Natterer was born the youngest of nine children in Schomreute near Ravensburg. He studied electrical engineering in Stuttgart, travelled extensively and also worked in Switzerland, France and the US. On returning to Germany, he moved to Würtzburg in 1896, married and started his own business.
His professional reputation led him to collaborate with the city’s university, where he built tools and machines for professors, including Wilhelm Röntgen who discovered X-rays. In 1902, the university hired another technician as a staff member. Natterer suffered financially and his work dried up, as did his frantic attempts to invent something and have it patented. His fears and delusions culminated in 1907 when he saw a powerful revelation of the Last Judgment in the sky above the Stuttgart barracks: “In half an hour, 10,000 visions passed like lightning in front of me /… / God Himself appeared – the wizard who created the world, alternating with secular visions of war, continents, monuments, castles /… / the glory of this world… The images were at least 20 m high and almost colourless like photographs. These were the revelations of the Last Judgment. Christ could not redeem the world because He was crucified too early… Therefore, God revealed these visions to me so that I could accomplish redemption.”
This prophecy led to Natterer’s attempted suicide and stay at a mental institution. He spent a total of 26 years of his life in various facilities.