A group of out of control Krampus (men dressed as horned creatures who in Austrian folklore punish children who have misbehaved) injured five young people at a pre-Christmas event in Bruck in the state of Salzburg on Monday.
The teenagers were violently hit on the hands and legs with birch branches and whips. Organizers of the event and police said they did not realise that the event had got out of hand until witnesses reported that people had been assaulted.
The Brucker Krampuslauf event was taking place for the 18th year and around 2,000 people came to watch the event, which features around 400 celebrants from Styria, Tyrol and Salzburg dressed in Krampus costumes. A Krampuslauf is often fuelled by alcohol.
The father of one 15-year-old girl who ended up in hospital told the ORF national broadcaster that he was outraged by what had happened. “My daughter now has a cast on her right hand, both her feet are covered with welts and are swollen and bloody. This violence has nothing to do with tradition.” The four other victims are reported to be between 15 and 18 years old.
The Red Cross sent three ambulances to the scene. Christian Kasbacher, one of the organisers of the event, said he only learned after it was over that people had been hurt. “Obviously it’s awful when people are injured at such a big event. Of course we will be investigating this, and speaking to witnesses.”
Doctors at the local hospital in Zell am See confirmed that they treated five people for injuries, some of them serious, and will be passing on information about the assaults to the police.