The Case of the Pirate’s Skull

In their album, Death of Glory, there is a song by the Heavy Metal band Running Wild about Klaus Störtebeker’s life. There is also a punk venue bearing his name on the Hafenstrasse in Hamburg.

Whenever a German hears the word pirate he thinks of Klaus Störtebeker (born 1360 – executed on an island in the Elbe River, together with thirty others, in 1400). He was a leader of the Victual Brothers who were hired during a war between Denmark and Sweden to supply besieged Stockholm with victuals. After the end of the war, the pirates found their activities so profitable and congenial that they continued them and captured merchant vessels.

The Left made him a hero of a medieval class struggle against the capitalist Hanseatic League and the Right turned him into a German Francis Drake.

And now his skull – or rather a skull that might be his – has been missing from Hamburg’s history museum since January 9. DNA tests with people who claimed to be his descendents proved inconclusive.

The museum has offered a reward of up to several thousand euros for information leading to the skull’s recovery.

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3 responses to “The Case of the Pirate’s Skull

  1. Horace Krever

    What is the explanation for the museum’s interest in this skull or, for that matter, any modern skull? In what way does it differ from any other skull? Instead of offering a reward for its recovery, if that’s what they intend to do, perhaps the museum should say “Good riddance…” or substitute another skull. Who will know the difference?

  2. I assume your question is rhetorical.

  3. In my youth, like when I was a sub-teenager, I had a book and read it about Klaus Stoertebecker. Not that I remember much about it. But then it was a German answer to the Caribbean pirates.