Anyone who enters the bad rodach cemetery from hildburghauser strabe forgets the world of today, the traffic, the hurry, just behind the red brick wall. The last resting places from past centuries are scattered, partly overgrown. There are not too many left. Cemeteries are always places of destiny. And as peaceful as they may seem, the stories that surround them can be cruel.
The view falls on a narrow, high gravestone standing alone on the meadow. A picture of a girl, wreathed in stone, adorns the light-colored stone. Under it is written on black marble: "here rests our daughter rosa volker, b. 6. May 1908, d. 19. April 1919." who was this pink volker? Why does your tombstone stand so free like a monument?? I walk around the stone once and discover on the reverse side the sentence that will lead me on the track of a crime that reveals the hateful abysses of human perversion: "in the blood of your life, raw murderer’s hand thrust you into a grave that is too early…"
What had happened?
The tageblatt editions of those days make us think quickly. Under the heading "thuringia and neighboring states" are listed the reports from coburg and surroundings. Without heading, between the newly established police hour and the notice that the post office can not accept coarse basket goods, I find on 22. April 1919 the following message: "a terrible crime, the victim of which is an innocent child, was committed on easter eve in the forest near rodach, not far from the road to heldburg. The worker volker was employed there, and around noon his eleven year old daughter rosa was feeding him. Since then the child has remained missing. It was, as it turned out later, lured by a strange man and murdered in a bestial way.
After a long search, the child’s guts were found hanging from a bush in the woods, and hidden under leaves and litter were the head, bones and limbs, while coarser pieces of meat were missing… The unbelievable bestiality with which the ruffian committed the crime is evident from the fact that he offered and sold part of the human flesh as lamb meat in rodach."
Not for the faint of heart
The text shows that the murderer was caught shortly after the crime. It is the speech of oskar lichtenburg from alsleben near konigshofen. In his confession, he stated that the girl he "wanted to use indecently" had been, first deafened him with a blow on the head and then slit his throat. He loved the dead woman to lie down. The pieces of meat he cut out later. "Half a pound of meat the terrible man wants to have eaten raw", it says in the newspaper.
After his arrest, the man admitted that a few days earlier he had robbed two girls near hildburghausen.
Death penalty and penitentiary
The sentence before the jury court in meiningen was death and 15 years in prison for his other crimes. Experts confirmed that the perpetrator committed the murder while fully conscious. He was fully responsible, even if he was "morally and spiritually depraved". Curiously enough, the report on the trial concerning the murderer mentions a locksmith named hugo schreppel from rentwertshausen. It is obviously the same person who was arrested in rodach. How it came to the different names in the reporting, however, can no longer be traced today.
The execution of the girl murderer is also described in great detail in the meininger tageblatt.
Here are some excerpts that the coburger tageblatt printed: "two guards were with him all night long. In the conversation with the prison chaplain herrn geh. Church councilor kohler showed remorse for his deed and asked for holy communion. In the early hours of the morning he expressed his regret to the guards that he had not learned of the decision to execute him a few days earlier: he had enjoyed himself a few more days afterwards – a strange mixture of bubbleness and frivolity that dominated this man. The only wish he still remembered was for a cigarette, which he also smoked. Then he received some jam bread on demand…
Our father prayed
He was taken in a closed wagon to the aubenhof, where in the southern corner the fall sword machine was set up… The body of the condemned man shuddered when he was strapped in, and when he was strapped in, he prayed the lord’s prayer aloud."
Death came before the amen
The prayer was not yet over when the munich executioner, assisted by his two assistants, performed his duties. There is also a file on the history of rosa volker in the coburg state archives. Two newspaper clippings and a razor-sharp photo of the disgraced child’s body.
I can no longer get this picture out of my mind.