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The Source:

Johann Christoph Harenberg:
"Vernünftige und Christliche Gedancken uber die Vampirs oder Bluhtsaugende Todten"
Johann Christoph Meisner, Wolffenbüttel, 1733

The Case

"Vor einigen Jahren zandeten zwey Bauren in Ackenhausen wegen der Holtzung. Als der eine starb, war dem andern bange, daß er bald ausgezehret werden möchte. Er ging demnach bey zeyten zu dem Leichnam des Verstorbenen, und pflöckte demselben über der Zunge einen länglichtrunden Stock in dem Mund. Es sahe solches aber ein Kind, welches er nicht vermuhtet hatte. Die Sache wurde klagbahr, und wurde der Pflock, an welchem annoch etwas Bluht klebte, an das Hochfürstl. Amt Sandersheim gebracht. Der Thäter gestand solches so fort und führte die algemeine Gewohnheit der Dorf-Leute zu seiner Vertheidigung an."

This more or less amounts to the following: two farmers had for some time been having an argument about the right to gather firewood. One of them died and the other was afraid that the dead man would have his revenge by draining his vital forces. So he went to the corpse and put a stick in its mouth. But a child saw what he did. The authorities investigated and found the stick that still had some blood on it. In court the farmer confessed to the facts, but also told the judge that he had tried to defend himself using a method that was an accepted tradition in his village.

The Date:

Harenberg, writing in 1733 or so it seems, tells us "vor einigen Jahren". I am inclined to interpret this as the story having taken place "a couple of years ago". However, this is old German that we are looking at, so I would not exclude the possibility that Harenberg means "for a number of years", referring to the length of the farmers dispute rather then the date of the events. To be on the safe side, let us just file this case as "before 1733".

The Place:

Ackenhausen can be found in the East part of Germany, about halfway between Hannover and Göttingen.

Possible Follow-Up:

Obviously you should find and read Harenberg's "Vernünftige und Christliche Gedancken uber die Vampirs oder Bluhtsaugende Todten". And I will leave it completely up to you if and how you are going to take it from there.

© 2012 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed January 2012

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