German writer Oliver Pötzsch grew up in Bavaria, listening stories about his family’s legacy. Except his was no ordinary family: Pötzsch descends from the Kuisls, a well-known line of Bavarian executioners who beheaded prisoners by sword.
A cousin of Pötzsch’s grandmother was a genealogist who studied and documented the family’s historical roots: There were 14 hangmen in the family, spanning the 16th to 19th centuries. Each inheriting the profession from his father, and each had to undergo a rigorous training that culminated in the executioner’s having to produce a “masterpiece” beheading in order to receive proper certification.
Oliver Pötzsch did not follow the family tradition, at least not directly. He became an author and wrote a best selling novel, “The Hangman’s Daughter,” a historical thriller about a 17th century Bavarian hangman and his daughter, who are both on the hunt to find a killer.
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