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CRIME

Dementia sufferer murders wife, then forgets he killed her

An 82-year-old man has murdered his wife and forgotten that he killed her, according the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ).

Dementia sufferer murders wife, then forgets he killed her
A file photo of an unrelated woman with her head in her hand. Photo: DPA

The man, named as Alfred W.,  developed dementia after having two strokes. The illness made him increasingly aggressive, the SZ reported on Thursday.

His wife, Lydia W., died on August 27th 2016 after her husband hit her to the floor and strangled her with a rope in the living room of their flat in Aubing, Munich, prosecutors allege. The couple had been married for almost 60 years. 

Alfred W. has been appearing in the second criminal chamber of the district court in Munich since Thursday. Due to his dementia, he can’t criminally be held to account for the murder.

Alfred W.’s dementia had caused him to wake up during the night, get dressed and decide to go to the hairdressers or for a drive, which Lydia W. would stop him from doing. She also did not allow him to work in the garden with hedge shears out of worry that something dangerous might happen.

Because his wife told him what he was allowed to do, Alfred W. became irritated, which caused arguments between the couple.

It is likely that he wanted to drive on the day she was killed, according to Manfred W., son of Alfred and Lydia W., as he testified in court. “Aggression accumulated there” he believes.

His father told him that he “didn’t want to live like an idiot anymore”, and the 82-year-old had tried to take his own life twice.

In court, Alfred W.  refused to wear a hearing aid. He was able remember who he is, when he was born and what job he had trained to do. But when asked for his father’s name, he said “I will tell you everything, but because of the stroke I don’t know anymore.”

To the accusation that he had murdered his wife, Alfred W. replied “I haven’t done anything to anyone”, according to the Munich Tageszeitung.

Although Alfred W. requires a zimmer frame, he still has an athletic figure and used to box at an amateur level.

Manfred W.  stated that the “boxing techniques” are still in his father, which is why it was easy for him to hit his wife to the floor. Alfred W. began to weep when he saw his son in the witness stand.

The couple lived very happily together until Alfred had his strokes, according to Manfred W. “Since then it unfortunately went downhill,” he said.  

The son also stated that his mother was against the idea of her husband going into the Isar-Amper Hospital near Haar, Munich, believing that he would get “better care and nursing” with her at home.

During his questioning,  Manfred W. stated that he called his mother everyday because he was worried that she was not coping.

“My mother always pretended she was managing” he said.

After he had made his statement, Manfred sat next to his father, whom he comforted by putting his left arm around his shoulder.

“What he did was bad, but I have forgiven him,”  Manfred W. told the court.

The prosecution is requesting that he be brought to an enclosed psychiatric clinic. The prosecutor’s application noted that if untreated, the 82-year-old can be expected to commit “further comparable, considerable and unlawful acts”.

He poses a danger to the public and his dementia is “not to be stopped or cured”, according to the application. The case is ongoing.

CRIME

Ukrainian Holocaust survivors find safe haven in Germany

Borys Shyfrin fled as a young child, along with other members of his Jewish family, from the Nazis.

Ukrainian Holocaust survivors find safe haven in Germany

More than eight decades on, the Ukrainian Holocaust survivor has been forced from his home once more – but this time he’s found a safe haven in Germany.

Shyfrin is among a number of Ukrainian Jews who lived through the Nazi terror and have now fled to the country from which Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich launched its drive try to wipe Jews out.

He never wanted to leave Mariupol, where he had lived for decades. But Russia’s brutal assault on the Ukrainian port city made it impossible to stay.

“There was no gas, no electricity, no water whatsoever,” the 81-year-old told AFP from a care home in Frankfurt, recalling the relentless bombardment by Moscow’s forces.

“We were waiting for the authorities to come… We waited for a day, two days a week.”

Bodies of people killed by bombs and gunfire littered the streets, recalled Shyfrin, a widower who had lost contact with his only son.

“There were so many of them… no one picked them up. People got used to it – no one paid attention.”

People scraped by finding what food they could, with water supplied by a fire engine that made regular visits to his neighbourhood.

Shyfrin’s apartment was damaged during the fighting in Mariupol – defended so fiercely that it became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance – and he spent much time sheltering in the cellar of his building.

Became homeless

The elderly man eventually left Mariupol with the aid of a rabbi, who helped the local Jewish population get out of the city.

He was evacuated to Crimea, and from there, travelled on a lengthy overland journey through Russia and Belarus, eventually arriving in Warsaw, Poland.

After some weeks in Poland, a place in a care home was found in Frankfurt.

In July, he was transported to Germany in an ambulance, with the help of the Claims Conference, a Jewish organisation that has been aiding the evacuation of Ukrainian Holocaust survivors.

Shyfrin, who walks with the aid of a stick, is still processing the whirlwind of events that carried him unexpectedly to Germany.

The outbreak of war was a “very big surprise”, he said.

“I used to love (Russian President Vladimir) Putin very much,” said Shyfrin, who is a native Russian speaker, did military service in the Soviet Union, and went on to work as a radio engineer with the military.

“Now I do not know whether Putin is right to be at war with Ukraine or not – but somehow, because of this war, I have become homeless.”

Shyfrin was born in 1941, in Gomel, Belarus.

When he was just three months old, his family fled to Tajikistan to escape German Nazi forces who were occupying the region.

Many of Belarus’s Jews died during the Holocaust, in which the Nazis killed a total of six million European Jews.

In neighbouring Ukraine, the once-large Jewish community was also almost completely wiped out.

After the war, his family returned to Belarus and Shyfrin completed his studies, did military service, and settled in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, in the mid-1970s.

“Traumatised”

The pensioner seemed philosophical about the twist of fate that has forced him to leave his home.

“Well, it’s not up to me,” he said, when asked about having to flee war for the second time in his life.

His most immediate concerns are more practical – such as how to access his money back home.

“I can’t even receive my honestly earned military pension,” he said.

He recently moved to a new care home run by the Jewish community, where there are more Russian speakers.

As well as helping Shyfrin on the final leg of his journey, the Claims Conference provided him with financial assistance.

It has evacuated over 90 Ukrainian Holocaust survivors to Germany since the outbreak of the conflict, a break from the organisation’s usual work of ensuring that survivors get compensation and ongoing support.

The body had long been helping to run care programmes for Holocaust victims in Ukraine.

But, as the conflict intensified, it became clear such care programmes could no longer be sustained, particularly in the east, said Ruediger Mahlo, the Conference’s representative in Germany.

“Because many of the survivors needed a lot of care and could not survive without this help, it was clear we had to try to do everything to evacuate (them),” he told AFP.

Getting them out involved huge logistical challenges, from finding ambulances in Ukraine to locating suitable care homes.

For many of the frail Holocaust survivors, it can be a struggle to grasp the fact that they have found refuge in Germany, said Mahlo.

They are fleeing to a country that “had in the past persecuted them, and done everything to kill them,” he said.

“Certainly, they are traumatised,” he said.

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