|Birth Day:||May 26, 1883|
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When he was a teenager, he was employed as a dogcatcher which led to his cruelty to animals.
Peter Kürten was born into a poverty-stricken, abusive family in Mülheim am Rhein on 26 May 1883, the third of 13 children (two of whom died at an early age). Kürten's parents were both alcoholics who lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and Kürten's father frequently beat his wife and children, particularly when he was drunk. When intoxicated, Kürten's father often forced his wife and children to assemble before him before ordering his wife to strip naked and engage in intercourse with him as his children watched. He was jailed for 15 months in 1894 for repeatedly raping his eldest daughter, who was aged 13. Shortly thereafter, Kürten's mother obtained a separation order, and later remarried and relocated to Düsseldorf.
In 1888, Kürten attempted to drown one of his playmates. Four years later, he befriended a local dog-catcher who lived in the same building as his family, and began accompanying him on his rounds. This individual often tortured and killed the animals he caught, and Kürten soon became an active and willing participant in torturing the animals.
In 1897, Kürten left school. At his father's insistence, he obtained employment as an apprentice molder. This apprenticeship lasted for two years before Kürten stole all the money he could find in his household, plus approximately 300 marks from his employer, and ran away from home. He relocated to Koblenz, where he began a brief relationship with a prostitute two years his senior who, he claimed, willingly submitted to every form of sexual perversion he demanded of her. He was apprehended just four weeks later and charged with both breaking and entering and theft, and subsequently sentenced to one month's imprisonment. He was released from prison in August 1899 and reverted to the life of petty crime he had lived before his arrest.
Kürten claimed to have committed his first murder in November 1899. In his 1930 confessions to investigators, Kürten claimed to have "picked up an 18-year-old girl at the Alleestraße", and persuaded her to accompany him to the Hofgarten. There, he claimed to have engaged in sex with the girl before strangling her to death with his bare hands.
Shortly thereafter, in 1900, Kürten was arrested for fraud. He would be rearrested later the same year on the same charge, although on this second occasion, charges pertaining to his 1899 Düsseldorf thefts, plus the attempted murder of a girl with a firearm were added to the indictment. Consequently, Kürten was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in October 1900. He served this sentence in Derendorf, a borough of Düsseldorf.
The first murder Kürten definitively committed occurred on 25 May 1913. During the course of a burglary at a tavern in Mülheim am Rhein, he encountered a nine-year-old girl named Christine Klein asleep in her bed. Kürten strangled the child, then slashed her twice across the throat with a pocket knife, ejaculating as he heard the blood dripping from her wounds onto the floor by her bed.
Kürten freely admitted his guilt in all the crimes police had attributed to the Vampire of Düsseldorf, and further confessed he had committed the unsolved murders of Christine Klein and Gertrud Franken in 1913. In total, Kürten admitted to 68 crimes including 10 murders and 31 attempted murders. He made no attempt to excuse his crimes, but justified them upon the basis of what he saw as the injustices he had endured throughout his life. Nonetheless, he was adamant he had not tortured any of his child victims. Kürten also admitted to both investigators and psychiatrists that the actual sight of his victim's blood was, on many occasions, sufficient to bring him to orgasm, and that, on occasion, if he experienced ejaculation in the act of strangling a woman, he would immediately become apologetic to his victim, proclaiming, "That's what love is all about". He further claimed to have drunk the blood from the throat of one victim, from the temple of another, and to have licked the blood from a third victim's hands. In one of these instances, he had drunk so much blood from the neck wound he had inflicted upon victim Maria Hahn that he vomited. Kürten also admitted to having decapitated a swan in the spring of 1930 in order that he could drink the blood from the animal's neck, achieving ejaculation in the process.
Released in April 1921, Kürten relocated to Altenburg, where he initially lived with his sister. Through his sister, Kürten became acquainted with a woman three years his senior named Auguste Scharf, a sweet shop proprietor and former prostitute who had previously been convicted of shooting her fiancé to death, and to whom Kürten initially posed as a former prisoner of war. Two years later, Kürten and Scharf married, and although the couple regularly engaged in sex, Kürten later admitted he could consummate his marriage only by fantasising about committing violence against another individual, and that, after their wedding night, he engaged in intercourse with his wife only at her invitation.
For the first time in his life, Kürten obtained regular employment, also becoming an active trades union official, although with the exception of his wife, he formed no close friendships. In 1925, he returned with his wife to Düsseldorf, where he soon began affairs with a servant girl named Tiede and a housemaid named Mech. Both women were frequently subjected to partial strangulation when they submitted to intercourse, with Tiede once being informed by Kürten, "That's what love means." When his wife discovered his infidelity, Tiede reported Kürten to police, claiming he had seduced her; Mech alleged Kürten had raped her. The more serious charge was later dropped, although Tiede's allegations were pursued, thus earning Kürten an eight-month prison sentence for seduction and threatening behaviour. Kürten served six months of this sentence, with his early release being upon the condition he left Düsseldorf. He later successfully appealed the ruling that he relocate from the city.
On 3 February 1929, Kürten stalked an elderly woman named Apollonia Kühn. Waiting until Kühn was shielded from the view of potential witnesses by bushes, Kürten pounced upon her, grabbing her by the lapels of her coat and shouting the words, "No row! Don't scream!" before dragging her into nearby undergrowth, where he proceeded to stab her 24 times with a sharpened pair of scissors. Although many of the blows were inflicted so deeply that the scissors struck her bones, Kühn survived her injuries.
On 7 November 1929, Kürten encountered a five-year-old girl named Gertrude Albermann in the Flingern district of Düsseldorf; he persuaded the child to accompany him to a section of deserted allotments, where he seized her by the throat and strangled her, stabbing her once in the left temple with a pair of scissors as he did so. When Albermann "collapsed to the ground without a sound", Kürten stabbed the child 34 further times in the temple and chest before placing her body in a pile of nettles close to a factory wall.
On 14 May 1930, an unknown man approached a 20-year-old woman named Maria Budlick at Düsseldorf station. Discovering Budlick had travelled to Düsseldorf from Köln in search of lodgings and employment, he offered to direct her towards a local hostel. Budlick agreed to follow the man, although she became apprehensive when he attempted to lead her through a scarcely populated park. The pair began to argue, whereupon another man approached the duo, asking whether Budlick was being pestered by her companion. When Budlick nodded, the man with whom she had been arguing simply walked away. The identity of the man who ostensibly came to Budlick's aid was Peter Kürten.
The interviews Kürten granted to Dr. Karl Berg in 1930 and 1931 proved to be the first psychological study conducted upon a sexual serial killer. These interviews also formed the basis of Berg's book, The Sadist.
On 13 April 1931, Peter Kürten stood trial in Düsseldorf. He was charged with nine counts of murder and seven of attempted murder, and was tried before Presiding Judge Dr. Rose. Kürten pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to each of the charges. Aside from when delivering testimony, Kürten would spend the duration of his trial surrounded by a heavily guarded shoulder-high iron cage specifically constructed to protect him from attack by the enraged relatives of his victims, and his feet were shackled whenever he was inside this cage.
Following Kürten's 1931 execution, his head was bisected and mummified; the brain was removed and subjected to forensic analysis in an attempt to explain his personality and behaviour. The examinations of Kürten's brain revealed no abnormalities. The autopsy conducted upon Kürten's body revealed that, aside from his having an enlarged thymus gland, Kürten had not been suffering any physical abnormality.
Currently, Peter Kurten is 140 years, 0 months and 13 days old. Peter Kurten will celebrate 141st birthday on a Sunday 26th of May 2024.
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