FOWC with Fandango: Bewitched

It is not very nice to be accused of being a witch, at least in the 18th century it was a risky business, especially in Switzerland. Oh yes, this is a true story, and I must admit not in my words, but those of a BBC report I found on the Internet. The story of Anna Göldi is not unknown in Switzerland and she was the last witch to be executed. Whether she really looked like this I don’t know, but the photo seems to be the only one I found. I pepped it up a bit to make it look a bit more witchy.

Anna Goldi the last witch

“Fear and superstition fuelled witch-hunts all over Europe in the Middle Ages and caused the deaths of many innocent women. The last execution for witchcraft took place little more than 200 years ago but campaigners in Switzerland claim it may be time to clear Anna Goeldi’s name.

To understand Anna Goeldi’s story you need to go to where it unfolded, in the tiny Swiss canton of Glarus. It is a long narrow valley, the mountains loom above, the villages are squeezed below into the spaces where the grey rock unwillingly makes way for earth and grass.

You get the sense, even today, that many of the world’s events have passed Glarus by. This was where Anna Goeldi arrived in 1765, looking for work as a maid. One of the houses she worked in still exists. It is imposing, smug almost, four storeys high, with a grand doorway, and the crests of the noble Glarus families who lived there painted on its walls.

She found work with Jakob Tschudi, the magistrate and a rising political figure. We know from records of the time that Anna Goeldi was tall, generously proportioned, with dark hair, brown eyes, and a rosy complexion. These attributes were not lost on her employer. All went well to begin with, until one morning one of the Tschudi children found a needle in her milk. Two days later needles appeared in the bread as well and suspicion fell upon Anna. It is the first clue to Anna Goeldi’s fate.

Despite her protestations of innocence, she was sacked by the Tschudis, accused of witchcraft, tortured, and finally executed. Not in the Middle Ages, but in 1782, at the height of Europe’s so-called Age of Enlightenment.

But today Walter Hauser, a local journalist, does not believe Anna died because isolated Glarus remained mired in medieval superstition. Researching the original records of the case, he found something far more banal. “Jakob Tschudi had an affair with Anna Goeldi,” he explains. “When she was sacked, she threatened to reveal that. Adultery was a crime then. He stood to lose everything if he was found out.” But at that time in Glarus, witchcraft was a crime.

Mr Hauser calls Anna’s trial and execution “judicial murder”. “Educated people here did not believe in witchcraft in 1782,” he insists. “Anna Goeldi was a threat to powerful people. They wanted her out of the way, accusing her of being a witch. It was a legal way to kill her.” Anna Goeldi’s ordeal remains, in meticulous detail, in the Glarus archives.

This woman, who could neither read nor write, was questioned day and night by the religious and political leaders of Glarus. She insisted on her innocence, so they tortured her, hanging her up by her thumbs and tying stones to her feet.

When she finally confessed, it was to all sorts of bizarre cliches. The devil had appeared to her in the form of a black dog. The needles had been given to her by Satan. But once free of the torture, she withdrew her confession. They tortured her again so brutally that she confessed again, and stuck with her confession. Two weeks later, she was led out to the public square, where her head was cut off with a sword.

Fritz Schiesser, who today represents Glarus in the Swiss parliament, believes it is time to officially acknowledge this as a miscarriage of justice. “Everyone agrees that what happened was completely wrong,” he tells me. “We need to take this last step, and admit it.

But in Glarus opinions are mixed. At the local high school, many students are uncomfortable about reviving this old story. “I agree it was shocking, but that was Glarus then,” says one girl. “It happened a long time ago,” says another. “I don’t think people today should be held responsible for the past.”

They could exonerate Anna Goeldi today, but refuse to do so, calling it a cheap solution which would not help anyone. Journalist Walter Hauser is disappointed. “We were the last in Europe to execute a woman for witchcraft,” he says “It is a stain on our history. Now we could do something to erase that stain.” Fritz Schiesser has tabled a motion in parliament calling for Anna Goeldi’s exoneration. This weekend a museum will open in Glarus dedicated to her.

It is ironic really. When Anna Goeldi was executed, the people of Glarus tried to hush it up, afraid of what the rest of the world would think. Two hundred and twenty five years later, her story has come back to haunt them.”

This report was written in 2007. Since then Anna Göldi (or Goeldi) has been rehabilitated. Perhaps 225 years too late.

FOWC with Fandango: Bewitched

RDP Monday: Fusty

Feldbrunnen to Subingen via Derendingen und Gerlafingen 23.03 (58)

Fusty in Switzerland! The country known for being clean, where you could eat your dinner on the street surface? Not quite, but so was the idea given to me before I actually arrived here. Switzerland had no wars to destroy and leave ruins as I saw in London when I grew up, and the buildings were in perfect condition, no smell of damp concreted after the rain. After living 50 years in Switzerland I have seen the changes. I arrived in Zürich to find solid old style buildings and lived in the town for two years. Now when I go back I hardly recognise it. The old buildings have gone and been replaced by modern streamlined glass fronted creations. This of course has the effect that only the better situated can actually afford to live there.

After two years of Zürich I moved to the area around Solothurn. This was country, even the cows looked good, but there was industry and slowly the old factories were abandoned and left to their fate. The photo shows one of these factories and I remember about 20 years ago when it was still productive. Now it has become a victim of fustiness showing the stains of old age. Building, Luzern Str., Solothurn

And not everyone lives in a wonderful Swiss Chalet with its wooden exterior and window boxes full of flowers. This building existed before I arrived in Solothurn. It was built by one of the local Swiss tool manufacturer’s as the answer to affordable living quarters. Perhaps when it was new, it was the answer to the working class dream of comfortable living: opposite the main railway station and a few minutes from the shops. With time the blue paint faded and even the red and white striped sun shades no longer reflected in the sunlight.  I would visit my physio therapist many years ago in this building for various aches and pains. Two apartments had been converted into a spacious therapy room. I also noticed that with time you would not often hear our local language spoken in this building.

I would not call it fusty, but just a little different perhaps.

RDP Monday: Fusty

Good Morning

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The morning started with this.

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and then progressed to this, so I think the day will be a sunny one, although at the moment a little cool outside. I had a busy start to the day as No. 1 son is now back at work, meaning that I have an extra bed to make in the morning. Of course he is old enough to make his own bed and always does when on holiday. He leaves early in the morning to get to work and has no time to air the bed or make it, so that little favour I still do for him. He helps me so much at home otherwise.

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I was happy to see that my new rose flower is opening the buds slowly. For a potted rose it is looking good and it still has many buds on it. One thing I noticed from the super hot Summer weather we were having, was that roses do not like the hot sun beating down. I lost a few flowers early as they just shrivelled in the sun.

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Another pleasant surprise was that yesterday I discovered a few groups of rudbeckia (black eyed Susan) in my garden that the gardener had planted. I love these yellow flowers in the garden, and all the more as I know they are perennials and return annually, so no great gardening work.

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Yesterday  I stayed at home. I slept a little longer after lunch (so did Mr. Swiss) and decided on such a pleasant afternoon I would make myself comfortable outside on the porch with my computer to catch up on my lost afternoon the day before when the computer was out of action. It is still very quiet in the block where I live. One appartment is empty now and two families are still on their summer holidays. It is only the golden oldies that are left to watch the garden action.

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I also added a caramel cream with some whipped cream which made the whole afternoon worthwhile.

The evening meal was a choice of the fridge, as on Sunday I abolished any sort of meal preparations in the evening, although I had to remind Mr. Swiss. No problem, you always find something in my fridge somewhere. I made myself comfortable with some cheese, potato chips and pickled cucumber whilst Mr. Swiss make himself a cup of soup (in this heat?) with his beloved salametti (small salami) and son No. 1 had his usual Swiss cervelat. We were all happy and content.

I even had some time to read yesterday evening. I am still on my epic story about ancient Rome and its tribunes, mainly concerning Cicero. They really had a good organisation down in Rome in those days. Sometimes perhaps a little barbaric, but they had their laws. Even Swiss law is based on Roman law as my son tells me. Talking of my legal son, I was quite proud of him. It is custom in Switzerland on 1st August, our national day, to have a official celebrations in the villages and towns. Son No. 2, as an expert and working for the Swiss Government, was invited by his village to hold a speech at the meeting on the workings of Swiss media, which is his special field of work. He sent me a copy of the newspaper article.

Time is moving on. I might be a golden oldie, but I still have my little routine in the morning. This afternoon I will be out on a safari to the store, so should now get on with the daily housewife work at home.

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My carnations in the garden are returning to life, so with this photo I wish you all a good start to the week.