

  © Peter MULACZ

 ABSTRACT:    This papers aims at an overview of the Austrian contributions to parapsychology – researchers as well as psychics during the past 150 years, from the Austrian Empire to the Republic of Austria.  The main themes are Baron Reichenbach and the ‘Od’, Baron Hellenbach and his philosophical concept similar to the later one of du Prel, the Occult Wave after World War I, the era of Great Mediums, the Schneider brothers in particular Rudi Schneider, perhaps the most important personality ever in physical mediumship , parapsychology entering Vienna University (K. C. Schneider) and leaving it again, the eventual establishment of the Austrian S.P.R., a short history of the latter, etc.  Due to constraint of space those aspects that are believed to be widely known (e.g. the mediumship of Rudi Schneider, which is well covered in Anita Gregory’s book) have been kept short in favour of lesser known facets of the history of parapsychology in Austria.  On several occasions, the connection of the past to the present is pointed out specifically.     




            The year 1848 changed the world.  It was the year Karl Marx (together with Friedrich Engels) had The Communist Manifesto published in London.  It was also the year of revolutions that swept the major part of Europe, a series of republican revolts against the monarchies, taking place in Italy, France, Germany, and the Austrian Empire [2], both in Austria proper and in Hungary.  Eventually, they all ended in failure and repression, and were followed by widespread disillusionment among liberals.  It was also in 1848 that strange things were reported happening in the home of the Fox family in Hydesville, NY, a poltergeist case that was to become the cradle of modern Spiritism (or ‘Spiritualism’, as they preferred to call themselves) [slide # 0].  Thus the same year 1848 became a landmark date for such antithetic philosophical approaches such as Dialectical Materialism and ‘Spiritualism’.


            Spritism spread to Europe quickly; apart from earlier newspaper reports (in papers published in seaports such as Hamburg where the news from America regarding communication with ‘spirits’ had arrived first) serious treatment of the issue is found in the early 1850’s.  Since Spiritism is – besides the occult tradition throughout history, with peaks in the antique world and in the Renaissance, and Mesmerism [3] one of the historic sources of today’s parapsychology, it makes sense to commence the period under review with the middle of 19th century [4], the heyday of table-turning.



Ferencz, Count Szápáry

            As early as 1854, a Hungarian nobleman, Ferencz, Count Szápáry (1804 1875), published (in Paris, albeit in German language) a two-volume work by the title Table-Moving   Somnambulisch-Magnetische Traumdeutung (‘Table-Moving   Somnambulistic-Magnetic Interpretation of Dreams’) [5].  The Count, strongly interested in ‘magnetic healing’ (on which he had published in 1845 ‘Katechismus des Vital-Magnetismus zur leichteren Direction der Laien-Magnetiseure. Zusammengetragen während seiner zehnjährigen magnetische Laufbahn nach Aussagen von Somnambulen und vieler Autoren’ [‘Catechism of Vital-Magnetism for Easier Direction of Non-professional Magnetists. Compiled during his 10-years’ Career according to Statements of Somnambules and Authors’], in 1853 ‘Magnetisme et magnetotherapie’ [‘Magnetism and Magnetotherapy’], and several other books), combined elements of a previous era with the new movement of table-turning [6] in a most uncritical way.  The 2nd edition of his ‘Magnetisme et magnetotherapie’ (1854) was augmented with a section on table-moving or, in his own terms, 'gyro-magnetism.'

Constantin Delhez

            In 1860 a Constantin Delhez, presumably a Belgian national living as a French language teacher in Vienna, imported the Kardecian type of spiritism to Vienna by publishing the first translations of Kardec’s works into German (‘The Book of Spirits’, Vienna and Brno [7], 1863; ‘The Spiritism in its Easiest Expression’ Vienna 1864, several editions).  Since he was a widower it is likely that he arrived at his spiritist persuasion [8] on the basis of the loss of his wife.  He operated a spiritist association (the first such one in Austria) and published – running from 1866 through 1872 – a journal [9] Licht des Jenseits oder Blumenlese aus dem Garten des Spiritismus. Eine Zeitschrift für die spiritische Wissenschaft und Lehre. (‘Light of the Beyond or a Selection of Flowers from the Garden of Spiritism. A Journal for Spiritist Science and Doctrine.’), that mainly contained spiritualist teachings and trance transcripts.  These teachings seem to have been accepted without any questioning as to their source; there is not the slightest critical approach, apparently scientific research was not the issue.  Among all these spiritist articles the famous poltergeist case [10] of Swiss citizen Melchior Joller can be found (in vol. 2, 1867: 175 – 189, 205 220, and 240 253).

A frequent contributor to Delhez’ journal was Adelma, Baroness Vay de Vaja [11], an automatist and crystal gazer who herself wrote several books [12] on ‘spiritualist philosophy’.  Later, she played a similar role in the ‘Verein Spiriter Forscher’ (‘Club of Spirit Researchers’) founded in Budapest, Hungary, by Adolph Grünhut M.D., who also published a newsletter. 


Baron Reichenbach and the Odylic Force

            In addition to these forerunners of parapsychology one scholar deserves being mentioned though his research resists categorization:  German-born Carl Ludwig, Baron Reichenbach (1788 – 1869) [slide # 1].  A chemist and expert in mining, he discovered Paraffin, Creosote, and some fractions of mineral oil and made a distinguished career in Bohemia’s iron producing industry.  Shortly after moving to Vienna and acquiring a castle [slide # 2] in the vicinity to accommodate his extensive collections of herbs, minerals, and particularly meteorites, and to establish his laboratory, he claimed to have discovered in 1844 a new force which he named ‘Od’ (the Odic [or Odylic] Force).  The effects of this force he believed to be universal (like Mesmer’s ‘Universal Flood’, but unlike Animal Magnetism thought to be bi-polar; his contemporaries [13] used to call his experiments ‘magnetic’ ones) and could be studied only through the observations of sensitive persons.  As this method [14] is open to suggestion and self-delusion, Reichenbach’s claimed findings were met with fierce resistance [15] and have never been accepted by later mainstream parapsychology let alone by science. Yet the founder-fathers of the Society for Psychical Research (S.P.R.) took the matter seriously enough to establish a Reichenbach Committee on its own in order to look into his claims.  Until the present day, the issue of ‘Subtle Energies’ remains in discussion.  Reichenbach’s main publications on this topic are the following books [16]:  Untersuchungen über die Dynamide des Magnetismus, der Elektricität, der Wärme, des Lichts in ihren Beziehungen zur Lebenskraft (‘Investigations in the Forces of Magnetism, Electricity, Heat, and Light in their Connections to the Vital Force’), 2 vols, and Der sensitive Mensch und sein Verhalten zum Ode (‘Sensitive Man and his Behaviour vis-à-vis the Od’).

Many of his publications on the ‘Od’ were re-edited by Friedrich Feerhow [17] in the 1920’s, and part of Reichenbach’s work was translated into English [18] already during his lifetime.


Lazar, Baron Hellenbach    

            The field of parapsychology proper in Austria may be seen to have started with Lazar, Baron Hellenbach von Paczolay (1827 1887 [19]) [slide # 4].  Being a mixture – so typical for the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy of German, Hungarian and Slave blood (Hellenbach Castle [slide # 5] still is a tourist attraction, albeit a minor one, in Croatia) he was a philosopher, a politician (deputy in the Upper House in the capital city of Vienna [20]), and, after all, a prolific author in all of these fields.  Being friendly with the German philosopher Carl du Prel, half a generation his junior, and with the astrophysicist Friedrich Zöllner (famous for his theory of four spatial dimensions in conjunction with his experiments with Slade) [slide # 6], he succeeded in bringing a number of mediums to Vienna for experiments, including Eglinton, Slade, and Bastian.  Hellenbach’s and du Prel’s philosophical views were related to one another, and it would appear that Hellenbach influenced du Prel.  Explanations for paranormal phenomena were sought along the lines of an underlying transcendental substratum – a dualist approach, in its very essence not entirely unlike to the one advocated by John Beloff  [21] these days.  Yet Hellenbach was critically minded, and was extremely critical of Spiritists whom he called gullible.  Though primarily a philosopher, he was a keen experimenter as well; in his own experiments with mediums, Hellenbach could witness a number of physical phenomena, including moving of furniture and even levitations.  He described his séances with Eglinton in his apartment who managed to draw two pencil markings on the ceiling that was 13 ft high – yet Hellenbach was not entirely convinced that the only explanation was levitation [22] and he discussed alternatives.  The a/m series of sittings with Bastian took place in the Imperial Castle in Vienna, with members of the Habsburg Family including the Crown Prince Archduke Rudolph (who later committed a joint suicide [23] with Mary, Baroness Vetsera at Mayerling) being present, in the course of which Bastian was caught in his undergarments between two doors – surely this was no materialization as it had been announced, but opinions were divided as to what really happened.  Archduke Johann [24] later wrote a brochure [25] claiming blatant fraud, Hellenbach contradicted in a brochure pointing out that the intention of the medium to achieve materialization has led him that far that he – unconsciously acted out this intention himself [26].  Thus, the two camps opposing one other throughout the entire history of physical mediumship, if not parapsychology in general could clearly be identified as early as at that point in time.  Hellenbach was also interested in the history of alchemy and several other topics that could be summarized as anomalistics rather than parapsychology.  Hellenbach wrote a great number of books and papers in our field, the most prominent book titles being [27]:  „Eine Philosophie des gesunden Menschenverstandes“ (‘A Philosophy of Sober Common Sense’), „Die Vorurtheile der Menschheit“ (‘The Prejudices of Man’) 3 vols, „Ist Hansen [28] ein Schwindler?“ (‘Is Hansen a Fraud?’), „Die Logik der Thatsachen. Eine Entgegnung auf die Brochure „Einblicke in den Spiritismus.“ [Von Erzherzog Johann.]“ (‘The Logic of the Facts.  A Reply to the brochure “Insights into Spiritism.” [By Archduke John])’, „Geburt und Tod als Wechsel der Anschauungsformen oder die Doppel-Natur des Menschen“ (‘Birth and Death as Change of Modes of Perception or the Double-Nature of Man’).


‘Wissenschaftlicher Verein für Okkultismus in Wien’

Just before the turn of the century, a grouping called ‘Wissenschaftlicher Verein für Okkultismus in Wien’ (‘Scientific Society for Occultism [29] in Vienna’) was established under the directorship of August P. Eder and Robert Hielle, the latter apparently the driving force.  They published a bi-weekly periodical „Seelenkunde“ [30] that dealt – besides the inevitable trance transcripts – with makro-PK (influence on a compass needle [31], and the phenomena of the then famous medium Anna Rothe [32] who was later exposed as a fraud), with mental phenomena like suggestion, and also with the trance phenomena of Mrs. Piper (translations from the Proceedings of the S.P.R. [33]) and Mme d’Espérance; furthermore they maintained a library.  It appears they operated for a period of some five or six years (1899 – 1905).



It took until after the First World Word that a new wave of public interest in the paranormal arose, i.e. the spiritualist (purported) ‘communication with the deceased’ due to the enormous loss of lives during the war.  From this movement emerged a number of mediums that became subjects for parapsychological research, in the first place the Schneider brothers, born in Braunau am Inn, Upper Austria. 

There was another change within the field that gradually took place after the collapse of the monarchy and all the subsequent socio-economic changes:  the shift from ‘amateur research’ (represented mainly by members of the aristocracy) towards more ‘professional research’, not in the sense of an already established discipline, but by individuals (coming all from the middle classes) who were either professional scientists in their respective fields or had at least undergone university training in various fields.

(An example of the former aristocratic type of researcher is the [former] Archduchess Elisabeth, granddaughter of emperor Francis Joseph I. and daughter of Archduke and Heir-to-the-Throne Rudolph [of Mayerling fame], who – in cooperation with Baron Schrenck-Notzing with whom she had an intensive correspondence – brought the Hungarian poltergeist girl Molnár Wilma to her Castle at Schönau during the early 1920ies; however, no formal publication resulted from her extensive observations.)


The Early 1920’s

Several of the children of the Schneider family are said to have possessed mediumistic powers of different degrees. Famous, however, became Willy and particularly his younger brother Rudi [34] (1908 – 1957) [slide # 7] as these were the ones who subjected themselves to scientific investigation.  At that period, Continental European parapsychology was dominated by the superior personality [35] of Munich-based researcher Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, who later devoted one volume each out of his many publications to the phenomena of Willy and to the mediumship of Rudi.  In some of these (later) sittings with Willy, Nobel-price winning novelist Thomas Mann took part and described his observations in an essay, moreover he shaped the narration of a séance in his famous novel ‘The Magic Mountain’ according to what he had witnessed with Willy.  During the early 1920’s, following a disagreement with Schrenck-Notzing, Willy came to Vienna where his phenomena were investigated by Dr. Holub, a psychiatrist. Materializations were allegedly manifested in addition to the phenomena he usually produced (telekinesis of light objects).  Rudi, too, came to Vienna where he first gave séances in the private circle of Czernin-Dierkenau, in 1924, where allegedly levitations have been observed.  Shortly afterwards, professors Meyer and Przibram, both physicists at the Radium Institute, gave a demonstration how a levitation could be forged [36] (i.e. demonstrating the potential for fraud, but no evidence for actual fraud), their style of debunking not being much different from what is displayed nowadays by Randi.  Holub died from a stroke – whether it is true that this happened on reading the news of the (alleged) exposure of Rudi or whether this story was spread in order to create a martyr can no longer be decided.  Nevertheless, his widow stuck to Psychical Research [37] and accompanied Willy to London for sittings with members of the S.P.R..  Meanwhile in Vienna, Professor Wettstein [38] [slide # 8], then vice president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, suggested a physicist should look into the matter of physical mediumism – this is how Hans Thirring [slide # 9], chair of Theoretical Physics at the Vienna University, entered the field.  It did not take too long until a young man from Munich by the name of Kraus (on whom Schrenck-Notzing later reported [39] using the alias Weber) introduced himself as one of Schrenck’s mediums.  During the subsequent demonstrations his fraudulent productions were exposed when Countess Wassilko was able to replicate those by ‘normal’ (as opposed to para-normal) means.  So, the Countess – who had, along with psychoanalyst Alfred, Baron Winterstein [40] [slide # 10], been a member of the former Czernin-circle since 1924 – had made her entry into scientific Psychical Research as a critically minded investigator.  Kraus’ exposure lead to a disagreement between Thirring (who took Kraus for a fraud) and Schrenck-Notzing (who maintained that Kraus had produced genuine phenomena but resorted to tricks only when and if not properly controlled – a so-called ‘mixed’ case):  in Schrenck’s opinion, Thirring was inexperienced as a psychical researcher whereas Thirring regarded Schrenck for not sufficiently critically minded.  Eventually, Countess Wassilko succeeded in informally mediating between Thirring and Schrenck.

Countess Wassilko       

Zoë, Countess Wassilko-Serecki (1897 – 1978) [slide # 11] was later to become the driving force of parapsychology in Austria, she also was the motor for the establishment of an association or society devoted to the investigation of paranormal phenomena.  In 1925, she investigated a poltergeist case in the village of Talpa in the Bukowina – which before the First World War used to be the easternmost county of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy [41] – where she happened to have her family roots, and subsequently in 1926 she brought the focus person of this poltergeist case, young Romanian peasant girl Eleonore Zugun [slide # 12], for a period short of two years to Vienna where the girl was investigated [42] by a number of scientists before they went abroad to give demonstrations in London (at Harry Price’s ‘National Laboratory of Psychical Research’) and in various cities in Germany (where an alleged exposure occurred).  Recently, I carried out a study [43] re-examining this case and checking on variables that could not have been taken into account at the time of the case.


Early Institutions – K. C. Schneider      

During the same period, the mid-1920’s, two institutions were operating in Vienna, a short-lived ‘Kriminal-telepathisches Institut’ (‘Criminal-telepathic Institute’) founded and run by a Dr. Thoma, a lawyer, that tried to exploit ESP for information gathering in the context of crime and law suits, and the more important ‘Wiener Parapsychisches Institut’ (‘Viennese Parapsychical Institute’) chaired by Karl Camillo Schneider [44] [slide # 13], the executive officer of which was Ubald Tartaruga [45], a police officer and writer.  During their few years of operation from 1924 onwards, they held public lectures on ‘Xenologie’ (‘Xenology’) and issued, in co-operation with a German publishing house, a number of brochures on various problems of parapsychology [46].  Though their appearance was cheap, most of them were up to the scientific standards of their time.  German-born K. C. Schneider [47], a biologist of vitalist persuasion and in this capacity professor at Vienna University, was the first (and – unfortunately – to this day the only one) to read for a few years parapsychology [48] at the University of Vienna [49] commencing in 1926 (‘Problems of Parapsychology’, ‘Psychology of the Occult’).  He was, to put it mildly, a very strange character, so the potential reservations vis-à-vis the field of parapsychology were augmented by the strange conduct he displayed, and I believe it is fair to say that in the long run he has – despite his pioneering University lectures – done more harm than good to the field.


The Austrian S.P.R.

            Eventually, in December, 1927, the ‘Austrian Society for Psychical Research’ was established in Vienna, in its name following the example of the world’s oldest, the British S.P.R..  Hans Thirring was the first one to be elected president, Countess Wassilko became the Honorary Secretary General, an appointment she was to hold for a total of 38 years. The Society has changed its name twice since, in 1971 to ‘Austrian Society for Parapsychology’, and eventually in 1997 an amendment ‘and Border Areas of Science’ was added in order to emphasize the interdisciplinary network with neighbouring fields and to recognize the international trend towards integration into (a future discipline) ‘Anomalistics’.

            The decade between the foundation of the Society and Austria's forced ‘Anschluss’ to the German ‘Reich’ in 1938 was very fruitful:  the Society, being research-oriented [50], was fully integrated into the international parapsychological scene and many of its leading members contributed articles to scientific journals and wrote scholarly books [51]. The main achievements of the Society during this period were twofold:  in the field of physical phenomena the investigation of several spontaneous cases, first and foremost the case of poltergeist girl Frieda Weissl (1930/31) [52], and in the field of ESP research tests with various psychics.  Particularly one of them, a retired Army captain Gross, obtained very good results.  It needs to be borne in mind that during these inter-war years there was an International Committee for Psychical Research Congresses operating, founded and chaired by the Dane Carl Vett.  In most of these congresses members of the Austrian S.P.R. and other Austrian parapsychologists took part.  So, Countess Wassilko had, half a year prior to the foundation of the Austrian S.P.R., read a paper on the Zugun case [53] in Paris [54], 1927, and during the Congress in Athens, 1930, arrangements were made to further improve the experiments in long distance telepathy started a few years earlier involving Capt Gross in Vienna [55].  In these experiments, Gross, a Ms Elpiniki and others in Athens, and other persons in Budapest, Warsaw, Oslo, and Paris formed sort of ‘telepathic network’ linking some of the major cities of Europe [slide # 14]. 

            Another activity of the Society – which continues to this day – was educational.  Public lectures were organized.  Speakers included the most prominent figures of their time, i.e. Swiss psychiatrist Bleuler and German biologist and philosopher Hans Driesch, the only German ever to become at one time the President of the British S.P.R..


F. V. Schöffel

            Notably, the Society never managed to publish a journal of its own.  However, Franz Vinzenz Schöffel (1884 – 1959), a cavalry captain who was, like the majority of Imperial officers, forced by the circumstances after the Great War to retire and sought to make a living as a journalist and author, started (back in 1922) a magazine called Das Neue Licht (‘The New Light’) [slide # 15] that was to live [56] until the early 1960’s, then edited by his son.  Although Schöffel tried hard to have the Society make his periodical its official journal, they declined time and again, as this was a rather popular and in no way a ‘scientific’ magazine.  Yet it provided reliable information on various topics within the field and many of its contributors, such as Gerda Walther, had a good scientific standing.


Parapsychological Activities in Graz

            During the inter-war period, a short-lived local S.P.R. was established in the provincial capital of Graz (Styria) which needs to mentioned for two reasons.  The leading figure there was Daniel Walter [57] who delivered an interesting paper at the International Congress in Athens [58], 1930, on a new methodological approach called ‘Comparative Parapsychology’ – these methodological suggestions are sound though apparently they did not meet much resonance.  Secondly, a famous Austrian medium was living in this area: Maria Silbert (1936).  Her speciality was the engraving on a metal surface, ostensibly by her spirit guide ‘Nell’. These ‘engravings’, which sometimes appeared on enclosed surfaces, such as the inside of the lid of a pocket watch, were rather primitive scratches, not engravings like those done by a professional jeweller; however, as they happened ostensibly far away from the medium’s extremities they constitute an interesting phenomenon.  In my possession is a lady’s cigarette case (bequest of Countess Wassilko) showing such engraved name [slide # 16].


The Dark Years Austria had Ceased to Exist as a Sovereign Country

            In 1938, Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany (the ‘Anschluss’).  As the Nuremberg Laws came into effect, the membership of the Austrian S.P.R. decreased considerably.  The Austrian S.P.R. was supposed to be merged with a German sister organization, later planes demanded an amalgamation of the Austrian S.P.R. with some local spiritualistic groups in Vienna.  As all these plans appeared to be unacceptable to the council of the Austrian S.P.R. they eventually decided to dissolve themselves in order to avoid this unwelcome merger.  Thus, the activities of the Austrian S.P.R. as such were interrupted until the end of the 2nd World War.  Nevertheless Austrian parapsychologists continued with their research.


Rudi Schneider and G. A. Schwaiger

            Prof. Gustav Adolf Schwaiger [slide # 17], then the Technical Director of the Austrian Broadcast Corporation, carried out experiments with Rudi Schneider that started in the late 1930’s and continued, despite the War, until the early 1940’s, until the laboratory was bombed.  In these experiments Schwaiger tried to push things forward starting on the basis of what had been obtained at the IMI.  After Schrenck’s death in 1929, Rudi has made a distinguished career as one of the world’s finest physical mediums and as definitely the most prominent Austrian medium ever, a medium who has never really been exposed (in this quality equalling only D. D. Home).  His mediumship was i.a. investigated by Harry Price in London (the latter’s so-called exposure cannot be taken too seriously [59], and it is widely accepted that it has done more harm to Price’s reputation as a psychical researcher than to Rudi’s reputation as a medium).  Outstanding, however, and unsurpassed until this day are the experiments carried out by the team of father and son Osty [60] at the IMI (Institute Métapsychique International) in Paris where an infra-red beam – like the ones nowadays used in burglar alarm devices – was interrupted by a ‘substance’ [61] emerging from the medium’s body.  Moreover, the absorption of the infra-red beam showed a certain oscillation that was correlated to Rudi’s expiration rate (which was tremendously increased during his trance states [62]).  Owing to Osty’s results, Rudi – though initially the weaker medium compared to his brother Willy whose mediumship had ceased earlier – eventually became the scientifically most important physical medium ever.  Schwaiger in his research focussed on investigating that ‘substance’ and its effects applied then state-of-the-art apparatus, such as remote observation by a TV set.  Unfortunately, all apparatus was destroyed by allied bombings.  After the termination of Schwaiger’s experiments [63] further testing continued at small scale in the private Schickl-circle in Weyer, Upper Austria [64], where Rudi lived with this wife, carrying on until Rudi’s untimely death.


The Period after World War Two

            The Austrian Society for Psychical Research was re-established after the war in 1946.  However, owing to the shift in paradigm brought along by J. B. Rhine's approach, they could not manage to continue as efficiently as before the break brought about by the Nazi regime and the ensuing war.  Since then, emphasis has shifted almost totally from research to educational activities.  All prominent figures in post-war parapsychology, provided they have command of the German language, have given lectures. The list includes eminent Dutch parapsychologist W. H. C. Tenhaeff, Czech parapsychologist Milan Rýzl (actually when on transit through Austria departing his home country for the U.S.A. for political reasons), and foremost Hans Bender, founder and director of the IGPP, Freiburg, and once PA president, who was invited regularly for his very well-received talks [slide # 18].  The special festive lecture he gave on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Society in 1977 was attended by an audience exceeding 800 persons, including many professors of Vienna’s universities, other scholars, public figures, journalists, and – last not least – a large number of students.

In 1966, a major clash occurred during which the two remaining founder-members (Countess Wassilko and Professor Thirring) resigned their membership –  as happens so often when a younger generation takes over.

For more than three decades, until 1997, Professor Helmut Hofmann (Institute for Theoretical Foundations of Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Vienna) held the appointment of President of the Society.  During his term of office, an electronic device for ESP testing [slide # 19] was constructed by one of his students, combining his professional activity in electrical engineering with his interest in parapsychological research.  This apparatus from the late 1960’s was an early one of its kind, to be followed later by a new development – all that happened before the advent of the PC as an household item.  However, the structure of a Scientific Society (note that the Society became a member of the ‘Federation of Austrian Scientific Societies’ shortly after its re-establishment) did not allow for using this apparatus to carry out large-scale ESP experiments in the style of Rhine due to the lack of human resources.  The few results that were obtained during test runs have, albeit looking promising, never been published.  Thus, Hofmann had to contain himself with research on ESP along the traditional lines of investigating gifted persons [65].


The Aftereffects of Uri Geller’s Appearance

In particular it was the publicity of Uri Geller in the 1970’s that caused an enormous increase in public interest [slide # 20], as well as prompting some research into the effects of paranormal metal bending.  Geller was on a TV-show in Austria during which no effects were achieved by him; however, after the show – still in the TV studio – a key was bent under good observational conditions.  Hofmann had this key investigated by experts of the Technical University using state-of-the-art equipment.  No traces of any chemical substance could be found on its surface (it will be remembered that there have been suspicions Uri Geller achieved his metal bending by trickery, applying chemical substances on the surface that would weaken it).  By coincidence, I had a chance to observe Geller whom I had not seen for the past ten or so years quite recently, in December 1999, when he still performed the metal bending [66] that had made him world famous.  Luckily, the observational conditions in my case were quite good.  Furthermore, exactly the same happened as what was reported by Hofmann in the 1970’s and numerous times since:  the key, placed by Geller on a table, continued bending apparently on its own.    

As it happened in many other countries, ostensible phenomena occurred both with clocks and watches, and with pieces of cutlery during the TV show featuring Geller.  It needs no emphasizing that these accounts can hardly be corroborated in detail.  More important is the fact that in Austria, too, a few persons remained who found out that they could produce similar phenomena, at least for a certain time beyond the period of Gellermania.  Most of them were children and youths.  I investigated two of them, a boy of 14 years of age and a girl between 7 and 8 (not related to one another, different families in different places).  The girl was particularly interesting as I could get some insight in the underlying psychological processes.  The primary factor appeared to be her belief system.  Thus, she was able to bend metal  that in fact was stronger but appeared to be the same as the previous one (a double blind experiment, as we checked the strength of material only later and were surprised ourselves by the difference we found):  the can opener of a mess utensil kit proved to be of an alloy stronger than fork, knife, and spoon belonging to the same kit [slide # 21].  On the other hand, she found herself unable to bend material appearing stronger though in fact it was much weaker [67].    

Hofmann investigated one man in whose household ostensible paranormal phenomena have taken place during the Geller show and who apparently retained this ‘faculty’ which was rather rare with adults.  After his motivation was prompted by video tapes of Russian PK-medium Nina Kulagina shown to him he did well in macro-PK experiments.  A video tape was shot showing the movement of light objects (Japanese chopsticks) without being touched [slide # 22].


Other phenomena

A final phenomenon deserves being mentioned as it attracts many lay people with an interest in parapsychology, if not scientists:  Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), or, as many prefer, Instrumental Trance Communication (ITC).  When the matter came up first, I had the opportunity to investigate a few cases of this purported ‘communication’ [68].  In the meantime, this matter is entirely in the hands of persons of spiritualist persuasion, mainly elderly who are bereaved and in need of counselling yet not interested in scientific research, and in some cases hostile to such.  Thus, research (that deserves this name) in this field has come to an end.

The common denominator of all parapsychological research activities in Austria during the fifty years after the end of the war is that it is all low-budget research, due to limited resources – both financial and human resources.


The Present and the Future

The aforementioned peak of public interest caused by Geller is long since over, so the focus of the activities of the Austrian Society for Parapsychology and Border Areas of Science – since 1997 chaired by Manfred Kremser, Institute of Ethnology, Cultural and Social Anthropology of the University [69] of Vienna – rests again in organizing lectures (ten evenings a year) and in maintaining a library.  For the time being, there are some 200 members to the Society and another 200 who are associated.

I feel I should end this look back into history with a look forward into the future:  as the Society was established in 1927, it will celebrate its 75th anniversary in the year 2002, and we are all looking forward to this event.



Beloff, J. (1989).  Dualism: A parapsychological perspective. In J. R. Smythies & J. Beloff (Eds.) The Case for Dualism. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia.

Beloff, J. (1990).  The Relentless Question.  Reflections on the Paranormal.  Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Beloff, J. (1993).  Parapsychology: A Concise History. London: Athlone. New York: St. Martin's Press

Berendt, H. Ch. (1986).  Jenseits des Möglichen? Metallbiegen durch seelische Kraft. Einführung in die Psychokinese mit dokumentarischen Fotos. Freiburg: Herder (Herderbücherei 1225).

Bonin, W. F. (1976).  Lexikon der Parapsychologie. Bern-München: Scherz.

Braid, J. (1846).  The Power of the Mind over the body. The Edinburgh medical and surgical Journal, Edinburgh vol. 66. London: John Churchill. Edinburgh: Adam & Charles Black.

Crabtree, A. (1988).  Animal Magnetism, Early Hypnotism, and Psychical Research, 1766 – 1925. An Annotated Bibliography. Millwood, NY: Kraus International Publications.

Crabtree, A. (1993). From Mesmer to Freud: Magnetic Sleep and the Roots of Psychological Healing. Yale University Press.

Gauld, A. (1992, PB 1995).  A History of Hypnotism. Cambridge University Press.

Delhez, C. (1864). Alphabet Spirite pour apprendre à être heureux.  Spiritisches Alphabet zur Erlernung glücklich zu werden. Erklärt und erläutert durch viele, von hohen Geistern gegebene Mittheilungen. Wien: Jacob und Holzhausen.

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Hellenbach, L. B. (1881a).  Aus dem Tagebuche eines Philosophen. Wien: L. Rosner.

Hellenbach, L. B. (1881b).  Die neuesten Kundgebungen einer intelligiblen Welt. Wien: L. Rosner.

Hellenbach, L. B. (1882).  Die Magie der Zahlen als Grundlage aller Mannigfaltigkeit und das scheinbare Fatum. Wien: published by the author.

Hellenbach, L. B. (1884).  Die Logik der Thatsachen. Eine Entgegnung auf die Brochure „Einblicke in den Spiritismus.“ [Von Erzherzog Johann.] Leipzig: Oswald Mutze.

Hellenbach, L. B. (1885).  Geburt und Tod als Wechsel der Anschauungsformen oder die Doppel-Natur des Menschen. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller.

Hielle, R. (Ed., c. 1902 - 1904).  [Seelenkunde.] Mitteilungen des Wissenschaftlichen Vereins für Okkultismus in Wien. Wien: Wissenschaftlicher Verein für Okkultismus in Wien.

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Johann, Erzherzog (1884).  Einblicke in den Spiritismus. Linz: F. J. Ebenhöch’sche Buchhandlung (Heinrich Korb).

Kardec, A. (1863).  Das Buch der Geister, die Grundsätze der spiritischen Lehre über die Unsterblichkeit der Seele, etc. von Allan Kardec. In’s Deutsche übertragen von Constantin Delhez. Wien und Brünn: published by the translator, and Brno: Rudolf M. Rohrer.

Kardec, A. (1864, 31869).  Der Spiritismus in seinem einfachsten Ausdruck. Eine kurzgefaßte Darstellung der Lehre und der Mittheilungen der Geister von Allan Kardec, ..., übersetzt von Constantin Delhez. Wien: published by the translator, and Rudolf Lechner.

Kieser, D. G. (1818):  Das vermeintliche Abstoßen der Metallnadeln durch den streichenden Finger; eine electrische und nicht eine thierisch-magnetische Erscheinung.  Archiv für den Thierischen Magnetismus, Halle. III-1/1818:  51 - 75.

Konstantinides, K. (1930).  Telepathische Experimente zwischen Athen, Warschau, Paris und Wien. In Transactions of the Fourth International Congress for Psychical Research, Athens 1930, Ed. Th. Besterman, The Society for Psychical Research, London: On behalf of the International Congress Committee: 251 – 259.

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Mulacz, W. P. (1991).  Zur Frequenz der Respiration während des Trancezustandes sogenannter „physikalischer" Medien. Grenzgebiete der Wissenschaft, Innsbruck, 40 , 4: 359 – 365.

Mulacz, W. P. (1998).  Richtigstellungen zu Gerhard Heindl: 70 Jahre "österreichische Gesellschaft für Parapsychologie und Grenzbereiche der Wissenschaften". Grenzgebiete der Wissenschaft, Innsbruck 47, 4: 350 – 354.

Mulacz, W. P. (1999a).  Eleonore Zugun – the Re-evaluation of a Historic RSPK Case. Journal of Parapsychology, 63/1: 15 – 45.

Mulacz, W. P. (1999b).  Richtigstellungen zu Gerhard Heindl: 70 Jahre „österreichische Gesellschaft für Parapsychologie und Grenzbereiche der Wissenschaften“. Mitteilungen der österreichischen Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Wien, Jg. 18, 209 – 213.

Mulacz, W. P. (2000).  Parapsychology in Austria – a Brief Historical   Summary.  PA News, The Parapsychological Association Vol. 2000 Nos. 1-2: 10 – 20.

Osty, E. (1933a).  L’Etrange Conduite de M. Harry Price. Revue Métapsychique, Paris 4/1933: 1 – 16.

Osty, E. (1933b).  Supernormal Aspects of Energy and Matter. The Frederic W. H. Myers Lecture, 1933.  London: The Society for Psychical Research.

Reichenbach, C. v. (1849, 21850).  Physikalisch-physiologische Untersuchungen über die Dynamide des Magnetismus, der Elektricität, der Wärme, des Lichtes, der Krystallisation, des Chemismus in ihren Beziehungen zur Lebenskraft. 2 vols, Braunschweig: Friedrich Vieweg und Sohn.

Reichenbach, C. v. (1852)  Odisch-magnetische Briefe. Stuttgart und Tübingen: J. G. Cotta.([21856] Stuttgart und Augsburg: J. G. Cotta.) ([3-51921] Mit einer Einführung von Dr. Friedrich Feerhow. Leipzig: Max Altmann)

Reichenbach, C. v. (1854/55).  Der sensitive Mensch und sein Verhalten zum Ode. Eine Reihe experimenteller Untersuchungen über ihre gegenseitigen Kräfte und Eigenschaften mit Rücksicht auf die praktische Bedeutung, etc.  2 vols, Stuttgart und Tübingen: J. G. Cotta.

Reichenbach, C. v. (1855).  Köhlerglaube und Afterweisheit. Dem Herrn C. Vogt in Genf zur Antwort. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller.

Reichenbach, C. v. (1856a).  Wer ist sensitiv, wer nicht? Kurze Anleitung, sensitive Menschen mit Leichtigkeit zu finden. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller. ([3-51929] [Mit einer Einführung von Dr. Friedrich Feerhow.] Leipzig. Max Altmann.)

Reichenbach, C. v. (1856b).  Odische Erwiderungen an die Herren Professoren Fortlage, Schleiden, Fechner und Hofrath Carus. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller.

Reichenbach, C. v. (1858).  Die Pflanzenwelt und ihre Beziehung zur Sensitivität und zum Ode. Eine physiologische Skizze. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller.

Reichenbach, C. v. (1862).  Odische Begebenheiten zu Berlin in den Jahren 1861 und 1862. Berlin: Schröder. ([1913] Neue Ausgabe mit einem Geleitwort von Wilh. Wrchovszky und Fr. Feerhow. Leipzig: Max Altmann.)

Reichenbach, C. v. (1866)  Aphorismen über Sensitivität und Od. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller. ([1913] Neue Ausgabe mit einem Geleitwort von Friedr. Feerhow. Leipzig: Max Altmann.)

Reichenbach, C. v. (1867)  Die odische Lohe und einige Bewegungserscheinungen als neu entdeckte Formen des odischen Princips. Wien: Wilhelm Braumüller.

Schneider, K. C. (1930).  Das psychophysische Energiefeld als Träger des sinnlichen und übersinnlichen Erlebens. In Transactions of the Fourth International Congress for Psychical Research, Athens 1930, Ed. Th. Besterman, The Society for Psychical Research, London: On behalf of the International Congress Committee: 43 – 53.

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© Peter MULACZ and PA

[1] Funded by the IGPP, Freiburg, a research project looking into the details of this topic is currently in progress.  This support is gratefully acknowledged.
[2] Also in 1848 Francis-Joseph I. ascended the Throne, eventually becoming the longest-reigning monarch ever in history.  The Austrian Empire (‘Habsburg Empire’) was founded in 1804, whereas the ‘Holy Roman Empire of German Nation’ was declared defunct in 1806.  Later, in 1876, the Habsburg Empire was transformed into the twin Austro-Hungarian Monarchy that lasted until the end of the Great War.  This paper is dealing with parapsychology within the German speaking countries under the Habsburg Crown, or otherwise with German publications in any of those countries, and – concerning the decades since the First World War – with parapsychology in the Austrian Republic.

[3] Franz Anton Mesmer (1734 – 1815), born in the German province of Suabia, settled in Vienna where he made the basic observations that led him to develop his doctrine of Animal Magnetism (and, by doing so, he even enriched the English language with the verb ‘to mesmerize’), before emigrating to Paris.  His method is now widely believed to have been more or less the same as what Braid later described as (neurypnology or) hypnotism, yet the ideas underlying his system are still with us and are being studied and discussed under the label of ‘subtle energies’.  Straight lines of historic development can be traced from Mesmer (through his disciple Puységur) to investigations of clairvoyance during the state of somnambulism, i.e. research in paranormal phenomena as well as investigation of altered states of consciousness.  Similarly, lines can be traced from Braid reviewing Mesmerist phenomena through the two French schools of Nancy (Bernheim, Liébault) and Paris (Charcot) to Freud and further to Jung and a host of psychotherapeutical schools.  Thus, Mesmer’s influence can hardly be overestimated.  See the well known works by Ellenberger (1970), Gauld (1992), and Crabtree (1993).

[4] At that point in time the terminology in the field was not yet developed.  The word parapsychology was coined by German philosopher Max Dessoir, then still a student, in 1889 in a contribution to the German periodical Sphinx (of course with the German ending: Parapsychologie), i.e., a few years after the foundation of the Society for Psychical Research (S.P.R.), London, in 1882.  For those who are inclined to make a distinction between the notions of Parapsychology and Psychical Research, starting ‘Parapsychology’ only with J. B. Rhine:  this paper is on the latter rather than on the former.
[5] Szapary (1854).  I doubt that there was an English translation as well. Tischner, otherwise a very reliable source, merely mentions (Tischner 1960) the existence of such translation yet fails to supply any bibliographical data.  I have not been able to trace this English edition myself: there is no such copy in the Library of Congress, the British Library (formerly British Museum), The Bakken Library and Museum, the Tinterow Collection, and the Moody Medical Library (UTMB), nor is it mentioned in Harry Price's  Short-Title Catalogue 1929/1935.
[6] ‘Although Szapary believed animal magnetic influence could account for the movement, he was not as much interested in the movement of the table itself as he was in the 'psychic community' that is formed around the experience.’ (Crabtree [1988], #693)
[7] Provincial capital of Moravia, now Czech Republic
[8] A curiosity is his small bilingual (German/French) volume ‘Alphabet Spirite pour apprendre à être heureux.  Spiritisches Alphabet zur Erlernung glücklich zu werden. Erklärt und erläutert durch viele, von hohen Geistern gegebene Mittheilungen.’ (‘Spiritist Alphabet in Order to Learn Becoming Happy. Illustrated and Illuminated by many Communications from High Spirits.’) Vienna 1864.
[9] The only surviving journal that rooted in the period of Animal Magnetism and/or Psychology of Romanticism was Kerner’s Magikon which lasted until 1853.  Then, in 1865/66, also in Germany, Berthelen published his short-lived journal ‘Psyche. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Odwissenschaft und Geisterkunde’.  Chronologically, Delhez’ ‘Light of the Beyond’ comes next, for many decades the only periodical in the field in Austria.  Only in 1872, in Germany, the ‘Spiritistisch-rationalistische Blätter’ started, to be transformed two years later into the ‘Psychische Studien’ (‘Psychic Studies’) from which eventually emerged the ‘Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie’ (‘Journal for Parapsychology’) 1926 – 1934.  Later, quite a number of periodicals were published in Germany.
[10] However, case studies are found in the periodicals of the previous era, too (v. Schubert, v. Meyer, Kerner).
[11] Born 1840 as Countess Wurmbrand († 1924)
[12] The title of the most famous one ‘Geist – Kraft – Stoff’ (‘Spirit – Force – Matter’), written automatically in 1869 within 36 days, evokes associations to the leading materialist, Büchner’s, book ‘Kraft und Stoff’ (‘Matter and Force’). Furthermore, she wrote ‘Studien über die Geisterwelt’ (‘Studies in the Spirit World’) 1874, which also contains a number of automatic drawings by her husband, ödon von Vay, and several other books.
[13] Reichenbach enjoyed an extensive correspondence with a number of scientific friends, such as Justus von Liebig, Hugo von Mohl, J. Jakob v. Berzelius, Franz Unger, Friedrich Eduard Beneke, Friedrich Wöhler, Samuel Hahnemann, J. F. Baron Jacquin, Hammer-Purgstall, Pückler-Muskau, Littrow, Feuchtersleben, Gustav Theodor Fechner, Purkinje, Johannes Müller, Christian Doppler, Schleiden, Bernhard Cotta, Cuvier, and many more.  A part of his bequest (including letters exchanged with the above) is found in the archive of the Technical Museum, Vienna.
[14] Being totally insensitive himself, Reichenbach had to rely totally on what he was told by his subjects whom he broke down into three categories:  high-, medium- and low-sensitives.  After adjusting to complete darkness for a period of up to several hours, these sensitives ‘saw’ an emanation coming from organisms such as plants, likewise from crystals, and from the two poles each of magnets, both permanent ones and electromagnets.  One of his subjects, Stephan Endlicher [slide # 3] who was a good medium-sensitive, happened to be a botanist by profession, he was the director of the Botanical Garden and professor at Vienna University.  He was able to classify plants in the dark only by the ‘light’ he perceived them as emitting themselves.  (To discuss the pro and con of Reichenbach’s findings and his interpretations is beyond the scope of this historical paper.)
[15] After moving to Vienna he found himself soon integrated into the leading Viennese scientific circles; he played an important role in the plan to offer a chair at Vienna University to Justus von Liebig (who he was quite friendly with) which plan eventually collapsed.   However, following his turning towards the study of the ‘Od’ things changed dramatically:  simultaneously his previous luck in technical-economic enterprises deserted him and so did his friends, including v. Liebig.  Eventually, Reichenbach ended up as a very isolated elderly man in his huge castle.  –  He died in Leipzig, Germany, on a journey undertaken to convince some scientists (in particular Fechner) of the existence of the ‘Od’.

[16] His further publications on the topic of the Od include: ‘Odisch-magnetische Briefe’ (‘Odylic-Magnetic Letters’), ‘Köhlerglaube und Afterweisheit’ (‘Blind Faith and Pseudo-Wisdom’), ‘Wer ist sensitiv, wer nicht?’ (‘Who is sensitive, who is not?’), ‘Die Pflanzenwelt und ihre Beziehung zur Sensitivität und zum Ode’ (‘The World of Plants and its Relation to Sensitivity and the Od’), ‘Aphorismen über Sensitivität und Od’ (‘Aphorisms on Sensitivity and Od’), ‘Die odische Lohe’ (‘The Odylic Blaze’).

[17] Alias name; his real name was Friedrich Wehofer Ph.D., M.D., a Viennese general practitioner who became interested in problems of Animal Magnetism (Durville), the so-called ‘N-rays’ (which are now considered to have been a delusion due to poor experimentation coupled with overdeveloped imagination), and the Od.  Wehofer died in his early thirties from tuberculosis; yet he wrote several books plus the introductions to the a/m reprints he edited. He was critically minded and wrote, besides the topic of ‘Od’, books on the ‘Technique of Fraudulent Phenomena’ (Feerhow [1913a]) and on the ‘Critique of “Scientific” Spritism’ (Feerhow [1912c]).
[18] It is this translation of Reichbach’s ‘Dynamide’ by Gregory, Braid replied to by his ‘The Power of the Mind over the body’ (1846).  –  Although Gregory's translation was the one authorized by Reichenbach, the other translation (by Ashburner) proved to be more successful commercially, with one British and two American editions.
[19] He died from a stroke.  Tischner’s presumption (Tischner 1960) of Hellenbach possibly having committed suicide is incorrect due to plausible information I could obtain from his descendants.
[20] He resigned in this capacity after the political changes of 1876
[21] Beloff (1989)
[22] In this context, Hellenbach also quotes an analogue experiment of an earlier era:  a levitation experiment carried out by a ‘mystic’ Schindler that has taken place in the Imperial Castle in Vienna during the reign (1740 – 1780) of the Empress, Marie Therese, organized and witnessed by her husband, Francis Stephan.  It is interesting that these ostensible phenomena have attracted the attention of members of the Imperial Family; the testimony for this case, however, is poor. Hellenbach (1879/80a), vol. 3: 232.
[23] From some sources it would appear that his mother, the Empress Elisabeth (better known – from the movies – as ‘Sisi’ or [wrongly] ‘Sissy’) was a devout believer in spiritism; she might have become so due to the tragic loss of her son and heir to the Crown. However, her spiritism was a sort of faith and lacked any critical analysis of possible sources of the phenomena.
[24] Archduke Johann (John) was a colourful personality who later resigned his rights in the Imperial House for his love and subsequent marriage with a common girl; he adopted the name of Johann Orth and eventually emigrated to South America.
[25] Einblicke in den Spiritismus. (Insights into Spiritism.) Von Erzherzog Johann. Linz 1884
[26] Hellenbach (1884). It might be of interest to note that similar positions were also expressed in relation to Florence Cook in 1874, and unconscious cheating (in that case provoked by undeveloped spirits) attributed to the Davenports in 1862.
[27] Other titles of books by Hellenbach are: ‘Mr. Slade’s Aufenthalt in Wien’ (‘Mr. Slade’s Stay in Vienna’), ‘Der Individualismus im Lichte der Biologie und Philosophie der Gegenwart’ (‘Individualism in the Light of Contemporary Biology and Philosophy’), ‘Die neuesten Kundgebungen einer intelligiblen Welt’ (‘The newest Manifestations of an Intelligible World’), ‘Aus dem Tagebuche eines Philosophen’ (‘From a Philosopher’s Diary’), ‘Die Magie der Zahlen als Grundlage aller Mannigfaltigkeit und das scheinbare Fatum’ (‘The Magic of Numbers as the Basis of all Variety and the Ostensible Fate’). Furthermore, Hellenbach was a frequent contributor to the German periodical ‘Sphinx’.
[28] Hansen was a then famous ‘magnetist’ who gave (semi-)public performances in hypnotic suggestion; Hellenbach’s friend, Zöllner, too, has published on his performances.
[29] In those days, the terms ‘occult’ and ‘occultism’ did not have that negative connotation like today.  It needs to be borne in mind that Rudolf Tischner used that term still in 1950 (Tischner 1950).
[30] See Hielle (1902 - 1904)
[31] The contemporary reports of experiments carried by then famous physiologist Prof. Harnack in Halle, Germany, are discussed at length and compared to Kieser’s reports from the ‘Archiv für thierischen Magnetismus’ (‘Archive for Animal Magnetism’) from 1818.
[32] Robert Hielle and his wife had taken part in a séance with Anna Rothe in Berlin in Nov. 1901.  The report in N°1/1902 of the periodical states quite a number of control measures taken, and subsequently the Hielle couple declare themselves convinced that Anna Rothe’s phenomena are genuine.
[33] ProcSPR, Part XVII, Dec. 1890
[34] Gregory (1985)
[35] Schrenck-Notzing (1862 - 1929), a descendant of an impoverished family of lower nobility, became very wealthy only by his marriage to Gabriele Siegle, the heir of a German industry complex (now BASF). Besides his powerful character as such (see Walther [1960]), his dominating influence on the parapsychology of his day was twofold, [i] scientifically by his many publications on experiments with mediums, by improving the methodology, and, last not least, by formulating (together with Ochorowicz, Geley, and Richet) the paradigm of physical mediumism of his day, i.e. telekinesis and materialization are germane, the ideoplastic production of ectoplasm being a preliminary stage of these phenomena, [ii] practically by his financial support of investigations carried out by other researchers and particularly by his financing of the ‘Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie’ (Journal of Parapsychology) which was continued by his widow until 1934.  (Subsequently, when Gabriele, Baroness Schrenck-Notzing resolved to withdraw this subsidy, the ‘Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie’ was discontinued.)  It is not far-fetched to state that he who finances a periodical is able to exert a certain amount of control of what is to be published and what is not.
[36] Schrenck-Notzing pointed out the reasons why he felt that secure about the genuineness of Rudi’s levitations, i. e. because of the measures taken for control, particularly the luminous marks on the séance garment and the slippers with luminous soles.  ‘I could see these luminous soles moving away from one another and coming together again several times as Rudi was straddling and again closing his legs, they were right in front of my eyes, and my height is 1.85 metres.’  Schrenck-Notzing, unpublished letter to Countess Wassilko [my translation].
[37] She was also – jointly with Countess Wassilko – on the committee of proponents (1925) to establish a ‘Society for Research in Mediums’ which proposal eventually was not approved by the authorities.  It appears that she bailed out of Psychical Research after this rejection.
[38] Famous botanist.  Just a number of years ago, his face was pictured on an Austrian banknote.
[39] Third International Congress for Psychical Research in Paris, 1927. See Schrenck-Notzing (1928)
[40] Winterstein (1885 – 1958) was a disciple of Freud and member of his most intimate circle.  Noteworthy is ‘Zur Psychoanalyse des Spuks’.  (‘On the Psychoanalysis of Hauntings’)  Imago, XII. (1926) 2/3, 434 – 447.  As Freud was born in 1856, the 1926-issue was kind of festschrift on his 70th birthday. (Winterstein [1926])
[41] The Bukowina is now divided between Romania and the Ukraine, the border running right through the area where this poltergeist case had originated.
[42] Wassilko-Serecki (1926), Wassilko-Serecki (1927), Wassilko-Serecki (1928)
[43] Mulacz (1999a). Invited address at the Parapsychological Association’s 41st Annual Convention. This project has been funded by the IGPP, Freiburg, which is gratefully acknowledged.
[44] Besides Schneider und Tartaruga, the council members were:  Prof. Dr. Rudolf Schmid, Prof. Dr. Rudolf Ungar, Prof. Dr. med. et phil. et jur. Ferdinand Winkler, Primarius Dr. med. et phil. Fritz Schulhof, police official Dr. Franz Brandl, Franz Haller M.D., Hugo Glaser M.D., Rudolf Hein, and Anton Missriegler M.D.
[45] Born under the name of Ehrenfreund
[46] See reference section
[47] Born near Leipzig in 1867, Ph. D. (zoology) in Munich, eventually since 1897 at the University of Vienna; retired in 1932.
[48] This was much disputed in his Faculty.  He managed to move slowly from his own field (histology) within zoology to animal psychology, further to various aspects of psychology, and eventually to psychology of the occult and to parapsychology.  However, it appears – since lectures of his on other subjects met some opposition as well – that it was primarily he and not the field of parapsychology who met this resistance.
[49] During the 1920’s, parapsychology was read at several German universities:  Messer in Gießen, Oesterreich in Tübingen, Verweyen in Bonn, etc., all of them philosophers (the distinction between philosophy and psychology was just emerging; Driesch being a biologist-philosopher).  I have no idea whether these lectures were well attended by students; Schneider’s, however, were definitely not, again possibly due to his personality rather than to the field as such.
[50] One of the first activities was an investigation in the phenomena of a ‘Bergmann Diebel’ who claimed to be able to control physiological phenomena that usually happen involuntary.  His demonstrations were not overwhelming.
[51] For example Baron Winterstein, just to mention one.  Winterstein served more than one term as president of the Austrian S.P.R., he wrote a book on telepathy and clairvoyance (Winterstein 1937, 1948), and he lectured on parapsychology in adult education (‘Urania’).  It is interesting that likewise the psychoanalytic movement in Vienna in its early stages – having no chair or even lecturer at the university – resorted to adult education.
[52] Winterstein presented her case at the international congress in Athens: Winterstein (1930)
[53] Wassilko-Serecki (1928)
[54] The only other Austrian contributor at this congress was Wilhelm Wrchovszky.
[55] See Konstantinides (1930)
[56] Interrupted between 1941 and 1946
[57] Walter (1930)
[58] The other Austrian contributors were:  Schneider, Winterstein, and Wassilko-Serecki.
[59] See Osty (1933a)
[60] See Osty (1933b)
[61] Without entering a discussion on the existence of ectoplasm or alternative explanations for Osty’s ‘goal-oriented’ results it ought to be pointed out he was aware that there are two aspects to this, and subsequently constantly used the expression ‘substance/force’ (Osty [1933b]).  Thus, when talking about interrupting a beam of light, the ‘substance’ aspect is in the foreground.
[62] See Mulacz (1991)
[63] His records are kept in the Schwaiger file at the S.P.R.’s library in Cambridge.  Despite all my efforts to investigate this matter, no-one appears to know how they found their way from Vienna to London.
[64] Though this is briefly mentioned in Anita Gregory’s book (Gregory 1985), she does not elaborate.
[65] Presently, I am in the process of editing the collected lectures and writings on parapsychology by Hofmann who is retired for more than a decade.
Hofmann, H., Mulacz, P. (Ed.) (2001):  PSI – die "andere Wirklichkeit".
Gedankenleser, Löffelbieger und Rutengänger im Licht der Wissenschaft. Wien – Klosterneuburg: EDITION VA bENE.
[66] To be published in detail soon
[67] For certain reasons, I did not publish these results at that time.  Later, I gave my records to the late PA member, Heinz Ch. Berendt, who used it (along with a few photos) in his book on Paranormal Metal Bending (Berendt [1986]).
[68] Ellis, D. J. (1978)
[69] According to the rules, for maintaining the status of a ‘Scientific Society’ i.e. membership in the ‘Federation of Austrian Scientific Societies’ it is mandatory that the president or some council members of such society be affiliated with a university.  Of course, not all members or associates are scientists themselves, the majority are lay persons who just share an interest in parapsychology.

[70] List of publications of the series ‘Internationale Wiener Parapsychische Bibliothek’ [‘International Viennese Parapsychical Library’), edited by U. Tartaruga. Pfullingen: Johannes Baum (jointly edited with the series ‚Die okkulte Welt’ [‘The Occult World’] of the same publisher) [no year]:

  l:       Tartaruga, U.  Aus dem Reiche den Hellsehwunders. Neue retroskopische Versuche. (Miracles of Clairvoyance. New Retroscopic Experiments.)

  2:      Schneider, C.  Die Stellung der heutigen Wissenschaft zu den parapsychischen Phänomenen. (The Relation of Contemporary Science towards Parapsychic Phenomena.)

  3:      Winkler, F.  Gesundung durch Erziehung. Pädagogische Psychogymnastik. Persuasion und Couéismus. (Healing by Education. Pedagogic Psychogymnastics. Persuasion and Couéism.)

  4:      Mißriegler, A.  Psychologie der Suggestion. (The Psychology of Suggestion.)

  5:      Schmid, R.  Das Leuchtvermögen des menschlichen Körpers. (The Luminescence of the Human Body.)

  6:      Laszky, L.  Die magnetischen Kräfte des Menschen und die Praxis des Heilmagnetismus. (The Magnetic Forces of Man and the Practice of Magnetic Healing.)

  7:      Blacher, C.  Die okkulten Tatsachen von der Naturwissenschaft aus betrachtet. (The Occult Facts from the Viewpoint of Science.)

  8:      Sudre, R.  Der Kampf um die Metapsychik. (The Struggle for Parapsychology.)

  9:      Schulhof, F.  Sind Sensitive und Medien Hysteriker? (Sensitives and Mediums – are they Hysterics?)

10:      Brandl, F.  Der Mensch als kosmische Erscheinung. Die Materialisationsidee im Weltall. (Man as a Cosmic Phenomenon. The Idea of Materialization in the Universe.)

11:      Tartaruga, U.  Neue Wunder der Hypnose. (New Miracles of Hypnosis.)

12:      Wimmer, A.  über Besessenheit. Translated from the Danish by U. Tartaruga. (On Possession.)

13:      Tengler, R.  Das Du im Ich und das Ich im Du. Mystisches Schauen und Denken. (You in Me and Me in You. Mystical Vision and Thinking.)

14:      Grön, F.  Wunderkuren. Translated from the Norwegian by U. Tartaruga. (Miraculous Cures.)

15:      Schmid, R.  Leben und Urzeugung. (Life and Spontaneous Generation.)

16:      Finkler, W.  Die Wiedergeburt der Teile. Erscheinungen der Regeneration. (The Rebirth of Parts. Phenomena of Regeneration.)

17:      Schneider, C. C.  Entfaltung des übersinnlichen aus dem Leben. Biologie und Okkultismus. (The Evolvement of the Supersensual from Life. Biology and Occultism.)



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