|Other names||Rotenburg Cannibal, Der Metzgermeister (The Master Butcher)|
|Occupation||Computer repair technician|
|Criminal charge||Murder (previously manslaughter)|
|Penalty||Life imprisonment (previously 8½ years' imprisonment)|
Armin Meiwes (German: [ˈmaɪvəs]; born 1 December 1961) is a German former computer repair technician 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).
Killing and cannibalism
Looking for a willing volunteer, Meiwes posted an advertisement on the website The Cannibal Cafe (a defunct forum for people with a cannibalism fetish). Meiwes' 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, answered the advertisement in March 2001. Many other people responded to the advertisement but backed out; Meiwes did not attempt to force them to do anything against their will.
The two made a videotape when they met on 9 March 2001 in Meiwes' home, in the small town of Rotenburg, showcasing Meiwes amputating Brandes' penis (with his agreement) and the two men attempting to eat it together. Before doing so, Brandes swallowed twenty sleeping pills, and a bottle of cough syrup, likely causing an effect of slowed breathing and extreme tiredness. Brandes initially insisted that Meiwes attempt to bite his penis off. This did not work, and ultimately, Meiwes used a knife to remove Brandes' appendage. 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 burnt to be consumed. He then chopped the penis up into chunks and fed it to his dog. According to court officials who saw the video (which has not been made public), Brandes may already have been too weakened from blood loss to eat any of his penis.
Meiwes then ran Brandes a bath, before going to read a Star Trek book, while checking back on Brandes every fifteen minutes, during which time Brandes lay bleeding in the bath. Later, Brandes got out of the bath and collapsed, falling into unconsciousness due to blood loss. Brandes continued to drift in and out of consciousness before finally collapsing again. After long hesitation and prayer, Meiwes killed Brandes by stabbing him in the throat, after which he hung the body on a meat hook. The incident was recorded on a four-hour videotape. Meiwes dismembered and ate the corpse over the next ten 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 pleasure.
Arrest, trial, and manslaughter conviction
Meiwes was arrested in December 2002, when a college student alerted authorities to new advertisements for victims online. Investigators searched his home and found body parts and the videotape of the killing.
Meiwes has admitted cannibalising Brandes and has expressed regret for his actions. He added he wanted to write a biography with the aim of deterring anyone who wants to follow his footsteps. 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 Meiwes' sentence, arguing that he should have been convicted of murder because he killed for sexual gratification, a motive proved by his having videotaped the crime. The court ruled that the original trial had ignored the significance of the video in disproving the argument that Meiwes only killed because he had been asked to kill.
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.
- An Appetite for Bernard Brady (2005), a short film directed by Chris Mangano and written by Todd van der Ark and Chris Mangano, was loosely based on the case but strictly takes the point of view from the victim's perspective as the character comes to terms with the idea of being eaten. The film was nominated for multiple awards at the Montana State University School of Film and Photography's 2005 Tracy Awards, and won the Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and Audience Awards. The film also won the 2005 Seattle Student Film Festival's audience choice award.
- Grimm Love (German title: Rohtenburg; 2006), a feature film directed by Martin Weisz and starring Keri Russell, was banned in Germany after Meiwes complained that his personality rights had been violated. The ban was subsequently lifted by Germany's highest civil court after an appeal. 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.
- Cannibal (2006) is a direct-to-video horror film based on Meiwes and Brandes, though the characters do not have names. The film was directed and produced by Marian Dora and stars actors Carsten Frank, Victor Brandl and Manoush. The film was banned in Germany.
The plot of Australian thriller Feed (2006) bears many similarities to the case.
- The German industrial metal band Rammstein released the song "Mein Teil", which specifically references the Meiwes case, in 2004. MTV Germany restricted airing the video to after 11:00 p.m.
- The rock musician Marilyn Manson has identified Meiwes as an inspiration in the titling of his album Eat Me, Drink Me.
- The Swedish death metal band Bloodbath wrote the song, "Eaten", which voices Brandes' desire to be eaten alive, all while witnessing the act.
- The Chicago-based death metal band Macabre wrote a song about Meiwes called "The Wüstenfeld Man-Eater".
- Season 2, Episode 3 of the sitcom The IT Crowd, titled "Moss and the German", parodies the Meiwes case. The character Maurice Moss, thinking he is answering an advert for a German cookery course, ends up in the house of an aspiring German cannibal, where the error is revealed, the fault lying with the man's poor grasp of the English language when writing the advert.
- In 2008, 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.
- An episode of the British medical documentary Body Shock entitled The Man Who Ate His Lover discusses the case in detail.
- In the season 4 episode "The Handyman" of the British comedy series Peep Show main character Mark warns Jeremy that something bad is going to happen if Jeremy continues working for the Orgazoid, mentioning that he might "invite a German off the internet to eat him".
- Season 1, episode 1 of the TV series Rake, titled "R.V. Murray", features an accused cannibal who eats his volunteer in similar circumstances to the Meiwes case. Also, season 1, episode 4 of the 2014 American remake of Rake, titled "Cannibal", features an accused cannibal.
- An episode of Hannibal made reference to the incident with the character of Mason Verger: "You boys remind me of that German cannibal who advertised for a friend and then ate him and his penis before he died. Tragedy being the penis was overcooked. Go to all that trouble to eat a friend and you overcook his penis! They ate it anyway. They had to. They committed. But they didn't enjoy it."
- In an August 2016 episode of the Pitchfork series "Over/Under", guest Eric André makes reference to Meiwes. "I want to see an episode where Wile E. Coyote violently, savagely, tears Road Runner apart... Eats him alive, you know, cuts his dick off and barbecues it and eats it like that German computer technician did to that guy he found on Craigslist."
- American sitcom 30 Rock referenced the case in the episode "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World" (season 7, episode 11). The character Pete Hornberger (played by Scott Adsit), laments dwindling advertisers on his show. He says that the only advertiser they have left is a German guy who wants to eat someone but "even Gunter's having doubts."
- In the season 2 episode "Hungry" of the American anthology series Room 104, two men meet in a hotel room to eat each other's penises. The men, Gene (Mark Proksch) and Dan (Kent Osborne), are interrupted while eating Dan's penis by the cops after a concerned call from Dan's wife. After an explanation of the consent given and plan to seek medical attention shortly, the men continue to prepare for the second course (Gene's penis) as the episode ends.
- In 2014, TASTE, an award winning play inspired by the case, premiered in Los Angeles at the Sacred Fools Theater Company. The play was written by Screenwriter Benjamin Brand and directed by Stuart Gordon. The production was nominated for various awards from all of the major Los Angeles theatrical critic organizations. The production starred Chris McKenna and Donal Thoms-Cappello, and was produced by Gordon, Dean Schramm, Ben Rock, and Adam Goldworm.
- In 2017, the original musical MEIWES/BRANDES was chosen to be part of The Actors Centre's inaugural John Thaw Initiative. Written by RADA MA graduates Harriet Taylor, Scott Howland, Laura Dorn, and Aurora Richardson, the piece uses correspondence between Meiwes and Brandes as well as verbatim court transcripts to recreate their meeting and tell a deeper story about love, pain, queer relationships, and mental health.
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