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The Source:

Albin Grau:
"Vampire"
originally published in "Bühne und Film #21, 1921
translated and reprinted in
M. Bouvier & J.L. Leutrat :
"Nosferatu"
Gallimard, France, 1981

The Case:

According to Grau, he was told the following tale in 1916 while he was in Serbia as a soldier. The tale was told to him by an old farmer. One day, the farmer's father, who had been cutting branches, was hit by a falling tree. He died without a priest being present and without receiving the holy sacraments. About 4 weeks after his burial, a great number of people died. At first it was thought to be the plague. But then several people claimed to have seen the dead man going around. And in each and every farm that he visited, someone would die. There were so many complaints that the authorities were forced to take action. One night a couple of brave men were sent to the cemetery to dig up the dead man's coffin, which turned out to be empty. The grave was closed, and the next day they all came back to have another look. This time they did find the vampire at home in his coffin. The priest then said a couple of prayers and a stake was hammered through the heart of the vampire, who made a lot of noise before he finally came to rest. The corpse then was cremated and the ashes were spread in all directions.

Grau then quotes a short bit from what is said to be a transcript of the official report about the case:

"Progatza, the 18th of May 1884 - Official Report regarding the death of a bloodsucking dead or vampire phantom, in Progatza (Romania).

... After they had dug up the man named Morovitch, he was found to have a perfectly healthy colour without any traces of decomposition, as if he were asleep. The mouth was half open because the teeth, which had become astonishingly long and pointed, prevented it from being closed. After the priest had said three "Our Father"s, a stake was planted into the heart of the vampire, on which it died making loud noises. They then cremated the corpse and the ashes where scattered to the four winds.

Progatza, the 18th of May, 1884
Pavlovitch Hodunka
Niki Staniko

The Date:

We do have an exact date: 18th of May, 1884.

The Place:

The village of Progatza, which is said to be in Romania, "in a lonely valley of the Carpathian Mountains".

Personal Comments:

Our source, Albin Grau, is the artist who designed the set and costumes for Friederich Wilhelm Murnau's vampire film "Nosferatu". The article is from a German film magazine. Although it could be based on facts, there is the distinct possibility that this is no more than a bit of fiction, thought up to get extra publicity for "Nosferatu" which had just then been released.

Possible Follow-Up:

First let us see if there is (or has been) a village called Progatza. Then try to get hold of the film magazine and see if it offers more information than the translated version.

© 2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009

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