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Cases of Ghosts and Poltergeists in German

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Cases of Ghosts and Poltergeists in German Cultural History from the 18th and 19th Centuries


By Annekatrin Puhle Fowarded By: (Mystery Magazine)


Cases of Ghosts and Poltergeists in German Cultural History from the 18th and 19th Centuries




ABSTRACT: This project is meant to make a contribution to historical reception of ghost and poltergeist phenomena, mainly in the so-called "Age of Goethe." Historical research into German RSPK phenomena and apparitions, a challenging but evasive object of research in spontaneous paranormal phenomena, has thus far escaped the scholarly investigation it warrants. While discussion in America has produced a body of scholarly works on the "poltergeist" (a word adopted from the German), a history of such phenomena ranging from the rapping "Klopfgeist" to the mysterious "Weine Frau," fills an important gap in German cultural history and suggests the ubiquitous nature of these phenomena.


To date, the collections of the "Herzog August Bibliothek" in Wolfenbiittel, the "Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek" in Weimar, the "Bayerische Staatsbibliothek" in Munich, the "Nationalbibliothek" in Vienna, and some selected libraries such as the library of the "Bishchdfloches Priester-seminar" in Speyer, the library of "cloister Beuron, the "Leopold-Sophien-Bibliothek" in Uberlingen and two libraries in Trier have been thoroughly researched.


From that research, an extensive collection of relevant cases regarding RSPK phenomena and apparitions has been made, which makes access to literary sources possible or easier. This bibliography covers up to 1000 titles at the moment, all published in the German-speaking area between 1700 and 1900. A short-list of typical poltergeist reports portrayed mainly in monographs resulted in 48 cases, 12 of which took place before 1700, 15 between 1700 and 1800, and 21 in the 19th century. A general survey of the authors and their works, as well as the spectrum of reported parapsychological phenomena will be followed by the presentation of a "classic" poltergeist case of the year 1713: the "Gerstmann" case. Most of the RSPK models collected by Emile Tizane (1951) took place in the house of the well-known physician oflutheran-Protestant denomination in Dortmund, Germany, from May 5. to June 6, 1313. The Gerstmann family of five had been confronted with many different aspects of these phenomena, reaching from cheeky examples to serious physically abnormal occurrences. Four weeks later, the tragicomedy ended as usual without any serious injuries, but with considerable damage to property (above all, smashed windowpanes). The precise diary-like documemtation written by the son Florian Bertram Gerstmann in 1714 (originally in Latin) should be emphasized, which was followed in the very same year by a report of the clergymall David Brtigmann from Dortmund, who had become a daily eyewitness of the incidents in Gerstmann's house.


Some thoughts and reports about the varied manifestation of the poltergeist's person, the goblin, round off the topic.


Annekatnn Puhle

Institutfiir Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene (IGPP)

Wilhelmslrape, ;3A

79098 Freiburg i Br.




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