Inn Valley (Austria)

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Inn Valley (German, Inntal). There are three long river valleys in Tyrol which have become important in Anabaptist history because to them the Anabaptists fled during the worst persecutions to eke out an existence; viz., the valleys of the Inn, the Adige, and the Puster.

In the Inn Valley the oldest Anabaptist territory was that of Rattenberg-Freundsberg. At Rattenberg Anabaptists were found in 1527. From the time Leonhard Schiemer was beheaded and his body burned (14 January 1529), followed by 70 other martyrs, to the end of the Anabaptist movement in Tyrol there was no period of any length in which they were not found here. This is also true of the mining city of Schwaz, where a booklet was put on sale "in which Anabaptism is drawn (in pictures) for those who cannot read." In Schwaz the Anabaptists were already pursued by placards. Besides secret members there were said to be five or six leaders (Vorsteher). This was the situation in the entire region between Schwaz and Rattenberg. Villages named in the court records are Brixlegg, Ratfeld, Kramsach, Breitenbach, Puch, and Inning. The number of Anabaptists executed in Schwaz is given in the list of 1581 as 20, the best known being Hans Schlaffer.

In Kufstein measures were instituted against the Anabaptists during this time. Sixteen martyrs are listed. In 1533 the contention was made by authorities that in the domain of Rattenberg, Kufstein, and Kitzbühel no one was left who was "stained with Anabaptism," and that in Kufstein "their eradication is so vigorously pursued that their leaders and other sectarians can find no shelter." But this does not correspond with fact. The recantation of Jakob Portner, a clergyman who had joined the Anabaptists, reveals that he had preached with extraordinary success in Kitzbühel, Rattenberg, and Kufstein, baptizing many who "persisted to the end, when they were sentenced from life to death."

An appendix to the Anabaptist mandate of Ferdinand I of 26 March 1534, warned all towns and magistracies in which boatmen lived who sailed the Danube, to see to it that no Anabaptists were accepted as passengers. This mandate includes also the Inn River, which was part of the route to Moravia.

In Hall on the Inn Anabaptists were pursued as early as 1528; it was an important Anabaptist center. "At Hall," says Schwyger's Chronik, "many persons, men, women, and maidens, young and old, have come into the sect of the Anabaptists." Among the Anabaptists tried there, two sisters, outstanding for their steadfastness, Annele Malerin and Urschl Ochsentreiberin, who were baptized in Hall, are celebrated in song and in the chronicles. They were "drowned in the water."

One of these songs reveals that Mils near Hall was also an Anabaptist center. The register of 1581 lists the number of martyr executions as eight. Anabaptist propaganda had already begun in 1528, as is inferred from the inquiry made by the government at Innsbruck as to why Anabaptist preachers had been allowed to preach so long in the towns, including Innsbruck. The most significant and most famous of all the martyrs of Tyrol was Jakob Hutter, who was burned at the stake here after "terrible torture" on 3 March 1536. In Calzein and Rothholz there were Anabaptists as early as 1527; two ended their lives at the stake.

As in the lower valley, the Anabaptist movement was active for many decades in the upper Inn Valley, especially after Hutter's death. From Pfunds to Innsbruck they can be traced, and in certain localities, like Imst and Landeck, they were particularly strong at times. From its list of martyrs, as important as that of Innsbruck, it is seen that some of the executions took place in the late 1520s, Hearings took place at Imst in 1538, to which Dr. Gallus Müller was sent to convert the accused. But Müller's efforts were in vain. There Sebastian Hubmaier and Hans Grünfelder, later "the aged Oswald," lay in prison. Griesinger reported to the brotherhood in Moravia that they testified to God's Word and the truth; their joy could not be described; a crowd of 1,000 witnessed the execution of Bastl and Hansl. A fourth Anabaptist, Jakob Zangerle, was executed in Imst in the same year. In 1561 Anabaptists fled from Imst to Moravia; in the 1570s they still had contacts with the Anabaptists of Moravia. An execution is listed at Landeck. Anabaptists from Landeck also fled to Moravia. In Telfs there were several in 1537.

In the upper Inn Valley Griesinger was active for a time; it was the home of Ursula Hellrigl, whom Gall Müller tried to convert. In lower Engadine (Grisons) the movement was active, and propagated itself to the upper Inn (Tyrol); Anabaptists were still found there in 1533. In Stams three were executed, and in Petersberg two. Thus the entire Inn Valley, as far as it lies in Tyrol, was in the 16th century the home of Anabaptism. The greatest number lived in Kitzbühel which also shows the largest number of blood witnesses.


Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 421 f.

Loserth, Johann. Der Anabaptismus in Tirol. Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1892.

Wolkan, Rudolf. Geschicht-Buch der Hutterischen Brüder. Macleod, AB, and Vienna, 1923.

Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Die älteste Chronik der Hutterischen Brüder: Ein Sprachdenkmal aus frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit. Ithaca: Cayuga Press, 1943.

Author(s) Johann Loserth
Date Published 1958

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Loserth, Johann. "Inn Valley (Austria)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 18 Sep 2019.

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Loserth, Johann. (1958). Inn Valley (Austria). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 September 2019, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 40-41. All rights reserved.

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