Heinrich Pommerenke, originally from the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, died of a blood disease at the age of 71 on Saturday in a prison clinic in the small town of Hohenasperg in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Once referred to as “evil incarnate” because of the extreme brutality of the murders he committed, Pommerenke spent 49 years in prison, longer than any other criminal in Germany.
In 1960, Pommerenke was convicted of multiple murder and rapes and given six consecutive life sentences and an additional 15 years. Between 1958 and 1959, he murdered four women in southwestern Germany, raped and attacked numerous others.
Pommerenke finally confessed to having committed 65 crimes, telling police at one point: “This is no man sitting in front of you, this is the devil.”
After his trial, the senior prosecutor said: “Nine gates, which he will never walk through again, will close behind him. He will go in Dante’s Ninth Hell.”
Pommerenke has been behind bars since June 19, 1959.
Despite his sentence running out in 2001, Pommerenke remained in jail and was categorised as “not qualified for release” in 2004. Experts said they could not rule out his being a danger to society if he were let out.
Born in East Germany, Pommerenke once played football with current Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. He moved to West Germany in 1953 and towards the end of that decade began his spree of robbery, rape and murder.
It was only after Pommerenke had killed four women that police finally tracked him down purely by accident. A man discovered a sawed-off shotgun Pommerenke had left in a briefcase at the scene of a crime.
“It was my last resort. I wanted to get arrested,” he told DPA in 2006.
Despite the long years behind bars, Pommerenke himself wasn’t sure if he wanted to be released. “I don’t want to get out if women will run away from me screaming,” he said.
Still, Pommerenke said he had a plan for a life outside the prison walls.
“Breeding snails and fish. Nature moves me,” he told DPA.