Touring the Horrible: A Guide to Germany's Darkest Places

Part 6: Hanover's House of Horror

He was Germany's most infamous serial killer. Fritz Haarman, also known as the "Vampire of Hanover."

Born to a poor family in 1879, Haarmann was perceived as effeminate and weak and struggled through school during his formative years. Nineteen years later in 1898, Haarmann began to show his horrifying tendencies, when he was first arrested for molesting children. For the next several years, Haarmann lived a life of petty crime, serving several short prison sentences until he was convicted of a series of thefts in 1914 and imprisoned for four years.

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Photo Gallery: Germany's Darkest Places
In 1918, upon his release, poverty was rampant in Germany following the World War I. The depression provided Haarmann with the perfect environment to kill. Ironically during this time, Haarmann also used his criminal connections to act as an informant to the police, one reason he was able to evade the authorities for as long as he did.

During his trial in 1924, Haarman admitted to sexually molesting and killing 24 boys and men in his apartment at Rote Reihe 2, Hanover. The large majority of victims went missing between 1923 and 1924. He murdered most of them by biting their throats. He then dismembered the bodies and burned them or threw them into a small river. He often sold their clothing and other items for money. Rumors that he sold some of the meat from the body parts on the black market were never confirmed, though Haarmann was known to sell meat in addition to clothing and other goods.

Haarmann was beheaded with a guillotine on April 25, 1925, but he was never forgotten. He was once so famous that a popular song was dedicated to him. "Wait, wait awhile, Haarmann will soon come to you too. With a little cleaver, he will make mincemeat out of you," went the lyrics. Following his beheading, scientists kept Haarmann's head to examine the structure. Today it resides at the Göttingen medical school in Lower Saxony.

Haarmann's house is long gone and the current house numbers no longer equate to those of the 1920s. The remains of his victims were buried in an honorary grave in 1928.

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A map of Germany's darkest places.
SPIEGEL ONLINE

A map of Germany's darkest places.



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