Tale of a poacher

In 1899, a poacher from the canton of Nidwalden shot dead two gamekeepers in a no-hunting zone called Gruobialp in the canton of Obwalden. They had caught him red-handed with several poached chamois. Following the crime the murderer fled abroad and disappeared, and the Obwalden judiciary never had the chance to bring him to trial. The case attracted considerable attention, both at the time and in later generations. Over time, facts, rumours and interpretations blended together to form an independent narrative that is passed on orally in many families to this day. There are now numerous versions and variations of the tale. One important factor which helped to propagate the story were the books on the murder published at regular intervals throughout the 20th century. The incident is now the subject of three novels, two Swiss German plays in three productions, a story in three editions and a historical study. Each version lent the story a new energy and provided new reference points for a retelling of the original incident. One notable fact is that almost all the authors come from the canton of Nidwalden, indicating that there was a particularly strong need among the residents of this canton to come to grips with the events. In essence, the story boils down to fundamental human questions of guilt, justice, punishment, atonement and forgiveness.

Detailed description




Blatter, Michael: Doppelmord auf der Gruobialp. Ein Wildererfall zwischen Obwalden und Nidwalden. Kriens: edition magma/Brunner Verlag, 2002.

Nid hei cho. Ein Film von Thaïs Odermatt. Digital Video, 17 Minuten. Luzern: Hochschule Luzern – Design und Kunst, 2009.

Rengger, Ernst: Die eine, wilde Jagd… Wilderergeschichte aus den Neunziger Jahren. Stans: Verlag Hans von Matt, 1933 [weitere Auflagen: 1968 und 1988].

Odermatt, Klaus: Die eine, wilde Jagd... Wilderergeschichte in vier Akten. Nach einem tatsächlich verübten Doppelmord in den Unterwaldnerbergen im Jahre 1899. Dallenwil: Eigenverlag Klaus Odermatt, 1999.

Flüeler, Fritz: Bärädi. Erzählung aus der Urschweiz. Luzern: Verlag C. J. Bucher, 1939.

von Matt, Josef: Der Wilderer. Ein Heimatspiel in fünf Akten. Aarau: Sauerländer, 1931.

Achermann, Franz Heinrich: Der Wildhüter von Beckenried. Aus Nidwaldens letzten Tagen vor 1798. Olten: Verlag Otto Walter, 1918.

Kaiser, Isabelle: Der wandernde See. Köln: Verlag J. P. Bachem, 1910.

Jakob Wyrsch: Das Volk von Unterwalden. In: Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde 43. Basel, 1946, p. 1-20.


Commemorating and remembering