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By: Alex Postrado
The Secrets Behind Idilia Dubb’s Diary and Disappearance
Burg Lahneck is one of Germany’s most notable preserved archaeological sites.
Situated in the city of Lahnstein, atop the confluence of the Rhine and the Lahn River, the Lahneck Castle is a medieval-era fortress that interestingly holds centuries of bloodshed, tragedy, death, and even mystery.
It was the setting of a number of executions and political strife — such as the 1300s’ slaying of Friedrich Schilling, then-Burgrave of Lahneck, as well as the killing of the last 12 Knights Templar soldiers.
During the Thirty Years’ War of the 17th century, it was also an unmistakable point of violence and ruin.
However, it was only in the 1800s when a particular death in Burg Lahneck became heavily remembered not only by historical accounts pertaining to it but also through the victim’s very own writing.
Distinctively offering a whole new perspective on what it was like to see death coming yet not be able to do anything about it — this is the harrowing disappearance of a girl named Idilia Dubb.
Who is Idilia Dubb?
Idilia Dubb was born to a Scottish family in the year 1834.
She dreamt of becoming an artist one day, so whenever her family goes on a holiday, she makes sure to explore and see what she could draw.
In June of 1851, Idilia, along with her parents and two siblings, went on a vacation in Germany. And among the sites they visited were the ruins of the former Lahneck Castle.
According to accounts, on the next morning of their stay in Lahnstein, the then-17-year-old Idilia “went out to sketch the Rhine river valley“, along with the scenery nearby.
Little did her family know that it would be the last time they would ever see Idilia the way they remembered her to be.
It was noted that Idilia Dubb never came to dinner that night.
Neither did she head to the hotel her family was staying in.
Understandably worried, the Dubb family tried their best to look for Idilia. But, after failing to find her on their own, they finally decided to alert the police.
Over the course of the next few days, several search attempts were made — all just to find Idilia.
After weeks of lengthy hunts, however, the police eventually had to give up hope.
And the heartbroken Dubb family had to return home without Idilia.
What Happened to Idilia Dubb?
At the time, no one knew exactly what caused the disappearance of Idilia Dubb.
Even when the police searched seemingly every corner of Lahnstein and the neighboring areas, there remained no sign of the missing teenager.
But, the thing is, none of them ever considered the abandoned Lahneck Castle.
After all, it was in ruins.
And while people back then used to come and go to Lahnstein just to catch a glimpse of the 13th-century-built castle, it was not a place particularly suited for exploration.
Unfortunately, though, it was where Idilia was found — believe it or not — nearly 10 years later!
In 1860, when workers were commissioned to restore Lahneck Castle, a few of them were assigned to the presumably inaccessible top of the tower.
Not long after, it was confirmed to be the remains of the missing Idilia Dubb.
Beside Idilia’s body was said to be a diary — where she recorded basically everything about her fateful experience.
From how she ended up in the castle, to her attempts at getting out, and even to the intensifying anguish that she felt as she went through “the horrors of her final days“.
Apparently, it all started when in 1851, Idilia stumbled upon Lahneck Castle while searching for the best point to view the entirety of the Rhine valley.
She eventually found her way into the castle’s 20-meter high tower, but just as she reached the top platform, the wooden staircase behind her collapsed — rendering her trapped at the crown of the ancient fortress with no way out.
At first, Idilia was confident she would eventually get out.
She even tried to catch the attention of passing boatmen by yelling and waving at them, but they appeared to not have perceived the distress in Idilia’s calls since they only waved back at her.
She went over several more “failed attempts to signal for help“.
And as days passed by, the increasingly weakening Idilia even contemplated jumping to her immediate death from the top of the tower just to end her suffering.
But that never happened.
And Idilia — still held captive by the historic castle — ultimately died of combined starvation, thirst, exhaustion, and exposure.
The Diary of Miss Idilia
Despite widespread interest among the general public of that time, the Dubbs initially did not want Idilia’s diary to be published anywhere.
Contrary to that, though, a German weekly sheet still brought out Idilia’s story and even included “the last pages of the diary” in two of their issues from late 1863.
Similarly, several German and Swedish interpretations of the famed journal also came out in the years that followed.
Around the same time, however, an alleged friend of Idilia, named Genevieve Hill was said to have already secured a copy of the original manuscript — which she later edited into a book, first published under the name Das verschwundene Mädchen: die Aufzeichnungen der Idilia Dubb, or The Missing Girl: The Records of Idilia Dubb.
And in 2010, a full English translation of the work, now titled The Diary of Miss Idilia: A Tragic Tale of Young Love Lost, was produced by Short Books.
Truth or Fiction?
Over the years, the books published under the impression of being exact translations of Idilia Dubb’s diary raised more than a few speculations regarding their historicity.
And quite understandably so, since some of them — including The Diary of Miss Idilia — marked their copies “as straight non-fiction” despite containing details that could easily pass as made-up, to say the least.
For one, the narrative — purportedly derived from Idilia’s original diary — seemed a bit too “action-packed” for its sake.
In Idilia’s own words — at least based on what we were told — she felt just like a “heroine in a romantic novel“.
In The Diary of Miss Idilia, not only were we introduced to the Dubb’s whole holiday with Idilia, but also to the girl’s constant brushes with danger, her involvement with “at least three love triangles“, and her sister’s almost fatal accident at sea where a particular hunky beau jumped in to save the day.
Other than that, the work apparently also makes it seem like Idilia was the person to coin the term “snooty” about 50 years before the word was even first used.
Unsurprisingly, all of that, on top of plenty of other details in the account that practically foreshadow Idilia’s eventual fate, leaves quite a lot of room for general doubt.
Was it really what was written in Idilia’s diary? Was the diary even real? Or was it just a fabricated part of the story?
Did Idilia Dubb ever exist in the first place?
Those questions only sum up a portion of the thoughts people from all over the world have about the greatest mystery of Lahnstein.
It is said that researchers who tried to track down proof of Idilia’s — as well as her family’s — existence never found any.
While others argue that even the mere fact that an alleged journal would survive nearly 10 years of exposure is a claim rather difficult to believe.
German historians also point to the fact that Idilia could not possibly have heard train noises while she was stuck in the tower in 1851 because the Rhine valley railroad was only built in 1859.
But, in the end, who can really say anything for certain?
Especially about a mystery with a lead that by herself is already a puzzle to start with.
Burg Lahneck - Atlas Obscura Idilia Dubb - The Oddment Emporium Idilia Dubb I smell a rat: The Diary of Miss Idilia presents the reader with an unusual problem