The File on… Klaus Störtebeker

He took from the rich, i.e. the merchants of Hamburg and Bremen, and gave to the poor: The picture that tradition has handed down to us of Klaus Störtebeker, one of the great German pirates of the Middle Ages, is actually not too far from the historical truth.

In 1435 the combined troops of the mighty Hanse towns conquered the last stronghold in East Frisia that was still in the hands of the „Likedeelers“, the daring pirates led by Klaus Störtebeker. The Low German expression “Likedeelers“ points to the fact that they dealt out („deelers“ = dealers) equal shares of the booty to themselves and the poor alike („like“). Thus the Likedeelers were folk heroes to Northern Germany’s ordinary people, who hated Hamburg’s and Bremen’s merchants, growing richer and richer while many of the farmers and tradesmen didn’t know how to make ends meet. As a matter of fact it was the rich citizens of the Hanse towns themselves who had engaged the services of Störtebeker and his men in order to seize and rob the ships of their enemy, the Queen of Denmark. But once peace had been concluded with the Danes, the rich merchants had no more use for their former allies and thus turned them into enemies. When the Likedeelers’ last stronghold had been taken, Störtebeker and his men were put in chains, taken to Hamburg and publicly executed. But in the memory of the poor people they lived on…

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Kirsten John

Kirsten John, born in 1966, works as a publisher’s reader and as a freelance writer. "Schwimmen lernen in Blau", her award-winning novel, has been translated into several languages. Kirsten John divides her time between Hanover and Amsterdam.

Stefanie Roth

Born in Dresden in 1969, Stefanie Roth studied illustration and graphic arts in Prague and communication design at Berlin-Weißensee’s Kunsthochschule, attending Professor Volker Pfüller’s master class. She has been freelancing as a graphic designer, illustrator and designer of books since 1997. She’s also headed the faculty of graphic design at Schwerin’s Design Schule since 2008.

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