Hansel and Gretel: A Real-Life Murder Mystery Turned Fairytale

By | July 8, 2019

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Hansel And Gretel at Witch's Cottage. Source: (gettyimages.com)

One of our most beloved fairytales is the story of Hansel and Gretel. It's a strange cautionary tale about not trusting friendly strangers and the dangers of cookies, but did you know that this seemingly benign children's tale has a sinister origin story? Just like the fairytale, the real-life story ends with a prolific female baker burning to death in her own oven after being pushed in by Hansel, with the help of his sister, Gretel, but that's where the similarities end. Let's learn about the case of jilted love, stalking, murder, witchcraft, and gingerbread that inspired the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel. 

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The gingerbread of Katharina Schraderin was extraordinarily good. Source: (theomaway.com)

It All Started with Yummy Baked Goods

Back in 1618 in the mountains of Germany, there lived a woman named Katharina Schraderin. She was a phenomenal baker. She sold her goodies at various markets and fairs surrounding the German town of Nuremberg. Her specialty was gingerbread, but her cakes and cookies also made her regionally famous. Many people sought her recipes, but Katharina kept those a closely guarded secret.