German werewolf legends

The Morbach Monster
Morbach was a muntions site just outside of the villiage of Wittlich. Supposedly Wittlich is the last town where a werewolf was killed. There is a shrine just outside of town where a candle always burns. Legend has it that if the candle ever goes out the werewolf will return.

One night a group of security policemen were on the way to their post at Morbach, when they noticed that the candle was out at the shrine, and all joked about the monster. Later that night alarms were received from a fence-line sensor. When the security policemen investigated the call one of them saw a huge "dog-like" animal stand up on its back legs, look at him, and jump over the 7 1/2 foot chain-link fence. A military working dog was brought to the area where the creature was last seen, and the dog went nuts, not wanting anything to do with tracking the creature. This occured around 1988.

Fox Hill near Dodow
In the village of Dodow near Wittenburg there lived an old woman who possessed a fox strap. With its help she could transform herself into a fox, and thus her table never lacked for geese, ducks, and all kinds of poultry. Her grandchild knew about it, and one day when the schoolmaster was talking about magic in the school, the child told about the fox strap, and the next day brought it to school.

The schoolmaster took it into his hand and unintentionally approached his head with it. Suddenly he was standing before the children, transformed into a fox. They broke out with a deafening noise. This so frightened the little schoolmaster that he jumped out the window with a single leap. He ran to the hill that lay near the village and there built himself a den.

One day a great hunt was organized, and our fox was among those pursued by the huntsmen. A bullet hit him, and suddenly a schoolmaster was lying there before the bewildered huntsman. The bullet had struck the fox strap and ripped it apart.

In memory of this event the people of Dodow gave the name Fox Hill to the place where their schoolmaster had lived.

Werewolf Legend, part I
Werewolf legends are well known. According to them, many people possessed the power to transform themselves into wolves by putting on a wolf belt. They would then roam about at night attacking their enemies or their enemies' cattle. In Fahrenholz in the year 1682 a number of people were accused of being able to transform themselves into wolves and were put on trial.

Only thirty years ago [in the 1840's] numerous examples of this kind of magic were related in all children's rooms, although there have been no wolves in Mecklenburg for more than one hundred years. This proves how widespread these legends formerly must have been. Beyer, in the Meklenburgische Jahrbücher (20, 161), states that "So far as I remember, in my youth I only heard of male werewolves, never females. However, in other regions gender makes no difference."

Legend I
A man possessed a wolf belt, that is, he had the ability to transform himself into a wolf (werewolf). Once the huntsmen organized a fox hunt and had placed a dead horse in the woods as bait for the foxes. The werewolf went there and was eating from the horse. The huntsmen surprised him and shot at him. He fled, and when they went to the house of the man they suspected of being a werewolf, they found him in bed with a bullet wound.

Legend II
A young woman whose husband was often unexplainably absent came to the suspicion that he was a werewolf.

One day both were working in the field. The man again left his wife. Suddenly a wolf came forth from the bushes, ran toward her, grabbed her red woolen skirt with its teeth and shook her back and forth. With screams and blows from her hay fork she drove him away. Soon afterward her husband emerged from the same bushes into which the wolf had disappeared. She told him of her frightening experience. He laughed, thereby revealing the red woolen threads from her skirt that were stuck between his teeth. She reported him to the judge, and he was burned to death.

Legend III
A woodcutter was working in the forest with his brother. The latter went away, and soon thereafter a wolf came out of the nearby bushes. The woodcutter wounded him on his right front leg with his ax, and the wolf retreated howling.

That evening when the woodcutter returned home he found his brother in bed with his right arm hidden beneath the covers. Only after repeated threats would he reveal his arm, and on it was the same wound that the woodcutter had given to the wolf. He reported his brother, who was burned to death.

The Werewolf of Klein-Krams
In the vicinity of Klein-Krams near Ludwigslust in former times there were extensive forests that were so rich with game that the dukes often came to this region to hold their great hunts. During these hunts they almost always saw a wolf who - even though he came within shooting distance - could never be killed by a huntsman. Indeed, they even had to watch as he took a piece of game before their very eyes and - something that was most remarkable to them - ran with it into the village.

Now once it happened that a hussar from Ludwigslust was traveling through the village and just happened to enter the house of a man named Feeg. When he entered the house a flock of children stormed out of the house with a loud cry and hurried out into the yard. When he asked them about their wild behavior, they told him that except for a small boy, no one from the Feeg family was at home, and that he - as was his custom when no one was at home - had transformed himself into a werewolf, and that they were running away from him, because otherwise he would bite them.

Soon afterward the feared wolf appeared, but by now he had laid aside his wolf form. The hussar turned to the Feeg child and tried to learn more about the wolf game, but the child would say nothing. However, the stranger would not give up, and he finally succeeded in making the child talk. The child told him that his grandmother had a strap, and that if he put it on he would instantly become a wolf. The hussar kindly asked the boy to make an appearance as a werewolf. At first the boy refused, but finally he agreed to do it, if the strange man would first climb into the loft, so that he would be safe from him. The hussar agreed to this, and to be sure pulled up the ladder with which he had climbed into the loft.

As soon as this had happened the boy ran into the main room, and soon came out again as a young wolf and chased away all those who standing in the entryway. After the wolf had run back into the main room and come back out as a boy, the hussar climbed down and had the Feeg child show him the magic belt, but he could not discover anything unusual about it.

Afterward the hussar went to a forester in the vicinity of Klein-Krams and told him what he had experienced in the Feeg house. Upon hearing this story, the forester, who had always been present at the great hunts near Klein-Krams, immediately thought about the werewolf who could not be wounded. He now thought that he would be able to kill the werewolf. At the next hunt he said to his friends, as he rammed a bullet of inherited silver into the barrel of his rifle, "Today the werewolf will not escape from me!" His companions looked at him in amazement, but he said nothing further.

The hunt soon began, and it did not take long before the wolf showed himself once again. Many of the huntsmen shot at him, but he remained unwounded. Finally he approached the forester, who brought him to the ground. Everyone could see that the wolf was wounded, but soon he jumped up again and ran into the village. The huntsmen followed him, but the werewolf outran them and disappeared into the Feeg farmyard.

In their search, the huntsmen came into the house, where they found the wolf in the grandmother's bed. They recognized it from the tail that was sticking out from under the covers. The werewolf was no one other than Feeg's grandmother. In her pain she had forgotten to take off the strap, and thus she herself revealed the secret.

The Werewolf of Vietlübe
A rich farmer by the name of Schlüntz lived a long time ago in Vietlübbe. One day he had gone to Lübz and was returning home in the evening. Upon entering a grove of fir trees, his horse refused to proceed. The farmer suddenly saw a wolf jump from the bushes and begin snapping at the horse. The horse ran off in a gallop, not stopping until it had run out of breath. The wolf caught up and jumped at it.

The farmer knew that a neighbor of his had the reputation of being a sorcerer, and just as the wolf was about to grab his horse by the neck, he called out: "Irnst Jacobs, is that you? Let me say something to you. Irnst Jacobs, listen to me, Irnst Jacobs!" And as he spoke the name the third time, his neighbor stood there before him, begging him to high heaven not to reveal him. The farmer let him go. It had been the neighbor who had taken on the form of a werewolf.

A witch as a werewolf
Once a witch was crossing a field in the form of a werewolf in order to bewitch a farmer's cows. Her husband came upon her, and when he saw the wolf, he was afraid that it might be his wife, so he called out, "Marie, Marie, what are you doing here?"

This frightened the woman, who turned herself back into her human form. But even as the man approached her, long red hair was still hanging from her neck and breast, and her eyes were still glowing like wolf's eyes.

The werewolf
Three workmen were mowing a meadow. Noon came, but no one had brought them their meal yet, so they agreed to mow one more round and then to lie down beneath a bush until the food arrived. And that is what they did. Two of them fell asleep immediately, because one never sleeps better than when one is tired, and there is no softer bed than one made from flowers and grass.

The third workman, however, tied a wolf-strap around his waist and crept up to a herd of horses that was grazing there. The best foal was just right for him. He grabbed it and killed it. The remaining horses and the herder ran off. The other harvesters saw what had happened, but they wisely pretended to be asleep, for they were frightened and horrified.

After the werewolf had satisfied his hunger, he took off the strap, came back, and lay down to rest. Their food soon arrived: a large pot full of porridge and for each man six boiled eggs plus some bread and salt. As the two harvesters were helping themselves with their wooden spoons, the werewolf said, "Earlier I was terribly hungry, but for some reason I don't feel like eating now." The two others said nothing.

The one harvester complained the entire afternoon about cramps and a stomach ache, and often went to the brook to quench his burning thirst. The two others said nothing. That evening, as they were on their way home, he said once again that he had never felt so stuffed, to which one of the harvesters replied that it could happen to anyone.

When they arrived at the town gate, and he was still complaining, the other workman said, "A person who eats an entire foal should not be surprised to feel stuffed and have stomach cramps. To that he replied, "If you had said that earlier, you would not now be walking home on your own legs." He then threw his scythe away, tied the strap around his waist, turned into a wolf, and was never again seen in that place.

Werewolf Legends, Part II
Legend I
A soldier related the following story, which is said to have happened to his grandfather. The latter, the grandfather, had gone into the forest to cut wood with a kinsman and a third man. People suspected that there was something not quite right about this third man, although no one could say exactly what it was.

The three finished their work and were tired, whereupon the third man suggested that they sleep a little. And that is what they did. They all laid down on the ground, but the grandfather only pretended to sleep, keeping his eyes open a crack. The third man looked around to see if the others were asleep, and when he believed this to be so, he took off his belt (or, as others tell the story, put on a belt) and turned into a wolf. However, such a werewolf does not look exactly like a natural wolf, but somewhat different.

Then he ran to a nearby meadow where a young foal was grazing, attacked it, and ate it, including skin and hair. Afterward he returned, put his belt back on (or took it off), and laid down, as before, in human form. A little later they all got up together and made their way toward home. Just as they reached the town gate, the third man complained that he had a stomachache. The grandfather secretly whispered in his ear:
"That I can well believe, for someone who has a horse, complete with skin and hair, in his belly."
The third man replied: "If you had said that to me in the forest, you would not be saying it to me now."

Legend II
A woman had taken on the form of a werewolf and had attacked the herd of a shepherd, whom she hated, causing great damage. However, the shepherd wounded the wolf in the hip with an ax blow, and it crawled into the brush. The shepherd followed, thinking that he could finish it off, but there he found a woman using a piece of cloth torn from her dress to stop the blood gushing from a wound.

Legend III
At Lüttich in the year 1610 two sorcerers were executed because they had turned themselves into werewolves and had killed many children. With them they had a boy of twelve years whom the devil turned into a raven whenever they were tearing apart and eating their prey.

Werewolf rock
In the meadow facing Seehausen near the Magdeburg village of Eggenstedt, not far from Sommerschenburg and Schöningen, there is a large rock, called "Wolf Rock" or "Werewolf Rock."

A long, long time ago a stranger sojourned near the Brandsleber Forest, which belonged to the Hackel and the Harz districts. No one knew who he was, nor where he came from. Known everywhere by the name "the Old Man," he would often show up without notice in the villages and offer his services, which he performed to the satisfaction of the country people. He was most often engaged to herd sheep.

It happened that a cute spotted lamb was born in a herd belonging to a shepherd named Melle from Neindorf. The stranger asked the shepherd repeatedly and fervently to give it to him, but the shepherd refused. On shearing day Melle engaged the Old Man to help out. When he returned he found everything in order; all the work had been done, but neither the Old Man nor the spotted lamb were there. For a long time no one heard anything about the Old Man.

Finally one day he unexpectedly appeared before Melle, who was grazing his sheep in the Katten Valley. He called out sneeringly: "Good day, Melle, your spotted lamb sends his greetings!"

Angered, the shepherd grabbed his crook in order to avenge himself. Then suddenly the stranger changed shape and sprang at him as a werewolf. The shepherd took fright, but his dogs attacked the wolf with fury. The wolf fled. Pursued, it ran through forest and valley until it reached the vicinity of Eggenstedt. Here the dogs surrounded him. The shepherd called out: "Now you will die!" Then the Old Man, again in human form, begged to be spared, offering to do anything. But the shepherd furiously attacked him with his stick, when suddenly a sprouting thorn bush stood before him.

But the vengeful shepherd did not spare him, hacking away at the branches instead. The stranger once again turned himself into a human and begged for his life. But hard-hearted Melle remained unmoved. Then the stranger attempted to make his escape as a werewolf, but a blow from Melle brought him dead to the earth. A rocky cliff marks the spot where he fell and was buried, and will be named after him for all eternity.

The werewolves advance
In Livland there is the following legend: When Christmas Day is over a boy who limps with one leg goes around calling together all those who have yielded to the Evil One - and there is a large number of them - bidding them to follow him. If any one of these resists or hesitates, then a large tall man is also there who hits at them with a whip braided from iron wire and little chains, driving them along with force. It is said that he whips at the people so cruelly that a long time later marks and scars can still be seen on their bodies, and they are in great pain.

As soon as they begin to follow him, it appears as though they lose their former shape and turn into wolves. Several thousand of them come together. Their leader, with the iron whip in his hand, leads the way. When they have been led into a field, they cruelly attack the cattle, ripping every animal to pieces that they can catch, thus doing great damage. However, they are not able to harm humans.

When they come to a body of water, their leader strikes at it with his switch or whip, and it divides, allowing them to cross over with dry feet. After twelve days have passed, they abandon their werewolf form and become humans once again.

Livland, also known as Livonia, is a region of the Baltic Sea that comprises present Estonia and parts of Latvia.

The werewolf of Jarnitz
In the vicinity of Jarnitz there lived a werewolf who had the ability to transform himself into all kinds of different shapes. This werewolf spent the nights stealing sheep from their enclosures, for in those days the sheep were kept at night in enclosures in the open fields. For several nights in a row the shepherd, armed with a loaded gun, had kept watch for the night robber. He had already hit the werewolf several times, as he had clearly seen, but the bullets seemed to have done him no harm, and he had escaped with his booty every time. Then the shepherd loaded his gun with bullets made of inherited silver, which never fail. Thus this time he would be successful.

Following his custom, the werewolf appeared again that night. But as he was approaching the enclosure, he immediately sensed that this time the shepherd might do him in. Therefore he quickly turned himself into a human, walked up to the shepherd, and said to him in a familiar tone, "You don't have to shoot me dead!" That so unsettled the shepherd that he lowered his gun, which he had been aiming at the intruder.

The werewolf never again dared to steel sheep from the Jarnitz enclosures.

Jarnitz, Germany, is a town on the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea.

The Böxenwolf
In the entire region between the Deister River and the Weser River they tell about the böxenwolf who at nighttime preys upon travelers, making them carry him part of the way. Such a böxenwolf is actually a human who transforms himself and gains superhuman strength by putting on a strap.

Late one evening two peasants were returning home from a mill not far from Rinteln. Each was carrying a sack of flour. A böxenwolf confronted one of them. He immediately called out for help to his companion, who threw down his sack and attacked the böxenwolf so furiously with his stick, that the böxenwolf turned and fled.

The next day they went to another peasant. They had long suspected him, because was rich, but no one knew the source of his wealth. He was lying in bed, deathly ill. He had the surgeon come and bind his wounds. Thus they discovered who had been the böxenwolf.

The werewolf belt
Formerly there were people who could turn themselves into wolves by putting on a certain belt. A man in the vicinity of Steina had such a belt, and once he went away without locking it up, as was his custom. His young son came upon it and buckled the thing about himself. Instantly he became a werewolf. He had the appearance of a stack of pea straw and lumbered away heavily like a bear.

When the people in the room saw what had happened they ran quickly and brought back the father. He arrived barely in time and undid the strap before the boy could do any damage. Afterward the boy said that as soon as he put the belt on, he become so terribly hungry that he would have torn anything apart that might have gotten in his way.

The werewolf wife
In Caseburg on the island of Usedom a man and his wife were cutting hay in a meadow. After a while the woman told the man that she was uneasy and could not stay there any longer, and she went away. Earlier she had told him that if a wild animal were to come upon him he should throw his hat toward it and run away, and then no harm would come to him. The man had promised her that he would do this.

After the woman had been away for a while, a wolf swam across the Swina and approached the harvesters. The man threw his hat at it, which the beast immediately ripped into small pieces. Meanwhile one of the workers crept up to the wolf with a pitchfork and stabbed it to death from behind. Instantly it was transformed. They were all astounded to see that it was the farmer's wife that the worker had killed.

Today the island of Usedom lies mostly in German, partly in Polish territory. The straight of Swina separates the Polish portion of Usedom from mainland Poland.

The werewolf
Told by Karl Lynker

The Hessian farmer knows and fears the ravenous werewolf even today [1854]. This is a human whose shape has been transformed by putting on a belt. The werewolf attacks everything that gets in his way, and is especially dangerous for the herds. However, there is a way to destroy the belt's magic power: If one throws a knife - a piece of shiny steel - over the werewolf, he will instantly be transformed into his true human form and stand there completely naked.

In the vicinity of Wolfhagen there was a well-to-do woman of good parentage who almost every night would leave her house and roam the fields as a werewolf. Once a shepherd bravely approached the werewolf, as it crept into an alder thicket, its appetite sated. The shepherd, who had long pursued the werewolf, hoped to capture it. He threw his pocketknife over its head and neck, and immediately the woman was standing naked there before him. She implored him to have mercy with her and to not tell the story to anyone. The shepherd was highly surprised to see the well known woman before him, and he promised to keep the event a secret. Nonetheless, within a few days everyone knew about it.

The peasant and the werewolf
One night a werewolf came upon a peasant who was driving his wagon overland. In order to break its magic, the level-headed man unhesitatingly tied his fire steel to his whip and threw it over the wolf's head, keeping the whip in his hand. However, the wolf seized the steel, and the peasant had to flee in order to save his life.

The Böxenwolf II
In the Schaumburg region a werewolf is called a böxenwolf. Böxenwolves are humans who are in league with the devil and who can assume the form of animals by buckling a strap about themselves. Then they cunningly attack and torment other people. They can be exposed by throwing a piece of steel over them. There is not a single village in which someone has not been seized in the back of the neck by a böxenwolf and has had to drag it, gasping for breath, for some distance.

The werewolf of Hüsby
In Hüsby near Schleswig there lived an old, stingy woman. She offered her farm hands but little to eat, although there was fresh meat every Sunday. The household wondered about this, because the old woman never bought any meat.

A young farm hand wanted to discover the woman's trick, so one day he hid himself in the hayloft instead of going to church with the rest of the household. Suddenly he noticed how the woman pulled out a wolf strap and put it around herself. She emmediately became a wolf, ran out into the field, and soon came back with a sheep.

"If she can get meat that easily," thought the boy, "then she can be more generous with us."
As the woman put meat into the pot, she sighed and said, as was her custom, "Oh, dear God, if only I were with you!"

The boy, pretending to be God, answered, "You'll not come to me for all eternity."
"Why not, dear God?"
"Because you put too little into the pot for your people."
"Then I'll do better."
"Yes, that's my advice to you."

From now on she put a much larger piece of meat into the pot. But the boy could not remain silent, and in the village he talked about what had happened. When on a Sunday morning the woman again turned herself into a wolf, the people were on guard. However, no bullet could harm her until they finally loaded a flintlock with a silver bullet. From that time to the end of her life the woman had an open wound that no doctor could heal. She never again showed herself as a werewolf.

The wolf stone
In a valley in the Fichtel Mountains a shepherd tended his flock in a green meadow. Several times it happened that after driving his herd home he discovered that one of the animals was missing. All searching was in vain. They were lost and they remained lost.

Watching more carefully, he saw a large wolf creep out of the forest thicket and seize a lamb. Angrily he chased after him, but the enemy was too fleet. Before he could do anything about it, the wolf had disappeared with the lamb. The next time he took an expert marksman with him. The wolf approached, but the marksman's bullets bounced off him. Then it occurred to the hunter to load his weapon with the dried pith from an elder bush. The next day he got off a shot, and the robber ran howling into the woods.

The next morning the shepherd met an old neighbor woman with whom he was not on the best of terms. Noticing that she was limping, he asked her:
"Neighbor, what is wrong with your leg? It does not want to go along with you."
"What business is it of yours?" she answered, hurrying away.
The shepherd took note of this. This woman had long been suspected of practicing evil magic. People claimed to have seen her on the Heuberg in Swabia, the Köterberg, and also on the Hui near Halberstadt.

He reported her. She was arrested, interrogated, and flogged with rod of alder wood, with which others suspected of magic, but who had denied the charges, had been punished. She was then locked up in chains. But suddenly the woman disappeared from the prison, and no one knew where she had gone.

Some time later the poor, unsuspecting shepherd saw the hated wolf break out of the forest once again. However, this time it had not come to attack his herd, but the shepherd himself. There was a furious struggle. The shepherd gathered all of his strength together against the teeth and claws of the ferocious beast. It would have been his death if a hunter had not come by in the knick of time. In vain he fired a shot at the wolf, and then struck it down with his knife. The instant that blood began to flow from the wolf's side, the old woman from the village appeared in the field before them, writhing and twisting terribly. They finished killing her and buried her twenty feet beneath the earth.

At the place where they buried the woman they erected a large stone cross, which they named the "Wolf Stone" in memory of these events. It was never peaceful and orderly in the vicinity of the stone. The Malicious Messenger (der Tückebote) or the Burning Man (der brennende Mann), in the language of the people, still goes about his dangerous business here.

The werewolves in Greifswald
About two hundred years ago for a time there was a frightfully large number of werewolves in the city of Greifswald. They were especially prevelant in Rokover Street. From there they attacked anyone who appeared outside of their houses after eight o'clock in the evening.

At that time there were a lot of venturesome students in Greifswald. They banded together and one night set forth against the monsters. At first they were powerless against them, until finally the students brought together all of the silver buttons that they had inherited, and with these they killed the werewolves.

The werewolf in Hindenburg
One still believes in werewolves in the Altmark. Even today in the village of Hindenburg they tell about a man who could turn himself into a wolf, and there are people still alive who knew him during their childhood.

He had a strip of leather made from wolf skin which still had its hair. Whenever he tied it around his body, he turned into a wolf. Then he had such extraordinary strength that he could pull an entire load of hay by himself or grab a whole ox in his mouth and carry it away.

In this state he had the nature of a wolf. He strangled cattle and even ate humans. He once pursued one of his neighbors, who narrowly escaped from him. But however furious he became, he did spare his wife. She knew a magic charm that brought him under control, a charm that he himself had taught her. Then she would take off the leather strip, and he would become a reasonable human once again.

The werewolf
A married couple in Hessen lived in poverty. To the husband's amazement, the wife nevertheless was able to serve meat for every meal. For a long time she kept it a secret where she got the meat, but finally she promised to reveal it to him, under the condition that he not call out her name as it was happening. Together they went to a field where a herd of sheep was grazing.

The woman walked toward the sheep, and as she approached them, she threw a ring over herself and instantly turned into a werewolf. She fell upon the sheep, seized one of them, and fled. The man stood there as though petrified. However, when he saw the shepherd and the dogs running after the werewolf, thus endangering his wife, he forgot his promise and called out: "Margaret!" With that the wolf disappeared, and the woman was left standing naked in the field.

The werewolf near Zarnow
In the vicinity of Zarnow a few years ago a terrible wolf was on the loose and was causing great harm to humans and cattle. Once he even ripped a child to pieces. Then all the peasants of the region banded together and pursued him, finally surrounding him in some brush. They were about to kill him when suddenly a large strange man with a club appeared before them. Then they knew that they had a werewolf before them. This happened in the year 1831.