He bit, raped and sliced ​​the victims. The butcher from Hanover ended up under the guillotine

Seven years ago, the University of Goettingen had her head burned in a crematorium, which she had stored in formaldehyde for 89 years. This head was separated from the body in 1925 by a guillotine. One of the most horrible German serial killers ended up on the gallows. “Fritz Haarmann, also known as the Butcher of Hanover, murdered over two dozen young men between 1918 and 1924. After he was beheaded, his head was kept for research purposes, “writes the AP agency.

The scientists may have wanted to find out what led the killer to such a brutal way of killing. Haarmann chose homeless teenage boys or young prostitutes as victims. Under various pretexts, he lured them into one of his hiding places. There he was raped and killed. But even that was not enough for him. He usually bit his throat and then quartered them. But not just to get rid of the body more easily. He literally sliced ​​the remains and then went to the Hanoverian market, where he sold meat as pork or horse. Whether he ate them himself remains a mystery to this day. Haarmann denied cannibalism.

Haarmann managed to escape justice for six long years. Maybe because this originally petty thief was recruited as a police informant. The place where he threw body parts was also recorded in his cards – the Hanover River Leine did not wash away the remains until years later. And even though Haarmann was traced after the discovery of skeletons in the stream, without his overconfidence, he was able to kill other people before his arrest. But in his vanity, Haarmann brought a key witness right under the nose of the police, thanks to which the men of the law could intervene.

Boy in a girl’s dress

Fritz Haarmann was born on October 25, 1879, the youngest of six children. And he quickly became his mother’s favorite. On the contrary, he didn’t get along with his father at all. He differed from his peers from an early age – he preferred to play alone at home rather than with other boys – dressed in a girl’s dress with dolls. Sources differ on whether he began to put on his own clothes or whether he was brought to them by a mother who longed for a daughter. In any case, Fritz’s behavior seemed most unusual at the time. In addition, he liked to cook and sew.

When he entered school, the teachers described him as a quiet and obedient child. Despite this, he did not excel in learning – on the contrary, he even failed twice. In addition, he took a lot of trauma with him from his school years – apparently abused by his teacher as an eight-year-old. It is not clear how this was reflected in his later actions – he never spoke of his rape.

As he began to grow up, he seemed to be finding his place in the world, in spite of everything. He was a tall young man, and since he didn’t like school very well, he joined the army at the age of fifteen. According to him, he was happy in it. But after a short time, he began to have epileptic seizures and was expelled from the army as physically incapacitated.

At the age of sixteen, he first found himself in the search of police officers. He lured other underage boys to remote places, where he then sexually abused them. Police arrested him. Instead of being imprisoned, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital. Not only sexual harassment but also homosexuality was criminal in Germany at the time. It was still perceived as a mental disorder.

From an exemplary soldier to an outcast of society

Her mother was rescued from the Haarmanna hospital – thanks to her help, the young man managed to escape to Switzerland. He lived in Zurich for several months, but then received a call from Germany for compulsory military service. So he came back and put on his uniform again. He was praised in the army as an exemplary and obedient soldier. He himself later said that military service was the happiest time of his life. If he stayed with the army, he might never start killing. But Haarmann’s epilepsy returned and he had to leave the army for the second time.

In Hanover, he tried to work alongside his father, because their relationship was never good, the cooperation did not last too long. The father even filed a lawsuit against his son, demanding that he be locked up in a psychiatric hospital again because he allegedly threatened him. However, the court did not find enough evidence for this.

When Haarmann did not succeed in business with his father or his fiancée, who left him, he was left without resources and without the opportunity to find a decent job. From 1905 to 1912, he therefore made a living as a petty thief and spent most of that period behind bars. In a similar vein, he survived the period of the First World War.

When she finished, he was already a well-known company at the Hanover police station. However, his “lifestyle” at the time was not unusual in the newly formed Weimar Republic – the state defeated in the war found itself in an economic crisis and the people survived. Crime was rampant, and the police themselves suggested to Haarmann that he become an informant. Haarmann agreed. And at the same time, he began brutally killing young men.

Bitten throat

The first murder was committed by Haarmann in 1918 – but at that time it was still a coincidence rather than a deliberate murder. The victim was 17-year-old Friedel Rothe. When the young man disappeared, his friend told the police that he had last seen him with Haarmann. At the urging of the missing boy’s family, the police decided to interrogate their informant. “When they arrived at his apartment, they found him having sex with a half-naked thirteen-year-old boy,” reads the book Monsters of Weimar.

And Haarmann immediately wandered behind bars – not for the murder of Roth, but for homosexuality. When he came out a year later, he came across his later lover and accomplice, Hans Grans, at the Hanover station. After his release with Grans’s help, he began to kill in a completely planned and thoughtful manner.

The same scenario was almost always repeated – under the pretext of promising food and drink, Haarmann lured a young boy to one of his hiding places. He raped him and then killed him. He strangled most of the victims, biting them in the throat as he strangled them. The bite was so strong that some of the boys died of it rather than suffocation. He then slit the victim. He removed her organs, which he and his bones gradually carried out of the house in sacks. Haarmann monetized the meat of the murdered – he sold it on the markets as an animal. His lover, Grans, was getting rid of the personal belongings of the murdered.

In 1923 and 1924, Haarmann murdered as if on a treadmill. His youngest proven victim was only ten years old.

Skull in the river

People have noticed that young men are starting to disappear strangely in Hanover, but this has not led to any major police investigation. Due to the social situation of the missing boys and the overall situation in the Weimar Republic, the police did not address the disappearance in more detail. The end of Haarmann’s rage did not begin until the spring of 1924.

Two children were playing on the Leine River in May of that year when water washed out a human skull. As it was older, police first waved at the find – probably a bone thrown by grave robbers. But less than a month later, the same river near a nearby village released a bag of human bones, and in another part of Hanover, two more skulls were found on the bank.

It gradually became clear to everyone that perhaps the flow had turned into a burial ground. When thoroughly searched, a total of 500 bones were found, belonging to at least twenty-two people. Some in the river, according to pathologists, were longer, but others only a few weeks. At this point, the police remembered very clearly the previous strange disappearance of the young men, and it became clear to them that they were dealing with a serial killer.

They came across Haarmann’s name relatively early in the investigation – all they had to do was go through the list of people convicted of homosexuality and the murder of Friedel Roth in 1918 jumped on them. he knew.

On a golden tray

In the handcuffs, the brutal killer ended up sooner than the police expected. And he fell into the trap all by himself. Thinking that he was safe as a police informant, he led a 15-year-old boy, whom he had previously argued with in front of witnesses, to the police at Hanover Train Station, and insisted that detectives arrest him for traveling without the necessary documents.

But Haarmann took a good step with this step – the boy told the police that Haarmann had been holding him with him for four days and had repeatedly raped him. The killer brought the key witness to the police as if on a golden tray. After the boy’s statement, the police searched Haarmann’s house and it was immediately clear to them that they had more than twenty murders in front of them.

There were a lot of traces of blood in Haarman’s apartment, and his neighbors confirmed that he had brought a lot of young men with him and was leaving the apartment with suspicious bags. Investigators also discovered the clothes and other personal belongings of the missing boys.

The last cigar

Haarmann first denied and blamed part of the murders on his accomplice Grans. But the police had enough evidence in hand – especially the testimonies of witnesses who saw him in the company of later victims, or their clothes stored in the apartment. And so Haarmann gradually confessed.

The trial of Haarmann in 1924 became a complete sensation. Reporters who learned exactly how the killer killed began calling him a butcher or a vampire. In court, Haarmann also confessed in court. He said the murder caused him ecstasy – but perhaps he saw the cutting of the bodies as disgusting. When the judge asked him how many people he had murdered, Haarmann took everyone’s breath away. “Between fifty and seventy,” he said in court.

However, the police were able to prove only 27 murders to him and he was tried only for them. How many people he actually killed remained a mystery forever. After the hearing, the judge pronounced the verdict that virtually everyone expected – the death penalty for both Haarmann and Grans. Grans collapsed mentally in the courtroom, and Haarmann accepted the verdict calmly. He even said that if he was not executed, he would continue to kill.

The execution by beheading was carried out in 1925. The night before he lay under the guillotine, Haarmann’s last wish was granted – he confessed, got Brazilian coffee in his cell, and smoked an expensive cigar. He also wrote a letter before his execution, admitting that while his accomplice Grans had helped him get rid of the victims’ personal belongings, he had never killed. As a result, his lover’s sentence was commuted to 12 years in prison. “I’m not afraid of death,” Haarmann said just before the blade cut off his head.