Rothe, Frau Anna (1850–1907)
German working woman who, after the death of her daughter’s
fiancé in about 1892, developed mediumship. She constantly
saw the deceased seated on the sofa in his accustomed
attitude. She saw visions as a child, too, but soon physical phenomena
also developed and Rothe soon specialized in apports
of flowers and fruits in quantity. Her mediumistic career, however,
was a stormy one and finally her fraud led to a sensational
trial and a prison sentence.
Camille Flammarion held a séance with Rothe in May 1901,
at his own apartment. He wrote
‘‘During its continuance, bouquets of flowers of all sizes did,
in truth, make their appearance, but always from a quarter in
the room opposite to that to which our attention was drawn by
Frau Rothe and her manager, Max Jentsch.
‘‘Being well-nigh convinced that all was fraud, but not having
the time to devote to such sittings, I begged M. Cail to be
present, as often as he could, at the meetings which were to be
held in different Parisian salons. He gladly consented, and got
invited to a séance at the Clément Marot house. Having taken
his station a little in the rear of the flower-scattering medium,
he saw her adroitly slip one hand beneath her skirt and draw
out branches which she tossed into the air.’’
He also saw her take oranges from her corsage, and ascertained
that they were warm.
‘‘The imposture was a glaring one, and he immediately unmasked
her, to the great scandal of the assistants, who heaped
insults upon him. A final séance had been planned, to be held
in my salon on the following Tuesday. But Frau Rothe and her
two accomplices took the train at the Eastern Railway station
that very morning and we saw them no more.’’
Charles Richet stated in his book Thirty Years of Psychical Research
(1923)
‘‘The first time that I saw the surprising performances of
Anna Roth, The ‘Blumen-medium,’ I was dazzled; at a second
sitting I was perplexed; at the third I was convinced that the
thing was a fraud. I asked Anna Roth to allow a more complete
control which would have settled the question. She refused.’’
The fact on which Richet based his belief in the imposture
of Rothe was that he weighed her before the séance and after.
The difference was two pounds, exactly the weight of the ‘‘apported’’
flowers. Therefore, he concludes, they must have been
secreted about her person.
Rosma, Charles B. Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
1328
A serious exposure took place in Germany in 1902, as a result
of which Rothe was kept in prison for over a year before
the trial and was afterward sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment
and a fine of 500 marks. Detectives posing as inquirers
found 150 flowers and several oranges and apples in a
series of bag-like folds in her petticoat.
At the trial, Judge Georges Sulzer, President of the Zurich
High Court of Appeal, stated on oath that Rothe put him in
communication with the spirits of his wife and father, who gave
information unknown to any mortal. He also declared that the
medium produced flowers in quantity in a room flooded with
light. They came down slowly from above, and he saw four nebulous
points on the hand of the medium condense into bonbons.
Altogether forty witnesses, mostly doctors and professors,
gave evidence on behalf of the medium. But the presiding
judge stated in the sentence
‘‘The Court cannot allow itself to criticize the spiritistic theory,
for it must be acknowledged that science, with the generality
of men of culture, declares supernatural manifestations to be
impossible.’’
In Die Zukunft (April 4, 1903), journalist Maxmilian Harden
criticized the sentence,
‘‘Before the conclusion of the testimony one could not but
ask Does this Rothe case, taken as a whole, show the proofmarks
of fraud This question was answered by us in the negative;
but the court answered it affirmatively after a short deliberation.
The flower medium was condemned to imprisonment
for a year and half—a strange transaction, an incomprehensible
sentence. The court summons witnesses for the defence—
dozens—although the proof-notes show that almost all testify
to the same effect. They come, are sworn, and declare almost
without exception ‘we feel ourselves in no way injured.’ The
most say ‘we are convinced that no false representations were
worked off on us by the Rothe woman.’ . . . But the sentence
has been pronounced on Frau Rothe in the name of justice.’’
Sources
Bohn, Erich. Der Fall Rothe. Breslau, 1901

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