II.2.4 The great smuggler trail

Yes, our ancestors also had been involved in smuggling.

And one of these actions became quite famous in the region of Passau and Upper Austria.

Josef Hutsteiner, innkeeper in Wegscheid, had been head of a group of smugglers who brought cattle and horses from upper Austria to Bohemia and Bavaria.

The great smuggler trail

Beginning of 1919, i.e. shortly after WWI, it has been big business in this region. Estimated 20’000 cattle  they smuggled in quite short time. But after 2 of them got shot by police a lot of policemen observed lower Bavaria and upper Austria around Wegscheid. Even covered detectives went around and were searching for these smugglers.

So, in February 1919 – the time of carnival – Hutsteiner organized a masked ball in his premises, the restaurant ‘zur Bahnhofswirtschaft’ in Wegscheid. And it’s slogan was: Smugglers’ Ball. 

The event attended a lot of smugglers, drank a lot of wine – they had a lot of money due to their flourishing business – and became drunk. Thus they talked a lot without taking care. Even one of them lost his written notes, stating names and amounts of cattle smuggled. What they did not know: some of the covered detectives attended, too. And they found this paper.

Already next early morning the smugglers were arrested. About 10 had been brought to jail and a much observed trial followed half a year later. As head of this group Hutsteiner got about 6 months in custody and had to pay a quite high fine.


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