Cover Image: The Man with Miraculous Hands

The Man with Miraculous Hands

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

great book and the story of another very interesting man in the ww2 story, i enjoy reading this book even though reading about stories of many of these evil people or the people who surround them kind never be pleasant.

great read and book and story.

Thank you, NetGalley and Elliott & Thompson for the advanced copy of The Man with Miraculous Hands in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I had never heard of this person before reading this book. It is well known that there were people who risked their own lives to do what was right and save people during the Holocaust, however, I always find it doubly fascinating when it was someone who was considered to be in the inner circle so to speak of the top Nazis.
Full of facts and accounts this provided an interesting read that has made me want to look more into the person behind the miraculous hands.

Was this review helpful?

An interesting read, but not the book that was demanded. In 1960, when this was first published, the author was determined that a doctor of massage who was seemingly the only person in the world able to relieve Himmler of his medical torments gut-wise and nerve-wise, was able to be one of the Righteous and save countless people. Felix Kersten, with a dab pair of hands, a very-much collaborative secretary of Himmler, and a lot of other help and luck, could get pardons out of Himmler, cancellation of multiple arrest orders, and more. So, so much, unbelievably much, more.

I know what is mentioned in these pages might not be in history books because it never happened, but that's hardly a defence – we all know Apollo 13 was supposed to land on the moon. This book has it that there was a Nazi plan to move the entirety of the Dutch out of the Netherlands, dump them on Polish soil, and shore the place up against the Brits with their own, who weren't doing that nasty Dutch thing of resisting the Nazis, and that Kersten, because the medical plight Himmler was suffering was so great, was able to get the plan rescinded. (Allegedly, this coincided with the ten-fold increase in SS numbers to generate the staff to invade Stalin's Russia, and Kersten convinced Himmler it was one or the other, and that trying for both left him incurable.)

Yeah. Anyone else wondering how small a load of salt need be to still be a pinch? But hey, at that time – the late 1950s – the author had all the documentation, all the publications and the verdict of Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper that everything was above board, and that all this had happened. The fact this will like as not be the first book to mention this alleged event anyone reading this will have come across is by the by. The fact the plan is most illogical is also to be ignored.
Later we see our good doctor trying his best to counter the Final Solution, egging Himmler on with thoughts of his legacy and suggesting the more Germanic races not all be killed off – he was very much a Dutchophile and wanted a lot of the Western European races he loved taken out of the camps before it was too late. Allegedly, again. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am sure a lot of this did happen – there could well have been a tranche of scores of Jehovah's Witnesses taken from the camps and made to be his estate staff. But the main points really need addressing critically, and this book does not do that.

We get all of six pages of editorialising about the whole thing, before the footnotes, that themselves remain judgement-free. And the whole writing of the piece raises eyebrows. If you dislike a historian inventing dialogue, this will infuriate you – that's all it is, made-up scene after alleged discussion after reported success. This is not a history book, to my mind, and whether it really deserves the full-gloss hardback reprinting (with obligatory triggering image of Birkenau) remains to be seen. It doesn't leave such a yucky feeling as a Heather Morris, but it barely feels more authentic. Two and a bit stars.

Was this review helpful?

An intriguing book that leads the reader to believe that this individual was able to manipulate one of the highest members of Nazi Germany to save individuals from death or concentration camps. The author provides facts and accounts from the papers of the doctor to provide an amazing story. A very good read.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Was this review helpful?

An excellent book dealing with a very difficult relationship between the reichfurer and a doctor who saved many people. I would recommend it to anyone yintetest in secret history

Was this review helpful?

The unexpected story of an unexpected hero. Of the places to find someone who worked to save lives, next to Himmler would be the last …. Until you read this book.

Was this review helpful?

In 1960 Joseph Kessler wrote an account of the life of Dr. Feliz Kersten. The Dr. served in the incredible position of medical doctor to the SS Reichsfuher Henrich Himmler, evil second in command to Hitler. This book has been translated to English by Helen Weaver and Les Raditsa. I received a copy from the publisher Elliot & Thompson through NetGalley. This is my own personal opinion about it.
I usually have a hard time getting into biographies. This book is well written, and I was surprised I could read right along and find it interesting. I have read a great deal of fiction and nonfiction books about WW II and the Nazi occupation and evil acts against mankind. .
Dr. Kersten's background is detailed to give the reader a look at his character and expertise that could find him able to relieve pain and distress. At times he was called to attend to Himmler who suffered from intense pain, especially when under stress. The writer and translators give a glimpse into the sheer and utter madness of Hitler and his sick puppet during these years. The overall story makes me think that the Dr. was a prisoner of a sort, that he didn't have much choice but to serve as Himmler's on call masseuse. Privileged, but a captured pawn none-the-less. In all of this there is a portrayal that Kersten was able to sway Himmler to release prisoners. With all I have read and seen photos of, in the past, I would like to believe that there was a weak point in which this could happen. I want to believe that idiocy could float up from the evil at times. I'd like it to be true that Himmler signed documents that could spare lives due to a man with miraculous hands. You would have to read and made your own decision. I give the book a scant five for being well written, a seemingly fair record of history and a good read that makes me think. The best thing, there are more books to read so you can research history that you are interested in.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Net Galley for this e copy of “ The Man with the Miraculous Hands” by Joseph Kissel in exchange for a honest review.This is such a well written and engaging story about Finnish doctor Felix Kersten who was a personal physician to Himmler the 2nd in command to Hitler.Through his massage techniques Kersten was able to relieve Himmler of stomach pains that he suffered from that were caused by stress and anxiety.It was during these moments after Himmler was relieved of his pain, that Kersten was able to win freedom for Jews, political prisoners , Finns and other prisoners .Little is known about this doctor who so bravely risked his life by saving these people and also by sending confidential documents to the Swedes through Himmler’s mailbox.Himmler so trusted the doctor that he considered him his only friend and was willing to grant the doctor his wishes much to the contempt if other Nazi officers.Very engrossing read.!

Was this review helpful?

Felix Kersten was a masseuse who worked on Heinrich Himmler, the man in charge of torture for the Third Reich. In return for his massage and manipulation services, Kersten bargained with Himmler to release hundreds of innocent prisoners condemned to die. Kersten also collaborated with Himmler's personal secretary Rudolf Brandt, who was hanged for Himmler's crimes, and a few other sympathetic Nazis and folks from other countries.
I had not heard of Kersten before, so this book fascinated me. The beginning was intriguing as I read about Kersten's childhood and training. Some parts after the middle were boring and drawn out, though. However, the story does flow well.
And this story is almost too good to be true. Indeed, as I read, I often wondered if the author was basing the story on proven facts or conjecture.

Was this review helpful?

The Man with Miraculous Hands
By: Joseph Kessel
Review Score: 3 1/2 Stars

Five Key Feels
-It was interesting to learn about how Felix learned massage.

-You could feel the intensity of working for Himmler.

-Felix went though a lot of scary times to continue working for Himmler, but he was also smart and used that time to his advantage.

-He was smart in working with other governments so that he could pass on what he knew.

-I wish there had been an epilogue, to learn more about what happened after the war ended.


The Man with Miraculous Hands was kindly provided as an ARC by Netgalley and Elliott & Thompson Thank you for allowing me to read this wonderful book!

Release Date: Out now!

Wow, this was such an interesting book. I can’t imagine how scary it was to treat one of the most terrible men in all of history.

There is an intensity to this book, it almost reads like a thriller, even though it’s a true story.

This book gave another side to World War 2, and I definitely enjoyed it.

#bookstagram #books #readingnow #boogiereadsbooks #fivekeyfeels #audiobooks #audiobook #nonfiction #arcreview #netgalley #themanwiththemiraculoushands #jospehkessel #elliottandthompson #worldwar2

Was this review helpful?

This generally unknown story of the masseur who tended Heinrich Himmler and was able to eliminate the debilitating cramps of the SS leader within his nervous system. Felix Kersten, a Finn, treated Himmler throughout the War in Europe and his magical hands were able to bring temporary relief to the extent Himmler became dependent on him and eventually trusted him. Kersten, in coordination with the allies in Holland, Sweden and Finland, used this trust to save many thousands of prisoners in the concentration camps, political prisoners awaiting execution and eventually preventing 60000 Dutch from being resettled in Poland in 1944. It worked because Kersten threatened to withdraw his treatment from Himmler and caved in eventually to Kersten’s suggestions.
A unique insight into the workings of the senior NAZI leadership in WWll – be prepared for surprising revelations.

Was this review helpful?

The Man with Miraculous Hands is an excellent historical book.
We get to know the biography of the excellent doctor Felix Kersten.
He was Heinrich Himmler's masseur.
With his miraculous hands, he helped Himmler relieve pain.
Let me tell you, he was playing with fire.
Kersten's life has been in danger more than once.
He had many friends, but also many enemies.
He tried to rescue Jewish prisoners from the camps.
How did he do it?
Was his mission successful?
What did Himmler say about all this?
I encourage you to read this amazing book.
Thanks to her, I learned new information about World War II.
I am delighted with this biography.

Was this review helpful?

This was a very quick read,because the writing didn’t feel bogged down. It was also a very interesting read for me because the many stories I’ve read @boutvthe Second World War dealt with the millions murdered. To hear the story of someone so close to Hitler’s number one aid was fascinating.
As I continued reading the book I did begin to have trouble with the plausibility of the details. Maybe it is because I am so accustomed to books that deal with the Nazi atrocities,it struck me as being strange that Himmler’s dr. Could take the risks that he did take,and always without fear.
The edition I read seems to be published in the U.K. only and therefore I had to review an earlier edition on I was unable to write a review on the amazon u.k. site. I did leave a review on goodreads and library thing and
I’m happy I got to read the book and I found it so fascinating that I completed it in a few days.

Was this review helpful?

Dr. Felix Kersten was born in Finland in 1898 and became a physician who practiced Chinese medicine with a healing touch. In the late 1930s he became disgusted with Nazism and those who were placed in charge of orchestrated torture and murder of millions, including Heinrich Himmler who was particularly ruthless and second in command to Hitler. Little did Kersten know that their paths would cross due to Himmler's desperate search for relief of his severe stomach cramps and pain, undisclosed to anyone else. Kersten became the only one who could calm him and relieve his pain so he was on call, day and night. Himmler trusted Kersten and over a span of five years Kersten was privy to appalling secret information and evil plans for Jews. Kersten used this information to organize rescues and bargained with Himmler for better treatment. Near the end he incredibly got him to sign documents called "Contract in the Name of Humanity".

Though several of Kersten's claims of saving lives are called into question, there is evidence he was instrumental and plenty of reason to believe he did so. He organized trains carrying 2,700 starving killing camp survivors to be diverted to Switzerland instead of another camp. Not only does author Joseph Kessel write about Kersten's adventurous life but also describes his family, the war, Nazism, Himmler's inner demons, desperation, compassion and injustice.

Nonfiction and History readers who wish to learn more about the Holocaust and the man Himmler relied upon and called a friend yet whose actions saved thousands of lives, do read this.

My sincere thank you to Elliott & Thompson and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this astoundingly fascinating book.

Was this review helpful?

I was left with my mouth open from the impression! 😲 If you like to know everything about the events of World War II, obviously, you have to read it.

Himmler is the leader of the terrible Nazi SS, a strong man, unscrupulous and determined to follow his great leader, the Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, in everything he commands, however, there was someone who managed to dominate him, his doctor, Kessel., he was able to change a part of history and save hundreds or maybe thousands of lives on his way.

✨ The information is very well explained and specific.

✨ You delve into Himmler's life, his health problems, his devotion to Hitler but at the same time his devotion to his doctor, whom he admired because he managed to cure him, something that other doctors couldn't, thanks to that, Kessel managed to convince him to send orders to release the prisoners.

✨ The descriptions of the places and characters make you imagine in great detail as if you were there.

✨ I really liked how the end of this book was handled

Was this review helpful?

Dr Felix Kerston used Chinese massage to alleviate pain in his patients, one of these patient’s was one of the biggest monsters of all-time. The man in charge of the SS and the Gestapo, the man responsible for Nazi Concentration Camps, responsible for the death and torture of millions and a part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. Heinrich Himmler.

Dr Kerston used manual manipulation to alleviate the disabling pain experienced by Himmler, this pain rendered him helplessly immobile. Himmler had tried conventional medicine to no avail, Dr Kerston was able to relieve Himmler’s pain instantly. This made Kerston indispensable to Himmler, he was essentially permanently on-call. Himmler considered him a friend – possibly his only friend. During their sessions over the years, Himmler was incredibly open and frank with Kerston. The good doctor also was able to befriend Himmler’s private secretary – Brandt – which was very useful.

Kerston was able to use his influence and ‘friendship’ with Himmler to secure the release of many, many prisoners held in camps or prisons. He was also able to secure favourable treatment for many other victims of the Nazi crime machine. These details were extracted from Dr Kerston’s diary.

This is a fascinating inside look at the way the Nazi hierarchy viewed the world, also of how Himmler’s mind worked and his obsession with pleasing and following Hitler.

An excellent read for those interested in this shameful period of human history.

Was this review helpful?

It was Simon Sinek who said something along the lines of “the president of the United States is the most powerful man in any room he steps into. Except when he steps into the doctor’s office.”

There is no better place where this applies in a similar way than in this book. It is here that we meet Himmler, the second most powerful man in Germany during WWII. He was Hitler’s right hand, responsible for the implementation of Hitler’s ideas and the death of thousands of people. He was also very ill. He had excruciating stomach pains that he kept secret. That’s where we can see how one doctor who intervenes to help him is later responsible to saving hundreds of lives because of his influence.

According to the doctor’s journals, these are all real events and that is so, so fascinating! According to historians, some of the claims are exaggerated, but it remains an important book for those passionate about history.

The Man with Miraculous Hands – The Plot
Doctor Felix Kersten is a Finnish citizen. His life and work take him through The Netherlands, Sweden and Germany. He makes friends and patients everywhere. He becomes renowned for his unique curing abilities, having learned the techniques from a Chinese doctor himself. Dr. Kersten meets Himmler at the hight of his career and is actually able to help him. Meanwhile, the WWII starts and he is forced to keep on treating Himmler. During his treatment sessions, he starts to understand how he can actually influence Himmler’s opinions and actions, leading to him saving thousands of lives.

The book was first published in the 1960s. It is now updated, the introduction bringing to light a few informations regarding the accuracy of dr. Kersten’s journals.

The Man with Miraculous Hands – My Thoughts
This was a fascinating perspective on the WWII. It certainly made monsters seem very human. Because of dr. Kersten’s journals we have an insight into the brain of a mass murderer. Surprisingly, it’s not all that dark. Himmler seems brainwashed into believing in Hitler with all his heart. Hitler was a god-like figure to him. He could do no wrong. He was genius. He was always right. Even in face of evidence that Hitler was not entirely sane, Himmler still sees him as perfect.

He develops a similar kind of faith in his doctor, though not equally powerful. However, it is this faith that allows the doctor a lot of freedom and privileges. Their relationship develops as Himmler becomes more and more dependent on dr. Kersten’s services. The trust he has in him allows him to be his confidant. He even gets to the point when he shares secret strategies and plans regarding the war.

It is in this type of discussions that we have a rare opportunity to see and judge how a personal opinion, a personal view of the world can affect policy in a state and ultimately the fate of thousands of people. To have one man with that kind of power, with no control and no oversight is frightening. When you understand that and then add a doctor who uses his power to influence the same thing it is even more frightening. It is at this point one understands how someone’s mind can be so fragile and easy to manipulate.

I found interesting how good dr. Kersten was by no means perfect himself. He sticks to his principles because his situation allows him, he is cunning for a good purpose, he is even risking his life at times. However, I am under the impression he was still not a good person. It is a very strange thing to say – completely irrational, given how much good he actually did. It is however the taste I am left with, after reading the book. The idea that in war “there is no simple good and evil, it’s all more about various degrees of collaboration for survival” seems accurate.

At the end of the book, I am also left with the doubt of how much it was real. At least some of it was, for sure, as these statements of the doctor were very scrutinised along the time. There are things that can’t be proven though, things for which we might never know the truth. However, they don’t make the book less interesting. It remains a great biography from which we can learn a lot!

Was this review helpful?

Did you know SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, the man in charge of the entire Third Reich extermination machinery, had as his personal massage therapist a man who quietly saved thousands of Jews? No? Then you're in luck, this book will tell you the whole story, often quite unbelievable.

The man was a German naturalised Finnish by the name of Felix Kersten, a masseur and physiotherapist by occupation, who had "magical hands" that alleviated Himmler's chronic health complaints and thus allowed him to get on the SS chief's good graces as well as some in the top Nazi sphere. Using this cover, he meddled in the Reich's persecution of the Jews and was able to save a number of them (some claim it was 350,000) that's still debated. The ways in which he did it are amazing, you really need to read this book to see, or you'll be thinking I'm exaggerating!

Unfortunately for Kersten, he was never recognised for his work, although there's been pressure on Israel to acknowledge his efforts. And compared to other famous saviours, he's completely unknown unless you're a historian or a WWII history aficionado. Kessel's book, now translated and republished in English, comes in handy to help make Kersten's remarkable story known. And yes, he was a flawed individual and not free of controversy, and although not everything is on this book, you'll get an idea of it all that is precise.

Was this review helpful?

The book was first published in 1960 and now updated with new facts. Joseph Kessel tells the story of Kersten, a private therapist of the beast of The Third Reich Heinrich Himmler. Kersten served the SS boss for many years and was able to save lives of many thousands Jews. The book is well-written and interesting.

Was this review helpful?

I am going to have to disclaimer the heck out of this review. Which is fair because the foreward of the book is a giant disclaimer.

First, this is a re-release of a book which was published in 1961. Second, the title character, Felix Kersten, was part of the Nazi war machine but also kind of not. He was definitely Himmler's physician. Third, Kersten definitely saved lives but also exaggerated excessively about how many he saved. Finally, he claimed to not benefit from being a Nazi and that he was forced into it.

Got all that? Ultimately, the foreward of the book does an excellent job explaining all of this and making the case the book is still important. We get a look at the Nazi inner court and Kersten may be a liar, but he also was at least partially a hero. Scholars agree he saved lives. How many is still very much up for debate.

Where does this leave the story? Joseph Kessel, the author, clearly was taken in by Kersten. He tells a fawning story which very much excuses Kersten for collaborating. Is it fair to judge a book from the 1960s with our expectations today, though? It doesn't ask tough questions about inherent benefits. It does not do good enough scholarship to catch Kessel in his lies. It does, however, give us a glimpse at the workings of one of the most vile humans to ever live in Himmler.

Ultimately, I couldn't recommend this book but I would not say it is without merit. If you want to know everything about World War II then it may be worth it.

(This book was provided as an advance copy by Netgalley and Elliott & Thompson Books.)

Was this review helpful?