I remember the day I learned we had a witch in the family. I walked with my parents up a leafy hillside overlooking Winningen, a picturesque wine-making town on the banks of Germany’s Moselle River. It was a pilgrimage to the top of the “Hexenhügel,” or Witches’ Hill, where a sombre obelisk commemorates 21 people who died as a result of the Winningen Witch Trials.
For a Canadian kid just discovering Europe, it was quite a revelation. My mind was instantly filled with horrifying images. I ran my finger over the rough engraving of my 9th great-grandmother’s name: Margarethe Kröber. She had died over 300 years earlier, burned as a witch in November 1642.
Decades later, I was still haunted by her story and tried to find out more.