OUT – Hexenverfolgung in Köln, 12th October 2022

Oct. 12, 2022. our first OUT meeting of this Cosmo year.

      Not only was this our 1st OUT meeting, it was the 1st time for our group to have lunch at the Chinese restaurant Peking am Dom. It is certainly a place we will consider again, if we meet near the centre of town.

    20 ladies plus 1 grandson participated and we didn’t quite know what to expect, the title of the tour being : Hexenverfolgung in Köln. The Frauengeschichtsverein Köln offers this on their website, and Katie, one of our organizers, found it. We were able to get an English guided tour. Frau Franken was not only well-versed on this subject, but spoke fluent English (not always the case when English tours are offered!)  She is not only one of the founders of the Frauengeschichtsverein, she is also a co-author of the book „Hexen. Verfolgung in Köln“.
Our tour began in front of the St. Andreas church, just across from the cathedral. This church and the Dominican monks played a central role in the persecution of women accused of witchcraft and sorcery, Because of an article published by our guide, she was not allowed inside the church with a group, even today.

     Frau Franken presented us with a vivid picture of this age of persecution. 200 years (1446 – 1662), 103 trials resulting in 35 women and even one girl being burned at the stake during this time, until the last one in 1653. After this introduction we moved on to 3 other points of interest, including a plaque in memory of Friedrich von Spee (15911635) a German Jesuit who became famous as critic of the witch trials with his script Cautio Criminalis.

We went on to the south side of the cathedral. The actual prison – called the Hacht (from Haft) – where the women were kept until the trial was here where the construction on the new Domplatte is, very close to the Dom. From here we walked to the town hall, where we learned about the unusual case of Katherina Henot. Rumour has it that she was denunciated by business rivals because she was a very successful business woman and of high rank coming from a wealthy Cologne family. Her bust is one of the many on the town hall tower, only 5 of which are women. In contrast to most of the women, she never confessed. Normally a woman was tortured until she confessed, and only then it was allowed that she was burned. Katharina never confessed but was burned anyway.

     We’ve had many tours of Cologne; Roman history, some of the churches, just to name a few, but this was certainly the most oppressive, revealing the darkest side of Cologne’s long history. The fact that this persecution was condoned by the church makes this even more shocking. For more detailed information on this subject, and many other aspects of Cologne’s history, check out the website: www.frauengeschichtsverein.de., highly recommended! The a.m. book can still be purchased but only on the second hand market.

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