WAGNER came from a poor family, his father died early, so did a lot of his brothers and sisters. In 1913 there were only two sisters and one brother left. He was an intelligent child managed somehow to study and become a teacher. From 1894 until 1900 he was “Hilfslehrer” in Wuerttenberg, until a nervous breakdown forced him to quit for some months. In 1901 he was as teacher in Mühlhausen an der Enz (Ger. only), where he met his later wife. They had an affair resulting in daughter Klara and thus were forced to marry. He hated the family of his wife. Children were born, he finally was allowed to work in another place and in 1912 began to work at the school in Degerloch.
WAGNER rides his bicycle to the station and boards a train to Ludwigsburg (Ger., Eng.). He has a snack there and moves on towards his place of birth Eglosheim (Ger. only). He meets the wife of his brother, his nephew shows him the new rabbit hutch. WAGNER hides some of the ammunition. He boards another train and travels to Bietigheim (Ger., Eng.) where he drives around the area, posts some letters – among them one to the landlady in Degerloch (“I am sorry. But there was no other way. Wagner”). He visits the “Krone” in Bietigheim and at 19:00 starts the travel to Mühlhausen. He reaches the village circa 23:00 and hides the bicycle in a field. He replaces his normal hat with a “Autofahrermütze” (possibly something like this, without the glasses) and puts a veil over the lower part of his face.
He sets fire to the place at various locations, grabs his two Mauser pistols (C96, Ger., Eng.) and walks through the village shooting at any person he sees. He tied the two pistols to his wrists, but the cords are much too long, so he gets entangled in them. The two guns have ten rounds each, but he forgets to reload. So a workman and a civil servant have the chance to attack him with a pickaxe and a sabre: His left hand gets smashed, he receives two blows with the sabre into his face, the right hand is badly hurt. They leave him for dead in the street.
At 02:00 a policeman recognises that WAGNER is not dead yet. He says that he wanted to kill all men of the village, and it would be alright to chop off his head now. He is brought in the Bezirkskrankenhaus in Vaihingen, where his left lower arm is amputated.
WAGNER shot at twenty people and two animals, he killed eight men and a little girl.
In his notes the further course of events was outlined: After his work was done (his own words, he speaks of Arbeit), he would stop the train from Mühlacker to Ludwigsburg. Because of the possibility that the engineman would be recalcitrant he had watched how a locomotive was to be operated. He would stop the train near Eglosheim and en passant eradicate his brother’s family, then drive to Ludwigsburg, set fire to the castle (Ger., Eng.) and finally burn to death “in the bed of the duchess”.
He made it into the NYT -pdf here.
If you think about German mass murderers you inevitably see some blokes in uniform before your inner eye*. But I do not want to speak about the professionals of the last incredibly brutal century.
I remember names like Fritze HAARMANN (Ger., Eng.) (1879-1925), Peter KÜRTEN (Ger., Eng.) (1883-1931), Karl DENKE (Ger., Eng.) (1870-1924) or Jürgen BARTSCH (1946-1976) (Ger., Eng.) – especially the latter, because there was always rumour that his death on the op-table was not so much of an accident. I think most Germans my age will never have heard the name Ernst August WAGNER. Or DENKE (Ger., Eng.), who was one of the worst Menschenfresser this earth has ever seen and who makes this Hannibal Lecter-figure look like a intimidated and shy altar boy. BTW I never understood what was oh-so-fear-arousing about the silent lambs, evil is frequently banal and without fanfare. HAARMANN may be known to a wider audience because of the film that came out some years ago; based on the original reports Götz GEORGE (Ger., Eng.) portrayed the “Totmacher” (Ger., Eng.; fillum), a gripping “Kammerspiel” that reminded one of the fact, that Götz GEORGE after all is really an actor – he did so many awful roles in TV that one could easily forget. And yes, he is the son of the old nazi actor Heinrich G. (Ger., Eng.) (who died 1946, when his son was just eight years old).
WAGNER (Ger., Eng.) starts the work of his day early on 4th of September 1913 by killing his wife. He smashes her skull and stabs her with a knife. Then he goes upstairs and butchers his four children, also with the knife. Must have been around five in the morning. He takes off his bloody nightdress and cleans himself.
The evening before he had spent chatting in the garden with the landlady, the widow of a school teacher; WAGNER is a teacher too, even director of the local school in Degerloch (Ger.) – since 1908 a part of Stuttgart. The house is still standing, few people know what has happened here.
WAGNER puts the 35 pennies for the milkman in front of the door; he writes “Excursion to Ludwigsburg” on the slate they have hanging on their appartement door, so nobody will ask or wonder about the unusual silence – they are simply gone. He goes into the cellar and grabs his Rucksack, containing all what he needs for the day, takes his beloved bicycle, the “Elberfelder”, and off he goes – auf zu neuen Ufern. He calls out to a neighbour he sees: “Morgen spricht von mir die ganze Welt!” – “Tomorrow the whole world will talk about me!”
He’s not wrong about it.
* I think this more or less funny man BRAND remarked lately that Hugo Boss produced these uniforms. This is nothing new btw, the company itself sponsored a historical study about its history some years ago. Hugo Boss joined the party in 1932 and was a supporter of the “new system” that secured the survival of his factory, which had serious financial troubles before 1933. During the war they employed of course “Fremdarbeiter”, people who were forced to work in the “Reich”. Boss personally took care for some of them, while others in his workforce openly harassed these people. So all in all the picture is non-uniform.