Love, Peace and a Blow to the Head

iraIra Einhorn (left) was a high priest of the hippy movement – rebellion, free love, drugs, anti-Vietnam war, the Age of Aquarius. He promoted these ideas with verve and was an organiser of the original Earth Day. That his German surname translated into Unicorn was perfect for the zeitgeist. He saw himself as an environmental activist and mixed with leading figures of the movement like Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Abby Hoffman.

Many thought Einhorn was a genius. There was no subject on which he could not discourse at length, all infused with his idiosyncratic ideas about environmentalism, UFOs, alien invasion, ESP, computer science and such esoterica. On close examination, his intellect was extremely broad, facilitated by his compulsive reading, but there was little depth. This hardly troubled his listeners. His compelling style drew in not just the young and impressionable, but environmentalists, corporation figures, businessmen and government officials, all taken in by his rodomontade.

Wearing the long hair of the time, his pudgy figure in a white robe, he paid no attention to hygiene or grooming. Yet this had little effect on his appeal. Women flocked to him and he made the most of the ensuing rewards. Einhorn was seriously into sex with as many women as possible and, in doing so, had a far from enlightened attitude to his lovers. He treated them like dirt and brutally dispensed with them as soon as he wanted to move on to another target. Rumours of his violence towards women did his love life no harm.

But the Sixties moved on, the Vietnam war ended and the hippy generation had to face the mundane facts of settling down and earning a living. Based in Philadelphia, Einhorn’s activities were constricted but he still displayed an amazing capacity to find wealthy sponsors and university positions. Barbara Bronfman, a Canadian Seagram heir, was to play an important part in his life. During a lecture, he lit up a marijuana spiff and undressed till he was naked and danced around. It was all a game to entrance those around him.

In 1972 Einhorn started going out with Holly Maddux, a beautiful young women from Texas. The relationship was predictably tumultuous. By 1977 she had enough and ended it. On September 9, she went to his apartment and was never seen alive again. Questioned, Einhorn claimed that she had gone out to buy food and never returned.

In the absence of any leads, let alone a body, there was nothing the authorities could do. Two years after complaints from neighbours about a bad smell, the police came to Einhorn’s apartment. Inside a closet they found a large trunk. When they opened it, it contained the mummified body of Holly Maddux. The cause of death was evident – her skull had been brutally smashed.

“You found what you found,” was Einhorn’s enigmatic response.

Bailed by his wealthy sponsors, the trial was scheduled for 1981. Many who knew him refused to believe that he could have committed such a violent crime and supported his appeal for bail. By the time of the trial, Einhorn had gone on the lam, disappearing without trace. The trial went ahead anyway, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Einhorn had gone from Canada to Ireland, where he set himself up under another name. By the time the authorities caught up with him, he vanished again and the trail went cold for many years. When they got word that he was in Sweden, he was off again, this time accompanied by an attractive woman, Annike Floddin. The search continued and he may have stayed hidden had Interpol not picked up Floddin’s application for a driving licence in France.

He was tracked down to an exquisite village in Champagne-Mouton, France, living with Floddin under the name Eugène Mallon. He led a quiet life, spending most of the time in their farm house but playing bridge with the locals. Arrested by the police in 1997, he did not deny who he was but was soon bailed. With vigorous lobbying by Floddin, he became a cause célèbre with the French media. By nature anti-American, the intellectual class took up the cause, expressing their indignation about a country that convicted and sentenced to death a man who did not attend his trial – clearly, the Dreyfus case and the use of the guillotine for capital punishment did not trouble this logic.

The matter went back and forth between the two governments. While the death penalty had been abolished, in 1998 the state of Pennsylvania passed the “Einhorn Law”, allowing defendants convicted in absentia to  request another trial. Obstructions from the French side continued. It looked as if Einhorn was going to get away with it before a phone call from President Clinton to Prime Minister Jospin put an end to the delays. Einhorn called the media to the house to await the result of his last appeal. When the news came through that he had lost, he dramatically cut his throat in front of the waiting media. To no avail (probably as he intended) and he was extradited on July 20, 2001.

After Einhorn was extradited, Floddin was conspicuous by her absence. Her excuse was that she could be arrested for harbouring a fugitive from justice. Perhaps, away from Einhorn’s mesmerising spell, she had started to see through his insistence about a conspiracy to frame him and wanted to get on with her life.

At the trial Einhorn repeated the same story: Holly Maddux was killed by CIA agents in order to frame him for investigations into Cold War “psychotronics”. The jury was unconvinced and on October 17, 2002 he was sentenced to life without parole.

Justice had finally caught up with the Unicorn. Incarcerated in Houtzdale prison he resumed something of his old style as a commentator, putting out his views on a website. From time to time he gave interviews where he protested his innocence but refused to discuss Floddin.

In December, 2016, he was transferred to a minimum security hospital on health grounds.

Can any excuse be found for Einhorn? He was highly intelligent but not psychotic. The part played by drugs in his violence must remain speculative. Calling him a psychopath is too easy an excuse; overweening hubris is more likely. Equally so the current obsession with sex addiction would not get him off the hook. For Einhorn women were sexual objects to meet his needs and his rage at any refusal to play along with this was virulent to an extreme.

If we are left with anything, it is that the peace and love movement of the Sixties proved in the long run to be shallow, trivial and ephemeral. Below this, a dark side was always waiting to emerge. Don McLean sang about the death of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens; perhaps Einhorn’s legacy is that he is the man who made the music die.

Robert M Kaplan is writing about Ira Einhorn in his new book The King Who Strangled his Psychiatrist and Other Dark Tales.


1252 Words

21 thoughts on “Love, Peace and a Blow to the Head

  • en passant says:

    I note that the USA and France have the same lax bail laws as Victoria.

  • ian.macdougall says:

    If we are left with anything, it is that the peace and love movement of the Sixties proved in the long run to be shallow, trivial and ephemeral.

    I think you are drawing a long bow there, Robert. Remember that the sixties was primarily about revulsion over the hideous and inhumane war in Vietnam, which was a negation of everything people in the West thought the West stood for. You are trying to argue that because this Ira Einhorn was involved in it, then the whole thing was a fraud: the music, the counterculture, the lot.
    Meanwhile, a whole lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing were apparently active: purported Christian priests betraying on the quiet the fundamental principles of their own religion. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is expected to provide

    • Jody says:

      I actually very much agree with that judgment call about the 60s; it was an ugly culture indeed and full of shallow individuals who took dope and spruiked bogus refulgences of the type iterated by John Lennon. Hideous.

  • ian.macdougall says:

    quite a bit over the next 3 weeks.
    Maybe not ‘shallow, trivial and ephemeral’ in that case. Such words are probably far too mild.
    ‘Satanic, abusive and permanently scarring’ would probably be more like it.

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

    The tale of Ira Einhorn, bizarrely fascinating as it is, is but the vehicle to carry a more important message, the story of the sleazy 60s and its abominable counter culture. It is particularly telling that the elitocracy and academia of the time was equally as misguide and decadent as it has been for most of recent decades, being well served by a complementary media, just as it is nowadays. While there were many notorious sleazebags like Einhorn, the support for the zeitgeist was widespread and its detrimental effect is well recognisable to this day.

    As for the Vietnam war, the popular attitude expressed by Ian McDougall is dead wrong. While the South Vietnamese government of the time was far from ideal, it was infinitely preferable to Marxist Communism. The snotty-nosed kids violently demonstrating against it had no idea of the issues involved, their emotions and misplaced idealism would not brook reality and common sense. Note the current situation in South Korea and Taiwan, both of which had less than ideal governments at one time but because of the form of government, they both evolved and continue to evolve. Not so present day Vietnam, which is still a one party totalitarian country.

    I happened to be visiting my native Hungary at the time – still under Soviet Communist occupation – and was asked by friends if it was really true that people in the US were actually opposing a war fighting communism, or was it local community propaganda? They found it astonishing and even disheartening that it was actually true. I fully sympathised with their sentiments. I still do.

    • Jody says:

      It’s important to remember that the Communist Party in Australia was leading the marches and protests here in Australia in the 60s (Tom Uren and the execrable Jim Cairns). I agree in toto with our comments, Bill, and I worked at the ABC in the very early 60s when Allan Ashbolt was there and his ugly minions – the great unwashed, unhappy and drug-addled – are still exerting their ‘magic’ there to this day.

    • ian.macdougall says:


      Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate the week beginning July 19, 1959, as Captive Nations Week.
      I invite the people of the United States of America to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities, and I urge them to study the plight of the Soviet-dominated nations and to recommit themselves to the support of the just aspirations of the peoples of those captive nations.

      That was how President Eisenhower proclaimed ‘Captive Nations Week’. Your native Hungary was quite rightly included in the list, particularly in the light of the fate of the revolution of 1956 under the treads of Soviet tanks.

      In 1954, the Viet Minh had fought the French colonialists to a standstill in Vietnam, and the Geneva peace agreement provided for the issue to be decided by an election, throughout all of Vietnam, to appoint a new national government. In the mean time the Viet Minh forces were to withdraw north of the 17th Parallel, and the pro-French Vietnamese south of it.
      But US intelligence told that same Eisenhower that if that election were held, Ho Chi Minh and his Communists would get about 80% of the vote. So the Americans, great democrats that they were, decided to skip that step and instead worked to set up and maintain a stooge government in the South under their own favourite, Ngo Dinh Diem, and then refused to have anything to do with that election.
      In due course Diem was removed Mafia style; and the rest is history. The Americans, who had bankrolled the French colonial war, now took the place of those same French, and ran a neo-colonial regime in the South.
      So when you talk about “the snotty-nosed kids violently demonstrating against it had no idea of the issues involved, their emotions and misplaced idealism would not brook reality and common sense…” you leave out of account the most important factor in war: the moral one. The Americans in Vietnam had about the same moral position as the French had before them, or the Japanese had in their campaign of conquest in the 1930s. And that was their fundamental weakness, which led to the enormous cultural changes America went through in the Vietnam War era, and to their ultimate defeat.
      America emerged from Pearl Harbour with a black eye and a bloody nose, but in an invincible moral position. They never had any such in Vietnam, though they tried to create a Pearl Harbour on a small scale with the Gulf of Tonkin ‘Incident’.
      I have never ever heard anyone attempt to justify the French position in Vietnam. Even the French ‘conservatives’ I have met tend to go all sotto voce on it.
      The Vietnam War ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon and the total rout of the South Vietnamese forces. All told, the 10,000 day war killed 3.6 million people, on average about 360 per day , from mere babies to the very old: a far greater toll than has to date been achieved in one day by any Australian firestorm.
      Much of the former South Vietnam is now a defoliated wasteland, thanks to Agent Orange, and it will probably remain so for the best part of the next 1,000 years, according to my information.

      “Snotty-nosed kids.” !!!!!!!!!

      Links follow.

      • Jody says:

        Doubtless the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima could substantiate your documented horrors, well and truly. They were too busy dying for the Emperor and killing anything that wasn’t Japanese to be terribly concerned about “morality”.

      • bemartin39@bigpond.com says:

        No argument could ever justify any activity in support of Marxist Communism.

        • Jody says:

          Absolutely agree. The body count and hypocrisy are both far too great!

        • ian.macdougall says:


          Have a look at the video Robert S. McNamara, ‘The Fog of War’. It is probably on Youtube. It features McNamara’s return postwar visit to Vietnam. There he gets into a discussion with a former NLF (“Vietcong’) commander, and explains to him that the US thought that the NLF was backed by China, and that the war was all about stopping a Chinese takeover of all of Vietnam and beyond.

          The commander could not believe that this was coming from the mouth of the man who masterminded the greatest war machine ever assembled (and which the Vietnamese had defeated). He asked McNamara something like: “with all the resources of the US government, didn’t anyone ever tell you that we Vietnamese have been fighting for the last 1,000 years against being taken over by the Chinese?”
          McNamara replied: “so it was a war of national liberation!”
          The penny had dropped.
          If you have a bunch of colonial oppressors as intractable as the French in Vietnam, the only way for a nationalist movement to clear them out is by forming itself into an army, as the Vietnamese nationalists did.
          Trouble is, there has never been a democratic army in the whole history of the world. By necessity, they are all run on strictly hierarchical lines. And after final victory over the colonial regime, that hierarchical structure tends to remain. Too many people by that stage have been through far too much of an ordeal and have an inertial interest in it.
          Colonialism prevented Vietnam from making is own way from mediaeval feudalism towards a modern democratic state structure. It finished up being run by a military machine cobbled together with some assistance from the Russians, whose own transition from autocracy to democracy had been steered well and truly off course by the Leninists and the Stalinists.
          NB: At the end of the war, TIME magazine published an article about the financial aid given to the respective sides by the US and the USSR. It transpires that the aid given by the Russians to the Vietnamese (NVA and NLF) was equal to that given by AUSTRALIA to the South.
          Not America.

  • denandsel@optusnet.com.au says:

    The left will support any totalitarian movement that is ‘anti-capitalist’ – such as Communism, Nazism and Islam – without even knowing what ‘capitalism’ actually is. This has gone on now for over two centuries. Even Frederic Bastiat commented on it after the French revolution – “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
    Nothing has changed since then.

    • Jody says:

      The message from all this is spend what you have, live the good life, don’t worry about the Left and relish capitalism. That’s what I’m going am doing – myself and husband. This place is going belly up and it’s mostly driven by a demographic who believe it is THEY who should be at the top of the pecking order, earning all the money and calling all the shots. What the heck do they care about the ordinary people!! They don’t care at all; everything is opportunism so that they get what they think is owed to them.

      As Ivana Trump once said, “don’t get mad; get everything!”. Well, that’s our new motto. The Left can be damned.

  • ian.macdougall says:

    1. and it’s mostly driven by a demographic who believe it is THEY who should be at the top of the pecking order, earning all the money and calling all the shots……

    2. As Ivana Trump once said, “don’t get mad; get everything!”.

    I hope you can see the contradiction there between 1 and 2.

    • Jody says:

      No inconsistency; it’s a battle over who gets what and was since Day 1 when people emerged from caves. The establishment of public servants, the media and luvvies think they have the prerogative of cultural and moral capital and that their birthright is to run things. After all, they have the impeccable and impeachable morality and the monopoly on goodness. However, these same are not nearly intelligent enough to understand that the society’s morality runs vertically through ALL the classes and not just HORIZONTALLY through one. It’s the turn of the ordinary people now, and not those sucking on the public teat all of their working lives. Only think how the EPA in the USA has gone into meltdown!!! Donald is putting a broom through it.

      I saw we can empower ourselves in all of this by living the good life and enjoying the fruits of our own labour!!!

  • Edward Carson says:

    The TV series, Law and Order, did a fictionalised episode based on Einhorn and his capture and repeat trial.
    Series 13, episode 13, and called ‘Absentia’. Actor Mandy Patinkin played the creep quite well.

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