Throughout its history, the Germans have seen their fair share of crime. From the horrors of the Holocaust to phantom serial killers, Germany isn’t immune to horrific crimes. German cannibals are among the criminals who have marred the history of the country. Read on to learn more about the cannibals who have terrorized the nation throughout its past.
Karl Denke was born in the Kingdom of Prussia. He ran away from home at 12, and not much is known about Denke’s life until the age of 25, when he received an inheritance from his father and purchased a home in Ziebice.
As an adult, Denke was a practicing Christian. In fact, he was a devout Christian. Denke would often carry the cross at church, as well as play the organ. He was well-loved for his generosity toward the homeless and beggars.
Just before Christmas in 1924, a homeless man by the name of Vincenz Olivier arrived at the police station in Munsterberg. The man was covered in blood, and said he’d been attacked by Denke. Of course, given his reputation, no one believed that Olivier was telling the truth.
Police finally humored the old man. They arrested Denke, placing him in a holding cell. In the morning, they found him dead. He had hanged himself.
It was only after his death that Denke’s atrocities came to light. Police, upon searching the home, found a meat processing plant filled with human remains. The official police report read:
…In three medium-sized pots filled with cream sauce, some cooked meat, partially covered with skin and human hair was found. The meat was pink and soft. All pieces seemed cut from the gluteal area [buttocks]. One pot had only half a portion. Denke must have eaten the other piece short before being arrested.
The full report goes on to describe more gruesome details of the Denk victims’ fates. It’s believed that Denke killed 40 victims, but there were likely more.
Another of the most notorious German cannibals is Carl Grossmann. Unlike Karl Denke, Grossmann had no religious affiliation. To the contrary, he was known as a young man to have unusual sexual preferences. He was in trouble with the law several times for child molestation.
In August of 1921, police were called to the apartment of Carl Grossmann. Neighbors reported hearing screaming and banging coming from the space. Upon entering the apartment, police found the freshly murdered body of his latest victim, a woman who laid dead on his bed.
Grossmann was arrested for murder, and neighbors were questioned. They reported seeing woman frequently entering the apartment with Grossmann. Some were never seen leaving.
Police also discovered that, during the First World War, Grossmann had been selling the meat of his victims on the black market. Grinding the meat and throwing the inedibles into the river, Carl Grossmann had become one of the most entrepreneurial German cannibals.
The Butcher of Hanover
The Butcher of Hanover terrorized the boys and young men of Germany for six years. Fritz Haarmann, like Carl Grossmann, made a living on the black market just after the Great War. And he, like Grossmann, enjoyed assaulting boys as a teenager, leading him to trouble with law enforcement.
In fact, Haarmann was in and out of prison for petty crimes throughout the first World War. It was after his release that he took advantage of the struggling German economy. He sold black market goods by the train station, but also became an informant to police.
From 1918, young men began to disappear from the streets of Hanover. Many of these young men vanished from the very train station where Haarmann sold his illegal goods.
For six long years, Haarmann used his role as a police informant to lure young men back to his apartment. There, he would murder the men by biting into the trachea and Adam’s apple. Once dead, Haarmann would dismember the victims and cast their body parts into the Leine.
In 1924, one young man escaped. He reported to police that he’d been raped at knifepoint by Haarmann. Searching his apartment, the police found enough evidence to warrant dredging the Leine. Over 500 more bones and fragments were found.
Haarmann confessed to killing 24 young men, but it’s thought that as many as 70 were victims of the Butcher of Hanover. Haarmann was executed by guillotine in 1925 at the age of 45.
Not all German cannibals took unwilling victims. In more recent news, a German man found a willing participant.
Armin Meiwes, born in Germany in 1961, was a computer technician. In 2001, the German cannibal posted an ad on “The Cannibal Café.” The website catered to people with cannibal fetishes. The ad Meiwes placed was “looking for a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed.”
Many answered the ad, but all backed out. Finally, the ad was answered by Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, an engineer from Berlin.
On the 9th of March, 2001, Brandes and Meiwes made a videotape together. Brandes consumed a half bottle of schnapps and twenty sleeping pills, then Brandes asked that Meiwes bite off his penis. That didn’t work, so instead he allowed Meiwes to sever it with a knife.
The men fried the appendage in a saucepan with salt, pepper, wine and garlic. Unfortunately for the men, the penis was too burnt to be consumed.
Meiwes drew a bath for his willing victim, checking in on him every 15 minutes. Before long, Brandes stepped out of the tub, still bleeding, and was in and out of consciousness. After a prayer, Meiwes stabbed Brandes in the throat, killing him.
The body of Brandes was hung on a meat hook and “processed.” Meiwes froze the body parts he’d butchered, and ate from them for the next ten months.
It wasn’t until 2002 that Meiwes was arrested, when he posted a new ad in search of another participant. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.