|Born||Georg Johannes Schäfer
March 25, 1926
|Died||January 11, 1991
|Education||University at Fulda|
|Spouse(s)||Nan Cuz(Imgard Carmen Heinemann), Sherry Munson|
Georg Schafer (Georg Johannes Schäfer) was a German painter, poet, and author who lived in Guatemala and the United States. He was born on March 25, 1926, in Leinefelde, Germany, and died on January 11, 1991, in Chatham, Massachusetts of heart failure.
Hitler Youth and Danish resistance
At the age of 12, by his account, Schafer was pressured into joining the Hitler Youth. In 1943 he was stationed in Denmark with the occupation forces, where he became a member of the Danish resistance, under the leadership of Damgaard Hansen. While working with the resistance, Schafer was betrayed, captured by the Gestapo, found guilty of espionage, and sentenced to death. He was jailed for six months while awaiting execution. Twice, he was placed in front of firing squads in an effort to coerce him into betraying members of the resistance. He refused to name names and, at 17, started a hunger strike.
On March 16, 1945, Heinrich Himmler commuted his death sentence to 15 years in prison. Shafer's father had been writing to the prison, begging for his son's release, though it is unclear what effect this had. When the Allied Forces liberated Berlin, Schafer had worked 18 months hard labor in Grabow, Mecklenburg, Germany.
After the war, Schafer entered the Theological College at Fulda Hessen, but soon realized that he was not fit for a career in the Catholic Church. He was invited to accompany a group of gypsies who, like himself, had been victims in the concentration camps. He traveled with them for two years, learning to transform conflicts in a group experience through dance, music, storytelling and art.
In 1947, he returned to Fulda. He had no money, so could not attend university. He began to write instead, completing his autobiography and submitting articles to various publications. On April 18, 1950, he sent Dr. Albert Schweitzer the manuscript of his autobiography. That same year, he was given position with a weekly newspaper: Die Zeit. Now employed, he entered the University at Fulda to pursue his studies in philosophy and the natural sciences.
LSD and mescaline research
Through his studies, reportage, and his keen interest in human science, he met Albert Hofmann who synthesized LSD. They worked together on experiments with LSD, including ingesting it themselves. Continuing his clinical research, he experimented with mescaline. Shafer reported having a vision that was the same as a dream he had as a child. He had been burned from a pot of boiling water when he was one. According to Shafer, the shock, and "near death" experience, gave him, 23 years later, a vision of the fairytale, "In the Kingdom of Mescal". He believed that his experiences during the Second World War caused him to have visions. He painted prolifically, creating over 100 illustrations, and wrote poetry.
In 1951, Schafer began writing with a number of doctors[vague] including Professor H. Bender and Dr. Hubert Urban. Their correspondence led to an invitation in 1953 for Mr. Schafer to work on experiments with mescaline and consciousness in dreams at the University Clinic of Psychiatry and Neurology in Innsbruck, Austria. His findings were published on September 1953 in a psychiatric journal: 'Oesterreich', on the subject of "The Problem of Time and Space."
The publication of his article allowed Schafer greater reach within the psychological community. He sent the article to Carl Jung and Albert Einstein, corresponding with both although never meeting either. In 1952, Schafer wrote about the systematic destruction of Mahayana Buddhism within the Mongolian Territories of the Soviet Union. Through the research and publication of these articles, Schafer corresponded with Nyanaponika Mahathera in Sri Lanka and Lama Anagarika Govinda, a Mayahana Buddhist monk, which continued for the next thirty years.
The destruction of Mayan culture
Over time, Schafer became increasingly concerned over the destruction of the Mayan culture by "the boots of progress." In 1989, the Schafers and their three children moved to Chatham, Massachusetts where he tried to mobilize people into fighting the destruction of aboriginal cultures. By this time he using the pseudonym Oma Ziegenfuss in all aspects of life.
This was a difficult transition for Schafer, who felt isolated after living on the communal culture of Guatemala. His health was poor during his early months in America, and he suffered a heart attack 18 months after settling in the United States. After his recovery, he prepared a successful exhibit in Seattle, Washington. Upon returning to Chatham, he was laid low by a second heart attack on January 11, 1991, which killed him the same day.
As a reporter for Die Zeit, he met Imgard Carmen Heinemann, a photographer of German and Mayan descent. They reported on several assignments together and married on December 23, 1950.
In 1979 he met Sherry Munson in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who owned the Munson Gallery. They were married in 1979 and traveled to Sri Lanka to work together on repainting a Buddha story in the temple of Nyaniponika Mahathera. Their first child was born in Sri Lanka. The couple had two more children in Guatemala and a fourth child in the United States, whom they named after Lama Govinda.