Katharina Lips

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Katharina Lips (* around 1625 ; † unknown), wife of the schoolmaster Dietrich Lips in Betziesdorf , was a victim of the witch hunts under Landgravine Hedwig Sophie von Brandenburg in Betziesdorf from 1671 to 1674. Katharina Lips had a married daughter and an 18- year old granddaughter Anna (Enichen / Ännchen) Schnabel. In the case of her husband's occupation, in addition to schoolmaster, “sacrificial man” is also given (sexton and organist).

Political circumstances of the Betziesdorf witch trials

In the final phase of her reign, which was marked by political tensions and warlike events, Landgravine Hedwig Sophie von Brandenburg lost two of her sons by death. She tried to postpone the point in time when her son Karl took over the reign, which led to considerable tension between the two, until she finally handed over the business of government to him. In this final phase of her reign from 1670 to 1675, the Landgravine had witch trials carried out. The residents of Betziesdorf were also affected.

Life and suffering of Katharina Lips

In 1671 a woman from Schönbach in the Kirchhain office accused Katharina Lips and other women of taking part in the witch's sabbath in a witch trial under the torture . In 1672 Katharina Lips was transferred to the prison in Marburg (probably the witch tower ). Witnesses like the mayor Johann Schmitt from Bürgeln said during their interrogation that they knew from hearsay that Lips was a witch. Others accused them of doing magic and killing children and livestock. Even a close relative thought Katharina Lips was a witch, and her own son-in-law said that although she could not be accused of harm, she was generally known as a witch. These allegations were brought up to Katharina Lips in the "amicable interrogation".

Katharina Lips stubbornly denied everything. On February 3, 1672, the tax authorities demanded that the stubborn denial of the Lips must be broken by the ordeal. The law faculty in Marburg recognized that torture was being used, and on April 6, 1672 Katharina Lips was "questioned" in the torture chamber. The protocol of the torture by the executioner Master Christoffel has become very well known and is listed in excerpts below. As the minutes show, Katharina answered in the negative to most of the questions (“Negat”, “nescit”). Despite the worst torture, Katharina Lips stuck to her confession to God and denied having involved herself with the devil. On May 30, 1672, she was released on bail and on an original feud, but had to bear the costs of her trial.

After her release, the mayor of Schönstadt reported new allegations against Katharina Lips. Among other things, it was claimed that she had been to the witch's dance with her granddaughter Anna Schnabel . Katharina Lips complained to the Countess Sophie and asked for the legal costs to be waived. The high school hotter initiated a new investigation against Katharina Lips. The schoolmaster of Betziesdorf, Dietrich Lips, did not want to take his wife in after these incidents and was therefore obliged to "support her."

Witch trial against Anna Schnabel

Former infirmary chapel St. Jost with cemetery

In 1673 a witch trial began against the 17-year-old granddaughter of Katharina Lips, Anna Schnabel from Betziesdorf. The court decided to question Anna Schnabel in the ordeal on October 19, 1673. In the torture chamber, Anna confessed to the devil's pact. Her grandmother seduced her into doing magic. In the judgment of March 19, 1674 Anna Schnabel was sentenced to death by the sword. Even before the execution of the judgment, the medical faculty of the University of Marburg applied to Landgravine Hedwig-Sophie to hand over Anna's body for "exercitio anatomico", ie for anatomical studies. However, the Vice Chancellor and the councilors left the Landgravine to allow the consolation of the body to be handed over to the parents, since the 18-year-old had been seduced in her childhood. The Marburg history booklet from the middle of the 19th century noted the last hours of Enichen (Anna) Schnabel: she was led down from the castle through the city on May 8, 1674, and was executed in the court of death near St. Jost in front of Weidenhausen (Marburg ) buried. The old infirmary chapel St. Jost is located east of Weidenhausen at the old Weidenhausen cemetery.

Katharina Lips was arrested again

Due to the accusations made by her granddaughter, Katharina Lips was imprisoned again and on November 4, 1673 in Marburg she was subjected to the most severe torture. She was wound up four times, sixteen times the screws on the Spanish boots were screwed as far as they could, and as she repeatedly went rigid with pain , her mouth was opened with tools so that she should confess. But Katharina Lips demonstrated an incredible strength of faith, prayed to God during the torture and denied having surrendered to the devil. Through her steadfastness, she succeeded in not bringing any other people into suspicion or in witch trials.

The councilors' report with the torture protocol to Landgravine Hedwig Sophie on November 19, 1673 recorded terrible torments - Katharina Lips soon “barked like a dog, now like a yelp, and also closed the mouth of various meals so tightly that one you have to break it up with instruments ”. The embarrassing judges only concluded from their steadfastness that such a thing did not come naturally. Another torture was not allowed.

Hedwig Sophie, as widow of Landgrave Wilhelm VI, who died in 1663. Regent of the Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel , ordered on the basis of this torture protocol that such "Hexerey Trials should be carried out with strange circumspection (= care) and cautiousness". On January 20, 1674, the Landgrave highlighted the fact that Katharina Lips had survived the tough and unusual ordeal. Nevertheless, she was expelled from the Principality by the Landgravine "... to a well-deserved punishment and to a hideous and frightening example to others ...". From this point onwards, the number of witch trials decreased noticeably.

In 1674 the Oberschultheiß appealed to the government about the charges for the cremation or execution of those accused of witchcraft, Schnabel, Möller and Staudinger. This ordered the executioner to be paid from the property of the executed women.

The witch hunts in Betziesdorf continued. In 1682, Anna Katharina Wolff, the wife of the schoolmaster and sacrificial man from Betziesdorf, was charged with sorcery on the basis of reports from Pastor Schott from Betziesdorf and Mayor Schädla from Schönstadt.

Torture protocol of Katharina Lips

(StA Marburg inventory 260/530 - extract, translated into today's language)

The judgment was then read to her again and she was reminded to tell the truth. But she stuck to the denial, undressed herself heartily and willingly, whereupon the executioner roped her up with his hands, roped off again, the embarrassing defendant called out: 'Oh woe! Alas! ' Has roped up again, called out loudly: 'Alas! Alas! Lord in Heaven! Come to help! ' Her toes have been roped for vengeance and her arms are breaking. The Spanish boots are on her, the screw on her right leg is screwed on, she has been persuaded to tell the truth. But she didn't answer. The screw on the left leg also screwed shut. She called out, she knew nothing and didn't know anything, called out, she didn't know anything, asked for the Last Judgment, she didn't know anything, spoke gently to herself, she knew and didn't know anything. The left screw turned. The embarrassed interviewee is raised, she called: 'Dear Mr. Christ, come to my aid!' She knew nothing and would have known nothing if you worked her completely dead. Raised it higher, fell silent, and said she wasn't a witch. The screw screwed on the right leg, whereupon she said, 'Alas!' called. She has been persuaded to tell the truth. But she stayed that she didn't know anything, was put down again, the screws were screwed back on, screamed: 'Oh, woe! Alas! ' Screwed it shut again on the right leg, it went quiet and didn't want to answer, screwed it shut, shouted loudly, went quiet again and said she knew nothing and didn't know anything. Pulled up again, she called: 'Alas! Alas! ' but it soon became very quiet. Has sat down again and remained very still, unscrewed the screws. She was persuaded in many ways, she stuck to the fact that she didn't know anything and didn't know anything. The screws were tightened and tightened, she called and screamed loudly, her mother underground should come to her aid. It soon became very quiet and didn't want to talk. Screwed on harder, whereupon she started yelling and shouting that she didn't know anything. The screws were set higher on both legs, knocked on them, they called: 'My dear mother underground, O Jesus, come to my aid!' Screwed on the left leg, called her and said she wasn't a witch, God would know that it was all lies that were spoken by her. The screw on the right leg is screwed on harder, they start calling, but immediately become completely silent again. Then she was brought out by the master to remove the hair from her head. Then he, the master, came and reported that he had found the stigma into which he stuck a needle deeply over the limb, which she did not feel, nor did any blood come out. After her hair was shorn off, her hands and feet were roped up again, because she complained and said she had to ask for her dear bread, shouted loudly, became very quiet again ...

(signed) J. Jacob Blanckenheim, (signed) Friderich Bauod, (signed) J. Hirschfeld. (signed) MF rank.


  • Witch trial files torture protocol of Katharina Lips (StA Marburg inventory 260/530).
  • Letter from Landgravine Hedwig Sophie geb. Margravine of Brandenburg from November 15, 1673 (StA Marburg inventory 260/530).


  • WG Soldan / H. Heppe: History of the witch trials Volume 2, ed. by Max Bauer, Hanau / Main, reprint of the 3rd edition from 1911, pp. 96–98.
  • Heinrich Schauer: Betziesdorfer Chronik - Contributions to the history of the village 1254 - 2004 , Burgwaldverlag, Schönstadt 2004, ISBN 3-936291-27-6 .
  • Oberhessische Presse of February 4, 1989, Der Gottesacker before Weidenhausen .

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