Death sentence of Catharina Goehausen, mother of Hermann Cothmann, 1654
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Funeral eulogy for Hermann Cothmann, 1683
View of the exhibition (instruments of torture)
Visitors of the exhibition, 2008

The Hexenbürgermeisterhaus and the Witch Hunt

 

The house located at Breite Strasse 19 was bought by Dietrich Cothmann, a merchant, in 1625. He had received financial help from his brother-in-law Hermann Goehausen, who was an attorney and law professor in Rinteln.
 
The married couple had lived in the house for roughly 25 years when Catharina Goehausen, Dietrich's wife and Hermann Cothmann's mother, was accused and charged of witchcraft. She was executed in 1654. Thus, today's Hexenbürgermeisterhaus was the home of a victim of the witch trials in the middle of the 17th century.

Hermann Cothmann (1629-1683), a lawyer and mayor of the city, lived in the house from 1661 until he died in 1683. During his term of office, the last wave of witch trials took place, with about 100 executions. 

In the 19th century, the term "Hexenbürgermeisterhaus" was used by oral tradition as the name of the house located in the Breite Strasse. In the course of the expansion of the local history museum, one exhibition room in the basement was turned into a torture chamber in 1937. Thumbscrews and legscrews originally owned by the executioners's family Clauss/Clausen from Lemgo as well as a torture chair and ladder can be seen in the chamber. These instruments of torture were replicated for the purpose of the exhibition.

The torture chamber has coined the image of the Hexenbürgermeisterhaus for many years. However, during the time of the witch hunt it had always been a private residential house, not a place of torture.