"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Dentist and His Chopper: Fake or Fortean?

Visiting the dentist's office is an unpleasant experience even at the most routine times. Going to the restroom and sitting on the toilet, only to have a disembodied voice beneath you shout, "Move your behind, I can't see a thing!" is really too much.

If you were a patient of Dr. Karl Bachseitz, your root canal came with a few surprises.

The sixty-year-old Bachseitz had a small dental surgery in Neutraubling, Germany. Assisting him was seventeen-year-old Claudia Judenmann. Life at the office was the height of respectable dullness until one day in the spring of 1981. One of his patients leaned over her dental chair to use the spittoon.

"Shut your mouth!" the receptacle barked at her.

Several days later, another patient was in the chair, only to have the washbasin order him to "Open your mouth wider, stupid." Soon after that came the episode of the Talking Toilet.

Dr. Bachseitz and Claudia Judenmann

Once started, this phantom assistant would not shut up. Worse, the Voice (which called itself "Chopper") had a remarkably unpleasant personality. Chopper--a male voice with a guttural Bavarian accent--would continually interrupt phone calls, hurl abuse at Bachseitz and his patients, shout strings of obscenities, and even threaten Bachseitz and his wife with physical violence. The voice emanated from plug-holes, washbasins, electrical sockets, virtually everywhere in the surgery. No one ever knew where The Voice would pop up next. The one person around the surgery to be spared Chopper's wrath was Claudia. Chopper would speak to her in the most friendly manner, chatting with the girl like they were old schoolmates holding a reunion.

Understandably, the citizens of Neutraubling soon decided they'd rather take their aching teeth elsewhere. Bachseitz's practice was threatened with utter ruin, thanks to this loud-mouthed mascot he had acquired. By February 1983 the distracted dentist was driven to file a harassment suit against...well, he didn't know. Against something. He had the phone disconnected. No good. Chopper continued to use it. He brought in the police, who were understandably disconcerted by Backseitz's demands that they arrest a talking ghost. He had the surgery swept for electrical devices that might have been used to create the voice, but nothing was found. He even called in Hans Bender, the most well-known spook hunter in Germany. "Release me! Release me!" Chopper moaned to Bender. The small surgery was soon flooded with spiritualists, reporters, and simple looky-loos. "Chopper" even inspired a hit pop song.

The local public prosecutor, Elmar Fischer, came to the conclusion that "releasing" Chopper would be a criminal, not a paranormal, matter. In short, he was convinced that Bachseitz and Claudia Judenmann were, for whatever demented reason, pulling what he called "a stupid practical joke" on everyone. In March, he announced that Judenmann had been using "voice projection" to fool the world into thinking the surgery was haunted. Under interrogation, Claudia admitted guilt, stating that she invented "Chopper" to "relieve monotony at work and to get publicity."

Bachseitz, his wife Margot, and Claudia all now faced charges of "filing a false charge of defamation of character" and "bodily harm." Jundenmann was fined $380, while Bachseitz and his wife--who protested their innocence to the end--were ordered to pay $4500.

Chopper proved to be a very expensive ghost.

After their trial, Bachseitz and his wife were so mentally and emotionally drained, they checked themselves into a mental institution. Claudia changed her name and fled into obscurity.

That would seem to be that, except one can't help but think of all the poltergeist cases that have been blamed on some teenaged boy or girl. Few seemed bothered by the fact that it was never satisfactorily explained why the dentist--previously considered to be an eminently sane and respectable sort--would nearly destroy his business and make a public fool of himself, just for the sake of allowing a pointless practical joke. If this was just a silly stunt, why did Bachseitz call in the lawyers and the policemen?

And, if this was indeed nothing but a hoax, young Claudia certainly missed out on a remarkable career as a ventriloquist.


  1. It does seem quite unjust to the doctor and his wife. They don't seem to have been involved in the fakery - if indeed it was fake - and yet paid a hefty penalty for it.

  2. Shades of Gef the Talking Mongoose. Who was a bit belligerent himself, if I recall correctly.

    1. I've seen Chopper described as the "German Gef."


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