My Thoughts on the Death of 25,000 People in Magdeburg (in 1631)

Robin Clower
June 1, 2015
A monument to the Franco-Prussian war

Okay, imagine you live in a city with around 30,000 residents that’s under siege. After several months, the enemy forces break through, rape every woman they can get their hands on, loot and break all valuables, and get drunk with the alcohol they find, and set the city on fire. At the end of the day, over 25,000 people have died in the inferno and at the hands of the invaders. For context, that’s all of Oklahoma State’s undergrad population dying in one day. Now imagine that happened 400 years ago and your city has since been rebuilt. How many memorials do you think you would have to the dead? Maybe one big one near the city center or something inside of the cathedral where 600 people were saved by the priests? That would make sense to me. Magdeburg has none. While walking around the city, my dad and I found three reminders of the siege. One was in a small relief carving depicting big events in the city’s history, where it took up about a 25th of the total area on the carving. On the ground in one area there were two plaques saying that buildings had been destroyed in 1631 (the date of the attack) but they had no explanation about the war or why they were destroyed. Lastly, there was a section inside the city’s museum, which actually did a fairly good job explaining the siege, but it was only one section out of thirteen in the museum and not a very large section at that. When I researched Magdeburg, I knew not to expect much simply because of how long ago it was, but I was expecting more than what was there. There were memorials for both world wars, there were memorials for the Franco-Prussian war, and a memorial for a general in the Napoleonic wars, however there was not a single real memorial for the time when the town was completely destroyed and 25,000 of its residents died. I would think they would acknowledge that.

A cheery quote from my research of the battle, to try and make up for the lack of acknowledgement on the city's part:

Here commenced a scene of horrors for which history has no language - poetry no pencil. Neither innocent childhood, nor helpless old age; neither youth, sex, rank, nor beauty, could disarm the fury of the conquerors. Wives were abused in the arms of their husbands, daughters at the feet of their parents; and the defenseless sex exposed to the double sacrifice of virtue and life. No situation, however obscure or however sacred, escaped the rapacity the enemy. In a single church fifty-three women were found beheaded. The Croats amused themselves with throwing children into the flames- Pappenheim's Walloons with stabbing infants at the mother’s breast. Some officers of the League, horror struck at this dreadful scene, ventured to remind Tilly that he had it in his power to stop the carnage. “Return in an hour,” was his answer; “I will see what I can do; the soldier must have some reward for his danger and toils.” These horrors lasted with unabated fury till at last the smoke and flames proved a check to the plunderers. -Friedrich Schiller

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Robin Clower

<p>I am Robin Clower and currently I&#39;m earning degrees in Secondary Education: Mathematics and German, as well as an additional major in Mathematics at Oklahoma State University (Go Cowboys!) I lived in Germany as a child, but am now headed back after studying Germany&#39;s language, culture, and history for four years at OSU. My main passion in life is teaching, so I hope to teach y&#39;all something while I&#39;m in Germany and learning about myself.</p>

2015 Summer 1, 2015 Summer 2
Home University:
Oklahoma State University
German Language
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