Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Today - 380 years ago - Johannes Junius was burned at the stake

It was a sunday, and its not clear whether our mayor was murdered in ZEIL AM MAIN or in Bamberg - at the Schönleinsplatz, which was one of the favoured witch burning locations - just in front of the City Wall in those days.

The destiny of Johannes Junius is very well documented: we have his farewell-letter to his daughter Veronica, the protocolls of the inquisition commison, the Plan of the MALEFIZ HOUSE and even the list of his denunciations.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Details of the tortures in the Malefiz House of Bamberg

During the 16th and 17th centuries more than 100,000 people in Germany were tortured and murdered as a result of being accused of being witches. The witch hunts were led by fanatical rulers, spurred on behind the scenes by the Catholic Church.

Using torture and inflicting horrible deaths on men, women and children over 100,000 people died. Some of the worst persecutions took place in Bamberg, ruled by Prince Bishop Johann Georg II Fox of Dornheim- also called the WITCH-BURNER or WITCH-BISHOP.

Dornheim established an operation of full time torturers and executioners. A witch prison was built in Bamberg and a network of informers was established. Accusations were not made
public and the accused were denied legal rights.

Torture was the rule and was applied to all those accused. Victims were put in thumbscrews and vises, dumped in cold baths and in scalding lime baths, whipped, burned with sulphure, put in iron spiked stocks and subjected to other forms torture.

The torture did not stop even after condemnation. As they were led to the stake prisoners
had their hands cut off. Many rich and powerful people fell victim and had their property and assets confiscated in Bamberg. Anyone who questioned what was happening was also tortured and killed.

Five majors have also been tortured in the Witch House - like Chancellor Dr. Haan and all of his family - all of them finally burned on the stake in Bamberg. The end of every torture was a confession and the death penalty - burning at the stake.

Examples of Bamberg Torture

The torturer bound her hands, cut her hair and placed her on a ladder. He threw alcohol over her head and set fire to it so as to burn her hair.

He tied her hands behind her back and pulled her up to the ceiling. He left her there
three to four hours, while the torturer went to breakfast.

On his return, he attached very heavy weights on her body and again drew her up to the ceiling. Then he squeezed her thumbs and big toes in a vise, and he trussed her arms with a stick, and in this position kept her hanging about a quarter of an hour.

Then he whipped her with a rawhide whip. Once again he placed her thumbs and big toes in the vise and left her in this agony on the torture stool from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., while the hangman and the court officials went out to get a bite to eat.

In the afternoon a functionary came who disapproved this pitiless procedure. But then they whipped her again in a frightful manner. This concluded the first day of torture."

The Bamberg Kneeler
The Bamberg Kneeler was a piece of wood – covered with sharp spikes – the tortured person had to knee on this KNEELER naked – four hours and was beaten with whips and lashes.

The Bamberg Thirst torture
Was a porridge containing fish, salt, paper and grain – water was not supplied.

A bath in hot slaked lime
This bath was also an invention of the Fuchs of Dornheim, the witch skin was burned by the etching lime.

The ‘Linsten chamber’
This was a very small room without any chair or bed – the floor was covered with small wooden pyramids – the witches were caged naked in this room – no way to stand, sit or sleeping on this floor – this room was also know as the ‘folded chamber’; another invention of Bamberg.

The Bamberg mercy sheet
After confessing so called ‘spolling damage’ to others – The Church granded mercy to those who passed all their possessions to the archbishop ; the price for this charity was the right to get decapitated before getting burned at the stake.

But even those got tortured on their last way ; they got normally burned with glowing irons or cut off their right hand.

This is a partial list of fees and expenses made up by the courts in 1757 that would be paid for various services:
Terrorizing and showing the instruments of torture: 6 shillings
Arranging and crushing the thumb: 12 shillings
Burning with a hot iron: 6 shillings
Cutting out the tongue and burning the mouth with a red-hot iron: 18 shillings
For cutting off a hand or several fingers: 6 shillings
For nailing to the gallows a cut-off tongue or chopped off hand: 8 shillings

Some samples more

Some people began to feel great sympathy for the unfortunate victims; and grave doubts were raised as to whether the numerous persons who perished in the flames were really guilty and deserving such a horrible death. In fact, many people thought, that this treatment of human beings, who had been brought with the precious blood of Christ, was cruel and more then barbaric.

The refuges from Bamberg also added their complaints: Concillor Dumler, whose pregnant wife had been horribly tortured and burned, told the Emperor: "People are protesting that it is impossible that justice has been done to all the people in Bamberg."

He suggested that the confiscation of the prisoners' property be halted. One man who had escaped from the Drudenhaus presented a written petition from Barbara Schwarz, tortured eight times without confessing and confined three years in a dungeon.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bamberg - Torture

Between 1626 and 1633, by conservative estimates, 600 to 900 witches were killed in Bamberg as part of a particularly intense outbreak of catholic persecution during the thirty years war.

Though this was happening all over Europe, as far as I know, Bamberg was unique in having a special building in which suspects were detained, examined – usually under torture – and finally send to death by burning. That was the ‘Malefizhaus’ or ‘Drudenhaus’ or ‘Hexenhaus’ (witch house) erected in 1627 by Bishop Johann Georg II Fox of Dornheim and demolished in the year 1635.

This house was nothing but a torture jail in a church. Hundreds of innocent citizens of Bamberg were brutally tortured in this building. Thanks to the detailled plan of Mathew Merian or Peter Isselburg we can see the complex architecture, the rich engravings and the plan.

It was large and massive, with an image of Justice over the entrance and the Vergilian line:
« Discite justitiam moniti et non temnere divos » while tablets on either side of the portal bore the significant text I Chron., ix,8-9, and its translation.

The torture chamber was separate but connected by a walled cout, and a brook ran under it. There was also a chapel building. The number of prisoners that it would accomodate may be guessed from the provision accounts, which show that they were usually thirtysix confined at a time. But it was by no means the total for the province; for Zeil, where cruel persecussion occured, must have had a similar smaller building, and there were such in Hallstadt, Kronach, Eichstätt and other places.

The prisoners or her friends had to furnish all necessaries such as beds and beddings, utensils, and so on. At the time of arrest a minut and comprehensive inventory was made of all possessions of the accused, with valuations of everything, all money and debts dues.

The confiscations which ordinarily ensued became so oppressive that the Emperor Ferninand II, whose attention was called to it by complaints, expressly forbade it to the Bamberg Prince-Bishop.