Swiss museum dedicated to 'last witch in Europe' handed one million-franc donation

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Swiss museum dedicated to 'last witch in Europe' handed one million-franc donation
Burning of three witches in Baden, Switzerland (1585), by Johann Jakob Wick.

A recently-opened museum dedicated to Swiss woman Anna Göldi, often referred to as Europe’s last witch, has received an anonymous donation of one million francs from someone described as a well-known cultural patron.


The money will be used by the museum in the village of Enneda in Glarus canton for expansion works aimed at securing the long-term viability of the historic textile building where it is housed. With the funds, the museum will also now be able to open year-round, the institution said in a press release.

Exhibits at the Anna Göldi Museum focus on human rights and historical memory in general while also giving special coverage to the life of Anna Göldi who was put to death by courts in Glarus in 1782 as "the last witch to be executed in Europe".

Born in 1734, Göldi grew up very poor in Sax, currently part of the Sennwald municipality in the Swiss Rheintal but then belonging to Zurich. In her early thirties she fell pregnant to a mercenary who left the country before his child was born. The baby died within hours of its birth and Göldi was accused of having killed it.

Göldi was then placed under house arrest for six years, eventually escaping to Glarus where she began working as a maid for doctor, magistrate and rising political star Jakob Tschudi. But when one of the Tschudi children began to spit out pins and experience fits, Göldi was accused of witchcraft and dismissed from her position.

After being tortured, Göldi confessed and was put to death, decades after the final execution of witches in Germany.

But Swiss journalist and president of the Anna Göldi foundation, Walter Hauser, told BBC the real reason the maid was put to death had nothing to do with witchcraft. Instead, she had carried out an affair with her employer and was therefore a political liability, says Hauser who has written a book about the case.

In 2008, authorities in Glarus finally cleared Göldi saying she had been the victim of "judicial murder".



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