Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

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NACHZEHRER

(NOCT-zeer-her)
Variations: Totenk?sser
In the vampire lore of Germany, the nachzehrer ("night waster") is a vampiric REVENANT (see GERMAN VAMPIRES). It is created when money is not placed inside the mouth of the deceased before he is buried or when a person is buried in clothes that have his name written on them. The nachzehrer remains in its grave during the day not because it is harmed by sunlight but rather because it chooses not to confront the living who would without a doubt try to destroy it. At night it sends its spirit forth to stalk the community and drain the life from its family members before seeking out other, non related victims. It is only on the rare occasion that the nachzehrer will actually rise up and physically leave the safety of its grave. But those occasions do take place and only happen for one of two reasons. The first is because it wishes to consume the flesh of those who have been buried in the graveyard. Second, with the accompaniment of a female REVENANT that has died in childbirth, it will climb up into the church tower and ring the bell. Whoever hears the bell toll will die. Although the nachzehrer has the ability to shape-shift into a pig, it will do little to draw attention to itself but rather utilize this form to scout out an area.
In the eventuality that a nachzehrer is discovered to be haunting a community, when it is ex-humed, the vampire will be discovered holding its thumb in its hand, its left eye will be comically wide open, and the vampire will be busy gnawing on its own burial shroud. Some lore claims that the family will suffer and die only when the vampire has finally chewed the shroud's cloth away to nothing. To prevent the nachzehrer from rising or sending out its spirit, one must break its neck, leave food with it, remove the shroud, and sprinkle rice over the remains. The grains should keep it occupied, as it is mystically compelled to count them.
Source: Conway, Demonology and Devil-lore, 52; Ford, Book of the Witch Moon, 14, 15; Lindahl, Medieval Folklore, 1017
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