Posted 11/8/05 at 11:48PM

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Outlaw Wolf
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Male Pirates: Klaus Störtebeker Linking: 4  Comments: 1
Date: 7/29/05 at 11:02AM (6M2w ago)  Add Comment | Send to Friend
Klaus Störtebeker (Nikolaus Storzenbecher) lived in the 14th century. His name means "a beaker at a gulp" after the practice of requiring crew members to drink a huge beaker of beer in one gulp to join crew. He operated in the North and Baltic Sea. Some sources say that his ship was named Seetiger (Sea Tiger).

Störtebeker and Godeke Michels were leading groups of freebooters (also called Vitalienbrüder or Likendeeler), who captured Danish ships during the war by order of the Germans. The freebooters were breaking the blockades and supplying besieged cities with food and ammunition, after plundering those goods from Danish merchant ships. However, the pirates soon did not only plunder Danish ships, but also the ships of England, Holland, Prussia and the German Hanse itself. The damage done by the pirates soon was so great, that 1395 Margarete from Denmark and the German Hanse decided to make peace and take appropriate measures against the pirates.

During those actions against piracy a momentous accident happened in 1396: The fleets of Denmark and the German Hanse took each other for the wanted pirates and decided to shoot first and then scrutinize the identity of the enemy. The great battle was won clearly by the German Hanse. The astonishment was great as they figured out the real identity of the foe. The shocked fleet captains retreated silently with their ships and what was left of them to their home ports.

1401 Klaus Störtebeker and 71 of his companions were caught near Helgoland Island by a treacherous trick: A fisherman, whom Störtebeker warranted protection and allowed him to sail beneath his high stern, turned out to be the enemy in disguise. The supposed fisherman pretended to cook a meal in the lee, but he melted lead instead. He then poured the liquid lead into the rudder eyelet and thus rendered the ship disabled. While Störtebeker's ship was immovable, the Hamburgians equipped a fleet commanded by Captain Simon von Utrecht (who sailed on a ship called the Bunte Kuh/The Colorful Cow), and captured the pirates.

For a few weeks Klaus Störtebeker was held in a dungeon called "Störtebeker's Hole". In October 1401, as Klaus Störtebeker was kneeling in front of the executioner on the Grasbrook (a tiny isle in the river Elbe in Hamburg, Germany), he was trying to buy freedom for himself and his men by offering a golden chain that should reach all around Hamburg. But the executioner showed no mercy. Legend says that Störtebeker made another deal: All those companions should be reprieved, who he could manage to walk by after being beheaded. This way he saved the lives of eleven pirates before the malicious executioner tripped him. After the pirates were decapitated their heads were spiked on poles and lined up at the river Elbe as a determent. Only six months later Godeke Michels was captured together with his 80 companions and also beheaded in Hamburg.

The valor and pride of Störtebeker was so legendary that soon many northern German cities claimed to be the home of Klaus Störtebeker, greatest of the Vitalienbrüder and leader of the Likendeelers. The immeasurable treasure of Klaus Störtebeker - a pirate who was feared from London to Novgorod - was never found.
However, nowadays Störtebeker's treasure has already been lifted in another way along the German coastline. The famous pirate had to relinquish his name to numerous pubs, streets and festivals. Even some varieties of schnapps carry his name.

This German melody is made from a historical church song by Walter Göttke in 1924:

Original German Version:

Klaus Störtebecker ist unser Herr
Von Godeke Michels beraten!
Wir jagen sturmschnell über das Meer
Des fliegenden Holländers Paten
Gevatter ist der Klabautermann
Schiffsvolk, pack an!
Leben ist Tand!
Wir sind die Hölle von Helgoland

Blutrot knallt unsre Flagge am Mast
Am Boden da huschen die Ratten
Ein Totengerippe ist unser Gast
Im Segel stehn seltsame Schatten
Im Kiel schwimmt uns das Meerweib nach
Schiffsvolk, so lach!
Leben ist Tand!
Noch herrscht die Hölle von Helgoland

Und macht unser Kahn die letzte Fahrt
Laßt lachend als Sarg ihn versinken
Wir sterben nach alter Seeräuberart
Heut' kämpfen und morgen ertrinken
Bei grünen Algen und weißem Sand
Schiffsvolk, da Strand!
Leben ist Tand!
So stirbt die Hölle von Helgoland
Klaus Störtebecker is our master
advised by Godeke Michels!
Shoot through the waves like storm, just faster
The Flying Dutchman's godfather
Gaffer is the ships goblin
Let's tackle, crew!
Life is bauble!
We are the hell of Helgoland

Exact English Translation:

Our sanguineous flag is cracking the mast
Rats scurrying on the floor
A skeleton is our guest
On the sail there are strange shadows
The mermaid is swimming in our wake
Laugh, crew!
Life is bauble!
Still ruling is the hell of Helgoland

And when our ship makes its last run
Laugh while like a coffin she goes down
We die an ancient pirate's way
Today we fight, tomorrow we drown
In green algae and white sand
Land ho, crew, land!
Life is bauble!
Such dies the hell of Helgoland

Note: Helgoland is a tiny pirate island in the German North Sea.

Vitalienbrüder and Likendeeler
Some pirates in the northern regions of Europe in the 14th Century were called Vitalienbrüder. Many documents claim that the name "Vitalienbrüder" derives from the word "Viktualien" that was used for food and victuals in Germany during that time. These documents wrongly explain that the crew of supply ships were called Vitalienbrüder, as they were providing besieged cities with food (victuals).

The truth is that the pirates have been called Vitailleurs after the Fouragieres of the land army (the Vitailleurs) who were often equated to highwaymen because of their unscrupulous requisitions.

The pirates also called themselves Likendeeler, because they shared their booty evenly amongst the crew without mattering the rank.

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RE: Klaus Störtebeker
Posted by:
Date: 07/29/05 at 12:31 PM (6M2w ago)
this Klaus Störtebeker must have been an intresting man if his memory is still living on.

"Always do the right thing. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest" -Mark Twain"
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