The Burning of Junius
August 6, 1628 - Today was the day that Johannes Junius was burned alive for being a witch. He was one of hundreds of people who were executed in Germany as part of the infamous Bamberg witch trials.
The region in Southern Germany had been devastated by wars, famines and plagues. Witchcraft became an easy scapegoat for many of the ills that the population suffered.
Bamberg's ruler at the was a twisted character named Gottfried Johann Georg II Fuchs Von Dornheim. He took full advantage of the sour mood and saw a perfect opportunity to purge political enemies. With the help of his cronies in the church, Von Dornheim went on a relentless campaign of persecution and terror that included the construction of a wicth house, complete with a state-of-the-art torture chamber.
Johannes Junius (Mayor of Bamberg) eventually got pulled into the chaos. He steadfastly denied any connection to witchcraft, but after a week of horrific abuse he finally broke and provided a confession to his tormentors.
White awaiting his execution he penned the following letter to his daughter:
A hundred thousand good-nights, dearly loved daughter Veronica. Innocent have I came into prison, innocent I have been tortured, innocent now must I die, for whoever comes into the witch prison must become a witch or be tortured until he invents something out of his head. The executioner put the thumbscrews on me so that the blood spurted from the nails and everywhere. For four weeks I could not use my hands.Then they stripped me, bound my hands behind me and tied the rope to a beam. They sent me up on a ladder and then took it away. Eight times did they draw me up and let me fall again, so that I suffered terrible agony. With God's help, I took the torture. At last the executioner led me back into the cell and spoke to me: "Sir, I beg you, for God's sake, confess something, whether it be true or not. Invent something. Even if you bear the torture, you will not escape, not even if you were a count. One torture will follow another until you say you are a witch." Dear child, keep this letter secret, so that people do not find it, or I shall be tortured most cruelly and the jailers will be beheaded. Dear child, pay the messenger a thaler... I have taken several days to write this - my hands are both crippled. I am in a sad state. Good night, for your father Johannes Junius will never see you again.