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The Goessman Institute

Dr. Kristof Goessman
Much of what we know about vampires and zombies today owes itself to the work of Swiss scientist Kristof Goessman. Dr. Goessman was an inventor who made a fortune patenting a process for freeze-drying coffee. But the undead were his real obsession, and in 1930 he established the Goessman Institute for Vampire and Zombie Studies in a castle he had purchased high above the Swiss village of Greifensee.

Over the next seven years, Dr. Goessman acquired a steady supply of vampires and zombies from European bounty hunters and spent countless hours observing them. Oblivious to danger, he measured their strength and endurance and tested their tolerance to sunlight, noise and poisons. Though some would consider his research cruel, Dr. Goessman amassed a wealth of data and published much of it in the 1935 book Among Vampires and Zombies. The book created a sensation worldwide and did much to debunk stereotypes and superstitions associated with the undead.

Goessman Castle
as it appears today
Dr. Goessman's neighbors in the village of Greifensee got used to the trucks, carriages and horse carts arriving at the castle at all hours of the night, and they even grew to accept the inhuman groans and cries coming from the dungeon laboratory. But their tolerance had a limit. One summer night in 1937, an escaped vampire broke into a home and fed on a young woman. After chasing the vampire away with torches, the enraged villagers marched up to Goessman's castle and set fire to it. The fire spread quickly and, by the first light of dawn, everyone inside was dead. Goessman's remains were found in the lab. A cursory autopsy indicated he had been mauled by a vampire and was probably dead before he was immolated.

Once they captured the wayward vampire, criminal investigators were able to piece together the incident. Apparently, this particularly articulate vampire tricked one of Goessman's assistants into letting it go by promising him untold riches. Once freed, the vampire killed the assistant and attacked Goessman before heading down to the village.

Fortunately, many of Goessman's notebooks were rescued from the fire, including one that laid the groundwork for the vaccine research done at the Santa Rosa Institute in the 1940s and 50s. Among Goessman's important discoveries was that, in the absence of food, both vampires and zombies were capable of entering a dormant phase during which their pulse rate and metabolism would slow. This allowed them to survive without food for weeks longer than previously thought. Goessman also discovered that aggression was an essential part of the makeup of vampires, and that simply feeding them blood was not enough to keep them healthy. Perhaps because of his unusual methods and macabre demise, Dr. Kristof Goessman has never received the respect accorded to scientists like Jonas Salk and Louis Pasteur. But the fact remains, the good doctor saved untold lives by hastening the discovery of the vaccine.

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