did Gabriel rise from the dead?

In March 1922, six inhabitants of a remote farmhouse in Germany were murdered by pickax. The case was discussed here

Hinterkaifeck found here

It was ascertained that all victims were dead for about 4 days when they were found. That meant the killer(s) had stayed on the farm for several days and fed the animals (cows, swine, and a dog) and milked the cows.

The six victims were: the farmer Andreas Gruber (63) and his wife Cäzilia (72); their widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel (35) and her two children Cäzilia (7) and Josef (2); as well as the unfortunate maid Maria Baumgartner who arrived at the farm only the night before the murders.

image found here

Andreas Gruber had told neighbours that he found footsteps in the snow which led from the woods to the farm but not back out again. One neighbour offered him a revolver, but he declined it. He also talked about hearing footsteps in the attic and finding an unfamiliar newspaper on the farm. Furthermore, the house keys went missing several days before the murders, but none of this was reported to the police.

image found here

Andreas Gruber had a bad reputation. He was greedy and avaricious and it was well known that he had an incestuous relationship with his widowed daughter Viktoria Gabriel. Both Viktoria and her father had spent time in prison for incest.

Andreas Gruber, his wife Caecilia, Viktoria and little Caecilia were lured one by one into the stable and killed with a hoe or pickax. Maria was found killed in her room, little Joseph was dead in his bassinet.

from an article on post mortem babies found here

In the days following the murder several people came to the farm for professional reasons. They executed their orders and left without thinking much about no one being around. The postman delivered mail and newspapers, leaving it on the windowsill after no one answered his knock. A mechanic came and repaired a motor in the barn.

postman found here

On April 4 three neighbours discovered the bodies. By the time police arrived dozens of onlookers were on the farm. The neighbours had fed the animals, moved the bodies (they were hidden under straw and an old door, when discovered) and one of them allegedly even had a snack in the kitchen.

German kitchen (sober yet slightly kitschig) found here

On April 5 the autopsies were performed in the barn. A doctor removed the heads from the bodies and sent them to psychics in Nuremberg. The police made immense efforts to investigate the crime though they were overloaded with work because of numerous political murders committed by the early Nazis and the Communists at this time. Over 100 suspects and witnesses were questioned, but there were also a few omissions. The mechanic who came to repair the motor was not questioned until 10 years after the crime. Investigations went on until 1986, when the last questioning took place. Then in 1999 an old woman came forward with a story told to her by her former landlord around 1935, which could offer a clue to what happened.

image of Nuremberg rally found here

There were lots of rumours about the case which resulted in 3 main theories:

1. The murders of Hinterkaifeck were just another case of political murder committed by the early Nazis or another party from the far right spectrum. These kind of murders were called “Fememorde” to distinguish them from other political murders. “Fememord” meant a political organisation condemned and killed one of its members for treason or embezzlement. Hinterkaifeck being quite a lonely place would have been ideal for an arsenal or as a hiding place. And the few things known about Andreas Gruber make it easy to believe that he was a man capable of treason or other crimes (especially if some monetary advantage could be made of it) and that he shared the political opinions of the Nazis.

Spock as Nazi found here

2. The second theory concentrates on the fate of Karl Gabriel, the husband of Viktoria who was allegedly killed in action in 1914. His body was never found and there were rumours that he wasn’t dead at all but took a new identity and came back to kill the whole family as revenge for the incestuous relationship between his wife and his father in law. Over the years several men were questioned, because they were suspected to be Karl Gabriel. After the Second World War some men who were in Russian captivity claimed that they recognised a communist commissar as Karl Gabriel. Even the old woman’s story from 1999 is a new version of the Karl Gabriel story. The landlord allegedly told her that he travelled back to the front with Karl Gabriel after a brief stint with their families. Karl told his companion furiously “When I came home I found my wife pregnant although I wasn’t there for months. I would like to kill the whole family!” The landlord claimed Karl was still alive in 1918 and told him how he faked his own death.

Karl Lagerfeld teddy bear found here

3. A suspect who emerged quite early in the investigation was a neighbour identified as L.S. He was the official father of little Joseph, and the man who offered a revolver to Andreas Gruber. He was also among the neighbours who discovered the bodies, fed the animals and removed the corpses. And he was the one who is said to have sat down in the kitchen for a snack with the bodies of Maria and little Joseph in the next room. For all those reasons he was suspected early on. But allegedly the mayor told the investigators that L.S. was an honest man with a very good reputation and not capable of such a hideous crime and so police went on to look for a more appropriate suspect.

In 2007 the students of the Polizeifachhochschule (Police Academy) in Fürstenfeldbruck were given the task of investigating the case once more with modern techniques of criminal investigation. Their final report has been kept secret.

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 8:38 am  Comments (44)  
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this is your captain speaking…..

The story of the bogus “Captain of Kopenick” made nearly all of Germany rock with laughter.


Between 1864 and 1891, Wilhelm Voigt was sentenced to prison for a total of 25 years for thefts and forgery. The longest sentence was a conviction for 15 years for theft. He was released on 12 February 1906.

Voigt then hoboed from place to place until he went to live with his sister in Rixdorf near Berlin but police expelled him as undesirable, based solely on the fact that he was a former prisoner. Officially he left for Hamburg, although he remained in Berlin as an unregistered resident.


On 16 October 1906 Voigt was ready for his next caper. Previously he had purchased parts of used captain’s uniforms from different shops and tested their effect on soldiers.  Voigt took the uniform out of baggage storage, put it on and went to the local army barracks, hailed four grenadiers and a sergeant and told them to come with him. Indoctrinated to obey officers without question, they followed. He dismissed the commanding sergeant to report to his superiors and later commandeered 6 more soldiers from a shooting range. Then he took a train to Köpenick, east of Berlin, occupied the local city hall with his soldiers and told them to cover all exits. He told the local police to “care for law and order” and to “prevent calls to Berlin for one hour” at the local post office.


He had the treasurer von Wiltberg and mayor Georg Langerhans arrested, supposedly for suspicions of crooked bookkeeping, and confiscated 4002 marks and 37 pfennigs – with a receipt, of course (he signed it with his former jail director’s name). Then he commandeered two carriages and told the grenadiers to take the arrested men to the Neue Wache in Berlin for interrogation. He told the remaining guards to stand in their places for half an hour and then left for the train station. He later changed into civilian clothes and disappeared.


Voigt was arrested on 26 October and on 1st December sentenced to four years in prison for forgery, impersonating an officer and wrongful imprisonment. However, much of the public opinion was on his side and Kaiser Wilhelm II pardoned him in 1908. There are some claims that even the Kaiser had been amused by the incident, referring to him as an amiable scoundrel, and being pleased with the authority and feelings of reverence that his military obviously commanded in the general population.


The English were also amused, seeing it as provided confirmation of their stereotypes about Germans. In an October 1906 issue, the editors of The Illustrated London News would note gleefully:

For years the Kaiser has been instilling into his people reverence for the omnipotence of militarism, of which the holiest symbol is the German uniform. Offenses against this fetish have incurred condign punishment. Officers who have not considered themselves saluted in due form have drawn their swords with impunity on offending privates.