Thursday, 6 October 2011

Not for the squeamish

Along with Vlad the Impaler, Gilles de Rais and Elizabeth Báthory, Peter Kürten's (1883-1931) one of those guys who often turns up in vampire books, despite not being undead.


But just like them, he was known for bloodthirsty pursuits. Indeed, he was known as the 'The Vampire of Düsseldorf', although this seems to have been a reference to his ghoulishness, not actual consumption of blood. But that ghoulishness was pretty nasty in its own right:
On July 2nd 1932, the ‘Düsseldorf Vampire’ went to his death at a guillotine erected in the yard of the Klingelputz Prison. Kürten expressed his last earthly desire on the way to the yard: "Tell me", he asked the prison psychiatrist, "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 the stump of my neck?" He savoured this thought for a while, then added, "that would be the pleasure to end all pleasures."
The murders he committed weren't altogether pleasant, either. But speaking of his lopped-off head, it was an offhand item I stumbled upon while looking up stuff on Ripley's (why will be revealed soon), that caught my attention. The thing that triggered this blog entry. According to Kürten's Wikipedia page, 'In 1931 scientists attempted to examine irregularities in Kürten's brain in an attempt to explain his personality and behavior. His head was dissected and mummified and is currently on display at the Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum in Wisconsin Dells.' What the hell?, I thought.

Morbid curiousity got the better of me and I Googled Peter's detached scone. So, ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to see a pickled 'vampire' head, then behold the final resting place of Kürten's twisted mind:


Well, not quite: after execution, his head was flown into 'the German-Russian brain institute at Buch near Berlin', where the brain was 'sliced into millions of diaphanous segments by the brain scientist'. The head itself resides in 'a small refrigerator with a glass front. It revolves continuously on a metal hook.'

Welcome to civilisation, folks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kurten was a fun one indeed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...