June 11, 1964: Cologne school
with an insecticide sprayer converted into a flamethrower, a lance
and a homebuilt mace, 42-year-old Walter Seifert entered the
Katholische Volksschule and opened fire on the girls playing in
the courtyard. He then knocked in classroom windows with his mace
and fired inside. Eight children and two teachers died, twenty
children and two teachers survived with very severe burns. After
taking a cyanide pill, Seifert died the following day, in custody.
The Cologne school massacre occurred in
a Catholic elementary school located at Volkhovener Weg 209 in the
suburb of Volkhoven in Cologne, Germany on June 11, 1964. Walter
Seifert, born on June 11, 1922, killed eight students and two
Seifert reportedly fell apart when his wife
died in childbirth in 1961; his tuberculosis worsened and he was
diagnosed with schizophrenia. He felt he was being treated
unfairly by the government which he claimed was cheating him out
of his war pension for his service in the Wehrmacht during World
On June 11, the day of his 42nd birthday,
Seifert took a self-made flamethrower and lance and entered the
schoolyard. After blocking off the main gate with a wooden wedge,
he proceeded to kill eight students and two teachers and injure
twenty two others, mostly students. He smashed in the windows of
the buildings and pointed his flamethrower in the classrooms,
setting the classroom on fire, effectively killing ten people. He
was then confronted by a teacher, Ursula Kuhr, 24, whom he stabbed
with the lance.
Reportedly throughout the attack, survivors
claim that Seifert repeatedly chanted "I am Adolf Hitler the
After he left the schoolyard, he swallowed a
poisonous insecticide E605 in hopes of committing suicide before
police could catch him. He was soon apprehended by police, but
died in hospital the next day from the poison.
11, 1922 – June 12, 1964) was the perpetrator of the Cologne
School Massacre, which left ten people dead, not including
reportedly fell apart when his wife died in childbirth several
years before; his tuberculosis worsened and he was diagnosed
with schizophrenia. He felt he was being treated unfairly by the
government which he claimed was cheating him out of his war
pension for his service during World War II.
- A home-made flamethrower constructed
from a garden sprayer
- A long lance
On June 11, Seifert took the flame-thrower
and lance and entered the schoolyard. After
blocking off the main gate with a wooden wedge,
he proceeded to kill eight students and two
teachers and injure twenty one others, mostly
students. He smashed in the windows of the
buildings and pointed his flamethrower in the
classrooms, setting the classroom, and many of
the people inside it, on fire. He was then
confronted by a teacher, Gertrud Bollenrath,
whom he stabbed with the lance.
On June 12th
Seifert died from poisoning himself the day before, shortly
before he was apprehended by police, thus committing suicide.
teachers who died each had a school named after them.
Langohr, one of the surviving teachers, was presented with
the Medal Cross from Pope Paul VI as well as other
decorations from the city.
A Catholic Elementary School in Cologne,
Thursday, June 11, 1964
Walter Seifert's wife died in childbirth a
few years ago and because he had tuberculosis, he had been out
of work for years. Walter wrote several letters about his
unfair treatment by medical officers to the head of the health
department, the director of the upper city and the head of the
provincial government trying in vain to make a war pension valid.
All of these failed. Several medical officers certified Walter
with schizophrenia symptoms, but they did not think he was
Today, just after 9 a.m., he proved them
wrong. Walter converted a garden sprayer into a flamethrower
and filled it with an easily inflammable mixture that could
deliver a six-meter flame. He took his new flamethrower, a
lance that was 1.5 meters long and a homemade iron centrifuge to
the Catholic elementary school at Cologne Volkhoven.
The school consisted of three wood pavilions,
containing six classrooms, near the main administration building.
He entered the school yard and blocked a small school gate with
a wooden wedge. In the schoolyard, teacher Anna Langohr was
teaching a group of girls about sports.
Walter went to the first pavilion, which held
four classrooms, threw some disks in with the centrifuge, put
the flamethrower into an opened window and pulled the trigger.
The wooden classrooms and the clothes of the children
immediately caught on fire and panic ensued.
Gertrud Bollenrath, a teacher, began to
smoother the flames from the children's clothes before going out
into the yard and putting herself in harm's way. Walter stabbed
her with the lance. By now, the student's were running all over
the schoolyard and Walter let loose another deadly flame.
Anna, 67, tried to stay between the students
and Walter, but the flames over took her and she collapsed to
the ground. Walter then began to approach another wooden
pavilion. The teacher's inside, Mrs. Ursula Kouhr and a teacher
identified only as Kunz, saw him coming and tried to shut the
wing doors, but Walter tore one of them off it's hinges.
Ursula, 24, lost her balance and fell down. Walter stabbed the
fallen teacher several times while she was on the floor, killing
By now, the neighbors were responding to the
fire and commotion in the school yard so Walter fled the scene
into a field. He didn't get to far as the police apprehended
him in the field. He didn't get much further than that either
as, during the chase, he swallowed a cap of plant poison E605.
By the time the sunset on this horrific day, Walter had died in
Meanwhile, men who drove the garbage trucks
were able to break down the gate Walter had wedged closed and
extinguished the fire with blankets and clothes. They stopped
cars in the street and had them transport the wounded students
to area hospitals.
The students had burns over 90% of their
bodies. Eight students died from their injuries. Gertrud, 62,
died just after 1:00 at Holy Spirit Hospital. Anna was in
critical status for week and wasn't until October that she was
able to leave the hospital . The 28 students who were wounded
underwent months of long and painful treatment, which could not
heal the scars completely, both physical and psychological.
The Volkhoven council decided a few days
later to tear down the school, to remove the reminder of this
gruesome event. In 1965, the Catholic elementary school in
Cologne Heimersdorf was named for Ursula Kuhr.
In 1986, the Sonderschule (special school) at
Fuehlinger Weg was named for Gertrud Bollenrath. For her acts of
bravery and heroism, Anna Langohr received the Medal Cross from
Pope Paul VI, the Service Medal and the Service Award of the FRG
from Mayor John van Nes Ziegler and the Rescue Medal of North
Rhine-Westphalia. Anna died on January 27, 1990 at the age of