Magie, no. 12, December 1932, p. 165
            Houdini’s birthplace and birth date finally indisputably documented!
    To anyone who even fleetingly occupies himself with the history of magic, it is well known
that for so many magicians, not only are the true family and baptismal names unknown, but
often even the place of birth and death are shrouded in mystical darkness. We read in almost
all descriptions of the life the world-famous Harry Houdini (Erich Weiss), who died on
October 31, 1926, that he was born in Appleton Wisconsin, USA, on April 6, 1874. Already
during his lifetime, American called him her son with pride, and still today Houdini is always
celebrated by magic circles in America as a native-born American. I believe I am rendering a
service to the history of magic if now, six years after his death, I correct the error about the
place and date of his birth and publish a summary of the interesting results of my research
on this subject in the columns of the friendly [and] hospitable MAGIE. This publication will
perhaps cause disappointment or embarrassment in America, I will however already now
with explain emphatically, that I was prompted to published solely out of my honest
conviction that it is my duty – [since I am] in possession of the documents to be cited below
– to withhold the truth of history and the magic world no longer.
    It so happened that is already in May 1931 that [we had] the luck to have a relative of
Houdini (Herr Geza Scheffer, confidential clerk of the large Budapest firm of Wertheimer and
Frank) come to the clubhouse of the Society of Hungarian Amateur Magicians (Vereinigung
der Ungarischen Amateur-Magier), where he gave a presentation [in which he said] that he
was married to the niece of Houdini’s mother and that he at one time was also in contact with
Houdini by letter. These letters contained inquiries about Hungarian relatives and Houdini
still signed one of these letters as Erich Weiss.
    In addition to these letters, the above-mentioned gentleman also exhibited to us various
photographs of Houdini, his wife Beatrice, his father Samuel Weiss, his sister Cari and a
brother Armin. We further learned that Houdini’s grandfather was a Jewish priest [i.e. rabbi?]
in Keszthely (on the Plattensee) and that Samuel Weiss, Houdini’s father, came from
Grosskanizsa near Budapest, and lived here [sic] as a lawyer. However, he had to give up
this profession for the law firms established at that time required every lawyer to have
academic qualification, and Samuel Weiss did not possess this. The father now emigrated to
America with his wife and three children – Armin, Nathan [and] Ehrich! – where he procured
for himself [a good] reputation and respect as a Rabbi.
    Our guest stressed expressly that Ehrich was actually born in Budapest. This statement
surprised me very much, and I decided to pursue the matter more thoroughly. My efforts
were soon rewarded with success, in that I received from the Israelite Congregation
(Israelitische Kultusgemeinde) of Pest an extract from a register with the following
statement: Name of the newborn: Erik Date of birth: 1874, on March 24 Sex: male Nature of
the parentage:
legal Father: Samuel Weiss Mother: Caecilie, née Steiner Parents’ Address and birthplace of
the child: Rákos àrok-Gasse Nr. 1 Midwife: Anna Fleischmann Celebrant and day of the ritual
circumcision: I. L. Schill, on March 31. Godfather: Miksa Dick--
    I will now be brief. I believed that I was rendering our American friends a service and sent
the original excerpt from the register together with the reproductions of the above-
mentioned letters and pictures, to the S. A. M. [Society of American Magicians?] for
publication in SPHINX. To my great astonishment, I received from Mr. B. M. Ernst, President
of the S.A.M. a cool letter of rejection with the statement that he could in no case accept that
my conclusions were correct, and since it could only have been an error, he also advised
me, in a tone that seemed disconcerting, against the publication of this material.
    After these events it was clear to us Hungarian magicians that it was now our duty, in the
interest of historical truth, [because we are] in the possession of these documents, to no
longer let the error in regard to Houdini’s birth date and birthplace to [continue to] exist. I am
now in a position to exhibit to the whole magic world a notarized copy of the photograph of
that page of the original register from 1874, where the proven date of birth of Harry Houdini
(Erik Weisz) was entered. With this the fact is indisputably proved that Houdini was born on
March 24, 1984 in Budapest.
    Dr. V. Lenárd (M.A.M.E.) Budapest, Hungary Wording of the notarized certification Serial
Number: 669/1932
I hereby attest that this photographic copy corresponds word for word and in [every]
number with the dates entered in the birth register under the current/running number 392, on
p. 282 of the birth registry H. 1872-74, provided with the heading “1874” available in the
registry office of the Israelite Congregation (Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde)
here, at Sip-Gasse no. 12, [and] personally taken inspected by me. Budapest, November 9,
nineteen hundred and thirty-two. Tax and Fee 1. – P. Fee I. –P. according to decree P.M. 141
414 / 1923 paid in cash. Dr. Szigfrid Holitscher
Royal notary Seal
Magie, no. 12, December 1932, p. 165