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Burning of the Last Witch in Europe in Reszel

The location of the imprisonment and execution by burning of the last witch in Europe

The last trial in Poland of a woman accused of witchcraft and executed by burning was not in Doruchow in Wielkopolski Province in 1776 – as commonly accepted – but 34 years later in August 1811. This happened in the city of Reszel in Warmia Province. The last victim to be burnt at the stake was Barbara Zdunk. The case against her began because of a fire in 1807 which destroyed nearly all the buildings in Reszel.

The investigation could not find the guilty party so suspicion fell on the woman for years suspected of witchcraft. In spite of torture under interrogation she would not admit to her guilt. After a few years Barbara Zdunk was declared guilty of the offence and sentenced, as well as being accused of witchcraft, to be burnt at the stake. The case file went through all levels of the Prussian court and finally even reached the Prussian king, but the barbaric sentence and execution was considered sound and final.

On 21st August 1811 the sentenced woman was taken to Szubienica Hill close to Reszel where the executioner from Lidzbark carried out the death sentence. A reminder of these events is the basement in the castle in Reszel where it is most likely that Barbara Zdunk was imprisoned, and is now happily visited by tourists.

City and Council of Reszel (woj. Warminsko-Mazurskie)



11-440 Reszel
Lengde- og breddegrad: 54.0483973,21.1472527