The Disgusting Swedish Torture Drink

“The truth is that torture makes torturers.” —Jean-Paul Sartre

In a Nutshell

Schwedentrunk (“The Swedish Drink”) was a form of torture used by Swedish marauders and mercenaries on German peasants during the Thirty Years’ War. It involved forcibly making a person consume a mixture of human and animal excrement (often served up boiling hot) until they passed out.

Once a person could consume no more they’d often be kicked in the stomach or beaten to compound their suffering. The torture was used mainly to extort the locations of valuables out of peasants.

The Whole Bushel

During the Thirty Years’ War, Swedish mercenaries weren’t paid very well, if at all. They were, however, told that they could take the valuables of any civilian or peasant they happened upon.

In order to extort these valuables out of people, the Swedish would create the most loathsome, foul-smelling mixture they could manage, using dirt, excrement, urine, and anything else they could get their hands on. Once this mixture was created, it was then poured down the throats of whoever the mercenaries or troops felt was holding out on them. For added suffering, the mixture was often served boiling hot.

Once a person had forcibly consumed enough of the liquid to bloat his or her stomach, the mercenaries kicked and beat them viciously until either their stomach burst or they handed over their valuables.

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The torture was so horrific that it was memorialized in many paintings and works of German literature after the war. It was later referred to as “Schwedentrunk,” which is literally the German translation of “Swedish Drink.”

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