Erfurt massacre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Erfurt massacre
Gutenberg Gymnasium
Location Erfurt, Germany
Coordinates 50°58′53″N 11°00′53″E / 50.98139°N 11.01472°E / 50.98139; 11.01472Coordinates: 50°58′53″N 11°00′53″E / 50.98139°N 11.01472°E / 50.98139; 11.01472
Date 26 April 2002
c. 10:58 a.m. – c. 11:17 a.m. (CEST)
Target Gutenberg-Gymnasium
Attack type
School shooting, mass shooting, murder-suicide, massacre
Deaths 17 (including the perpetrator)[1]
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Robert Steinhäuser
Motive Expulsion

The Erfurt massacre was a school massacre that occurred on 26 April 2002 at the Gutenberg-Gymnasium in the Thuringia State capital Erfurt, Germany. (A German Gymnasium is a secondary school similar to a British Grammar school or a US Prep school.) The gunman, 19-year-old expelled student Robert Steinhäuser, shot and killed 16 people: 13 staff members, two students, and one police officer, before committing suicide. One person was also wounded by a bullet fragment.


While the motive is unknown, media reports assumed it to be related to Steinhäuser's expulsion from school without qualifications and his subsequent feeling of victimhood and hopelessness regarding his future job opportunities.[2]

Robert Steinhäuser (born 22 January 1983) was a student of the Gutenberg Gymnasium until early October 2001. At the end of September 2001 he had spent a few days away from school, for which he presented a mandatory medical certificate which was quickly identified as a forgery. Because of this forgery Steinhäuser was expelled.

Due to the regulations used in the State of Thuringia (German: Thüringen) at this time, Steinhäuser on expulsion found himself with no qualifications at all, and therefore very limited job prospects.

The massacre[edit]

Robert Steinhäuser
A memorial plaque to the shooting

On the day of the shooting, before leaving his residence at his usual time, Steinhäuser armed himself with a 9mm Glock 17[citation needed] and a Mossberg 590 Mariner 12-gauge pump-action shotgun[citation needed], which was unusable due to an earlier handling error. When he entered the campus, he went into the lavatories to change his clothes, and then donned a black ninja-style outfit.[2][3]

The shooting started at approximately 10:58 a.m. Steinhäuser had moved from classroom to classroom, pausing briefly each time in the doorway to shoot the teacher, then moving on to the next room. According to students, he ignored them and aimed only for the teachers and administrators, although two students were killed by shots fired through a locked door.[3]

Five minutes after the shooting began, police arrived outside the school. Soon after, Steinhäuser aimed from a window and fatally shot a police officer in the head. Before the shooter committed suicide, he was confronted by one of his teachers, Rainer Heise, who walked up to the demasking shooter. Pausing, having established eye-contact with Steinhäuser, he said, "Du kannst mich jetzt erschießen." ("You can shoot me now."), Steinhäuser is said to have answered, "Herr Heise, für heute reicht's" ("Mr. Heise, that's enough for today").[4] According to Heise, he then talked to Steinhäuser for a short period of time, luring him into the doorway of an empty room. When Steinhäuser was in the doorway, Heise pushed Steinhäuser into the room and quickly locked the door. Steinhäuser committed suicide shortly thereafter and his body was found by police a few hours after the shooting.[5] 71 rounds were fired throughout the whole series of shootings.

Steinhäuser's last words – Für heute reicht's ("that's enough for today") – was also the title of a controversial book about the massacre written by Ines Geipel, who alleged that there were several mistakes made by the police on the case. Geipel, and relatives of some of the victims, criticized police for the initial speed of their response. The police had initially believed there was a second gunman, leading them to retake the school one floor at a time rather than storm the entire building.[6]

Heise was hailed as a national hero for locking Steinhäuser in a room which ended the killing spree, but was later subject to backlash from some members of the public due to several confirmed lies about his role.[7]

The massacre led to the development of a code word that could be broadcast over the public address system to warn teachers of a shooting. "Mrs Koma is coming", which is "amok" spelled backwards, was later used at the Winnenden school shooting to alert teachers to that attack.


The gunman killed 16 people in the massacre. They are:[8]

  • Rosemarie Hajna (54), vice-principal, teaching German and history
  • Yvonne-Sofia Fulsche-Baer (38), French teacher
  • Heidrun Baumbach (56), German and history teacher
  • Monika Burghardt (49), biology and chemistry teacher
  • Dr. Birgit Dettke (39), art teacher
  • Gabriele Klement (43), German and art teacher
  • Carla Pott (27), German and history teacher in training
  • Heidemarie Sicker (59), biology and chemistry teacher and responsible for psychological care
  • Hans Lippe (44), biology and chemistry teacher
  • Helmut Schwarzer (54), math and physics teacher
  • Hans-Joachim Schwertfeger (44), maths and physics teacher, head of upper school and school management team member
  • Peter Wolff (60), maths and physics teacher
  • Anneliese Schwertner (54), school secretary
  • Susann Hartung (14), eighth-grade student
  • Ronny Möckel (15), eighth-grade student
  • Andreas Gorski (39), policeman


  • Steinhäuser's family issued a statement to news sources saying that they "will forever be sorry that our son and brother has brought such horrifying suffering to the victims and their relatives, the people of Erfurt and Thuringia, and all over Germany."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eyewitness: Erfurt massacre, BBC News, April 26, 2002
  2. ^ a b "Killer's secret behind revenge attack" The Guardian article (April 29, 2002)
  3. ^ a b "How teacher stopped the school slaughter" The Observer article (April 28, 2002)
  4. ^ [1], "Bericht der Komission Gutenberg-Gymnasium", - official report of an investigating public commission.
  5. ^ Brave teacher stopped gun rampage, CNN, April 27, 2002
  6. ^ Stern magazine- Hatte der Erfurter Amokläufer einen "Antreiber"? "Der Polizeieinsatz war umstritten, weil die Schule nicht gestürmt wurde, sondern Spezialkräfte Etage für Etage auf der Suche nach einem vermeintlichen zweiten Täter vorgingen." "The police operation was controversial, because the school was not stormed, rather Special Forces went from floor to floor in search of a supposed second offender."
  7. ^ German hero faces town's wrath, Shanghai Star, May 16, 2002
  8. ^ "Massacre victims mourned"
  9. ^ Family of German killer apologises, CNN, May 2, 2002

External links[edit]