Hans Holzer: The Original Ghost Hunter
In a day when ghost investigation has become a subject for reality television and those involved are more like cartoon characters than serious researchers, it's prudent to take a look at a real Ghost Hunter. Hans Holzer has authored 160 books about the paranormal. Born in 1920, he has spent many years of his life investigating the ghost phenomenon throughout the world. Hans was the first academically trained researcher to define ghosts and ghostly activity for Parapsychology and his book, The Ghost Hunter (published in 1963), set the standard for understanding and investigating that area of the paranormal.
Holzer earned his Phd from the London College of Applied Science and has helped establish many of the protocols used by Parapsychologists today. He's taught Parapsychology at the New York Institute of Technology and has a wealth of hands-on experience when it comes to ghost hunting. After attending one of his lectures back in the 1970s, I found Hans to be fair, objective and serious about the investigation of paranormal events. More importantly, he's a wonderful Mentor that has helped many people interested in ghost research to get started on the right path.
Holzer is one of the first paranormal researchers to appear on television and create a positive impression. I recall seeing him in a number of specials, shows and news documentaries aired during the 1960s. This was a time when the media was especially skeptical about anything involving ghosts. His work on the paranormal investigation of historical sites in New York City, for example, was filmed, shown on television and received an excellent response from viewing audiences and the news media alike.
Anyone that is a fan of Leonard Nimoy's 'In Search Of' series of the 1970s will recall seeing Hans on the show. Holzer's book, The Ghosts That Walk in Washington, became a clhappyic read on Washington, D.C. ghosts and an excellent written account of his famous Woodrow Wilson House ghost hunt. Hans frequently works with Mediums and isn't afraid to embrace alternative ideas and methodologies. His book, Ghosts, has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and become a definitive work on the subject. Hans says of that book, "It's an encyclopedia of all the ghost cases that I have been involved in."
Beyond the fact that Hans Holzer stepped up and made the investigation of ghostly activity a legitimate area of study, I appreciated his work because we both have something in common. Hans became interested in the paranormal when he was eight years of age. I became interested in UFOs, ghosts and the paranormal when I was nine years of age. That makes a difference. It gives you time to formulate ideas, study the work of others and develop a healthy respect for objectivity, as opposed to becoming a true believer, skeptic or debunker.
I am happy to see that Alexandra Holzer, daughter to Hans Holzer and Artist, Countess Catherine Buxhoeveden, has taken on the task of writing about what it was like growing up in that family. Her book, Growing Up Haunted: A Ghostly Memoir, is a delightful collection of stories and behind the scenes facts about her famous dad and mom, as well as their children. Among other things, the book delves into what it was like for Hans to take on a world set against the belief that ghosts were anything more than loose floorboards, overactive imaginations and drug induced or psychotic fantasies.
It's easy for anyone to enter an allegedly haunted environment with a camera crew in town, check a few meters, run a digital recorder for possible EVPs and try and debunk the place. It's another thing to take on the same task armed with the knowledge, well-rounded skills and a serious desire to objectively unlock the secrets of the unseen world. Hans Holzer has set the standard for ghost investigation and provided an excellent example for the