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The Source:

Leo Gerschke :
"Vom Vampirglauben im alten WestPreussen"

Sadly I have not managed to find a copy of Leo Gerschke's article as printed and published. But I am happy to say that I have got something that is even better. For the author's granddaughter, Regina Gerschke, most kindly sent me a copy of Mr. Gerschke's type-written manuscript, complete with her grandfather's own handwritten notes and corrections.

The Case:

This then is the story:

"Die alte Frau H., die mit 93 Jahren starb, erzählte mir 1930 glaubwürdig ein Erlebnis aus ihren Jugend: In dem Dorf Firchau war der Bauer Mattheus B. gestorben. Dieser Mann aber, der in seinem Leben durch Mildtätigkeit und guten Lebenswandel beliebt und geachtet war, wurde im Tode ein 'Uhüe', das seine Familie nachholte. Schon waren mehrere Kinder gestorben. Auch die Frau und ein weiteres Kind lagen schwerkrank danieder. Frau H. war damals Jungmagd bei dem Bauern Otto, dessen Hof mitten im Dorf lag und an den Friedhof grenste. Eines Abends im Spätherbst, die Erde war schon gefroren, hörten sie in der Stube ein dumpfes Poltern. Der alte Otto öffnete die Tür, da sahen sie im Schein von Stallaternen Männer mit Hacken und Schaufeln auf den Friedhof arbeiten. 'Niu grauwe's Beendte up'(Nun graben sie Berndt auf), murmelte Otto, schlug ein Kreuz und schloss die Tür. Mit genugtuung wurde am nächsten Tage davon gesprochen, dass man B. enthauptet und so die Macht des Ungeheuers in ihm gebrochen hätte. In kurzer Zeit war die Frau wie auch das Kind wieder gesund gewurden."

Which in my translation becomes something like this:

"Old Mrs. H., who died when she was 93 years old, convincingly told me in 1930 something that had happened when she was young: In the village of Firchau the farmer Mattheus B. had died. However, this man who had been loved during his life for his generosity and decency, became an "Uhüe" after his death, who was killing off his family. Several children had already died. His wife and another child were also very ill. At the time, Mrs. H. was working as a servant for farmer Otto, whose farm was in the middle of the village, next to the cemetery. One night towards the end of the autumn, the earth was already frozen, they heard some sounds. Old Otto opened the door, and they saw a number of man with digging tools working in the cemetery. 'Niu grauwe's Beendte up'(Now they are digging up Berndt), said Otto, made the sign of the cross and closed the door. With satisfaction they talked the next day about how B. had been decapitated and the power of the monster inside him had been broken. And soon the woman and also the child were healthy again."

The Date:

The story was told in 1930 by a 93-year-old woman who had witnessed the happenings in her youth, so it seems a safe bet to put the events on file as having taken place in the 19th Century.

The Place:

Firchau has been renamed to Wierzchowo and can be found SouthEast of Cluchow.

Possible Follow-Up:

Leo Gerschke's article "Vom Vampirglauben im alten WestPreussen" was published in 1962. I can't find the exact data right now, but I will add them if and when I find them.

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

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