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The Case of Justin Smith
Mr. Justin Smith contacted me in October 2006.
He told me had always had a curious memory that could not possibly be
something that happened in his current life.
He described his experiences for me:
"I'm floating near the ceiling of a huge wood-paneled
room, watching a trial with great interest. Everything has a vague, ghostly
and people's movements are jerky (like a movie played on a defective
projector). Thoughts enter my mind explaining that this jerkiness is due
to my not being part of time.
I've always imagined that this trial was the Nuremberg Trials after the
second world war, and that I'd been a victim of the Nazis.
I suspect I was Jewish, perhaps even from a
Between the ages of 2 and 3, I had recurring
nightmares of being in some sort of prison camp.
I woke my parents up with my screaming. Years
later, they sent me to a family friend who was a child-psychologist. I don't
recall much of these sessions except that I learned how to make things out
of paper mache and plaster of Paris (so the time wasn't wasted!).
The particular details of the nightmares suggest the holocaust, as well as
another (non-traumatic) memory I have:
My mother tells me to put the menorah on the piano. I hold this heavy brass
thing in both arms and climb up a piano stool and put it on a huge polished
This can't be a memory from my current life because my family wasn't Jewish
and never owned a menorah or piano.
As for the trial, I don't remember any details, only the sense of intense
activity and emotion connected with it.
In my present life, the family I grew up in was very poor (and chaotic,
which has led my wife to say my childhood nightmares were triggered by
As for anything in my present life connected with that: my wife is from
Germany (a rare escapee from East Germany) and I've traveled extensively
in Europe (mostly to mathematics conferences). Somehow, Germany has always
"felt" very familiar --- as if it is not a foreign country to me.
I don't have this feeling about France, for instance."
(This case was contributed by
Titus Rivas, a Dutch researcher, who would like to hear from others with similar experiences. To contact Titus, please click
October 28, 2006