FRITZ HAARMANN, THE BUTCHER OF HANOVER

By Tim Lambert

Fritz Haarmann was a German serial killer of the early 20th century. He murdered teenage boys between 1918 and 1924. Haarmann was born on 25 October 1879. When he was 16 Fritz was sent to a military school but he was soon discharged because of epilepsy. In 1896 Fritz Harmann was arrested for sexually abusing boys and he was sent to a mental institution. However he escaped from there and fled to Switzerland. However he returned to Hanover in 1899. In 1900 he was drafted into the army. In 1902 he was once again discharged for medical reasons. Fritz Haarmann then began a life of petty crime. In 1914 he was convicted of robbing a warehouse and he was sentenced to five years in prison. Fritz Haarman spent most of the First World War in prison but he was released in April 1918.

Fritz Haarmann became a police informer. However he also began killing teenage boys. (In the years after the end of the First World War Germany was in economic and political chaos and Haarmann took advantage of this). The first known victim was Friedel Rothe aged 17. He disappeared in September 1918. Rothe was last seen with Haarmann and police eventually raided his home. They found Haarmann with a semi naked teenage boy and as a result he was charged with sexual assault. Haarmann served 9 months in jail. Then in September 1919 Haarmann met Hans Grans and the two became lovers and partners in crime. Fritz Haarmann and Grans met young boys at Hanover Railway Station and took them home. Haarmann then killed the boys by biting their throats and strangling them. Their meager possessions were then sold by Hans Grans. Haarmann disposed of body parts by dumping them in the River Leine.

Then on 17 May 1924 children found a human skull washed up by the river. Over the following weeks more human bones were found and eventually the police dredged the river. The bones of 27 boys were found. Haarmann immediately fell under suspicion because of his record. Finally on 22 June 1924 Fritz Haarmann was arrested for indecency with a 15 year old boy named Karl Fromm. The police searched Haarmann's home and they found bloodstains and clothing belonging to missing boys. Haarmann was eventually charged with the murders of 27 boys.

Fritz Haarmann was put on trial on 4 December 1924. On 19 December 1924 he was found guilty of 24 of the 27 murders. Fritz Haarmann was guillotined on 15 April 1925 in Hanover Jail. Hans Grans was found guilty of incitement to murder and he was sentenced to death. Hans Grans was jailed for 12 years. He died in 1975

After the execution of Fritz Haarmann his head was kept for research. It was finally cremated in 2014.

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