Karl Denke – The Forgotten Cannibal Who Peddled Human Flesh As Pork

[caption id="attachment_7519" align="alignleft" width="276"]Karl Denke The only known picture of Karl Denke[/caption]
Karl Denke Peddled Human Flesh

Karl Denke, a devout, peaceful, generally respected citizen of Ziębice, turned out to be a cannibal who killed 40 people. He pickled their flesh in jars and sold it on the Wrocław market as pork.

It all came to light after Christmas of 1924. In Ziębice’s Museum of Household Goods, they decided it was quite an appetizing story and dedicated a little corner of the museum to him. On the table, are, among others things, bloody knives and axes, and a meat grinder, that is attached to the table. 

Karl Denke

Karl Denke was born August 12, 1870. His family was quite wealthy; they were farmers. Karl was a hard child to raise. He ran away from home at the young age of 12. When he graduated from elementary school, he started apprenticing with a gardener. He started life on his own at the age of 25. It was then that his father died, the farm was taken over by his older brother, and he himself bought a piece of land with the money from his inheritance. However, farming did not go well for him, so he sold his land. He bought himself a little house on present Stawowa Street in Ziębice. Unfortunately, his savings were devoured by the uncontrollable inflation of his time. He had to sell his house, but he did not move out. He still lived in a little apartment on the right side of the ground floor of the house. And he still occupied the shop standing next to the house.

It was Sunday, December 21st, 1924, when a man covered in blood ran into a police station. He swore by all things holy that it was Denke, who did this to him. The policemen could not believe it possible that poor, nice Karl, enjoying unimpeachable opinion in a town of eight thousand, would do such a thing to this bloodied wretch of a beggar.

However, Vincenz Olivier would not change his testimony. Karl Denke was arrested. The very same night, when a guard looked into his cell, he was dead. Karl Denke had hanged himself, apparently with his handkerchief. (Many believe however that he used his suspenders.)

Karl Denke

After the corpse was returned to the family, the policemen went to Karl Denke's house. It was Christmas of 1924, and what the office found was more than he ever cared to see. Inside the closet were many blood stained clothes including one skirt. On the window seal, lay various kinds of documents with the names of people released from prisons or hospitals. Jars of pickled meat (the laboratory analysis showed quickly, that it was of human origin), human bones prepared for thermal processing, instruments for the production of belts, leather straps, and other products from human skin were found. Karl Denke even processed human hair, using it to make shoe laces. He would sell it all door to door, the permission for which he received from city officials. The meat, with the permission of Wrocław butchers, he sold in Wrocław. It was a time of crisis and every gram of meat would find a buyer.

The policemen were able to identify the names of 20 victims but it is believed that Karl Denke pickled about 40 residents in his manufacturing shop before he was ever caught.

credit - murderpedia / The Polish Word