Ghosts and Visions on the Western Front

Ghosts and Visions on the Western Front

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The British Expeditionary Force arrived in France on 14th August, 1914. On the way to meet the French Army at Charleroi, the 70,000 strong BEF met the advancing German Army at Mons. The British Commander Sir John French, deployed the British infantry corps, under the leadership of General Horace Smith-Dorrien, east and west of Mons on a 40km front. General Edmund Allenby and the cavalry division was kept in reserve.

On the morning of 23rd August, General Alexander von Kluck and his 150,000 soldiers attacked the British positions. Although the German First Army suffered heavy losses from British rifle fire, General John French was forced to instruct his outnumbered forces to retreat. French favoured a withdrawal to the coast but the British war minister, Lord Kitchener, ordered the British Expeditionary Force to retreat to the River Marne.

As the historian, James Hayward, has pointed out: "The BEF commenced its epic fighting retreat from Mons, slipping quietly away under cover of night. These men faced a gruelling ordeal of long, forced marches south on unmade or rough cobbled roads, with little food or rest, interspersed with fierce rearguard actions to hold off the relentless advance of the Germans."

On 26th August, 1914, General Horace Smith-Dorrien, ordered the British Expeditionary Force to turn and engage the German Army at Le Cateau. The BEF managed to inflict heavy casualties on the advancing troops and were able to delay the implementation of the Schlieffen Plan. However, BEF also had significant losses with 7,812 of all ranks, killed, wounded and missing out of the 40,000 men who took part in the battle. That evening, General John French ordered the retreat to continue.

Over the next few days several soldiers recorded seeing mysterious visions. One young officer told Mabel Collins, the author of The Crucible (1915): "I had the most amazing hallucinations marching at night, so I was fast asleep, I think. Everyone was reeling about the road and seeing things.... I saw all sorts of things, enormous men walking towards me and lights and chairs and things in the road."

The Daily Mail reported that an unnamed Lieutenant-Colonel had told the newspaper: "On the night of the 27th August I was riding along in the column with two other officers. We had been talking and doing our best to keep from falling asleep on our horses. As we rode along I became conscious of the fact that, in the fields on both sides of the road along which we were marching, I could see a very large body of horsemen. These horsemen had the appearance of squadrons of cavalry, and they seemed to be riding across the fields and going in the same direction as we were going, and keeping level with us. I did not say a word about it at first, but I watched them for about 20 minutes. The other two officers had stopped talking. At last one of them asked me if I saw anything in the fields. I told them what I had seen. The third officer then confessed that he too had been watching these horsemen for the last 20 minutes. So convinced were we that they were real cavalry that, at the next halt, one of the officers took a party of men out to reconnoitre, and found no-one there. The night grew darker, and we saw no more."

Lance-Corporal Johnstone, wrote a letter to The London Evening News explaining what he saw on the retreat from Le Cateau. "We had almost reached the end of the retreat, and after marching a whole day and night with but one half-hour's rest in between, we found ourselves in the outskirts of Langy, near Paris, just at dawn, and as the day broke we saw in front of us large bodies of cavalry, all formed up into squadrons - fine, big men, on massive chargers. I remember turning to my chums in the ranks and saying: Thank God! We are not far off Paris now. Look at the French cavalry. They, too, saw them quite plainly, but on getting closer, to our surprise the horsemen vanished and gave place to banks of white mist, with clumps of trees and bushes dimly showing through."

On 5th September, 1914, Brigadier-General John Charteris, the Chief Intelligence Officer at GHQ, reported that one particular vision, the Angel of Mons, was spreading "through the 2nd Corps, of how the angel of the Lord on the traditional white horse, and clad all in white with flaming sword, faced the advancing Germans at Mons and forbade their further progress."

This story also appeared in the All Saints Parish Magazine in Clifton in May 1915. It was reported that two junior officers told Sarah Marrable about what they saw on the retreat from Mons. "Both of whom had themselves seen the angels who saved our left wing from the Germans when they came right upon them during the retreat from Mons... One of Miss Marrable's friends, who was not a religious man, told her that he saw a troop of angels between us and the enemy. He has been a changed man ever since. The other man... and his company were retreating, they heard the German cavalry tearing after them... They therefore turned round and faced the enemy, expecting nothing but instant death, when to their wonder they saw, between them and the enemy, a whole troop of angels. The German horses turned round terrified and regularly stampeded. The men tugged at their bridles, while the poor beasts tore away in every direction."

It has been argued in The Angel of Mons: Phantom Soldiers and Ghostly Guardians (2005) that the Angel of Mons myth probably came from a ghost story, The Bowman, written by Arthur Machen, that was published in The Evening News on 29th September 1914. The following year, the story appeared in a book that sold 100,000 copies. Machen later expressed regret that the myth had grown up around his work of fiction and pointed out that the word angels did not appear in the story. As James Hayward has pointed out in his book, Myths and Legends of the First World War (2002): "Machen... blamed religious bodies for exploiting what he considered an unremarkable story, and concluded that any sightings of spectral hosts were explicable as mere hallucinations"

Private Frank Richards was with soldiers during the retreat who saw these visions just before they reached Paris. He later argued: "If any angels were seen on the retirement they were seen that night. March, march, for hour after hour, without a halt; we were now breaking into the fifth day of continuous marching with practically no sleep in between... But there was nothing there. Very nearly everyone was seeing things, we were all so dead beat."

Even the soldiers who had seen the visions were aware that it was probably due to the exhaustion and stress of the retreat. Lance-Corporal Johnstone admitted in his letter to The London Evening News: "When I tell you that hardened soldiers who had been through many a campaign were marching quite mechanically along the road and babbling all sorts of nonsense in sheer delirium, you can well believe we were in a fit state to take a row of beanstalks for all the saints in the calendar."

Brigadier-General John Charteris, who investigated the Angels of Mons story commented: "Men's nerves and imagination play weird pranks in these strenuous times." The Lieutenant-Colonel, interviewed in The Daily Mail also confessed that tiredness could have been a factor in seeing these ghosts: "Of course, we were all dog-tired and overtaxed, but it is an extraordinary thing that the same phenomenon should be witnessed by so many different people. I myself am absolutely convinced that I saw these horsemen, and I feel sure that they did not exist only in my imagination. I do not attempt to explain the mystery - I only state facts."

Stories of ghosts and visions increased during the first poison gas attacks in 1915. One engineer serving on the front-line at Ypres later told an American clergyman from Massachusetts: "They looked out over No Man's Land and saw a strange grey cloud rolling towards them. When it struck, pandemonium broke out. Men dropped all around him and the trench was in an uproar. Then, he said, a strange thing happened. Out of the mist, walking across No Man's Land, came a figure. He seemed to be without special protection and he wore the uniform of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). The engineer remembered that the stranger spoke English with what seemed to be a French accent. On his belt the stranger from the poison cloud had a series of small hooks on which were suspended tin cups. In his hand he carried a bucket of what looked like water. As he slid down into the trench he began removing the cups, dipping them into the bucket and passing them out to the soldiers, telling them to drink quickly. The engineer was among those who received the potion. He said it was extremely salty, almost too salty to swallow. But all of the soldiers who were given the liquid did drink it, and not one of them suffered lasting effects from the gas. When the gas cloud had blown over and things calmed down the unusual visitor was not to be found. No explanation for his visit could be given by the Royal Medical Corps - but the fact remained that thousands of soldiers died or suffered lasting effects from that grim attack, but not a single soldier who took the cup from the stranger was among the casualties."

Then there is the story of the "Angels of Mons" going strong through the 2nd Corps, of how the angel of the Lord on the traditional white horse, and clad all in white with flaming sword, faced the advancing Germans at Mons and forbade their further progress. Men's nerves and imagination play weird pranks in these strenuous times. All the same the angel at Mons interests me. I cannot find out how the legend arose.

If any angels were seen on the retirement they were seen that night. March, march, for hour after hour, without a halt; we were now breaking into the fifth day of continuous marching with practically no sleep in between. Stevens said: "There's a fine castle there, see?" pointing to one side of the road. Very nearly everyone was seeing things, we were all so dead beat.

A young officer who had been in France in 1914 told me: "I had the most amazing hallucinations marching at night, so I was fast asleep, I think. Everyone was reeling about the road and seeing things . I saw all sorts of things, enormous men walking towards me and lights and chairs and things in the road."

We came into action at dawn, and fought till dusk. We were heavily shelled by the German artillery during the day, and in common with the rest of the division had a bad time of it. Our division, however, retired in good order. We were on the march all night of the 26th, and on the 27th, with only about two hours' rest. The brigade to which I belonged was rearguard to the division, and during the 27th we were all absolutely worn out with fatigue - both bodily and mental fatigue. No doubt we also suffered to a certain extent from shock, but the retirement still continued in excellent order, and I feel sure that our mental faculties were still... in good working condition.

On the night of the 27th I was riding along in the column with two other officers. These horsemen had the appearance of squadrons of cavalry, and they seemed to be riding across the fields and going in the same direction as we were going, and keeping level with us...

I did not say a word about it at first, but I watched them for about 20 minutes. The night grew darker, and we saw no more.

The same phenomenon was seen by many men in our column. Of course, we were all dog-tired and overtaxed, but it is an extraordinary thing that the same phenomenon should be witnessed by so many different people. I do not attempt to explain the mystery - I only state facts.

We had almost reached the end of the retreat, and after marching a whole day and night with but one half-hour's rest in between, we found ourselves in the outskirts of Langy, near Paris, just at dawn, and as the day broke we saw in front of us large bodies of cavalry, all formed up into squadrons - fine, big men, on massive chargers. I remember turning to my chums in the ranks and saying: "Thank God! We are not far off Paris now. Look at the French cavalry." They, too, saw them quite plainly, but on getting closer, to our surprise the horsemen vanished and gave place to banks of white mist, with clumps of trees and bushes dimly showing through.

When I tell you that hardened soldiers who had been through many a campaign were marching quite mechanically along the road and babbling all sorts of nonsense in sheer delirium, you can well believe we were in a fit state to take a row of beanstalks for all the saints in the calendar.

Both of whom had themselves seen the angels who saved our left wing from the Germans when they came right upon them during the retreat from Mons... and his company were retreating, they heard the German cavalry tearing after them ... The men tugged at their bridles, while the poor beasts tore away in every direction.

They looked out over No Man's Land and saw a strange grey cloud rolling towards them. He seemed to be without special protection and he wore the uniform of the Royal [Army] Medical Corps (RAMC). The engineer remembered that the stranger spoke English with what seemed to be a French accent.

On his belt the stranger from the poison cloud had a series of small hooks on which were suspended tin cups. But all of the soldiers who were given the liquid did drink it, and not one of them suffered lasting effects from the gas.

When the gas cloud had blown over and things calmed down the unusual visitor was not to be found. No explanation for his visit could be given by the Royal Medical Corps - but the fact remained that thousands of soldiers died or suffered lasting effects from that grim attack, but not a single soldier who took the cup from the stranger was among the casualties.

‘Wasteland’ Review: Ghosts of the Great War

A still from the 1920 German film ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.’

‘Après la guerre,” according to a song popularized by the revue “Hullo, America,” which debuted on the London stage in November 1918, “there’ll be a good time everywhere.” The difficulties that the writers and artists of the postwar era had in assimilating the horrors of Flanders into mainstream culture were twofold. First came that understandable, and to a large extent escapist, search for a “good time.” Following in its wake came a gradual realization that the events of 1914-18 had been so traumatic for the people caught up in them that it was all but impossible to address them head-on.

If nothing else, “Wasteland,” W. Scott Poole’s exploration of some of the Great War’s consequences for popular art, is fully attuned to the conflict’s devastating psychological impact. Twenty thousand British soldiers died on the first day of the Somme on average, a further 20,000 combatants from all nations died each succeeding four days of the war to produce a total toll of 10 million. And this is to ignore the maimed, the shellshocked and the devastated—all those walking casualties who, when straying into the fiction of the 1920s, are instantly recognizable by their detachment from the social life that oozes on around them.

“The war has left its imprint in our souls,” the French writer Pierre de Mazenod pronounced in 1922, “[with] all these visions of horror it has conjured up around us.” But in the fiction of the immediately postwar era, these visions are kept resolutely off the page. Characters in English novels of the 1920s—Warwick Deeping’s “Sorrell and Son” (1925), say—come home from the war, they talk about the war, they are shown dealing with some of the war’s emotional consequences, but they are rarely shown fighting in it it took over a decade for Erich Maria Remarque to produce what is generally regarded as the first outstanding Great War novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

In the trembling hands of Mr. Poole, the author of a well-regarded biography of H.P. Lovecraft, all this psychological fallout has a single point of focus. Freud, writing in 1915, had declared it “evident that the war is bound to sweep away . . . conventional treatment of death.” “Wasteland” tracks some of the unconventional treatments that followed it on the screen and the printed page. Horror in fiction and film, Mr. Poole argues, “began its danse macabre in the wake of the Great War.” Cineastes, writers and painters “wanted their audiences to come face-to-face with death in new and disturbing forms that mocked the bourgeois cheer of much of prewar Europe.”

Much of what follows is highly persuasive. Certainly the interwar horror films that Mr. Poole roots out of the vault for our inspection—“Nosferatu” (1922), “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920), “The Golem: How He Came Into the World” (1920), “Frankenstein” (1931)—could not have been created in quite the same way had they been made a decade or two before. Many of their sponsors had personal experience of the conflict—the co-producer of “Nosferatu,” Albin Grau, had fought for the Austro-Hungarian army in Serbia the director of “Frankenstein,” James Whale, was a Flanders veteran—and even Hollywood, keener on more “escapist” forms of horror, found itself at the mercy of European émigrés eager to peddle their visions of what “Nosferatu” calls “the land of the phantoms.”

Legends of America

California! – Its long and rich history from Native Americans, to Spanish explorers, to the California Gold Rush, and the scandals of Hollywood, the Golden State can’t help but be haunted. Here, you will find dozens of hotels, inns, B&B’s, and even some campgrounds where you can sleep with a ghost!

To see the spirit of California’s Gold Rush days, try the Fallon House Hotel in Columbia or if you’re looking for a celebrity ghost, spend a night at the Chateau Marmont or Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. On the other hand, if you’re looking for sheer numbers, try the Queen Mary in Long Beach, reportedly one of the most haunted hotels in the nation.

Union Hotel in Benicia, California.

Union Hotel – In the heart of historic Benicia, the gracious 1882 Union Hotel is reminiscent of California’s colorful past. During the late 1800s, a young woman allegedly hanged herself in one of the rooms of this historic hotel. Today, this unfortunate soul reportedly continues to be seen in a window that faces the street, and others heard her talking or crying. Union Hotel, 401 First Street, PO Box 874, Benicia, California 94510, 707-746-0110.

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Hotel – Presiding majestically above Sunset Boulevard, the Beverly Hills Hotel has been welcoming royalty, legends, world leaders and luminaries to its luxurious accommodations since 1912. Its bungalows are said to be haunted by several ghosts including Rachmaninoff and Harpo Marx. Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90210, 310-276-2251 or 800-283-8885.

Fernwood Campground – For many years this area was considered sacred by the Esalen Indians and today stands as a commercial campground. According to employees and guests, the ghost of an Indian wearing a corn mask has been seen between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. near the cabins. Fernwood Campground, 831-667-2422.

Brookdale Lodge, Brookdale, California

Brookdale Lodge – Sitting beneath the stately giant redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Brookdale Lodge has been serving customers since 1890. In the early 1920s, the beautiful dining room with the natural brook running through it was built and a feature of Ripley’s Believe It or Not served to make the Brookdale Lodge world famous. In the 1940s the lodge became home to a number of gangsters and other shady characters. At this time a number of secret passageways and hidden rooms were installed throughout the lodge. It was during this time that buried bodies under the floor began to circulate and a six-year-old girl drowned in the dining room creek. Today, this historic lodge is haunted by dozens of specters from the past as the little girl is seen running through the lobby, ethereal voices and music are heard throughout the lodge, the sounds of ghostly diners in an otherwise empty dining room, a ghostly woman seen walking over the brook as if supported by a bridge removed long ago, and more. Brookdale Lodge, 11570 Highway 9, P.O. Box 903, Brookdale, California 95007, 831-338-6433

La Playa Hotel – Often called the Grande Dame of Carmel, the original building served as a home for Christopher Jorgensen and his bride Angela Ghirardelli, heir to the San Francisco chocolate fortune. After the couple left the area, it became a hotel and in the 1920s a second building was constructed. Today a woman is said to haunt the hotel, who is thought to be Angela Ghirardelli or her cousin who drowned in Carmel Bay. La Playa Hotel, PO Box 900, Camino Real at Eighth, Carmel, California 93921, 831-624-6476 or 800-582-8900.

Catalina Island

Banning House Lodge – Located on the isthmus of Catalina Island at Two Harbors, the lodge is perched on a hilltop with sweeping views of both Isthmus Cove and Catalina Harbor. The Banning House Lodge was built in 1910 as the summer home for the Banning Brothers. It has since been renovated into a charming 11-room lodge. A ghostly figure dubbed the “White Lady” has often been spotted here. Others have reported the smells of tobacco and fish that reportedly come from the spirit of an old fisherman. Near here is the spot where Natalie Woods drowned and she is also said to be seen close by. Banning House Lodge, 1 Banning House Rd. (Tremont St.), Avalon, California 90704, 310-510-2800 or 800-626-1496.

Fallon House Hotel and Theater – Remaining since the days of the California Gold Rush, the Fallon Hotel was built by an Irish stone cutter in 1859. Original owner, Owen Fallon expanded the hotel in 1863 by purchasing an adjoining building and later the Gunn Saloon. These three buildings became Fallon’s Hotel. Today, visions of the Gold Rush era are often seen in this historic building. Though smoking is not allowed, guests can often smell the odor, along with that of whiskey. A female apparition is often seen in Room 9, and in the theater lights seemingly turn on and off of their own accord and shadow images are often spotted. Fallon House, 11175 Washington St, Columbia, California 95310, 209-532-1479 or 800-532-1479.

Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego, California by Carol Highsmith.

Hotel Del Coronado – Rising from the water’s edge on the island of Coronado, this historic hotel has long been visited by the rich and famous. Considered one of America’s most beautiful resorts, the Del, as the hotel is known by locals, was built in 1888, by Elisha Babcok and H.L. Story, who dreamed of building a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western world.” The 399 room grand resort cost over a million dollars to build, a staggering amount at the time. One of the Del’s most often seen ghostly guests is a woman named Kate Morgan who allegedly committed suicide on the beach in 1892. Ms. Morgan has often been spotted in the room that she stayed in – 3327, and upon the grounds of the resort. In another room, #3519, a maid supposedly hanged herself here and this room is also said to be haunted. Other strange phenomena include objects are tossed about guest rooms as people sleep, the sounds of disembodied footsteps, and mysterious temperature changes. The Hotel Del Coronado, 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, California 92118, 619-435-6611 or 800-HOTELDEL.

Amargosa Hotel, Death Valley Junction, California by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

Amargosa Opera House and Hotel – In 1923, the Pacific Coast Borax Company built a “company town” consisting of a U-shaped complex of Spanish Colonial-style buildings. Today, there is little left of Death Valley Junction other than empty buildings and the historic Amargosa Opera House and Hotel. Today, it is said to be haunted by a number of spirits who called this home during its borax mining days. These unearthly spirits are said to include a crying child who drowned in a bathtub, a malevolent spirit who was hanged in one room, the presence of a ghostly cat, and others. Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, Highway 127, PO Box 8, Death Valley, California 92328, 760-852-4441.

Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort – Sitting upon the glittering salt flats of Death Valley National Park sits this oasis in the desert. The mission-style inn with its thick adobe walls, opened in 1927, and not only continues to retain its vintage atmosphere, but also a vintage era ghost. This friendly phantom is thought to be that of Chef James Marquez, who worked at the hotel from 1959 to 1973. Forced to quit due to illness, he died three years later. But, Chef Marquez evidently liked his job so much, he continues to roam “his” kitchen and dining room, mysteriously opening and closing doors, rearranging equipment and tools, and making all manner of odd noises in the middle of the night. Furnace Creek Inn Death Valley National Park, Hwy. 190, PO Box 1, Death Valley, California 92328, 760-786-2345, 800-236-7916

Dorrington Hotel – This historic hotel, built in 1852 by John and Rebecca Gardner, was once a stage stop on the Big Trees Carson Valley Road. Originally serving as a depot and summer resort for stockmen, the hotel has been fully restored today. Mrs. Gardner is said to continue to frequent the hotel, walking through the dining room and ringing the motion detector. One year, she allegedly knocked down every fake Christmas tree in the hotel every night during the holiday season. On another occasion, she allegedly warned the owner of a gas leak in the kitchen. Along with Mrs. Gardener, several ghostly children are said to lurk at the historic hotel. Dorrington Hotel, 3431 Highway 4, P. O. Box 4307, Dorrington, California 95223, 209-795-5800 or 866-995-5800


Durgan Flat Inn (formerly Downieville River Inn) – The inn is surrounded by Tahoe National Forest and nestled in the historic gold rush town of Downieville. This charming resort is also said to be home to a former boarding house resident. In Room 1, water spigots have been known to turn on by themselves, and this ghostly spirit is even said to sometimes climb into bed with started guests. Durgan Flat Inn, 121 River Street Downieville, California 95936, 530-289-3308 or 800-696-3308.

Glass Beach Inn – Built as a private home in the 1920s, the building was fully renovated in 1980 as a guest house which today offers nine distinctively styled rooms. However, inside the inn is a chair that is evidently not so good for guests. According to the tale, many who have sat in it mysteriously die afterward. Glass Beach Inn, 726 N. Main Street, Fort Bragg, California 95437, 707-964-6774.

The Grey Whale Inn – This 1915 building once served as the Redwood Hospital in Fort Bragg. However, since 1978 it has been providing accommodations as a bread and breakfast inn. The inn is said to be haunted by a woman who roams the garden areas, as well as a man who has often been seen peering from the windows. Gray Whale Inn, 615 North Main St. Fort Bragg, California 95437, 800-382-7244 or 707-964-0640.

The Lodge at Noyo River – Atop the bluff above Noyo Harbor, this historic home, converted to a bed and breakfast ahs been providing a commanding overlook of the river, harbor and Pacific Ocean beyond since the 1860s. Today, it is said to be haunted by an unfortunate honeymoon couple who lost their lives in a car accident near the hotel. Immediately after the accident, the groom was said to have been heard crying for help just outside the lodge, an image that continues to replay itself today. His bride, dressed all in red is said to pace within the lodge. Other strange occurrences also occur including the sounds of ghostly voices and laughing, and well as lights that mysteriously turn on and off by themselves. Lodge at Noyo River, 500 Casa Del Noyo Drive, Fort Bragg, California 95437, 800-628-1126.

Lord Bradley’s Bed & Breakfast Inn – This charming Victorian B&B is located in the heart of historic Mission San Jose, California. Heavy footsteps and strange noises have been heard here during the night and the apparitions of other era figures have been seen wearing Victorian style clothing. 43344 Mission Boulevard, Fremont, California 94539, 510-490-0520

Grass Valley

The Holbrooke Hotel – Established in 1851 to cater to the needs of the Gold Rush pioneers, this historic hotel has hosted such dignitaries as Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, James A. Garfield, and Grover Cleveland, as well as other famous guests, including Mark Twain and infamous outlaw Black Bart. Today the historic hotel is said to remain home to a number of former guests. In the reception hall, they supposedly have been known to drag chairs across the floor, turn lights on and off. Guests and staff have often heard voices in the hall when no one is there. Holbrooke Hotel, 212 W. Main Street, Grass Valley, California, 95945, 530-273-1353 or 800-933-7077.

The Groveland Hotel – This 1949 adobe hotel was known as “The Best House on the Hill” during the height of the Gold Rush. Fully restored to retain its 19th-century character, the hotel not only caters to today’s travelers, but also to a resident ghost. Lyle, as he is known, was a miner who died mysteriously in his sleep long ago and has evidently never left. A friendly spirit, Lyle has been seen all over the hotel and likes to play impish pranks on the hotel’s guests, including turning the water on and off, watching over guests as they fall asleep, turning on and off the lights, and politely popping open the oven when the bread is done. The Groveland Hotel, 18767 Main Street, Groveland, California 95321, 800-273-3314 209-962-4000

Madrona Manor – The manor was built in 1880 by wealthy businessman John Paxton. The 17 room home called Madrona Knoll Rancho at the time was the grandest show place in the area. The property remained a private residence until 1981 when it was renovated as a romantic country inn and restaurant. The inn, now on the National Register of Historic Places is said to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl in Room 101, as well as a spirit named Elsie he has been known to lurk in the Dining Room. Madrona Manor, 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg, California 95448, 707-433-4231 or 800-258-4003.

Greetings From Hollywood, California

“I have been asked if I ever get the DTs I don’t know it’s hard to tell where Hollywood ends and the DTs begin.” — WC Fields

Chateau Marmont – Built in 1929, this hotel has played hosts to numerous celebrities over the years, including John Lennon, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow, Dustin Hoffman, Greta Garbo, and dozens of others who are looking for a little privacy. The majestic, castle-like hotel rises above the sunset Strip is also a place of many tales, some good and some not so good. Hollywood stars have come to the hotel to have affairs by the dozens, this is where John Belushi died from an overdose, and dozens of show biz deals have been made and broken. It is also said to be haunted by a number of ghostly spirits. One has even been known to climb into guest’s beds. However, you should know that the Marmont continues to protect its guests’ privacy and if you don’t rent one of its very pricy rooms, you won’t be allowed to wander around here. Marmont Hotel, 8221 Sunset Boulevard Hollywood, California. 90046, 323-656-1010.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – At the start of Hollywood’s golden days, as the silent pictures were being replaced with “talkies,” the Roosevelt Hotel was designed and built on sprawling strawberry fields as a benchmark of glamour and elegance. Named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt, the hotel opened its doors onto Hollywood Boulevard on May 15, 1927, having been built at the then staggering cost of $2.5 million. The most prestigious movie stars of the day, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford helped to bring the hotel to life and the grand opening hosted the biggest celebrities of the day like Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, Will Rogers, and Clara Bow, among others. It quickly became the epicenter of Hollywood, the Entertainment Capital of the World. In 1929, the first Academy Awards ceremony took place in the Blossom Room of the hotel. Today it is said to be haunted by the likes of Montgomery Clift who continues to play his bugle in Room 928 and Marilyn Monroe whose image has been seen gazing from a lobby mirror. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90028, 800-950-7667.

Knickerbocker Hotel – Built in 1925, the building opened as a luxury apartment before later becoming a hotel. This Hollywood hotel, like many others catered to hundreds of celebrities and if walls could talk, would tell a host of scandalous tales. Today, several ghosts have been seen in the old hotel including Valentino and Marilyn Monroe. 1714 Ivar Avenue, Hollywood, CA. 323-962-8898.

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree Inn – Built in 1950, this Hacienda Style Inn in the Mojave Desert is located just five miles from the Joshua Tree National Park. Though peacefully elegant today, it had a darker side one night in 1973 when Gram Parsons died in Room Number 8 from a drug and alcohol overdose at the inn. Gram, called by some as “the patron saint of alternative country,” is credited as being the world’s first country-rock star and the first long-haired country singer to ever show himself at the Grand Old Opry. Today, his spirit is said to haunt the hotel, especially the room that he died in. Here, strange shadows are seen and objects shake and move by themselves. Joshua Tree Inn, 61259 Twenty-nine Palms Highway, P.O. Box 1966 Joshua Tree, California 92252, 760 366-1188.

Julian Hotel – This historic hotel began as a restaurant when freed slaves, Albert and Margaret Robinson, began a restaurant in the early 1880’s. As their reputation grew, they began construction on the hotel in 1897. The Julian Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California. Evidently, its original owners are reluctant to leave, as Albert, with a pipe in his mouth, has been seen in mirrors. In the upstairs rooms, lace doilies and furniture is often found to be rearranged. Julian Hotel, 2032 Main St, Julian, California 92036, 760)-765-0201

Knights Landing

Snowball Mansion Inn – Located on the Sacramento River the Snowball Mansion, built in 1872, encompasses 7 1/2 acres of gardens with a private lake for guests to enjoy. The mansion is said to be haunted by Lucy Snowball who roams the hallways. Snowball Mansion Inn, 42485 Front Street, Knights Landing, California 95645, 530-735-1122

The Grande Colonial Hotel – Known as the “Jewel of the Pacific”, the hotel offers classic European styling in the intimate setting of a boutique hotel. Commanding views of the spectacular California coastline, the hotel is ideally located just one block away from breathtaking white beaches and steps away from the elegant shops and world-class museums and galleries renowned to the area. Near a meeting room called the Sun Room, heavy footsteps are often heard on a staircase. It sounds as though several men are running up and down the stairs and culminates in slamming doors. Some 60 years ago, this room was used as a temporary barracks for single servicemen during World War II. The Grande Colonial Hotel, 910 Prospect Street La Jolla, California 92037 888.530.5766.

Lake Arrowhead

Bugsy Siegel, American Mobster

Bracken Fern Manor – The brainchild of Chicago mobster, Bugsy Siegel, this Alpine-style inn was opened as Club Arrowhead in 1929. The state of the art club catered to the rich and famous of Hollywood, offering gambling, illegal liquor, and prostitution. It also offered legal amenities such as an Olympic size swimming pool, skiing, tennis courts, a bathhouse, and more. So successful was the resort, that Bugsy was soon able to convince the bosses in Chicago to front the money for another little gambling spot in the middle of nowhere — Las Vegas. The brothel, known as “The Crib,” continued operations through World War II and gambling operations were maintained in the speakeasy up to 1955. Now a Certified Historic Landmark in the State of California, Bracken Fern is also said to be haunted by a former prostitute named Violet. The prostitute killed herself after the mob killed her lover and her violet-scented perfume can still be smelled wafting through the halls. Another ghost of a small boy has also been seen at this historic inn. Thought to be the son of a former prostitute he was trampled by a team of horses. Today his tiny footsteps are often seen in the snow. Bracken Fern Manor, 815 Arrowhead Villas Road, P.O. Box 1006, Lake Arrowhead, California 92352, 909-337-8557 or 888-244-5612

The decks on the Queen Mary still sport their original wood flooring by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Queen Mary – Considered the most luxurious ocean liner ever to sail the Atlantic, the Queen Mary first set sail in 1936, carrying 3,000 passengers and crew. After making more than 1,000 voyages across the ocean, the Queen Mary was permanently docked in Long Beach in 1967. Today, it serves as both a luxurious hotel and a museum and is the constant source for stories of paranormal activities. Said to be one of the most haunted hotels in the nation, this historic ship has a number of spirits lurking upon its decks. The swimming pool is reportedly haunted by two women who drowned there, the ghost of a young woman in a white dress has been seen in the Queen’s Salon, children have been heard playing in the Forward Storage Room, and a 1930’s gentleman has been known to roam among the First Class Suites. These tales and more are to be found at this floating haunted hotel. Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, P.O. Box 1100, Long Beach, California 90802, 800-437-2934 or 562-435-3511.

Figueroa Hotel – This 1925 former YWCA residence has been transformed today into one of downtown Los Angeles’ best budget hotels. Though there doesn’t appear to be a specifically identified spirit, a number of strange things allegedly occur here. Eerie sounds are said to emanate throughout the hallways and the rooms, televisions turn on by themselves at night and will not shut off, and the elevator seemingly moves of its own accord, stopping on certain floors, then opening to display no one there. The hotel started undergoing renovations in November 2015, with an expected reopening in 2016. Hotel officials say it will be transformed back to it’s Spanish Colonial splendor from the 1920s. Figueroa Hotel, 39 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, California.

Alexandria Hotel – Opened in 1906, it quickly became a natural meeting place for the burgeoning film industry. During its heyday, it played host to people like Winston Churchill, King Edward VIII, Presidents Taft, Wilson, and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as dozens of celebrities. Today it is haunted by an unknown “lady in black” who has been spotted on several occasions. Some believe she was a former resident who was stricken with grief and died of a broken heart. Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, California 90013

Mendocino Hotel and Garden Suites – Wonderfully restored from the time when Mendocino was a booming lumber port, the hotel is located in the heart of the historic village of Mendocino. Overlooking the Mendocino Headlands and the Pacific Ocean, this historic hotel opened in 1878 as the Temperance House. For a time it was a sanctuary for those wanting to escape the excesses of the many saloons of a lively logging town. However, this building too, succumbed to Mendocino’s ribald past when it became a brothel for a time. Today, the hotel is said to be haunted be a Victorian woman who haunts the restaurant, appears in mirrors, has been known to visit guestrooms, and likes to play tricks on the hotel staff. Mendocino Hotel, 45080 Main Street, Mendocino, California, 95460, 707-937-0511 or 800-548-0513.

Mokelumne Hill

Hotel Leger – Sitting at the corner of Main and Lafayette streets, there has been some type of “hotel” here since 1851. George Leger (pronounced “luh zhay,”) the hotel’s founder, originally began a wood-framed tent hotel that catered to the many prospectors of the Moke Hill gold rush. Later, Leger built a “real” building. The present hotel is actually three separate historic buildings. In 1879, Legler was shot to death in a gambling dispute and today is said to continue to haunt his old hotel. And, he’s not the only one! Others include a Lady in White who has been seen in Room 2 and a young boy in Room 3. Hotel Leger, 8304 Main Street, Mokelumne Hill, California 95245, 209-286-1401.

Murphys Historic Hotel & Lodge – Opened in 1856, the hotel first catered as a stopover for Matteson’s Stage route from Milton to the Calaveras Big Trees. Almost 150 years after it first opened, the Murphys Hotel still hosts travelers touring the central Mother Lode region Evidently, there is also an “older” visitor who also resides at this historic hotel. Guests tell of feeling a presence immediately when they walk in and feel as though they’re being watched. Allegedly, a bookkeeper was shot at the hotel long ago and his body thrown over the balcony. He is said to roam the second floor today. Murphys Hotel, 457 Main Street, Murphys, California 95247, 209-728-3444 or 800-532-7684457

Napa River Inn – Built in 1886, this building first served as a warehouse and feed store. But today, the building serves as an upscale boutique hotel nestled in the heart of Napa Valley. The son of the building’s original owner, Captain Albert Hatt, hanged himself in 1912 in the hotel and is said to continue to haunt the area now occupied by Sweetie Pies Bakery. A woman in a white dress, who some think was Captain Hatt’s wife, is also frequently seen in the hotel. Ethereal footsteps of the pair have been heard in the hallways and doors have opened and slammed shut of their own accord. The Napa River Inn, 500 Main Street, Napa, California 94559, 707-251-8500

Nevada City

Red Castle Inn – Built in 1860, this grand four-story brick mansion sitting atop Prospect Hill, overlooks historic Nevada City. One of the few remaining historic lodging landmarks of California’s Gold Rush era, the Red Castle Inn offers travelers a glimpse of what life was like more than one hundred years ago. The gothic mansion is also home to a ghostly lady in gray. Thought to have been the governess for the original builder’s family, the ghost is so real that guests think she is alive until she walks straight through a door. The Red Castle Inn Historic Lodgings, 109 Prospect Street, Nevada City, CA 95959, 530-265-5135 or 800-761-4766.

National Hotel, Nevada City, California.

The National Hotel – A registered historical landmark, the National Hotel is the oldest continuously-operating hotel west of the Rockies. In 1856, when the hotel catered to miners, it was also used as a stagecoach stop and telegraph, mail, and express center. Looking much as it did back then, a number of other era ghosts are said to continue to occupy its space, as strange things continually occur. Staff and visitors alike tell stories of lights flickering, strange cold spots in otherwise warm rooms, and experiencing eerie feelings. The National Hotel, 211 Broad St., Nevada City, California 95959, 530-265-4551.

Sierra Sky Ranch Resort – Nestled among towering oaks and pine trees, the Sierra Ranch began as the first working cattle ranch in the area in 1875. Started by a man named Caster, he continued to build up his heard and land holdings to the point that by 1898 it was the largest cattle ranch in California. However, by about the 1930’s the ranch had been sold and it became a tuberculosis sanitarium and in World War II, the Army purchased the property and established it for wounded and ailing soldiers. Today, it serves as a guest ranch to the many visitors of Yosemite National Park and the northern California region. It’s also allegedly haunted by four different spirits, including an old cowboy who committed suicide at the ranch, two children who died at the tuberculosis sanitarium, and a female nurse. Numerous odd occurrences have been reported here such as the smell of vintage perfume, a piano that plays by itself, misty clouds that float through the air, and more. Sky Ranch, 50552 Road 632, Oakhurst, California 93644, 559 683-8040

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa – Built in 1923 this Spanish Colonial retreat has been enjoyed by hundreds of travelers including a number of celebrities such as Clark Gable, Walt Disney, and Judy Garland. A landmark on the California Central Coast, the inn is a member of Historic Hotels of America. Part of its history is said to remain in Room 5, where a bad smell has been known to linger and mysterious banging noises come from the closet. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, 905 Country Club Rd., Ojai, California 93023, 805-646-5511 or 800-422-6524

Palm Springs

Korakia Pensione – Nestled in the heart of the southern California desert at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, this Moroccan style inn was built in 1924. The breakfast inn today actually consists of two historically renowned villas. Allegedly it is haunted by the wife of a former owner who has been seen walking along the road on the anniversary of her death. Other strange occurrences include cold chills on extremely hot days and clothes that have been rearranged while guests are gone from their room. Korakia Pencione, 257 S. Patencio Road, Palm Springs, California 92262, 760-864-6411.

Placerville, California today


Cary House Hotel – Known as the “The Jewel of Placerville,” the Cary House Hotel has been catering to guests since 1857 when it was known as the finest hotel in gold country. Today, it continues the tradition of old-time hospitality and service. It is also said to be one of the city’s most haunted sites. One of the ghosts is said to be a man named Stan, a former Cary House desk clerk who’d been stabbed to death when he reportedly made a pass at the wrong person. Today, these impish ghosts allegedly like to pinch people’s behinds. Room 212 is said to host the spirit of an old horse and wagon operator who died in the room. While you’re there beware of the old elevator as it has been known to make unmanned trips up and down the four-story building. Cary House Hotel, 300 Main Street, Placerville, California 95667, 530-622-4271.

Mission Inn – Occupying an entire city block in the heart of downtown Riverside, the Historic Mission Inn began as a modest two-story 12-room adobe boarding house built in 1876 by Christopher Miller. In 1880, Miller’s son Frank purchased the building and surrounding property and began to add on to it. Over the next several decades the hotel was expanded with courtyards, a chapel, and additional wings. Today, the historic inn is said to be haunted by the original Miller family. Guests have described beautiful singing coming from empty rooms, reports of large blue lights floating in the air, being touched and pushed by ghostly hands, numerous accounts of equipment misbehaving, and more. Apparitions have been seen in the hallways, floating near the ceiling in the Dining Room, and near the storage building behind the hotel. Mission Inn, 3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, California 92501, 951-784-0300 or 800-843-7755.

Paso Robles Inn, Robles, California

Paso Robles Inn – During the 19th century the Paso Robles region, known for its mineral hot springs, became a popular stop for travelers along the Camino Real trail. In 1889 the Paso Robles Inn was built to accommodate the many people passing through. Fully restored to its former glory, the inn continues to carry on the century-old tradition of serving travelers with 30 of its 100 guest rooms outfitted with hot spring spas. Mysteriously, the phone at the front desk continuously received mysterious calls from an empty Room 1007 on a regular basis. On one occasion, the phone even called 911. Staff believes these phone calls come from a former 1940’s night clerk who found a fire in the hotel. He quickly took action, ringing the alarm and helping to get the hotel evacuated. However, in the process, Emsley died of a heart attack. Paso Robles Inn, 1103 Spring Street, Paso Robles, California 93446, 805-238-2660 or 800-676-1713

Horton Grand Hotel – In the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp District, The Horton Grand Hotel is a restoration of two separate hotels opened in 1886 – the Grand Horton Hotel and the Brooklyn Kahle Saddlery Hotel. Both hotels once sat in San Diego’s infamous red-light district. The hotel is now said to be haunted by a 19th-century gambler by the name of Roger A. Whittaker. When he was caught cheating at cards, he ran from the game hiding in an armoire in Room 309. However, he was quickly found and shot by the other gamblers. Today his restless spirit is still said to lurk in Room 309 and along the stairway to the room. Guests have encountered unknown hands shaking the bed, lights that turn on and off by themselves, doors mysteriously opening and closing, and the sounds of cards being shuffled and dealt. Horton Grand Hotel, 311 Island Ave., San Diego, California 92101, 619-544-1886 or 800-542-1886.

Lake Morena Campground – Located 63 miles east of San Diego on the remote eastern slope of the Laguna Mountains, Lake Morena is surrounded by thousands of acres of chaparral-covered hills, huge old oak trees, and large rock formations. Within the remote confines of this park, at least one campground is allegedly haunted. Across from the campground near boulders that lie beneath a grove of wooded trees, the apparition of a ghostly young woman in a long white dress has been seen several times. Sometimes she has been seen pacing before she vanishes, other times, she is reported to just stare at you before disappearing. She has also been heard to be laughing and singing in the distance. Other campers have also heard heavy footsteps around their tents which do not fade as if someone were walking away but simply seem to “lift” and disappear. Lake Moreno County Park directions: From San Diego, take I-8 east to Buckman Springs Road and turn right for four miles to Oak Drive, then west three miles to Lake Morena Dr. and the park entrance.

U.S Grant Hotel – In 1910 this luxurious hotel opened after costing nearly two million dollars to build. Fully renovated today, it allegedly hosts a ghost who walks the hallways. At other times, this spirit has been known to enter the guest room, making all kinds of strange noises. U.S Grant Hotel, 326 Broadway, San Diego, California 92101, 619-232-3121

Queen Anne Hotel – Opened in 1890 as Miss Mary Lake’s School For Young Ladies, the school catered to the wealthy young women of San Francisco. However, the school didn’t last long and closed around 1896. Over the decades the building changed hands numerous times until 1980 when it was renovated and reopened as the Queen Anne Hotel. Apparently, Mary Lake is reluctant to leave the hotel and lurks about the fourth floor. Most commonly she is seen as a misty figure but has also been known to unpack visitor’s luggage, replace dropped pillows back on the bed, and occasionally even tucks guests into bed. Queen Anne Hotel, 1590 Sutter Street at Octavia, San Francisco, California 94109, 415-441-2828 or 800-227-3970.

San Remo Hotel – Just after the San Francisco fire destroyed most of the city, the San Remo was built in 1906. Originally called the New California Hotel, its small rooms and affordable pricing attracted numerous immigrants, sailors, and penniless artists. In 1922, the hotel was renamed the San Remo where full course dinners began to be served and liquor was served in coffee cups during Prohibition. Today, the hotel has been renovated with modern amenities but continues to maintain at an atmosphere of an earlier era. It is also said to be home to a couple of resident ghosts. Allegedly, the hotel was once owned by a Madame and was run as a brothel. This mysterious “painted lady” is said to haunt Room 33, knocking on the door, but disappearing when someone answers. A little girl has also been spied roaming the hallways and trying to get into Room 42. San Remo Hotel, 2237 Mason Street, San Francisco, California 94133, 415-776-8688 or 800-352-REMO

Santa Maria

The Santa Maria Inn – A Central Coast landmark since 1917, The Historic Santa Maria Inn blends the style of an old English country inn, the elegance of a bygone era and the gracious hospitality of the Santa Maria Valley. Catering to hundred of visitors over the decades, some of them seemingly choose to stay at this historic inn. Ghost stories abound here of mysterious footprints, a piano that plays by itself, and music coming forth from disconnected speakers. One legend tells of a sea captain and his mistress who stayed in the hotel long ago. Murdered by his mistress, the captain continues to appear at the hotel. The inn is also allegedly visited by Rudolph Valentino, who likes to knock on the door of Room 210. I this room, an invisible presence has also been known to recline on the bed. The Santa Maria Inn, 801 South Broadway, Santa Maria, California 93454, 805-928-7777 or 800-462-4276.

The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, California

Georgian Hotel – Built in 1933 and originally named The Lady Windemere, this historic hotel was designed to be an intimate hideaway, catering to Los Angeles’ high society. In the hotel’s Speakeasy Restaurant, both staff and guests have reported a number of strange phenomena over the years. At many times when the restaurant is completely empty, employees have heard loud sighs, gasps and have been startled by a disembodied voice who greets them with, “Good Morning.” At other times the sounds of running footsteps are heard throughout the restaurant when no one is there and a number of transparent apparitions have been seen. Georgian Hotel, 1415 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, California 90401, 310-395-9945 or 800-538-8147.

Santa Paula

The Glenn Tavern Inn – Built in 1911 in the days of grand hotels, this three-story Tudor-style hotel is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Almost from the beginning, rumors of ghosts were circulated among the hotel’s staff and guests. Room 307 apparently hosts a ghost called “Calvin,” who appears with long hair and a beard. Calvin has even been captured on film. In Room 104, guests have heard the voice of a woman giving a speech, followed by the sounds of a champagne toast. Others report that a child has been seen playing on the second floor and in the lobby. An apparition has been known to look out the window of Room 23. Other strange events have occurred including a spoon flying across the dining area of its own accord, chairs moving by themselves in the restaurant and tales of a shadow apparition hovering over the guests. The Glenn Tavern Inn, 134 N. Mill Street, Santa Paula, California 93060 805-933-5550

Scotia Inn – This historic inn, nestled in the heart of the Redwoods, not only provides fine accommodations but is haunted by several ghosts. It’s most famous apparition is one that the staff refers to as “Frank,” who allegedly “lives” on the top story. Numerous tales tell of sounds, foot steps and voices heard here. Families of ghosts are also seen here including a woman with her children, another child playing with a ball, and a baby crying. Scotia Inn, PO Box 248, Main and Mill Streets, Scotia, California 95565, 707-764-5683

Sutter Creek

The Sutter Creek Inn – Located between Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe in the heart of the Gold Country, this bed and breakfast is considered by many to be the “Jewel of California’s Mother Lode.” The inn is thought to be haunted by a former California senator and his wife. He is often heard pacing upstairs in the main house and his wife is sometimes seen in the hallway. Sutter Creek Inn, 75 Main Street, P. O. Box 385, Sutter Creek, California 95685, 209 267-5606.

Bella Maggiore Inn, Ventura, California

Bella Maggiore – Located in downtown Ventura, the Bella Maggiore is a lovely 1825 Italianate building. It is also haunted by a number of ghosts that are known to roam the hallways. In Room 17, the ghost of Sylvia, a prostitute who committed suicide in the room around the time of World War II, has been known to knock on the door. However, she only knocks only appears at the door if the room is occupied by a male. Bella Maggiore, 67 South California Street, Ventura, California 93001, 805-652-0277 or 800-523-8479.

Pierpont Inn & Racquet Club – This craftsman style inn with storybook cottages was built in 1910 with the intention of drawing a growing breed of automobile drivers venturing up and down the coast. Since 1928, this 11-acre resort has been owned and operated by members of the Vickers family who have lovingly maintained its historical integrity. In 1999, the inn began a full schedule of renovations that have brought about a number of ghostly spirits. One such visitor that appears throughouth the hotel is thought to be a former owner. This phantom lady, always dressed very formally, has been seen in massage rooms, dancing in the parking lot or leaving wet footprints on the lobby floor for the cleaning crew. Another entity has been seen in the bar, appearing as a ghostly mist. The Pierpont Inn & Racquet Club, 550 San Jon Road, Ventura, California 93001, 805-643-6144.

Victorian Rose Bed & Breakfast – Said to be one of the most unusual bed and breakfasts in the country, the inn in an old Victorian Gothic Church. Complete with its original 96-foot steeple, elaborately designed stained glass, 26-foot-high carved beam ceilings, and eclectic architecture and furnishings, the Inn presents a lodging destination like no other. The Emporer’s Bedroom, once a choir loft, houses the spirit of a woman who was killed when she fell from the loft. Guests report that they still hear her singing. A phantom preacher has been known to sometimes tuck guests into bed. Ventura Rose, 896 E. Main Street – Ventura, California, 805-641-1888.

Ahwahnee Hotel – Open since 1927, The Ahwahnee is one of America’s most distinctive Registered National Landmarks. In the beginning, as well as now, the hotel offered every comfort in the midst of the rugged Sierra Mountains. Yosemite Miwok woven cooking baskets, linguistic symbols and decorative patterns can be seen throughout the Ahwahnee’s rooms and halls. Allegedly, there are two World War II-era ghosts that haunt the mezzanine level and the 3rd floor! Ahwahnee Hotel, East of Yosemite Village, Yosemite National Park, California 95389, 559-253-5635.

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Get Outta Town: Bartlett offers ghostly glimpses of the past with visions of a different future

by Nicholas Frank June 24, 2021 June 25, 2021

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Curator Leslie Moody Castro demonstrates that the Williamson and Bell County Line runs through a former tavern in downtown Bartlett, marked by inset floor tile. Credit: Nicholas Frank / San Antonio Report

This is the first in an occasional series exploring Texas locales near and far that offer uncommon sights and experiences.

The two-hour drive from San Antonio to Bartlett along the Pickle Parkway toll road is rife with sunflowers, filling the expansive views with contrasting bright yellow petals and dark brown kernels during a recent road trip to the town 30 minutes northeast of Georgetown.

The unusual proliferation of sunflowers serves as a metaphor for what’s happening in Bartlett, once considered a ghost town but newly revived with an infusion of planned revitalization by Robert Zalkin, a developer from the town of Liberty, New York.

Once big-box stores began populating the countryside, the mom-and-pop small businesses that formed the core of small town downtowns started going out of business, unable to compete. Those closures perpetuated a cycle of diminished opportunity, and younger townsfolk drifted away, toward college or cities with plentiful jobs and teeming social offerings.

Like helianthus annuas, the common sunflower that has benefited from the dieback of other species due to the heavy freeze in February and subsequent heavy rainfall, conditions may be just right for Bartlett to make an astonishing comeback.

The present moment is ripe for glimpsing the transition from a downtown once devoid of life to what its developer hopes will be a burgeoning artist’s mecca.

Paying a visit

Arriving in Bartlett, Clark Street becomes immediately apparent: a two-block-long row of ornate storefronts overlooking a broad street paved in red brick.

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Not long ago, nearly every storefront was vacant, earning the forlorn place a reputation as a ghost town. Hollywood moviemakers even came calling when scouting for an empty Western-style town — close viewers of the 1998 film The Newton Boys, starring Matthew McConaughey (and Dwight Yoakam!), will note the resemblance of one of the gang’s targeted banks to the former bank building on the corner of Clark and Evie streets.

A former tavern and bank anchors the corner of Evie and Clark streets. The building plays a role in the 1998 movie “The Newton Boys.” Credit: Nicholas Frank / San Antonio Report

On Clark Street, the painted advertisements on the sides of some buildings look oddly new compared to the dusty old walls they occupy. That’s because they were freshened up as backdrops for The Newton Boys and other movies and television shows, such as Fear the Walking Dead, shot there.

Today and for the past five years, the only barbecue in town has been available on weekends at Perez BBQ. But if Zalkin’s plans come to fruition, the main downtown thoroughfare will feature a sit-down barbecue joint, a pizza place, a tavern, an ice cream stand, a coffee shop, and other amenities to go along with the new corner liquor store he manages with Austin resident and business partner Jeanine Plumer.

“I truly love Texas small towns, and I get the vibe, and I get the people,” said Plumer, who regularly produces events throughout Texas. “So I contacted him, and I said I really understand what you’re doing and I want to be a part of it.”

Until those businesses get up and running, though, the storefronts will still appear vacant, leaving Bartlett teetering on the edge of its old ghost town reputation.

A real ghost town?

So is Bartlett really a ghost town? Depends on whom you ask.

To Plumer, who runs Austin Ghost Tours while maintaining the Bartlett Liquor Store, the town of 1,879 living souls just might be bursting at the seams with actual spirits.

She was first invited to town to investigate reports of possible ghosts in one of the downtown buildings. Plumer and colleague Monica Ballard now run ghost tours in the Old Red School House Museum and Bartlett Activities Center the first Saturday of every month.

Plumer said most days she looks upon the downtown streets emptied of life and sees a ghost town “not necessarily because of the residual energies of people who once lived here are still roaming or not willing to leave, but because just look outside. … It looks [empty] like that, all the time.”

However, curator Leslie Moody Castro and the ICOSA Collective of Austin staked an entire art exhibition on the grounds that Bartlett is not a ghost town, a designation she calls a “misnomer.”

The Old Red School House Museum and Bartlett Activity Center host ghost tours once per month. Credit: Nicholas Frank / San Antonio Report

After spending time there working on what Houston visual arts website Glasstire called an “arts-centered revitalization project and exhibition” named The Bartlett Project, Moody Castro made her case. “Bartlett is the opposite of a ghost town,” she wrote. “It is a town whose seams are beginning to bust, and whose story is fighting against being forgotten.”

Moody Castro and her ICOSA compatriots were good sports in including the ghost tour among the activities scheduled for opening day of The Bartlett Project on June 12. Several of the artists involved in the exhibition and panel discussions, held in the vacant spaces of Clark Street, participated in the late-night ghost tour.

I will leave it to intrepid adventurers to discover on their own whether any actual ghosts are to be found among the yellowing archives, portraits of deceased town leaders, and antique furniture of the Activities Center’s display rooms.

Voices of the past

San Antonio artist Mark Menjivar participated in The Bartlett Project by interviewing residents of the Will O’Bell nursing home for an oral history project, currently available for listening via KBART, Menjivar’s low-power radio station broadcasting to the Bartlett community at 91.1 on the FM dial for the foreseeable future.

In the five-hour repeating program, listeners will hear stories of Bartlett from residents ranging from age 9 to 92.

One thing they will not hear is a resident speaking of ghosts. “There was one person who mentioned it before we turned the recorder on, because we were in an old building,” Menjivar said, referring to the Activities Center. “And he said, ‘Oh, this place is haunted, you know.”

On June 12, a small crowd gathers in front of KBART 91.1 FM, an impromptu low-power radio station broadcasting oral histories from the town of Bartlett. Credit: Nicholas Frank / San Antonio Report

Almost to a person, longtime residents of Bartlett refer to the town’s thriving past, with multiple filling stations, grocery stores, a department store, a movie theater, and car dealerships.

“When I was growing up [in the 1960s], there were no empty buildings in Bartlett,” said Carole White, as she surveyed rows of vacant storefronts.

White serves the area as a large animal veterinarian, with local family roots that goes back generations and include the owners of a grocery store and cafe downtown. She pointed to the former Hausgarten Edelweiss restaurant, saying its elderly owners had to close in 2019 after their sole young employee went off to college and they could find no one to replace him.

“It’s kind of just been dead for so long,” White said. “It might need the defibrillators to come in. And that’s what I was hoping, this young man from New York would be able to, you know, kickstart it.”

A small town enthusiast

What does one do to make enough money that one can literally go small-town shopping? Zalkin would reveal only that he has been successful in real estate. A self-professed fan of small towns, he decided he would search for the perfect one for his revitalization dreams.

Drawn to Texas through his real estate career, he spent weeks driving around the state, then finally found his ideal. “When I stepped out of the car in Bartlett I’m like, wow, this is something special.

“When you look at these beautiful buildings, it’s almost like you’re transported into time.”

He would also not reveal how many of Bartlett’s building he owns, but assured that it was most of the buildings on Clark Street. Asked what level of success in real estate has allowed him to purchase most of the heart of a Texas small town, he demurred.

“I guess you could call me a small town enthusiast,” he said.

Zalkin has spent time hanging around the liquor store, which he said is a great way to meet local residents. Asked whether he’s encountered skepticism from the locals, he said, “I know everybody that lives on on the main street here, and not one person has ever said, ‘This is a huge disruption.’ Everyone wants to see something so badly.”

Wright proved his point. When her husband expressed skepticism about an outsider buying up the town, she said she told him, “I don’t care who comes to town and revitalizes it. I said, ‘It breaks my heart to see all the buildings falling apart.’”

For Sarah Perez who runs the Perez BBQ with husband John, the skepticism is generational.

“Some [older downtown residents], from what I hear in this little town, is that they like it the way it is, they don’t want businesses brought in,” she said. “However, the younger generation of this town, we want more. There’s stories about Bartlett, back in the day, it was booming. … All these buildings, nothing was vacant. I would love to see Bartlett like that again.”

Plumer said it was Zalkin’s commitment to including residents in his planning that convinced her to be involved. “He does want to make this a culinary and artistic destination, but part of that plan is very much including the community.” At the liquor store, she acts as a liaison to inform residents of what’s going on, giving feedback to Zalkin.

The restored Bartlett National Bank building now hosts a popular Airbnb. Credit: Nicholas Frank / San Antonio Report

During a building tour that was part of the opening day activities of her project, Moody Castro pointed out that the old Bartlett National Bank building had been turned into a popular Airbnb by new owner Jennifer Welch, who also renovated a cozy 1899 Presbyterian church that had fallen into disrepair.

Plumer was first brought to town by Welsh, who introduced her to Zalkin.

“We all are in this together,” Zalkin said of the overall redevelopment effort, “and want to see the best for Bartlett and see it being brought back to life. There’s just so much potential here. … It’s a beautiful place.”

That an art project and a new maker space, called Common Space – available for rent to artists and crafts makers from the region (contact Zalkin through his Instagram, @downtownbartlett) – are part of Zalkin’s early plans is no coincidence, as evidenced by his philosophy.

“I’ve always admired people that work with their hands,” he said. “Nowadays everything’s mass produced, it’s made in China, it’s made overseas. There’s something unique about an item or a product that’s made by hand, and I’ve always been fascinated by that. It requires years of skill and practice and hard work.”

Sounds like a good way to revitalize a small town.

If You Go

How to get there

The best option is to avoid I-35 congestion in Austin and pony up the $15 dollars or so to take the Pickle Parkway 130 toll road. A few vistas along the way open onto Hill Country sights.

Where to stay

The old Bartlett National Bank is now a popular Airbnb downtown and just a few blocks away is another rental in a cozy 1899 Presbyterian church.

Where to dine

Eating is a trickier proposition in Bartlett. While there are a few fast food stops, downtown’s only restaurant, the Hausgarten Edelweiss, closed a couple years ago. The Crossroads Cafe serves simple American favorites about 6 miles west on FM 487.

Community Reviews

I read this book twice for my history degree. It analyzes what we in the 20th C. call ghost stories but ghosts had more of a physical presence in Medieval times. Consequently, the stories are a little more gruesome.

The writing is much drier so they are not like horror stories, although some of them could be written up as very frightening. It shows how different medieval culture is from modern western culture.

Basically even ghost stories were used by the Church in the Middle Ages as a warning to Be Good Or Else.

An extremely …academic read.

Author Updates

A disabled teen tracks down an elusive sea beast. A young, Indian detective finds a magical artifact. A Black teen who can see the dead solves a murder mystery. An Ethiopian girl discovers magical secrets when she is kidnapped by her teacher. A teen survivor of a deadly plague realizes she and her robot companion are not alone.

Across realms, worlds, and dimensions we bring you sixteen fantasy and/or science fiction tales that explore the tribulations of growing up. In Girls of Might and Magic, we aim to put characters of color, characters with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ characters front and center in stories about strength and resilience. Full of diverse characters and #ownvoices authors, the protagonists in these coming-of-age YA adventures will not only discover powerful magic but discover themselves along the way. Don't miss this magical collection of stories about witches, fae, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, jinn, and more!

The collection includes:

Wind and Silk by Alice Ivinya

Grace and Ghosts by K. R. S. McEntire

The Outside by C. C. Solomon

Daughter of Soil and Gold by Meghan Rhine

Check Yourself by Kat Zaccard

A Meeting in the Woods by Nicole Givens Kurtz

Pretty Young Things by LaLa Leo

Funnel Cake by Amanda Ross

Serenity Dawn by C. I. Raiyne

The Cursed Gift by Courtney Dean

Chasing Waves by Kendra Merritt

Memories of Magic by Ashley Ford

About Diverse Books With Magic: We are an online community of speculative fiction fans. We aim to highlight #ownvoices authors and stories with diverse characters. Join us on Facebook at “Diverse Books With Magic: Science Fiction. Fantasy. Dystopian.”

Mocha Memoirs Press is proud to present SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire — a revolutionary anthology celebrating vampires of the African Diaspora. SLAY is a groundbreaking unique collection and will be a must-have for vampire lovers all over the world. SLAY aims to be the first anthology of its kind. Few creatures in contemporary horror are as compelling as the vampire, who manages to captivate us in a simultaneous state of fear and desire. Drawing from a variety of cultural and mythological backgrounds, SLAY dares to imagine a world of horror and wonder where Black protagonists take center stage — as vampires, as hunters, as heroes. From immortal African deities to resistance fighters matriarchal vampire broods to monster hunting fathers coming of age stories to end of life stories, SLAY is a groundbreaking Afrocentric vampire anthology celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the African Diaspora.

Featuring anchor stories by award winning authors Sheree Renée Thomas, Craig L. Gidney, Milton Davis, Jessica Cage, Michele Tracy Berger, Alicia McCalla, Jeff Carroll, and Steven Van Patten.

Additional Contributing Authors: Penelope Flynn, Lynette Hoag, Steve Van Samson, Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, Balogun Ojetade, Valjeanne Jeffers, Samantha Bryant, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Miranda J. Riley, K.R.S. McEntire, Alledria Hurt, Kai Leakes, John Linwood Grant, Sumiko Saulson, Dicey Grenor, L. Marie Wood, LH Moore, Delizhia D. Jenkins, Colin Cloud Dance, and V.G. Harrison.

When someone with a pistol meets someone with a magic wand, the pistol loses.

From Nicole Givens Kurtz comes a collection of weird western short stories nestled in the often horrific American past and tucked into the parched future. Here are tales of talisman, magic, and the power of ancients wielded by those strong enough to endure the harsh new frontier. These rugged individuals brought not only their belongings but their eastern beliefs with them.

They weren't ready for the west.

Saddle up. Escape to a West as weird and wonderful as one might imagine.

midnight & indigo celebrates Black women writers with this Speculative fiction special issue of their literary journal. From basements to highways, small towns to new worlds, emerging and established storytellers share tales of fear and discovery, redemption, and resistance.

Black girls are disappearing in broad daylight in the woods of Kent County. A new tea shoppe in a gentrifying neighborhood sells a mysterious concoction. French tourists, seeking to get out of New Orleans during a hurricane, encounter a stultified writer. A woman befriends a strange creature in a wishing well off Fordham Road. Consumed by guilt for his war crimes, a soldier volunteers to rebuild an orphanage. A babysitter learns that a father keeps monsters in the basement. What could be scarier than monsters in the basement? A zombie fighter runs into the worst creature imaginable: a teenage boy. Terror ensues as villagers hunt for a witch on the run. A niece makes dresses for her aunt, a singer accused of cannibalism by their church. As a Zambian girl’s supernatural powers grow, so do complications with the organization that can help her control them. Radiation levels spike on a dying Earth, and it’s only a matter of time until life dies along with it. On Millennium, everything will be okay—right?

Contributors include: Kylah Balthazar, Kalynn Bayron, Michele Tracy Berger, Tara Betts, Changu Chiimbwe, Addie Citchens, Jennifer Coley, Tracy Cross, Lyndsey Ellis, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Taliyah Jarrett, Silk Jazmyne, Michelle Renee Lane, Candice Lola, Joy Monaè, Cheree’ Noel, Endria Richardson, Ravynn K. Stringfield, Malissa White, Kanyla Wilson, Jade T. Woodridge, and Nicole Young.

Tales of the Weird Wild West. Top authors take on the classic western, with a weird twist. Includes new stories by Larry Correia and Jim Butcher!

Come visit the Old West, the land where gang initiations, ride-by shootings and territory disputes got their start. But these tales aren’t the ones your grandpappy spun around a campfire, unless he spoke of soul-sucking ghosts, steam-powered demons and wayward aliens.

Here then are seventeen stories that breathe new life in the Old West. Among them: Larry Correia explores the roots of his best-selling Monster Hunter International series in "Bubba Shackleford’s Professional Monster Killers." Jim Butcher reveals the origin of one of the Dresden Files' most popular characters in "Fistful of Warlock." And Kevin J. Anderson's Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., finds himself in a showdown in "High Midnight." Plus stories from Alan Dean Foster, Sarah A. Hoyt, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael A. Stackpole, and many more.

This is a new Old West and you’ll be lucky to get outta town alive!

David Boop
Larry Correia
Jody Lynn Nye
Sam Knight
Robert E. Vardeman
Phil Foglio
Nicole Kurtz
Michael A. Stackpole
Bryan Thomas Schmidt & Ken Scholes
Maurice Broaddus
Sarah A. Hoyt
Alan Dean Foster
David Lee Summers
Kevin J. Anderson
Naomi Brett Rourke
Peter J. Wacks
Jim Butcher

At the publisher's request, this title is sold without DRM (Digital Rights Management).

David Boop is an award-winning essayist, recent Summa Cum Laude in creative writing (earned for a weird western piece) and former acquisition editor for both Flying Pen Press and Lifevest Publishing. David has been a journalist, actor, disc jockey and stand-up comedian. He’s published across several genres, but specializes in weird westerns. Additionally, David has done media tie-in work for the Green Hornet, Veronica Mars and the pulp hero the Black Bat (heavily disputed inspiration for Batman). He’s collaborated with Kevin J. Anderson, the late C.J. Henderson, Peter J. Wacks and Josh Vogt. He is a member of the Western Writers of America, the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, the Horror Writers Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Get your Wynonna Earp on with these weird western short stories featuring gunfights, time travel, giant lizards, faeries, magic, horror, comedy, and space jellyfish!

A wild ride through the weird western world with New York Times Bestsellers Seanan McGuire, Faith Hunter, and 18 other amazing writers of western stories!

Featuring twenty original western short stories from new worlds and the familiar worlds of Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock novels, Laura Anne Gilman's The Devil's West series, and John G. Hartness' Bubba the Monster Hunter series, Lawless Lands is a weird western anthology with something for everyone.

The western is the quintessential American literary genre, and now we're turning it on its head. From sentient tumbleweeds to time-traveling schoolmarms, desert demons to werejaguars, space-faring herd drivers to gunslinger justice, there's something for everyone.

Featuring many of the best writers in speculative fiction today, saddle up for the thrills – we're going to take you on a wild ride through a West that never was.

Lawless Lands includes 20 mind-bending weird western stories including -
Desert Gods by Aubrey Campbell
Railroad by Matthew J. Hockey
Pixie Season by Seanan McGuire
The Men with No Faces by Alexandra Christian
Lost Words by David B. Coe
Boots of Clay by Laura Anne Gilman
Trickster's Choice by Jo Gerrard
Wolves Howling in the Night by Faith Hunter
To Hear a Howling Herd by Gunnar De Winter
Calliope Stark:Bone Tree Bounty Hunter by Edmund R. Schubert
Cards and Steel Hearts by Pamela Jeffs
Bloodsilver by A. E. Decker
Volunteered by B. S. Donovan
The Stranger in the Glass by Dave Beynon
Belly Speaker by Nicole Givens Kurtz
Walk the Dinosaur by John G. Hartness
The Time Traveling Schoolmarms of Marlborough County by Barb Hendee
Rainmaker by Margaret S. McGraw
Out of Luck by Jeffrey Hall
Rollin' Death by Jake Bible

Featuring twenty original western short stories from new worlds and the familiar worlds of Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock novels, Laura Anne Gilman's The Devil's West series, and John G. Hartness' Bubba the Monster Hunter series, Lawless Lands is a weird western anthology with something for everyone.

A Ghostly Christmas Caress

It was Christmas time of 1995 or ’96 at my aunt's house on a reservation in North Dakota. Some of my family was in the living room watching television, the kids were playing in the rooms or sleeping, and my uncle, aunt, and I were sitting at the table putting a puzzle together. My cousin, who worked at a casino, was due home around midnight or 1 a.m.

That night, as she pulled up and was walking toward the house, she looked in the window and saw me sitting at the table, my uncle sitting across from me. She also saw someone standing to the left of me and someone standing in the corner. She continued to walk in the house thinking nothing of it. When she got inside, she said her hellos, put her stuff away and came to join us at the table.

As we were sitting there talking, she looked at me and asked who was standing next to me a few minutes ago and who was in the corner. I told her no one and she said, "Yeah, there was someone standing next to you. It looked like your mom and she was playing with your hair." (I have long hair, which I used to wear down all the time.) She said this person was running her hand on my hair as a mother does to a child.

It kinda freaked me out, as I was probably only 12 or 13 at the time. My cousin swears up and down that someone was standing over me, rubbing my head and watching me put the puzzle together with my aunt and uncle, and that there was another person standing behind that person. We got around to thinking the second person was probably her mom (who'd passed away on her birthday a week before Christmas back in 1992) she'd seen.

In my family we consider our aunts and uncles to be just like our moms and dads. After thinking that it could have been her, it didn't scare me so much. Around Christmas, something strange almost always happens. We just think it's my mom visiting us. —V. Page

Europe’s Ghosts

When studying the past, it is tempting to explore what men and women aspired to: what sorts of societies they envisioned, and what sorts of measures they undertook to make them real. This is a hopeful approach, but often the wrong one. As Thomas Hobbes pointed out long ago, and as current events affirm once again, fear is often a more effective motivator than idealism. The more important questions, therefore, can be the more dismal ones: What are people’s fears? And what crimes are they willing to countenance in their name?

Books in Review

A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism

Paul Hanebrink’s magisterial new book, A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, applies this insight to the history of 20th-century Europe. Not long ago, studies of that ill-starred time and place tended toward cautious optimism. They often focused on the rise and fall of the communist dream. That story of utopian hopes and bloody realities, confined to the past by the end of the Cold War, was well suited to a new Europe that styled itself as a beacon of freedom and human rights. Hanebrink’s book offers us a history more appropriate for our moment. It asks what the story of modern Europe looks like if we take the racist fearmongering of the present as our end point, rather than the heady proclamations of justice and dignity streaming from Brussels.

Hanebrink’s strategy is to shift our attention away from the specter of communism and toward its rival, anticommunism. This will seem like an odd choice only if we think that anticommunism was a banal and content-free politics defined by what it opposed. On the contrary, anticommunism was itself a significant ideology, animating a vast array of social, political, and military experiments across the globe that sought to justify aggressive warfare, racialized policing, and, occasionally, even social reform. In a dialectic that even Marx could not foresee, it became just as powerful as the specter of communism it was designed to confront.

How is this to be explained? How did anticommunism garner such mass and elite appeal? The traditional answer would be that communism is a flawed and violent system, rendering large-scale resistance to it that’s easy to explain. But Hanebrink makes a different argument. By showing how anticommunism was tightly entwined with questions of race and nationalism, he explains how it ended up conjoined with another politics of fear that was remaking Europe in the early 20th century: anti-Semitism. This explosive combination came to be known as “Judeo-Bolshevism”: the idea that there was something “Jewish” about communism, and thus that individual Jews were dangerous because they were committed to violent revolution. The linkage of long-marginalized Jewish communities with the genuinely powerful communist movement was, while mythical, astonishingly successful—and astonishingly lethal. The myth of Judeo-Bolshevism helps account, in Hanebrink’s view, for the ferocity of anticommunism in 20th-century Europe. And yet, for all its influence and power, the history of this myth has not yet been told.

Hanebrink’s geographically capacious and heroically researched book gives us this story in all of its horror. He follows the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism from the Russian Revolution to the present, ferreting out its origins and surprising transformations in both Eastern and Western Europe, and sometimes across the Atlantic, too. This fresh vantage on a familiar time and place leads us to crucial new questions that we still face today. We are buffeted with reminders of the mass graves filled by communism. But what if racialized anticommunism filled even more? What lessons, then, would the 20th century provide to our fear-drenched present?

C ommunism has long been linked with Jews, largely because of some of its prominent early theorists, including Karl Marx, were Jewish. But while it is true that many communists have been Jews, and vice versa, the linkage is more mythical than empirical. Most communists, to state the obvious, were not Jews, just as many Jews, even leftist ones, were not communists. While it is true that communism offered something important to racial minorities like Jews, they were far from the only ones to believe that capitalism had overstayed its welcome and that the unprecedented success of the Russian Revolution provided a model to emulate.

Myths, though, tend to be more compelling than facts, and from the Russian Revolution onward the Judeo-Bolshevism canard achieved mainstream acceptance. In Western Europe and the United States, diplomats and journalists, concerned about the potentially revolutionary proletariat on the home front, believed that Bolshevism was something suspiciously Jewish, foreign, and anti-national. Winston Churchill, Thomas Mann, and Robert Lansing, the US secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson, all gave voice to this paranoia. The chief Russian correspondent for The Times of London—and therefore a chief conduit through which the British learned about the revolution—was also convinced of the myth’s veracity. In a 1919 dispatch sent back to England, he claimed that a “seething mass of Jewish pauperdom” had reached for the works of a “German Jew” to topple the noble Romanov dynasty. He went even further in a book, in which he invoked a blood libel: These Jewish paupers, he opined, had then killed the royal family in a ritual murder.

Current Issue

The myth found even more fertile ground in Eastern Europe, where larger Jewish populations coincided with more plausible fears of Soviet military incursion. In the wake of World War I, as the land empires of the East gave way to a hodgepodge of squabbling nation-states, incipient nationalism combined with geopolitical and racialized paranoia to authorize violence against local Jewish populations. Wilson and the other negotiators at the Versailles peace conference turned a blind eye to the ongoing pogroms against “Jewish Bolsheviks.” However horrible, these pogroms were, to Wilson and the other Versailles attendees, less terrible than the butchery they imagined would transpire if the Bolsheviks came to power in the East.

The idea of Judeo-Bolshevism had greatest resonance in Germany, where the National Socialists defined themselves by their overwhelming hatred of Jews and communists alike. The myth, Hanebrink asserts, “made Adolf Hitler,” who convinced just enough Germans that a cabal of Jewish communists was responsible for Germany’s humiliation during World War I, and that only the National Socialists could confront them.

Once in power, Hitler used the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism to justify the aggressive policing of political dissidents and Jews at home. But after dispatching the homegrown communist threat, Hitler remade the myth by turning it outward, insisting that only aggressive military action could rid the earth of the Jewish Bolshevik. This simple message coursed through the Nazis’ omnipresent propaganda apparatus. The Institute for Scientific Research on the Soviet Union, for example, published reams of pseudoscientific work on the Jewish nature of Soviet rule. Its experts explained to audiences foreign and domestic that Jewish Bolsheviks could not be reformed, that they were creating a society of untold cruelty and barbarism on the fringes of Europe, and that without aggressive action, the dangers they posed would eventually engulf the entire continent.

This imagined threat was used to justify Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union and, fatefully, the massacre of the enormous Jewish population of Eastern Europe. While in practice the SS murdered Jews of every political hue, Hanebrink shows that its blackshirted killers often understood their barbaric work as cleansing “Jewish Communists” from the region.

This program helped Hitler find allies, too. Unlike many other aspects of Nazi ideology, Judeo-Bolshevism had already developed deep roots in Europe, from Paris to Pinsk, and the brutal occupation policies of the Red Army did much to give it new life. One of the central facts of modern European history is that anti-Semitic violence was often taking place before Hitler’s armies arrived. The Holocaust, like the Judeo-Bolshevik myth that helped to inspire it, was a European phenomenon.

M uch of this will come as no surprise to many readers, even if Hanebrink adds a larger, synthesizing sweep to this terrible history and a host of new details to our understanding of Europe in the years between the Russian Revolution and World War II. The more novel and provocative elements of his argument come in the book’s second half, where he argues that the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism helped inspire thinkers and movements on both sides of the Cold War. By doing so, Hanebrink offers us a crucial insight into postwar political formations. It is often imagined that postwar Europe, at least in the West, had learned the lessons of the global conflagration and embarked on a new course in support of tolerance and human rights. That story is not wrong, but it is incomplete. In the shadows of postwar prosperity, the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism continued to lurk in the racialized forms of anticommunism that persisted throughout the Atlantic world.

In Eastern Europe, where communism remained a reality, the Judeo-Bolshevik myth survived in multiple guises, despite the near-total eradication of the Jewish population. In the immediate wake of the war, it appeared in its original form: Many Eastern Europeans viewed their new rulers as Soviets impositions and blamed Jews for the flaws of the new regimes. This, in turn, spurred new violence toward the small Jewish populations that had survived World War II. In Poland, for example, pogroms continued after the war, most famously at Kielce, where more than 40 Jews were killed in 1946. The Judeo-Bolshevik myth can be found in both the origins and the aftermath of these events: A report commissioned by the Polish Catholic Church blamed the violence on the Jews, calling them “the main propagators of Communism in Poland.”

The myth also took a strange turn in Eastern Europe from the late 1940s onward, as communists began to deploy it against one another. In the Soviet Union, anti-Semitic propaganda reappeared as Stalin rounded up Soviet Jewish doctors he suspected of conspiring against him. In Czechoslovakia, a series of show trials targeting Jewish communists took place in 1952. Beyond these well-known events, Hanebrink also unearths a trove of anti-Semitic documents from across Eastern Europe that came from communist governments and that were directed at their Jewish citizens.

The revived racism that swept through communist Europe might seem like a simple and cynical manipulation of residual anti-Semitism, designed to shore up the flagging popularity of the region’s ruling communist parties. It may have been that, but it was also a fateful reprisal of specifically Judeo-Bolshevik themes. As Polish, East German, Hungarian, Romanian, and Czechoslovakian communists labored to cultivate an image as sturdy sons of the nation, they distinguished themselves from the rootless “Jewish” Bolsheviks, who needed to be purged in the name of socialist and national renewal. In Poland, to take just one example, Władysław Gomułka insisted that the party had too many Jewish leaders and that this was keeping it from achieving mass acceptance. His assertions led to ominous threats against many of the Polish Jews who had survived the Holocaust, and who were now publicly disparaged as disloyal “Zionists” and the wrong kind of Bolsheviks.

In Western Europe and the United States, anti-Semitism of this official sort was taboo. That didn’t mean, however, that the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism simply withered on the vine. It flourished, Hanebrink argues, in new form: Dropping the explicit anti-Semitic content of the myth, this racialized form of anticommunism now turned against those “Asiatic” expressions of communism at war with the West. This was a new myth, to be sure. But it still conjured a connection between communism and the racial other, and it still used the resulting myth to justify appalling violence around the world (most notably in Vietnam). While Cold War anticommunism had multiple origins, Judeo-Bolshevism was perhaps the most important, especially in Europe. Sometimes, the linkages were explicit. Eberhard Taubert, for instance, was a high-ranking member of Joseph Goebbels’s Ministry of Propaganda who spent much of the 1930s disseminating textbook Judeo-Bolshevism in Germany. After the war, he shed the overtly anti-Semitic elements of his thought and founded an anticommunist organization, partially funded by the CIA, that attempted to educate Germans yet again about the supposed foreignness and barbarism of communism in their midst.

Both sides of the Cold War, therefore, created images of fear and subversion with roots in the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, and which targeted cosmopolitan and borderless troublemakers. In both East and West, the image was redrawn for a new time, but Hanebrink makes a compelling case that it was too deeply entrenched in political ideology and culture to disappear entirely.

I n Hanebrink’s telling, it is racial panic, rather than misguided utopianism, that defined Europe’s 20th century. The end of the Cold War marked a turning point, but not a rupture. Even after communism was largely banished from the continent, the Judeo-Bolshevik myth found dark corners in which to grow. As European intellectuals and politicians struggled to interpret the communist experience, the linkage between communist crimes and Judaism emerged once again. In the West, this was largely an academic affair, if an especially heated and regrettable one. In Germany, for instance, historians revived the idea that Hitler had, as one of them put it, a “rational” reason to fear the Jews: namely, the Jewish devotion to Bolshevism, and therefore to the destruction of Germany.

In Eastern Europe, though, it was a matter of life and death. The necessary reckoning with the communist past could often become racist, as the small populations of surviving Jews found themselves blamed once again for the crimes of their countries’ communist governments. The worst purveyors of Judeo-Bolshevism, such as Romanian dictator (and Hitler ally) Ion Antonescu, were rehabilitated by a new generation of nationalists. Meanwhile, in some places it became legally dangerous to publish clear truths about the Holocaust. (In Poland, for instance, a law was recently passed that makes it illegal to claim complicity between Poles and the crimes of the Third Reich.) So just as the myth finds new forms, its murderous legacy is being swept under the rug.

Hanebrink’s book covers this dark history with insight and skill. He has the linguistic ability to bring Eastern Europe fully into the narrative, and the vision to include American and Western European debates, too. The end result is a major intervention into our understanding of 20th-century Europe and the lessons we ought to take away from its history. One of the shibboleths of the standard historical narrative about the 20th century is that it saw a long contest between various utopian and murderous visions, giving way at last to postideological democracies and the triumph of human rights. Given the current fractures on the European continent, this narrative is no longer plausible. The neo-fascist parties of contemporary Europe are just as deeply rooted in the continent’s history as their liberal opponents, if not more so. Hanebrink’s stated purpose is to unveil the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, but he ends up casting doubt on the myth of Europe, too.

D espite its significant achievements, Hanebrink’s history leaves some important questions unanswered. For example, he neglects to provide a robust analytical corollary to his stunning collection of evidence. Why, exactly, did this particular image of the Jewish Bolshevik prove so compelling and lethal in the first half of the 20th century? And to whom, exactly, did the myth appeal? (Hanebrink provides enough evidence to discount the easy answers: Communists, liberals, and nationalists all contributed to its popularity and are complicit in the violence it engendered.) Did it spread equally in different classes, and among men and women alike? Also, did 20th-century nationalism necessarily presuppose Judeo-Bolshevism as its other, or did healthier forms of nationalism exist as well? If so, what distinguished the two?

The lack of analysis along these lines clouds some of the connections that Hanebrink seeks to draw between the past and the present. At the end of his book, Hanebrink argues that the contemporary suspicion of Muslim immigration should be viewed as yet another transformation of the Judeo-Bolshevik myth. The Muslim, too, is viewed as an Eastern invader who brings a dangerous ideology with him. There is a structural similarity, to be sure, but this is only to say that racism is endemic to European history—which is tantamount to saying that the pope is Catholic. Likewise, while anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe and elsewhere, it seems unlikely that this owes much to the Judeo-Bolshevik myth as such. George Soros, to take one prominent example, is vilified as a liberal nationalist, and sometimes even as a recovering Nazi, but not as a Judeo-Bolshevik in Hanebrink’s sense.

The ideological categories of the past are now being scrambled as those of the Cold War become less and less relevant. We are faced with different specters, not just those of the 19th and 20th centuries. This is not to say that we are no longer conditioned by the past. Rather, it is to point out that the genealogy connecting our century with the one preceding it will be more global than Hanebrink’s Eurocentric version, and it will traverse the former maritime empires of Western Europe in Africa and Asia as much as their great landed counterparts in Eastern and Central Europe. While it is true that we are once again living through a leftist resurgence and a capitalist crisis, nearly everything else has changed. The Judeo-Bolshevik myth made sense so long as global politics were oriented around the Russian Revolution and its aftershocks. That era has, at last, come to a close.

A Specter Haunting Europe provides us, therefore, less with an analysis of our present than with a warning from the past. Misguided fear, not misguided optimism, led to the greatest disasters of the 20th century. Persistent racism was amplified by global political upheaval, leading to genocidal violence. And however much the particulars may have changed, this could happen again. Hanebrink’s book is a reminder of how challenging it will be, in an era of uncertainty and chaos, to sustain the only politics that can sustain us: a politics of hope.

James Chappel James Chappel is the Hunt Family Assistant Professor of History at Duke and the author of Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church.

Our Ghosts Are Different

Ghosts are usually people who have died, but their spirits are still lingering around. Some are friendly, some are neutral, and some are scary and vengeful. It all depends on what kind of story is being told.

  1. Avenge me! The ghost was killed through foul play, knows it, and wants the murder avenged. Sometimes, this also comes with a Clear My Name sidebar. This one can also lead to ghosts becoming violent and angry if not avenged. They may explicitly say that they cannot rest easy in the graves until they are avenged.
  2. Unfinished Business: Something that was significant or important to the person they used to be when alive remains undone. The ghost hangs around until this is done, and may or may not move on afterward.
  3. The ghost hasn't yet figured out they're dead, or are so attached to what they did in life they are still doing it out of habit and/or affection. This can lead to a Tomato in the Mirror shock or a Spirit Advisor.
  4. They're aware they're dead and angry at living people because they are still alive.
  5. That's just how the Afterlife works in this universe. No alternate dimension, Higher Plane of Existence or anything &mdash you just become a ghost when you die.
  6. The ghost suffered so much in life that the spirit was drawn to the place where the worst torment took place.
  7. Resounding psychic echo. The ghost isn't even the person's soul, but just a spectral imprint left behind by the person's death that's gained a form of sentience. In paranormal fields, these are usually called residual hauntings.
  8. The Power of Love. They feel someone they love can't make it without them, or needs protection.
  9. No funeral, no grave &mdash they cannot rest without proper memorialization &mdash or perhaps their graves have been moved or desecrated.
  10. Or maybe someone is mourning themtoomuch, and as a consequence, they are bound to this world.
  11. The person who arranged for their burial was a beneficent stranger, and they must make return for this good deed. This type is the original "grateful dead".
  12. They were very, very naughty in life and fear crossing over to the Afterlife and facing possible cosmic retribution.
  13. They were very, very naughty in life and ghosthood is their cosmic retribution. If it's of a purgatorial type, sometimes humans can help out.
  14. They're a spirit form of some sorcerer, and actively made preparations to ensure themselves eternal life after their bodies gave up, or just ended up that way because of their power.
  15. They were magically prevented from going to, or were magically drawn back from, the Afterlife.
  16. The boundaries between the realms of the living and dead have been weakened this tends to bring about lots of ghosts. This can be a regular, normally annual, occurrence, in which case you just want to propitiate them, or indicate serious problems as a one-time thing.
  17. They can move on any time they want they just don't want to because they're having too much fun.
  18. There's also the odd rare case of a ghost that was never a living human being. It may have spawned from something. It may be part of a broader species that's made of the same kind of "matter" as human ghosts. It may be an animal, or a Genius Loci. It may be a synthetic ghost made by alchemy. In cartoon setting, a ghost child can be considered to be the son of a couple of "normal" ghosts, born after the two normal ghosts's death (this is mainly to have a young ghost spectators can identify to, without addressing the issue of a child's death). Or it may be some sort of. thing pretending to be a ghost to suit its purposes.
  19. There is an afterlife, the soul splits in parts: One to decide whether or not they ascend, one for reincarnation, and one stays in the afterlife. The ghost is the last part.

Powers include:

  • Brown Note: Some ghosts have strong psychological or even physical effects on the living. These may result from being in the presence of, seeing or hearing, or (generally the worst effects) touching the ghost. These effects may be temporary topermanannt, and may include:
    • Brain Fever: Common in 19th century works. Sometimes fatal, sometimes survivable.
    • Death Touch: Has is own entry under "powers"on this page.
    • Insanity, of varying duration and severity.
    • Tangible physical injuries, of varying severity, often caused by a touch. Sometimes all or part of these injuries become a Wound That Will Not Heal, ranging in severity.
    • Most commonly, Wind.
    • Sometimes they have fire / Will-o'-the-Wisp powers too.
    • Other times, they can project Scary Visions into the mind of a victim.

    Limitations include:

    • Some ghosts are only able to show up between sundown and sunrise.
      • Others can only appear on certain days (nights) for single ghosts, this is often a significant date in their lives, but in masses, there is often a Liminal Time where ghosts walk because the boundaries between life and death are thin (which may also be year's end, or otherwise a boundary between times).

      Interaction with the living

      • Avenge Me! Ghosts can often appear to their closest friends or family. Like, you know, Hamlet.
      • Attention-seeking. A lot of paranormal investigators who subscribe to the view that ghosts are spirits believe that this is the major reason for most hauntings.
      • Mediums can see and/or hear ghosts.
      • Magitek - Ghosts can become a literal ghost in the machine, and operate phones, computers, etc. without actual tangible hands. (See psychic powers above)
      • Artifacts - there are magical gewgaws and doodads, Holy Relic items and that sort of thing lying around The 'Verse that will allow one to contact ghosts. Or are possessed by ghosts.
      • Ectoplasm - "He slimed me. I feel so funky."
      • Containment - Some heroes have enough Mad Scientist mojo to have come up with a way to contain ghosts, or protect themselves and others.
      • Electromagnetic Ghosts - Interferes with electronics with just their presence.
      • Ghostly Chill - Their presence, vicinity or interaction cause the temperature to drop off visibly. The only source for cold spots.
      • Haunting - They will torment the living, annoy, or bedevil the living, or seek to drive the living into confessing if they've done wrong.
      • Angst and Wangst are often involved with ghostly hauntings, particularly when love is involved.
      • Often (particularly in media intended for children) only a select few can see/hear them.
      • Popping in and disappearing just as fast, leaving those who saw them claiming It Was Here, I Swear!.
      • Silly Spook &mdash Ghosts who do funny things and/or behave playfully. Expect them to incorporate the aforementioned powers into their antics.
      • Spirit Advisor or Fairy Godmother &mdash who can often conceal being a ghost until The Reveal at the end. Usually when the ghost has a Protectorate, such as a child, or the person who arranged for burial.
      • Ghostly Wail &mdash Ghosts somehow let out ghostly wails or moans to scare the living.

      Possible appearance:

      • As they looked when they were alive, possibly being either a Cute Ghost Girl or Guy. Some variations have them appear to be in the prime of life even if they were quite elderly when they died.
      • Jacob Marley Apparel: As they wear the clothes they died in.
      • Bedsheet Ghost: Covered in a white shroud. This white sheet may be the only part of them that's visible.
      • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: A Japanese variant. Wears a kimono with long stringy black hair covering her face.
      • Hitodama Light: Another Japanese variant, where a coloured flame (usually purple) is attached to the ghost or showing a person possessed by a ghost. People wearing candles on their head are invoking this appearance.
      • As they look now - rotted, filthy, partially skeletal and covered in worms or maggots, wearing the clothes they were buried in.
      • If they died violently, they may be covered with their own blood, with visible deadly wounds like in The Sixth Sense.
      • Fog Feet: Most ghosts have these genie-like tails instead of having two legs.
      • Monochrome Apparition: Ghosts can not only be any tint or shade of color, but also glow color of vapors such as mostly blue, light blue, gray and white.
      • Missing Reflection and Casts No Shadow: Ghosts don't need a reflection nor a shadow.
      • Any of the above can also be combined with transparency or the ability to become invisible.
      • Good ghosts may be even more beautiful than they were in life, either as a reflection of their true self or as a reward.
      • Multiple forms: Changing appearance depending on their mood, e.g. looking almost alive while minding their own business and rotted-looking when attacking someone. The ghost equivalent of Game Face.
      • A ghost can be put to rest once their bones are salted and burned.
      • Destroying an object the ghost is haunting can also make it go away.
      • Ghosts can be susceptible to purified or "holy" objects, such as pure iron or salt.
      • Sometimes you can simply trap them by creating a barrier of salt around them.
      • A ghost can be blasted with a proton pack and sent to a ghost trap.
      • Other times, you can simply help the ghost with their Unfinished Business, giving them reason to move on.

      Some good ghosts get to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence (either literally heaven, or something else) once they've sorted out their issues or unfinished business. note In some fictional universes, the only ghosts are people who ascended to a higher plane of existence, but who still choose to interact with us mere mortals. Bad ones can get the express elevator all the way down. Some of them have problems with Ghost Amnesia. Every ghost has different Ghostly Goals, again depending on what they want.

      Shows and movies will usually address these baseline rules, whether or not they're enforced.

      See also Our Souls Are Different. Compare Living Memory. Despite the name, The Ghost is not usually an example.

      Compare The Disembodied, for when they lost their corporeal form without being "dead". The Ghost King is a sub-trope.

      Needless to say that as ghosts are the dead, and resolving their issues often reveals details about their death: SPOILER WARNING. Please proceed at your own risk!

      Watch the video: The Ghosts of World War 1