Rehabilitation of the Witches

Hartmut Hegeler arbeitet an der Rehabilitation von Frauen, die der Hexerei angeklagt und verbrannt wurden. spOnline International hat dazu einen schönen Artikel, seltsamerweise finde ich in der deutschen spOn-Ausgabe nichts davon: „Tortured and burned at the stake by the tens of thousands, Germany's alleged witches have been largely forgotten. But thanks to efforts by a small group of activists, a number of German cities have begun absolving women, men and children who were wrongly accused of causing plagues, storms and bad harvests.“

Das History Blog hat ein paar historische Hintergründe zu Hegelers Arbeit und führt sie direkt auf Tirol zurück, wo man zwei der prominentesten Hexenjäger rausgeschmissen hatte, woraufhin die den berüchtigten Hexenhammer schrieben.

Pope Innocent VIII’s Summis desiderantes affectibus bull of 1484 specifically singles out Germany as a nest of Satanic witchcraft, rife with impotence, sores, and both human and livestock abortions.

Innocent further laments that the Inquisitors he has dispatched to address the dire state of German souls, two Dominican theology professors named Henry Kramer and James Sprenger, are being prevented from doing their holy duty by local clergy and power brokers who insist against all evidence that their towns are free of the stain of witchcraft and thus the Inquisitors have no legal right to ply their trade.

In fact, Kramer and Sprenger had been kicked out of the Tyrol earlier that year where the local bishop called Kramer a senile old man. The bull insists that Kramer and Sprenger be given every power their black hearts desire and that every knee shall bend or else face excommunication/the interdict.

Two years later in 1486, Kramer and Sprenger wrote the Malleus Malificarum (the Hammer of Witches), a book detailing how to identify witches, counter their magic and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. The text of the Innocent’s bull was published as the preface.

Now retired Protestant minister and witch trial expert Hartmut Hegeler is reclaiming that early tradition of running witch hunters out of town.

Activists inspire witch exoneration trend in Germany