Fail Tower

86956 Schongau (706 m über NN)

Excerpt from the audio commentary by Oliver Pötzsch

The place where you are standing here looks inconspicuous, but it hides a terrible story. And in contrast to my invented stories, this one is also true. The so-called digestion tower, also known as the Feichelturm, stood here until it was destroyed in the War of the Spanish Succession, a five-story building with extensive underground dungeons. During the notorious Schongau witch trials from 1589 to 1592, more than sixty women had to wait for their execution there. Under torture, they confessed to having had sex with the devil, conjuring up hail, or making the famous witches‘ ointment, which the women were said to be able to fly with. Since then, the tower has also been called the Hexenturm.

The executioner at the time was a certain Jörg Abriel, a real pop star among the executioners. He moved from town to town with his wife and servants and offered his services for a lot of money, including in Schongau. Jörg Abriel was considered a true witch connoisseur and was known for the so-called witch test. For this he pricked the women with a needle. If there was no blood, it was definitely a witch. And Jörg Abriel was very adept at not bleeding. Every witch brought in good money.

If you believe the genealogists in my family, then this Abriel was Jakob Kuisl‘s grandfather and therefore also my ancestor. A pretty scary idea.

In an old chronicle I found the entry that Jörg Abriel had probably owned some magic books. Was he perhaps a witch himself? These magic books appear in the sixth part of the saga, "The Hangman‘s Daughter and the Game of Death". It is Magdalena‘s younger sister Barbara who is very interested in it. Right now she‘s secretly reading it again. Maybe there will be a magic spell to finally find the right husband...

There were various reasons why there were so many witch trials in the 16th century. People were unsettled by the religious dispute, by the changes in the world, but above all the so-called Little Ice Age caused cold, storms and failed harvests, which brought hunger and disease with them. People were looking for a scapegoat. This is still the case today. Uncertainty often leads to hysteria and hatred. So we shouldn‘t just shake our heads at these dark, long-gone times. History repeats itself, it just always comes in a different guise.

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