terror in the rhine

During his periods of release between prison spells, Kurten was responsible for various sexual assaults, but his first documented murder victim was 10-year-old Christine Klein, who was sexually assaulted and stabbed in her home in Cologne, on 25 May 1913, whilst her parents worked in their pub below her bedroom.
Her uncle, who had had an argument with her father, immediately came under suspicion, and Kurten, who returned to the scene of the crime the next day, was enthralled by the horror the killing had invoked in the locals, especially when the sexual assault came to light. Fortunately, the innocent uncle was cleared of the murder, given the lack of evidence, but Kurten followed his trial with interest, whetting his sadistic appetite for suffering in others.
Kurten was called up for military service following the start of the First World War, but military discipline did not suit him, and he deserted from his barracks. He was jailed when captured, and remained in prison until 1921, his longest sentence to date, and his rage at this injustice intensified.
Following his release from prison, he moved to Altenburg, where he met and married a former prostitute, who had been jailed for the murder of her fiancé. He spent the next four years living a life of relative normality and found work as a moulder (his father’s profession), even becoming active in the trade union.

During his periods of release between prison spells, Kurten was responsible for various sexual assaults, but his first documented murder victim was 10-year-old Christine Klein, who was sexually assaulted and stabbed in her home in Cologne, on 25 May 1913, whilst her parents worked in their pub below her bedroom.
Her uncle, who had had an argument with her father, immediately came under suspicion, and Kurten, who returned to the scene of the crime the next day, was enthralled by the horror the killing had invoked in the locals, especially when the sexual assault came to light. Fortunately, the innocent uncle was cleared of the murder, given the lack of evidence, but Kurten followed his trial with interest, whetting his sadistic appetite for suffering in others.
Kurten was called up for military service following the start of the First World War, but military discipline did not suit him, and he deserted from his barracks. He was jailed when captured, and remained in prison until 1921, his longest sentence to date, and his rage at this injustice intensified.
Following his release from prison, he moved to Altenburg, where he met and married a former prostitute, who had been jailed for the murder of her fiancé. He spent the next four years living a life of relative normality and found work as a moulder (his father’s profession), even becoming active in the trade union.

Kurten enjoyed the mass hysteria and horror enormously, feeding off the press attention, even going so far as to contact a newspaper, on 9 November 1929, with a map detailing the position of the body of his latest victim, Gertrude Albermann, a five-year-old he had stabbed to death two days before, dumping her body under some builders rubble.
Kurten’s attacks continued into that winter, and the spring of 1930, but none were fatal, which served only to escalate the horror, as harrowing survivor attacks provided lurid copy for newspapers, an antidote to the growing economic deprivations being inflicted by the Great Depression. Public condemnation of the authorities, for failing to catch the killer, was widespread.
14 May 1930 saw the start of a chain of events that resulted in the eventual capture of Kurten. He offered a young unemployed woman, Maria Budlick, somewhere to stay, and took her to his apartment, hoping to have sex with her. When she refused, he agreed to find her somewhere else to stay but, on returning her to the train station, he took her into the nearby forest, where he raped her, then let her go.
Initially ashamed, she had no intention of going to the police, but a letter which she had written to a friend about the attack, and intended for her information only, was incorrectly delivered. The recipient called the police, who tracked down Budlick and persuaded her to press charges. She recalled Kurten’s apartment clearly, and returned there with the police on 21 May 1930, where Kurten saw her, and made a quick escape.