The late sixties were not only years of revolution within the music industry but evolution itself was questioned through the books written by Eric Von Dainekin such as â€˜Was God an Astronautâ€™ He not only provoked imagination on ancestral origin but also opened up interest in the paranormal.
As such five of us decided to set up a Ouija board set up our dining table to one end of the long living room and placed home made alphabetic figures in a circle around the centre of the oval table. Centrally were two words â€˜Yesâ€™ and â€˜Noâ€™. and around the edge we placed a modest collection of pens and paper to write any spelled out message should one occur.
Our first son was very young and went to bed at about six pm, thus the stage was set, lights dimmed to set the mood, phone taken off the hook and interruptions unlikely. Participants included my brother in law, his young lady, my ex-wife, Peter, and I.
With proceedings starting in the normal way, we sat comfortably, placed a single finger on the half pint glass in the centre of the table and watched expectantly.
â€œIs anybody there?â€
â€œIf there is anybody there could you please spell out who you are?
Almost instantly and to our shock and dismay the glass moved firmly toward the â€˜yesâ€™ card!
â€œWho are you!â€ somebody asked.
With which, with speed and decisiveness it began quite furiously to spell out a weird and somewhat strange story.
Notes taken at the time declared over the course of some fifty minutes, that he was my brother in a former life and that I had died on March the 3rd 1942 at Kharkov in Russia, he spelled out my name as Heinrich Zimmerman, who served in the Waffen SS in the Das Reich division.
Shock to say the least, I considered the prospect that I inadvertently pushed the glass and quite understandably this accusation was levelled by the other participants rather mockingly.
Meanwhile quite franticly the glass spelled out that he wanted to see his nephew, my son. Surprised and bemused we sought clarification and the question arose, â€˜should we bring him downstairs for some spiritual audience with a man long dead?â€™
His Mother, quite rightly frightened by this refused to venture into the darker upper levels to fetch him. Somewhat impatient with her and frustrated I volunteered myself for the task and removed my index finger from the glass, at which it simply stopped in its tracks.
To the sceptic, including myself, this proved beyond all doubt that I was orchestrating the whole charade, but to the best of my knowledge it was not so. My finger relocated, it moved most positively to spell out â€˜I will see my nephewâ€™ its action aggressive and more distinct, and its movement to the onlooker confirmed my complicity.
However, at that precise moment came the howl of a child from upstairs, and his Mother quite disturbed, appealed to her brother to fetch him as she was too frightened to get him herself.
Bill, ever skeptic, brazenly left the circle to get young Richard and place him happily onto his Mothers lap. Tearfully the child slowly quietened, but would not respond to any questions posed by his Mother as she enquired with some concern, â€˜What the matter was and what did he want?â€
Mumbling incoherently he snuggled into his Mothers chest contented and confident in the company he recognised around him.
Attempts to discover the source of his concern came to an end, as did the session on the Ouija board, and it may well have ended there, with witnesses reaching their own conclusions of my complicity â€“ and I shared their doubt at the convenience of this occurrence. However I maintain I had not knowingly done anything to bring about the results of that evening, whilst our historian friend was very quick to deny any significant military action in that part of Russia in 1942. Curiosity caused research that proved the Das Reich division was absolutely mauled by the Russians in a major engagement in that region and the most ferocious fighting had occurred on the date in question.
Academic proof did not dispel personal motive and as a firm believer that we use only a small proportion of our brain, I am not adverse to the suggestion that I caused the whole thing to happen unconsciously
But! I could not possibly arrange the next incident as it involved a very young mind at its very earliest stages of development. My sons surprising input took everybody completely by surprise, with what I consider an indisputable testament to what had happened that previous evening,
As keen collectors it was common practice to take photographic images of all that we had collected and one afternoon about four months later I had donned a uniform of a German soldier to that end. Richard meantime sat happily bouncing on his uncleâ€™s lap, oblivious to what was happening around him. And my bother in law asked somewhat mockingly
â€œWhat does your Dad look like?â€
My two year old son Richard innocently replied after a short pause,
â€œLike the man who woke me !â€
â€œWhat man?â€ asked his Mum somewhat stunned?
â€œThe man in the cornerâ€ said Richard.
Beyond this point the two year old could not be drawn, leaving conclusions difficult, yet contrivance, impossible. The best and most honest witness was a two year old child who could hardly have been prompted, nor his memory vivid enough to perform a scripted line. No way could any of us sponsor such an answer delivered so innocuously
Had I been able to engineer it in some way, then such design could easily backfire with him adding
â€œMy Dad said soâ€.
The conclusion remains yours? Further experiments occurred with no memorable result however many years later I was to experience an extremely traumatic change in life, and whilst undergoing psychiatric analysis, was prescribed to be suffering from â€˜Survival syndromeâ€™
There was also another interesting twist to this tale that was to occur some forty years (2008) after the event. Having long ceased collecting Militaria curiosity caused me to purchase a book called â€˜Das Reich. Waffen-SS Armoured eliteâ€™ printed by Compendium Publishing in 2003.
On page 41 it lists Herbert Zimmerman as commander to a Tiger group (Large German tank). It stated that he served alngside a brother. It was the same month, campaign and battle, the question was; was he Heinrich Zimmermanâ€™s brother?