1 December 1961 |
Essen, West Germany
|Other names||Rotenburg Cannibal, Der Metzgermeister (The Master Butcher)|
|Occupation||Computer repair technician|
|Criminal charge||Murder (previously manslaughter)|
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment (previously 8 1⁄2 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 (a blog site for people with cannibal fetishes). 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 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's home in the small town of Rotenburg, showcasing Meiwes amputating Brandes's penis and the two men attempting to eat the penis together before Brandes's ultimate demise. Brandes had insisted that Meiwes attempt to bite his penis off. This did not work and ultimately, Meiwes used a knife to remove Brandes's 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's 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 court officials 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 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 incident 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 pleasure.
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 video tape of the killing.
Meiwes has admitted cannibalizing Brandes and has 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
The short film An Appetite for Bernard Brady (2005), 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 and won multiple awards at Montana State University School of Film and Photography's 2005 Tracy Awards. The awards won included Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Screenplay and Audience Award. The film also won the 2005 Seattle Student Film Festival's audience choice award.
Feature film Butterfly: A Grimm Love Story (aka Rohtenburg) was banned in Germany 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. The 2005 Australian thriller Feed also bears many resemblances to the case but is not a direct adaptation. 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 the sitcom The IT Crowd, titled "Moss and the German", parodies the Meiwes case. The character Maurice Moss, thinking he is answering to 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.
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.
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 and was produced by Gordon, Dean Schramm, Ben Rock and Adam Goldworm.
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."
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- "Hannibal Recap: All About That Face".