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ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

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Case of Balbronn, in the 1800's:

Case number:



In the ufology magazine Lumières Dans La Nuit issue 237-238, in March 1984, Frédéric Dumerchat published an article which aimed at showing that there is a ufological interest in looking into folklore; it quotes a good number of Alsatian stories collected by the folklorist Auguste Stober in the years 1840-1890.

One of those he mentioned said that in Balbronn in the Bas-Rhin, young people played at giving each other pledges. One of the boys had to invite the "man of fire" to kiss him; he opened the window and called him. They then heard footsteps and a violent knock at the door. They went out to see what had happened. A trace of fire, in the shape of two hands, was drawn on the door.


Temporal data:

Date: The 1800's.
Time: ?
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1892
Reporting delay: Decades.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Balbronn
Place: Village house.
Latitude: 48.583
Longitude: 7.436
Uncertainty radius: 200 m.

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: Several.
Number of known witnesses: 0
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Children or teenagers.
Witness(es) types: Local youth.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Legend recorded by Auguste Stoeber.
Type of location: Village house.
Visibility conditions: Night.
UFO observed: No.
UFO arrival observed: N/A.
UFO departure observed: N/A.
Entities: Not directly.
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Frightened.
Witnesses interpretation: The "Man of Fire".


Hynek: N/A
ALSACAT: Not UFO-related.





Der feurige Mann.

In Balbronn sassen Burschen und Mädchen beisammen in der Kunfelstube und spielten Pfänder. Da wurde einem Knaben zur Auflösung seines Pfandes aufgegeben, er solle einen feurigen Mann auffordern ihn zu küssen.

Der Knabe liess sich nicht lange necken, riss das Fenster auf und rief mit lauter Stimme hinaus: "Feuriger Mann, küsse mich !" Da hörte man's plösslich mit schwerem Tritte die Treppe heraufkommen und einen heftigen Schlag an die Thüre thun. Und als man sich nach einiger Zeit vom Schrecken erholt hatte und hinausging, um zu sehen, was vorges fallen, bemerkte man die Spuren zweier vände, welche in die Thüre gebrannt waren.

In English:


The man of fire.

In Balbronn, boys and girls sat together in the Kunfelstube and played pledges. Then a boy was given the task of resolving his pledge by asking a man of fire to kiss him.

The boy didn't allow himself to be teased for long, he opened the window and called out in a loud voice: "Man of fire, kiss me!" Suddenly one heard a heavy step coming up the stairs and a violent bang on the door. And when, after a while, one had recovered from the fright and went out to see what had happened, one noticed the marks of two hands which had been burned into the door.



In Balbronn (Bas-Rhin) (96), young people played at giving each other pledges. One of the boys had to invite the "man of fire" to kiss him; he opened the window and called him. They then heard footsteps and a violent knock at the door. They went out to see what had happened. A trace of fire, in the shape of two hands, was drawn on the door (97).

A. Stöber also reports that in Mietesheim (Bas-Rhin) (98), an owner had concealed a shutter on which two large hands had left their mark in black (99).

(96) Canton of Wasselonne.

(97) Variot, Vol. III, p. 325-327.

(98) Canton of Niederbronn-les- Bains.

(99) Id. p. 327.



Some ufologists or Fortean researchers focus, for various reasons, to looking in old texts, dated before the "flying saucers era", for stories that would relate to this topic.

Among their reasons, some are contradictory. Some seek to demonstrate that "flying saucers" cannot be a "modern hype" since ancient stories from before this supposed hype were already reporting UFOs. Others want to show that "flying saucers" are indeed the modern version of old nonsense such as religious appearances or stories of "flying coaches" whose only connection with the UFO question is that nonsense always existed.

Some of these researchers have become specialists in such ancient stories, foaming libraries to find in old newspapers or books of legends texts recounting alleged facts more or less obviously suggestive of "flying saucers". We can think of Jacques Vallée, Jean Sider, Chris Aubeck and many others, including the Alsatian Christian Valentin who listed some stories of this kind in my area - with caution, as I do.

To be clear, I do not think any argument can be seriously held from such documents. These are not established "facts", there is almost never any contemporary investigation or verification, it is usually too late to try to establish any "truth" in it. Sometimes, however, we can show that the "case" was only a misinterpretation, sometimes a hoax, usually we can only pronounce that the story cannot be taken at face value, that nothing can demonstrate that it is a factual narrative.

So then I would not have to mention cases like the one I'm filing here.

But that would expose me to a critique regularly made by some ufologists who think that a priori rejection of such material is to be "blind" or close minded or in denial of this or that thesis.

So as I don't want to be subjected to this sort of criticism, I document, and evaluate, this case.

The local legend:

Although autumn had arrived for several weeks, the villagers had taken up the tradition of the "Kunkelstub", the chatty eve. Neighbors gathered to spend the time telling extraordinary stories. One of the topics was the "Fiirmanner", the "men of fire", supposed beings who wander endlessly in the countryside, their bodies constantly consuming themselves. It was said that they were dead people whose crime was too heavy for their conscience and therefore could not sleep "in the peace of the Lord."

One evening, the young people of the village also met for a "Kunkelstube", and played riddles, with a pledge for each wrong answer. Everyone of course had this legend in mind. One of the young people was given a rather special pledge: he had to invite a "man of fire" to come and kiss him. Everyone thought he would cave, that one do not joke with this. But the brave young man leaned out of the window of the "Stùb" to shout into the night: "Man of fire, kiss me!" After repeating it three times, each time louder, he began to close the window, and it was then that a heavy steps outside in the gravel of the courtyard were heard, with the sound of chains that seemed to be dragged around. The footsteps sounds approached inexorably, then there was a dull thud against the door. In the "Stub", silence had come, the young people did not dare to move, especially the youngster who had shouted. When finally some of the bravest dared to open the door to check what was going on outside, they saw, deeply burned in the wood of the door, the traces of two human hands, fingers spread. The incinerated wood had resisted, but "the man of fire had indeed come!"

Of course there are variations.

In most versions the "young people" are clearly referred to as "children."

In some versions, it is not a young man who challenges a "man of fire", but a young girl, and the man of fire returns a year later to get his kiss. He kisses the girl, burning her entire cheek and killing her.

The moral, because this is a bogeyman-style moral story for young people, was: beware of your bravado and your wishes, sometimes they come true. In Alsatian it is said like this: "Mol d'r Deifel net àn d'r Wànd", do not draw the devil on the wall - because he could show a hoof.

Drawer effect:

As I explained above, some authors, sociologists, ufologists, who have commented on a relationship between "ufology" and "folklore", for various and sometimes opposite reasons, all make the mistake of selecting from folklore stories that eem to validate the thesis they propose. The general ideas are, hardly caricaturing: "there are stories in folklore as there are stories in ufology, all of them are false, they are only stories"; or "in folklore, we find the same encounters with extraterrestrials as in ufology, so everything is true"; or "we used to see fairies, now we believe in UFOs"; or "These are neither fairies nor aliens, but stagings devised by a superior / alien intelligence to manipulate us for the purpose of (you name it)".

But if you do not "filter" the folklore, these ideas become more specious. In reality, folklore is not a dozen stories that we can thus select by the virtue that they would have of being "related" one way or another to the UFO sighting reports. There are thousands of stories in every region, every village, and their variety is quite challenging. I want to give some brief examples taken from the folklore of the Balbronn region:

I would therefore leave it to those who hold the "folklore and UFO commonalities" theses to 1) read the dozens of other stories in this region alone and 2) explain the so-called "commonalities."

For the case that concerns us here, my explanation (until a different, btter and argumented explanation should come up) is that this is not a "fact", nor even a "distorted" fact, but purely and simply a moral story for children.

And a story really unrelated to the issue of UFO sightings, and offering nothing that can shed any light on the latter issue in any manner.


Not UFO-related.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:


Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross February 22, 2023 Creation, [asr1], [ldl1].
1.0 Patrick Gross February 22, 2023 First published.

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This page was last updated on February 22, 2023.