Wednesday, 13 January 2016


Do you sometimes feel that just when things seemed finally to be going right for you, suddenly there is a catastrophe and you have to start from the beginning again?

Do not despair.  You are not alone, and if you have the right attitude then things will come good for you.

Today I want to tell you the story of one man who seemed to progress from tragedy to tragedy but who never gave up hope and who left us a marvellous legacy.  That man was Jakow Trachtenberg, the inventor of the Trachtenberg speed system of mental arithmetic.

Jakow Trachtenberg was born in Odessa, Ukraine, in the time of the Tsar.  He studied hard, graduating from the Mining Engineering Institute in St Petersburg.  In his early 20's he became chief engineer of the Obukhov arms factory, and then was made responsible for the development of the Imperial Russian Navy.

Then the first tragedy struck.  The Russian revolution of 1917.  Trachtenberg was highly critical of the new Bolshevik government and had to flee to Berlin.  There, a penniless refugee, he started a new life as a magazine editor.

Then the Nazis came to power.  Trachtenberg was a pacifist and soon made known his opposition to the Nazi regime.  Fearing for his life he again became a refugee, escaping with his wife to Vienna.  Perhaps not the best city to choose for refuge in the 1930's, but Trachtenberg was not to know that.

In Vienna he found a position with another magazine and tried to get his life together again.  Then, of course, there was the Anschluss, and Trachtenberg found himself yet again a hunted man in a Nazi state.  He was captured by the Nazis and sent to prison.

Trachtenberg managed to escape from prison in Austria and escaped with his wife to Yugoslavia.  Here he tried to remain incognito, but was found by the Nazis and was transported to a concentration camp.

While in the concentration camp Trachtenberg didn't give up hope, but kept himself sane by creating in his mind a mental arithmetic system which is now known as the Trachtenberg System.  He had no paper or pencil to do this, so he created it entirely in his head.

In 1944 Trachtenberg learned he was about to be executed.  He got a message out to his wife, who bribed the guards in the concentration camp and had him transferred to a prison.  Trachtenberg then escaped from that prison and fled with his wife.

He was caught and sent to prison again.  And again his wife bribed the guards who let him go.  This time he and his wife fled to the safety of Switzerland.

In Switzerland Trachtenberg released his Trachtenberg System to the world and used it to help children struggling with mathematics, turning into brilliant successes children who had been judged failures.

When you read all the above, compare it to your own life.  How do the setbacks in your life compare?  If Trachtenberg could have such a positive attitude and achieve so much in the face of so many enormous difficulties why can't you too?

As well as learning so much from Trachtenberg's attitude to major setbacks and seemingly insurmountable obstacles why not acquire a new skill and learn the Trachtenberg System itself?  A skill that enabled one 10 year old, who had previously failed miserably at mathematics, to smoothly perform in his head the multiplication of 5132437201 by 452736502785 and come up with the answer in just 70 seconds!

You can obtain a copy of the Trachtenberg System here:

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