Gessler hat

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Wilhelm Tell refuses to greet the Gessler hat. Steel engraving by Christian Hoffmeister (1818–1871)

A Gessler hat is literally an institution whose only obvious purpose is the public enforcement of submissive behavior.

According to legend, Hermann Gessler had a hat put up in Altdorf that everyone passing by had to greet. Wilhelm Tell had failed to deliver this greeting and was therefore forced to shoot the apple that is at the center of Friedrich Schiller's account of the founding legend of Switzerland .

The historical and heraldic background is that the term “hat” meant an electoral hat . So he did not embody an imperial attribute of the Habsburg Emperor Albrecht , which the Swiss who were immediately part of the empire could have greeted them at any time, but is a sign of his household power as elector (as king of Bohemia ), to which he sought to add parts of today's Switzerland.

Hermann Göring had another variant of the Gessler hat built in the Dachau concentration camp . Since the two Catholic priests Josef Zilliken and Johannes Schulz did not greet him in a garden restaurant on May 27, 1940, they were arrested that evening and sent to the concentration camp. As a special harassment, they had to constantly march past a uniform cap that was supposed to symbolize Goering with their arms raised in the Hitler salute.

Individual evidence

  1. This is also the case with Schiller: “If it were still the imperial crown! That's how it is / the hat of Austria [...] ”, Wilhelm Tell , I / 3
  2. Website of the cath. Parish Nickenich on research into the death of Pastors Schulz and Zilliken