The Rosenheim Poltergeist: Hoax or Haunting?

A fascinating concept in the research and study of psychic and paranormal phenomenon is that of the ‘poltergeist’. Poltergeist in its literal translation from the German means ‘noisy ghost’. Quite simply, it is kinetic energy that is manifesting from a source that makes itself physically known. Witnesses of such activity have spoken of items flying around the room, furniture moving, sounds of knocking from an unknown presence, and even actual attacks.

From what source this energy manifests has been a matter of legends as well as debate among modern day researchers. Cases have been documented with arguments both for and against the activity being fraudulent or genuine. One case in particular caught the attention of many in the town of Rosenheim in the southern regions of Bavaria during the latter half of the 1960’s. For several months, the law offices of Sigmund Adam reportedly began having incidents of items operating on their own as well as mysterious phone calls and other strange incidents. It is a case, much like the well-known Enfield Poltergeist that has allegations of fraud as well as no clear proof of that fraud. It is, as with many stories of this nature, up to the reader to decide.

The activity was said to have begun in July of 1967 when several telephone calls on several different office lines began receiving calls that had no one on the other end. At first it seemed like a prank, but the more it happened, the more Mr. Adam began to wonder about a technical malfunction. However, nothing ceased the calls coming in, including replacing the telephones and having a technician examine the lines going into the office building. The strange telephone calls continued and in October, other phenomenon began occurring such as light bulbs rotating and turning on and off by themselves. When the electricians came to check the wiring and fuses, all appeared fine until they used voltage meters to determine if there were any surges. The power surges that were recorded should have blown out every electrical appliance in the building…and yet not one fuse was blown or malfunctioning. Other items around the office also began acting up and the lawyer and his staff were at a loss to explain what was going on. Eventually, the phenomenon became known to Hans Bender, a parapsychologist who was the head of the Institute of Paranormal Research who desired to conduct an investigation of the premises.

During this investigation, one common thread was determined–a young girl in Sigmund Adam’s employ by the name of Anne Marie Schneider. It seemed that all of the incidents took place during times that she was present and ceased when she left. During the last months of the ‘haunting’ the activity increased, and there were numerous things happening that seemed to be coming from outside forces. Swinging light fixtures from above, equipment malfunctioning and moving on its own and even a massive cabinet getting hurled across the room–all which seemed to be focused around this young girl. In the early part of 1968, Anne Marie left the law offices and there have been no reports of activity since.

Of course, the first logical assumption would be that Ms. Schneider was faking the entire thing for attention. She was, after all, a troubled young woman who had a history of histrionic behavior as well as difficulty in her relationships with family and others. Surveillance done by the Institute of Paranormal Research showed that the phenomenon would only happen when she was present. There was also talk that others in the office were part of the prank to get attention. The focus however was on Anne Marie and the fact that there were no reports of strange happenings after she left for good does speak to her involvement.

Some believe that her involvement was not intentional but rather subscribe to the theory that ‘poltergeist’ activity such as this generates from a very human source. Energy coming from a living person, usually a young female going through some kind of stress or emotional difficulty has been studied by parapsychologists for some time, and the events in Rosenheim are often referred to as possibly being an example of this phenomenon. Others are convinced that it was merely a prank by a girl whose whole life had been about screaming for attention. It was reported that once she married a couple of years later that she herself no longer had any incidents–did the happiness and security offered by her new husband giver her what she needed? Or was the rampant energy she had during her years of confusion and turmoil finally tempered?

The Rosenheim events in 1967-68 were some of the most documented in history of possible poltergeist activity and are still studied today. Whether it was a hoax or a case of human energy being so out of control that telekinesis was occurring, it shows our need for evidence to validate what we believe to begin with. The same data is used to support and negate the haunting which has left the events open to interpretation. In other words, those who want to believe will think something phenomenal happened while ones who look with a more skeptical eye will continue to question.

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