Meet Marianne Bachmeier, Germany’s ‘Revenge Mother’ Who Shot Her Child’s Murderer In The Middle Of His Trial
In March 1981, Marianne Bachmeier opened fire in a crowded courtroom and murdered Klaus Grabowski — the man on trial for killing her 7-year-old daughter.
On March 6, 1981, Marianne Bachmeier opened fire in a crowded courthouse in what was then known as West Germany. Her victim was a 35-year-old sex offender on trial for her daughter’s killing, and he perished after taking six of her bullets.
Instantly, Bachmeier became a notorious figure. Her subsequent trial, which was followed closely by the German public, begged the question: was her action to avenge her slain child justified?
Forty years later, the case is still remembered. German news outlet NDR described it as “the most amazing case of vigilante justice in German post-war history.”
Marianne Bachmeier’s Daughter Anna Bachmeier Is Murdered In Cold Blood
Before she was christened as Germany’s “Revenge Mother,” Marianne Bachmeier was a struggling single mother who ran a pub and in 1970s Lübeck, a city in what was then West Germany. She lived with her third child, Anna. Her two older kids had been given up for adoption.
Anna was described as a “happy, open-minded child,” but disaster struck when she was discovered dead on May 5, 1980.
According to NDR, the seven-year-old had skipped school after an argument with her mum that fatal day and somehow found herself in the hands of her 35-year-old neighbor, a local butcher named Klaus Grabowski who already had a criminal record involving child molestation.
Investigators later understood that Grabowski had kept Anna at his house for hours before he choked her with pantyhose. Whether or not he sexually attacked her remains unknown. He then stashed the child’s corpse in a cardboard box and left it on the bank of a nearby canal.
Grabowski was apprehended that same evening after his fiancé alerted the police. Grabowski admitted to the murder but denied that he abused the child. Instead, Grabowski gave a weird and disturbing story.
The murderer claimed that he choked the little girl after she attempted to blackmail him. According to Grabowski, Anna tried to seduce him and threatened to tell her mum that he had molested her if he didn’t give her money.
Marianne Bachmeier was outraged by this story and a year later, when Grabowski headed to trial for the murder, she had her revenge.
Germany’s ‘Revenge Mother’ Shoots Grabowski Six Times
Grabowski’s trial was likely a heartache for Bachmeier. His defense attorneys claimed he had behaved out of a hormonal imbalance that was affected by hormone therapy he received after being voluntarily castrated years earlier.
At the time, sex offenders in Germany frequently underwent castration to avoid recidivism, though this wasn’t the case for Grabowski.
On the third day of the trial in Lübeck district court, Marianne Bachmeier grabbed a .22-caliber Beretta pistol from her bag and pulled the trigger eight times. Six of the shots hit Grabowski, and he perished on the courtroom floor.
Observers alleged that Bachmeier made incriminating remarks after she shot Grabowski. According to Judge Guenther Kroeger, who spoke to Bachmeier after she shot Grabowski in the back, she heard the grieving mum say, “I wanted to kill him.”
Bachmeier allegedly continued, “He murdered my daughter… I wanted to shoot him in the face but I shot him in the back… I hope he’s dead.” Two policemen also claimed to have heard Bachmeier call Grabowski a “pig” after she shot him.
The mum of the victim shortly found herself on trial for killing herself.
During her trial, Bachmeier testified that she shot Grabowski in a dream and saw illusions of her daughter in the courtroom. A doctor who examined her said that Bachmeier was asked for a handwriting sample, and an answer, she wrote: “I did it for you, Anna.”
She then decorated the sample with seven hearts, maybe one for each year of Anna’s life.
“I heard he wanted to make a statement,” Bachmeier later said, referring to Grabowski’s claims that her seven-year-old was attempting to blackmail him. “I thought, now comes the following lie about this victim who was my child.”
Her Sentence Divides The Country
Marianne Bachmeier now found herself in the middle of a public maelstrom. Her trial received worldwide attention for her brutal act of vigilantism.
The weekly German magazine Stern ran a series of articles about the trial, digging into Bachmeier’s life as a working single mum who had a very tough beginning in life. Bachmeier reportedly sold her story to the magazine for approximately $158,000 to cover her legal expenses during the trial.
The magazine received overwhelming feedback from readers. Was Marianne Bachmeier a distraught mum simply attempting to retaliate against the vicious death of her child, or did her act of vigilantism make her a cold-blooded murderer herself? Many expressed sympathy toward her intentions but condemned her actions, however.
In addition to the case’s ethical conundrum, there was also a legal debate about whether the shooting was premeditated or not and whether it was killing or manslaughter. Different rulings carried different punishments. Decades later, a friend featured in a documentary about the case claimed to have observed Bachmeier perform target practice with a gun in her pub cellar before the shooting.
The court eventually convicted Bachmeier of premeditated manslaughter and punished her with six years behind bars in 1983.
According to a survey by the Allensbach Institute, a majority of 28 percent of Germans considered her six-year sentencing as a reasonable penalty for her actions. Another 27 percent considered the sentence too heavy while 25 percent viewed it as too light.
In June 1985, Marianne Bachmeier was released from jail after serving only half of her sentence. She moved to Nigeria, where she wedded and remained until the 1990s. After she divorced her husband, Bachmeier relocated to Sicily where she stayed until she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, upon which she returned to a now-unified Germany.
With valuable little time left, Bachmeier requested Lukas Maria Böhmer, a reporter for NDR, to film her last weeks alive. She passed away on Sept. 17, 1996, at the age of 46. She was laid to rest next to her daughter, Anna.
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