Stories from History: Modern Era Witch-Hunting

A warning, for all those passing through. Today’s post could be considered a bit dark, and may be upsetting to some individuals. Feel free to move on. No one here will be offended.

You may have heard of the discovery a hidden witch library recently. Alleged to have belonged to Heinrich Himmler, this discovery could result in a number of fascinating finds. Perhaps it should not surprise us that Himmler not only was a staunch believer in the occult, but also the most successful witch hunter in history. This is even compared to Matthew Hopkins, who made money by charging citizens of Britain, mostly in East Anglia, for the pleasure of his presence in their community as Witchfinder General, despite having no formal power. He then would issue a further surcharge for alleging that there were witches in town, and identifying them.

Yes, even despite his clever scam, for it was eventually decided that the only way he could have identified so many witches was by peaking at the black book alleged to have been carried by Satan. The very book that held the names of all witches within it, and which could only be read by summoning Satan himself. Needless to say, they didn’t take well with their witchfinder cavorting with the darkest one in their worldview. There is a legend that he was killed for being such a blaggard, but he was instead able retire and publish a book that became recommended reading for law types around the country. Sometimes there is very little justice.

Himmler, by contrast, was a much more successful hunter of witches. He approached the task of finding witches who would stand against the glory of his government with the same industrial efficiency that the rest of his government era had approached with. Unlike the rest of the terrible things that had been done in the name of Aryans during his era, his hunt was through records of previous witch hunts and trials, arguing that it was an attempt to destroy the Aryan paganism that had existed there before. 

This library, then, is unsurprising given his background. His belief in the occult to pursue nefarious ends is terrible. That entire era of history is like an old wound that is still healing, but it has not scabbed over yet. As much as some of us may poke around in there, trying to investigate what happened, the entire area is still raw and bloody.

Hopefully the atrocious actions have some small glimmer of good here: great books from history may have been saved. Records that are not available anywhere else might have been spared from destruction. It does not help the wound heal, nor does it offer a salve for the pain that many still feel. Instead, it serves as a reminder that this is a long and ongoing terror.

It can feel nice to go back and look at history with a certain aloof air, but here we’re unable to do this. Around the world men and women are still being accused of witchcraft, and it is still resulting in deaths.

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