Little girls who can talk to ghosts! The Nazi Supernatural! The legacy of artist Iris Häussler’s first fictional character Joseph Wagenbach. Plus America’s Greatest Lie!

2018 is not the first time truth, fiction and lies have merged together. In the 1850s people turned to the dead for answers. In the 1930’s, Hitler and the Nazis tried to remake the world using magic and pseudoscience. 

In phase two of False Alarm! we’re going to bounce between the second half of the 19th century, the interwar years and the present to find out if we are doomed for a repeat.


New series logo by Val Dorito.

Fiction vs Lies

We all know the story of George Washington and the cherry tree isn’t real–but is it a fiction or a lie? 

The First Sounds of Spiritualism

In 1847, two little girls, Maggie and Katy Fox, told their mother they heard a mysterious sound coming from inside the walls of their house.

 In 1926, Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle credited the Fox Sisters for “the most important thing that America has given to the commonweal of the world.” He was talking about Spiritualism.

Ada Calhoun read for us from her essay called The Sisters Who Spoke To Spirits.

The Supernatural Imaginary

There is a reason we have so many fictions –  movies, comic books, thrillers – about the Nazis and the occult.  As Eric Kurlander, author of Hitler’s Monsters, discovered early in his research – almost the entire Nazi leadership were true believers.

Kurlander’s book certainly isn’t the first scholarly work to delve into the strange world of Nazi occultism… but what’s different about this one is that it provides us with a grand unified Nazi theory of the weird or supernatural. 

Over the next few episodes we will hear more from Eric Kurlander about how the Nazis deployed the supernatural imaginary to merge fiction truth and lies… and reshape reality.

The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach

Iris Häussler is a German artist based in Toronto who creates fictional characters. We featured her most recent exhibit a few episodes back — but I caught up with her recently to discuss one of her first fictional artists: Joseph Wagenbach.

In 2006, Iris working with the fictitious Municipal Archives opened up a house to the public, offering tours in which audiences could see hundreds of sculptures supposedly made by the reclusive resident, Joseph Wagenbach. 

She was outed by the National Post as a hoaxer… but the media failed to break her spell. 


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