Mugshot of Fritz Haarmann ca. 1924

"Never have I had such a good meal, as human meat.

- Fritz Haarmann 

Fritz Haarmann (October 25 1879 - April 15 1925) was a German serial killer and sadistic cannibal who was convicted of the murder of twenty-four homeless men. He was known as "The Butcher of Hanover" and was executed by Guillotine for his crimes. He has gone down in history as the most prolific serial killer in German history. 

Early Life 

Freidrich Heinrich Karl Haarmann was born in Hanover in a poverty-stricken disfunctional family on October 25 1879. As a child, he was confused about his sexuality prevering to engage in feminene activities. At age 16 he convinced his father to enlist him in the army. He was discharged in 1902 after he was suspected of molesting children. During his life Haarmann was arrested several times for theft and small frauds. Haarmann ironicly enough often informed Hanover Police on crimes comitted in the city. In 1918 Haarmann became unemployed and frustrated. 


On September 25 1918, Fritz Haarmann picked up 17-year old Friedel Rothe. His family contacted Police which entered Haarmann's home. They found him in company of a naked Rothe who he had attempted to strangle. Haarmann was arrested and served nine in prison for the assault. His male lover Hans Grans testified in defence of him. In December 1920 Haarmann was released. With Grans he moved into an appartment at 27 Cellerstraße in Hanover. Again he became an informer to Police. Soon after, he started a small butchery and became a well-liked butcher in the erea. His secret life however, he kept hidden from his lover. 

Between February 1923 and June 1924 Fritz Haarmann murdered at least 24 young men. Late at night he would pick most of his victims up at the Hanover Central Railway Station. Most of his victims lived on the brinks of society and were either unemployed, homeless or both some were male prostitutes. He won their trust and would take them back to his apartment with the promise of a meal or a place to warm, where he would have anal sex with them. He would then, phyisicly rip his victims throats open with his teeth and so kill them. Often he would afterwards dismember his victims with a meat-cleaver. Most lumbs of flesh he dumped in the Leine River. Some he would sell in his butchers-shop claiming it to be viel. 

Police eventually found the remains of twenty-two different males in the River. Haarmann's appartment was searched and they as well came upon dismembered body parts in his cupboard. Walls were heavily bloodstained and personal belongings of his victims where found. On June 22 1924 Fritz Haarmann was arrested. 

Trail and Execution 

Fritz Haarmann confessed to as many as seventy murders but Police could only link him to twenty-seven. Psychiatrist who examaned him after his arrest noted the femine way in which he beheaved. "Soft spoken, almost a female voice and even giggling." His trail began on December 4 1924. Newspapers dubbded him " Wolf-Man".  He was convicted of twenty-four counts of murder and sentenced to death by beheading by Guillotine. Police where ashamed that their trusted informer was the serial killer they had searched for and never had suspicions. 

On April 15 1925 Fritz Haarmann was executed by beheading by Guillotine. His last words were: "I repent, but do not fear death."


Haarmann's lover Hans Grans was convicted of complicity and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. The serial killer's head was kept and is currently held at the Medical School of Göttingen. His crimes stayed notorious throughout the 1920's especially in Hanover. 

The 1931 classic film "M" by director Fritz Lang is often said to have been paritially based on Haarmann but this is not true. It was inspired by the 1929 crimes of notorious German child killer Peter Kürten. 

The 1973 film "The Tenderness Of Wolves " is based on the case of Fritz Haarmann. 

In 1975 a communial grave was revealed to honour the memory of 24 victims of Haarmann at the Hanover cemetery. 

Points of Intrest

Fritz Haarmann's case has much in common with that of sadistic child-murderer Peter Kürten who was active during the same period.

When American sadomasochist and cannibalistic serial killer Albert Fish was arrested in New York in 1936 they found newspaper clippings concidering Haarmann's case in his appartment. 


Police photograph of Fritz Haarmann's bedroom, 1924

The grave of Haarmann's victims

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