• Germany's news in English

'German Fritzl' put on trial for incest

The Local · 15 Feb 2011, 14:18

Published: 15 Feb 2011 11:37 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Feb 2011 14:18 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The 48-year-old, identified only as Detlef S., is accused of forcing his stepdaughter, now in her late 20s, to father eight of his children and of sexually abusing his daughter and stepson in a 23-year reign of terror in the village of Fluterschen in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Dressed a red jacket, blue shirt and colourful tie, Detlef S. showed no emotion as the charges were read out and did not speak.

But his lawyer, Thomas Dueber, told the court: "He would like to clarify that he is the father of the seven children of the co-plaintiff (his stepdaughter). But he denies the charges made against him."

Paternity tests have already proven with near 100-percent certainty that the unremarkable man with glasses and greying, receding hair, was the father of the seven children. An eighth child died shortly after birth and was not examined.

The Bild daily dubbed the trial in Koblenz, western Germany, the trial of "the German Fritzl" after Austrian Josef Fritzl, who held his daughter Elisabeth as a sex slave in a cramped dungeon for 24 years.

Fritzl raped Elisabeth thousands of times, fathering seven children with her and letting one of the newborn babies die. He was sentenced to life in prison in March 2009.

In total Detlef S. is charged with 350 counts of sexual assault and grievous sexual assault of minors. He is also accused of prostituting the stepdaughter and his biological daughter out to others, allegedly while he watched.

A verdict is expected on February 25.

Midwife Gabriele Schulte, who delivered three of the children, said that she and a doctor had become suspicious and had alerted social services, but that it came to nothing.

"They went over there to see what was what. But since the children showed no signs of being neglected or even abused, and as the daughter said nothing, they had to leave," Schulte told the regional Rhein-Zeitung newspaper.

She said that the accused was present at all the births, and that he always seemed very self-assured.

"He didn't seem to be afraid they might start talking. And he definitely didn't have a bad conscience," she said.

The stepson told N-TV rolling news channel: "Of course we are scared of the trial, but I hope we will have the strength to come through it."

Asked what he hoped for from the case, he replied: "That he (the accused) is never free again. That he is never able to hurt people in the way he hurt us."

Speaking earlier to Bild, he also gave a harrowing account of one typical

episode in 2002.

"Detlef was drunk. He went upstairs. Suddenly we heard screaming. We saw Detlef trying to drag my sister into the bedroom. My mother started shouting at him and he beat her up so badly that she lost consciousness."

"We went to the police and to social services but never heard anything back from them. Five days later I moved out of the house."

One of the man's neighbours told the Rhein-Zeitung: "We often wondered about the several children in his house. Especially because they looked so much like him."

Story continues below…

The man was arrested on August 10, 2010 and has been in custody since.

The mother, who is in her 50s, is expected to appear as a witness in the trial and prosecutors are not charging her with any offence, lawyer Katharina Hellwig said last week.

"It looks as if she repressed what went on," Hellwig said.

The trial was suspended immediately after the charge sheet was read out. The accused was not expected to speak during the trial, but his lawyer indicated he might read out a statement on his behalf.

In line with German privacy laws, the defendant's full name was not given in court.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:07 February 15, 2011 by chicagolive
Always remember as long as you pay you taxes the goverment here could mostly not give a damn
12:22 February 15, 2011 by auniquecorn
You are 100% right Chicagoolive

Thats proably the only thing they checked on. and he was, so they saw no problem, A fkn shame.

of course, nothing will happen to the people from social services or to the police that ignored it for so long.
12:30 February 15, 2011 by bartschaff
It's very hard to imagine how a family like that works - what's the dynamics that keeps all those people, especially the wife and older kids, silent for so many years...

The newspapers talk about the guy's "tyrannical hold", that "He had exerted enormous pressure on the family. He had the whole family so under his control they did what he wanted", but I still find it hard to picture.

Nowhere I saw how isolated they were (did they go to school?), but didn't anyone inside knew that a single word to the police (not social services) would end it all?

I wonder if the relationships' dynamics can trully be simplified to nothing but domination.
12:40 February 15, 2011 by Slimtots
I shiver at the thought of it. Repeatedly sexed up by your own father?? The children must be traumatized for life! :(
12:44 February 15, 2011 by michael4096
Commenters here are amazing - everything is portrayed as a German problem. The fact that similar cases have been found in US, Austria, Australia, UK and other countries including the same lack of neighbourliness and faults in the system is totally irrelevant. No, this is Germany at fault.
14:16 February 15, 2011 by golfcricket
I don't think this is being portrayed as a "German Problem" michael4096.. This is a world wide problem and I'm sure we all know that.. This is a sick twisted individual and it doesn't matter where his ethnic background comes from..

The thing that baffles me is that the "mother" is innocent.. Come on? Really? She's just as sick and twisted as he is and should be locked up forever right next to her sick husband..
14:23 February 15, 2011 by hanskarl
"The children must be traumatized for life! " is an understatement.

In any case where a parent or parents fight and/or express deep bitterness against each other in a home it unsettles the child deeply. Kids are looking to the parents for security and to see or feel such anger and resentment or to see the home broken apart is beyond difficult for most kids.

But this reaches beyond and goes to the bottom of the dregs. These poor kids are emotionally impaired for life. And the most unfortunate side effect of their impairment is that some will probably wind up in difficult relationships and fail. How sad. How heinous.
14:58 February 15, 2011 by loz_adele
"The thing that baffles me is that the "mother" is innocent.. Come on? Really? She's just as sick and twisted as he is and should be locked up forever right next to her sick husband.."

I'm sure it's easy for you to say that from your nice comfortable sofa in your nice safe world. But until you've been in a physically and mentally abusive relationship, I don't think you can guarantee what you'd do in that situation. Men like that grind a woman down mentally and physically until they have nothing left. The son mentions one occasion where she tried to protect her daughter and the guy beat her until she was unconscious. I'm sure that was just a small taster. I'm not saying that she didn't fail to protect her children but she certainly doesn't deserve prison. She needs help, no doubt this woman is broken and was just as much of a victim as the others.
19:42 February 15, 2011 by Gretl
The key is the first time this happens, you pick up the phone and call the police. Sure, he may have beat you unconscious, but he has to go to work sometime. It these case where the abuse continues for decades that I don't get.
21:05 February 15, 2011 by bartschaff
@Gretl: that's what I meant when I said before that I can't picture how a family like that works, how is it dynamics - especially with so many people involved.

In a relationship between two people it's easier to imagine. I guess an easy way such extremes can be reached is gradually: you don't break up with a simple fight, nor with a couple; you don't call the police if the guy yells, pushes you; maybe you even slap him once and he reacts accordingly and leave you bleeding - just an overreaction, both of you went too far, again not a reason to call the police; and so on and so forth.

And, of course, if you have a relationship with someone with an alcohol problem, you naturally are in a mindset of acceptance for improper behaviour, you know it's part of the deal: where is the line for a 'too improper' behaviour is something increasingly hard to figure as time passes.

But, again, when you have some 4 older kids and it lasts 23 years... I also can't picture how it happens. Maybe I'll buy the book by Fritzl daughter to get an idea.
21:34 February 15, 2011 by catjones
The google streetview photo is ridiculous.
10:36 February 16, 2011 by jimscott
´We can all discuss and speculate about these tragic events until the cows come home. At the end of the day, NOBODY knows why this happened except for the monster involved.

Maybe after the trial and the usual inquests which will no doubt follow, will we have an idea what actually went on.
22:15 February 16, 2011 by BrainWave19
For 23 years no one protested and what a fantastic village where no one noticed 8 pregnancies and 7 childbirths. No one protested or leaked to the media/polzei/sozialamt and even when the kids grew beyond 15 years...this seems to be quite a startling fact. Let us hope the incestuous father is penalised and is behind bars forever.
22:42 February 16, 2011 by Roseflower
When things like this happen,the mother is helpless.She prays and hopes that its a nightmare that will go away.At times she is searching for the man she fell in love with and maybe still loves.We can give our comments now.I tell you when things like this happen,many people only feel the shame and disgrace more than even the hurt.Once in a while,the victims look for ways to speak up.More often than not,nobody believes them even their close family relatives.And the try to threat the wounds without actually taking any legal actions.

I have a friend in Africa whose then Fiance abused their under daughter when she was under 1years old.He did it over and over again.Now the kid is over 8 and he wants to get custudy of the child.

How can she protect the kid who is ignorant from her Dad?

Your comments are highly welcomed
04:32 February 19, 2011 by Curmudgeon
It would seem castration would be in order.
Today's headlines
Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

Germany stalls Chinese takeover of tech firm Aixtron
Aixtron headquarters in Herzogenrath. Photo: DPA

The German government on Monday said it had withdrawn approval for a Chinese firm to acquire Aixtron, a supplier to the semiconductor industry, amid growing unease over Chinese investment in German companies.

Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd