Sep 29, 2008

Mysterious pictures found at a dump in Wrocław

The neat picture of a saw, a pickaxe and some knives are part of a series of mysterious photographs found dumped at the Medical Academy of Wrocław in the mid 1980's.

A total of 1200 pictures (medium format glass negatives and positives) were dumped during a renovation at the medical college of Wrocław. They belonged most probably to the German Institute of Forensic Medicine in Breslau until 1945, when the city became Polish Wrocław.

Tadeusz Dobosz, the man who found them - then scientific employee, now professor of Molecular Techniques at the Department of Forensic Medicine of the Medical Academy of Wrocław - was able to interpret most of them, but a dozen frames remained quite a puzzle.

Four of them depicted human bones, one showed a table full of meat, human bones and a pair of suspenders (made of human skin, as we know today), then on another photograph one could see more suspenders with some rags and old shoes.

Two pictures showed jars and pots in some interiors.

With these came 3 single pictures: a house from the outside, a wooden shed and a portrait of a deadman (this particular glass negative was shattered and could not be scanned by prof. Dobosz but it is the same picture as we know as the only portrait of Karl Denke).

Prof. Dobosz suspected a cannibal story behind these pictures but couldn't find any trace of such a story. (Here is an article in Polish about the findings).


Only last spring - after meeting Marcin Tosz, a local journalist familiar with the Denke case - could prof. Dobosz link the pictures he had to a specific story - that of Karl Denke.

The wooden shed in Denke's garden was destroyed after World War II by the new Polish owners of the house. They soon unearthed a few skulls and some human bones. Thus the gory legend of the cannibal from Muensterberg soon became common knowledge in the village of Ziębice (as Muensterberg is called today).

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