Marianne Bachmeier (3 June 1950 in
Sarstedt - 17 September 1996 in Lübeck) became famous in Germany
after she shot the alleged murderer of her daughter Anna Bachmeier
in an act of vigilantism in the hall of the District Court of
Lübeck in 1981.
Youth and family
Marianne Bachmeier grew up in Sarstedt, where
her parents from East Prussia had fled to. Her father had been a
member of the Waffen-SS. Her parents separated, and her mother
At the age of 16, Marianne Bachmeier became a
mother. She then became pregnant again at the age of 18 by her
then-boyfriend. Shortly before the birth of her second daughter,
she was raped. Both of these children were given up for adoption
shortly after their birth. In 1973, her third daughter Anna, was
born. She raised Anna herself. After the birth of Anna, Marianne
Bachmeier was sterilized.
Murder of her daughter
On 5 May 1980, Anna Bachmeier did not go to
school to spite her mother. When trying to visit a friend her own
age, Anna was abducted by Klaus Grabowski, a 35-year-old butcher.
He is said to have held Anna for several hours at home and then
strangled her with a pair of tights. According to the Prosecutor
he had tied the girl tight, packed her into a box, which he then
buried on the canal bank in a shallow grave.
Klaus Grabowski was a convicted sex offender
and had previously been sentenced for the sexual abuse of two
girls. During his detention, he was castrated in 1976 and, two
years later, underwent hormone treatment. Once arrested, Grabowski
stated that he did not intend to sexually abuse Anna. He said the
girl had wanted to tell her mother that he had touched her
inappropriately, with the aim of extorting money from him.
Vigilante justice in the courtroom
On 6 March 1981, the third day of the trial,
Marianne Bachmeier smuggled a Beretta M1934 into the courtroom of
Lübeck District Court and shot the alleged killer of her daughter
Anna, Klaus Grabowski, in the back. She aimed the gun at
Grabowski's back and pulled the trigger eight times. Seven of the
shots hit, and the 35-year-old defendant was killed instantly.
This is probably the most well-known case of
vigilante justice in the Federal Republic. It sparked extensive
media coverage, television crews from all over the world travelled
to Lübeck to report on this case.
A large part of the population showed
understanding for her actions. She sold her life story for about
250,000 Deutschmarks in an exclusive to the news magazine Stern.
Sentence for manslaughter
On 2 November 1982, Marianne Bach Meier was
initially charged in court with murder. Later the prosecution
dropped the murder charge. After 28 days of negotiations, the
Board agreed on the verdict. Four months after the opening of
proceedings she was convicted on 2 March 1983 by the Circuit Court
Chamber of the District Court Lübeck for manslaughter and
sentenced for unlawful possession of a firearm to six years in
prison. After three years in prison, she was released from prison
early as a "suicide risk".
Marianne Bachmeier married in 1985 and moved in
1988 to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband, a teacher. There they
lived in a German camp where her husband taught at a German
school. They divorced in 1990 and she moved to Sicily. She was
diagnosed there with cancer whereupon she returned to Germany.
In 1994, 13 years after her act, she gave an
interview on Germany radio: "I think it's a very big difference if
I kill a little girl, because I'm afraid that I then have to go to
prison for my life. And then also the 'how', so that I stand
behind the girl and, strangle her which is taken literally from
from his statement: 'I heard something come out of her nose, I was
fixated, then I could not stand the sight of her body any longer
On 21 September 1995, she appeared on the talk
show Fleige on the Das Erste TV channel. She admitted that she had
shot the alleged killer of her daughter after careful
consideration, to enforce the law on him, and to prevent him from
further spreading lies about Anna.
On 17 September 1996, she died at the age of 46
years from pancreatic cancer in a hospital in Lübeck. It had
actually been her desire to die in her adopted home of Palermo.
Before her death, she asked the NDR reporter Lukas Maria Böhmer,
to accompany her with movie camera in the last stages of her life.
She is buried in the same grave as her daughter Anna in a
graveyard in Lübeck.
Mother is sentenced for killing man on trial for daughter's death
The Evening Independent
March 2, 1983
Luebeck, West Germany (AP) - Marianne Bachmeier,
who shot and killed a man on trial for sexually molesting and
strangling her 7-year-old daughter, was found guilty of
A Luebeck court sentenced the 32-year-old woman
to six years in prison.
The former barmaid went on trial for murder in
November, accused of pulling a pistol from her handbag and pumping
seven bullets into the back of 35-year-old Klaus Grabowski.
The shooting took place March 6, 1981, before a
stunned court where Grabowski was on trial here for abducting and
killing Mrs. Bachmeier's daughter Anna in May 1980.
Grabowski, a balding, bearded former butcher,
had a long criminal record, including sex offenses against young
In 1973, he was put on a year's probation after
trying to strangle a 6-year-old girl.
Mrs. Bachmeier's lawyers had argued she was
under severe emotional stress and was not responsible for her
actions at the time.
The verdict capped a four-month trial that
attracted widespread attention in West Germany and Europe. Mrs.
Bachmeier was touted in some circles as a symbol of citizen
frustration over coping with a rising crime.
The prosecution last week reduced the charge of
murder to manslaughter and asked that Mrs. Bachmeier be sentenced
to eight years in prison.
Prosecutors contended Mrs. Bachmeier had acted
out of revenge and was in command of her faculties at the time.
The woman's case suffered a serious setback in
December when Guenter Kroeger, the judge at Grabowski's trial,
said he heard the woman express satisfaction after the shooting.
"I wanted to shoot him in the face, but I only
got him in the back. I hope he's dead," the judge quoted Mrs.
Bachmeier as saying.
Anna was Mrs. Bachmeier's third and youngest
illegitimate child. She had given up the other two before Anna's
Defense attorneys argued that Mrs. Bachmeier
had had a troubled life and was mentally unstable.
In a lengthy series of articles that appeared
in West German media, Mrs. Bachmeier recounted how as a teen-ager
she has been kicked out of her home and raped at a disco.
State prosecutor Klaus-Dieter Schultz, in
requesting the charge be reduced to manslaughter, acknowledge
there were extenuating circumstances.
He also agreed with the defense that Mrs.
Bachmeier had purchased the pistol a week before the shooting to
Mrs. Bachmeier faced a maximum penalty of life
in prison if convicted of murder.