On 4 October 1940, the man who would become known as the "S-Bahn Killer", Paul Ogorzow, claimed his first victim. After a season of assaulting women around his home patch in the eastern suburbs of Berlin, with increasing frequency and violence, Ogorzow killed for the first time.
What's peculiar about the case is that Ogorzow was not yet utilising the modus operandae that would become his trademark - that of battering his victims and throwing them from moving trains. In this instance, his victim was found in her home, with a single stab wound to the neck.
The following is a transcript of the original Berlin Kriminalpolizei report, relating the circumstances in which that first victim's body was found. As well as the inherent tragedy of a young woman's life being taken, and her two children losing their mother, the report shows that the victim was already under investigation by the Nazi authorities for leading a "parasitic life" - and that the person who found her body was a representative of the welfare office, who was coming to take her children away. Berlin could scarcely get more noir...
5 October 1940.
At round 13.45 on 4. October 1940, the Kripo was notified by the Schutzpolizei, that Frau Ditter – resident in the Gutland II Colony, Path 5a, house 33 – had not been seen since the afternoon of the day before. The Kripo detective Hinze discovered the following at the scene.
The front door to the house was not locked …but the door to the kitchen was blocked, so it was thought that it was locked. As the wimpering of a child could be heard from inside, it was decided to smash a window to gain access to the room where an 18 month old and a 3-month old were found. From this room, access was gained to the kitchen, where the body of the resident – Gerda Ditter, née
Bath, b. 21.7.1920 Berlin – was discovered
slumped in a crouching position. The
doctor who was called – Dr Dolgner of Friedrichsfelde – certified death by a
3cm stab wound to the left carotid artery.
The representative of the NSV [Nazi welfare organisation - RM] who was present; Konrad Braun, b. 3.9.1902 Friedrichsfelde, arrived at around 12.30 as he was due to take Ditter’s children away and place them in an orphanage. The reason being that, in spite of warnings from the NSV, Ditter was leading a parasitic life, so much so that the NSV had decided to remove the children and allow the mother to report for labour duty. Braun found the house dark and unlocked. He entered and when he found the body, he lit a match. Thereafter he called the police straight away.
The woman’s husband is with the Wehrmacht in
Potsdam. The circumstances suggest that suicide is
doubtful, and that a crime is likely.
Consequently the murder commission has taken over the case.
Ogorzow would go on to murder another 7 women over the following 9 months, until his capture in July 1941. Admitting 8 counts of murder and over 30 counts of assault, he was sentenced to death and executed by guillotine. Ogorzow was largely unknown until I (re)discovered his story in the Berlin archives in 2008.
The full story of Ogorzow's crimes can be found in my book Berlin at War (US edition here) and in my e-book The Wolf's Lair.