06 May, 2013

Emile Ammann Redux


In a previous post ("The Chauffeur Speaks") I introduced Emile Ammann, who was Edith Rockefeller McCormick's driver in Switzerland for seven years until she dismissed him prior to her return to the United States in 1921. Ammann eventually made  his way to the Chicago himself, where he wrote letters to both Edith and her companion/business partner Edwin Krenn requesting aid. Today I acquired a picture of Emile, as I have long been curious to see what the fellow looked like:

Emile Ammann in 1923

This photo appeared in many newspapers at the time,  as Ammann had voluntarily admitted himself to a "psychopathic hospital" because he believed Edith held an hypnotic influence over him that affected his life. (Weeks later he would go to trial before a sanity commission in the Psycopathic Court.) A Dr. Francis J. Gerty, superintendent of the psychopathic hospital testified that, "Ammann had told him several times that Mrs. McCormick's weird influence followed him all over the world and destroyed his finer sensibilities."

"He was unable to resist the hypnotic influences cast upon his life by Mrs. McCormick, Ammann told me,"  Dr. Gerty testified. "Though once he broke away from the so called influence and returned to his wife and children in Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, the spell followed him, he said, and he returned to Switzerland, only to find that Mrs. McCormick had returned to the United States."

In court, a Dr. Max Schwendimann (executive secretary to the Swiss consul) testified on Ammann's behalf, claiming that he considered Ammann not only sane, but quite intelligent. When all was said and done, Emile Ammann was indeed declared sane, and he denied that his former employer had hypnotized him. He would return to Europe, and eventually write his book "Au Service d'une Milliardaire Américaine," which would be published in 1930.

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