Also known as “The Butcher of Hanover”, Fritz Haarmann is probably one of the most gruesome serial killers of all time. One of the first serial killers at the beginning of the age of sexual killing, Haarmann lived a life fueled by an excessive need for murder.
Born on October 25, 1879 in Hanover, Germany, Haarmann lived a unique childhood. Being the youngest of six children and clearly his mother’s favorite, Haarmann was often seen playing with dolls and “girly” toys rather than the boy toys his brothers preferred. Haarman, whose mother fell ill after his birth, frequently fought with his father and they were often observed in heated arguments.
By the time he had reached his 18th birthday, Haarmann had progressed into a darker side of sexuality. After his family physician reported he could not cure Haarmann of his need for sexually deviant behavior, he was sent to an insane asylum for treatment. By the age of 20, he was begging to either be killed or let out and demanded to never be sent back to a loony bin again.
After the age of 20, Haarmann seemed to normalize a bit and even married. Soon after the marriage, Haarmann left his wife and unborn child to join the military. He quickly became a star soldier and had no real trouble until he collapsed one day during workouts. He was hospitalized for four months and sent home due to mental instability.
Soon after returning home, Haarmann’s father tried to convince the family physician to again have his son committed, but the doctor simply deemed him “mentally inferior” and Haarmann was left to run the streets of society as he pleased.
Haarmann’s life was filled with petty burglaries and crimes and he even served a small amount of time in prison. By 1918, Haarmann was living in Hanover and the pettiness soon grew boring and his games began.
While living in Hanover, Haarmann met and partnered Hans Grans. They lived together and murdered together. Haarmann was known for his sexual exploitations throughout Hanover, so it was no red flag to those who saw him when he brought home young male prostitutes and vagrants. What happened after was nothing they could ever expect.
After luring the naive men into his apartment, Haarmann would seduce them and while in the throws of passion bite threw their throats, killing them within seconds. After he murdered them, his partner Hans would sell their clothing; he would (supposedly) sell the meat off their bones to local meat markets as black market pork and dump their skeletons and remains into the river Leine.
Haarmann would have never gotten caught had the body parts not started washing up on the banks of the river. A total or more than 500 body parts were pieced together to make 22 corpses. The outrageous activities of Haarmann led police to his door and he was arrested for the crime of murder.
Germans were appalled by the activities they soon learned this psychopath engaged in. He was called a “werewolf”, a “vampire” and a “sexual Psychopath.” By the end, it didn’t matter what they called him because he was found guilty and was beheaded for his crimes. At the time, the outrage from the Hanover townspeople was so strong that the judges ordered the beheading even though they doubted Haarmann was ever sane enough to be allowed out of the asylum he so hated.
Grans was also charged for his part in the murders. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and remained in Hanover until his death in 1980.