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Lessner, Erwin

Entry updated 25 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1898-1959) Austrian journalist, soldier and author who escaped to the US from occupied Europe in 1941, becoming a naturalized US citizen in 1946. His telling Near Future Satire, Phantom Victory: The Fourth Reich 1945-1960 (1944), begins with the surrender of Hitler's double and the disappearance of the genuine Führer as his forces melt into the civilian background after Germany loses World War Two. Ten years later,a mysterious Messiah figure appears who calls himself the Supreme Shepherd, and presides over a Fourth Reich with the goal of conquering the world in the name of a resurgent Germany. With the aid of new, invincible Weapons, successful Invasions of the UK and America are mounted. The narrative closes in occupied New York, where it is confirmed that a mysterious background figure known as the Old Man of Kyffhäuser (the mountain under which the Emperor Barbarossa sleeps until his country needs him) is in fact Adolf Hitler victorious (see Hitler Wins). The children's book illustrator Vera Bock (1906-2006), whose adult caricatures resemble (and are almost as savage as) the work of Arthur Szyk (1894-1951), created a graphic narrative condensation of the tale (14 May 1945 Life) illuminating the surreal grotesqueness of Lessner's original. Some of the scenes of organized pagan festivity in his text hint at later treatments like Sarban's The Sound of His Horn (1952). [JC]

Major Erwin Christian Lessner

born Vienna, Austria: 1898

died New York: 24 December 1959

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