Futureman: The patient who invented tomorrow

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**He was locked away in the GDR, but the whimsical genius Karl-Hans Janke invented his very own world of futuristic machines in the psychiatric clinic in Wermsdorf, Saxony, where today a small museum remembers the life and times of this strange man who builded things from which nobody know if they would work if they could were real.**

One of the drawings. Picture: karl-hans-janke.de

Hitler was not so long chancellor of the Reich, the Second World War just a dark threat behind the horizon. But for Karl-Hans Janke from Kolberg in Pomerania, son of a farmer and failed as a student in Berlin and Greifswald, the future had begun: In 1936, Janke was 27 years old, he submitted a patent application to the Trademark Office in Munich, which described in detail an instrument that more than half a century later would begin its triumphal march around the world under the name navigation device.

Electronic lightning jet. karl-hans-janke.de

Karl-Hans Janke no longer witnessed the rebirth of his first patent from the spirit of a new era. He will spend most of his life behind the walls of the psychiatric clinic in Wermsdorf, Saxony, and die a quiet, lonely death in 1988. 50 years after he was granted the patent for the principle of the navigation device. And 15 years before the first navigation systems became affordable for private users.

Tragedy of a great mind

It is the great tragedy of a great mind so far ahead of its time that no one can understand it throughout its life. In 1949, when Janke demonstrates with a self-painted poster against the fact that there are not enough toys for children, the authorities notice him for the first time. A medical officer notices malnutrition and signs of neglect in the 40-year-old toy maker. Janke ends up in the closed ward of the clinic in Hubertusburg Castle in the small village WHermsdorf in Saxony. The diagnosis is schizophrenia. This shows itself above all in "delusional invention".

Powerstation. karl-hans-janke.de

But even behind the walls of the institution for the mentally ill, where a handful of doctors supervise rather than treat more than 900 patients, the man from the future does not stop drawing epoch-making inventions and revolutionary technologies on wrapping paper and old cardboard. His futuristic rocket planes, which he calls "trajectories", look like the space shuttle today.

He lets sky-high turbines suck energy out of the earth's magnetic field, his "impulse jet engines" create two million watts of power on paper with the help of "flash nozzle electrodes". Nurses and doctors at the clinic regard Janke as "different from the others". They let him draw, he is allowed to give lectures about his inventions to the staff and use material from the workshops to build models of his rocket planes.

Electric bicycle. karl-hans-janke.de

Janke fights for the ideas that bubble up from an inexhaustible source. He writes long letters to authorities and companies, applies for patents and keeps asking to be fired so that he can devote himself entirely to research. Because as long as he is locked up in Hubertusburg, no one will test his planes and no one will build his ink pen designed in the 50s. Which, by the way, is a early variant of the one Paul Fisher will invent in 1965 when the US space agency Nasa is looking for a pen suitable for use in space.

Genius' lunatic asylum

For whenever Karl-Hans Janke has managed to arouse interest in a state-owned business or to get an appointment at the patent office, his home address is always conspicuous: A lunatic asylum. Appointments are cancelled, promised tests are cancelled, the granting of patents is refused.http://www.karl-hans-janke.de/img/bildergalerie/111.jpg

In a chamber under the roof, which serves as a refuge for him, the visionary nevertheless continues to draw space ships with "gyroscopic aggregates" and elegant mini-scooters, as they purr through the inner cities of all metropolises today in real. He is making a gift to the GDR airline "Interflug" in the form of his "Venusland" spaceship, and he has attested to his "reactive jet tank drive" that it "manages without radioactive ejection materials".

Janke has produced 4,500 drawings in almost 40 years of untiring research, plus numerous models and essays on philosophical topics. His plan drawings, the artistic execution of which is reminiscent of Da Vinci's sketches, are always countersigned and stamped with the date by doctors, for lack of other possibilities, in order to bear witness to his authorship.

Janke spends his last years in need of care in bed. With his death his name is also forgotten, his work is lost. It is not until 12 years later that 2,500 drawings in fruit boxes are found in the attic of Hubertusburg Castle during restoration work. Since then, an association has been looking after the estate of the visionary from Saxony. His ideas have survived their originator and you can see all of his unique work in Wermsdorf today at the small museum that is open for the public.

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