Unresolved mysteries in Germany: 3 most curious cases
Spooky season is here, and there’s no better way to get scary than by digging into unresolved mysteries! Here are three of Germany’s most fascinating unsolved mysteries to get you through this Halloween.
1. The Hinterkaifeck Murders
The Hinterkaifeck murders are Germany’s most notorious unsolved murder case. In 1922, a family of five and a maid were brutally murdered in the small Bavarian town of Waidhofen. No suspect has ever been apprehended. What makes this case so creepy, aside from the horrible deaths of the victims, is that the assailant most likely stayed in the family home with the bodies for at least three days after!
Eerily, some days before the murders, a newspaper appeared out of nowhere on the property, and a set of footprints leading to a broken lock on a farm machine room were discovered in the snow outside. Some members of the family also claimed to have heard footsteps in the house during the night, though no intruder was ever found. Several days later, all six people living on the farm were found viciously murdered.
During investigations, the police discovered that the Gruber family was not your "typical family" - the father, Andreas, and his daughter, Viktoria, had been arrested for incest in 1915, and the relationship between the two was said to be abusive after they left prison.
Viktoria also had two children, said to be fathered by a local man named Lorenz Schlittenbauer. Schlittenbauer was listed as one of the murder suspects by Munich Police Department and is alleged to have disclosed intimate details about the crimes, but he maintained his innocence until his death in 1941. Other theories around the murders include murder-suicide, burglary, and the possibility that the Grubers were targeted after someone found out about Andreas and Viktoria’s relationship.
Whatever happened on the Hinterkaifeck farm, this creepy case remains unsolved almost 100 years on. Scary!
2. The death of Ludwig II of Bavaria
Ludwig II was the king of Bavaria from 1864 to 1886. He is well-known today as the commissioner of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, as well as several other stunning German castles, hence why he was also known as the “Fairy Tale King”.
What many people do not know is that King Ludwig II died in mysterious circumstances just outside his own castle in 1886. The evening before his death, Ludwig II was declared “unfit to rule”, as part of a plan by ministers to depose him.
Dr Bernhard von Gudden, an experienced psychiatrist who was part of the panel that declared him unfit to rule, accompanied King Ludwig II for a walk in the area near the castle the following day. The pair returned to the castle, and then left for another longer walk later that evening. Neither of them would return.
Searches were carried out, and eventually both men were found next to the nearby Lake Starnberg. Curiously, the king’s death was declared a suicide by drowning - an odd conclusion, given that the king was known to be a strong swimmer, and is said to have not had any water in his lungs. Stranger still, Dr Gudden’s body reportedly showed signs of strangulation, and several head injuries, yet his death was not treated as suspicious.
Some witnesses claimed to have heard gunshots around the time that Ludwig II and Dr Gudden were out walking, whereas others even suspect that the king died of natural causes and merely ended up near the lakeside after a heart attack. Murder, suicide, or accident? The jury's out.
3. Nazi Gold Train
Though actually in Poland, this mystery obviously has strong links to Germany, and is one of many cases left unsolved after 1945. Legend has it that in the last days of World War II, a train carrying gold and treasure was buried in a tunnel in the Owl Mountains of Poland.
Rumours began to swirl in 2015, after two men obtained a deathbed confession about a train buried in Poland. It is assumed that the tunnels supposedly built in the Owl Mountains were part of Project Riese, a secret Nazi construction project to build seven underground structures in the mountain range and the surrounding area.
Whether or not a train exists in those tunnels is one question, but whether it is laden with treasure is quite another. The town in Poland where the treasure train is said to be buried has seen its tourism skyrocket, and mining companies and engineers have also jumped on the bandwagon. This begs the question: is the true legend of the train not its treasure, but instead its money-making potential?
This puzzle is by no means the first Nazi mystery to cause a stir. There are hundreds of cases left unsolved since the sudden end of the National Socialist regime in Germany, from the disappearance of many formerly high-ranking officials after the war, to the stashing away of the gold taken from victims of the Holocaust. Hidden beneath the horrors of the war there are still many secrets and mysteries waiting to be uncovered.