Skull from a tombstone

Alsfeld contaminated!The plague rages in Alsfeld

The plague was the spectre of past times and a plague with devastating effects: The “Black Death”, or as it was also allegorically depicted in illustrations the “bone man with the scythe”, claimed millions of lives in Europe, caused villages to disappear from the map and entire regions to become deserted.

Because no one could explain the cause and the way the deadly plague spread, it was often interpreted as “God’s punishment” and as a sign of the impending end of the world and the Last Judgment.

This led to the search for scapegoats and the exclusion or murder of parts of the population, e.g., the “gypsies,” and especially to violent pogroms against Jews.

The plague also frequently raged in Alsfeld, a conveniently located trading town with a high fluctuation of travelers, which even then promoted the spread of the disease.

Between 1575 and 1646, 15 major plague epidemics with about 1,400 fatalities have been recorded, although the number was certainly higher. The Alsfeld population, which was already suffering from the turmoil of the 30 Years War, was hit hardest in 1635, the year of the war: 560 people fell victim to the epidemic. That was almost every fourth of the approximately 2500 inhabitants. MNic