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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Revenge - She shot the alleged murderer of her daughter Anna in the hall of the District Court of Lübeck
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 6, 1981
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: June 3, 1950
Victim profile: Klaus Grabowski, 35
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Status: Sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter on March 2, 1983. Released in 1986. Died on September 17, 1996

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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 re-married.

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".

Moving abroad

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 manslaughter today.

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 girls.

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 birth.

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 commit suicide.

Mrs. Bachmeier faced a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of murder.



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