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An eerie parallel between yesterday and today:


A Parallel Process



The Witch of Nördlingen


The Children of Klosterzimmern



The persecution of witches

Under the guise of protecting the society, in the 15th century a modern trend set in – the persecution of witches.

The European population was taken up by mass hysteria, as soon as something unexplainable, for example seldom seen celestial phenomena, natural disasters, killing sprees, or diseases occurred. A number of regional courts occupied themselves with witch trials and in many places it came to burning of witches and extensive persecution. The pope spoke of increasing “devilish powers” and the worldly authorities taking over the church persecution made the wave of witch persecutions even more extensive. The legal basis of the witch trials in all German cities was the constituio criminalis carolina, which was regulated into the smallest detail. The court had to prove the perpetration of crime of the accused, what had to happen by confession or – if there was no confession – by two consistent statements of impeccable witnesses. If it these witnesses were lacking the accused could not be condemned,

The persecution of sects

Under the guise of protecting the society, in the 20th century a modern trend set in – the persecution of sects. The European population is taken in by mass hysteria because there are more and more religious and spiritual groups. In the large churches special sect experts are being brought in to fight against these and fear and terror is being spread through the media: “The dark power is increasing. And with it the danger that it creates. Sects draw millions into their course. Once they’re in their claws the members are brainwashed.” (source: Huffington Post)

In this context several courts deal with custody withdrawal procedures, they are about children



but had to be forced to make confession, in case of need, through embarrassing interrogation (along with torture), if there was great certainty concerning the guilt. The confession of the accused was counted as the most reliable way to find out the truth. A confession made under torture was only valid if it was repeated by free will, in written form after the torture. This seemingly humane regulation didn’t help the accused at all, but rather was threatened again, with further torture, if he’d renounce the confession he made under torture.

In the Imperial City Nördlingen

A special juristic, political, and personal constellation in Nördlingen added to the general phenomenon:

1. the introduction and application of the Roman law, that required a confession for the official final condemnation – be it through torture.

2. The magistrate was convinced that, according to the law of that time,

of parents that don’t conform to the mainstream, but think and believe differently; among others, Christian home schoolers. In many states it leads to abduction of children and extensive persecutions of people of different faith. The intervention of the authorities make for further hysteria and a wave of persecution against people that think differently. The “pluralistic society” feels threatened by “parallel societies”.

In the former imperial city of Nördlingen

Added to the general phenomenon is the special juristic, political, and personal constellation in Nördlingen.

1. The introduction and application of the recently passed paragraph § BGB “the right of a child for nonviolent education” is used to separate children from their parents. Though officially evidence for endangerment of the child is required.

2. The city council is convinced that, according to the law of today, people of different faith,



people who thought differently and acted differently, had to be punished.

3. According to their inner conviction, the council members and Judges Doctor Sebastian Röttinger and Doctor Wolfgang Graf, as well as the mayor Johannes Pferinger, were protectors and advocates of the medieval world order. They were in duty from 1589 until 1598 and supported the witch trials. In the overall view the Carolina contains rather mild terms for the criminal offense of witchcraft, which can hardly be made responsible for the extension of the witch trials. But in Nördlingen, as in many other Reich-German sovereignties, witchcraft was not considered a common crime, but a crimen exeptum (exceptional crime). This evaluation allowed them to disregard the milder terms of the Carolina and to promote any form of excessive form of witch persecution; urgent legal procedures and unrestricted and repeated torture were the order of the day. Beyond that the main focus shifted from the accusation of magic curse to the accusation of a pact with the devil. One important element of the history of the Nördlingen trials is also the fact, that in the free Protestant imperial city the whole council was in charge of jurisdiction.

people that think differently and act differently have to be punished and does not allow the Twelve Tribes to sell their agricultural products on the Nördlingen markets.

3. The responsible judges, prosecuting attorneys as well as politicians seem to have an inner conviction of being protectors and advocates of the modern ideology, it remains to be hoped that they won’t be carried away by the “sect persecution”.

42 children of the Twelve Tribes near Nördlingen are ripped out of their families in September 2013, because the parents are charged with abuse. The district courts of Nördlingen and Ansbach collectively withdraw the custody of 17 families in an urgent legal procedure based on the accusation of child abuse. The Jugendamt doesn’t know most of the families and is not interested in the individual evidences of the individual children. The Bavarian state parliament all agreed on October 23rd 2014 that the Twelve Tribes must be a dangerous sect. Can this discrimination be a reason to disregard a fair trial and milder measures, to promote the persecution of sects? The lawyers, staff of institutions, and foster parents realize that these families are being treated differently and that an approach as this one had not occurred before.



Since it was about something so dangerous as witches, the council felt justified to break the existing laws. 43 people were charged with witchcraft in the imperial city of Nördlingen during the years 1589 until 1598. It was impossible to prove oneself innocent during the torture. The torture was repeated up to four times and for crimes of particular severity the torture was applied with extreme length, hardness, and frequency. A woman who was arrested because of witchcraft had to be guilty, whether the charge or investigation it was just or unjust. Or else it would be embarrassing for the responsible ones.

The trial Maria Holl

The couple Michael and Maria Holl ran a restaurant „To the golden crown“ on the Weinmarkt in Nördlingen. Both were respected and devout citizens and their restaurant had an excellent reputation. One day as her husband was on the way in town, two hangman’s assistants came rushing into the restaurant and arrested her,

Beyond that the main focus shifted from the accusation of child abuse to the accusation of “sect membership”.

The Trial Of The Twelve Tribes

The families of the Twelve Tribes run the farm Klosterzimmern, live in a former inn in the center of Wörnitz, and run a restaurant “Prince and Pauper” at the Reimlinger gate in Nördlingen from 2004 until 2010. They are peaceful and devout citizens and their Hoffests are much appreciated in the whole region. One morning while they are still sleeping the farm Klosterzimmern is stormed by 50 workers of the Jugendamt supported by a hundred police officers and take


for she had been accused for witchcraft. Probably she had been denounced like many others. At first Maria, who was not aware of any guilt, hoped that the situation would quickly clear up through her good relationship with the mayor and as other members of the town council.

The Examination For External Witch Features

The next morning Maria was brought into the interrogation room by mayor Johannes Pferinger and the two judges Dr.Wolfgang and Dr. Sebastian Röttinger. The two executioners and his two assistants undressed the woman, shackled her and examined every centimeter of her body for traitorous witch features. Because he could not find anything, they removed all her hair and a tiny uneven spot was exposed. As it was common the executioner poked it with a needle, and Maria Holl screamed. Since witches were not to feel pain in these spots,

all the children captive, because their parents are accused of abuse. The children are taken into custody based on false witnesses of ex-members whose purpose is to destroy the community. At first the parents, who are not aware of any guilt, hope that the situation will quickly clear up through the obvious good fruit in their children and their good relationships with the authorities for many years.

The Examination For External Signs Of Abuse

On that same day all the children are examined in the district office Donau-Ries. All the captured children and youth have to undress and every centimeter of their bodies are examined for any revealing features. Since the medical officer can not find anything another forensic doctor is consulted, who can neither find any abuse. Even though the expected signs are not found the children are brought to institutions, youth welfare facilities, and foster families. In the press conference the public is informed about a “horror scenario”. One



the examination was recessed and Maria was brought back into the dungeon.

The Interrogation

Now she was first exposed to an embarrassing interrogation, in which she was supposed to admit that she had engaged with the devil. Maria Holl looked at the Mayor and the other men unbelieving because all of them knew her and were regulars in her restaurant. She was polite initially but eventually she denied the charges indignantly. Obviously now the protestations of innocence were given less credibility than the denunciations. The Mayor accused her of not taking the court serious and let her be brought into the dungeon so that she could reconsider her situation.

of the nursing mothers is told that “She’ll never have her children back”.

The Interrogations

Thereupon the prosecuting attorney induces that all the youth of the Twelve Tribes are interrogated for the purpose of investigation. One of the youth taken captive comes home from school on November 17th 2013, and is interrogated before lunch. In this three hour long interrogation the detective chief commissioner tries to move the fourteen-year-old to make a false statement against her mother. All the other youth refuse to make any statements. The next thing decided is to hear all of the children at the family court in order to finally get the missing evidence for the charges of abuse. The effected families get the impression that the district court of Nördlingen is only trying to move them to confess their sect membership and the abuse they are accused of. Children and parents are desperately trying to convey the truth to the seemingly biased court. Head of the Jugendamt, school-psychologist, teachers and also the doctors were present in the community and could have testified that the children were doing good despite chastisement. Why were they not asked in order to find the out truth? Seemingly now the representatives of authority and protestations of innocence of the accused are believed less than the false statements of the ex-members.



The Torture

In the dungeon she had to endure by sitting on the floor with her arms and legs stretched far forward. It was only bearable when unconsciousness came over her. On the next day she again was brought into the interrogation room under unimaginable pain. Now it was about getting the supposed witch to make confession. With all the instruments of torture available the executioner went to work. Soon she realized that she was not spared from the torture by making little concessions. On the contrary: the councilmen blackmailed her all the more. Maria Holl revoked everything she had said before and was no longer willing to make any more confessions.

This way weeks

The constitutional requirements for withdrawal of the custody of the child actually looks like this: in order to justify the separation of child from the parents, the courts have to find evidence in the individual case, that the parental care has reached to such an extent, that the child is physically, spiritually, or mentally endangered with its parents. Unfortunately this regulation doesn’t really help the families, because it is not considered in their procedure. They try time and time again to make the children speak against their parents.

The Torture

Children and parents remain separated. They can only see each other every three weeks for two hours – never alone, always with strict surveillance. At night the children cry themselves to sleep and pray in hopes that they can go back to their loving parents. They are ill frequently and some are becoming obese and out of sorrow they eat too many sweets. The supplications of the children to have more contact with the parents are answered by the Jugendamt employees with the threat: “We can also totally stop the contact if you don’t like it.” The foster parents are being taught on behalf of the Jugendamt by so called “sect experts” against the believe of the parents. They should be convinced that the parents actually are evil people. Furthermore the foster parents are ascertained and the children persuaded that the sect



and months past in which the woman was exposed to incomprehensible pain by day and by night. One time the mayor even presented a letter to her from her husband, in which he expressed how deeply disappointed he was about her unfaithful behavior. Maria however saw through it that the letter had been faked and unwaveringly protested her innocence.

One day Maria was once again tortured through the rope: Her arms were bound to a rope which was attached to a wheel and pulled her up on it. The mayor and the rest that were present decided to take in an extended lunch in the meantime and left Maria hang on the rope for two hours. Some time she eventually had to break.

The Nördlinger people started having doubts about the correctness of the action because of Maria Holl’s inflexibility and willpower, so all the more the responsible ones put forth everything to black mail a confession in order to justify themselves before the public. But neither thumbscrews nor Spanish boots nor thorn ladders would cause Maria Holl to admit the deeds she was being accused of.

Before the end of his term of office the mayor Pferringer let Maria Holl be tortured one more time but again without success. The council was no longer

parents don’t love them because they don’t want to deny their believe in order to get their children back. Through this torture the children are supposed to make confession against their parents. At some point they will break. After a few months some of the children can no longer withstand the psycho-terror and start doubting their parents. But most of the children are still writing heartbreaking letters of request to the judge, their guardian at litem and to the Jugendamt employees, that they would let them go back to their parents. Several youth see their only hope in fleeing from the institutions or foster families. Two girls hope to find refuge with their grandmother in their home country – Switzerland. At first the Swiss police does not find a reason to take the girls from where they are staying when they find them, but because of the insistence of the German Jugendamt they are once again separated with police force not only from their parents but also from each other.

Why do the judges not start doubting the correctness of their action on the basis of the inflexibility and willpower of the children? Or is it about trying to get a confession in order to justify themselves toward the public? Neither interrogations nor indoctrinations nor any kind of psychological



willing to give order to continue the torture. Nevertheless Maria Holl was still not released.

Oath Of Truce

Only months did they again take care of the crown landlady. Even after 62 tortures Maria Holl did not render a confession and slowly the displeasure in the population grew about the action of the town councils. Finally the family of the accused from Ulm stood up for her and the court came under pressure to act. It was impossible to execute her without a confession, but it could not either be admitted that an innocent person had been tortured for many months. In the meantime more advocates that were impressed by her perseverance had registered. Elected representatives were commissioned to direct a writing to the city of Nördlingen with the request to release Maria Holl. Her release was further delayed because they feared for the consequences and the relationships to the imperial city of Ulm. So as not to effect the reputation of the council, they presented her with a composed legal opinion, an oath of truce to sign. She obligated herself therein that she would not leave her house anymore and would not take revenge on her persecutors. In particular she confirmed the correctness of the actions of the city council.

pressure can make the Twelve Tribes children admit the abuse they are accused of.

Oath Of Truce

After a while two families distance themselves from the Twelve Tribes and agree with the Jugendamt so that they can get their children back. So as not to damage the reputation of the judges and officials an agreement is made in court. The parents leave the rights for their children to the Jugendamt, this way they cannot leave the country anymore and pay the youth welfare measure. By doing so they confirm the correctness of the actions of the councils.

Even after almost two years of psychological torture no endangerment of the child’s well-fair is found on the children of the Twelve Tribes. Shouldn’t the displeasure of the population grow about the action of the court? After all several settled doctors from Nördlingen that treat and know the children for many years as well as good friends stand up for the families. The court is coming under pressure to act because according to the basic law children can by no means be separated from their parents without the evidence of the endangerment of the child’s well-fair. Could it actually be that innocent children are being tortured for many months by being seperated from their families.? Even in the European Parliament the voices are getting loud that families are being tortured by the German Jugendamt. (Source: Archeviva.com)



The End Of The Persecution

Maria Holl signed and was able to go back to her life as a free citizen after almost two years. After this no other woman in Nördlingen was judged because of witchcraft. This early end of the persecution is due to the unfavorable process against Maria Holl which after multiple tortures did not admit and therefore had to be released. Unfortunately Maria Holl was misused in the third Reich for the advantage of national socialist propaganda. The witch was made into an Aryan hero who successfully fought against the slander of the “evil Jews and Gypsies” by her steadfastness. At that time the masses did not realize that the national socialistic leaders committed the same perversion of justice in the persecution of the Jews as the councilmen in the time of Maria Holl.

Even today the wooden well on the “Winemarkt” in Nördlingen reminds of the steadfastness of Maria Holl and admonishes all the authorities to never again repeat an injustice as this. Her legacy to our time is that we would never forget what can happen if authorities blame citizens on the basis of prejudice and accusations. This way the court loses its function of protection and only serves to convict and not to establish the truth.

The End Of The Persecution?

After almost two years of the delay of the urgent proceeding it is time to acquit the children that are being held separated from their parents against their will, illegally, and without the proof of the endangerment of the child’s well-fair. We hope that this failed process against the courageous parents and children of the Twelve Tribes with their steadfastness will ensure that the persecution against sects and the rapid increase of seizures will come to an end in Germany.

Only if the authorities actually learn from the past and do not disregard human rights can the well memorial of Maria Holl serve it’s true purpose.



The Twelve Tribes – a people for his possession

And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve Tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king…” Acts 26, 6-7 (ESV)

The term “People” generally means a community or a big group of people with the same culture. A common history, traditions, customs, clothe, folk music and dance and also education of children are a part of the culture of a people.

We are disciples of Jesus Christ, the son of God. We are so thankful that we found forgiveness for our sins through his precious blood that we only want to live for Him. This is how we became God’s “peculiar” people – a people that belongs to Him, His possession, the people of His possession, that has always consisted of Twelve Tribes. When we talk about the Twelve Tribes, than we mean a real alliance of communities were people daily live together in unity. Twelve different Tribes are going to be a light to the nations in Twelve regions of the earth.

It was no secret to the apostle Paul that god wanted to raise up his Twelve Tribe people, an Israel of the new covenant, were the Jews and the gentiles would be united through the Holy Spirit. Then is it so absurd that God wants to do the same in our days?

After all there never was this people for His own possession…

He says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49, 6 (ESV)