Photo Gallery Accused of Dancing With the Devil

Tortured and burned at the stake by the tens of thousands, Germany's alleged witches have been largely forgotton. But thanks to efforts by a small group of activists, a number of German cities have begun absolving women, men and children who were wrongly accused of causing plagues, storms and bad harvests.
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Some 25,000 alleged "witches" were executed between 1500 and 1782 in Germany. Germany was responsible for the deaths of some 40 percent of the 60,000 witches who were tortured and killed in Europe during the infamous era, says witch-trial expert Hartmut Hegeler. This woodcut shows a witch being burned at the stake in Dernburg in 1555.

Foto: Frm/ picture-alliance / dpa
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This image shows the trial of George Jacobs in 1692. He was accused of witchcraft during the infamous witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. He was found guilty and later hanged. In 2001, more than three centuries later, the state cleared the names of the witches put to death during the hysteria. Now, Germany is beginning to do the same.


Douglas Grundy/ Getty Images

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This image from a German magazine dated around 1650 shows a woman being "ducked," a method of punishing alleged witches.

Foto: Hulton Archive/ Getty Images
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This 18th-century relief in Düsseldorf's Gerresheim district...

Foto: Horst Ossinger/ dpa
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...shows local women accused of witchcraft being burned to death.

Foto: Horst Ossinger/ dpa
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Retired Protestant minister and college religion instructor Hartmut Hegeler has written 17 books on Germany's witch trials. For the last few years he has been working to rehabilitate the so-called witches who were murdered centuries ago. "We owe it to the victims to finally acknowledge that they died innocent back then," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "But this is not just about the past -- it's a signal against the violence and marginalization of people that goes on today."

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Indeed, witch hunts still occur. This woman from Papau New Guinea bears scars on her face from an attack brought on by accusations of witchcraft in 2011. Such attacks and even murders are reportedly increasing in the country.

Foto: Christiane Oelrich/ dpa
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