On March 6, 1981, the mother of a 7-year-old got the law in her hands. She opened fire in a courtroom and killed Klaus Grabowski, accused of raping and killing her 7-year-old daughter.
She took the law into her own hands
Seven bullets hit and kill the 35-year-old. An event that made Marianne the front page of the West German press.
When the trial for her started, all eyes were on her. German public opinion had only one topic of discussion and one question: How justified was it that she wanted to take revenge on the man who killed her child?
The case of the mother has not yet been forgotten in Germany. According to the German network Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), it was "the most spectacular case of self-judgment in post-war Germany".
A few words about her tragic life before the loss of her daughter
Several years before she was nicknamed the "vengeful mother" by the German press, Marianne Bachmeier was a woman struggling to raise her daughter alone. She had her own bar in Lübeck, then West Germany, but met the tough face of life early enough.
We are in the 70's, when Marianne was running like crazy to get the basics to raise her daughter, Anna. He was her third child and the only one living with his mom. Her two older children had been given up for adoption.
Her life, even then, was tragic. Her father was a member of the SS in World War II and shortly after her birth in 1950, her parents divorced. The mother, however, remarried immediately. In 1966, at the age of 16, Marianne would also become a mother.
At the age of 18 she had her second daughter, the fruit of love with another man. Both children were given up for adoption immediately after birth. In fact, before giving birth to her second child, she was raped.
She decided to raise her third child
Anna was born in 1973. This time Marianne decided to keep her and raise her on her own. She had serious complications in childbirth and learned that she could not have another child. Anna was described by those close to her as a "happy, open-minded child". Somewhere during that time tragedy struck the family. Specifically, on March 5, 1980, 7-year-old Anna was found dead.
According to reports at the time, the little girl had been kicked out of school that day to annoy her mom. She was going to a classmate's house. It is unknown how he fell into the hands of his 35-year-old neighbor, the butcher Klaus Grabowski, who had a serious criminal record and convictions for sexually abusing two underage girls.
What did the case file say about the killer?
In 1973, he was even sentenced to a suspended prison sentence for attempting to strangle a 6-year-old girl.
While in prison in 1976, he underwent voluntary castration and two years later underwent hormone therapy. The case file stated that Grabowski abducted and held the little girl hostage in his home for several hours, before strangling her with tights. It remains unknown today whether she was sexually assaulted.
Whatever happened, the butcher put the lifeless body of the little girl in a carton, which he tried to bury on the banks of a nearby canal. He was arrested the same night, when his fiancée called the police.
He claimed that the 7-year-old was blackmailing him
He immediately confessed to killing the child, but denied that he had raped her. His testimony was really strange. The killer claimed that he strangled the girl when he tried to blackmail him.
According to the investigator, 7-year-old Anna wanted to seduce him. When he did not give in, she threatened to tell her mom that he had sexually abused her, asking him for money for her silence.
Marianne Bachmeier learned from the newspapers what her daughter's killer was claiming and now, in addition to being devastated, she was also angry.
The murder in court
From the very first day of the trial, in early March 1981, Marianne looked like a wild beast in the courtroom. She listened in amazement to the defendant's defense lawyers claiming that it was the hormonal imbalance that had actually armed the killer's hand.
Grabowski had agreed to be castrated and stopped sexually abusing little girls. He did not want to relapse, he said, accepting a common West German practice at the time for sex offenders.
And it was hormone therapy that made him irritable, this line of defense was advocated by his lawyers. Grabowski was in a "serious emotional disorder", so he was not accountable for his actions.
The mother listened to this for two days and on the third day of the hearing process she decided that she had heard a lot.
Press the trigger 8 times
So she entered the courtroom of the Lübeck Courthouse with a beret hidden in her bag. At one point he pulled out his pistol, aimed it at the accused and pressed the trigger 8 times.
Seven bullets hit their target and Grabowski collapsed dead on the court floor.
Eyewitnesses said from the first moment that they heard her say she was happy that she killed him. The same was claimed by Judge Guenther Kroeger, who took her aside and talked to her mother for a while after the murder.
Bachmeier told him that "I wanted to kill him. He killed my daughter. I wanted to shoot him in the face, but I shot him in the back. I hope he is dead. " The two police officers who accompanied her heard her call him a "pig" while he was gassing him with bullets.
She said she saw visions of her child
Soon the mother of the victim would be sitting in the chair of the accused for murder. This trial had brought to the Baltic small town TV crews from all over the world and a real pandemonium prevailed inside and outside the courtroom.
The mother testified that she killed her daughter's killer in a dream, constantly seeing visions of her child in the room.
The psychiatrist who examined her said that she asked her to write something to appreciate her graphic character and she gave him a piece of paper that read "I did it for you, Anna".
When she appeared to find her accomplices, she testified that "I heard she wanted to make a statement." He referred to Grabowski's allegations that the 7-year-old went to blackmail him. "And I said yes, now comes the next lie about this victim, this victim was my daughter."
On November 2, 1982, Marianne was found guilty of premeditated murder at first instance, but the prosecutor subsequently dropped the premeditated charge. One month after negotiations, the parties reached an agreement.
The court decision for the mother
The premeditated thing was what they discussed for 28 whole days. Premeditated murder meant life imprisonment.
Prosecutor Klaus-Dieter Schultz has now proposed an 8-year sentence. Now it was her lawyers who claimed that their client was emotionally unstable, having suffered a lot in her life.
Four months later, on March 2, 1983, a court found her guilty of manslaughter and illegal possession of a firearm, sentencing her to six years in prison. Examined only three.
Decades later, a close friend of Bachmeier testified in a documentary about her case that he had seen her practice shooting in the basement of her bar a few days before Grabowski's murder.
The condemnation that divided an entire nation
Marianne found herself in the vortex of a unique cyclone. Her trial has garnered worldwide interest. This "ruthless act of revenge", as an American newspaper wrote, had made her famous.
The German weekly "Stern" bought the rights to its story for 250.000 marks and published a series of articles looking for its past. It was a working mother who had fought a lot in her life and many things happened to her tragically, the magazine concluded.
Which did not manage to read the thousands of letters of the readers. German public opinion was divided. For others, she was just a happy mother who just wanted to avenge the violent murder of her child.
For others, however, she was a cold-blooded murderer who took the law into her own hands, rejecting the institution of justice of a benevolent state. Some understood her and some condemned her for self-judgment.
She served half her sentence and was released in 1985
According to a poll conducted by the Allensbach Institute at the time, 28% of Germans saw a six-year sentence for their actions as correct. 6% considered the punishment very severe and 27% considered that the killer fell softly.
She was released in June 1985, having served half her sentence. She married a teacher the same year and in 1988 the family moved to Nigeria, where he taught at a German school in Lagos.
She stayed in Africa until 1990, when she divorced her husband and moved to Sicily. There, in Palermo, she lived until 1996, when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and decided to return to her homeland for her last moments.
She spoke only twice in her life about that day, once on German radio in 1994 and once on television in 1995.
In the TV interview, she admitted that she killed her daughter's killer after a "careful examination", in order to bring justice to his crime and not to hear monstrous lies about her daughter from his mouth.
Knowing that her end was near, she called an NDR reporter to record her last moments with his camera.
He died on September 17, 1996, at the age of 46, in a hospital in Lübeck. She could not return to her home in Palermo, where she wanted to give up her last breath.
She was buried in the same grave as her daughter Anna, in the municipal cemetery…