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A short chronicle of the VTF association at its 25th anniversary

By Uwe Wagner

There can still be people found in small circles, at large conventions or at the existing research and meeting facility in Wiesbaden, that are restless over the phenomena of the mysterious voices. Still yet there are people who risk their good reputation to bring the fact of the existence of these voices to the public. These voices are from the deceased, that are trying to tell us: "We are alive - death is just a transition."
During the founding of VTF on April 27, 1975, EVP research was at its peak on a new branch of parapsychology science. The research of the paranormal tape-recorded voices had broken ground against resistance from all sides. The number of researchers and those with interest had grown considerably that an organized foundation was needed.
The discovery
of the Electronic
Voice Phenomena

Friedrich Jürgenson (1903-1987)
In the summer of 1959, Friedrich Jürgenson, a Swedish opera singer and artist/painter was recording bird sounds when he first was spellbound by these mysterious signals that would later create such a whirlwind. Mr. Jürgenson had always emphasized that he was addressed by another living dimension that wished contact with us. Nevertheless, he took his time before he presented his discovery to the public. He pursued this phenomenon for many years, until he was sure of its authenticity.

Mr. Jürgenson presented the phenomenon to the public in 1963, which unleashed a diverse reaction. Though some smiled and made mocking comments, others had taken the subject very seriously. At one point the Swedish broadcasting company had sent their technicians to Mr. Jürgensons house to conduct recordings using their own sealed tapes. They had to convince themselves that this phenomenon is actually possible. The mysterious entities addressed the participants of the recording session by their names. They were alarmed and in awe that something like this is possible.
First scientific
research

Claude Thorlin, Hans Bender and
Friedrich Jürgenson
Jürgenson's discovery now called for parapsychology into its plan. Leading the way was Professor Hans Bender from the Institute of Parapsychology in Freiburg. He traveled with some colleges to Sweden to convince himself on location of the authenticity of this phenomenon. Professor Bender later gave a detailed report of his experiments with Mr. Jürgenson and declared that this phenomenon is genuine. (See [German] Hans Bender: Zur Analyse außergewöhnlicher Stimmphänomene auf Tonband (The analysis of unusual voice phenomena on a tape recorder) [1970]). However, Hans Bender did not follow Jürgenson's interpretation that these were announcements by the deceased. Instead, Prof. Bender was convinced that the manifestations were the result of Mr. Jürgenson's sub-conscience or that of another person present during the recording. Nevertheless, Prof. Bender invited Mr. Jürgenson to the institute in Freiburg to conduct some experiments there. Jürgenson's cooperation was exemplary and he accepted the invitation. The authenticity was again acknowledged by the experiments conducted in Freiburg. What was interesting was, that the experiments were conducted with visible speech procedures, which raised the value of the results tremendously.
The pioneers
of EVP research

Konstantin Raudive (1909-1974)
Friedrich Jürgenson's discovery, and claim that anyone can successfully do this experiment, has now attracted others. Among them, Dr. Konstantin Raudive, a philosopher and writer from Letland takes an important role. Mr. Raudive experiments yielded similar results as did Jürgenson, but it was his decision to take this new research to England.

After the appearance of Jürgenson's book, "Sprechfunk mit Verstorbenen" ("Voice Transmissions With The Deceased"), accompanied by a record album of voice examples, Raudive published his own book "Unhörbares wird hörbar" ("Inaudible becomes audible"), likewise with a record album as demonstration one year later in 1968. This book differed quite substantially from that of the discoverer. It essentially consists of an account of the recording proceedings, but also some statements of scientific coworkers, among them Professor Alex Schneider of Switzerland, who took part in Raudive's experiments with sincere commitment. Perhaps this was the reason his book found its way to England, which resulted in its translation to English ("Breakthrough") and consequent publishing. The publishers however insisted that Mr. Raudive travel to England and conduct his experiments under strict testing conditions. Only with success will the book be released.
Further investigations
confirm the existence
of this phenomenon
This is how Raudive came to England, once in 1969 then again in 1971 (see [German] Peter Stein: Die vergessene Sternstunde - Konstantin Raudive in London 1971 ("The forgotten great moment - Konstantine Raudive in London 1971") [P73, 4/93]). Remarkably the experiment conducted there were in shielded rooms using only a microphone, which included an experiment with a Faraday cage. All experiments yielded paranormal voices that could not be explained in a conventional way. Again the voices identified themselves as the deceased and that they wish to be noticed. The experiments made under extreme difficult conditions testified to the existence of a new paranormal phenomenon, that could no more be denied. Nevertheless, for diverse reasons the British could not warm up to the further studies of these voices. Mainly, it was the denial of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) that refused to follow its spiritual interpretation. In addition Raudives voices were rejected because the statements were short and of little sense.
EVP research in the
German-speaking
realm

Hanna Buschbeck (-1984)
The core of EVP research was confined to the German speaking countries, which was flourishing in unforeseen ways. This was in great part thanks to Jürgenson's book, which made is easy for the reader to find access to this phenomenon. It was an exiting life experience in a language generally understandable. Thus many people were encouraged to begin with these experiments and to pass their experience on to others.

Leo Schmidt (1916-1976)
Someone by now was ready to collect the results and experiences. This was Hanna Buschbeck from Horb am Necker, who founded a lose research association of EVP researchers in 1968. She collected reports of experimenters, conducted surveys among the members about their results, and organized conventions, where one could meet, exchange experiences and discuss new recording methods. Meanwhile the Catholic priest Leo Schmidt emerged as one of the successful experimenters. He also wrote a book about his experience with the title "Wenn die Toten reden" ("When the dead speak").

Franz Seidl (1912-1982)
All the pioneers had one thing in common; they were all convinced that their contact was with the deceased, based on their relevant test results. But science lastingly still opposed this research. Even the Institute of Parapsychology in Freiburg, Germany, was for diverse reasons, among them the lack of funding, not able to conduct any scientific research. Thus leaving the research for private experimenters to pursue.

They were all lively and resourceful, especially the Viennese engineer Franz Seidl didn't just think how to improve the recording of the paranormal voices but was also tinkering with constructions. His [German] Psychofon was one of the first in the technical field. This device was based on the already developed [German] radio method from Jürgenson. It was a wideband receiver that projected a mix of radio stations from which voices could be formed.
The foundation
of an association

Fidelio Köberle
Apart from technical experiments the activities of the first pioneers applied also, and above all, to public relations. They wanted to inform other humans about their discovery and further development. Mr. Fidelio Köberle, a psychologist, outstanding graphologist and personnel consultant, who conducted his own experiments and was active in the work group almost from the beginning, met this challenge. It was upon him to lead the later association through its 25-year history. This position remained unquestioned and not without reason, for no one has represented the recorded voices outwardly with as much courage and internal conviction as he.

The point and purpose in the establishment of the association was to unite the EVP experimenters under one roof. In addition the possibility should be created to facilitating a lively exchange of experiences and opinions amongst themselves. The newsletter "VTF-Post" was a suitable forum to serve this goal with articles and experience reports. Various international contacts between EVP researchers in different countries already existed at the time of the establishment of the association. Much input came especially from Austria, like from engineer Franz Seidl. In addition individual researchers and research groups from other countries started to voice themselves. Particularly intensive contacts existed with the Italian colleagues, who had organized an international convention on EVP research in 1973.

VTF conference in Koblenz
Thus, in 1977, the second international convention in Recanati represented the first highpoint in the association's history, because amongst other things there was a large presence of VTF delegates. There appeared the most important persons of EVP research such as Franz Seidl, Friedrich Jürgenson, Prof. Alex Schneider and Fidelio Köberle. This convention received a lively echo by the Italian press, which proved that there was great interest in the research of these voices. However, the parapsychologists were missing which was probably due to the fact that at this convention the spiritual hypothesis was represented.

The most important forum of the VTF has been and still is the annual conventions that have been held regularly since 1976. Friedrich Jürgenson became a VTF member during the first annual convention in Koblenz in 1976. These conventions served for both, the exchange of experiences and presenting EVP research to the public. Here the newest technical developments were presented, examples of recorded voices from different experimenters were demonstrated, and later also lectures for further education were offered to persons with esoteric interests.
The VTF
and the public

The TV show 'III nach Neun' (1980)
Public relations was rather difficult for the VTF in its first years of existence, because the press and other media hardly took this seriously, particularly since parapsychology did not see themselves any longer able to take over the further study of this phenomenon. Therefore there were hardly positive reports in the first years. A public breakthrough occurred only after a televised broadcast of the show "III nach Neun" ("III past Nine") about the VTF on January 25th, 1980, which not only publicized the EVP voices but the VTF as well. Dr. Karl-Heinz Wocker, moderated the show with utmost fairness, resulting in a very strong response from the public. Even during the broadcast a message was displayed to contact the VTF directly since the telephone lines were jammed with calls.

The interest in the paranormal voices on tape, and the hope of proof of life after death had wakened a broad social class with impact. Many people wanted to convince themselves of its existence by doing their own experiments and turned to the VTF for guidance.
Highs and lows The research of the Electronic Voice Phenomenon flourished within the VTF in the early 1980's. Many hoped for a technical breakthrough that would once and for all bring undisputed evidence of the authenticity of this phenomenon and authenticate the spiritual interpretation of these voices. Here now is where the opinions soon were divided, and the EVP research was split. Other organizations developed, believing that they have found improved and more effective ways to contact the other world. The VTF remained with the methods and techniques used so far, rather placing emphasis on the improvement of existing sound filtration possibilities and the creation of preserved raw material, which the spirits could use to transform into their audible voices.

The VTF under guidance of Fidelio Köberle, fought through some quite difficult years. The esoteric boom with it's various offerings and supplies allowed many to explore other paths, by which they thought would give them more and varied information about the different levels of existence. For example, "channeling", a modern form of mediumism, which is supposed to have resulted in lengthy, detailed messages. The VTF didn't look to good with their short sentences, for which in order to understand, you needed to exercise perseverance and patience.
Concentrating on
the essentials
Despite all, the harden core of the VTF did not give up. One persisted on the fact that the announcements were recorded on an incorruptible tape recorder that could not have been manipulated by humans, which could empirically be examined. Eventually, modern times arrived at the VTF. The possibility was discovered to improve the audibility of computer voices by using sound processing programs. Even if the filter method was not always undisputed within the association, a way was pointed out nevertheless for the first time that may improve the evidence of the EVP voices.

Theo Bleitgen, a technician in radio and television broadcasting, was the first to tackle this new revelation. He was also instructed to oversee the construction of the new research facility in Wiesbaden. Here was not only technical research to be conducted but also a meeting place was to develop, where anyone interested in EVP research could exchange their experiences and their thoughts.
Outlook... Thus, for many humans EVP research has still not lost its attraction even after a good 40 years. Many people are still tracking the voices and working hard in hopes to get a little closer to the solution of this phenomenon. Perhaps the new research center will attract one or the other scientist that may want to get an idea of this matter and perhaps engage in research, because without specialists we can hardly completely explain the origins of these voices.