Vampire of Dusseldorf

Peter Kurten: The Vampire of Dusseldorf

Peter Kurten: The Vampire of Dusseldorf

By Laura James


A 20 year-old girl named Maria takes a train from Cologne, Germany, to Dusseldorf in the Spring of 1930. She leaves the train station with her guard up; a fiend had been menacing the city for the past year, assaulting and murdering men, women, and children. He's even sent letters to the local paper with a map showing the location of the body of his latest victim, a five year-old girl. Maria tries not to think about the horrors of his crimes, as she has come to the city seeking work and needs to find a place to stay.

As she walks, she is brashly approached by a man asking her for directions somewhere and trying to lead her into a park. Panicked that this could be the maniac, she deflects his attention but he becomes argumentative. Just as quickly, another man intervenes. He is dressed respectably with neatly-combed hair. He sends the quarrelsome man off and asks Maria if she would like to come to his apartment for a drink and, charmed, she accepts.

He leads her down a street called Mettemannerstrasse, but pulls her into the woods and begins strangling her. The good Samaritan who came to her aid is "The Vampire of Dusseldorf."


The vampire's lust for violence came from a background as brutal as his crimes. Peter Kurten was born on May 26, 1883, in Cologne-Mulheim, Germany. He was the oldest of 13 children. His family was impoverished from his father spending his wages on booze, that they lived in a small apartment, with no escape from their father's physical or sexual abuse. He forced himself on his wife, beat her and their children, and was arrested in 1897 for attempting (or committing) incest with one of his daughters.

Peter's dark impulses manifested early. He is rumored to have caused (or at least aided in) the drowning of two playmates at the age of five. He lost his virginity at the age of 13 when he forced himself on a girl in the woods and almost strangled her to death. Sickeningly, women weren't the only recipients of his lust. He became apprentice to a dog-catcher when his family moved to Dusseldorf and engaged in bestiality with different kinds of animals, sometimes stabbing them and drinking their blood during the act. These were his first instances of vampirism and the start of his criminal history.

He was in and out of jail for burglary, assault, and arson. Watching the fires and imagining the harm and death they might cause was a form of sexual gratification for the pyromaniac. He hated the conditions of the prisons and the treatment he endured from the guards but that was never enough of a deterrent for his criminal activity. In 1913, he crept through the an open window at an inn owned by a man named Peter Klein. Kurten found Klein's 13 year-old daughter Christine and slit her throat. In his hurry to get away, Kurten dropped a handkerchief embroidered with his initials. The police who investigated the crime scene found it but, following the most obvious lead, focused on Peter Klein.

Even after eluding capture due to a stunning coincidence, Kurten was only linked to one other murder during that time. His impulses may have been calmed by marriage. He married in 1923, and neighbors and coworkers described him as quiet, timid, and responsible.

He didn't kill again until 1929, beginning his "year of terror."

In February of that year, he attacked a woman, but her distressed cries summoned people and Kurten fled. A few weeks later, he stabbed eight year-old Rosa Ohlinger to death with a pair of scissors and left her body around a construction site. He returned later that evening, soaked her body in kerosene, and set it ablaze, masturbating while he watched the fire.

Several weeks after that, a man named Rudolf Scheer drunkenly bumped into Kurten while on the way home from a beer hall. This so enraged Kurten that he stabbed Scheer with scissors and drank the blood that flowed from his wounds.

That August, he had sex with a domestic servant named Maria Hahn, stabbed her to death, and further satisfied himself by drinking her blood. Towards the end of the month, he encountered two young girls, 13 year-old Luise and five year-old Gertrude, on their way home from a fair. He lured them into a meadow, strangling and stabbing the older girl and slitting the younger one's throat.

In September, he attempted to murder another servant and succeeded in murdering other women, one that month and one in October, by beating them to death.

He committed what would be his final murder in November when he stabbed five year-old Gertrud Albermann to death with a pair of scissors.

Kurten greatly admired London's Jack the Ripper, researching the case and even sending a taunting letter to the German newspaper, Freedom. In his letter, he revealed the location of the bodies of Gertrud Albermann and Maria Hahn.

In May of the following year, he found a girl named Maria Budlies fighting with a man who approached her after she got off a train from Cologne. Kurten diffused the situation and offered to take her to his apartment. Instead, he tried to strangle her in the woods around his apartment but, inexplicably, stopped. Perhaps he was worried about the other man being able to identify him after seeing him walk away with Maria. He asked her if she would remember how to get to his place and she said she would not.

Maria didn't go to the police about the incident but did write about it to a friend a few days later. There was a mistake in the address so a clerk at the post office opened the envelope to see if she could figure out where it was supposed to be sent. The clerk read the contents of the letter and turned it over to police. The police went to Maria, and she led them to Peter Kurten's home.

He saw the police and was able to avoid them at the time but knew they were closing in on him. Kurten confessed everything to his wife, and the next day she turned him in to the police.

Peter Kurten plead insanity. He revealed fantasies of poisoning, injuring, or killing large crowds of people at once. He even claimed that his victims, mostly children or those subservient to him, were his revenge on society for the treatment he endured in prison. He did, however, express concern for one person: his wife. He said he hoped she would be taken care of with him gone and, at one point, claimed he was innocent of all charges and said he only admitted to the murders so his wife could collect the reward money.

His plea was rejected, and Peter Kurten was found guilty of nine counts of murder. His morbid lust followed him to the very end; he expressed excitement at the prospect of beheading and inquired if he would be conscious long enough to hear the blood gushing from his body.

Peter Kurten was executed on July 2, 1931.

Posted by Alan Smithee in BRUTAL REALITY, 0 comments