Serial Killers

Paul Ogorzow


Photo credit: Michael Dittrich

From 1933 to 1945, Germany was full of psycho killers. While most wore Nazi uniforms, one terrorized the women of Berlin. The attacks began in 1939, when three women were stabbed and beaten. While they survived, Gerda Ditter wasn’t so lucky. In October 1940, her body was found covered in stab wounds, with strangulation marks around her neck. Corpses started appearing near the S-Bahn, a railway that ran through the city. They’d all been bashed in the head, before being thrown from a train.

While some newspapers tried to downplay the attacks, the public was terrified of the S-Bahn murderer. Many women working in munitions factories traveled home late at night, and were often on trains during the nightly blackouts. Intended to keep the city safe from bombers, the blackouts actually made things easier for the murderer. To keep citizens safe, some officers escorted women home, while others rode trains dressed in drag. When that didn’t trick the killer, female officers began riding the S-Bahn alone, armed only with protective headgear—but the murderer wasn’t fooled.

While Berlin’s serious crime unit, the Kriminalpolizei, was hampered by the blackouts and the high number of accidental deaths along the railway (who was a victim and who wasn’t?), their own prejudices often got in the way. Some suspected the killer was a Jew, a foreign laborer, or even a British spy. When they finally found their man, a misogynistic assistant signalman named Paul Ogorzow, they had trouble accepting the truth—Orgozow was a Nazi and a member of the SA. But the forensic evidence didn’t lie; Ogorzow was found guilty of eight counts of murder and executed via guillotine. The real irony here is at least one officer who brought Ogorzow down went on to lead an execution squad in Eastern Europe. In Nazi Germany, murder was the norm.

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