“After my head has been chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from my neck? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.”
― Peter Kurten 1883 - 1930
Peter Kurten, known as 'The Vampire of Dusseldorf,' committed a series of sex crimes and murders against adults and children, although it is his crimes against children that have made him infamous.
Kurten was born into poverty and witnessed violence. His father, a violent alcoholic, sexually abused Kurten’s mother and sisters.
While fairly young, Peter began committing various offenses for which he served some time. When released he began torturing animals. He soon graduated to attacking humans.
He served eight years in prison for strangling a ten year old girl. He was released in 1921 and returned to Dusseldorf where he began the series of crimes for which he is best known.
From February 1929 through November 1929, Kurten went on the attack and viciously murdered six people.
Then in early 1930, Kurten began a series of attacks with a hammer. None of his victims died. His last one reported him to the police.
Kurten confessed to nine murders and seven attempted murders and in April 1931, he was convicted and sentenced to die by guillotine.
"I had a small but sharp pocket knife with me and I held the childs head and cut her throat. I heard the blood spurt and drip on the mat beside the bed. It spurted in an arch, right over my hand. The whole thing lasted about three minutes. Then I went locked the door again and went back home to Dusseldorf."
Fritz Lang directed the classic film 'M'—formerly entitled: Murderers Among Us.
Lang was asked to change the title by Nazi officials as they thought the film referred to them. Lang and the star of the film, Peter Lorre left Germany for Hollywood soon after.
If you haven’t seen the film, you should. It is creepy, atmospheric and very powerful and for a film, that old—well that tells you something.
The direction is superb and Lorre’s performance is memorable. However, as compelling as the film is, nothing could have properly portrayed the hideousness of Peter Kurten and his crimes.