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Pérák, see also known as Springer or Spring Man, (deriving from the Czech word "péro" meaning “spring") was a humanoid entity reported in the Czechoslovakian city of Prague during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in the midst of World War II.
According to historians Callum McDonald and Jan Kaplan in their book Prague in the Shadow of the Swastika: a History of the German Occupation 1939-1945 (London, 1995), "the Springer" was said to leap out from shadowy alleys and startle passers-by. Oral tradition suggests that some of Pérák's leaps were of an extraordinary magnitude, including the act of jumping over train carriages, similar to England's Spring-heeled Jack.
A contemporary and possibly associated rumour concerned a "Razor Blade Man" who was said to slash at victims with razors attached to his fingers.
Researcher Mike Dash quotes George Zenaty, a noted authority on the policing of Prague during the war years, that ... in 1940-1942 none of our police precincts in Prague informed us in their daily reports of the existence of a ‘Spring Man’. This does not mean that such rumours might not have circulated; however, it would have been impossible to include them in the reports without tangible proof.
In 2015 a social activist claiming the identity of Pérák fronted a guerilla media campaign to commemorate the former site of the Lety concentration camp.
The 2017 book Mýtus o pérákovi. Městská legenda mezi folklorem a populární kulturou by Czech folklorist Petr Janeček offers a comprehensive survey of the Perak phenomenon, tracing a history from the figure of Spring Heeled Jack in England during the early 19th century through to Czech folklore before, during and after World War 2, and then into popular culture via a succession of speculative fiction novels, comic book treatments and other works of fiction.
The being was usually depicted as a somewhat spectral man dressed all in black and wearing a strange mask with shiny red eyes. Most notably, this stranger was said to have the astounding ability to make superhuman leaps of extraordinary magnitude.
There are several explanations as to what the creature could be. Theories include:
- A human prankster
- A hoax
There are no notable encounters that we can find.
- It was rumored that he seemed to be impervious to bullets when fired upon by the Nazis, with some accounts even describing German bullets ricocheting off of him to hit other soldiers, and he was always able to use his amazing jumping abilities to easily evade pursuit.
- George Zenaty, an authority on the policing of Prague during World War II, has stated:
- "...in 1940-1942 none of our police precincts in Prague informed us in their daily reports of the existence of a ‘Spring Man’. This does not mean that such rumours might not have circulated; however, it would have been impossible to include [them] in the reports without tangible proof."
- A contemporary and perhaps associated rumor concerned a "Razor Blade Man" who was said to slash at victims with razors attached to his fingers.
Folklore, Religions, and Myths