Babenhausen Casern offers free fright fest through Friday

Spc. Todd Roberts, left, and Army dentist Capt. Jon Libbesmeier, in costume, pose for a photo last week after putting the finishing touches on the Babenhausen Haunted House.


By LISA HORN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 29, 2003

BABENHAUSEN, Germany — For a Halloween enthusiast like Capt. Jon Libbesmeier, being stationed at Babenhausen Casern is like his best nightmare.

“It’s the perfect place,” said Libbesmeier, a dentist at Babenhausen’s dental clinic. “It’s like being stationed in Salem, Mass., in the States, or Sleepy Hollow. If you could be in one of those two places it would be equivalent to [Babenhausen].”

Libbesmeier and Spc. Todd Roberts have teamed up again to organize this year’s haunted house. It is the casern’s largest yet, beginning in Building 4510, continuing through a second building and ending in the Cannoneer Club.

The haunted house is linked to the story of Helga Müller, one of 50 women accused of witchcraft in the 1600s in Babenhausen and later burned alive in the town’s market square.

Müller’s home is said to have been in the general area of where the casern’s Cannoneer Club and the 41st Artillery Brigade Headquarters building now stand.

“You hear a lot of people say that they hear crying sounds or screams every now and then from those two buildings in particular …,” Libbesmeier said.

“Some people say it’s the victims from those spooky stories. Some people say it’s her. No one really knows.”

One theory is the screams belong to a French soldier who jumped to his death from the headquarters’ attic in 1920. Another is that they are from five missing soldiers whose bodies were discovered on the grounds. Their deaths were never explained.

Libbesmeier said, “It turns out that the guy who committed suicide had been telling everybody that he had been engaged to a girl who worked at the casern, and whose name was Helga Müller” — the same name of the woman burned in the 17th century.

During the six years Roberts has worked on the haunted house, he has witnessed some unusual events in the Cannoneer Club’s basement. In 1998, when he and a friend were in the club’s basement hanging up sheets for the haunted house, the sheets suddenly began to stir.

After finding that all the doors were closed, the two returned to the basement to see the sheets still moving. Through the fabric, they witnessed a pair of hands dragging along the sheet.

“So we took off. We were out of there right away,” he said.

Despite what he feels are close encounters with the supernatural, Roberts returns to the basement for the haunted house year after year.

“Capt. Libbesmeier and I, we love doing this stuff,” he said. “We’re kind of kindred spirits when it comes to Halloween.”

Inside this year’s haunted house are ghosts, goblins and figures representing Frau Müller. There is even one surprise when the mysterious woman comes to life.

The Babenhausen Haunted House, which opened last weekend, will be open for its last night Friday from 7 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free.

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