Erik Jan Hanussen, was known for a time as Hitler's Nostradamus and as the Prophet of the Third Reich. He was born Herschmann Chaim Steinschneider on June 2, 1889 in a Viennese jail cell to a Jewish father who was an actor and caretaker of a synagogue. Hanussen quit school to join the circus. In the circus he developed his showman skills as a knife thrower, fire eater and strong man.
As a soldier in World War I Hanussen first began to demonstrate his psychic abilities. At one point, his company was cut off from its supply of water, and the troops were becoming desperate. Hanussen, without the use of a divining rod or any other apparatus, successfully dowsed water for his comrades. His entertainment background and charismatic personality eventually got him a transfer to perform for the troops.
When the war was over, Hanussen further developed his stage act as a clairvoyant and mentalist, performing at music halls across Germany and surrounding countries. During one of his shows he revealed unknown details about a local murderer. This feat brought him much public attention. Many suspect now that Hanussen had a confederate at the newspaper or the police department that fed him the information.
Read more about Hanussen's rise to fame and his connection to the Nazi party in Hitler’s Prophet By Stephen Wagner.
In the early 1930s Hanussen founded a tabloid empire that blended occult belief with radical politics. German Communist journalists revealed the clairvoyant's Jewish origins. Since he was not a pure Aryan, he was murdered in April, 1933 on the orders of Nazi Sturm Abteilung (SA) officers who owed him money. 1933 was the same year Hitler came to power.
Erik Jan HanussenBerkeley professor Mel Gordon has written a fascinating account of Hanussen's activities, many names and many lovers, with excerpts from Hanussen's writings. His book, Erik Jan Hanussen: Hitler's Jewish Clairvoyant was published 2001.
Invincible is a 2001 film, based on the true story of Zishe Breitbart, a Jewish blacksmith's son from Poland who becomes a sensation in Weimar, Berlin as a mythical strongman. His employer, Hanussen, dreams of establishing an all-powerful Ministry of the Occult in Hitler's government. Yet as Hitler's hold on power grows more sure, and Berlin erupts in a ferment of anti-Semitism, Zishe must decide how he will use his strength. Plagued by nightmares, he takes counsel from a local rabbi. He becomes convinced that he has been chosen by God to warn his people of the grave danger they face. The script was written by Sujit R. Varma.
Nazi attitudes toward the occult were mixed and varied. Many astrology conferences were held in Nazi Germany until 1934, when the Nazis officially banned fortune telling. This made the publication of any almanacs and astrological journals illegal. See Hitler's Germany and Astrology.