Anna Göldi

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A paper clipping (advert) in what is today the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. It is a text looking for Anna Göldin (who was accused of witchcraft)

Anna Göldi (or Anna Göldin, Göldin is the female form of the name) (24 October 1734 - 13 June 1782) was probably the last person in Europe to be executed as a witch.

Life, and accusations of witchcraft[change | change source]

Göldin was born into a poor family and worked as a servant. She had two children. Her first child died shortly after being born, and Göldin was accused (and sentenced) for killing it. She later worked for a physician from Glarus, Jakob Tschudi, who was one of the richest and most influential people in the Canton of Glarus. When she worked there, small needles were found in the milk for one of the daughters of Tschudi. Additionally, Tschudi's relatives claimed that the daughter had spewn nails on several occasions.

For this reason, Göldin was accused of bewitching Tchudi's daughter. Under torture, she confessed that she had used the powers of the Devil. On 13 June 1782, she was sentenced to die by the sword, but the verdict did not mention witchcraft. The execution followed soon afterwards. After the execution, the paper trail was destroyed. Despite these efforts, the case created an uproar in other parts of Switzerland and in Germany because the public saw Göldin as an innocent victim.

What may have happened[change | change source]

Walter Hauser, a journalist, looked at sources[source?] that were not known to date. He thinks Göldin might have had an affair with her master, Johann Jakob Tschudin. During this affair, he might possibly have raped her.[source?] Adulterers were seen as unfit to hold a public office, at the time. For this reason, Tschudi may have decided to do away with Göldi. He initiated the trial for witchcraft, which ended in her execution.

Film about her life[change | change source]

Gertrud Pinkus made a film about Anna Göldin's life, in 1992. It is called Anna Göldin - Letzte Hexe. In it Cornelia Kempers plays Anna Göldin.

Was she a witch, after all?[change | change source]

In March 2007, both the government and the Church of Glarus refused to say Anna Göldin had been innocent, 225 years after her execution. They said that in the minds of the people of Glarus, this rehabilitation had already taken place.

On 20th September 2007, the Swiss parliament decided that in Anna Göldin's case, justice was wrong. Fritz Schiesser, as representative for Glarus in the Swiss parliament, called for Anna Göldin's exoneration. A museum is open in Glarus dedicated to her.[1].

Looking for Anna Gödlin[change | change source]

What is the Neue Zürcher Zeitung today published a description on the 9th of February, 1782. In it, the authorities of Glarus offered a reward to whoever captured Anna Göldin, and bring it to them:

Löblicher Stand Glarus, evangelischer Religion, anerbietet sich hiermit demjenigen, welcher nachbeschriebene Anna Göldin entdecken, und der Justitz einbringen wird, Einhundert Kronenthaler Belohnung zu bezahlen; womit auch alle Hohe und Höhere Obrigkeiten und Dero nachgesezte Amtsleuth ersucht werden, zu Gefangennehmung dieser Person all mögliche Hülfe zu leisten; zumahlen solche in hier eine ungeheure That, vermittelst geheimer und fast unbegreiflicher Beibringung einer Menge Guffen [Nadeln] und anderen Gezeug gegen ein unschuldiges acht Jahr altes Kind verübet hat.
Anna Göldin, aus der Gemeind Sennwald, der Landvogthey hohen Sax und Forstek zugehörig, Zürchergebiets, ohngefähr 40. Jahr alt, dicker und grosser Leibsstatur, vollkommnen und rothlechten Angesichts, schwarzer Haaren und Augbraunen, hat graue etwas ungesunde Augen, welche meistens rothlecht aussehen, ihr Anschauen ist niedergeschlagen, und redet ihre Sennwälder Aussprach, tragt eine modenfarbne Jüppen, eine blaue und eine gestrichelte Schos, darunter eine blaue Schlingen- oder Schnäbeli-Gestalt, ein Damastenen grauen Tschopen, weis castorin Strümpf, ein schwarze Kappen, darunter ein weisses Häubli, und tragt ein schwarzes Seidenbettli.
Datum, den 25. Jenner St. v. 1782.
Kanzley Glarus evangelischer Religion.
Most honorable estate of Glarus, of protestant (evangelical) religion will offer to pay 100 Kronenthaler as a reward to the person who discovers Anna Göldin, described below, and who delivers her to justice. This is also a call to all the authorities to help capture this person in any way they can, especially since that person has done an uncanny deed, with the help of a great many secret needles against an innocent eight-year-old child.
Anna Göldin, from Sennwald, belonging to the county of ... in the influence of Zürich, about 40 years old, of a big and fat corpulence, of a red complexion, black-haired, of grey, sometimes uncanny eyes, she is depressing to look at, she has the dialect of Sennwald. She is wearing a modic shirt, a skirt, a blue dotted skirt, ... a black and white cape, ...
Dated: 25.1.1782

References[change | change source]

Other sources[change | change source]

(All sources are in German)

  • August Ludwig von Schlözer: Abermaliger JustizMord in der Schweiz. In: Stats-Anzeigen. Band 2. Göttingen 1782. Seiten 273–277
  • Kaspar Freuler: Anna Göldi, die Geschichte der letzten Hexe. Roman. Büchergilde Gutenberg, Zürich 1945
  • Eveline Hasler: Anna Göldin, letzte Hexe. Benziger, Zürich und Köln 1982 – ISBN 3-545-36356-2 (Taschenbuchausgabe: dtv, München 1985 – ISBN 3-423-10457-0)
  • Elisabeth Korrodi-Aebli: Auf den Spuren der letzten Hexe. Lizenziatsarbeit. Zürich 1996
  • Walter Hauser: Der Justizmord an Anna Göldi. Neue Recherchen zum letzten Hexenprozess in Europa. Limmat Verlag, Zürich 2007 – ISBN 978-3-85791-525-3