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Bispingen: The woodland of the “Robber's Lair” in Hützel District

29646 Bispingen


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Bispingen: The woodland of the “Robber's Lair” in Hützel District

The extensive "Raubkammer" (Robber's Lair) woodland with its many hiking trails - located in Hützel, a part of Bispingen - owes its name to the robber barons who used to infest the land. A memorial stone south of Rehrhof commemorates the knight Moritz von Zahrenhusen, who was killed while attempting to rob a merchant.


This is how the story goes:

The stallion steams in the cold air, tired from the gallop. Moritz von Zahrenhusen reins in and comes to a halt in a clearing, shrouded in morning mist. A caravan of Lübeck merchants approaches from the distant darkness of the wild forest called "Robbers Lair", near Amelinghausen. With shouts and cries, Zahrenhusen's men storm out of the undergrowth. With roars and blows they push the Lübeck merchants off the road. They tie the merchants to trees and drive away the wagons loaded with barrels full of herring and amber from Lübeck. They take one of the Hanseatic fat cats hostage - the best dressed one - and imprison him in Bockum Castle, the seat of Moritz von Zahrenhusen, the last robber baron of Lüneburg Heath. The villain of the Robbers’ Lair has struck again.


The stretch of road passing through the wild forest is notorious; Moritz von Zahrenhusen and his band of men are feared near and far. All attempts to capture this bandit of noble birth had failed. On the last attempt, mercenaries in the service of Hanseatic merchants were sent to capture this scourge of the Heath. They tracked the hoof marks of the robber band, starting at the site of the most recent ambush. They followed the tracks for hours until they disappeared into thin air, as if by magic. Von Zahrenhusen and his band had shooed their horses backwards. The tracks led the pursuers in the wrong direction until they were forced to abandon the search.


Alarmed by the disappearance of his brother Till, the Lübeck merchant Kord Wißmann sets off for Lüneburg Heath. Men who survived the raid in the Robbers’ Lair tell Wißmann about the armed horde that suddenly emerged from the shadows of the forest and assailed the caravan from Lübeck. The merchant decides to set a trap for Zahrenhusen’s men. He has his men harness a long train of wagons, all of them sumptuously decorated with his family’s coats of arms. The covers are bulging as if they were hiding a collection of spices, chests full of precious stones and barrels of the best wine. He hopes that Zahrenhusen will not be able to resist the temptation of the wagon train rolling through the Robbers’ Lair. But instead of the precious freight, armed servants are hidden inside the wagons.


The decoy wagon train from Lübeck rumbles unhurriedly through the Amelinghausen Forest. Moritz von Zahrenhusen and his men have long since spotted the loot and are lying in wait. Zahrenhusen draws his sword and gives the signal to attack. Zahrenhusen's men emerge from all sides to attack the advance party from Lübeck; they knock down the rear guard with a few blows of their swords and storm the fully-loaded wagons from the flanks. Now the hidden servants throw the tarpaulins aside and launch themselves at the attackers. Amongst them, a tall man named Dierk von Gellersen raises his musket, aims at Zahrenhusen and fires. Nothing happens. The wadding is missing, which seals the propelling charge in the gun. Quick-thinking Dierk von Gellersen reaches into his satchel, pulls out a bacon rasher, and uses it to tamp the charge. Again, he aims at the robber baron. With drawn sword, Zahrenhusen rides straight at the shooter. He roars. Von Gellersen shoots. A blast rips the robber from his saddle. In 1590, Dierk von Gellersen shot dead the last robber baron of the Lüneburger Heide with bacon, they say.


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