What is the greatest fear in the world

theme - Anxiety

The world will not end from this - fear of the apocalypse at the end of the Middle Ages

The end of the Middle Ages was no time for the faint of heart. Many feared the imminent end of the world. In 1453 Turkish armies had conquered Constantinople, the center of the old Eastern Roman Empire, known as the Byzantine Empire. The conquest of Constantinople, which until then was considered impregnable, sealed the end of the world empire. A hundred years earlier, the plague had killed every third inhabitant of Europe. Diseases were often seen as a scourge for the sins of mankind. Preachers like the influential Italian Girolamo Savonarola therefore already predicted the end of the old world, conveniently for the year 1500, that was easy to remember. So it was only logical to make provisions for your own end. After all, those who may have to atone for their sins tomorrow should be prepared. Fellow preachers from Savonarola such as the Dominican monk Johann Tetzel from Leipzig sold indulgences, a kind of moral debt relief on paper, for money. Those who bought them could shorten their time in purgatory. Some of these thalers went into Tetzel's own pocket, many to Rome. And there was construction going on over the next few decades that bent the foundations. Without the fear of purgatory we would not have a St. Peter's Basilica or a painted Sistine Chapel today. In terms of art history, one has to say: cheers for the apocalypse!

When the corpse rings twice - the fear of being buried alive

The fear of being buried alive is not only common among miners and skiers. In the time of the great cholera epidemics of the 19th century, in addition to the fear of infectious diseases, there was also a fear of being buried alive. Because cholera often resulted in post-mortem movements of the corpse: twitching in the calves and thigh muscles, which made it adopt a different posture than the dying person had. If, for whatever reason, a corpse had to be dug up again, the changed limbs were misinterpreted and the person was assumed to have been buried alive. The American writer Edgar Allen Poe was so afraid of it that he processed it in the gruesome short story entitled "Buried Alive". And the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky temporarily placed a piece of paper with the inscription “If I fall into lethargic sleep, don't bury me for five days!” Next to his bed. For people like him, inventors developed safety coffins with a string tied to an unearthly bell. This should prevent people from coming underground alive and actually dying there in the coffin unnoticed. Even today there are occasional cases of apparent death who only show signs of life again in the morgue. In such cases, however, the doctor who issues the death certificate and should pay attention to clear signs of death has always failed. Therefore, in all federal states of Germany, the deceased must lie for 48 hours before they can be buried - exceptions to these burial deadlines are, however, permitted. But even if you “made it” to the morgue alive: You have to survive the time in the freezing cold.

Jan Ludwig lives as a freelance journalist in Israel. There it is part of everyday life to deal with fear: every second Israeli has a gas mask, and some also have syringes with the nerve gas antidote atropine.