Killer Beard: The True Story of Hans Steininger

Even with millions of ways to die, a death-by-beard scenario seems pretty out there. But if the killer beard is long enough, I supposed you could trip over it and sustain a fatal injury. As farfetched as this sounds, it did actually happen. Here is the true story of Hans Steininger, the man who tripped over his beard and died.

Braunau am Inn, Austria

History calls this little town—as much as they wish it wouldn’t—the birthplace of Adolf Hitler. However, Braunau am Inn officials and natives would rather you remember it as the place where Hans Steininger, the mayor of the town, met his rather “unusual” death.

Back in 1567, Steininger was a very popular leader amongst his people. Under his governance, the people of Braunau am Inn lived prosperous and peaceful lives. But even though he was known as a wonderful leader and mayor, his facial hair was what made a lasting impression. Steininger’s bear hung four and a half feet long, forming a lengthy tendril with a forked tip.

How Hans Steininger Maintained His Beard

Even today, in an era with hair products for almost any type of hair and problem, it is still almost impossible to grow and maintain a four-and-a-half-foot beard. So how on Earth did Steininger do it in the 16th century? Well, it is said that the mayor had a pocket that he would neatly tuck his beard every time he wanted to go out.

After so many years of dedication and will to maintain his facial hair, having his beard trail him as he walked was the last thing that Steininger wanted. It is, therefore, understandable that the man just had to get a special pocket for his precious possession.

Fate or Coincidence?

As mentioned before, Steininger’s beard was always neatly tucked into a pocket. However, on the night of September 28, 1567, a fire broke out in Braunau am Inn. But, as fate would have it, the mayor had not tucked his facial hair into his pocket.

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With everybody rushing and Steininger at the center of it, the mayor attempted to quell the commotion. When standing on one of the top stairs, he stepped on his trailing beard, tripped, and fell. He came tumbling down the flight of stairs and broke his neck in the process.

A Statue for the Bearded Mayor

Following his death, Steininger’s monument was erected beside St. Stephen’s Church in Braunau am Inn in the form of a large stone relief. To date, the mayor’s legacy has never been forgotten. Tourists from all over visit the monument whenever they are in town to see who Steininger was.

Over the years, a Steininger’s reenactor, decked in a flowing fake beard, has made tours around the city to entertain and inform people about the long-gone legend.

What About His Legendary Beard?

Before his burial, Hans Steininger’s killer beard was cut off and kept in the District Museum Herzogsburg in Branau to preserve the town’s history. For preservation purposes, the bead was chemically treated. As a result, it never degrades.

Over 450 years down the line, Hans Steininger’s legacy lives on, four and half feet long and waiting to trip the next man who forgets to tuck it into a special pocket. The jury is still out on whether there is a lesson to be learned from Hans’s story, but the only thing we could think of is to maybe not grow a beard that long if you’re prone to clumsiness.

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