Bamberg Witches Prison

Bamberg Witches Prison
Bamberg Witches Prison

Between 1626 and 1631, in Southern Germany, the Bamberg Witch Trials would take between 300 and 600 supposed witches to their death. No one was safe from accusation, torture and a probable death sentence. Many of the trials were recorded in great detail emphasizing the pain and suffering that was forced upon many innocents during this tragic time.

The area of Bamberg was in ruins and had been so for many years due to war and the many conflicts the state had with the Holy Roman Empire. Not only was the area devastated by these wars, but it was also plagued by crop failure which left the people of the area starving. Ironically instead of looking to nature, outside causes and political officials for the cause of this strife the people and their ruler decided to look for more supernatural explanations, thus talk of witchcraft abounded.

At this time the state was ruled by Prince-Bishop Dornheim, Dornheim saw this as a time of great profitability and secretly created a network of informers, these informers would report to Dornheim who would accuse the supposed witches, but never publicly, and then he would deny them any rights whatsoever. Dornheim then created a Doudenhaus (witch prison) in 1627 where special torture chambers were established and hidden from the public, where torturers and executioners were on standby, if you will, around the clock.

Dornheim and his henchmen became quite rich as they could accuse who they wanted at any time and even the rich and powerful were no match for him, he would take their land and their possessions and if you questioned him you to were accused of witchcraft. It has been found in documentation from that time that age was also no limit for Dornheim as the youngest supposed witch to be tortured and killed was a mere 6 month old baby.

During this time the forms of torture that were thought up were in time and nature barbaric and included the inevitable thumbscrews and various vises, but also the need to torture grew out into other forms of vicious torture such as ice water baths, hot lime baths, whippings, burned with sulphur and being put into stocks that were made with iron spikes. There were several new tortures invented during this time such as the “kneeler” which was a piece of wood with spikes driven into it, the accused were made to kneel on this “kneeler” and to make it even more painful they were whipped and beaten while kneeling. Another favorite of the time seems to have been what was called the “Linsten Chamber” this was a small room with not a chair or a bed but instead small pyramids covered the floor leaving nowhere for the accused to sit, stand or sleep without being impaled upon one of the pyramids.

It appeared that once you entered the Doudenhaus you would never leave, the condemned found no solace as before they made the walk to the stake where they were to be burned to death often their right hands were lopped off or on occasion they would be poked with glowing irons. Fortunately by 1631 occupants of the town began to wonder how so many could be condemned to death and yet still the many problems of the community had not disappeared with the burnings. By 1631 it was so ordered by Emperor Ferdinand that all activity involving the accusations, torture and murder of so-called witches was to cease. Dornheim died in 1632. We cannot nor will we ever know for sure how many were killed in that dreadful prison, and the building itself was torn down in 1635 leaving the spirits of the condemned to forever wander.

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Comments 10 comments

Demetre Winfield profile image

Demetre Winfield 4 years ago from chicago

This was very interesting. I didn't know about this prison. It saddens me a bit. Shared on twitter.

JesadaB profile image

JesadaB 4 years ago from Home! Author

Thank you Demetre, I know it is unbelievable that such places could exist and that anyone could be subjected to such hideous torture, all supposedly for the good of all. Thanks for the share!

OldWitchcraft profile image

OldWitchcraft 4 years ago from The Atmosphere

Great article. Never heard of this particular place or this particular tyrant before. Sounds like an early form of the NDAA.


JesadaB profile image

JesadaB 4 years ago from Home! Author

Thanks so much OldWitchcraft! I stumbled upon it and was instantly intrigued as I had never heard of it either, but I am, sure there are many places we have not heard of, unfortunately. Thanks again!

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

Hadn't heard of the Bamberg Witch Prison before, how sad. I feel like if I had have lived back then, I too would be one of those poor souls...for all my wiles and tangents. LOL.

JesadaB profile image

JesadaB 4 years ago from Home! Author

Well let's hope you wouldn't have been one of those poor people who got thrown in there! :) I love learning new things and this was a real eye-opener when I was looking for information.Thank you for stopping by!

Chleo Splendora profile image

Chleo Splendora 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

I haven't heard of this prison before, how devastating. Great article!

JesadaB profile image

JesadaB 4 years ago from Home! Author

Thanks so much Chleo, glad you enjoyed it! Stop by again!

That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 4 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

I read about some of the various tortures before. It was awful that there could be people born in this world who would do such things to another human being.

JesadaB profile image

JesadaB 4 years ago from Home! Author

Very true That Grrl but it still happens even today someone somewhere is being held against their will and tortured. It is a sad thing that this still happens.

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