Stefan Jankovich's NDE



A car accident and a transformation of personality

In 1964 architect Stefan Jankovich (1920-2002) was involved in a serious car accident in Switzerland, where he lived. His is one of the first experiences carefully reported, and is supplemented by ethical and religious observations later elaborated by the protagonist, as a result of his reflections on what had happened to him. The story of the experience was recorded by Jankovich on tape as soon as he was able to do so, when he was still in hospital. In Jankovich's experience (which includes the vision of his injured body and the place where the incident occurred, the perception of a different dimension made of peace and light, the medical care that brought him back from that beautiful dimension and the return to the body felt as a violence), we find a recurrent element in the NDEs, the life review, present in various testimonies reported by people who were about to die or fell due to a mountain accident. The story of Jankovich was published in 1973, nine years after the accident, by the German magazine Esotera and in 1976 by the Italian quarterly Luce e Ombra.     

I've always been a sportsman, an active and healthy man. Raised according to the dictates of a beautiful religion, I have always been inclined to believe many things. However, my faith has never given me any particular religious or philosophical problems, because I have always dealt with concrete, everyday, practical things. A great tragedy was needed to reawaken the divine forces in me: in fact, following a car accident, my soul and spirit separated from the physical body. This made me aware of the need to deal with the problems of life, man, death and divinity. This is why I use to say that on 16 September 1964 I died, to be reborn a few minutes later, completely transformed, with different ideals and superior knowledge. That day I had a serious car accident, during which I was thrown out of the car on the road, where I stayed unconscious, with 18 fractures all over my body.   

My experience probably began when my heart stopped beating, that is, after the interruption of my life. My brain cells began to change due to lack of oxygen, and at the same time my astral body, the subtle substance which harbors the soul (that is, my higher principles) and my spirit detached themselves from my physical body. During this time I did not feel any sensation, or at least I do not remember it. My consciousness was completely blurred. When death began, or rather when my astral body and the highest part of my being detached themselves from my wounded and mangled physical body, a curtain rose before me, as in theater. Then a show began, which consisted of several scenes or phases, in which I probably saw life on Earth and astral life. These scenes are certainly innumerable in the other life: I lived some of them, which made on me such a strong impression that I became a completely different man.     

Consciousness and experience of dying

The experience of death began with my realization that I was dying. I was very surprised not to find death unpleasant. I was not afraid of it: it was all so natural, so obvious! I realized that I was dying and I was leaving this world. During my life I never imagined being able to separate myself from life so well and so simply. I found that state very beautiful, natural, cosmic, divine. I thought, «Finally I came here! I am happy to die without fear, I am only curious to see how this process of death will continue». I realized that I was hovering, and I heard wonderful sounds. I could recognize harmonious forms, movements and colors. Somehow I had the impression that someone called me, consoled me, guided me higher and higher in the other world, the one in which I was about to enter. A divine peace and never-heard harmony now filled my consciousness. I was completely happy, I was not worried by any thought. I was alone, nobody disturbed my peace. Later I often wondered if at that time I had in mind some thought connected to Earth or to some people, but I could not give an answer. I was, as I said, completely alone, happy and in perfect harmony. I had a clear feeling: that at last I was dying. I hovered higher and higher, towards the light, I felt a growing harmony, the music became louder and more beautiful, and at the same time colors, shapes and movements appeared to me.      

The vision of his dying body

After this wonderful phase, the curtain opened again and everything changed. It was weird: I was swaying on the scene of the accident and I saw my tormented, lifeless body lying on the road, in a position that was later confirmed to me by doctors and police reports. I also could see very well the car and the people who had gathered around the accident site. There was a man, a doctor, trying to bring me back to life: he knelt down on my right side and made an injection. Two other people held me on the other side and took off my clothes. I saw that the doctor opened my mouth with something, maybe a piece of wood. I noticed that I had a broken arm. I saw that the doctor was trying to revive me artificially, then he realized that my ribs were broken. In fact he said: «I can not do a cardiac massage». After a few minutes he got up and said, «It does not work». He spoke German with a Bern accent, and also Italian, in a somewhat approximate way. Finally he said, «There's nothing to be done, he's dead».  

Then they wanted to get my body out of the way and asked a soldier (a column of military vehicles had in fact halted for the accident) if they had a blanket to wrap my body. I almost laughed when I witnessed that silly scene, because I knew I was there, and I was not dead. I wanted to tell them: «People, I'm not dead yet, do not be foolish!». I found all this a little comical, but it did not bother me. I enjoyed the idea of looking at those people's efforts. Finally I saw a man in a bathing suit rushing with a small bag in his hand. This person spoke in excellent German with the other doctor. Then he bent over me and began to do something. I saw the face of this man very well: and indeed a few weeks later a normally dressed person, who had that same face, came to my hospital room. I was impressed, because I was sure I had already seen him somewhere: he confirmed that he had been present at the accident, that he was the doctor who had practiced right in my heart the injection that had saved my life (I would call it a satanic injection!). I recognized him immediately, even by his voice, and later we became friends. 

It was fascinating to witness the scene of a man's death after a car accident. Particularly interesting was the fact that I myself could be able to see all this without emotions, very calm, in a state of happiness and celestial harmony. It is not common to see our own death, especially by feeling this sensation: at last I die! I was swaying over the scene of the accident, at a height of about three meters. All my senses worked very well, my memory registered everything, I did not notice impediments. I had the impression of being alone, but at the same time being surrounded by good creatures: everything was calm and harmonious.   

The theater of his life

Then this scene disappeared and I found myself again immersed in that dimension that I had experienced before. The games of light and color became wider, fuller, and finally submerged me. Somewhere, on the right and upward, I saw the sun becoming ever more radiant, luminous, pulsating. Immediately afterwards a fantastic theatrical performance began, which consisted of countless images and scenes from my life. Each scene was complete in itself. The director had arranged things so that I would see the last scene of my life first, that is, my death on the road near Bellinzona, and lastly my first experience, my birth. Each scene, as I have already said, was complete, that is, it had a beginning and an end. Only the order was reversed. So I started reliving my death. The second scene was the journey on the San Bernardo: I saw even the white capped mountains, shining in the sun. My way of seeing the scenes was this: not only was I the protagonist of every event, but I was also the spectator. My senses allowed me to record everything I saw, felt and perceived. My soul was a very sensitive instrument, through which my consciousness immediately evaluated my way of acting and judged myself, that is, it established whether this or that action had been good or bad. I was struck by the fact that the bad deeds I had done were not included in this show: there were only those in which I felt serene and happy.          

Harmony was not just in myself, but in all that surrounded me and also in the souls of those who took part in the scene. It seemed weird to me that harmonious memories were also associated with those scenes that our current morality would consider bad deeds, or our religious conceptions would make us consider sins or even deadly sins. Good and evil are evaluated in the afterlife in a completely different way from ours. In the meantime, I was listening to a music that seemed to come out of a four, five or six-dimensional stereo system!          

The sun was vibrating and I knew that the sun was the divine principle, the alpha and the omega, the source of all energy and all its manifestations. What I saw, however, was not exactly the sun, it was a wonderful appearance similar to the sun, warm and bright. My soul, deprived of the body, and my spirit began to harmonize with the vibrations of that light. I felt more and more happy and comfortable, while my consciousness vibrated more and more. I think that in that period of time the so-called silver rope, which bound my astral body to my brain matter, had become increasingly thin and elastic. The moment was approaching when this string would be broken, like an over-stretched rope. And this would have meant the ultimate end, the one that follows the clinical death that had come for some time: after that, there would have been no chance of coming back. I do not know how long it would take the silver rope to break. According to the terrestrial measurements there was perhaps a margin of a few seconds, or even hundredths of a second, but in the fourth dimension time and three-dimensional space no longer have any value. In this way the short time of a few minutes that followed my clinical death seemed to me to last several days or weeks, since what I had experienced had been of fundamental importance. Since then I often say: «The most beautiful experience in my life was my death», or «I am happy to have to die again».      

The memory of the experience

Other details of this experience were recalled during an interview reported in the book Qualcuno è tornato (Someone is back) by Paola Giovetti.       

What impressed you most in your story?
First of all the fact that since then I am no longer afraid of death: it represents for me a liberation and a beautiful condition. Then there is the change that has taken place in me: I see now in a completely different way than before the daily problems, the human relationships, the very meaning of life. Unlike before the accident, I no longer long for success, fame, etc. The professional activity still interests me, but without fanaticism; I always practice sport, but only for myself, I gladly stay alone and reflect on the big problems of life. Since I know from experience that I will see again and relive everything I do and that I will judge myself on the basis of a cosmic meter, I always try to conform myself to this fact and behave in such a way that I can confront myself in the afterlife. And then there is the panoramic movie, which also contains a judgment on all the behavior held during life.           

Can you tell me something more about this movie?
Meanwhile, it is reversed compared to the life, that is, at the beginning I saw my death and at the end my childhood. I also saw things I did not remember at all, such as facts from when I was a few months old, and even my birth.      

And what did you experience at birth?
A light, the arrival in the light. A change of condition: first there was darkness and then suddenly the light came, I felt a sense of warmth. I think it was life, the arrival in this world. I believe that the arrival in the world that awaits us after death could be described more or less in these same terms.    

Did you remember any details of when you were a little child?
Yes, after the accident I discussed all the details with my father, who was still alive at the time: I wanted to check everything before publishing certain things, because I did not know if they were hallucinations, imaginations, or actual facts. And so, for example, I was able to describe with the view of a baby in the cradle how was the room in those far times, and my father confirmed everything. He even said that when I was one month old they had to change all the furniture in the bedroom just for my arrival: and I remembered how the furniture was before the change. I also remember another beautiful scene to which I have always looked back with pleasure: my first steps. There were my parents and another gentleman. My mother let me go and I took 3 or 4 steps alone, and then laughing I hugged her left knee and in the meantime I saw what dress she was wearing, and then I described it to my father. He confirmed that it was a summer dress that he had given to mom as a present for her birthday and that of course did not exist anymore. These details, together with others, have confirmed to me that the film of life is made of real facts.      

How long have you been clinically dead?
According to the police protocol, 5 or 6 minutes. The two doctors present also confirmed this datum.      

Have you seen anyone in the afterlife? In your report you wrote that you were alone.
I would like to clarify: in my death I was alone, but in some way I was certain that I was not abandoned, that I was somehow protected. I was very calm.      

Do you know other people who have had experiences of this kind?
Yes, many, also because after my books were published many have written to me and I could speak directly with them. But often these people are reticent and do not talk gladly because they fear not to be believed.      

Which is your religion? Have your religious conceptions changed after your NDE?
I was raised in the Catholic religion, my parents were believers and followers. I attended church more than anything by habit, I had never dealt with philosophical and religious problems. I've been doing it since I had the accident and I look for my way, beyond the church dogmas. My religious approach has changed a lot, it has become freer and at the same time more profound.      

Are you judged in the afterlife? Is there a judge?
There is a judgment, but there is not an apocalyptic judge, like the one described by John or painted by Michelangelo in the Sistine: it is your own consciousness that gives a judgment and establishes whether that action or that thought has been positive or negative. And this judgment does not conform to our religious morality. This has been interesting and even surprising to me: certain so-called good actions have been negatively evaluated, and others – usually considered as errors on the human level – positively. In other words, there is not a Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist meter, etc., but a general humanitarian, or cosmic, meter that I could perhaps define as the principle of love: if an action has been accomplished with egoistic premises and has caused worries to others, is certainly negative, even if the intentions seemed good. I understood that what disturbs harmony is negative, and therefore I try to live so that a disharmonic environment, a disturbed atmosphere, does not create because of me. Before I did not think of this at all: I had a selfish attitude, I took what I liked, I tried to get from life all that I could in every respect. Today no more. I try to live and to make others live in harmony, without ever making constraints, without ever conditioning anyone, because this seems to me the biggest fault in life. What must reign is harmony. All our society is built on principles contrary to harmony, and in fact today I often find myself uncomfortable both in business and in relationship   

Do you talk willingly about your experience?
Yes and no. It depends with whom. Since then, when I returned into the body (and I almost cursed the doctors who had brought me back to it...) I felt that somehow I had a mission, that of making my experience known. So I immediately recorded my testimony as soon as I was able to do it, one or two days after the accident, so as not to forget any details and also to avoid the risk of embellishing my adventure over time. I do not do propaganda, but if someone invites me I go, I never say no.    

How does react who hears for the first time about your experience?
In a very different way. Some believe immediately, others do not, thinking that it is all hallucinations. A certain maturity is needed to accept these things. But today specialists know that facts of this kind occur and are not hallucinations.

Considerations on near-death experiences

In fact, the researches of Moody, Osis and Haraldsson, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and others have shown that these experiences are real and true.
Indeed, and in this regard I would like to tell you something very important. We need to make very clear and precise distinctions between experiences in a state of clinical death and pre-mortal hallucinations, because some cases have nothing to do with death and afterlife. I myself was sometimes in danger of death, I had these hallucinations, I saw episodes of my life. But they were single scenes, almost projections of slides, randomly placed one after the other, and without judgment. These hallucinations, which can occur in people who are dying or seriously ill, are not the real review or film of life. In my opinion there is a risk that many people who have experienced such things think they are really dead. These pre-mortal hallucinations are always three-dimensional and time-related. They are colored in a very personal way. It is difficult to recognize patterns and features of general validity in them. These, in the case of accidents (car accidents, falls in the mountains, drownings, etc.), are very spontaneous and direct: in seriously ill patients, who already suffer the effects of medicines, are instead manipulated.  

It is therefore necessary to distinguish very carefully between experience and experience.
And I also believe that death research should carefully consider those cases in which the clinical state of death (cardiac and circulatory arrest) can be reliably established. Then, among the revived who have certainly experienced this clinical state of death, I suggest distinguishing three basic categories: 
a) people dead due to an accident;
b) people dead due to old age or illness;
c) suicides.
Based on my experience, which I also derived from direct contact with many others who found themselves in a condition similar to mine, these categories are very important. On the one hand, for the judgment done by our own consciousness (in the suicides, however, things are different), and on the other hand because the report of the experience, in case you return to a biologically healthy body (if there has been an accident, or drowning, etc.), if told with a healthy brain and not confused due to medicines, is different than in patients who are under the influence of drugs, medicines, etc. We must also pay attention to the fact that the revived, having experienced a beautiful and fantastic thing, have a tendency to exaggerate everything, to work on it a bit with imagination. This tendency is even stronger as more time passes from the experience. We must also objectively check the trust that each one deserves.

Are there any common points between the various experiences you are aware of?
In my case various phases were recognizable: consciousness of death without fear of dying, exit from the body (OBE) with a view of the physical body, perception of a different dimension, panoramic review of my life with judgment. In my opinion these phases are characteristic of an NDE. My hypothesis is this: the course is always the same, one can practically derive a rule from it. However, not everyone goes through all these phases, sometimes the experience is very short, it is maybe just the beginning of an experience, so in some cases we find only a part of what I experienced.

What would you suggest, in addition to what you pointed out before, to those who study these experiences?
It would be very important to study what changes of behavior the near-death experience has produced in the revived people (philosophical and religious attitude, way of acting, relationship with their environment, etc.). This study would be of the utmost importance for mankind. And it could lead to a rethinking of different current moral and social systems. I then recommend a clear analysis of all the cases, with the evaluations made by the scientists involved (biologists, doctors, biochemists, psychologists, parapsychologists, theologians, etc.). Everyone should then reflect on these assessments on their own and draw the consequences. I consider these researches and these studies of great importance for man and it is therefore right that they are dealt with as correctly and objectively as possible.       

The main interest of Jankovich's testimony is that, as he himself stated, the recording of what he remembered of his experience was made shortly after the event, to avoid distortions or embellishments, which may be present in other NDE reports. Even here, however, there are some cultural references, such as the silver rope or the astral body, which are beyond the direct perception of what was experienced in the NDE. Moreover, during the interview, we can notice the protagonist's attempt to consider as an objective reality what happens in the so-called otherworld, rather than simply recognizing the subjective reality of the psychic tunings experienced by the conscious Ego of those involved in the experience. On the other hand, this NDE dates back to 1964: today, after more than half a century of NDE testimonies, it is known that these experiences can present similarities, but also substantial differences from case to case.   


Pam Reynolds
Anonymous French
Howard Storm
George Ritchie
Jayne Smith
Yuri Rodonaia
Ned Dougherty
Reinee Pasarow
Arthur Yensen
Lynnclaire Dennis
Thomas Benedict
Stefan Jankovich
Christian Andréason
Josiane Antonette
Juliet Nightingale
Jeanie Dicus
Linda Stewart
Laurelynn Martin
Olaf Sunden
Distressing NDEs
Medical evidence
A  metamorphosis
Final considerations