8 April 1944 – Bruno Lüdke

When you catch a bloke in the midst of having it away with a murdered corpse, the temptation is to saddle him with the blame. And that’s precisely what the Germans may have done in the case of Bruno Lüdke.

He was caught committing necrophilia and amid such dodgy behaviour he was a prime candidate on whom to pin the blame for a raft of suspicious murders. After all, over 51 bodies had turned up in Nazi Germany with no sign of a killer in sight. What linked Lüdke to the killing was that he knew the final victim – 51-year-old Frieda Rosner – who’d been strangled while she was collecting firewood.

But ultimately, opinion is divided – some say the laundry delivery man was guilty while others say he was stitched up.

Lüdke is said to have shown signs of serial killer tendencies when young – with a predilection for torturing animals. When he grew up he promoted himself to women and was said to have targeted as many as 84 women, raping and often killing his victims. And in a climate of extreme violence in the run-up to World War II, his sexual depravity was said to have thrived. At least that’s what is supposed to have happened and he is said to have confessed to his crimes.

However there was evidence of torture after his confession, so maybe he was coerced into it. Who knows. Anyway, apparently an ex-policeman from Holland did some investigation later on and remained suspicious that Lüdke may have been fitted up for the crime – after all someone with a low IQ and who couldn’t even steal a chicken without getting nabbed was hardly equipped to kill 50-odd people and evade the law.

But it was his low IQ that earned him a get-out-of-jail-free card. Lüdke could not be tried because of his mental instability, so instead he was handed over to the SS in Vienna for medical research. There he was mercilessly experimented on before being given a lethal injection on this day in 1944 when he was round about 35 years old. Some say he was executed, others say it was research gone wrong.

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