Since Johann Wolfgang von Goethe took up the witch saga in “Faust”, Brocken has been a cult mountain, and the Harz has been a witch country. Witches are still a matter of course in the region today. And those who travel to the Harz will not only enjoy nature, but will also experience the witches’ dance floor, the witch’s house standing upside down and the witch’s show from 30 April to 1 May: the Valborg evening.
“Every town and village in the Harz Mountains celebrates Valborg’s evening with parades and costume parties. Walpurgis is no longer celebrated on Brocken itself, as the mountain is located in the center of the Harz National Park, “says Christoph Lampert, the leader of Brockenhaus, which is located on top of Brocken. The permanent exhibits there explain historical backgrounds, for the dreaded medieval witch hunts are not a problem at the festivals. The ritual of burning witch dolls is also avoided. It symbolized the victory of good over evil and spring over winter, but the custom was too reminiscent of the medieval Inquisition period. “Today it’s about customs for us,” says the super witch Antje Wedde from Wolfshäger Hexenbrut, and there is no doubt about: “We are entertainment witches”, who dress up, put on a pointed nose and tell their witchcraft in a loud, toxic. voice – in front of up to 10,000 spectators. Wolfshäger Hexenbrut even received 145 million clicks online. “The choreography, the lyrics – everything is homemade,” says the witch. Sometimes she also takes guests on herbal walks and explains about Walburga, who was not a witch but an abbess and was canonized.
The old woman, the sorceress, the magician – there are a few synonyms for a witch, who was probably always someone who knew, healed with herbs and maybe was not clairvoyant, but was able to decipher connections. But the priests alone claimed knowledge for themselves. Therefore, famous women were demonized and persecuted as witches. “They were interrogated,” says the executioner with a cynical look, explaining: “The executioner was responsible for torture in the 16th and 17th centuries. He used thumbscrews, tortured on the stand or tortured by accident, “said city guide Wilfried Ristau in the clothes of historic executioners, with a sword and a ladder full of torture instruments. So he shows interested people his Goslar in witchcraft. The right hand, the good hand, was cut off with the sword so that women could no longer curse. There were four boiling points for false statements.
Even midwives were slandered as witches and in Goslar alone, more than 50 women were burned as witches. This happened to many famous women across the country, but especially in the Harz, a focal point for witch hunts. About 50,000 women across Europe are believed to have been demonized and burned as witches. Wernigerode’s marketplace was also a place of burns. In 1528 the whole town burned down. Only one house in the marketplace was spared, today’s Hotel Gothisches Haus. There you can dine fine in the evening – overlooking the market square and the former incinerator as well as perhaps the most beautiful town hall in the republic, which was rebuilt in 1545.
As they say, the witches first met at Hexentanzplatz in Thale and then rode their broomsticks up to Brocken to dance with the devil. Brocken was divided into East Germany and West Germany. It rises to 1142 meters, above the tree line it is shrouded in fog and clouds for half the year. Brocken is Germany’s northernmost thousand. The climate up there is similar to that in Iceland, Greenland and Siberia and creates this bizarre landscape of moss, shrubs, stunted pine trees and dead trees. “In 165 days, you don’t see anything on Brocken all day long,” Lampert says. Conditions for legends and sagas, for witches and the devil and the witches’ tables.
on the way
By train via Göttingen and Goslar to Wernigerode, www.bahn.de.
The Gothic house in Wernigerode was built in 1440 and is now a four star hotel. DR / F from 150 euros, www.travelcharme.com.
At Klosterhotel in Goslar you stay fine in a former monastery, DR / F from 80 euros, https://klosterhotel-woeltingerode.de.
to eat and drink
Exquisite Harz cuisine is served in the Gaststuben restaurant in Gothisches Haus, see the website above. In the Wasserriesen restaurant there are regional dishes,
Walpurgis Night is celebrated throughout the Harz,
Executioner in Goslar:
Devil’s tour at Teufelsmauer: Contact via [email protected]
Museum of Witch Cults and Witch Hunt: www.brockenhaus-harz.de.
You can hike e.g. B. on Goethe-Weg or Heine-Weg,
Handmade witches are available here: www.hexenmanufaktur-thale.de