In Berlin after World War I, fascination with the occult was everywhere as people struggled to escape the grim reality of their lives. In the early 1930s, the most famous mentalist in the German capital was Erik Jan Hanussen, a Jewish mind reader. Originally from Vienna, Hanussen became so popular in Berlin that he rubbed elbows with high ranking Nazis, became close with top Storm Troopers, and even advised Hitler.
Arthur Magida is writer-in-residence at the University of Baltimore, a journalism professor at Georgetown University, and recipient of multiple awards in journalism and the humanities. His books include The Rabbi and The Hit Man; Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His Nation; and Opening the Doors of Wonder.