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The Cloth Damaging Fiend in the General's House (1936)

by Thanassis Vembos

On July, 5, 1936 Ioannis Diamantopoulos, a medicine school student, entered the offices of Greek Society of Psychic Research (GSPR) and asked to see its president, Angelos Tanagras. The student testified that in the house of his father, a retired army general, strange telekinetic phenomena had been taking place recently. His testimony follows.

“Since a few days ago days, extraordinary incidents are taking place in my family house, at 70 Maizonos street [central Athens], incidents that were greatly disturbing because we could not decipher the active agent causing lots of damage in household items. We are living in Athens permanently, we live in this house for 18 years but have never experienced anything like this.

Three years ago we hired a maid, a 13 year old girl. Nothing extraordinary had happened till July 2. On that afternoon my sister (two years older than me) searching in a drawer of the wardrobe closet to find something she was startled to discover clothing filled with holes of the same size, geometrical or star-shaped; her impression was that these holes had been done by a razor blade. She called us at once. We opened the closet and we were shocked to find lots of clothing, ties, hats etc cut and damaged. At first we thought that the cause was rats coming from a nearby sewer. Yet the same phenomenon continued. On the morning of July 3, we discovered that everything that was in the cupboard of the next room, and clothes on the hangings, were found punctured in the same way. We suspected that the rats were not responsible and maybe some other animal, possibly a ferret, had done all this.

I must remark that during the times the phenomenon took place we neither saw nor heard anything at all. So we collected all the undamaged clothing items, shoes etc in the center of the rooms and covered the piles with thick clothing in order to see what exactly was happening. Anytime we went out of a room and returned after a while, we found these items damaged. Our maid was the first to discover the new holes on the cloths, shouting, “Here, they are cut… and here…”.

The phenomenon continued. During the night of July 3, we left the lights turned on in all the rooms and tried to get some sleep. But the next morning, the pillow cases and the sheets in our beds were all cut. The maid raised and immediately was panicked; she showed us a tuft of her hair cut, under the pillow. We were forced to carry all undamaged clothing items to neighboring houses, still believing that the damage was done by some animal. But around noon of the same day, my father opened a locked cupboard containing only his clothes; he found them torn up. He went to the other room and found his tie also torn up; he had hanged it there just five minutes ago. In the afternoon I had left my pajamas on the bed; I returned two minutes later and found them torn.

I realized that the culprit could not have possibly been an animal and I asked my father. “Don’t you think that these things happening to us are just like the stories in the daily papers, about moving of objects by people with special powers?”. “Bah!” said my father. “It must be some animal”, he insisted. I started to hang clothes in a completely empty cupboard which then I locked; after some time I found these clothes torn. The others were searching the house for holes from which the alleged animal could enter the house and they discovered, in an inaccessible closet, the nightgown of the maid torn. This item was not supposed to be there. The maid went to check her things and she found that her hair comb was also not in its place; till today it remains missing. I have to say that all these phenomena were happening during just minutes, completely noiselessly. Total damage on clothing was around Drs 25,000”. [an impressive amount of money back then]

Going along with his standard ‘poltergeist therapy’ Tanagras pointed the maid as the unwilling guilty party and recommended the family to send her away for a few days. They did as they were told; reportedly not only the phenomena stopped but nothing unusual was observed in her new house as well. Two or three days after that, she came back to the general’s house but the phenomena started again. They sent her away for a second time; the phenomena ceased. They took her back; now the phenomena reoccurred with a vengeance; the holes on the clothing were larger and round. The family decided to send the maid away permanently to her home. They did that and the general’s family found peace.

Tanagras pointed that Eleni Tsakmaki, the 13 old maid, was in the verge of her womanhood therefore her organism was greatly frustrated; this frustration was exteriorized in the form of ‘telekinetic transmission’ manifested according to her untold feelings. He opined that there was some latent grudge against the family, something common between maids and masters. Samples of the damaged clothing remained in the archives of GSPR. The case was reported on the daily press and in a lengthy article in September 1936 issue of Psychikai Erevnai magazine.

The house of the general and Angelos Tanagras (Akropolis 8.7.1936)

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