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New Trials for Witchcraft

Updated on February 26, 2012

Burnt at the Stake

Wrongly? | Source


In Germany between 1500 and 1872, approximately 25,000 people were executed for Witchcraft. Although some men or children were executed, the vast majority were women.

It is now well known that a lot of these executions were results of making scapegoats for natural disasters or as a result of personal vendettas.

Although it is now believed that most of these victims were innocent, their names have never been exonerated, their names still remain in records as being guilty of Witchcraft.

For the people to have been convicted and punished in the first place is obviously an injustice, for the verdicts not to have been cancelled since, perpetuates the injustice.

This is a situation that may soon change.


Cathederal | Source

Hartmut Hegeler

Hartmut Hegeler, a retired priest and the teacher of religious studies at a local college in the City of Cologne, is now championing the cause of righting this past injustice.

To his students he described the case of Katharina Henot, a woman tortured and burnt to death in Cologne for practicing “Black Magic” in 1627.

Henot had been the Post Master and it is believed that she was accused of black magic by political rivals. She was tortured so bad, that even though she was right handed, she had had to write her last letter of defense with her left hand. Despite the obvious torture, the panel from the City Council still found her guilty and she was paraded through the City Streets in an open cart before being tied to the stake.

Hegeler’s students asked him if the verdict against Henot, had ever been cancelled. On realizing that it hadn’t the ex priest decided to try and change this injustice and is intending to take up the act of reversing the verdict, with the same authority that first gave it, the Cologne City Council.


Perhaps the worst case of bloodletting from this period was in the small town of Oberkirchen in 1630, when in a three month period 58 people, including two children, were accused, convicted and burnt for alleged acts of witchcraft.

In towns and villages all over Germany today, people are following Hegeler’s example and reviving the cases of those that had been sentenced for witchcraft in an attempt to correct injustices of the past.

This process is one that, I believe, should be taken in all countries where these so called witchcraft trials took place.

We cannot be held responsible for acts that took place in our history however, many of these people were falsely accused, wrongfully convicted and brutally punished. Many of these people may have had religious convictions that would not permit them rest until these injustices have been rectified and their names have been fully, legally cleared. That is a responsibility that we could and perhaps should shoulder.

History cannot be changed, however if known misdoings occurred and they can be corrected, then perhaps they should be.


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    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      I voted up, awesome, interesting, and beautiful on this hub. It is simply wonderful to see something as noble as this in the making. To rightfully claim innocence to names that have been lost in books for centuries is valiant and honorable. Love it! Thanks for sharing. :)

    • profile image

      markbennis 6 years ago

      I think it’s an amicable thing to do and although hard for most to comprehend after all these years, it is a good sign to publicly apologise for those poor souls back then. Boy it’s just unthinkable really how women where treated, geez, we do have a sick passed and many skeletons in the history cupboard, if one positive thing can be allowed to enter this reality I applaud it for all those that have suffered, great article rafken.

    • rafken profile image

      rafken 6 years ago from The worlds my oyster

      Aunt - I'm sure it was.

    • Aunt Jimi profile image

      Aunt Jimi 6 years ago from The reddest of the Red states!

      Sorry, but I must disagree. History is set in stone. Nothing will change it. You can only change the future. You cannot make the horrific murder of someone right after the fact no matter what you do. You cannot bring that person back or erase their egregious torment by evil half witts. You can make an effort to change the minds and acceptable behavior of fellow humans in future, but the past is over and done.

      Women have endured unspeakable treatment at the hands of men and other morons for centuries. Many women still endure unspeakable treatment at the hands of men, physical abuse, even murder. I guess some men just need to be in prison for a while enjoying the free sex clubs in the U.S. prisons while they adjust their attitudes regarding the treatment of women and other living things. If that doesn't give them a kinder, gentler outlook, then maybe our death penalty is the best answer . . . generally I do not like our death penalty, but every now and then someone raises an issue that makes me think it might be better to keep it.

      Francine Hughes had the right idea when she tied her husband to the bed and lit him up for beating her for years. My only complaint about Francine is that she failed to let the man sober up and be conscious so that he could enjoy the barbecue, too. Not polite of her at all.

      As diogenes says, all of this digging up old records and trying to clear names costs tax dollars and serves no good purpose after all this time. What happened or happens on this Earth once a person has left it is of no consequence to them anymore. They are now free of this backward ignorant place and likely do not look back.

      Do hope diogenes' last comment was in jest for he has always seemed too educated to be a prat who would be serious about a statement like that.

    • rafken profile image

      rafken 6 years ago from The worlds my oyster

      max - Of course, as usual you are right. As long as we learn from history, who cares. It was their souls I was thinking of but as you point out, it was their own religious leaders that condemned them most of the time, who are we to argue?

    • rafken profile image

      rafken 6 years ago from The worlds my oyster

      diogenes - I find I can only agree with you in part. Many may well have deserved it but I don't think I need comments that bad, that I have to agree with the women part.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hope they don't try it here, the tax payer will have to pay for it.

      I expect many deserved it, anyway, they were mostly women after all!


    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 6 years ago from USA

      I don't see the interests of such rehabilitation. She is dead now. The most important is to learn from history, from our mistakes. What we mustn't forget is that those lynching waves were ordered by religious pontiffs!

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 6 years ago from Washington

      You are aboslutely right! We can't rewrite history but we can right the wrongs that are within our power. I applaud Hegeler's efforts and I applaud you for writing this and bringing giving it the attention it deserves!