Was the Verdict in the 1816 Murder Case a Miscarriage of Justice?

After reading a comment posted yesterday (below) on Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg, I wondered if I had missed something very important in the story of the murders of Anne Marie WIROTH and her children.

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. ~ Luanne Castle, blogger at The Kalamazoo Family and Entering the Pale

Tony JUNGBLUT (1913-1975) was an author, journalist, court chronicler, and editor.  Although the article he wrote in the A-Z : Luxemburger illustrierte in 19341 was a narrative of the crime, he used the court records to write the story as he did with his other historical writings.

Historians write about events in for a period by researching and analyzing documentation, similar to genealogists, from the perspective of the time they/we live in. When JUNGBLUT wrote the story, Hitler had recently become the Chancellor of Germany. He could not see into the future and hadn’t yet lived through the years of Nazi persecution of the Jews while we, as the reader today, are influenced by our knowledge of the evil deeds against Jews by Hitler and the Nazis. Did JUNGBLUT only write about what was in the court documents? Did he avoid the trying to read something into the over 100 years old records?

In his narrative, JUNGBLUT did not go into further detail of the situation in the walled city of Luxembourg. Renée WAGENER, the author of the 2017 article in Ons Stad2, mentions a letter written by representatives of the Jewish community to the mayor of Luxembourg City in 1821, four years after the crime. The Jewish community had not forgotten the great danger and terrible aftermath of the cries of vengeance and of blood against them following the crime. She also mentions the anti-Semitic sentiments which prevailed in the city were not found in the court documents.

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…. ~ Amy Cohen, blogger at Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

My ignorance of early Jewish history may have kept me from paying closer attention to missing details in the 1934 narrative by JUNGBLUT. Luanne may be correct about the HAUSER brothers being sacrificed so the Jewish community as a whole wouldn’t be in danger.

I was quick to discard Amy’s speculation of the father of Anne Marie’s out-of-wedlock child having something to do with the affair as her reputation suggested she may not have even known who the father was, i.e. the father would not have known of the child. However, I should have listened to the niggling suspicion something may not be right.

Renée WAGENER’s article (based on JUNGBLUT’s narrative, the Luxembourg National Archives’ documentation of the trial, as well as the correspondence with the mayor) mentions names which were not in the 1934 narrative or were spelled differently.

As discussed in the earlier post, five men were arrested for the crime, four of them were Jews. Guetschlick GODCHAUX, a Jewish man who was arrested but later set free, was the nephew of Pinhas GODCHAUX, the official gold examiner or amtlichen Goldprüfer.

This same Pinhas GODCHAUX was also the representative of the Jewish community who testified the morality of the HAUSER brothers seemed suspicious as one never visited the synagogue and the other rarely.

The seventeen-year-old Pinhas GODCHAUX (of the same name as the man above) implicated the HAUSER brothers in the murders. In the narrative, he appears to have spent a lot of time with the brothers. He, like Guetschlick, was a nephew of the elder Pinhas GODCHAUX. Young Pinhas’ mother was likely the widow Nanette GODCHAUX who also gave testimony but is not mentioned by this name in the narrative.

Why did I not notice the recurring GODCHAUX surname? Probably because the persons were not suspects. When I read Luanne’s comment this morning, I knew I had to write one more post about this horrible crime and possible miscarriage of justice.

Are you convinced that the real murderer(s) were not discovered? – Vera Marie Badertscher, blogger at Ancestors in Aprons

I didn’t want to question the verdict reached by the courts in 1816 as I haven’t consulted the actual court records. Has my discovery of the unusual burial record of the family of four with the mention of this horrific event only complicated things as I’ve attempted to learn more of the story? Will the actual court records or even other records reveal a conspiracy which was meant to be hidden when the last of the people involved died nearly 200 years ago?

After posting the last of the six parts in this series, I realized earlier this week I had not checked for the death records of the HAUSER brothers.

1816 Death Record No. 203 of Hirsch HAUSSER
1816 Death Record No. 204 of Emmanuel HAUSSER

Hirsch (30) and Emmanuel (22) died on 18 October 1816 at 11 o’clock in the morning on the Marché aux Poissons in Luxembourg City. Their deaths were reported by Jean Baptiste Joseph Poison (51), a court clerk or greffier de la cour d’assises and Louis Langers (66), court bailiff or huissier du tribunal.3 From the information Jungblut and Wagener obtained from the court records, they were executed by decapitation.

The case of widow TRAUSCH, as Anne Marie WIROTH was also known,  and her children’s murders will remain an open case until I can visit the National Archives of Luxembourg. I obviously also need to do research on the Jewish community in Luxembourg for this period.

Thank you, Luanne, Amy, and Vera for your comments which helped me to look at this from a different perspective.

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. 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). 
  2. 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) 
  3. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Luxembourg > Décès 1814 > image 301 of 1396. 1816 Death Records No. 203 and 204. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6XK9-WS4?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-DP8%3A130045801%2C130226501 : accessed 2 September 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.

12 thoughts on “Was the Verdict in the 1816 Murder Case a Miscarriage of Justice?”

  1. Cathy, I myself always welcome other pairs of eyes to either see deeper into the research I am doing or seeing it from a different perspective. James Beidler did that for me when I was researching my Beyer family. It absolutely out a whole new perspective on my research. For me, a sign of a good researcher or genealogist realizes that they can falter just as easily as anyone else, and sometimes we need those extra pair of eyes. In my book, you are still one of the best…just keep on truckin’! I’ll keep followin’!! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This has been an interesting lesson to me. I also welcome other pairs of eyes and wish others would become interested in working with me on some of my families. In this case, the help came from people who saw a completely different story. It goes to show us blogging can help open doors we never thought existed. Thank you, Brian.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree Cathy…I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have more eyes on my research! Maybe sit around and wonder why no one is reading my posts.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am glad that you are willing to question the verdict and even Jungblut’s research. It will be interesting to see what you learn about the Jewish community in Luxembourg in those times. (I find it a little creepy that Jungblut’s name means young blood, given the crime here.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Cathy, thank you so much for “reopening the case,” so to speak. I will be eager to read what you discover in the future relating to the case. As with “politics” in today’s world, there is probably a lot that goes on that never gets recorded and can never be known for sure. Because of the long-standing belief that Jews killed children at the time of Easter (probably many reasons this came about, but one is that Christians were taught to blame Jews for Jesus’ death), it’s hard for me to trust even what is written in official documents. The deaths could have been motivated by who-knows-what and perhaps the murders not committed by those who were executed but by people who informally or semi-officially wanted to create a pogrom against the Jewish community or to target specific Jewish people. For what purpose? To take any wealth or belongings or to satisfy grudges (because Jews provided the loans that Christians were forbidden by usury laws to provide–if I remember right to charge interest was against church doctrine– they were often targets of grudges). All this makes the case even more fascinating for me IMO because it could be a concrete example of what I learned in my high school and college history courses about all this. Sometimes I wonder if my ancestors believed in such destructive myths and were involved in participating in miscarriages of justice and worse. It is almost hard to believe that they weren’t since it was a part of the culture at the time. We have such a different viewpoint looking backwards from our world today.

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  4. Well said Cathy and Luanne. I would also like to add that I look at history as a living or changing thing and not just cold hard facts. Facts are always open to interpretation when viewed together with other facts. Newly “discovered” facts are still emerging about a lot of history even today which makes us able to re-evaluate our conclusions all the time. If there had been DNA testing of the child in this case to see who was the father… Such an interesting story. Thanks for sharing it with us Cathy.

    Liked by 1 person

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