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). 

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

I’ve written about my fifth great-grandparents Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar  and solved the question of why Theresia BRAUN was also seen as Theresia COLLING? I also wrote about Theresia’s parents and maternal grandparents (yellow in the screenshot below) in “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782). This was followed up with (blue and green below)  The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804).

One branch of the family tree has been neglected due to lack of records. Theresia BRAUN’s paternal side seen in pink below.

Screenshot of the pedigree of Michel TRAUSCH generated by AncestralQuest

An aside concerning Martin BRAUN (1695-1766)

Maria Magdalena SCHMIDT (SCHNEIDISCH)’s husband Martin BRAUN was found to be the son of Jean Frédérique BRAUN and Marie KAUFFMAN. His parents were married 16 November 1692 in Bissen, Luxembourg1; Martin was born 4 February 1695 in Colmar.2 He was the oldest of six children born to Jean Frédérique and Marie.

Like Martin, his siblings were all born in Colmar. Johannes was baptized 10 March 16973, Elisabetha Catharina 28 April 16984, Johannes 4 March 17015, Nicolas 20 February 17036, and Johannes Franciscus 10 April 1708.7

A death record was found for a youth named Johannes BRAUNS who died on the same day the first Johannes was baptized.8 The entry doesn’t indicate his age or who his parents were. Elisabetha Catharina died 9 September 1701 in her fourth year.9 No trace of the three youngest brothers was found after their baptisms.

Due to the plague and the wars during the middle ages, the population of Colmar, Berg, and Welsdorf was sparse. There were 17 families in 1540 and 5 in 1641. The inhabitants, with the exception of the nobles, were serfs and exploited the lands belonging to the nobles.

The total number of inhabitants increased from the end of the 17th century when iron forges were installed at Colmar. The first people of this trade came from today’s region of Wallonia in Belgium. The workforce came from the surrounding areas of Colmar.10

Due to the small population in the area, Martin’s three younger brothers may have gone to other parts to find work and to marry. If they produced records in the Bissen parish during the years from 1721 to 1749 these are lost.

In 1761 when Martin married Magdalena SCHNEIDISCH he was a widower and 66 years old.11 No previous marriage record or baptismal records of children born to Martin and his first wife were found in Bissen likely due to the missing records for the years 1721 to 1749.

Other than Martin’s parents, Martin, his widow, and his two daughters there were no other BRAUNS or BRAUN marriages in Bissen from 1610-1797 (with the exception of possible missing records from the years 1721 to 1749).

It seems strange there were no other BRAUN individuals in the area other than Theresia, my 5th great-grandmother, and her older sister Elisabetha. I suspect, if Martin was married a first time, the marriage may have remained childless. Which makes it even harder to believe Martin married a second time at the age of 66 and had two daughters with Magdalena.

As the oldest child of the BRAUN-KAUFFMAN marriage, Martin would have been the child to whom the family home was passed on to. After his death, his widow married Michel COLLING. In later years, Martin’s oldest daughter Elisabetha, as well as her COLLING half-siblings, would be found living in a house called Braumes, the home Martin probably grew up in.

Den BRONGEN von Colmar

While reading old newsletters of the commune of Colmar-Berg, I found an interesting tidbit about Martin BRAUN. An article on the Wilmesvogtei (Welsdorf) included a transcript of the entry for Jean KEYSER of Welsdorf alias WILMES on the 1766 Cadastre of Marie-Thérèse. It mentions the land and buildings he “owned” and worked and the goods and taxes he had to pay.

To Martin BRAUN of Colmar, dem (den) BRONGEN von Colmar, he had to give four sesters or forty-eight bushels of wheat yearly (one sester is equal to 12 bushels). This confirms Martin was also known by the name BRONGEN which is Luxembourgish for brown. A brief mention of my ancestor in an article about a completely different family led to my finding the cadastre sheet with his alternate name.12

1766 Cadastre of Marie-Thérèse for Jean KEYSER of Welsdorf alias Wilmes mentioning Martin BRAUN or dem Brongen von Colmar.

The spectacular fourfold murder case of 1816

In my last post A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg I gave only a brief overview of the crime. I’d found the narrative written by Tony JUNGBLUT after the post was ready to publish.13

The four-part narrative of the criminal case includes the following statement in the introduction (English translation of the German text):

All the details were drawn from the official records*, so we have here not only a captivating criminal case, but also a documentary picture of Luxembourg’s time as a fortress city.

*National Archives of Luxembourg, ANLUX, CT-01-02-0090.

From the witnesses’ testimonies, the court chronicler was able to tell the who, what, when, where, why of the goings-on before, during, and after the trial. Between 80 and 100 witnesses were heard which seems amazing for the time period and for the short five months between the murders and the trial. I hope the men they accused and found guilty were the perpetrators.

Considering Jungblut’s reputation as a court reporter and journalist, I believe he was impartial. Did he include everything in his narrative? Did he omit repetitive testimonials made by persons whose names would be recognized as distant family members by this researcher as he considered them not important to the story? The case file holds the answer.

I look forward to visiting the National Archives of Luxembourg (ANLUX) and viewing the actual documents. This would be my first visit to ANLUX. Will I be allowed to photograph or scan them so I can transcribe them from home? I trust the narrative Jungblut wrote but as a family historian and genealogist, I want to be able to work with the primary documentation.

From JUNGBLUT’s narrative, I learned more of my fifth great-grandfather Remacle TRAUSCH’s widow.

Anne Marie WIROTH’s tavern was frequented by the military, hunters, Jews, and foreigners. As a result of the diversity of visitors and the constant tension between the citizens and the German military, there were often night-time quarrels. Widow Trausch had regular customers who would come in to drink wine and chat with the daughter of the house. The older woman was known to drink more than her guests and look the other way when her daughter granted favors to clients for a few coins. Instead of being ruinous to her business, the rumors and talk caused more people to visit the establishment.

The mother felt some remorse for taking advantage of her daughter and knew this wasn’t good for the young girl’s reputation. When she failed to convince a young man to marry her daughter, she began to make other plans to save her daughter’s reputation and still fill her purse.

She had previously lived in a house in the Grund which was for sale. She figured she could make good money renting out rooms which were in great demand in the city. On Thursday she negotiated a price in francs with the owner. The same day she approached her deceased husband’s friend for a loan of the amount she was lacking. The next day she asked her cleaning lady if she would come to work for her at her new place. Things were looking up for her. She sent her daughter to the owner of the house to let him know she would have her thalers converted to francs by Palm Sunday. She would then pay him in 5-franc pieces and visit the notary to certify the purchase. By Palm Sunday the entire family was dead.

Was my fifth great-grandfather Remacle TRAUSCH’s choice of Anne Marie WIROTH for his second wife a mistake? From what we’ve learned of her after his death, she was not the ideal person. However, I wonder if I can pass judgment on her not knowing if my ancestor may have left her with nothing more than mouths to feed.

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 paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 151 of 162. 1692 Marriage Record (right page, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-QQHT?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 10 of 162. 1695 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQ5R?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  3.   Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 16 of 162. 1697 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry from bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQY4?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  4. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 19 of 162. 1698 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-QQGV?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  5. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 23 of 162. 1701 Baptismal Record (left page, 4th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-QQTX?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  6. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 26 of 162. 1703 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry from bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-Q7DN?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  7. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 35 of 162. 1708 Baptismal Record (right page, 1st entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-Q79L?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 138 of 162. 1697 Death Record (right page, 4th entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQSV?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 24 August 2019). 
  9. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 140 of 162. 1701 Deth Record (right page, 3rd entry from bottom).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQ7Y?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  10. “Histoire de la Commune,” Administration communale de Colmar-Berg, (https://www.colmar-berg.lu/fr/Pages/Chiffres-et-Hitoire-de-la-commune.aspx : accessed 21 August 2019) 
  11. Luxembourg Church Records, Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 13 of 34. 1761 Marriage Record (left, middle). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQ7D?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  12. Cadastre de Marie-Thérèse (1752-1772), Dénombrements des feux, aides et subsides 1473-1806, FamilySearch, Film # 008014724, Regime A, section 14: cadastre de Marie-Thérèse 1767, liasse 175 (Berg, Colmar), image 301 of 676, Sheet No. 46, Jean Keyser von Welsdorf alias Wilmes. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSX4-B3T4-3?i=300&cat=1152016 : accessed 30 August 2019). 
  13. 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).