Shin crusher (instrument of torture)

Iron, 18th century; height: 22 cm

There are official records of one case of a witch's interrogation in Penzlin Castle: Benigna Schulzen from Penzlin is tortured at 7 a.m. on the morning of 4 November 1699. Her tormentor places her in shin crushers after the accusations of witchcraft have been examined and a 'benevolent warning' has been read out.

The crushers consist of two iron plates, moulded to follow the contours of the human leg. They are tightened increasingly using vices attached to the calf and the shin bone. Thumb screws are used first to coerce a confession. Then the shin crusher is tightened around the right leg. Afterwards the left leg. The torture is repeated several times. Frequently this will lead to a 'confession', followed by execution at the stake.

Gustav Adolph, Duke of Mecklenburg-Güstrow (1633–1695), displayed a particular appetite for witch-hunting in the second half of the 17th century. He ordered the extermination of witches in 1661 and established a special witches' court in 1681. This led to a precipitous increase in the number of incarcerated witches and sorcerers.


Text: A. R.

The exhibit refers to:

Mecklenburg until 1945

Look here for the original exhibit:

Burg Penzlin. Museum für Alltagsmagie und Hexenverfolgung in Mecklenburg

Burg Penzlin. Museum für Alltagsmagie und Hexenverfolgung in Mecklenburg

17217 Penzlin

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