, known as Robber Kneißl
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....
, in Austro-Bavarian
Bavarian , also Austro-Bavarian, is a major group of Upper German varieties spoken in the south east of the German language area.-History and origin:...
), 4 August 1875, Unterweikertshofen
Erdweg is a municipality in the district of Dachau in Bavaria in Germany....
— 21 February 1902, was a German outlaw, poacher
Poacher may refer to:*One who engages in poaching, the theft or illegal killing of animals or plants*A device used for poaching *Poacher , a family of fish...
and popular social rebel in the Dachau district, in the Kingdom of Bavaria
The Kingdom of Bavaria was a German state that existed from 1806 to 1918. The Bavarian Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of the House of Wittelsbach became the first King of Bavaria in 1806 as Maximilian I Joseph. The monarchy would remain held by the Wittelsbachs until the kingdom's dissolution in 1918...
. Chased by the police, Kneißl became a legendary hero with the rural people because of his witful and artful fight against the authorities.
Mathias Kneißl was the eldest of six children of a poor innkeeper. In 1886 his father purchased the mill at Sulzemoos Schacher. At 16 he was imprisoned for the first time, because members of his family were suspected of stock rustling. His father died in 1892 while in police custody. Kneissl then began accompanying his brothers on robberies.
In 1893 he was arrested for the second time. His younger brother Alois had been shot by police while resisting arrest
Resisting arrest is a term used to describe a criminal charge against an individual who has committed, depending on the jurisdiction, at least one of the following acts:* threatening a police officer with physical violence while being arrested...
and died of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...
after four years in prison. Mathias Kneissl was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison. After serving his sentence, he was released in February 1899 and worked as a carpenter in Nußdorf am Inn
Nußdorf am Inn is a municipality in the district of Rosenheim in the state of Bavaria in Germany. Nußdorf consists of 23 boroughs and is a tourist destination in the Inn Valley between the Heuberg Wendelstein mountains on the Tyrol border. Nußdorf has a pictoresque town center with Baroque...
After six months Kneißl was dismissed by his master, because his colleagues refused to work with him any longer. Due to his bad reputation, he was unable to find another job.
For two years, Kneißl was pursued by the police. After his accomplices were arrested, he continued committing armed robberies on his own. An attempt to arrest him occurred on 30 November 1900 in Irchenbrunn Altomünster. In a massive gun battle, two policemen were injured so badly that they subsequently died. Three months later, on March 1901, Kneißl was catpured in at Geisen Egenhofen by 60 policemen. During the preceding gunfight, Kneißl was seriously injured by a bullet in the abdomen.
Between 14 and 19 November 1901 Kneißl was placed on trial at Augsburg. He was charged with two murders, attempted murder, as well as armed robbery and extortion
Extortion is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime...
. At his trial, which was followed by the media with great attention, Kneißl reportedly said: "I can suffer no wrong. I cannot bend, I would rather kill myself."
Kneißl confessed to most of the charges, but denied an intent to kill against the two policemen who were shot by him. However, the court found him guilty of murder, premeditated bodily harm with fatal consequences, extortion and for aggravated robbery.
The Court then sentenced him to receive the death penalty for murder and 15 years imprisonment on the other charges.
Judge Anton Rebholz appealed by letter to the Ministry of Justice, which confirmed Kneißl's death sentence. Kneißl was awakened shortly after seven o'clock on the morning of 21 February 1902. He was then executed via guillotine
The guillotine is a device used for carrying out :executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame from which an angled blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, severing the head from the body...
. The executioner was Franz Xaver Reichhart.
Kneißl was already a legendary figure during his own lifetime. The people, especially the small farmers of Bavaria saw in his outlaw life something revolutionary, a rebellion against the authorities. Even in recent times the Kneißl legend remains popular.
- Räuberhauptmann Kneißl vor dem Schwurgericht In: Hugo Friedländer: Interessante Kriminal-Prozesse von kulturhistorischer Bedeutung. 1911-1921, Band 2, p. 192-221.
- Wilhelm Lukas Kristl: Das traurige und stolze Leben des Mathias Kneißl—Bayerns großer Kriminalfall". Munich, 1957. ISBN 3-7787-3033-9
- Marlene Reidel (illustration), Wilhelm Lukas Christl: Der Räuber Kneißl. Ebenhausen near Munich, 1966. ISBN 3-7846-0176-6
- Manfred Böckl: Mathias Kneißl - Der Raubschütz von der Schachermühle, Dachau, 1998. ISBN 3-89251-258-2
- Michael Farin: Polizeireport München 1799-1999. 2001, ISBN 3933510252