Bremen school shooting

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Bremen school shooting
St.-Marien-Schule - Walle - Bremen (2).jpg
St. Mary's Catholic School in 2006
Location Bremen, Germany
Date June 20, 1913
11:00 a.m.
Attack type
School shooting, mass murder
Weapons Six to ten handguns
Deaths 5 (4 by gunfire)
Non-fatal injuries
21
Perpetrator Heinz Schmidt
Motive Mental illness

The Bremen school shooting was a school shooting that occurred on June 20, 1913 at St. Mary's Catholic School (St.-Marien-Schule) in Walle, a quarter of Bremen, Germany. The gunman, 29-year-old unemployed teacher Heinz Schmidt from Sülze, indiscriminately shot at students and teachers, causing the death of five girls and wounding more than 20 other people, before being subdued by school staff. He was never tried for the crime and sent directly to an asylum where he died in 1932.[1][2][3][4]

Shooting[edit]

At approximately 11:00 a.m. Heinz Schmidt entered St. Mary's Catholic School, carrying a briefcase packed with six to ten revolvers or Browning pistols (depending on sources) and about 1000 rounds of ammunition, which he had bought several weeks prior to the shooting. Because of the large number of rounds, the owner of the gun-shop, where Schmidt had bought his arsenal, deemed it necessary to contact police, though the incident was not found to be important and thus not investigated any further.[5][6]

In the hallway on the first floor Schmidt encountered Marie Pohl, a teacher at the school, who was just stepping out of classroom 8b, and, seeing his agitated appearance, questioned him about his business at school. Without answer, Schmidt proceeded to shoot at her, barely missing her head.[7] While Miss Pohl fled into a classroom nearby Schmidt entered room 8b, which was occupied by 65 girls, most of them being 6 or 7 years old, and immediately began firing at them. Also shooting at the children after they hid under their tables the gunman instantly killed two of them and wounded another 15.[8] When the girls fled out of the classroom, Schmidt followed them, still shooting. While trying to escape, one of the girls fell down the stairs, broke her neck and died.[9]

The gunman then went back and unsuccessfully tried to enter another classroom that had been locked by a teacher who had realized what had been happening. Schmidt shot at the school janitor, Butz, who attempted to apprehend him, hitting him in the face, before going upstairs where he was tackled by teacher Hubert Möllmann. When Schmidt managed to break free from Möllmann's grip he shot the teacher twice, hitting him in the stomach and shoulder, whereupon he proceeded to shoot out of a window at the children on the schoolyard, injuring five boys. The shots also wounded a roofer working nearby, who, together with his colleagues and other people alarmed by the shooting, then rushed into the school building, though as they arrived on the first floor the gunman had already been subdued by janitor Butz and a teacher named Hartlage. When Schmidt was led away by police he was met by an angry crowd outside, which beat him up and attempted to lynch him, until the police officers managed to hold the mob at bay with their sabres.[7][9][10][11]

In total, Schmidt had fired 35 rounds, three girls died instantly, while two more later succumbed to their wounds – the last victim dying some time in mid-July[12] – and 18 children, as well as three other persons were injured.[5][8][13]

Victims[edit]

Five schoolgirls had died in the shooting, one indirectly:[14]

  • Anna Kubica, 7
  • Sophie Gornisiewicz, died by falling down the stairs
  • Elsa Maria Herrmann, 7
  • Elfriede Höger, 5, died four weeks after the shooting[11]
  • Maria Anna Rychlik, 8

More than 30,000 people attended the funeral procession when the girls were brought to the cemetery.[15]

Perpetrator[edit]

Heinz Jakob Friedrich Ernst Schmidt was born in Sülze on September 24, 1883. He worked as a teacher at a school in Stolp until May 1912, when he had to quit due to a mental breakdown. After a stay at a sanatorium and having to quit another job afterwards he went to Bremen in December the same year. People later described him as an odd and shy person.[12]

According to letters he had written, Schmidt felt strong resentments against the Jesuits, calling them a danger for the people and holding them responsible for the death of his father, a pastor, who had died the day before the shooting. Schmidt was examined at the St. Jürgen-asylum in Ellen, where he was found to be insane. He remained there until March 31, 1932 when he died of tuberculosis.[5][10][16][17][18][19]

See also[edit]

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