Dignity restored

Dignity restored

Victims of witch hunts in the cathedral city of Cologne have been rehabilitated. The city council thus spoke out unanimously on Thursday against "any disregard for human dignity and human rights". He thus followed a recommendation of the city council’s complaints committee.

The decision restored dignity to 38 people killed as victims of witch hunts in the city. The most prominent victim was the postmistress Katharina Henot in 1627. An ecclesiastical court had previously acquitted her, but a secular one found her guilty of witchcraft. She was strangled in the presence of a large crowd – a "perk" granted to her by the secular court. Her body was subsequently burned.

Despite severe torture, she had protested her innocence until the end. She was held responsible for a plague of caterpillars and the death of several people. The true background of the denunciation is likely to have been economic interests: After the death of her father, she wanted to continue the inherited postmaster’s office.

Priest got petition rolling
"Very relieved" showed after the vote Hartmut Hegeler. The evangelical pastor from Unna had started the petition rolling. Now he hopes for a mass in Cologne Cathedral as a gesture of reparation by the archdiocese. The petition also calls on the archdiocese to officially rehabilitate the Inquisition victims. This has not happened so far.

The rehabilitation by the Council is understood as a necessary "solemn and symbolic act of reparation. So far, a school and a street bear the name of those murdered. In addition, their portrait figure is on the city hall tower – as one of 124 important personalities in Cologne’s history. It was created by the sculptor Marianne Ludicke, a descendant of Katharina Henot.

The direct stone neighbor of Katharina Henot is Friedrich Spee. The Jesuit taught in Cologne in 1627. The events in Cologne may have contributed to the writing of his "cautio criminalis," published in 1631, in which he spoke out against the Inquisition and witch hunts.

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