Sep 8, 2008

Carl Großmann

Georg Carl Großmann (known as Carl Großmann).

His story is often considered to be very similar to that of Karl Denke. He lived and died in the same time, same country. Just as Denke, he committed suicide in jail awaiting trail. He murdered people and there are prerequisites to think that he was using his victims' flesh to make sausages, he was later selling at the Silesian Station. And, just as in Denke's case, he has become a character of popular culture, inspiring songs, poems, movies and novels.

We have just one picture of him:

Information about him is extremely scarce. We know that he was born in Neuruppin in 1963 as a son of a ragman and was a trained butcher. Between 1879 and 1895 he lived as beggar in Berlin and his criminal career started around this period. In 1899 he was sentenced for 15 years imprisonment for sex crimes (one of his young victims - a 4 year old girl died soon after). In 1913 - after his release - he returned to Berlin to occupy a studio at Lange Straße 88/89 in Friedrichschain district - one of Berlin's poorest and most notorious for crime at that time (it was nicknamed "Chicago Berlin").
Großmann picked most of his victims (mostly prostitutes and unaccompanied women) in the area of Andreasplatz and took them home. Maybe he used to accost young women coming to Berlin's Silesian Station as well.

Andreasplatz in 1899

A total of 23 dismembered corpses of women were found in the area of Engelbecken, in the Luisenstraße municipal channel and around the Silesian Railway Station (now East Station) between 1918 and 1921.
On August 21, 1921 Carl Großmann was caught at his home beside the remnants of his last victim and evidence of two more girls being killed and dismembered in his studio during the last few weeks. He was accused of 3 murders, but the real figure would be more than 20 (some say, he could have killed more than 100 women). He was sentenced to death but hanged himself on July 5, 1922 before the due date of the execution.

The myth:

Carl Großmann had a sausage stall at the Silesian Station. When meat was in short supply after WWI, he would butcher cats and dogs to augment his wares. Although the taste of the Wursts was suspicious, nobody really made complaints about this. Within a few years however Großmann's sausages earned a much better reputation. It is said that to make them, he was using the flesh of his female victims (their bodies were usually dismembered and the one found in his home was mutilated as well).

These rumors - although highly plausible - were never entirely proved.


Großmann's legend has been linked to another myth of that time: that of Anastasia - the Russian grand duchess believed, by some, to have escaped the Bolshevik firing squad that killed nearly all her family. Wilson and Pitman state in their Encyclopedia of Murder: "At one point it was annouced that 'Anastasia' was really an imposter named Franziska Schamzkovski, a Polish girl from Bütow in Pomerania [today Bytów]. Franziska's family was told their daughter had been murder by Grossmann on 13 August 1920; an entry in his diary on that date bore the name 'Sasnovski'."

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