By Harry Price
The following letter, in English, has been received from Professor Dr. Hans Thirring, the distinguished Vienna physicist, and a Vice-President of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research:
In my report (1) of our most recent experiments with Rudi Schneider, I mention (p.156) that Professor Dr. Stefan Meyer, and Professor Dr. Karl Przibram, of the Institut für Radiumforschung der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna, had experimented with Rudi in 1923-24 and detected him evading control. They discovered - as we did - that the young Austrian medium was able to free a hand and thus produce the telekinetic 'phenomena' himself. In my report I give references to newspaper articles where details of the Austrian physicists' experiments can be found.
A number of readers of our Bulletin IV suggested that it would have added to the interest of the report had I included an account of the Vienna experiments. This I fully intended to do, but was unable to obtain copies of the Vienna newspapers which published the accounts of the experiences of the two Viennese scientists.
But, thanks to the kindness of Count Carl von Klinckowstroem, of Munich, I have received copies of the Reichspost, Neue Freie Presse, and Neues 8 Uhr Blatt, the Vienna journals in question, and am now able to publish verbatim translations of the articles relating to Rudi Schneider: they make interesting reading.
At about the same time as the Vienna newspapers reached me, I received a letter (in English) from Professor Dr. Karl Przibram, of the Institut für Radiumforschung, mentioning his experiments: I reproduce it herewith:
1 An Account of Some Further Experiments with Rudi Schneider, issued as Bulletin IV of the N.L.P.R., 1933.
In my reply (April 24th) to Professor Przibram I asked if the official letter of the Vienna experiments had been published. From his letter, the reader will see that it has not, owing to the disbanding of the 'occult committee'.
I also asked my correspondent whether he would give me a short account of his experiences with Rudi, at the same time sending him a copy of Bulletin IV. This is Professor Przibram's reply:
Any unbiased person can hardly fail to agree with Professor Przibram that Rudi was caught with a hand free at the Vienna séances and that the alleged levitations were a farce. It is significant that Rudi has, as my correspondent points out, entirely 'dropped' the levitation business. Of the scores of séances I have had with Rudi, not once has he attempted a levitation. But his brother Willy, when living in Vienna (a city peculiarly attractive to levitating mediums), held a number of sittings for levitation. I attended one of them at the house of Frau Doktor Holub, but no levitation took place (2). This was in June, 1925. Willy, like his brother Rudi, dropped the levitation phenomena.
It will be noticed that in the reports of the 1923-24 séances there is no mention of 'drawing power', the act of Rudi's drawing his hands down the body of the principal controller in order to 'collect power'. This peculiar séance technique appears to have been acquired at a later date, when controllers insisted upon holding both his hands. This constant moving of the hands and arms makes Rudi much more difficult to control.
Professor Przibram appears to have had no difficulty in
1. Vide Preface to Bulletin IV, N.L.P.R.
2. See my report: An Account of Some Further Experiments with Willy Schneider, A.S.P.R. Journal, Aug., 1925.
producing, by normal means, the identical effects of levitation, etc., exhibited by Rudi, and under identical conditions. I hope that some day the complete account of his experiments will be published.
Professor Dr. Stefan Meyer, the Director of the Institut für Radiumforschung, Vienna, contributes (p.453) some remarks on his and Professor Przibram's experiments to Der Physikalische Mediumismus by Dr. W. von Gulat-Wellenburg, Graf Carl von Klinckowstroem, and Dr. Hans Rosenbusch (Berlin, 1925). I reproduce them herewith:
The publication of my report (1) on our experiments with Rudi was marked by a shower of imprecations from the spiritualist press in the traditional manner. Hysterical editors (battling against dwindling circulations) who are 'selling' spiritualism, their more fanatical readers, and those who make their living out of psychical research vied with one another in cursing the book and its compiler: the usual procedure which follows any adverse criticism of a medium. It is significant that the fiercest attacks came from those who are living on psychical research. Out of curiosity, I turned up the old press cuttings relating to the unmasking of Hope, the fraudulent 'spirit' photographer, and Mrs. Duncan, the Scots materializing 'medium', and I found that the identical abusive epithets were hurled at me when I questioned the 'mediumship' of the two persons named. Yet Mr. Fred Barlow and Major Rampling Rose have proved (2), as I did, that Hope was a faker of the first water, and Mrs. Duncan has recently stood her trial for fraudulent mediumship in Edinburgh: she was convicted (May 11th, 1933) and fined £10 or a month's imprisonment. Do editors of spiritualist journals imagine they are increasing their circulations or helping their religion by supporting fraudulent mediums? Surely it is their duty to clean up the movement.
A deplorable feature of the attack on Bulletin IV was the attitude of certain scientists who, almost wholly ignorant of psychical research, and completely ignorant of deceptive methods
1. Bulletin IV, N.L.P.R., op.cit.
2. Proceedings, S.P.R., Part 129, Mar., 1933.
3. For particulars, see the daily press for May 4, 5 and 12, 1933.
and the tricks of mediums, lost no opportunity in asserting that they were 'certain that Rudi was 100 per cent. genuine'; that they 'could not be tricked'; that 'Rudi is such a nice boy' that he could not cheat, etc. It would have done these scientists more credit, and it would have been much more scientific, if they had had the moral courage to admit that Rudi might have.
In Bulletin IV I - rather mildly - criticized Dr. Eugéne Osty's methods in conducting a séance and in withholding vital information from his report. Dr. Osty 'answered' my criticisms with a 16-page brochure, 'L'Étrange conduite de M. Harry Price' (eagerly reprinted by his spiritualist friends), which is merely 16 pages of personal abuse of myself. I do not propose to emulate Dr. Osty's methods. Dr. Osty's pamphlet is a pathetic attempt to obscure the real issue raised in Bulletin IV, which is: What did the suspect do at Dr. Osty's experiments? If Dr. Osty had devoted even one page of his pamphlet to enlightening the public as to all that took place at his séances with Rudi, it would have done much towards making his report more convincing. I suggest that Dr. Osty's employers should call for the publication of the complete protocols of the Institut séances.
If I am guilt of 'strange conduct' in publishing the fact that our photographic apparatus detected Rudi with a freed arm (we photographed what Professors Meyer and Przibram stated took place in Vienna), what term shall be applied to Dr. Osty who, we now learn from Nature (April 15th, 1933), discovered that a suspect attended 15 of his séances and does not say a word about it in his report? Dr. Osty stated to me that when the - alleged - genuine phenomena failed, a young woman suspect produced fake phenomena. Surely the reader of Dr. Osty's report was entitled to know something about this? This young woman was, we are told, present at 15 séances at which she may have tricked, or at which trickery may have been attempted. If the suspect commenced tricking at the first séance she attended, and was detected, why was she permitted to attend the remaining fourteen? If she was not caught cheating until the fifteenth séance, how does Dr. Osty
know that the 'phenomena' produced at the previous fourteen were not due to her trickery? Let Dr. Osty clear up the mystery and give us a full and frank account of all that took place at these 15 séances. Let us know how and when the young woman cheated; her name and what relationship - if any - she is to Rudi Schneider; how she was detected, and by whom; why she was permitted to attend further séances after he stated she had been detected; in short, to tell us the whole story. Not one of these questions has been answered by Dr. Osty in his 'reply' to my report, and I suggest that if he concerned himself more with particulars and less with personalities, his 'reports' would be taken more seriously in England. I call upon him to publish a full and frank account of everything that took place at his experiments; until he does so, his report of these séances will continue to be attacked. I suggest that he issues a supplement to his report, giving us the complete story, and including in it the letter (dated January 15th, 1932) he sent me warning me of the suspect. Unfortunately, we were compelled to have this person, as Rudi would neither visit the National Laboratory nor hold a séance without her. But after Dr. Osty's experiences she was kept under special observation, and had she been detected in the slightest attempt at trickery, the experiments would have terminated abruptly whether Rudi liked it or not.
To summarize this affair of the suspect at Dr. Osty's experiments, I call upon him to answer the following questions:
What was the name of the suspect?
What was her connection with Rudi?
Is it a fact that she attended 15 séances?
What type of 'phenomena' did she produce?
How were they detected, and by whom?
What special control - both before and after detection?
Did her 'helping' Rudi have the same effect on the instruments as the -alleged - genuine phenomena?
Was the suspect accused of trickery?
If so, what was her reaction?
If not, why not?
How near the infra-red beam was the suspect placed?
How near Rudi was she placed?
Who controlled the suspect during the séances, and how was she immobilized?
Was she near the recording instruments, and could she tamper with them?
Did she tamper with them?
Were the feet of the suspect controlled as well as her hands?
If so, by whom and in what way?
If not, why not?
At what stage was it discovered that a suspect was present?
Was it on her first visit, or at her fifteenth visit, or at some period in between?
Did she cheat at every séance?
Was she forbidden to attend another séance after having been detected?
If not, why not?
Was it a fact that the suspect had the run of the Institut for six weeks?
What precautions were taken to prevent her or Rudi gaining access to the instruments, records, or séance-room during the intervals between the experiments?
Why was all mention of the suspect withheld from Dr. Osty's report?
Why did Dr. Osty take the trouble to warn the National Laboratory concerning the young woman, while omitting all mention of her in his own report?
Was it because he guessed that she would at once be detected by us, and that we should conclude that she had
fraudulently produced all the phenomena recorded in Dr. Osty's report?
Will Dr. Osty publish the names of every person who attended his séances with Rudi?
If not, why not?
Was any other person detected tricking at the experiments with Rudi?
Could any other person have tricked at these séances?
Is it certain that none of the 'genuine' phenomena was produced by the suspect before she was detected producing the spurious?
All the above questions cry aloud to be answered, and until this has been done, Dr. Osty must expect his report to be mercilessly criticized.
It is unfortunate that Rudi ever went to Paris. When I suggested to him in 1929 that he might like to go to the Institut Métapsychique, it never occurred to me that Dr. Osty would attempt to test the boy without the co-operation of someone with a full knowledge of physical mediumship and physical mediums. I am sure that Dr. Osty will be the first to admit that he knows little about physical mediumship or the tricks of mediums. One has to serve a long apprenticeship in studying the technique of physical mediumship before one is able to investigate such a strong, experienced, and clever medium as Rudi: not only is the ordinary tactual control (as employed by Dr. Osty at his experiments, and also by the group which investigated the boy in London during the autumn of 1932) quite useless for this boy, as Professors Meyer and Przibram found in 1924, and as we proved in 1932, but it requires an exceedingly strong man to hold this medium during the paroxysms of the alleged trance and the constant movements of 'drawing power'. No man, unless he be of exceptionally strong physique, should be permitted to act as principal controller of Rudi Schneider, if a tactual control be used.
It is unfortunate that Dr. Osty did not call in someone
thoroughly acquainted with physical mediums to assist him in his experiments. Eventually, he accepted an offer of help from the London Society for Psychical Research, but I am not aware of any official belonging to this society who has had experience in investigating physical mediumship or who is conversant with deceptive methods employed in the séance-room. This 'investigating partnership' could result only in a lamentable farce, and Rudi returned to his home in Braunau shortly afterwards. To determine whether an alleged physical phenomenon is, or is not, genuine is a highly-specialized business and can be learned only after much experience with physical mediums. During his fifteen months' sojourn in Paris, Rudi appeared to lose most of his powers. He was brilliant in 1929-30; in 1932 his mediumship had deteriorated to an extraordinary degree.
It is significant that Rudi has produced no major phenomena since the termination of our 1932 experiments. Although he has been tested in London and Paris for six months or more, I have heard of no rising handkerchiefs, 'supernormal' handing around of flowers, cigarettes, etc.; tying knots in handkerchiefs; the placing of a waste-paper basket over a sitter's head; the production of psychic hands or pseudopods, or the production of 'Olga's' signature - all of which 'phenomena' were witnessed in my laboratory between February and May, 1932. He is alleged to have affected an invisible infra-red beam (as apparently he did at my experiments), and that is about all. Can it be that the knowledge that we possessed the incriminating photographs reproduced in Bulletin IV (Plates XVIII-XXI) has somehow caused the phenomena to cease? Is it merely coincidence that after the 'exposure' of Professors Meyer and Przibram, the 'levitation' phenomena ceased, and that after he knew we had the compromising photographs, the telekinetic phenomena also stopped? It is highly improbable that Rudi will ever 'levitate' again or produce telekinetic phenomena under a good control.
We are informed by Dr. Fraser-Harris, writing in a spiritualist Journal (1), that it is impossible for a person to simulate
1. Light. Mar. 17, 1933, p.162.
a 'trance' like Rudi's. He says that no 'normal person' can do it. He continues: 'If anyone voluntarily breathes as fast as he can for as long as he can, he finds that he cannot keep up this hypernea for more than a few minutes before a state of apnea, or cessation of breathing, sets in. Rudi, when in trance, can keep up his abnormal hypernea for more than an hour, and the protocol of April 28 is just like that for any other séance.' The italics are mine. The above statement is sheer nonsense, and I should be surprised to hear that the writer has studied even one of the protocols published in Bulletin IV. If the reader will turn to the protocol (p. 145) of the 25th séance, on April 28th, 1932 (the one cited by Rudi's enthusiastic apologist), he will see that Rudi breathed 'as fast as he can' for no more than a minute or so at a time. Every minute or so, the protocol tells us, Olga (i.e., Rudi) said this, or Olga said that; or Olga hissed. The following is a fair specimen of the protocol, reproduced verbatim:
And so on; not only as recorded throughout the protocol of the 25th sitting, but as recorded throughout the book. As a matter of fact, Rudi breathes quickly only for very short periods (a minute or so) at a time, as he is continually talking, or telling us to talk. When Rudi is talking, it is obvious that he is not breathing 'as fast as he can': he is resting, and the 'for as long as he can' boils down to a very few minutes! Rudi's respiration in the alleged trance state is a very quick, shallow breathing from the throat and not from the chest, and is never maintained for more than a minute or so without talking - i.e., resting from
breathing quickly, as the perusal of any protocol will reveal. The 'for more than an hour' is typical of the statements concerning Rudi which have appeared in the spiritualist press. As I recorded some years ago, I simulated Rudi's breathing continuously for 61/4 minutes, and I was exhausted - and I do not pretend to have lungs like Rudi's. I have never yet seen Rudi breathe continuously (i.e., without talking as 'Olga') for more than a few minutes. Rudi's 'trance' has yet to be proved that it is anything but a normal state, and experiments are in progress to ascertain if other healthy, strong young fellows can simulate the Rudi 'trance'.
It still has to be determined whether Rudi's alleged psychic emanation can really affect an infra-red beam. Dr. Osty claims that the boy did so during the Paris experiments, but we now know that the control of the medium was thoroughly inadequate. At our experiments in the spring of 1932, it appeared as if an infra-red beam was intercepted by something externalised by Rudi, when using apparatus constructed by Lord Charles Hope and his friends. But curiously enough, when this apparatus was replaced by instruments ten times more sensitive, and erected and supervised by Messrs. Radiovisor (Parent) Ltd., no abnormal changes whatever were registered. Every time Lord Charles Hope's apparatus was used, the milliammeter was, apparently, affected. But the very much more sensitive professional instruments erected by the Radiovisor Company did not show the slightest reaction to Rudi's alleged externalization of an abnormal power. Before it can be claimed that Rudi can, abnormally, affect an infra-red beam, this alleged phenomenon must be confirmed independently by trained physicists of established reputation.
. . . . .
The statement has been made (not to me personally) on Rudi's behalf that he was not present when I developed the plates which were automatically exposed at the 25th séance on April 28th, 1932, and that the first he heard about the
incriminating photographs was from our Bulletin IV. The facts are that I developed the plates in the presence of Miss Beenham, our secretary, Fräulein Mitzi Mangl (Rudi's fiancée), and Rudi. We four examined (by electric light) the negatives and discussed the freed arm before we left the dark room, and again examined them - and discussed them - by daylight.
Dr. Osty, in his desperate attempt at saving his own report by damning ours, records on page 8 of his pamphlet that when Rudi was questioned about the conversation that Miss Beenham and I had with him concerning the freed arm, he answered: 'It is false. Mr. Price never developed any photographic plate in my presence....The conversation between Mr. Price and myself as related in the book [Bulletin IV] is a pure invention.' I am glad Dr. Osty has recorded this alleged statement by Rudi, as it is one of the lies that can be nailed to the counter. As proving that Rudi was perfectly well acquainted with what I charged him with, I will quote from the correspondence which afterwards passed between us. This documentary evidence can be examined by anyone interested.
On September 1st, 1932, I sent Rudi a letter in which occur the following paragraphs:
The above was translated into German by Mrs. Dorothy de Gernon, a German scholar.
I received the following answer (dated September 9th) from Herr Schneider, Rudi's father: 'We have received your letter of the 1st inst., and as Rudi has a bad finger, he has asked me to write for him....You write that Rudi will not journey without Mitzi, but you are making a great mistake. He finds that the results are better and that it is not so lonely for him. Also, he strongly denies that he asks too much. I know myself that Rudi is content with what one gives him....but I cannot help asking who gives him anything to live on in the summer when he holds no sittings? He must even save for the winter. I know that when he was in London he paid 200 marks out of his own pocket.' (1)
It will be noticed that Herr Schneider mentions nothing about the incriminating photographs: if Rudi had no knowledge of them, his father would, of course, have challenged my remarks.
On September 20th, 1932, I again wrote to Rudi and made the remarks: 'On some future visit, I should like to try some more photographic experiments with you.' Rudi replied to this on December 4th, but again made no mention of the photographs.
On December 19th, 1932, I wrote to Rudi: 'The fact that we have discovered that you are able - consciously or subconsciously - to free an arm during a séance was another reason why we were not inclined to again pay the very great expenses in having you and Mitzi. You ought to realize that it is due to us that you should return to the Laboratory, at lower fees, in order to produce phenomena under a stricter control and thus restore our confidence in your mediumship....I know that Dr. Osty will not have Mitzi in Paris again. This is formally to invite you to return to the Laboratory in the spring in order to give you an opportunity to rehabilitate yourself. But we cannot pay you the same high fees.'
1. I cannot follow Herr Schneider here, as Rudi was paid £10 per week over and above all expenses of himself and fiancée.
Rudi replied to the above on December 28th, 1932, and in this letter he does reveal the fact that he is aware of the charge we made against him. This is the letter: 'I was very pleased to have your letter of the 19th inst. I am very sorry that you think like you do of me. You know well that I have never demanded anything, only you made the offer. I am always ready to come to the Laboratory for little or no money. I am very sad that I must rehabilitate myself after so many experiments.' It will be noticed that he uses the word 'rehabilitate' in his letter, as I did in mine.
On February 28th, 1933, I again wrote to Rudi offering him £5 per week and all expenses if he would come to us in the autumn of 1933. I included in my letter the following paragraph: 'You will realize that is it imperative that you are again tested at the Laboratory. We were responsible for endorsing your mediumship and for your introduction to British scientists; it is equally our responsibility to again test you in view of what we discovered at the séance of April 28th, 1932....Our report of the last series of sittings held at the National Laboratory will be published next week.' The italics are in the original letter.
Rudi replied to the above letter on March 7th, 1933 (after he had seen Bulletin IV), promising to come to the Laboratory in the autumn of 1933, and agreeing to the terms. His exact words are: 'I gladly accept your invitation, and hope, at the next experiments, to win again your complete confidence.' It will be noticed that he again writes obviously with a knowledge of what he had been charged with, though he does not mention the séance of April 28th, 1932.
So it is quite clear from the above documentary evidence, together with the testimony of Mrs. de Gernon and Miss Beenham, that Rudi has always been perfectly aware of the incident of the freed arm. His alleged statement (as recorded by Dr. Osty) that 'the conversation between Mr. Price and myself as related in the book is a pure invention' is therefore a lie. The question now arises as to who is responsible for this lie appearing in Dr. Osty's pamphlet. All the letters to Rudi
were in German, written by Mrs. de Gernon, who can testify to having written them. All of Rudi's replies were also in his own language. The originals of the letters I have cited, with copies of my replies, can be examined at the Laboratory, and I challenge Rudi to produce those of my letters which I have quoted, and to which he or his father sent answers. It is significant that although Rudi was in London for three months during the autumn of 1932, and was staying within five minutes' walk of the Laboratory, he neither came to the Laboratory nor made any attempt to see me. This avoidance of the Laboratory is hardly consistent with his pleading ignorance of what he was charged with.
. . . . .
Several correspondents have written for an explanation as to why the hand of the medium is not seen in the sleeve of the pyjama jacket shown in Plates XVIII and XIX of Bulletin IV. As a matter of fact, in the original photographs, the hand is clearly, though faintly, visible. In the reproductions, the hand is very faintly seen. The explanation is a simple one: When the first flash went off, immediately after the removal of the handkerchief, it caught Rudi's hand in front of the glass panel of the Globe-Wernicke bookcase. When, a moment later, the second flash ignited, Rudi had got his hand back into control and the glass panel was again photographed, the reflection of the glass 'killing' the image of the hand to a certain extent.
Rudi has arranged to visit the National Laboratory again in the autumn of 1933, and a final effort will be made to determine which of his manifestations are genuine, and which are normal. I have devised a controlling technique which, I think, will settle the question once and for all. The results of our experiments will be published in due course. The discovery we made at the séance of April 28th, 1932, together with the experiences of professors Meyer and Przibram, make it imperative that we should settle the question of Rudi's mediumship.
The Vienna newspaper articles (cited in Bulletin IV) of the experiments (1) made by Professors Meyer and Przibram have been translated and they follow herewith. They should be studied in conjunction with the letters from Professor Przibram, reproduced above:
GRAVE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THE MEDIUM
WHAT PROF. DR. STEFAN MEYER AND PROF. DR. KARL PRZIBRAM
Occult experiments with the aid of suitable and capable mediums have become extremely popular in Vienna, especially since Baron von Schrenck-Notzing of Munich tried to place them on a scientific basis, with the result that distinguished people, such as for instance Thomas Mann, started to take these problems seriously. Séances in fashionable society are increasing and interest in occult phenomena is growing rapidly.
One of the most zealous workers in the movement is Herr Czernin-Dirkenau, who founded a metaphysic institute and did everything in his power to popularize the movement. At the request of Herr Czernin-Dirkenau, an important Viennese financier recently agreed to hold a sitting at his home, with a view to testing the powers of the medium Rudi Schneider, who is being experimented with by Herr Czernin-Dirkenau. Rudi Schneider is the fifteen-year-old brother of the well-known medium Willi Schneider, with whom Primarius Dr. Holub experiments. The brothers come from Braunau-am-Inn (Upper
1. All mention of these Viennese experiments was omitted from Dr. Osty's report.
Austria), and are the sons of a printer. Willi follows the dental profession, whilst Rudi is a mechanic. Besides these two there is a third medium in Austria, a Frau Silbert of Graz. The banker mentioned above desired to carry out his investigations in a strictly scientific manner, and invited to the sitting arranged by him two distinguished Viennese physicists, Prof. Dr. Stefan Meyer and Prof. Dr. Karl Przibram.
Prof. Stefan Meyer, during a talk with one of our editors on the question of his observations - which coincide entirely with those of Dr. Przibram - told us the following:
'We went to the séance to which we were invited without any prejudice whatsoever and with the intention of obtaining an objective picture of what was taking place. We had the opportunity of making a number of suggestions regarding control measures, and from the acceptance or rejection of these by the medium and his protector we could already form an idea as to how things would happen. The suggestion, for instance, to have the medium's legs bound by a third person was refused, as the medium stipulates to attend to this himself in the darkened room; whilst another suggestion, i.e., to place a luminous ribbon around the medium's shoulders, which apparently would not embarrass him, was immediately accepted. From the start we had no intention to cause any disturbance during the séance, and this passed in complete tranquillity. All we did was to concentrate on watching everything most carefully, as far as this is possible in a darkened room.
'We had the impression that the trance conditions of the medium was a simulated one, and not genuine. The sitting, which lasted hours, took its usual course, and the manifestations were the so-called "levitations" and the telekinetic phenomena, movement of objects operating at a distance from the medium. It was quite clear to us that Rudi Schneider could have at his disposal neither a complicated apparatus, nor get any assistance, and we therefore tried to trace everything back to very simple actions.
'Everyone who has witnessed the manifestations which
happen at the Rudi Schneider sittings must have noticed how very difficult all dimensions appear in a darkened room, and how one can deceive oneself with regard to height and size. Dimensions in a darkened room are deceptive and the perspective appears completely altered. I must say here that as a result of control measures desired by us and some of which were accepted, our Rudi Schneider experiments were partly unsuccessful. It was quite clear to us that Rudi Schneider in his manifestations....succeeded in his levitation by slipping one foot through the binding, fastening the luminous marks to the other foot, which enabled him be means of the free foot to stand on a chair, thereby raising his body and the luminous marks. This position, in view of the above-mentioned illusion of perspective and dimensions, would appear to the sitters who were looking up as if the body might be levitated almost to the ceiling. The telekinetic phenomena (for instance, striking chords on a luminous mandoline) could easily have been manipulated with the one free arm, as movements of luminous objects in a dark room would appear as being far beyond the reach of the medium's arm. Anyone can convince himself of this by trying the experiment.
'It must be mentioned here that the two controllers held the medium with one hand each only, as they had to use the other by joining the chain of sitters, certainly unintentionally assisted the medium in his levitations.
'For us the manifestations shown by Rudi Schneider offered physically nothing new. Certain other questions, as for instance how the deception of the trance condition is possible, will have to be left to medical men to explain.
'In order to convince others of the correctness of our observations, we decided to produce ourselves the Rudi Schneider phenomena, and Prof. Karl Przibram agreed to play the part of the medium. Last Sunday we gave a séance at my
home, in the room where we are at present, to which about forty guests were invited. The party consisted of university professors, medical men, artists, etc. The only difference in our sitting was that I did not bring Prof. Karl Przibram (as was the case with Rudi Schneider) into the room when the lights were on. Instead, so that he should be recognized, I brought him in after the room had been darkened.
'The experiment succeeded in a surprising manner. Prof. Karl Przibram was able to show the guests all the manifestations produced by Rudi Schneider. It only required a few preparations to enable him to give the entire Rudi Schneider programme with all its levitations and telekinetic phenomena.
'After our show in the darkened room we had a reception thereof in full light, when, to the amusement of our guests, we gave a complete explanation of all these very simple happenings. The impression made upon the audience was that the phenomena produced by Rudi Schneider were just ordinary tricks, which can be imitated by anybody after a little practice.
'The observations made by me at the séance with Rudi Schneider have only strengthened my belief in the physical world picture as I know it, and neither Prof. Przibram nor I can see any reason for changing our minds about it, unless convincing facts of a different nature are submitted to us.
'I must add that my remarks refer solely to the medium Rudi Schneider. Although I have seen his brother, Willi Schneider, no phenomena occurred at my séances with him.'
Prof. Dr. Stefan Meyer declared explicitly that he had no reason whatsoever to doubt the bona fides of Herr Czernin-Dirkenau; he rather believes that this gentleman was deceived by Rudi Schneider. This opinion was strengthened by the fact that when he and Dr. Przibram met Herr Czernin-Dirkenau by chance one day, the latter was certain that Rudi Schneider was in Braunau on that particular day, whilst both scientists knew that Rudi was actually in Vienna, giving a séance to another party. Quite by accident both scientists met Rudi on the evening of that particular day.
Prof. Meyer finally declared that as a result of his experiences up to the present with Austrian mediums he was forced to a sceptical attitude as regards all so-called occult phenomena.
The two scientists have recorded all the facts collected by them and submitted a report to Prof. Wagner-Jauregg. The committee for the scientific investigation of occult manifestations will shortly examine the matter. Besides Prof. Wagner-Jauregg, the following are members of the committee: Prof. Dr. Bühler, Prof. Dr. Durig, Prof. Dr. Ehrenhaft, Prof. Dr. Schlicht, Dr. Liebesny, and Herr Ehrenfest.
We are informed that Primarius Dr. Holub, who directs the occult experiments with Willi Schneider, has fallen ill and is still in hospital.
From the Neue Freie Presse, Vienna,
February 15th, 1924, pp. 7-8.
THE VIENNA MEDIUM RUDI SCHNEIDER EXPOSED!
DISCLOSURES BY PROF. STEFAN MEYER AND
PROF. KARL PRZIBRAM
In recent times interest in the investigation of occult miracles has not only grown enormously, but there has also been an increase in disclosures in this sphere, and exposure of nearly all mediums who were hitherto looked upon as unassailable. One will remember how, a short time ago, the famous Polish medium, Guzik, was exposed in Paris, and, shortly afterwards, Laszlo, in Budapest. Up to the present nothing could be proved against the Vienna mediums, Willi and Rudi Schneider, young fellows from Braunau-am-Inn, who succeeded in getting well-known Viennese scientists to interest themselves in their phenomena to such an extent that a Metapsychic Institute was founded in this city, and a commission of distinguished scientists decided to experiment, particularly with the two brothers.
Two members of the said commission, physicists of high repute, university professors of important standing, of the Committee for Radium Research at the Vienna Institute, Prof. S. Meyer and his assistant, Prof. Przibram, were able after a very short time (they had only three sittings with Rudi Schneider) to form a picture of the proceedings, based on the fact that certain control measures suggested by them were at first accepted but afterwards rejected.
A representative of our paper had the opportunity of interviewing the two scientists in question with regard to their sensational investigation successes. They declared that it was not possible for them to give particulars of the means and methods employed by them until the Commission under the Directorship of Prof. Wagner-Jauregg had examined the report submitted by them (which was definite and had only one interpretation) and pronounced its final decision in the matter. They were nevertheless able to give us a number of highly interesting details.
They particularly stressed the point that their investigation solely concerned Rudi Schneider, the fifteen-year-old and younger of the two mediums. He is the one with whom Erich Czernin-Dirkenau experiments, whilst the elder brother, Willi, is being tested by Primarius Holub. Scientists have so far found nothing against Willi, who is decidedly the more important and cleverer of the two, although Vater Schneider has a higher opinion of Rudi's mediumistic powers.
'We did not even have to test Rudi for very long,' declared the two scientists. 'We soon succeeded in realizing the various methods employed by him, and were able to ourselves produce the manifestations shown by this medium. A bank manager, Herr "M", gave us the opportunity at a séance held at his own home, to produce all levitations shown by Rudi. This took place last week.' Prof. Meyer continued: 'On Sunday, February 10th, I invited a number of guests to my home, and with the help of my "medium" (he pointed laughingly to Prof. Przibram, who was sitting next to him) I was able to imitate not only all the
levitations of the previous performance, but also the telekinetic phenomena of Herr Czernin-Dirkenau's medium. Guests at this performance, who had also seen the two Schneider brothers, declared that, according to their impression, our "performance" was absolutely identical with all "real mediumistic" ones. Our "show" has indeed surpassed that of Rudi Schneider's.
'At a meeting, at which fourteen high-school professors, various barristers, medical men, engineers and artists were present - certainly an audience which has to be taken seriously - we two were able to produce in an absolutely faultless manner the experiments with the zither, the two bells, the speaker, the rattler, and similar "scientific" instruments as used by mediums at whom one gazes with astonishment. On the basis of these results obtained from our investigations - which were from the start certainly entirely objective - we must unconditionally pronounce Rudi Schneider's "phenomena" normal. Just as up to the present every medium - with the exception of Willi Schneider - could be exposed.
'We are now convinced and believe in the similarity of our performances. Naturally we do not wish to convey that no one else is able to produce such phenomena - every good conjurer can do it just as well - or better.
'In a way it is to be regretted that our disclosures should have become public before the Scientific Commission has been able to deal definitely with the matter, but this could hardly be avoided. Naturally, we cannot at the present moment give exact information regarding the details of our procedure, but these will, of course, soon be given to the public, which will then perhaps share our opinion, i.e.,, that to build a Metapsychic Institute for the work of a medium, such as Rudi Schneider, has no justification.'
The mediumship of Rudi Schneider is explained, and thereby once more a part of the structure so laboriously erected on mediumistic manifestations by the believers in occultism has been tumbled down. Now only Willi Schneider's mediumship remains unexplained. Should the Commission also arrive at a
negative result in his case, not a single stone will remain of the whole marvellous structure. The sceptics will triumph, for the sensational results of the investigations made by the two scientists in question deprive the believers of one of their strongest supports.
The investigations made by Prof. S. Meyer and Prof. Przibram gave the following results:
Rudi Schneider produced his phenomena under a control of luminous bands fastened to his arms and legs, the luminosity of which would show the position of the extremities in the otherwise dark room. This was done to prevent the medium from manipulating anything with a view to helping the phenomena. In spite of the control exercised by those taking part at the séances, no suspicion was aroused until the sitting at which the two professors were present took place. It was then noticed that Rudi Schneider got one of his feet out of the luminous band, fastened the band to the other foot, thus leaving one foot - without luminous rings - uncontrolled, whilst the fact of his having two luminous bands around the same leg created the illusion that both legs were fixed and under control. With his free leg manipulating in the darkness, Rudi Schneider was able to do all the things which so impressed sitters as 'phenomena' and attracted such enormous attention. He could send bells and other objects flying through the room.
From the News 8 Uhr Blatt, Vienna,
February 14th, 1924, pp. 1-2.
THE CONCLUSIONS ARRIVED AT BY THE SCIENTIFIC
NO EXPOSURE - BUT A NATURAL EXPLANATION FOUND
The sensational notices which appeared in the Press during the last few days, dealing with the oft-mentioned medium, Rudi Schneider, of Braunau-am-Inn, were the subject of an interview
which, in my capacity as reporter of the Reichspost, I had to-day with the scientists concerned therein. In these notices it had been stated that the members of the Scientific Investigation Committee, which was formed to inquire into the hitherto inexplicable 'suspension' phenomena, the so-called 'levitations', had come to the conclusion that the explanation was to be found in clever tricks used by the medium.
Prof. Dr. Stefan Meyer, Director of the Radium Institute of the Vienna University, and his representative, Prof. Dr. Karl Przibram, related that they had been present at three séances with Rudi Schneider. The first sitting took place at the home of the principal of the Metapsychic Institute, Herr Erich Czernin-Dirkenau, who had hitherto experimented mostly with this particular medium. At this séance, in the presence of the twp scientists, the same inexplicable happenings which had puzzled all who ever witnessed them, occurred. Prof. Dr. Meyer declared:
'It was not our intention to bring about a sensational exposure, we rather wanted to find a basis for a theory which would provide a natural explanation of the phenomena. At first we felt we were indeed facing a riddle. At this sitting nothing could be discovered which pointed to trickery, but we were struck by the fact that Rudi Schneider rejected several control measures suggested by us, which refusal was supported by the leader, who tried to explain this as being quite natural. It was quite clear to us that the solution of the mystery could certainly not be found in a complicated system of fraudulent preparations, but that the puzzling deceptions must be looked for in the delightful simplicity of the trick. The promoters, who beyond any doubt acted in good faith, have not "tumbled" to the tricks in the many sittings which have been held. We got our first hint in this connection from literature dealing with the discovery of certain tricks used by mediums. Clever fraud has succeeded before now by clever mediums being able to skilfully free one foot from their bonds and cause movements which would have been impossible whilst both legs were tied together.
On this we based our experiments. Our opinion was strengthened when we noticed that Rudi Schneider did not attach the luminous marks (which served as control of the levitations in the darkened room) to the part of his garment right over his shins, but to the right and left outer-sides thereof, so that something, which gave the impression of being "outlines of the body", could be observed - this illusion being probably created by the medium cleverly pulling one trouser-leg.
'Based on the assumption that Rudi Schneider was able to free one foot, and with the other cause the illusion of movement of two feet tied together, he was able to carry out the so-called levitation by means of a simple gymnastic act. As a matter of fact, movements we produced in this way resembled those produced by the medium Rudi Schneider. The question therefore is only this:
'Has Rudi Schneider executed these movements with both his feet tied together - in which case they would indeed be levitation phenomena - or has Rudi Schneider, unnoticed by the controllers, made them with only one foot by raising himself - also unnoticed - on the other foot, in spite of all control measures hitherto employed?
'The second and third sitting,' explained Dr. Przibram, 'brought nothing which might have shaken our theory; on the contrary, it confirmed our conviction that our conclusion was the correct one. The last two sittings took place at the home of friends of a Viennese financier, who had interested himself in Rudi Schneider and who was willing to finance the Metapsychic Institute for the research of these phenomena, if the scientific investigation committee was able to submit the necessary recommendations.
'These two sittings also passed without our doing anything to catch Rudi Schneider "in the act", so to speak. Therefore, we have never spoken of an "exposure" - this has been added by the various papers, for we have not "exposed" him, but we have formed certain views and from these drawn our conclusions. We did not interfere at the sittings, for the simple reason that
this would probably have resulted in the medium having pseudo-nerve attacks through being disturbed in his alleged trance condition. According to medical experience, it is not always possible to definitely say whether such nerve attacks are genuine or simulated. There was thus a possibility of our encountering difficulties to which we had no reason to expose ourselves. Therein lies the medium's advantage. In view of such hindrance, it is difficult to intervene and make an actual exposure.
'When I, in the presence of a circle of unprejudiced witnesses, on the basis of our theory, as an alleged unknown medium, executed the so-called levitations by means of the trick I have described, and under the same control conditions, all sitters had the same illusion we received in the Rudi Schneider performances. Why should not Rudi Schneider have succeeded in doing what I (as has been proven) was able to do?
From this obvious explanation the sensible critic will draw the following
Rudi Schneider has not been caught in a fraudulent act, a conviction in flagranti has not taken place. A natural explanation has, however, been found regarding the 'levitation' phenomena. Although there has not been a so-called exposure, one is inevitably forced to accept the natural and plausible explanation which is in accordance with the known laws of Nature, instead of rejecting the laws of Nature and believing in things for which up to the present no proof has been found.
From the Reichspost, Vienna,
February 16th, 1924, pp. 5-6.
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