I first came across the Hollowing Milk Bottle in June of 2016, outside the town of Friedberg, Germany. A story had brought me to the Black Forest, and I found that the story happened to revolve around this cursed item. At the time, the bottle was in the possession of a man named Thomas Wagner. It had been sitting in storage, untouched, for almost fifty years.
The following is the item’s history, as I have come to understand it.
In 1925, a man named Hans Fischer came across a mysterious cabin deep in Germany’s Black Forest. It appeared abandoned, so Hans pilfered the cabin. I understand that he took several items. Among them was the Milk Bottle.
Within months of having stolen the Milk Bottle, Hans Fischer fell mysteriously ill. Records state that the once strong and healthy man quickly fell into a state of malnutrition. Between the robbery and his time of death (only a month later), Hans dropped from 180 pounds to only 85 pounds. What made his death of particular interest were the reports from his wife and the townsfolk regarding his behaviour during this period.
You see, despite having lost almost a hundred pounds in such a short period time, people spoke of his voracious appetite. Hans went from three meals a day, to five meals a day, to seven meals a day. And as his hunger grew, he became impatient. His wife reported witnessing him sucking down fresh eggs in the chicken coop. A few days later, the butcher saw Hans take meat behind the store, where he devoured it raw. In a particularly disturbing writing, Hans’ wife found her husband crawling through a field, overturning rocks, eating maggots and slurping fungus off the stone’s underside.
Hans stopped working and spending time with family and friends. He went from a healthy, happy, prominent member of town to a disgusting, reviled creature who scoured the streets, begging for food and devouring rancid scraps.
This case, of course, is quite a strange one. A man eats enormous amounts of food (and not-food), while simultaneously losing half his bodyweight, over the course of a month. In July of 1925, Hans was found dead in a gutter, skin hanging loosely off his skeletal frame. His fingernails and toenails had been chewed off, and there was fabric dangling from his mouth – he had choked trying to eat his shirt.
Around the time of his death, Han’s wife, Clara, experienced the same symptoms. Her appetite became ravenous, she lost substantial bodyweight, and a month later, she was found dead in a field. Her autopsy revealed several pounds of mud, gravel, and stone in her stomach.
After their deaths, the Fischer property was auctioned off, and the farm went to the Wagner family in 1926. No further cases of this horrific affliction were reported until 1964. Surprisingly (or maybe not so) Leon Wagner, the twenty-two year old son of Luka Wagner, succumbed to the same fate as had Hans and Clara Fischer. The man went from promising member of society to vagrant. One day, his parents found him crouched behind a shed in the yard, hunched over, humiliated, with blood on his face. He had caught a rat and eaten it alive. This was the last straw; they checked him into an asylum, where he died only a day later. The cause of death, somehow, was starvation.
Of course, I was transfixed by the story. Where did this illness come from? What was the connection between these three people, and why had nobody else suffered from this disgusting and tragic ailment? I knew that the onset came with the robbery of the mysterious cabin in the Black Forest, but there were several items taken. I have not been able to determine who the owner of the cabin was, or where the cabin is, so I do not have any information regarding the origins of these items.
However, in my efforts to discover more, I was flipping through an old family album. One particular photograph caught my eye. It was of Leon Wagner, sitting at the kitchen table, drinking from the Milk Bottle. On the back was written, “Going through old antiques, Leon Wagner, October 1964”. This date was one month prior to Leon’s death, almost to the day.
Since then, the Milk Bottle had been in storage, hidden at the back of a closet in the Wagner house. It remained there until June 2016, when I purchased it for my collection.
The Hollowing Milk Bottle of Friedberg has been in my collection for several years now, but I have never drunk from it. I do not know if the bottle still carries the cursed illness, but I do not wish to find out. If you choose to purchase the item, I strongly advise you to do so as a keepsake, memento, or display piece. Whatever you do, do not drink from it.
To the person who purchases the Hollowing Milk Bottle, the item will be meticulously packaged, and delivered with a copy of its history. Thank you for reading this tall tale, and I wish you all the best.
J. W. Smithworth