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 Anna Göldi

Photo added by Kit and Morgan Benson

Anna Göldi

  • Birth 1740 Switzerland
  • Death 13 Jun 1782 Glarus, Switzerland
  • Burial Body lost or destroyed, Specifically: Body was buried in pauper's grave; location lost
  • Memorial ID 22265939

The Last Witch of Europe, she was executed for witchcraft and for the murder of her second child, which had died shortly after its birth (the sex of the baby is unknown). She died during the period of the European Age of Enlightenment, when Europeans had supposedly shrugged off superstitions and witch hunts. Little is known about Anna Göldi (also known as Anna Göldin in some documents) before 1765, when she arrived in the village of Glarus, Switzerland. For the next seventeen years, she worked as a housekeeper for various people in Glarus and the neighboring town of Mollis, mostly among the more wealthy and influential families. Tall, well proportioned, with dark brown hair, brown eyes and a rosy complexion, she had an active sex life, reportedly seducing some of the more important townsmen for whom she worked, including several men that were younger than her. Extramarital affairs, although common, were illegal, and the charge of adultery could cost a powerful man his position and measure of influence. She had a six year affair with Dr. Melchior Zwicky, of Mollis, a man who was nearly ten years younger than her, and in 1774, she is believed to have secretly gone to Strasbourg to deliver Zwicky's child, giving it up for adoption. While working for Dr. Johann Jacob Tshudi, a Glarus judge and town physician, she reportedly had an affair with him and became pregnant with her second child, believed to be fathered by Dr. Tshudi. This time, she complained to church authorities and was about to report him to town officials for adultery, a crime which would have resulted in his being fired as judge and town physician. Dr. Tshudi claimed that one of his daughters, Annemiggeli, had become violently ill one evening and had vomited up over 100 sewing needles. He claimed that Anna Göldi had used supernatural powers to put the needles into his daughter's milk and bread in an attempt to kill her. Initially, Anna avoided the police, and a reward for her arrest was placed in the town newspaper of February 9, 1782. Eventually, she was found, arrested and tortured (she was hung suspended by her thumbs, her hands tied behind her back, with weights tied to her ankles to stretch her body and put her in pain), and finally admitted to being in a pact with the Devil, claiming that the Devil had appeared in the form of a black dog. During this period, she gave birth to a child, who died shortly after birth, and she was accused of murdering this child as well. Although she recanted her confession, she was found guilty of the murder of her second child, and was sentenced to death by decapitation from the executioner's sword. Numerous members of her trial court were relatives of Dr. Tshudi. The sentence was carried out on June 13, 1782, and initially, only the people of Glarus were aware of the trial and execution. Several months later, Heinrich Ludwig Lehmann, a German journalist, found out about the trial and execution, and published the story in the German press, sparking outrage throughout Switzerland and much of the Holy Roman Empire. She was the last person to be executed for witchcraft in Europe. Since that time, her name has become synonymous in Western Europe for injustice and martyrdom. An Anna Göldi Foundation has been created to watchdog European courts for due process and minority rights. On September 20, 2007, the Swiss parliament officially recognized her trial as a miscarriage of justice, but stopped short of pardoning her. The town of Glarus has established a museum about her, and the nearby town of Mollis has renamed a road in her honor. (Bio by Kit and Morgan Benson)

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Kit and Morgan Benson
  • Added: 17 Oct 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 22265939
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Anna Göldi (1740–13 Jun 1782), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22265939, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Body lost or destroyed, who reports a Body was buried in pauper's grave; location lost.