1 December 1961 |
Essen, West Germany
|Criminal charge||Murder (previously manslaughter)|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment (previously eight and half years imprisonment)|
|Criminal status||In prison|
Armin Meiwes (English pronunciation: / /; born 1 December 1961) is a German man who achieved international notoriety for killing and eating a voluntary victim whom he had found via the Internet. After Meiwes and the victim jointly attempted to eat the victim's severed penis, Meiwes killed his victim and proceeded to eat a large amount of his flesh. Because of his acts, Meiwes is also known as the Rotenburg Cannibal or Der Metzgermeister (The Master Butcher). His main occupation was working as a computer repair technician.
Killing and cannibalism
Looking for a willing volunteer, Meiwes posted an advertisement on the website The Cannibal Cafe. The site did have a disclaimer mentioning the distinction between reality and fantasy. Meiwes's post stated that he was "looking for a well-built 18- to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed". Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, an engineer from Berlin, then answered the advertisement. Many other people responded to the advertisement, but backed out; Meiwes did not attempt to force them to do anything against their will. As is known from a videotape the two made when they met on 9 March 2001 in Meiwes's home in the small town of Rotenburg, Meiwes amputated Brandes' penis and the two men attempted to eat the penis together before Brandes was killed. Brandes had insisted that Meiwes attempt to bite his penis off. This did not work and ultimately, Meiwes used a knife to remove Brandes' penis. Brandes apparently tried to eat some of his own penis raw, but could not because it was too tough and, as he put it, "chewy". Meiwes then fried the penis in a pan with salt, pepper, wine and garlic; he then fried it with some of Brandes' fat but by then it was too burned to be consumed. He then chopped it up into chunks and fed it to his dog.
According to journalists[who?] who saw the video (which has not been made public), Brandes may already have been too weakened from the blood loss to eat any of his penis. Meiwes read a Star Trek book[specify] for three hours, while Brandes lay bleeding in the bath. Meiwes gave him large quantities of alcohol and pain killers, twenty sleeping pills and a bottle of schnapps, kissed him and finally killed him in a room that he had built in his house for this purpose, the Slaughter Room. After stabbing Brandes to death in the throat, he hung the body on a meat hook and tore chunks of flesh from it. He tried to grind the bones to use as flour. The whole scene was recorded on the two-hour video tape. Meiwes ate the body over the next 10 months, storing body parts in his freezer under pizza boxes and consuming up to 20 kilograms (44 lb) of the flesh. According to prosecutors, Meiwes committed the act for sexual enjoyment.
Arrest, trial, and conviction of manslaughter
Meiwes was arrested in December 2002, when a college student in Innsbruck phoned the police after seeing new advertisements for victims and details about the killing on the Internet. Investigators searched his home and found body parts and the videotaped killing.
On 30 January 2004, Meiwes was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison. The case attracted considerable media attention and led to a debate over whether Meiwes could be convicted at all, given that Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes had voluntarily and knowingly participated in the act.
Meiwes has admitted what he did, and expressed regret for his actions. He added he wanted to write a book of his life story with the aim of deterring anyone who wants to follow his steps. Websites dedicated to Meiwes have appeared, with people advertising for willing victims. "They should go for treatment, so it doesn't escalate like it did with me", said Meiwes. While in prison, Meiwes has since become a vegetarian. He believes there are about 800 cannibals in Germany.
Retrial and murder conviction
In April 2005, a German court ordered a retrial after prosecutors appealed against his sentence. They believed he should have been convicted of murder. Among the questions courts answered is whether Brandes agreed to his killing, and whether he was legally capable of doing so at the moment, taking into account his apparent mental problems as well as his significant intake of alcohol.
Other aspects of the retrial determined whether Meiwes killed to satiate his own desires (in particular sexual desires), and not because he was asked to, which Meiwes has repeatedly rejected during testimony. At his retrial, a psychologist stated that Meiwes could reoffend and still "had fantasies about devouring the flesh of young people". On 10 May 2006, a court in Frankfurt convicted Meiwes of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Consultant in criminal cases
Feature film Butterfly: A Grimm Love Story (aka Rohtenburg) was banned in that country after Meiwes complained that his personality rights had been violated. The ban has since been lifted by Germany's highest civil court on appeal and has been released in German cinemas. The film won multiple awards at the 2006 Festival de Cine de Sitges, including Best Director, Best Actor for the two male leads, and Best Cinematography. Other films based on the case include Rosa von Praunheim's Dein Herz in Meinem Hirn (Your Heart in My Brain); Marian Dora's Cannibal; and Ulli Lommel's Diary of a Cannibal. In 2006, the film Cannibal was released, reconstructing the event. The film is directed by Marian Dora and stars actors Carsten Frank, Victor Brandl and Manoush. The film was banned in Germany.
Season 2, Episode 3 of sitcom The IT Crowd is titled "Moss and the German," parodying the Meiwes case, as a character accepts an invite to visit a German cannibal's home to be eaten, planning to take advantage of the cannibal's home cinema system instead.
In 2008 the distributor MORE Music and Media released the four-hour interview and documentary from RTL Extra on DVD as "Der Kannibale von Rotenburg"; it was released in the UK as Armin Meiwes: The Cannibal.
- Armin Meiwes NNDB
- "The Man Who Ate His Lover". Body Shock (Channel 4 TV, UK). http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/S/science/body/bodyshock_cannibal.html.
- "German cannibal tells of fantasy". BBC News. 3 December 2003. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
- Germany awaits verdict in 'cannibal' trial
- Cannibal trial reveals perverse intimacy
- BBC News: German 'cannibal' tells of regret
- BBC News: German 'cannibal' charged with murder
- Daily Mail: World's most infamous cannibal becomes a vegetarian
- BBC News: German 'cannibal' tells of regret
- "BBC News: German cannibal guilty of murder", BBC
- "NBC News: German court sentences cannibal to life in jail", NBC
- Kannibale half Polizei bei Jagd auf Menschen-Fresser
- Dan Epstein. Feeding Frenzy, Revolver, reported by The Heirophant May 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
- Review zu Der Kannibale von Rotenburg bei DVD-Sucht