Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

My 5th great-grandfather Remacle TRAUSCH was widowed on 16 February 1798.1 He was not yet 37 years old and had six children at home in Colmar in a house called Laplume, la maison de Laplume. The children were between the ages of 10 years and 1 week. It was not surprising he married again six months after the death of his wife Theresia BRAUN.

Remacle remarries

On the 9th day of the month Fructidor in the year VI (26 August 1798), Remacle married Anne Marie WIROTH, a 32-year-old woman from Vianden.2 She was the daughter of François WIROTH and Anne Marie PETRY. Remacle and Anne Marie were married in the commune of Berg in the canton of Mersch. Colmar, where the groom lived, was part of the commune of Berg. Today the commune is known as Colmar-Berg.

Remacle was a resident of Colmar and worked as a carpenter. Anne Marie was a day laborer and lived with her parents in Vianden on the Our River, in Luxembourg’s Ardennes region.

The children of the second marriage

Their first child was born less than a year later at three in the morning on 21 July 1799 in Colmar, a daughter named Peternelle.3

Vianden – from our collection of ten framed prints of castles in Luxembourg

Less than two years later the family was living in Vianden. No records have been found which would prove Remacle and his second wife were raising his children from his first marriage. I think Remacle, Anne Marie, and their daughter Peternelle resided in Vianden without his children from the previous marriage. It must be remembered that Remacle was his parents’ youngest child. His deceased wife Theresia’s older sister Catharina BRAUN lived with her husband Franz BIVER in the BRAUN family home. Franz BIVER, by marrying into the BRAUN family, had taken over as the head of the family and likely was responsible for Remacle’s children. I will get back to this further on in this post.

“Bernadus” TRAUSCH was seen as the father of Jacob TRAUSCH born on 12 April 1801 at six in the morning to the mother Anne Marie WIROTH in Vianden. The name of the father on the record is obviously an error.4 Remacle TRAUSCH was able to sign his name and the signature on this record, as well as on all birth records of his other children, were the same.

On 17 March 1803 at one in the morning a son Pierre was born to Remacle TRAUSCH and his wife Anne Marie WIROTH in Vianden.5 Once again he signed with his signature.

Remacle dies in Luxembourg City

The TRAUSCH family’s sojourn in Vianden did not last long. By 21 August 1804, the family was living in Luxembourg City. On this day François WIROTH (spelled VIROTTE on the record) went to the authorities to declare the death of his brother-in-law Remacle TRAUSCH at the age of 43 years.6

Nearly two years later, Remacle’s widow Anne Marie WIROTH was still living in Luxembourg City when, on 19 July 1806, Jacob TRAUSCH, her and Remacle’s five-year-old son, died in house number 26 on the Marché aux Poissons in Luxembourg City.7

The family council gives consent for Catharina’s marriage

A few months later on 29 November 1806, Remacle’s oldest daughter from his first marriage, Catharina was married. She was only 16 years and 6 months old. The family council appeared before the justice of the peace to give consent to the marriage of the underage and orphaned daughter of Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN on the 27th of the month. She married Pierre OLINGER, a 27-year-old man whose parents were also both deceased. Two of the witnesses to the marriage were François (Franz) BIVER, the bride’s maternal uncle (husband of her maternal aunt and godmother Catharina BRAUN), and Nicolas COLLIN, the bride’s maternal uncle (half brother of Theresia and Catharina BRAUN).8 These men were likely part of the “family council” which gave their consent to the marriage.

The reference to the family council at the time of Catharina’s marriage leads me to suspect Remacle’s children from his first marriage were being cared for by their maternal aunt Catharina BRAUN and her husband Franz BIVER (spelled BIWER in earlier records) in the years following his death and perhaps from the time of Theresia’s death.

Remacle’s widow has another child

On 19 September 1809 the widow DESGRANGE, a midwife, reported the birth of Pierre-Louis VIROTTE, the son of Remacle’s widow Anne Marie WIROTH (seen as VIROTTE on the record), at house number 2 in the rue St. Esprit in Luxembourg City. A father’s name was not given.9

Remacle’s oldest son marries

On 29 December 1813, Remacle and Theresia’s oldest son François “Franz” TRAUSCH married Eva MERTZ in Ettelbrück. Franz was living in Schieren which lies between Colmar-Berg and Ettelbrück. Eva was also a resident of Schieren which was part of the commune of Ettelbrück before 1850. None of the witnesses to this marriage were relatives of Franz TRAUSCH.10

Before Remacle and Theresia’s next two sons would marry, a horrific crime took place in Luxembourg City.

View of the church St. Jean in the Grund (lower part of Luxembourg City) from the guard walk of the Porte de Trèves

Death and burial records hint at a crime

As I searched for records of the children of Remacle’s second marriage I was surprised to find records of four deaths which took place in the night between 6 and 7 April 1816. Anne Marie WIROTH, Peternelle (now seen as Petronilla) TRAUSCH, Pierre TRAUSCH, and Pierre-Louis WIROTH were found dead in their home in house number 23 in the rue de Trèves in Grund, the lower part of Luxembourg City. Their deaths were reported by Michel GENERÉ, appariteur or bailiff. Anne Marie’s occupation was listed as cabarêtière (owner of a cabaret or tavern) in the city. 11

Porte de Trèves with the fortress wall in Luxembourg City

No information on the cause of death was found in the death records. As church records are now available on Matricula Online, I checked for the burial records of the family of four. I found only one sad entry.12

Imagine courtesy of Matricula Online. Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Die Septima Aprilis 1816 Anna Virotte anno aetutis quadragesimo quinto cum filia Petronillae Trausch 20 annos nata et dubbus (dubus) filiis Petro Trausch decimo quarto et Ludovico Virotte Septimo aetatis anno nocte ante Dominicam palmaram horrendo atque hucusque inaudito modo in lectibus trucidati ad supraedati postridie una sepulti fucre.

I took the Latin text apart, translating sections at a time. I then sent the image of the record, my Latin transcript (which included a few incorrect and missing words), and my English translation to my friend Linda who has helped me several times with Latin records. She confirmed my translation (below) was spot on, sent me a corrected Latin transcript (above), and the link to a magazine article which discussed this horrific crime.

On the seventh day of April 1816 Anna Virotte forty-fifth year of age and daughter Petronilla Trausch 20 years old and the victim’s sons Petro Trausch fourteen and Louis Virotte seven years of age the night before Palm Sunday in a horrible and hitherto unheard-of way were slaughtered in their beds and  buried the day following the above mentioned date.

A brief overview of the crime

Michel Engels - 17 Les portes de Trèves et de Mansfeld
Les portes de Trèves et de Mansfeld by Michel Engels [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The scene of the crime being the building on the left below the gate.
On the night before Palm Sunday, at midnight a guard at the Porte de Trèves heard a woman’s weeping scream. Between one and two o’clock in the morning, one of the guards who were taking turns saw three men pass by. When he shouted, “Who goes there?” they replied with the password “Bourgeois!” which allowed them to pass through the gate.

At six o’clock in the morning, the milkwoman came to deliver milk to the widow TRAUSCH who lived only a few meters from the gate. The house was quiet and the front door open. As she often did, she poured the milk into a stone jar in the kitchen and went on her way.

The widow TRAUSCH was known as the Kränzercher lady. She sold Veianer Kränzercher (pastries in the form of wreaths) at the market. She also had a bad reputation as she sold drink and sexual services in the house known as “A Kränzerches” where she lived. Acquaintances knew she had plans to buy a house as she had proudly shown them the coins she’d saved from her business dealings.

At 11 o’clock the churchgoers were coming home from mass at St. Jean de Grund church. The house where widow TRAUSCH lived with her family was still quiet. This was unusual and neighbors began to gather at her door. The crowd grew. Four men entered the house and soon came out, horrified by what they had found. The widow and her three children were dead, their throats cut through.

By Monday five suspects had been taken into custody. Two were quickly released. The three who were held over for trial were Jews. News of the murders made the rounds and angry crowds insulted and threatened Jews who lived in the city. The intervention of the mayor and law enforcement prevented people from further insulting the Jews.

The trial in early September 1816 lasted several days and about one hundred witnesses were called.  Testimonies soon showed Schwartz, one of the accused, had an alibi. The Hauser brothers, the other two accused, were placed at the scene of the crime by witnesses and fresh blood had been found on the clothing of one of them. An important representative of the Jewish community testified the morality of the Hauser brothers seemed suspicious as one never visited the synagogue and the other rarely. The anti-Semitic sentiment which prevailed in the city was not mentioned in the court records of the case.

In the end, the court came to the conclusion that Hirsch and Emmanuel Hauser were guilty and were sentenced to death by decapitation. Their appeal to the Cassation Court in Liège was denied. They were executed on a public square of the fortress city on 18 October 1816.

The article in the magazine Ons Stad is in German and gives a bit more detail.13 The court records are available to the public at the National Archives of Luxembourg.14 I have not visited the archives to view this collection of records.

Tony JUNGBLUT, author and publisher, had an interest in the judicial system and gained notoriety as a judicial chronicler. He wrote the short story “Das Verbrechen der Gebrüder Hauser,” a narrative of the Trausch murders case using testimonies found in the court records. The short story was included in his 1938 book Luxemburger Pitaval, a series of criminal cases that marked the history of Luxembourg.

By searching the National Library of Luxembourg’s eluxemburgensia site, I found the story was published earlier in the weekly magazine, A-Z : Luxemburger illustrierte in four parts in August of 1934. It is an amazing story and worth the read if you are fluent in German.15

Life continues for Remacle’s children from his first marriage

Five months after the trial, Michel TRAUSCH, my fourth great-grandfather and the son of Remacle and his first wife Theresia, married Catharina HAMES on 17 February 1817 in Mamer. Catharina was the daughter of Agnes BOUR alias HEITZ and Johannes HAMES of Mamer and my fourth great-grandmother.16 They made their home in Mamer.

Nearly two years later, Nicolas TRAUSCH who would later be more commonly referred to as Jean Nicolas married Maria Margaritha TONTLING in Tuntange on 21 January 1819.17 They lived in Hollenfels.

I continue to seek any information on the remaining two children of Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN. No marriage or death records have been found for the daughters Susanna born in 1796 and Maria born in 1798.

I was a bit uneasy about writing this story of murder, prostitution, and anti-Semitic sentiment. The fortress city of Luxembourg during this time was a multi-cultural place. People of different nationalities came to the city to trade.  The Jewish settlement had only become possible since the French Revolution in 1795. Following Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 Luxembourg became a Grand Duchy and was under the rule of the King of Netherlands and became a member of the German Federation. The Prussia soldiers encamped in the barracks were for the most part Lutherans in a country which was predominantly Catholic.

Next week I will be tying up some of the loose ends, among others,  concerning Theresia BRAUN’s father Martin in my final post in this series.

Posts in this series:

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Berg > Décès 1796-1830 > image 4+5 of 167. 1798 Death Record (bottom left page and all of right page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-KYG?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 January 2018) and 1798 Death Record (top left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-645?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 January 2018). 
  2. Ibid., Berg > Mariages 1796-1858 > image 9-11 of 270. 1798 Marriage Record on four pages. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-XCY?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6J%3A129623401%2C129709001 : accessed 14 January 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Berg > Naissances 1796-1814 > image 29 of 140. 1799 Birth Record (3 thermidor an VII). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6L2S-5FN?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-K68%3A129623401%2C129773501 : accessed 16 January 2018). 
  4. Ibid., Vianden > Naissances 1793-1828 > image 61 of 484. 1801 Birth Record (22 germinal an IX), right page, bottom. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XCWC-DG?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-SPD%3A130504801%2C130707001 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  5. Ibd., Vianden > Naissances 1793-1828 > image 74 of 484. 1803 Birth Record (left page, top). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XCWH-88?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-SPD%3A130504801%2C130707001 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  6. Ibid., Luxembourg > Mariages 1888-1890 Décès 1796-1806 > image 1070 of 1420. 1804 (3 Fructidor XII) Death Record (right, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-69H9-W6S?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-DP8%3A130045801%2C131708201 : accessed 14 January 2018). 
  7. Ibid., Luxembourg > Mariages 1888-1890 Décès 1796-1806 > image 1368 of 1420. 1806 Death Record (right page, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-69H9-8XD?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-DP8%3A130045801%2C131708201 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Berg > Mariages 1796-1858 > image 28+29 of 270. 1806 Marriage Record (2 pages). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-L1X?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6J%3A129623401%2C129709001 : accessed 16 January 2018). 
  9. Ibid., Luxembourg > Naissances 1800 > image 910 of 1432. 1809 Birth Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XCMF-NJ?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-RM9%3A130045801%2C132054501 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  10. Ibid., Ettelbruck > Naissances 1885-1890 Mariages 1796-1844 > image 627 of 1505. 1813 Marriage Record No. 15. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6X2S-MB5?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-FM9%3A129625001%2C130529102 : accessed 16 January 2018). 
  11. Ibid., Luxembourg > Décès 1814 > image 274+275 of 1396. 1816 Death Records of Anne Marie WIROTH, Peternelle TRAUSCH, Pierre TRAUSCH, and Pierre-Louis WIROTH (2 pages). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6XK9-7R8?cc=91709358&wc=9RYC-DP8%3A130045801%2C130226501 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  12. Diözesanarchiv Luxemburg / Archives diocésaines Luxembourg (images), Matricula Online, http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/, Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (original records in the Luxembourg Diocesan Archives, Luxembourg City), Microfilm/-fiche GV.MF 356-627, Luxembourg-Stadtgrund, KB-02-10, Heiraten – Sterbefälle – Taufen – 1808 – 1817, image 155 of 157, stamped page 26, entry in middle of right page. 1816 Death Record. (http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/luxemburg-stadtgrund/KB-02-10/?pg=155 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  13. Renée Wagener, “Mordfall in der Festung Luxemburg ‘Ein entsetzliches Verbrechen?'”, Ons Stad 116/2017 p. 10-12,  Ville de Luxembourg, Service Communications et relations publiques. (https://onsstad.vdl.lu/fileadmin/uploads/media/ons_stad_116-2017_10-12.pdf : accessed 11 July 2019) 
  14. Archives Nationales de Luxembourg, CT-01-02-0090 Hauser Hirsch, Hauser Emmanuel, Schwartz Abraham-Jacques – Accusés de meurtre, 1816 (Dossier). (http://query.an.etat.lu/Query/detail.aspx?ID=390601 : accessed 19 August 2019) 
  15. Tony Jungblut, “Das Verbrechen der Gebrüder Hauser”, published in four parts in A-Z : Luxemburger illustrierte, 5 August 1934 No. 33 p. 4-7, 12 August 1934 No. 34 p. 18-20, 19 August 1934 No. 35 p. 18-19, and 26 August 1934 No. 36 p. 18-19. (https://luxemburgensia.bnl.lu/cgi/luxonline1_2.pl?action=yr&sid=azillust&year=1934 : accessed 21 August 2019). 
  16. Luxembourg Civil Records, Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1283 of 1504. 1817 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12585-51831-91?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-FM9:130065401,130365601 : accessed 22 August 2011). 
  17. Ibid., Tuntange > Naissances 1858-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1872 > image 467 of 1488. 1819 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68K3-PXQ?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-168%3A130493401%2C130649501 : accessed 10 July 2019). 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

27 thoughts on “Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg”

    1. Kendra, after reading the entire story written by Tony Jungblut, I also realized there were many who were affected by this crime. It makes me want to go to the archives to get access to the entire case file. Jungblut did not include testimony of all of the witnesses in his narrative. It makes me wonder if any of the distant family members may have also been questioned. Thank you.

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  1. The fact that this crime happened around Easter (Palm Sunday) leads me to think that the old myth of Jews killing Christian children for their blood had something to do with the convictions. It would be interesting to read the trial transcripts to see what the testimony was. Often these crimes are not random but done by someone in the family. I wonder if the father of Anne Marie’s out-of-wedlock child had something to do with this….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anne Marie had a bad reputation and may not have even known who the father of her illegitimate son was. The motive of the murders was attributed to financial greed. Tony Jungblut studied the records in the archives and used the testimonies to write the narrative. I had already written up the short overview of the crime before I read his more detailed piece. Considering Jungblut’s reputation as a court reporter and journalist, I believe he tried to be impartial. Perhaps I should include a bit more of the “story” in my next post which will tie up some of the loose ends. Thank you, Amy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s always shocking when tragedy hits close to home, even if it occurred centuries before. It would be interesting to see if any extended family members were involved in the subsequent court case.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, please do tell us more of the details. Are you convinced that the real murderer(s) were not discovered? Quite the “National Enquirer” story to come across in the usually staid business of seeking out genealogical roots, isn’t it? It leaves me wondering about why Remacle exercised such poor judgement in his selection of a second wife. She doesn’t seem to fit into that family. Which may be why the children were raised by someone else rather than the new wife. Perhaps there was a split in the family over the 2nd marriage?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cathy, I completely understand your uneasiness to post about this sad and horrible event in your ancestor’s lives, but there is something important that we all can learn from this, and that is, no matter what your ancestors may have experienced or ultimately may have perpetrated, the telling of these events may help us all to see ourselves and each other in a different and better light. To be more sympathetic and empathetic towards each other, which is something I strive to do everyday. I’m sure we all have similar stories to tell about an ancestor or two, and we share in your devotion to uncovering the truth of your ancestors, and in so much as to uncover the truth of this story. As always, great post! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating, Cathy! I still wonder if the real murderers were the brothers who were executed (decapitated! That is also gruesome). I have a feeling there is more to be learned about all the people you’ve mentioned. As usual, you’ve investigated many records to tell a story. I can understand that you felt uncomfortable about sharing these details, but some unseen force must have urged you on, wanting to bring the details to light – many many years later. Sharing it might help. Sometimes, when we work on a project such as this one, we cannot see the forest for the trees. And the rest of us can learn something, too. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A truly horrific story in many ways. A horrible crime, and I suspect a miscarriage of justice in the end. I find the notion of Jews at that time of year putting themselves in jeopardy by a killing like that very suspicious. And the fact that someone with the sayso in the Jewish community corroborated that these two men were suspicious could mean that they were sacrificed so that the Jewish community as a whole wasn’t in danger. Too many stories like that for too many centuries. Your work here is OUTSTANDING, Cathy. You amaze me with the detail you were able to bring into this narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

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