Peter Kürten was known as Germany’s serial killer the “Düsseldorf Vampire,” a murder who killed at least nine people before surrendering to police in 1931.
Kürten was born in Cologne, Germany on May 26, 1883 to a childhood of poverty and misconduct. Being first born out of thirteen children he was a witness to accounts of brutal acts and sadistic tendencies from an alcoholic father. For the majority of Kürten’s childhood, his father projected his misconduct onto both the mother and his siblings in the one room apartment they shared. From the subjection to sexual violence of his father had an influence on Kürten who, at the age of nine years old, established an unhealthy relationship with a dog-catcher who live in the same building. The man introduced him to the practice of bestiality with dogs. As Kürten matured sexually, his bestiality expanded to sheep, goats, and other barnyard animals. He even went as far as discovering a pleasure when the animal would be stabbed during intercorse. By the age of 16, Kürten has progressed to petty crime, and ran away from home from the subjected violence. Not long after his father was arrested and jailed for sexual relations with Kürten’s thirteen year old sister.
Kürten’s small crimes soon led toward short prison sentences, multiple misdemeanors which occurred for several years. As he was jailed the conditions of his environment confirmed Kürten’s sadistic behavior as he moves from animals to human victims. The more that Kürten was sentence to jail the more his rage against the German society and capacity for crimality grew. He soon discovered a fascination with brutal sexual acts while in solitary confinement; the fascination grew so much that he would break prison rules to ensure the maximum time in solitary confinement.
In the history of crime not one killer has caused such a disarray as that created by Peter Kürten in Düsseldorf in the inter-war-post war period of WWI. Kürten’s epidemic of sexual outrages and murders that occurred between February and November 1929 provoked an outrage of horror not only in Germany but throughout the world. He was subjected to extensive examination, not only to punish the man for his crimes, but to be studied for his abnormal sadistic tendencies associated to crime.
Peter Kürten’s first murder occurred in the city of Köln, Germany on May 25th 1913. Within the earlier part of the spring season he had been stealing from public bars and inns where the owners lived in an apartment just above the premises. On the 25th he was surveying an inn in Köln. In his testimony he states, “I broke into a house in the Wolfstrasse — an inn owned by Klein — and went up to the first floor. I opened different doors and found nothing worth stealing; but in the bed I saw a sleeping girl of about ten, covered with a thick feather bed.” He then went to explain that he seized the girl by the neck strangling her into unconsciousness to proceed to appropriate sexual touching. He...