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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Munich, Germany

    Hinterkaifeck: Germany’s most mysterious and longest investigated murder case, 1922

    Hi there :-)

    I decided to open a threat for a hideous and mysterious crime which was committed 85 years ago. Unfortunately there is no coverage of this case written in English available on the World Wide Web. (Except for a short article at wikipedia).


    But I thought you might enjoy this as a reading on a dark and cold winter’s eve.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Munich, Germany
    Hinterkaifeck was the name of a small and lonely Farm situated between the Cities Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen about 70 kilometres north of Munich.

    In 1922 the whole farmer family and a female farmhand were found murdered, 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.

    Neighbours told LE that Andreas Gruber, the farmer, had told them, that he found footsteps in the snow which led from the woods to the farm but not back. One neighbour offered Gruber a revolver, but he declined.

    Andreas Gruber had a very bad reputation. He was called greedy and avaricious. And it was well known that he had an incestuous relationship to his grown daughter Viktoria Gabriel.

    Viktoria was widowed. Her husband was killed in the First World War. She had two children Caecilia (7 years old in 1922) and Joseph (2). Little Joseph was rumoured to be the fruit of the

    incestuous relationship. Both Viktoria and her father were send to prison for incest.

    The farmhand named Maria Baumgartner had arrived on the farm just the evening before the murder took place.

    In the night from March, 31 to April, 1 Andreas Gruber, his wife Caecilia, Viktoria and little Caecilia were obviously lured one by one in the stable and killed with a hoe. Maria was found killed in her room, little Joseph was dead in his bassinet.

    Autopsy showed later on that little Caecilia was alive hours after she was badly injured. Laying in the straw next the bodies of her grandfather and her mother she tore out her hair in tufts while dying.

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

    On April, 4 three neighbours came to the farm and discovered the bodies. They send a boy on a bicycle to the mayor of Wangen, (a village about 1 kilometre south-east) to asked him to call the police in Munich. By the time LE arrived (it was quite a journey then) dozens of onlookers where on the farm. The neighbours who had found the bodies, had fed the animals, moved the bodies (Although they were hidden under straw and an old door, when discovered) and one of the neighbours allegedly even had a snack in the kitchen. After that of course there was not much of securing of evidence anymore.

    On April, 5 the autopsy was performed in the barn. The doctor removed the heads from the bodies. LE took them later to some psychics in Nuremberg. Obviously they were badly in need of a clue.

    While the villagers nearly in hysterics roamed the forests and fields with axes and pitchforks looking for vagabonds and strangers, the inquiry stagnated. Georg Reingruber, the inspector from Munich, who directed the inquiry, found out quite soon about the incestuous relationship but there were few other clues. It couldn’t be asserted whether money was stolen from the farm. Although there was very little paper money, a casket with quite huge amount of money in coins was found in a cupboard.

    (One German website I found stated that the killers must have robbed a lot of paper money. But this was the time of the inflation after the First World War (Although the really bad inflation-time started not before the murder of Walter Rathenau in June 1922), and I don’t think that a character like Andreas Gruber did have much trust in paper money.)

    The police made immense efforts to investigate the crime. Although they were heavily 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. So was the mechanic who came to repair the motor not questioned until 10 years after the crime. Investigations went on – with intermissions of course – until 1986, when the last questioning took place. Even 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. And until nowadays a retired police officer named Konrad Müller investigates the case privately. He announced a book for 2007, but it wasn’t published yet.

    There were lots of rumours (of course) about the case which resulted in 3 main theories.

    • 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 distinct them from other political murders. “Fememord” meant a political organisation condemned and killed one of its members (or an external confidant) 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 quite possible, that he was a man capable of treason and other crimes (especially if some monetary advantage could be taken out of it) and that he shared the political opinions of the Nazis.

    • 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 killed 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-Tale. The landlord allegedly told her that he travelled back to front with Karl Gabriel after a brief stint with their families. Karl told his travel 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 that and how he faked his own death.

    • A suspect who emerged quite early in the investigation was neighbour I only want to identify as L.S. L.S. was the official father of little Joseph, he was the neighbour 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 kitchen for a snack with the bodies of Maria and little Joseph in the next room.) For all that 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 LE went on to look for a more appropriate suspect.

    The farm in Hinterkaifeck was torn down a year after the murders occurred. Nowadays there are only fields and a memorial stone for the victims.

    As mentioned above there no English-written resources on the murder of Hinterkaifeck on the World Wide Web. There are several sites in German language. Some of the links I include below. There are two books written by a Munich journalist named Peter Leuschner in 1979 and 1997 (The second book is an extension of the first.) I read them several years ago. But not having these books at hand right now I decided only to include in my story what I can remember clearly.




  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Thank you for posting up this case. i'll be sure to ask around.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Thanks for the translation into English. I ran across the Hinterkaifeck case on the web a couple of years ago and was frustrated because it was written only in German. It's a very interesting story, even if it never gets solved.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    JMHO. . . . .

    In a little village everyone is into everyone else's business. If the father and daughter had already been jailed for incest, it was common knowledge.

    I think that the fact that the entire family was wiped out in the manner that they were points to someone deeply religious that "cleansed" the village of this family.

    There was money left in the house----"thou shalt not steal". The animals had been cared for----you can butcher a family but still take the time to make sure that the animals didn't perish? THAT shows someone with a skewed thought process. Farm animals were in a way "sacred", in that a family's food and livelihood depended upon them.

    The village would benefit because some family would get the livestock upon the death of the family. Of course you'd keep THEM alive, even if you bludgeoned the entire family beforehand.

    Randoms thoughts on a rainy Sunday afternoon,

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2004


    Fascinating case. It would be interesting to hear what "L.S." did later in life. For instance, did he have a future with the Nazi party? His actions before and immediately after the murders certainly would raise a few eyebrows of investigators today - no matter what the Burgomaster said about him.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Southwestern Maine is home but I'm not there nearly often enough
    The dismal state of the German economy and political instability at the time may help explain why the police couldn't investigate this crime properly. They had very little resources, judging by the way the "autopsy" was performed:

    On April, 5 the autopsy was performed in the barn. Court physician Dr. Johann Baptist Aumüller beheaded the corpses. The skulls were sent to Munich, where they were examined by three clairvoyants without useful results.

    Sounds rather medieval, even in the 1920's autopsies in most European countries used far more advanced techniques and instruments than those that were likely used in that Bavarian barn, and I don't think clairvoyants were typically part of the protocol. I think things were done that way in Germany because the state had no budget for non-essential services or even essential ones come to think of it. Perhaps this helps to explain why this murder was never solved. I'm sure the police did all they could but unfortunately with so little allocated resources they couldn't do much. Even if the investigation was revived once the situation in Germany had improved loss of crucial evidence would have become a factor.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    This case is scary. But I wonder why the man sees footprints in the snow leading from the woods up to his house, but no footprints leading AWAY from his house...if that happened, it should have been obvious to him that whoever walked from the woods up to his house, NEVER LEFT.
    And then he hears footsteps up in his attic.
    So why did he stay at the house??
    If I saw footprints in the snow leading up to my house, but no footprints leading AWAY from the house, then it would be obvious to me that the person WAS STILL THERE.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    McWopetaz Metroplex, Illinois U. S. of A.
    Germany was a center for mass and spree murder between 1910 and 1925 including the first school massacre that wasn't related to a war situation.
    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.

    Stan Reid

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by pageantmom View Post
    This case is scary. But I wonder why the man sees footprints in the snow leading from the woods up to his house, but no footprints leading AWAY from his house...if that happened, it should have been obvious to him that whoever walked from the woods up to his house, NEVER LEFT.
    And then he hears footsteps up in his attic.
    So why did he stay at the house??
    If I saw footprints in the snow leading up to my house, but no footprints leading AWAY from the house, then it would be obvious to me that the person WAS STILL THERE.

    Exactly, and you would certainly avail yourself of a revolver if one was offered and you had to stay at the the farm. This doesn't make sense which is why I wonder whether we know for sure who Gruber supposedly told about the footsteps and attic noises? It says neighbors - plural - but that L.S. was the one who offered the revolver. I'd like to know for sure but I cant read interviews, or anything else, in German. Was just thinking, though, that if L.S. is the only source for this about the footprints etc. he could have been making it up to throw investigators off of his trail. Just a thought.
    Last edited by carrie; 01-25-2014 at 01:04 AM. Reason: spelling
    "When we are born we cry that we are come
    To this great stage of fools."
    Will Shakespeare

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    this case is insane. If I found those footprints and heard noises in the attic, i would be gone the next day. I think the wife's hubby did it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    link {graphic crime scene photos warning}

  13. #13
    LadyL's Avatar
    LadyL is offline Sleuthing for Lonzie Barton & All Victims.
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    L.S. did it IMO.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Ass end of nowhere, hell hole of a holler
    Me too...FWIW..

  15. #15
    So I read about Hinterkaifeck about a week ago. I agreed it was a strange case and forgot about it.
    Last night I was reading this book about the life of a Nazi called Rudolf Hoss. (Harding, T, (2014) Hans and Rudolf, Windmill Books, London.) The book is essentially his biography.
    From 1918 to 1928, Rudolf was imprisoned for murder. The book details his time in there briefly, but there was something that caught my eye. This excerpt from the book describes an event during his say:

    ’When not reading in his cell he listened in on conversations between other prisoners. Rudolf remembered one conversation in which an inmate bragged of robbing a game wardens house and killing a servant with an axe, before murdering the game wardens wife and four children by smashing their heads against a wall…’’

    This immediately made me think of Hinterkaifeck, which occurred in 1922. The book doesn’t say whether the multiple killer was in prison for this crime or whether he was bragging that he HANDN’T been caught for it, and there are some discrepancies between the two crimes:
    It doesn’t say when he committed the alleged murder. It could have been before 1922.
    The criminal here says it was a robbery, but as we know, there was no money taken at Hinterkaifeck
    The robber was in prison near Berlin. Hinterkaifeck is near Munich
    The criminal says he smashed their heads against a wall. Hinterkaifeck it was a pick axe.
    The crime was committed around the time of the Hinterkaifeck murders. How many multiple, farm house murders could there have been in Germany around this time?
    Both crimes took place in a rural setting
    Both crimes included the killing of a maid/servant and an entire family
    Both crimes included murder by blunt force trauma to the head. Perhaps Rudolf remembered the anecdote wrong. Perhaps the murderer remembered the crime wrong.
    A robbery could have taken place which is not known about. Perhaps the victim carried money on them?
    In the Hinterkaifeck murder, gypsies or vagrants were suspected of the crime. Though Rudolf was imprisoned near Berlin, it’s possible the murderer travelled to the capital after Hinterkaifeck, where he was jailed for another crime.
    The prison he was staying at (Brandenburg) could still have police files, names of people who were inside. Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone else is as intrigued in this as me? I’ve never really been into detective stuff before, and didn’t know where to begin. I figured I’d try here first.

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