Childhood fantasy that became cannibal reality
GERMANY'S cannibal, Armin Meiwes, has spoken for the first time since he was imprisoned for life for killing and eating a man he met on the internet.
Meiwes shows no remorse. He regrets only that the "romantic" notion of feasting upon human flesh he was "so looking forward to" actually turned out to be "gruesome and cruel".
He urges other would-be human predators to "go see a doctor before it is too late", but has few regrets about a crime which shocked the world.
On the night of 9 March 2001 Meiwes took the leap from fantasy to murder.
He says 400 people replied to his internet search for someone willing to be killed and eaten.
The book Interview with a Cannibal, which tells Meiwes' story, hits bookstores in Germany on Monday.
"The fantasies had been with me for so long," recalls Meiwes, who must serve at least 14 more years behind bars before being considered for parole.
"The longing started when I saw animals being slaughtered in the countryside. It wasn't unpleasant or terrible for me. It was all part of village life.
"When I was eight my dad left and my world fell apart. My grandma died half a year later and I was the only man in the house.
"My elder brother went off to study and that's when I invented this imaginary brother who would stay with me forever.
"The fantasies to eat human flesh, to bond with someone for life, grew stronger.
"The high point in my cannibal fantasies came when I was 16. Since then there wasn't a day when I didn't think about it.
"At that time I was a prisoner of my soul and I felt ashamed."
He liked the fairy stories his mother read him, particularly Hansel and Gretel "because Hansel was to be eaten by the witch".
He says his plunge into the internet in the late 1990's took the brakes off his fantasies.
He went on: "I saw these adverts looking for people to eat and be eaten and I thought they couldn't be for real. But they were and these feelings I had, I never thought about seeing a psychiatrist - to me they were normal.
"I have never lost a night's sleep over what happened. I still sleep peacefully to this day."
Bernd Brandes, a lonely computer engineer who lived 200 miles away in Berlin, proved to be Meiwes' ideal victim.
"For him it was a sexual thing," he said. "But he also thought like me he would live on in me.
"Two months before we met he made his will. He had contact with other cannibals. He said he lived alone and that no-one would miss him.
"When he came here I was excited because my life's goal was so close. Bernd got undressed and lay on the bed.."
Meiwes cut off his victim's penis and bandaged his wound with towels in the so-called "slaughter room." They fried the organ and tried to eat it but it was too tough so he took Bernd back to the slaughter room.
"Then I got the video camera from another room and some butchering knives and set the camera up.
"At this point I thought that Bernd was dead.
"I prayed: 'Lord forgive him and forgive me.' Later when I saw the video I noticed that his lips had a slight movement and there was the faintest trace of his chest rising and sinking."
Then he plunged a knife into his victim's neck. "I experienced both joy and rage. I hated myself, because I wanted to do it, and I hated Bernd for coming to me. On the other hand it was an incredibly happy feeling. Everything was just as Bernd had wanted it.
"The eating of him was to take place in the living room. It already looked festive with candlelight, and I had laid out the best black porcelain and the best tablecloth. I sat at the table just to enjoy this festive moment.
"I had wanted this for over 30 years. I was of the opinion that this perfect inner connection with someone would be perfect through this flesh.
Meiwes is waging a legal battle to convince Germany's highest court that Bernd had every right to die as he did. "I am fighting for his rights, not mine," he said. "My life is already bungled. I am stamped forever as the cannibal of Rotenburg."
'I WAS LEFT WITH HANDS DRENCHED IN SWEAT. MY SPINE WAS ICE COLD'
ALSO out this week in Germany is a book about the case written by the pathologist who had to decide crucial facts about the murder.
The Murderer's Last Supper by Dr Manfred Risse comes with an over-18 warning on the cover. Dr Risse, 55, had to watch Meiwes' chilling home movie which he branded "pornography of the grotesque". "For the first time in my career I was left with hands drenched in sweat," he said. "And my spine was ice cold. I have made 5,000 autopsies in my life, seen 30,000 corpses, but never witnessed anything like this.
"The film broke all boundaries of horror. The suffering and death of the person was comprehensively clear. You see how Mr Brandes experienced the pain that took his life, when he lost consciousness and how much longer he has to live."
Dr Risse had to decide a question that was pivotal at Meiwes' trial: was the victim still alive when he plunged a knife into his throat. He said: "As an expert I could say yes. Brandes was still breathing. That means his heart was still beating as lots of blood spurted from the neck as Meiwes cut into it."
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