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Friedel’s Conversations with the Dead: Recordings on New Year’s Eve by Anabela Cardoso

After the successful recordings with John Bjoerkhem and Arne Weise, Friedel was full of confidence and made frequent tape recordings and spent much time capturing the anomalous voices. He obtained several contacts but of poor quality. When, after meeting Friedel in 1964, I listened to many of these later recordings, it was often difficult for me to make any interpretation unless Friedel himself repeatedly hammered the message into my brain. I cannot deny that it could have been some form of suggestion. Therefore, I choose to primarily rely on recordings of such quality that even you, dear reader, whom I hope will wear good headphones, should be able to hear the voices without other influence, other than the one you get through my text.

On New Year’s Eve of 1959, Friedel could not refrain from sending a New Year’s greeting to his friends on the other side. He had placed the tape recorder in the studio and pulled a cord to the microphone positioned about three meters from the radio in the living room. In Radio Sweden they broadcasted a New Year program that would run over midnight. At the end of that year, Radio Sweden did not broadcast the usual poem “Nyarsklockan.” The tradition ended in 1956 when the Swedish actor Anders de Wahl passed away and was not taken up again until the Swedish Television started a new tradition in 1977.

Friedel’s New Year celebration was attended by several friends and some of Monica’s relatives. Friedel set the tape recorder so that it would be running during the twelfth stroke of midnight. He had very quietly asked the friends on the other side to get in touch. Due to the festivities, Friedel did not listen to the recording until the next day.

Immediately after the connection someone announced a name: “Bismarck!”

Then we can hear a feeble melodic female voice singing in the same mode as the radio music, which had no soloist:

“Nur Deutsche,” (Only Germans) “frid på jorden” (peace on Earth), “Hallelujah!”

Friedel believed that he heard his name mentioned several times, including from his deceased friend in Pompeii, Pasquale. I did not hear it, but then a voice came through with a direct greeting to him. A woman, not unlike Lena’s voice, uttered: “Federico war so süss!” (Federico was so sweet!)

Possibly one can also hear the word “freund” (friend) before the name (see Friedel’s notes D, 17). And immediately thereafter, Friedel lifts a glass of champagne towards the radio and says: “Skal!” (Cheers!)

TAKE 12

“Federico war so süss!”

Friedel’s notes (D) number 17.

Before the end of the tape, a German radio voice is heard and in it an alien male voice says:

“Der Tod ist gut!” (Death is good!).

TAKE 1

“Der Tod ist gut.”

In the early hours of the New Year, Friedel made another recording, despite the annoying chatter from the party. When he listened to the recording the next day, in the middle of the buzz made by the others in the room, he heard a broken, dull, and hoarse sounding voice. In the monotonous tone of the masculine voice we can sense a certain resignation and sadness. It speaks as if in a half-asleep state:

“Wir Leben in der tiefsten Wirrnis … die Menschen herunterdrücken und knechten … die anderen entzogen sich, ich nicht … Darum bin ich.” (We live in the deepest confusion … to oppress and enslave the people … the others withdrew … I didn’t … That’s why I am).

The voice would come back several times and Friedel finally decided that it belonged to Adolf Hitler.

Friedel made the mistake, at this early stage, of inviting people—some scientists and a few technicians—and allow them to take part in the remarkable voice phenomena. He had too little knowledge of what was really going on and was too eager to have people with expertise to confirm his discovery. Those who came to visit him were expecting to hear voices when he made the tape recordings. If the former did not materialize, they had all sorts of theories about the origin of the voice phenomena. On one occasion, the secretary of the Parapsychological Society in Stockholm, Eva Hellstroem, arranged for Friedel to get in contact with two audio experts at Stockholm University. They participated in a few unsuccessful recordings during an entire evening and were very skeptical about the whole thing. When Friedel played the recording from the New Year’s Eve, they could certainly hear the voice that came out of the tape before he exclaimed, “Skal!” (Cheers!) But one of them suggested that it was a radio ham who played a trick on him. Friedel answered:

Yes, perhaps; it is not inconceivable. If it’s just a radio ham, in this case he must have been clairvoyant; how else would he be able to wait for the right moment, just when I was about to start my tape recorder.
The benefit of this evening was that I finally realized how senseless these kinds of public demonstrations were. Why would I ask strangers about a matter of which they had not the slightest idea, because they had never dealt with such things? After all, I still fumbled in the dark, and even if I began to get a glimpse of the unknown here and there, it was, in any case, too early to try to demonstrate my results to others.


Remarkable contacts with his deceased friend Felix Kersten

A childhood friend, Felix Kersten, was another of his contacts. Their parents owned estates in Estonia that bordered on each other, so the boys were often together. In 1943, they had both come to Sweden and re-established contact with each other. Kersten was renowned for his efforts during the Second World War when he helped hundreds of Jews to escape the concentration camps; that was achieved thanks to his strong influence on one of Hitler’s closest men, Reichfürer-SS commandant für Schutzstaffel (SS), Heinrich Himmler.

Himmler suffered from a stomach illness that afflicted him tremendously and the only relief he could get was Kersten’s special massage. Kersten was not a Nazi sympathizer but he won Himmler’s confidence and was able, through him, to intervene on behalf of old friends and patients in the death camps. In World War II, he arranged a meeting between Himmler and Norbert Masur, the leader of the World Jewish Congress. This led to the release of 7000 female prisoners in the concentration camp Ravensbrück. He also played a crucial role in enabling Folke Bernadotte to start the operation with the so-called white buses that transported thousands of prisoners to Sweden.

Kersten was a highly appreciated and skilled masseur during his time in Belgium but was ordered to go to Berlin in 1939 to become Himmler’s personal masseur.

Kersten and his wife Irmgard settled in Sweden but it was hard for Kersten to liberate himself from the accusations that he had sympathized with the Nazis. In 1953 he received full redress and Swedish citizenship. Felix Kersten came to play a big role in Friedel’s contact with the other side. Not least in connection with historical figures like Hitler, Churchill, van Gogh, and others. It was a controversial chapter in Friedel’s attempt to convince the world that he had found a bridge to a fourth dimension of life where these people lived. It led to some sensational articles in the world press but also ironic, somehow depreciating stories about the artist who sat with his tape recorder and had direct contact with Hitler fourteen years after his death.

Personally I can say that I could not understand Hitler’s monologue from the other side that Friedel caught via radio. Of course, this was of great interest to the researchers at the Max Planck Institute who obviously took it very seriously. They did not go further, after testing the approximately ten-minute recording, than declaring that the voice print, to some extent, matched Hitler’s voice. But due to the dictator’s different voice levels and the disturbances in the recording, it was impossible to confirm that it was the same voice. They listened to it but did not want to comment on the content: perhaps for obvious reasons.

Friedel now took up most of the recordings directly on the radio, a technique which obviously meant that the voices could express themselves in longer sentences, sometimes in monologues, although at times almost incomprehensible to someone who could not count on Friedel’s guidance, but still audible. A few days before Easter 1960, Friedel visited Felix Kersten in his home in Stockholm.

Friedel wrote:

He suffered from kidney stones but attended our conversations despite being in pain. He seemed tired and overworked but nevertheless had to go to Germany the following day where not only Himmler, but also many patients waited anxiously for his treatments. It is the old story of a doctor who is not allowed to be sick because he does not have time for that.

It was late. We talked about my space contacts, about the bridge I wanted to build, and about the unknown life. Felix gave me his book Conversations with Himmler and wrote some lines in it. We talked about the South, dreamed of a villa on the Mediterranean surrounded by pine trees, boxwood hedges and cypresses.

I had the privilege of enjoying Felix’s friendship for many years. I knew his boyish temperament and good nature; I knew what this corpulent man with his little, soft, smooth hands had done in this world of misery: all this—and much, much more. And someone who gets to know Felix intimately will always love him.

When, late in the evening, we took leave of each other, none of us suspected that it would be the last time.

Felix Kersten died on Easter Eve and Friedel was informed of his death a few days later.

Friedel told me that he took Kersten’s death deeper than the loss of friends who had died earlier, and he worked almost day and night to try to get in touch with him by radio. It took him only two weeks before he succeeded. It came in a radio broadcast with strong interference. I have heard this first communication and can say that I perceived the most important thing, namely Kersten’s name.

“Kersten … Kersten … hier Kersten … Vorsicht, Aufpassen” (Kersten … Kersten … here Kersten … Caution, listen carefully). His voice broke through with more messages.

Before we listen to the powerful and most sensational recording with Felix Kersten, I will reproduce below some of Friedel’s thoughts about death.

So here was a man who had died in a hospital two weeks ago. The haunting phantom of our humanity, a blood clot, had burst the blood vessels of the heart. The dead body was cremated; a small pile of ashes was all that was left of him.

The man Felix Kersten, husband, father, doctor, and friend had died out, perished into nothing. Death is a reality, an inflexible, brutal fact—the only certainty—the one that never fails.

This is the wonderful thing about death. I remember how my nanny, when I was little, took me for a walk to the city cemetery in Odessa. Even at that time, I felt a clear certainty about the resting place of the dead. Without having to dress the feeling in my mind, I knew that there was a screaming contradiction that came out of all these graves, crosses, marble tiles and tombs.

I knew instinctively that here everything was somehow sham, villain and fraud. Yes, even more, it all seemed false, artificial, and theatrical. It looked like a false backdrop. In contrast, light, warmth, and movement radiated from the clear sky, from every blade of grass, every bird, every tree and flower.

I was to learn about death from a different perspective when, years later, the terror of the civil war came crashing down over Odessa like waves gone wild. At that time, starvation, typhus, and cholera existed in the city, and one could helplessly witness the daily death of many people in the streets.

It was especially bad on the streets after bloody hand-to-hand combat facilitated the “liberation” of the city by some power-hungry people. I remember when, one day, I had a glimpse of the municipal mortuary where hundreds of bloody corpses were laid out to be seen by the public. It was a cloudless beautiful spring sky. In the streets, the acacias were in full bloom, and their magic scent filled the whole city.

But my mood was miserable, and an icy cramp tightened my diaphragm. The contrast was too stark. Here, life and renewal flourished; there, meaningless murder and annihilation. Despite the anxiety and nausea, I did not avoid death. I wanted to find out its secret and get the big contradiction on track, and I still remember that when I was again confronted with death, I felt a growing calm, reminiscent of the confidence I felt in the cemetery as a little boy.

Felix Kersten contacted Friedel several times during his perhaps most active period in the 1960s. He presented several of these recordings in his book The Voices from Space.

Once again, I must say that it would be unfair to Friedel, in a story about his life’s work of trying to build a bridge between the living and the dead, not to reproduce some of the surrealistic recordings he got from radio where a number of historical figures were mentioned and sometimes got through: Hitler and Goering, Van Gogh, contact name Churchill and others. But also people who were close to him, such as Boris Sacharow and Felix Kersten. In addition, less famous people and a variety of unidentified voices broke through in radio broadcasts with keywords such as Mölnbo, Malarhoejden and a number of the names Friedel was known for.

At the end of November 1963, when the remarkable recordings with Felix Kersten were achieved, there was real turbulence around “the man with the spirit voices.” As I told in the Introduction, in June Friedel arranged for his first press conference and invited the world press. He drew attention abroad while Swedish newspapers including the Aftonbladet, behaved quite aloofly. I did not come into the picture until the spring of 1964 in connection with the second press conference. Only then did the Swedish media begin to take a serious interest in the startling voice phenomena.


Note: Friedel’s childhood intimate friend, Dr Felix Kersten, is a European figure who is well-known not only for his position as Himmler’s private doctor but also, and mostly, for his humanitarian action in favor of the many thousands of Jews that he saved from a horrible life and death during WWII.

In recognition for his extraordinary deeds, General Charles de Gaulle awarded him, posthumously, the Legion of Honour, the highest French decoration. He died suddenly of a heart attack in 1960, in Germany, on his way to France to receive the honour. Kersten was endorsed for the Nobel prize on several occasions.

The Swedish Broadcasting Corporation top experts test the voices—a technically impossible recording.

In November 1963, the SBC contacted Friedel. Arne Weise had put forward a proposal for a radio or TV program about the voices. He was prepared to unconditionally play the voices he had heard and comment on the matter. But it was understood from the beginning that this was a very sensitive thing that could be uncomfortable for some people.

It was decided that the SBC’s foremost expert in radio and television technology, studio engineer Kjell Stensson, would visit Friedel in Mölnbo with a team to try to make his own recordings.

Kjell Stensson (1917-1990) deserves a special mention. He appeared frequently on radio and television in both entertainment and technical development programs. He was also a respected crime novel critic.

But he was best known to the Swedish people when, on April 1, 1962, he launched color TV. He described how, with the help of a nylon stocking, one could get color on the TV screen—cutting it apart and slipping it over the TV. It is said that several old nylon stockings were torn down after his April Fool’s joke.

But more serious things were going on. Together with engineer Robert Koistinen and journalist Daisy Karlberg from the morning newspaper Stockholms-Tidningen, he arrived with his own tape recorder and sealed tapes from the SBC. First, they had to listen to Arne Weise’s recordings and Stensson admitted that he heard voices but was restrained in his comments. The most important thing for him was to succeed with his own recordings. It was late at night before they got started and the short recordings they made yielded no results. But what they heard was enough to make new attempts and it was agreed that they would return in a week.

SBC’s interest was there and Friedel had several requirements. He wanted several programs on parapsychology in which both Swedish and foreign experts would be introduced. He also wanted Arne Weise to be the host, and that the tapes recorded in 1959 would be broadcast. He also requested that John Bjoerkhem attend. He believed that they could make some live recordings if it was clearly indicated that the possibilities to succeed under such circumstances were very small.

In the days before Stensson’s return with his team, Friedel made frequent recordings in the hope that something extraordinary would happen, now that there was an opportunity to spread knowledge widely about the bridge to the other side. He was clearly worried and anxious. What if his friends didn’t show up when they were most needed? Monica reassured him and said she was convinced that they would not disappoint him.

One evening when he was sitting with headphones on and as usual, turned the tuning knob from left to right on the medium wave, he suddenly heard a whispering from Lena:

“hålla, hålla direkt kontakt!” (Keep, keep direct contact!)

The tape rolled on and he listened to a male singer and perceived, to his delight, both German, Italian and Russian words. There was no doubt about the familiar polyglot language that he could hear directly through his headphones: a great proof that he had recovered the contact with his friends. His name also appeared in the song on two occasions. Both uncle Pelle, as the kids called him, and the surname Jürgenson.

Friedel thought that the recording was a hit. The singer mentioned his name on two occasions and Friedel immediately identified the person communicating as his old friend Arne Falck who had died in 1962.

“Recordings on New Year’s Eve: Felix Kersten communicates” is an extract from Friedel’s Conversations with the Dead: The Fascinating Story of Friedrich Jürgenson, Pioneer of EVP by Anabela Cardoso and Anders Leopold

 
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