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The Rosenheim Poltergeist

Hello! I've been a bit caught up with real life for a little while and took up a new voluntary position at Preston Manor just before Christmas (get in! :-D )

I have also been reading about Hauntings in Europe and have come across a very intriguing case that's not very well known: The Rosenheim Poltergeist!

This Autumn will be the 45th anniversary of this fascinating case that took place in an office in Rosenheim, near to Munich. One particular reason it interests me is because of the setting, the paranormal in Germany is not as well attested as it is in the rest of Europe, and these things do not seem to be that widely discussed there, despite the presence of a fair few parapsychologists in Germany, that's not to say that it doesn't happen, it's just that people do not seem to be that open about discussing hauntings in Germany (hopefully that will change.)

Anyway, I'll stop waffling now and write about the case (this is copied from my notes about the case from the book Poltergeists and Other Hauntings, by Rupert Matthews and other notes):

Who was involved:
Sigmund Adam, Lawyer (The Boss)
Johannes Engelhard, (The Manager)
Gustel Huber and Frau Bielmeier, (The Staff)
Anne-Marie Schneider, clerk (The Focus)
Herr Bauer, (The Electrician)
Paul Brunner, (The Engineer)
Dr Karger and Dr Zicha (The Physicists)
Officer Wendl, (The Cop)
Hans Bender of the Freiburg Institute of Parapsychology (The Parapsychologist)

13 Konigstrasse, Rosenheim, Bavaria; this had formerly been a residential home, but was, at this time, a solicitor's office.

September 1967 - January 1968

The activity started small (as these things seem to,) phone calls being cut off, phones ringing when nobody seemed to be calling, but then it stepped up a bit, all the phones rung at once; Herr Adam called Siemens, who sent someone over, but nothing was found to be technically wrong with the system, he left, but the disturbances continued, so a meter was installed that would monitor calls made in the building.

On 5th October, a call was made outwards when nobody seemed to be on the phone and later on 600 calls had been made to the talking clock, including 46 times in 15 minutes (pretty impressive, really) everyone in the office denied making the calls, but the calls were genuine, it would have been impossible for one person to call the talking clock that often (office prank?) Following this, all the phones in the office (bar one which had a lock on it, only Herr Adam had the key) were removed.

On 20th October, All the lights went out at once. Herr Bauer was called in, he found that all the lights had been unscrewed, he screwed them back, but as he made to leave, the same thing happens again, baffling everyone. A few days later, all the fuses popped out and the electrics cut out. Herr Bauer sent for the electrics company.

On 15th November, Paul Brunner checked the wiring throughout the building, but found nothing to be wrong, he installed a meter to record electricity usage, voltage fluctuations and changes in magnetic fields. He also replaced the fuses with stronger ones and sealed them shut. Herr Brunner asked Herr Adam to call him if anything odd happened.

On 20th November, Herr Adam called Herr Brunner, the lights had all apparently undone themselves again and a fluorescent tube light in Adam's office had suddenly fallen to the floor and smashed. Brunner came back with a team and they discovered a number of power surges and strange fluctuations in office hours, the largest of which had happened when the fluorescent tube light had smashed on the floor. The meters were resealed.

21st November, the tube was replaced with light bulbs, but the photocopier had begun to leak chemicals...

22nd November, All of the lightbulbs blew when a power surge struck. Brunner connected the office to the local sub station, but the power surges continue.

27th November, Brunner concluded that nothing was wrong with the sub station, and it was disconnected and a generator was installed. Nothing changed. All the lightbulbs exploded and glass went everywhere, yet the generator was fine.

28th November, Light fittings begun to swing wildly, Adam said "all we need now is for the paintings to move..." seconds later, they did,other paintings move and two fall down. (You just *had* to ask, didn't you?)

Brunner concluded his investigation with the rather philosophical, almost poetic words "It is necessary to postulate the existence of of a power as yet unknown to science, of which neither the nature, nor strength, nor direction could be defined. It is an energy beyond comprehension."

Drs Karger and Zicha were called in to examine the notes, but they conclude that the force was neither electrical, sonic, nor magnetic (sort of like the animal, vegetable or mineral categories XD ) but they said that it was obviously under intelligent control, based on the way it had acted.

The police were called in, Adam thought that someone was trying to ruin him (hmm... whoever would want to make a lawyer's life difficult? >:-) ) Officer Wendl investigated his past cases to see if anyone would have had a grudge against him, surprisingly he didn't find anything, but he did find out that a young lady at his office, Anne-Marie Schneider was not happy at work and had a strained relationship with her boss, whom she blamed for the office feuding, the problems with her worklife that were impacting on her relationships within the other office staff.
Wendl told Adam to give his staff a few days off, when Anne-Marie Schneider's time came, the activity stopped. They thought they'd found the cause, they also found that the activity had only happened on the days that she was working. Wendl had her watched, convinced that she was somehow creating the events, though neither he, nor Adam knew how she was doing it. The events continued, but the police watching her never noticed anything odd about her behaviour.

A massive, heavy oak cabinet moved, seemingly by itself when she and Huber were alone together, there was no damage on the floor where it had moved, the thing was apparently so heavy that, even if they were using their combined strength, they couldn't have moved the it, indeed Wendl struggled to move it back with the help of a colleague. Calendar pages and paintings were pulled off the wall and thrown around

Parapsychologist Hans Bender (try mentioning that name to a group of kids in secondary school. XD ) was called in and he was able to capture video footage of the lights beginning to flicker as soon as she walked into the room. Fascinated, he asked her to spend a few days at the Freiburg Institute of Parapsychology to take part in a few ESP tests, the results of which were negative. He did conclude, however, that she seemed to be the focus of the activity.

Adam dismissed her and the activity died down, she moved to Munich and got married and no further activity followed her either. The whole thing abruptly ended.

So how do we explain this:

Fraud? Anne Marie Schneider was never caught (neither were any of her colleagues or her boss) faking any of the activity, that's not to say they didn't fake it, but in all that time they were never caught faking it, which is strange. If, however, it was faked I do not for one minute think that she did it without the knowledge and help of at least one of the others. Though even if they did fake it, for that oak cabinet to move without leaving marks on the floor, when Schneider was alone with Huber, when it took two policemen to move it back? Really? Even if they all knew what was going on and were all party to faking activity, how could Schneider and Huber move the cabinet when they were alone together when it took two policemen to move it back? I'm not convinced. :-/

I don't know how strong her colleague was, but she didn't look like she was able to move that cabinet without the help of someone akin to Giovanni Belzoni (little Egyptology reference there! ;-) ) Either way, it is unfair to lay the blame at her door completely. I don't see how she could have faked it while under scrutiny from the police, her boss and Hans Bender without them catching her doing it, but even if it was more than one of them doing it, I have to say that I have no idea how they could have moved that cabinet without some damage to the floor. :-/

PK? The ESP tests she did with Hans Bender were definitely negative. She had no paranormal ability.
Spontaneous PK? Perhaps. Her emotions may play some role in this, if she was so unhappy with her job (and her boss) then perhaps a sudden upset could cause something to happen and she wouldn't realise that she was doing it, as her mindset got more negative and probably more fearful, then the activity got more and more powerful. The problems with this are that nothing happened after these events in her life (to our knowledge) and the tests were negative.

The thing that struck me about the ESP tests was that the setting of the lab was quite different to the setting of where the activity was actually taking place, it also held different emotions for Schneider, she was unhappy at her office, she probably dreaded going in and when something happened with her colleagues, then this could trigger negative emotions which, over time, could lead to some form of PK. What I'm saying is that there was a build up of emotion at the office leading up to the time when the events happened and if it was PK then she wouldn't be able to control it, leading to things escalating, the downward spiral of her situation there and it just kept going until it reached that crescendo.
The lab, however, was a place where she had not had any ill feeling running up to her time there (aside from probably not wanting to be there) so there was no reason for things to happen there as the build up to it was not there.

Assuming it was all genuinely paranormal, then there's a strong case for PK there, it only seemed to happen when she was there, there had been a build up of emotions and the situation may have tapped into an innate unharnessed ability, that could maybe have been responsible for things moving or shattering.

Real genuine ghost? Again, perhaps, but who?
Former resident of the property? Not likely, as nothing else happened at the site following Schneider's departure.
A departed relative of Schneider? Maybe. Could be that a relative was watching her and noted how miserable she was and was trying to let Adam know how angry they were (although if someone was making my family that unhappy, I'd do more than throw things around at his office. >:-( ) It takes an enormous leap of faith, but it's not impossible to imagine. Perhaps they moved on after she left and was happier? Who knows?

Poltergeist in it's literal sense only means 'noisy spirit', so, again assuming it was genuinely paranormal, it could have been the result of an intelligent spirit and possibly an attempt to communicate (with whom, though?) How would it have gathered the necessary energy, did it draw off the fear, which would explain the escalation? If that were the case, why did it stop? Perhaps the energy had run out; after all, that level of activity has to drain a lot of it and with Schneider gone, perhaps there was not such a charged atmosphere at work there? Actually, I think that's a good theory (even if I do say so myself :-/ ) might not be a one-size fits all explanation, but it might just be a contender here.

The activity certainly did seem to centre around her, but was that just a coincidence, or was the activity genuinely focussed around her at the office? It apparently never happened when she was anywhere else to her or to them, so there was seemingly something significant about her in that office. Was she just a scapegoat, though? Disruptive things happen, she gets the blame, she goes, the heat's off, was that it?

Or if she was genuinely the focus of activity, why did it stop when she left? Was it because of fraud? Was it because she was happier? If a spirit that was resident at the office was particularly fond of her, then why did they not follow her? (I think it is more likely, if it was a genuine spirit, that it was the spirit of a friend or relative of hers.) All we know about the 'spirit' is that they seemed to be fascinated by or very fond of technology. ;-)

It's a fascinating case to look into, but I think it's significant that Anne-Marie Schneider moved away, got married and put the whole thing behind her, she didn't try to make money off of the case or sue her employers for unfair dismissal; she didn't seem to seek publicity for herself and her story, she just got out of that situation and moved on with her life. I think that it was a blessing for her, getting away from that office and the memories of that hard time in her life.

I've just remembered, I saw an item about the case years ago now (I think it might even have been a section on a repeat of an Arthur C Clarke episode, though don't quote me on that as I'm not sure.) They had, on the old grainy footage from the 70s/80s, an interview with Adam and, I think, Engelhard (again, not sure, but it rings a bell.) They were going over the office showing where the activity had happened and talking to the camera about it; which, to me, is a bit odd, Schneider, to my knowledge, didn't go on TV about it, there's a photo of her a few years after the event in one of my ghostie books, but I don't think that she tried to seek too much publicity over it. The fact that Adam and the other man went on a show and talked about it; even racking my brains, I can't remember whether Schneider was on the show or not; makes me a bit more suspicious of them than her. I might be wrong, she might have been on the show, but I can't find it, so I don't know. Which is annoying.

This one keeps me busy for ages. :-D

Anyway, I'll be delighted to know what you think about this fascinating case.