Nov 2, 2008

The Butcher of Brno

I owe this one to Petr Janeček, the Czech ethnologist and folklorist, author of the book Černá Sanitka about urban legends in Central Europe.

The story was spread around 1987 or 1988 in Brno (Czech Republic):

They say there was a soldier who came to town to meet his girlfriend. One day they went together for a walk, when she told him she has to go to the butcher to buy some meat. He was waiting for her outside. She wasn't coming back. After a longer while the soldier became worried and entered the store, but no one was there. He went to the backyard and discovered two butchers chopping [the girl].

Petr Janeček adds that this legend is quite common in Central Europe. Similar tales were told in Szczecin (Poland) in the 1950's about a butcher who used to kill people and make sausages of their flesh. Similar stories appeared in many versions and places in Poland throughout the years, especially during the economical crisis of the 1980's (in Kraków for instance).


Also Wojtek Kocołowski told me a story his father has heard: just before World War II, on Florianska street in Kraków, there was a famous Polish butcher, but after September 1939 he was replaced by a German owner. Already in 1940 food has become scarce in town, nevertheless the German butcher on Florianska street kept products in abundance and good quality, sausages in particular. One day, the butcher just disappeared and his business closed for no apparent reason. Wojtek's father was stepson of a magistrate counselor responsible for granting and extending licenses to restaurateurs, therefore he knew them all. One of the latter told him the story of a prostitute, who fled the German butcher in extremis: reportedly he wanted to stab her to death and fillet her. The butcher was said to lure the prostitutes to his premises and then slaughter them to make the so valued sausages. A friend of Wojtek's father also related that his wife used to bring the famous sausages home. One day she just stopped doing that but never told why. It happened precisely at the time the butcher shop was closed.

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