Johann Peter Petri

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Johann Peter Petri , called Der alte Schwarzpeter or Schwarzer Peter , (* March 24, 1752 in Burgen bei Bernkastel , † after 1812 ) was a robber and accomplice of the " Schinderhannes ". The name of the card game Black Peter reminds - possibly - of him.


His parents were Johann Peter Petri and his wife Christina Margaretha. Around 1780 "Schwarzpeter" married Maria Katharina Neumann, the daughter of the landlord and charcoal burner Johann Georg Neumann (around 1723 ), who was born in 1759 in Schmelz (today a district of Neuhütten , approx. 15 km from Hüttgeswasen) and who lived in the hamlet of Hüttgeswasen from 1765 -1803). It is no longer possible to determine where the marriage took place.

Petri built - with the permission of the Duke of Zweibrücken - a hut in Hüttgeswasen next to his father-in-law's house, in which he lived with his family for eleven years. At that time he worked as a lumberjack and charcoal burner. The produced in Hüttgeswasen charcoal has numerous melting of the Office Allenbach for iron - and copper smelting needed.

In 1781 his first son named Johann Peter Conrad (the "young Black Peter") was born in Hüttgeswasen. The children Elisabetha Margaretha (* 1784), Johann Christian (* 1787), Abraham (1788–1791), Catarina Elisabeth (1791–1792) and Johann Andreas (* 1792) were born in Hüttgeswasen. The remaining three of the nine children are not from Hüttgeswasen: the son Johann Georg (* 1794/1795), the daughter Louise (* 1797/1798) and the son Leonhard (* around 1803/1804).

The hut of "old Schwarzpeter" was burned down in 1792 when the French invaded. From this time on he led an unsteady life with his family. The Petris left Hüttgeswasen and lived in numerous places in the Hunsrück and on the right bank of the Rhine until 1811 , especially in the Odenwald region . Initially, the family man worked as a woodcutter for the communities of Beulich and Gondershausen for about six months . He then stayed in Schauren near Kempfeld for about a year , where he was also active as a lumberjack on behalf of a citizen from Hottenbach . After a six-month stay in Weiden near Hottenbach, he earned his living for almost four years as a wood cutter on the glassworks in the Soonwald . Then he was again a woodcutter in Münchwald for six months and then moved to the area on the right of the Nahe for a short time .

Petri committed numerous crimes such as theft, burglary and robbery. Together with the "Schinderhannes" he stole two horses in Ellern in August 1798. On August 12, 1798, he and the "Schinderhannes" murdered the Jewish cattle dealer Simon Seligmann in the forest near the Thiergarten forester's house. Three years earlier, the victim had observed the married "Schwarzpeter" having a shepherd's hour with the wife of Polecat Jakob, who was also married, in the forest and told her husband about this. This slew his unfaithful wife in a dispute.

Petri had a medium stature, a smooth and supposedly pretty face, coal-black hair and a dark whiskers. Contemporaries described him as a true predator on the one hand, but also as a person whom the sight of a boy moved to tears, presumably because he was thinking of his children.

During interrogations, Petri only incriminated crooks who had previously incriminated him and asked that this be noted in the protocol. He firmly believed that it was beneficial to ask for a merciful punishment after every confessed crime , and was pleased when other crooks failed to do so.

Petri was also very vain. When he was more mature, he often mentioned that he used to be a very handsome man. Whenever he talked about other members of his sex, he always mentioned whether he was a handsome man or not. Once when he received tight-fitting trousers , he showed them to everyone with obvious pleasure. He was happy to tell his love affairs from earlier times.

On some occasions he showed a pious disposition. But he also said that he was beginning to doubt whether there was a God because he had prayed so much and his situation had not been improved. Whenever he spoke of deceased relatives or acquaintances, he always added the words "the blessed".

"Old Black Peter" was often arrested and interrogated. At the beginning of the year VII according to the French revolutionary calendar, he was arrested in the canton of Obermoschel and then brought first to Kaiserslautern and then to Simmern . On the 29th Brumaire of the year VII he broke out of the tower of Simmern and fled to the right bank of the Rhine into the Odenwald. In the spring of 1802 he stayed in the Soonwald, but escaped the authorities' access and, unlike his son, the "young Schwarzpeter", was not tried in Mainz with the "Schinderhannes". In the Odenwald, too, he worked as a mugger, burglar and thief.

After the robbery on a stagecoach between Heppenheim and Weinheim on May 1, 1811, during which the Swiss merchant Hans Jacob Rieter was beaten to death, the 59-year-old "Black Peter" was arrested in a general raid . Although he had lived as a charcoal burner under the name "Johannes Wild" in the Odenwald for a long time and had nothing to do with the attack, his true identity came to light in the course of the investigation through information from fellow prisoners . The former accomplice of the robber "Schinderhannes", who was executed in Mainz in 1803, was extradited to the French authorities in Mainz on November 11, 1811 because of his old crimes, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment together with Schinderhannes gang member Franz Delis .

Petri probably died behind bars. After his death, his body was taken to the Anatomical Institute of Heidelberg University , where his skeleton was supposedly also kept for a long time. The skeleton of "Schwarzpeter" is considered lost, while one attributed to "Schinderhannes" is still in Heidelberg today.


The children of the "old black peter" and his wife Maria Katharina, who often participated in thefts, also committed offenses. The son Peter Petri, alias the "young Schwarzpeter", an accomplice of the "Schinderhannes", was sentenced in Mainz to 15 years chain sentence. The son Andreas Peter (Koehler's Andres) was sentenced to death in Mannheim for participating in the aforementioned robbery on a stagecoach near Heppenheim, but pardoned to life imprisonment because of his youth and inexperience. The sons Johann Georg Petri and Leonard participated in thefts. The daughter Elisabetha Margaretha was sentenced to half a year in prison in Mannheim in 1812 for complicity in a robbery, adultery and fraud.

In 1813 the rest of the Petri family were arrested in the Simmern arrondissement for begging and vagabonding . The wife of "old Schwarzpeter" and a daughter later came to the begging house in Trier , where the latter fled. Nothing is known about their further fate.


  • Peter Bayerlein: Schinderhannes Chronicle , Mainz-Kostheim 2003
  • Peter Bayerlein: Schinderhannes Ortlexikon , Mainz-Kostheim 2003
  • Hans-Eugen Bühler: Contributions to the history of the Allenbach office. 1st chapter. The importance of the Hüttgeswasen woodcutter and coal burner colony between 1600 and 1900 , Birkenfeld 1984
  • Ernst Probst: The buck. A robber in the Hunsrück and Odenwald , Mainz-Kostheim 2005

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Website with a detailed description of the robbery near Heppenheim and the fate of Andreas Petry