In the early 1900s, Franek Kluski was born, well not Franek. His given name was Teofil Modrzejewski and he grew up with a middle-class family in Warsaw, Poland. Most of his early life was largely unremarkable -- he had a family, many friends, served in the military, had a varied writing career, and even attained a coveted position on the board of a prominent bank in Warsaw. However, bubbling just below the surface...Franek was, allegedly, an incredibly gifted medium.
Unlike many mediums, during this time period, Franek never performed publically or made a big show of his apparent capabilities. Franek would never profit from his work as a medium and only practiced it for about seven years (roughly from 1918-1925). During this stretch of time, he engaged in an intense series of experiments to learn more about his gift. Before and after these seven years Franek had only a minimal interest in the paranormal and was not interested in showcasing his power or work. In fact, he wanted attention so minimally he didn’t even use his real name as a medium and used Franek Kluski as a pseudonym. These choices likely come from wanting to maintain respect in professional circles.
Interestingly enough the seances we have records of were largely carried out in the presence of the Polish military. Franek had a good friend who was a colonel and that is likely where his “in” was attained. In addition to a military presence, independent researchers, academics, and several lay witnesses were also usually present during Franek’s demostrations.
From what we understand from records, as Franek never wrote his own thoughts or reflections on these experiments and experiences, the seance would usually begin with knocking sounds from around the room, usually off of furniture, walls, or the floor. As the knocking sounds continued to build the furniture would begin to shift and move around the room and strange noises with an unknown origin would begin to fill the air. Observers also noted that Franek would seem physically pained during these seances and would often remain sick for days following his exertion.
Most interestingly in seances were the materializations and subsequent creation of plaster molds that were made when an apparition, typically humans but occasionally animal, in its ectoplasmic form would submerge a body part in a bowl of warm wax. Often impressions of hands, wrists, or other body parts were created. However, they were so incredibly fragile many did not survive long.
Although some claim that the molds were produced fraudulently or smuggled in those who attended were in complete awe of these creations. Additionally, because Franek used a fake name, never made any money, and only involved himself for a few years in mediumship it makes a person wonder why someone would be so hellbent on such a complicated con.
Another interesting element to Franek’s seances was his ability to manifest animals, creatures, and even humans using spiritual energy. One of the most popular was a “Pithecanthropus”, which was typically described as a primitive man and/or humanoid ape with long tangled hair, an impish spirit, and a strange tendency to smack its lips together. Although it was intimidating and quite large those who saw this manifestation reported that the being appeared to be good-natured, although a bit dim-witted. Franek would attempt to control or settle it at times when it became distracting but it often ignored him or, if its feelings were hurt, it would hide and whimper. If it was in a good mood it was rumored to lick the participants. Eye-witnesses attest to these strange apparitions and strange photos of the Pithecanthropus and other manifestations have surfaced.
It is also of note to mention that activity surrounding Franek was not limited to when he participated in seances. In fact, phenomena was often said to flutter around him. Similar to poltergeist activity small fires would, allegedly, appear around him and most unusually from inside his own mouth. Sometimes people would report seeing a strange light haze or light spots around him as he slept or was engaged in highly emotional activity. His apartment was also said to be busy with unexplained noises and activity, like a typewriter typing by itself. People often reported a scent of Ozone following him.
Whether or not you believe in Franek’s abilities this strange story is certainly astonishing.
The above image was taken by Norbert Okolowicz - Wspomnienia z seansów z medium Frankiem Kluskim, Warszawa 1926. Franek Kluski with a cloth phantom. It is in the public domain.